01 March 2019

Asam Laksa

How many of you are like me, love to eat Asam Laksa but scared of overwhelming fishy smell, and also dislike handling raw mackerel fish or Ikan Kembong, the small fish that's used to make the laksa?

The thing is, I've been craving for Asam Laksa, missing the flavourful, tangy and spicy fish broth with smooth & chewy rice noodles as well as the different textures/colours toppings for the laksa. And no, Asam Laksa is definitely not available where I stay currently (in Thailand).

I'm so glad to find Ayam Brand Sardines in Extra Virgin Olive Oil at the supermarkets here! It has nearly no fishy smell (probably because the sardines are brined in EVOO) and so much easier to handle (fish bones are teeny tiny and can be mashed up easily, or just remove the centre bone with ease).


This is my quick and easy Asam Laksa, without having to go through the trouble of cleaning raw Ikan Kembong fish, preparing complicated fish broth or removing bones from the fish etc etc. Do note that I replaced or omitted a few ingredients as they are not available where I stay.

What I did was, blend the rempah spice paste ingredients with some EVOO brine from the can, then stir-fry the rempah using the remaining brine as well as the sardines together until fragrant. Next add water, instant fish or ikan bilis cube (yes, it's cheating but hey, I'm looking for quick & easy & fuss-free) and Thai basil, boil for 10-15 mins, season with tamarind paste, salt and sugar and viola, the asam laksa soup broth is ready!

Finally, cook some rice noodles, add toppings of choice (I add more sardine fish, chopped salad leaves, pineapple, cucumber, red onion, chilli padi, lime juice as well as Hei Ko or sweet shrimp paste (which I brought from SG last year to make rojak! Yay!) and a bowl of yummy Asam Laksa is ready!


Asam Laksa
(serves 3 big or 4 small servings)

(A) Rempah/Spice Paste
  • 5 pcs shallots
  • 3 dried chilli, soak in hot water till softened and remove seeds
  • 2 big red chilli, remove seeds
  • 1 pc lemongrass, bottom 3" only, cut into small slices
  • 1 cm turmeric root, cut into small slices
  • 1 tsp belachan, toasted
  • 1-2 tbsp brine from Ayam Brand Sardines in EVOO
  1. Add all the ingredients into a blender/food chopper and blend till smooth paste.
(B) Fish broth
  • 1 can Ayam Brand Sardines in EVOO
  • Rempah spice paste from (A)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 pcs instant fish stock cube (or ikan bilis cube)
  • 6 pcs thai basil
  • 3 tbsp instant tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Add the remaining brine from the can, all the sardines (not necessary to remove bones) and the rempah spice paste into a pot, stir-fry the mixture till aromatic for a few minutes. Crush and mash up the sardines when frying.
  2. Add water, stock cube and Thai basil, and bring to boil on medium heat. After the broth boils, lower heat to low and simmer for 10-15 mins.
  3. Season with instant tamarind paste, sugar and salt (to taste) and the broth is ready to use.
(C) Asam Laksa and Garnish
  • 1 can Ayam Brand Sardines in EVOO
  • 200g thick rice noodles (dried ones)
  • Fish broth from (B)
  • 1/2 pc cucumber, julienned
  • 1/4 pc pineapple, sliced into small pieces
  • 1 red onion, cut into thin slices
  • Handful of mint leaves
  • Handful of salad leaves, chopped
  • 1-2 pcs chilli padi, cut into small slices
  • 3-4 wedges lime
  • 3-4 tbsp hei ko / sweet shrimp paste
  • *torch ginger, omitted as not available
  1. Open another can of sardines, remove centre bones from the sardines if desired and tear the sardines into flakes.
  2. Cook the thick rice noodles for 10-12 mins till the noodles are fully cooked, al dente. Drain and rinse in ice water. Add the rice noodles into 3-4 individual bowls.
  3. Scoop the fish broth into the bowls of noodles.
  4. Add desired toppings - sardine flakes, salad leaves, red onion, pineapple, cucumber, mint leaves, chilli padi, lime and hei ko. 
  5. Mix well to eat and best enjoyed hot!

I'm really pleased with how my quick and easy Asam Laksa turned out! The broth is quite flavourful, tangy and spicy, but not fishy and lighter on the palate as well, love the combination of different colours and textures of the toppings. Even the hubby enjoyed it and said it was not bad at all.

Glad that I can cook this dish anytime I have cravings now. And also thinking of making more dishes with Ayam Brand Sardines in Extra Virgin Olive Oil =D

13 January 2019

Yuzu Cupcakes with Yuzu Buttercream Frosting

Happy New Year! Oooh, it's 2019 already and I've neglected my blog for such a long time :p


I still wish to blog but just that these days it seemed too much effort to do so :p Posting on IG and FB is much faster than having to edit photos on my laptop or PC, and having to think of the topic to write. Haha, I'm simply lazy.

Anyways, today's topic is on YUZU! Yes, my ultimate obsession. I asked around, people who know Yuzu all love Yuzu to bits lol. And like me, besides Yuzu foodstuff such as yuzu tea, yuzu crackers, yuzu cookies, yuzu cakes, they are also into other Yuzu-related merchandise like yuzu lip balm, yuzu shower gel, Yuzu cleanser etc etc =D

I digress :p

Ok, so my family went to Toyko in December and when I saw these gorgeous babies, I simply have to lug them back. Needless to say these couldn't be found in Thailand and even back in SG, they are rare and super expensive. When I saw them at Tsukiji market, I just went crazy and bought a box of L size ones (9 pcs), half a dozen small ones and half a dozen organic ones.

Have been thinking about what to do with these babies, I mean I have to use them up asap while they still look so fresh and plump. In the past years, I've already created a number of recipes using Yuzu, namely Yuzu Marmalade, Yuzu Chiffon Cake, Yuzu Marmalade Yogurt Cake, Yuzu Curd, Yuzu Curd Meringue Cupcake, Yuzu Curd Tart.  



