Thursday 31 March 2016

Gua Bao with Braised Pork Belly 割包

Gua Bao is a humble Taiwanese street food that has its origins from Fuzhou. It comprises a U-shaped bun sandwiching a piece of luscious pork belly. Traditionally it is topped with pickled vegetables, crushed peanuts and a sprinkle of greens. It is really just another convenient snack in Taiwan that sees lesser light than its other more popular peers like Shilin Fried Chicken, Pineapple Tart or Taiwanese Sausage. On the other hand, it is rather popular in America when chef David Chang adopted it and gave it a new lift in his famed restaurant, Momofuku. The fascination of a "Chinese hamburger" really caught on.

Monday 28 March 2016

Crispy Fried Banana/Pisang Goreng 炸香蕉

Everybody knows how to fry a banana. But the ultimate test is to have your bananas crispy and the crispiness to last for hours. I have been experimenting quite a bit with different batter recipes but each time I was left wanting. The problem was always the durability of the crunch. Somehow it does not last as long as those I bought by the roadside. There are many batter recipes out there. Even fried bananas sellers have differing recipes. I personally love the Indonesian method whereby the pisang goreng is coated with another layer of "kremes" or crispy bits. After learning the traits from an actual fried banana seller, I finally managed to come out with a most crispy fried banana.

Friday 25 March 2016

Lotus Leaf Bun 荷叶包

It has been a while since I last posted a recipe on bao or Chinese bun. Recently, my interest was pique with this Taiwanese Gua Bao which is basically a U-shaped bao whereby you put your filling in the middle just like Western sandwiches. In fact, is was also known as the Chinese sandwich/hamburger. Well, let's not excite you further with this delicious Chinese hamburger today (don't worry, I promise I will comeback to this in coming posts). We are just going to talk about a bun that has that U-shape and functions to sandwich decadent pork bellies and other wonderful fillings - the Lotus Leaf Bun.

Monday 21 March 2016

Birthday Chocolate Cake 巧克力生日蛋糕

Gosh! I think I just overdosed my three-year old with chocolate! And he loved every bite of it! It started when he requested a chocolate cake as his birthday cake. I did not plan on making a chocolate only chocolate cake but as it went along, chocolate seemed to be the best choice, be it for filling or glaze, or even the wording.

I started off with a moist chocolate sponge, cut into three layers (recipe here). For the filling, I couldn't think of anything more appropriate than whipped chocolate ganache. Why whipped chocolate ganache? Because it is more stable than just whipped cream or meringue. I crumb coated it with the same whipped ganache as well. My birthday chocolate cake was plain looking after the coating so I made some ganache and pour over it to get that dripping effect. I was glad I did because that was the highlight of the cake. Its intense chocolaty flavour really complemented the cake well. And the glaze looked tempting. I wrote the name in melted white chocolate and put it on the cake for contrast. I then added M&Ms for colour but it was a disaster as the colours came off due to condensation. If you like M&Ms on your cake too, make sure you put it at the last minute. It was a lesson well learned.

I was not really satisfied with the look on this cake, what more with the melting M&Ms. In fact, my hubby gave me a thumb down when I sent him a photo of the cake. I did not want to post this initially. However, this was one of the best tasting cake that I ever made. It was moist, light, not too sweet and smelled amazing. And those who ate it concurred. Therefore, I feel compelled to journal down the recipe. I would definitely to make this birthday chocolate cake again, with some changes in decorating perhaps. Just excuse my amateurish decoration this time.

Birthday Chocolate Cake 巧克力生日蛋糕

Whipped Chocolate Ganache

300 g whipping cream
125 g baking chocolate (chopped)/ semi-sweet chocolate chips

Simmer whipping cream in a saucepan. Once the cream starts boiling, remove from fire and pour onto chocolate. Cover and steep for 5 minutes. Using a whisk, mix until chocolate is melted. Put a cling wrap on top of cream and let it cool at room temperature. Once cooled, put into chiller to let it chill completely before whipping.

Chocolate Ganache

110 g baking chocolate (chopped)/ semi-sweet chocolate chips
20 g evaporated milk
1 tbsp butter

Put everything into a microwave-safe bowl. Cook in microwave (high) in 30 seconds interval until the chocolate is thoroughly melted. I microwave twice to get the chocolate to completely melt. Do not overheat. Set aside to let it cool off a bit.

Cake Assembly

1. Fill and coat sponge cake with whipped chocolate ganache. You can get the sponge cake recipe here. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

2. Make chocolate ganache and slowly pour on top of cake. The ganache should be slighty warm and not hot or it will melt the cream.

3. Add M&Ms and other decoration of your choice (M&Ms should be put last).

My last year Teddy Bear Cake for my son's 2nd birthday:

Friday 18 March 2016

Stir-fried Beef with Ginger and Spring Onion 姜葱牛肉

I love this dish. Not so much of the ginger and spring onion per say, but I love the tender, springy beef slices. The ginger and spring onion compliment the dish well. It remove that beefy odour and at the same time, lend an aromatic sharp scent to the dish. It is really a match made in heaven. Best of all, this is a very easy dish. Everything happens in less than 5 minutes.

Having said that, it is essential not to overcook the beef or else it would become tough and chewy, spoiling the whole dish in the process. A very high heat is essential to bring out the flavour (the Chinese call it "wok hei"). The beef must not be cooked for too long in the wok. Therefore, do prepare everything beforehand. In order to make the beef more tender and springy, you could treat the beef with a little baking soda and then wash it off.

Monday 14 March 2016

Basic Chocolate Sponge 巧克力海绵蛋糕

Baking sponge cake is my nemesis. More often than not, I would get a cracked top or a shrunken middle. I always marveled at those who could get that perfect crease-free puffed up top. No matter how hard I tried, somehow the recipe would fail me. Oh well, maybe I failed the recipe. After rounds of trying, I have finally found something that worked for me. To cut the story short, I managed to come out with a decent chocolate sponge this time and I am utterly ecstatic about it.

Thursday 10 March 2016

Pork Belly with Taro (Yam) / Wu Tau Kau Yoke 芋頭扣肉

This comfort food has its origins from the Hakkas from China. It has that trademark upside-down presentation that is popular in Hakka dishes. By braising the dish in an upside-down manner for hours, the gravy and flavour are soaked completely by the meat and yam giving you that most scrumptious bite. It is no wonder why it is such a popular household dish.

Honestly speaking, this dish is not much of a looker. Any established chefs would have been appalled at its blackened mashed-up appearance. I would rather call this rustic. But once you have tasted these succulent layers of melt-in-your-mouth proteins, the mere uninspiring appearance would be enough make you salivating. I am not kidding.

Saturday 5 March 2016

Roti Jala/Lacy Pancakes 网煎饼

Mention Roti Jala to any fellow Malaysian and immediately you would see this glee on his/her face in recognition of this delicacy. It is nothing really, just some crepe, all in its lacy appearance. But when paired with some good dish of curry, oh wow, it is just amazing. The crepe itself is savoury, infused with coconut milk to make it fragrant, creamy and rich. The essence of a good Roti Jala is in its fluffiness and richness. This is one pancake that you would want to go back for more and more. No wonder it is a popular festive food. You would most certainly find it on occasions like Hari Raya and Malay weddings.
Thank you for your dropping by to The Informal Chef. If you like what you have read and would like to SHARE this with your friends, kindly click on those little buttons available on top. I am also available in the following social medias:


Add "like" in FACEBOOK, "follow" in PINTEREST, or add your email to my BLOGGER's e-mail or RSS feed to keep abreast with my latest postings.

Look forward to your comments. Cheers!