So far have already made a few bottles of Yuzu Marmalade and since I've not made cupcakes for a long time and yet to try making Yuzu buttercream, I adapted one of my old recipes to create these delectable mini Yuzu cupcakes with Yuzu buttercream frosting. 


I'm so pleased with the results :)

The cupcake itself is moist and tender and good to eat on its own, but even better paired with Yuzu buttercream. The Yuzu buttercream frosting is surprisingly light with the wonderful aroma of yuzu; normally I'm not a fan of buttercream but this buttercream I found myself stealing mouthfuls of it! Sinful I know, but it tastes so yummy!


My recipe yields 20 pieces of mini cupcakes, I ate quite a few myself and gifted the remaining away. And my friends enjoyed the cupcake too, they liked it that they are not too sweet and oh yes the yuzu smelled so heavenly.


So here's sharing the recipes for making the cupcakes as well as the buttercream.

Ingredients for the cupcake include cake flour, baking powder, salt, unsalted butter, caster sugar (rub with yuzu zest), eggs, fresh milk, fresh yuzu juice and yuzu marmalade.

If you don't have fresh yuzu, you can simply use the Korean Citron tea and omit the yuzu zest and yuzu juice. This recipe can also be used for orange or lemon.

For buttercream, I use the Italian meringue method, ingredients are caster sugar, water, egg whites, unsalted butter and yuzu marmalade. Likewise yuzu marmalade can be replaced with Korean Citron tea or orange marmalade. And it's not necessary to use the Italian meringue method, Swiss meringe method works fine too. I have shared several buttercream frosting using Swiss meringue method before, please search for them.



Yuzu Cupcakes
(Makes 20 pcs with 4cm base cases)
* this recipe can be adapted to lemon or orange flavour
Yuzu cupcake
  • 150g cake flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 115g unsalted butter
  • 120g caster sugar
  • Zest of 1 large & 1 small fresh yuzu or 2 medium ones (omit if don't have) 
  • 2 eggs (medium size about 60g)
  • 60g fresh milk
  • 65g Yuzu marmalade (or Korean Citron Tea)
  • 25g fresh Yuzu juice (from 1 large & 1 small fresh yuzu or 2 medium ones, replace with yuzu marmalade if don't have)
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degree celsius, conventional mode.
  2. Line the cupcake cases on a baking tray. Set aside.
  3. Sift cake flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
  4. Zest the fresh yuzu and rub the yuzu zest into the caster sugar until well-mixed. Set aside.
  5. Squeeze fresh yuzu juice (reserve the seeds, pulp and peel for making more marmalade). 
  6. Mix fresh milk, yuzu marmalade and fresh yuzu juice. Set aside.
  7. Add butter and yuzu caster sugar (from 4) into mixing bowl, beat on medium high speed using k-beater until smooth and creamy, about 4 mins. Stop to scrap sides of bowl, beat for another minute.
  8. Reduce to medium low speed, add eggs gradually and beat till just mixed.
  9. Add the flour mixture (from 3) in 3 additions, alternating with the yuzu milk mixture (from 6) in 2 additions. Beat till just blended, finish off by removing mixing bowl from mixer, scrap sides of bowl and fold gently.
  10. Using an ice-cream scoop or spoon, fill batter into the cupcake cases, about 2/3 full.
  11. Bake at 180 degree celsius, conventional mode, for 15-18 mins (toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean).
  12. Remove from oven and let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
Yuzu Buttercream
(makes enough buttercream to frost 2 batches of cupcakes)
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 20g water
  • 75g egg whites (about 2 eggs)
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 5-6 tbsp Yuzu marmalade (or Korean Citron tea)
  1. Add sugar and water into a heavy bottom pot, bring to boil to 118 degree celsius (measure using a candy thermometer).
  2. When the sugar mixture reaches 100 degree celsius, start whipping the egg whites on medium high speed. *if the egg whites already reaches soft peak and sugar mixture has not reached 118 degree celsius, shift the speed to low and let it continue whipping)
  3. Once the sugar mixture reaches 118 degree celsius, bring the pot to the mixer, add the sugar syrup very slowly into the egg white. Switch mixer to high speed and whip the mixture till it cools down completely.
  4. Place the entire mixing bowl into the fridge for a few hours (till temperature reaches less than 10 degree celsius).
  5. Place the mixing bowl back to the electric mixer, add the cold cubed butter piece by piece and beat at medium high speed, till mixture turns into buttercream and no more liquid.
  6. Add Yuzu marmalade into the buttercream and whisk till well-incorporated.
  7. Buttercream frosting is ready to be used. Fit piping bag with star nozzle (I use Wilton 1M), fill buttercream into bag and pipe onto the cupcakes.


As I have more than enough Yuzu buttercream to frost the cupcakes (only made 1 batch of cupcakes), I decided to make a petite 4.5" size cake to use up the buttercream.

Used half quantity of the cupcake recipe above, and the batter is just nice for a 4.5" round cake pan. Bake at 180 degree celsius for about 40-45 mins. Once the cake cools down, slice the cake sideways to make 2 layers. I fill the layers with Yuzu marmalade, frost the whole cake with the leftover Yuzu buttercream and did some simple rose piping using Wilton 1M tip.


The cake wasn't very nicely frosted as I was rushing for time, but still it turned out really yummy! A 4.5" size cake can serve around 4-5 slices of cake. If using full quantity of the cupcake recipe, I reckon it'll be good for a 6" cake.

I still have some yuzu left, what shall I make next? Chiffon cake is definitely a must as it's my favourite. Not sure if I have time to create new recipes as going to be busy with CNY cookies baking soon!

Follow me on my Instagram : dreamersloft17 as I post regularly there now :) Ciao!

15 October 2018

Beef & Chicken Rendang Burgers

[ Collaboration with Dancing Chef and Singapore Home Cooks ]

* Beef & Chicken Rendang Sliders using Padang Rendang Paste *


I'm very fond of making mini burgers because I think they look so cute and I feel less sinful about eating them sine they are mini ;p

I've been making different flavours of sliders such as classic beef & cheese, fish fillet and teriyaki chicken, this time I thought of using #DancingChef #RendangPaste to create my very own Beef & Chicken Sliders, an East-meet-West creation.


For the chicken patty, I use boneless chicken thigh and cut them into pieces around 5-6cm. Marinate the pieces with the Padang Rendang paste for around 2-3hrs. Coat the marinated chicken with tapioca flour, rest for 5 mins then deep-fry on medium heat till crispy and golden brown.

For the beef patty, I use minced beef; marinate the beef with the paste for 2-3hrs, shape into mini patties around 5cm, then pan-fry on medium heat till browned on both sides.

*If your family doesn't take beef, simply use chicken only and omit beef.

I also use the leftover paste to make a thick and creamy sauce, to add to the burger as well as a dipping sauce for the fries. The sauce tastes so aromatic, creamy and yummy! Similar to McD's curry sauce but much more fragrant and rich. I like!


And not forgetting the mini burger buns which I baked using the Yudane method, which yields a soft and fluffy texture, very suitable for making burgers. Dough weight for each bun is 35g, and each burger is around 5 - 5.5cm in diameter.

If you don't have time to bake your own burger buns, Gardenia and Sunshine have mini butter rolls which can be used as well.


Assembling the burgers is always fun, feel free to add any ingredients you fancy or none at all! For me, besides the chicken and beef patties, I added just coral salad leaves, cucumber, rendang sauce, as well as some cherry tomatoes and pickled gherkins as decorations.


Just look at these tantalising sliders, I bet you couldn't stop at one! They make great party food and everyone especially kids love burgers right?

The rendang marinate and sauce goes really well with the chicken and beef, it's a western burger yet with our favourite curry and spices flavouring that we Asians love. The paste is not overwhelming and not too spicy, even my son who doesn't take much spicy food enjoyed the burger.

I'm going to serve these for my next gathering!


Beef & Chicken Rendang Sliders
(Makes 12 sliders)

  • 250g boneless chicken thigh, cut into 6 pieces around 5-6cm
  • 300g minced beef
  • 1 packet Dancing Chef Padang Rendang Paste
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 150g coconut milk
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, smashed
  • 3 pieces kaffir lime leaves, remove centre vein and tear into pieces
  • 1 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • Tapioca flour, cooking oil
  • Salad leaves, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, pickled gherkins, mayonnaise
  1. Marinate chicken pieces wth 2 tsp of rendang paste for 2-3hrs.
  2. Marinate minced beef with 1 heap tbsp of rendang paste and finely chopped shallots for 2-3hrs.
  3. Rendang sauce: Add remaining rendang paste (around 50-55g left), coconut milk, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves into a cooking pot, bring to boil, stirring continuously to prevent burning. Add desiccated coconut and reduce heat, simmer till sauce thickens. Set aside.
  4. Coat the marinated chicken pieces with tapioca flour and set aside for 5 mins. Deep-fry the chicken pieces using medium heat till golden brown and crispy.
  5. Shape the minced beef into patties around 5-6cm diameter each. Pan-fry the beef patties using medium heat till browned on both sides.
  6. Assemble the burgers: Slice burger bun into half, spread a dollop of mayonnaise on the bottom half of the bun, top with a few pieces of salad leaves, follow by a slice of cucumber. Add a tsp of rendang sauce, top with chicken or beef patty, add another tsp of rendang sauce, cover with top half of burger bun. Finally decorate top of burger bun with halved cherry tomatoes or sliced pickled gherkins using toothpick or skewers.
*If not using beef, replace with another 250g boneless chicken thigh.

Mini Burger Buns (bonus recipe!)
(dough weight is about 500g, makes 14 buns about 35g each)

Japanese Yudane
(prepare night before)
  • 50g bread flour
  • 50g boiling water
  1. Place the bread flour in a heat-proof bowl. Add boiling water and quickly mix the flour with the water using a spatula.
  2. Initially the dough will be bits and pieces but keep pressing and bring the dough together, a rough dough will form.
  3. Cover the bowl with clingwrap and once the dough cool to room temperature, transfer the bowl to chill in fridge till next day.

Dough
  • Yeast mixture: 20g lukewarm water, 6g instant dry yeast, 5g caster sugar
  • 200g bread flour
  • 1 recipe Japanese Yudane (above recipe)
  • 1 recipe yeast mixture (above recipe)
  • 50g water 
  • 45g caster sugar
  • 2g fine sea salt 
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 egg white (reserve remaining half for brushing on burger bun)
  • 40g unsalted butter, cubed and slightly softened
  1. In a small bowl, mix water, yeast and sugar and let the mixture rest for a few minutes to turn frothy.
  2. Add bread flour, Yudane, yeast mixture, water, sugar, salt, egg yolk and egg white into a mixing bowl. Using a dough hook, mix the dough ingredients on low speed (speed 1 KitchenAid) for a minute, then switch to medium low speed (speed 2) and knead the dough till rough dough forms. 
  3. Add the butter, piece by piece into the dough. Once all the butter cubes are added, turn up mixer speed to medium (Speed 4) and knead the dough for about 10-12 mins. The dough is ready when it leaves the bottom of the bowl and "rides up" to the top of the dough hook. Or use the window pane method by stretching a piece of dough, it will be stretchy and almost translucent without breaking.
  4. The dough is quite soft and slightly sticky, oil both hands and take out the dough from the mixing bowl. Lightly knead for a minute, round the dough and place the dough into a well-oiled bowl for first proof. Cover the bowl with clingwrap and let the dough proof for about 30-45 mins or till dough doubles in size. *based on summer weather, hot & humid
  5. After 30-45 mins, take out the dough and knead lightly to press out the gas. Divide the dough into desired portions. Dough weight is about 500g, I divided the dough into 14 pieces of 35g each. Slightly round the dough portions, cover them with clingwrap and rest for 10 mins.
  6. After 10 mins, tighten and round the dough (by cupping the dough in the middle of your palm), and place the dough on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Cover loosely with clingwrap and proof for 45 mins. *Preheat the oven at 200 degree celsius after 30 mins.
  7. Bake the burger buns at 190-200 degree celsius for 10-12 mins. *turn down temperature to 180 or 190 degree celsius, and cover buns with aluminum foil if the buns browned too fast.
  8. Let the buns cool on a wire rack. If keeping till next day, cool completely before storing in an airtight box.

14 September 2018

Khanom Chor Muang & Khanom Jeab Nok (Thai Steamed Flower & Bird Dumplings)

Recent months, I've been intrigued by Thai desserts, especially the traditional ones that are served to the Thai Royalty since ancient times. I had wanted to go to BKK to attend classes but couldn't find the time.

Then, last weekend I happened to be at northern Chonburi and took the opportunity to visit a Thai Traditional Dessert Cafe called Hom's House at the Bang Saen area. Totally fell in love with the cafe, as well as the desserts served there!

My desire to make these intricate and pretty looking desserts was so strong and after watching several YouTube videos and researching in online recipes, I thought I would start with this Khanom Chor Muang as out of all the desserts I tried, I love this the most, as it's both sweet and savoury. It's basically a chicken dumpling but palm sugar is added to the chicken filling so it's sweet. I thought it's more apt as an appetiser but the Thais categorised it as a dessert.

Anyways, bought ingredients, tools and even similar serve ware (as the cafe) and this whole week I'm basically eating and breathing Chor Muang!! LOL!!


Proudly presenting my Khanom Chor Muang which is Thai Steamed Flower Dumplings and Khanom Jeab Nok which is Bird Dumplings. For the flower dumpling, anchan or butterfly bluepea flower is used as colouring; I wanted to get a pink flower so used beetroot but the colour turned out white -_-

A crimping tool (the thais call it Chor Muang tweezer) is used to shape the flower petals, yes petal by petal. It's quite therapeutic I must say. The Bird is much harder to shape and crimp!


All in all, I made three batches (five actually but threw out two - problems with cooking the dough and a particular recipe). So why three? The first batch (above picture), I used beetroot to colour the flowers pink but they turned out white. In addition, the texture of the dumpling is slightly different from what I ate, it's a bit hard and less soft and chewy.

The second batch (below picture), I intensified the beetroot water and the colour turned out more visible but it's more orangey than pink -__-. I also experimented with a different flour to try to get better texture but failed.

As for the third & final batch (same picture below - in blue), I changed the proportion of the flours used and hey, the texture turned out slightly closer to the one I tried! Yippeee! In addition, I used another crimping tweezer to create a different flower. Can see the difference? There are 2 videos below that show both crimping.


Anyways, I'm pleased that I managed to make this dessert! It's definitely not 100% yet, but I'm satisfied for now. Hopefully will make more improvements along the way. Let me rest from Chor Muang for some time first :p

Here's sharing my process of making Chor Muang. Like I said, this is not a perfect recipe yet yah. The full recipe will be after the brief explanations.

First step, cooking the chicken filling. Ingredients are simple, minced chicken, onion, coriander root, garlic, palm sugar, salt, white pepper, fish sauce and oil.


First of all, pound the coriander root with garlic and white pepper into a paste. In a frying pan, add the cooking oil, saute the paste till fragrant, then add onion and chicken. Finally season with palm sugar, fish sauce and salt (to taste). The filling shouldn't be too wet else difficult to wrap into the dough later.


Second step, will be the dough. Ingredients include rice flour, tapioca starch, arrowroot starch (or mung bean starch), glutinous rice flour, coconut milk, water (which can be coloured according to preference).


I use butterfly bluepea flower for blue, beetroot for pink and just water for white (the bird).


Mix all the ingredients together to form a runny batter. If necessary use your hand to do the mixing as there might be bits of undissolved flour. Alternatively, sieve the batter after mixing. I use my hand LOL!


Next comes the cooking of the batter into dough. Pour the batter into a COLD, NON-STICK pan, it's important! If the pan is hot, it will cook the batter to a rubbery dough (yes I tried it, it's one of a batch I threw out). Cook the batter using low heat (I'm using electric induction cooker, temperature is 60 degree celsius), stir constantly. It will get thicker and sticky and eventually come together in a dough. It took around 8-10 mins per batch colour. Non-stick pan is very useful here, makes it easier to cook the dough. And the pan is clean after each batch, no need to clean the pan between batches.


Now, the dough will still be very sticky, sprinkle some tapioca starch on a mat and knead the dough till smooth and not so sticky (it will still be a little tacky like soft play dough, when pull apart it stretches a little). Basically the dough will be slightly hot to touch initially and knead till it's barely warm.


Third step, wrapping the filling into the dough and crimp into shape! Please refer to the pictures below and a short video on the steps. Each dough ball is around 10.5g-11g. Filling is about half teaspoon.

For this particular flower design, the crimping tweezer is like a leaf shape. A bit tough initially, but after practising a few, it became manageable. Remember to dust with some tapioca starch in between crimps, otherwise the dough will stick onto the tweezer.




Fourth and final step, steaming the dumplings. Prepare a steamer on medium high heat. Place a banana leaf onto the steamer, brush with some cooking oil to prevent the dumplings from sticking to the leaf. Place the dumplings onto the leaf, using a spray bottle to spray some water onto the dumplings to prevent them from drying. Steam for 10 mins, after they are done, brush the surface of the dumplings with oil to give a little shine and prevent them from drying. 


Here are the before steaming pictures of the "pink" flower and the birdies, so cute right? But seriously they look nice but difficult to shape and too much dough :p


Yep, the "pink" flowers became white.


And so I made a second batch! For the first batch, I merely soak cubes of beetroot into cold water, probably that's why the colour wasn't intensed enough. This batch, I blended the beetroot and soak it in hot water for a longer amount of time. The colour turned out much better and I was quite happy!
 

BUT, after steaming, the colour turned out orangey rather than pink pink! Oh well -_- maybe next time try another type of natural colour or just use food colouring? Hmmm....


For the second batch, I also replaced arrowroot starch with mung bean starch to see if the texture of the dumpling would improve. Nope, didn't make much difference. 

And so I made my third batch! Increased the amount of tapioca starch and reduced rice flour, and also used a different crimping tweezer, which is more squarish shape. Below is another video of how the crimping looks like.


 

Hope that the explanations above are useful! Here's the full recipe.

**************************************************
 
Khanom Chor Muang ~ Thai Steamed Flower Dumpling
(each batch of dough weighs about 130g, makes 11-12 flower dumplings or 8-9 bird dumplings )

(A) Chicken Filling (enough to make 3 batches of dumplings)
  • 150g chicken thigh, minced
  • 70g onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 coriander root
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 25g palm sugar
  • 1.5-2 tbsp fish sauce, to taste
  • Pinch salt, to taste
  • 2 tsp cooking oil
  1. Pound the garlic, coriander root and white pepper into a paste.
  2. In a frying pan, add cooking oil on medium heat.
  3. Add paste (from 1) and saute till fragrant. 
  4. Add onion and fry till slightly translucent.
  5. Add minced chicken and fry till cooked. Use spatula and break up the minced chicken into smaller pieces during frying.
  6. Season with palm sugar, fish sauce and salt, to taste.
  7. If filling is too wet, turn up heat and simmer till sauce dries up. The filling is just a little moist.
  8. Dish and set aside.

(B) Dough (quantity is for one batch, repeat to get 3 batches)
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 2 tbsp tapioca starch
  • 2 tsp arrowroot starch or mung bean starch
  • 2 tsp glutinous rice flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp butterfly bluepea water or beetroot water or just water
  • Butterfly pea flower water - soak 10g bluepea flower in 50g hot water for at least 30 mins.
  • Beetroot water - blend 15-20g beetroot and soak in 50g hot water for at least 30 mins.
  1.  Mix the 4 types of flour/starch together.
  2. Add coconut milk and mix well till no bits of flour.
  3. Add bluepea water/beetroot water/water and mix well.
  4. Sieve the batter to get rid of fine bits of flour (or use hand to mix the batter).
  5. Add the batter into COLD frying pan on very low heat. Stir the batter till it thickens and eventually comes together into a dough. Each batch takes 8-10 mins. Repeat for 3 batches. The dough will be sticky.
  6. Sprinkle tapicoa starch onto a mat, knead the dough till barely warm, and texture less sticky.
  7. Dough weight is around 125-130g. *For the flower dumpling, divide dough into 11-12 pcs, each piece around 10.5g to 11g. For the bird dumpling, divide dough into 8-9 pcs, each around 14-15g)
  8. Shape dough to circle/bowl, scoop half teaspoon of chicken filling into the centre, close up the dough and roll into a ball. *for the bird dumpling, after closing the dough, pinch some excess dough to form the head and neck of the bird.
  9. Use crimping tweezer to crimp the ball into flowers. *For the bird, crimp lines for the bird's body. 
  10. For the bird's beak, cut carrot into small triangles and stick the carrot into the head. For the eyes, stick black sesame seeds.
  11. Prepare a steamer on high heat, place banana leaves into the steamer. Once water boils, brush the banana leaves with oil and place the dumplings onto the leaves. Spray the dumplings with water.
  12. Steam the dumplings for 10 mins. Once done, brush the surface of the dumplings with some oil.
  13. Scoop the dumplings into serving plate and serve with fried garlic, lettuce, coriander and chilli.
  14. Best eaten warm and on the same day.

**************************************************

Hope the recipe and videos would be useful! Below are more food porn LOL!
Enjoy!







It has been an exciting week for me to make these dumplings. Hope to find time to attempt more Thai desserts, stay tuned!

29 August 2018

Cream Cheese Bun & Burger Bun using Japanese Yudane method

I have not baked these Cream Cheese Buns for ages! In Singapore they are known as "Ah Bian" originating from the homegrown bakery chain BreadTalk. I often wonder why these cream cheese buns are baked flat instead of other shapes like round or longish? Vaguely recall that it was introduced many years back during the Taiwan Presidential Elections and the bun was named after former President Chen Shui-Bian (who is affectionately called Ah Bian by her people). My memory might be wrong.

I digress.

Anyways, 4 years ago, I baked the Cranberry Cream Cheese version which is the original version using the Tangzhong (water-roux) method. This time I tried the Yudane method which is a method created by Japanese bakers to achieve super fluffy bread texture and remains soft even the next few days. In fact I've been baking buns with filling all along using this method or a similar Yukone method. Frankly I'm not so sure what's the difference between the two (didn't have time or rather lazy to find out). Basically the method is using boiling water to scald bread flour to form a "rough dough" known as gelatinized starch. Chill this starch overnight in fridge and add it to the main dough the next day.

If I have time or plan my bakes in advance, I would prefer this Yudane method over the 65C Tangzhong method because firstly due to the method, there's always leftover tangzhong (which I ended up discarding) and secondly somehow the bread doesn't turn out as fluffy as the Yudane method.


This time I baked the cream cheese bun without cranberry because the boy specifically told me he didn't want cranberries! Grrr, he used to like cranberries -_-

I also used part of the dough to make burger buns because I was planning for homemade beef burger and disliked store-bought burger buns. I prefer my burger buns to be soft and fluffy with tinge of sweetness and buttery flavour; and they go with my homemade beef patties very well.

In fact, this dough is really versatile, can be used to make buns with filling, burger buns, hotdog buns and even loaf bread.


As mentioned, make the Yudane one day in advance or the night before and chill in the fridge (forgot to take photo of the Yudane). The next day, simply add all the dough ingredients with the Yudane into the mixer and let the mixer knead the dough (I use KitchenAid and knead at Speed 4 for around 10-12 mins). The dough tends to be very soft and slightly sticky so I usually oil my hands before picking up the dough. Let the dough rise for about 45 mins till double in size.


After 45 mins of first proof, I divided the dough into individual portions. The dough weight was about 500g; 3 portions of dough 70g each were reserved for the burger buns and remaining 8 dough portions 36g each for the cream cheese buns. Slightly round the dough portions and cover the dough portions with clingwrap and let them rest for 10 mins.

The 3 burger buns were then shaped and rounded first so that they could finish their second proofing before the cream cheese buns and baked first.

For the remaining 8 portions, flatten and scoop the cream cheese filling in the middle, close into a ball, pitch the dough tightly before flattening the dough into shape.

Cream cheese filling is very simple, just mix cream cheese, icing sugar, fresh milk and vanilla extract till light and creamy, and chill in freezer till ready to use. 


The second proofing for the cream cheese buns is slightly more tricky. They have to be proofed and baked flattened in order to retain the shape, and preferably using dark-coloured trays for the buns to "darken". I haven't tried using normal aluminum trays, maybe the buns will not be as browned.

What I did was to have a large baking tray at the bottom, place a baking mat or paper on the bottom tray, place the buns on the mat/paper. Cover the buns with another baking mat/paper, then cover them with another baking tray. I only have 1 dark-color tray, so I used 2 smaller trays which worked too. Let the buns proof for 45-60 mins, and send the whole set-up into the oven to bake. That's it! Actually not that difficult after all.



Cream Cheese Bun
[dough weight is about 500g, makes 8 cream cheese bun (36g each) & 3 burger buns (70g each)]

Japanese Yudane
(prepare night before)
  • 50g bread flour
  • 50g boiling water
  1. Place the bread flour in a heat-proof bowl. Add boiling water and quickly mix the flour with the water using a spatula. Keep pressing and bring the
  2. Initially the dough will be bits and pieces but keep pressing and bring the dough together, a rough dough will form.
  3. Cover the bowl with clingwrap and once the dough cool to room temperature, transfer the bowl to chill in fridge till next day.

Cream cheese filling
(prepare during first proof)
  • 150g cream cheese, cubed and softened
  • 40g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tbsp fresh milk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Place the cream cheese and icing sugar in a mixing bowl and mix on medium speed (Speed 4-6) till well blended.
  2. Add fresh milk and vanilla extract and mix till filling is light and creamy.
  3. Scrap the cream cheese filling into a container and store in the freezer till ready to use.  
Dough
  • Yeast mixture: 20g lukewarm water, 6g instant dry yeast, 5g caster sugar
  • 200g bread flour
  • 1 recipe Japanese Yudane
  • 1 recipe yeast mixture
  • 50g water
  • 45g caster sugar
  • 2g fine sea salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 egg white (reserve remaining half for brushing on burger bun)
  • 40g unsalted butter, cubed and slightly softened
  1.  In a small bowl, mix water, yeast and sugar and let the mixture rest for a few minutes to turn frothy.
  2. Add bread flour, Yudane, yeast mixture, water, sugar, salt, egg yolk and egg white into a mixing bowl. Using a dough hook, mix the dough ingredients on low speed (speed 1 KitchenAid) for a minute, then switch to medium low speed (speed 2) and knead the dough till rough dough forms. 
  3. Add the butter, piece by piece into the dough. Once all the butter cubes are added, turn up mixer speed to medium (Speed 4) and knead the dough for about 10-12 mins. The dough is ready when it leaves the bottom of the bowl and "rides up" to the top of the dough hook. Or use the window pane method by stretching a piece of dough, it will be stretchy and almost translucent without breaking.
  4. The dough is quite soft and slightly sticky, oil both hands and take out the dough from the mixing bowl. Lightly knead for a minute, round the dough and place the dough into a well-oiled bowl for first proof. Cover the bowl with clingwrap and let the dough proof for about 30-45 mins or till dough doubles in size. *based on summer weather, hot & humid
  5. After 30-45 mins, take out the dough and knead lightly to press out the gas. Divide the dough into desired portions. Dough weight is about 500g, I divided the dough into 3 pieces of 70g each and 8 pieces of 36g each. Slightly round the dough portions, cover them with clingwrap and rest for 10 mins.
  6. Start with the burger buns, tighten and round the dough (by cupping the dough in the middle of your palm), and place the dough on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Cover loosely with clingwrap and proof for 45 mins. *Preheat the oven at 200 degree celsius after 30 mins.
  7. For the cream cheese buns, take a piece of dough, flatten using rolling pin into a disc. Scoop about 1 - 1.5 spoon of cream cheese filling into the centre of the disc. Close up the dough into a ball and pinch tightly. Turn the dough over, roll it into a ball by cupping the dough in the middle of your palm, then flatten the dough once again using the palm. Repeat till all the dough used up.
  8. Prepare 2 large dark-coloured baking trays and 2 baking mats or paper. Start with a large baking tray at the bottom, place a baking mat or paper on the bottom tray, place the flattened dough pieces on the mat/paper. Cover them with another baking mat/paper, and finally cover with another baking tray. Proof for 45-60 mins.
  9. First bake burger buns: 200 degree celsius for 10-12 mins. *turn down temperature to 180 or 190 degree celsius, and cover buns with aluminum foil if the buns browned too fast.
  10. Second bake cream cheese buns: Send the whole set-up (step 8) into the oven, 200 degree celsius for 10-12 mins.
  11. Let the buns cool on a wire rack. If keeping till next day, cool completely before storing in an airtight box.

19 August 2018

Chwee Kueh 水粿

My kiddo and hb love Chwee Kueh very much and the kiddo has been bugging me to make it for him. Both of them used to eat it at the hawker centres at least once or twice a week! We used to go to Ghim Moh market for the chwee kueh; the kueh is excellent, but my kiddo doesn't like their savoury type of chai poh. Alternatively, we would go to Clementi or West Coast markets where their chai poh are the sweet type. Well, now they can only get to eat this when they request and if I feel like making it :p


Frankly I've never make this in SG before because it's simply too convenient and much quicker if we were to eat it at hawker centres. For a batch like this, it took me around 1.5hrs! But now that we are in Thailand, cravings could only be satisfied by homemade I guess, which means OT for me in the kitchen -_-"

I like to make my chwee kueh mini size because I can literally put the whole piece in the mouth and munch away without the chai poh falling all over the place =D

The size of the mini chwee kueh is around 4.5cm and the chai poh topping is around 1 heap teaspoon, it's like a golden proportion to me ;p


I started off with cooking the chai poh or preserved radish first. I like my chai poh to have some crunch, not too oily and well-balanced between sweet and savoury. In Thailand, I can only find the sweet type of chai poh; it's actually not very sweet after rinsing and soaking in water for 15 mins.

Basically add some cooking oil to a pot, sautee minced dried shrimps, garlic and shallot till fragrant, then add the preserved radish and stir-fry on medium heat for about 10 mins. Thereafter add seasonings like light soy sauce, fish sauce, white pepper and sugar to taste; add a little bit of dark soy sauce for the colour, and also some toasted sesame seeds for the fragrance. Continue to simmer for about 10 mins on medium low heat and the chai poh is ready.


The chwee kueh or "water cake" is the trickier one to make as it's not easy to get the correct texture and consistency. The batter mixture of rice flour, wheat starch, corn flour, salt and water (room temp & boiling) might seem so simple but I realised that following proper steps are actually quite important. 

After mixing the flours and water (first room temp then boiling) together to form the batter, it's crucial to stir the batter each time you want to use it, otherwise the flours tend to settle at the bottom with the top being more diluted. As a result, chances are the initial batches of kueh will be very soft, and towards the end very hard.

Hence it's also important to work fast when filling the batter into the moulds, otherwise by the time all the moulds are filled, once again the flours settle at the bottom. Hence to overcome this, I oil the moulds and place them in the wok steamer as the water is boiling. Then using a jug/measuring cup with spout, I quickly pour the batter into the moulds (water is still boiling at the bottom of the steamer) and stirring the batter after a few pours to ensure it remains homogeneous.
And after the chwee kueh are done steaming, it's important exercise some patience and let the chwee kueh cool down slightly and set before unmoulding because otherwise the whole piece of kueh is too mushy and will break!

I learnt all these through trial and error. Actually I wonder how the hawkers do it as they prepare such large batches of chwee kueh daily!


Anyways, I'm glad that I could satisfy my family's cravings for this quintessential hawker food of Singapore from time to time.

Chwee Kueh 水粿
*reference from Bear Naked Food, Eat What Tonight
(makes 50 pieces, using mini moulds measuring 5cm top, 2.5cm bottom)


Ingredients
Chai Poh
  • 200g sweet preserved radish, rinsed and soak for 15 mins.
  • 2 tbsp dried shrimp, soak in hot water till softened then minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pcs shallot, minced
  • 1 tbsp white sesame seeds, lightly toasted
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil (I used 1/4 cup shallot oil, 1/4 cup coconut oil)
  • 4 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp dark soy sauce, for colour, adjust according to preference
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  1. In a pot, heat cooking oil on medium heat. Add minced dried shrimp and stir-fry till fragrant for a minute. 
  2. Add garlic and shallot and stir-fry for a minute.
  3. Drain the preserved radish and add into the pot. Stir fry on medium low heat for about 10 mins.
  4. Add the seasonings and adjust according to taste. Add the toasted sesame seeds. Mix well.
  5. Let the mixture simmer for about 10 mins on medium low heat, stirring occasionally.
  6. The chai poh is ready to use.
Kueh
  • 135g rice flour
  • 4 tsp wheat starch
  • 4 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 400ml room temperature water
  • 400ml boiling water
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, starches and salt and mix well.
  2. Add the tepid water and whisk till the dry ingredients are dissolved.
  3. Add boiling water in a steady stream, whisking the mixture at the same time, till batter is well-mixed.
  4. Prepare a steamer and bring water to boil (I'm using a wok with steamer insert). Wrap the cover of the steamer with a piece of towel/cloth to prevent water from dripping into the chwee kueh.
  5. Brush the mini moulds thoroughly with oil, and place the moulds into the steamer with the water boiling.
  6. Pour the batter into a jug with spout (stirring constantly to make sure batter consistency is homogeneous). Then quickly pour the batter into the mini moulds (with the water still boiling), stirring batter after every few pours. Repeat until all batter used up.
  7. Cover and steam the chwee kueh for about 15 mins. *if mould is larger, steam for 3-5 mins more.
  8. After 15 mins, remove the steamer insert from heat and let the chwee kueh cool down slightly and set. 
  9. Use a mini spatula or butter knife, insert in into the sides of the mould and lift the chwee kueh out of the mould. The chwee kueh should be able to be removed easily.
  10. Top the chwee kueh with about 1 heap tsp of chai poh each.
  11. Enjoy by popping one whole piece of chwee kueh with chai poh into the mouth!

02 August 2018

Curry Puff | Karipap

[ Collaboration with Dancing Chef and Singapore Home Cooks ]
Dish 1 - Laksa Yong Tau Foo
Dish 2 - Curry Puff / Karipap

"Curry pok! Curry pok!"
I remember during the 80s when I was in Primary School, every afternoon around 3pm, a Malay boy would carry a basket of freshly fried karipap and make his rounds in my block peddling his wares. There were two flavours, curry potato and sardine, differentiated with a red dot.

This is one of my favourite Malay kuih and needless to say, I would buy one of each flavour as my afternoon snack every other day. I cannot remember how much it cost, I think one piece was 10 cents? I recall savouring the puffs while they were still warm, eating the rounded part with filling first and the crispy edges to the last or sometimes I would do the other way round :p It's a very simple snack, but it's one of those simple pleasures we enjoyed in our childhood, isn't it?


This type of homemade karipap has a very nostalgic old-school taste, with a fragrant and thin crispy blistered crust and an aromatic curry potato filling, or sweet spicy and tangy sardine filling. These days, some Malay stalls at hawker centres or coffee shops still sell such karipap but somehow they don't taste as nice as they used to be.


Nowadays, there are many variations of curry puff, from the buttery flaky ones to thick chunky ones to super crispy spiral ones and many types of fillings as well, such as chilli crab, otah otah, black pepper and more. But the old-school one still holds a special place in my heart.

When I was researching on recipes, there are also many variations to achieve different results. Some recipes use hot oil which apparently makes the pastry super flaky; some recipes use more butter and less water which makes the pastry smoother, more buttery and a bit flaky; some recipes use separate oil and water dough to get the super flaky spiral effect; the recipe I'm using uses less butter and more water, resulting in a slightly blistered pastry skin, which is similar to the old-school curry puff I grew up with.


I made only chicken potato curry filling this time, using Dancing Chef Indian Curry Paste, which has No MSG, No Preservatives, No Artificial Colouring, and super convenient and easy to use! The curry paste has all the aromatics and spices already so no messy chopping, grinding or frying work to do.

I just have to prepare some chicken breast meat, potato, onion, garlic and coconut milk (and water). I simmered the chicken curry potato till the potato is soft but not mushy and with just a little gravy left. The taste is so good without being overwhelming, really suitable as filling for curry puff or pies.


Now to the pastry part, which is trickier. Frankly this is my first proper attempt in making curry puff! I think many many years ago, I tried making it but failed miserably at the dough. Not sure what happened but I simply couldn't close the dough properly and did such a horrible job at pleating the edges that most of my puff opened up before or during deep-frying resulting in a horrible mess.

I guess with more experience in the kitchen, I did a much better job this time round \(^o^)/ The first few pleating were super ugly and my puffs were totally out of shape, but subsequently I got the hang of the pleating technique and managed to get pretty decent looking ones! But somehow I find it easier to roll the dough into an oval shape and make the puff round and fat. I think I need more practice to make the conventional long and slim one :p


Curry Puff | Karipap
(makes 18-20 pcs)

Filling
  • 1 packet Dancing Chef Indian Curry Paste
  • 300g potato, cubed
  • 200g chicken breast, cubed
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  1. Marinate cubed chicken breast with 2 tbsp of curry paste for about 30 mins.
  2. In a frying pan on medium heat, add 2 tbsp of cooking oil, stir-fry diced onion and garlic till fragrant and translucent.
  3. Add the marinated chicken breast and stir-fry till the meat turns opaque/slightly cooked. 
  4. Add potato and remaining curry paste and stir-fry till all ingredients are well-coated with paste.
  5. Add water and coconut milk, and bring to boil.
  6. Lower heat,  cover and simmer till potato is soft, and gravy is reduced and the filling is moist (do not let the gravy dry up).
  7. Set aside to cool completely.

Dough
  • 375g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 75g butter (I use Golden Churn canned butter)
  • 200ml water (could be slightly more or less)
  1. Add flour and salt into a large mixing bowl, stir till well-mixed for about a minute.
  2. Add butter and water (bit by bit) into the flour mixture, use a spatula to fold and mix the ingredients together. 
  3. Once the ingredients are mixed and a rough dough is formed, use the hand to knead the dough till smooth and non-sticky. 
  4. Cover the bowl with clingwrap or towel and let the dough rest for 15-20 mins.
  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly-floured mat. Roll the dough to about 4mm thickness, use a 9cm round pastry cutter to cut out as many circles as possible. Knead the leftover dough into a ball, and repeat till all the dough is used up.
Wrapping
  1. Take a piece of round dough, roll the dough to oval shape, place the dough onto the palm, scoop about 1 tbsp of chicken potato curry onto the dough and fold the dough to close.
  2. Seal the edges by pressing the dough using finger tips. Pleat the edges together starting from right to left, by pressing a small piece of dough using finger tip into scallop, then push the scalloped piece of dough downwards. Repeat till the whole puff is pleated.
  3. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling till all ingredients are used up.
  4. The curry puffs are best eaten freshly fried. If a big batch is made, at this point, the curry puffs can be stored in freezer. Lay each piece on a lined tray single layer and cover tray with cling wrap or aluminium foil. Place the tray into the freezer. Once the puffs are frozen, they can be transferred to a ziplock bag or box and stacked.
 Deep-frying
  1. Heat a pot of cooking oil to medium heat. Make sure the depth of cooking oil is able to fully cover the curry puff.
  2. Deep-fry the curry puffs till they turn golden brown on both sides. 
  3. Drain the curry puff with kitchen towel or metal strainer.
  4. Best eaten warm.


I must say I'm quite pleased with how the curry puffs turned out :) The HB also gave thumbs up!

They are not perfect yet, but better than nothing right? This is not readily available at where I stay, and can't recall whether I see them in BKK or not. Anyways, I'm happy that I can now make a big batch and freeze them so that I can satisfy my cravings anytime!

I'm gonna explore other fillings next time round, like sardine and even Thai flavours like Tom Yum or green curry!

Meanwhile, let me enjoy a few more shiokalicious curry puffs with a nice warm cuppa Teh Tarik and reminisce the good old days!

Happy National Day in advance to all Singaporeans!


From 1 to 31 August 2018, purchase 3 packets of Dancing Chef™’s pastes or sauces at just S$7.85 (UP: S$2.85/packet), and stand a chance to win a pair of passes to a cooking workshop helmed by local celebrity chef Lisa Leong on 16 Sep 2017. There are 30 pairs of passes to be won.

Dancing Chef promotion is available at FairPrice supermarkets exclusively.

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