Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tangyuan - Traditional chinese rice balls in Soup

We celebrated the Dōngzhì Festival or Winter Solstice festival yesterday. Traditionally, this festival is to celebrate the change of the season; it marks the end of the extreme of Winter (in the northern hemisphere) and from this point onwards, the days will be increasingly longer. However, here in the Southern Hemisphere we will find the days getting shorter and shorter.

On the Dōngzhì Festival, we make the traditional Tangyuan, literally translated it means 'ball in soup'. Though ready-made ones are easily available, we prefer to make them from scratch. It lends to the festive spirit and it is simple to make.

  • 1 cup glutinous rice flour
  • 4 ounces water
  • Fresh ginger, small piece about 3 cm, crushed
  • Sugar
  1. Place flour in the large mixing bowl
  2. Gradually mix in the water until the mixture gains a dough-consistency; you may not need all the water
  3. Knead the dough for 5 minutes
  4. Pinch off small pieces of the dough and roll them into balls, traditionally it is preferred to have some small and some big ones
  5. Put a pot of water to boil
  6. Drop the balls into the boiling water
  7. When the balls float up, scoop them out and set aside in a bowl with water at room temperature.
  8. Prepare the syrup soup by boiling the sugar and ginger in a pot.
  9. Serve the glutinous rice balls with the syrup soup.
Things can get a bit more complicated when you start adding colours or putting fillings in the rice balls. It reminds me very much of the commercialization of our traditional food. You can find technicolor balls with myriad option of fillings in the Asian grocery store.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Chocolate Cake Supreme

This chocolate cake is simple to make. It has a nice texture with soft crunch of the fresh walnuts. I pay particular attention to the choice of the main ingredients, going to great lengths to look for the freshest walnuts and good tasting chocolate.


  • 1/4 cup Thickened cream
  • 200g dark cooking chocolate, chopped ( Try Whittaker's Dark Block over standard Cadbury or Nestle cooking chocolate)
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 150g Castor sugar
  • 80g Unsalted butter
  • 60g plain flour, sifted
  • 60g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 100g walnut halves, cut into 3 or 4 pieces
  • a pinch of cream of tartar
  • 60g Sultanas
  • 1/4 cup of Drambuie or other liqueur

  • You need a buttered 22cm (81/2 inch) cake tine
  • Pre-heat oven to 180°C/350°F
  • Mix sultanas and Drambuie in a bowl
  • Bring the cream to the boil in a small saucepan and then on a very low heat add the chocolate to melt
  • Beat egg yolks and sugar until fluffy and white
  • Whisk butter into chocolate preparation then gently mix in the egg yolk preparation, the two types of flour, the walnuts and the macerated sultanas
  • Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form.
  • Using a rubber spatula or large metal spoon, fold the beater whites into the chocolate prepartaion and pour the mixture into your cake tine. 
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.  Cool for  15 minutes before carefully unmoulding onto a cooling rack.
  • Before serving, dust the top with icing sugar or ice with the a chocolate ganache.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Orange Almond Cake

We have a few friends over for tea and decided to bake a cake. Looking through my collection of recipes, I decided on either the Orange Almond and Chocolate Supreme cake from Gabriel Gate's recipes. Undecided on the cake to make for the afternoon, I bought ingredients for two cakes and ended up making them both.

I started the day putting the oranges to simmer and preparing the blanched almonds. This flourless Orange Almond cake is basically based on the traditional Sephardic Jews recipe. The Sephardi are originally from the Iberian peninsular (where Spain and Portugal is) where oranges are plenty.

This is truly a slow-food - having to prepare the blanched almond from scratch and simmering the orange for two hours. 
Put on my favourite CD and work on the almond til the last song on the CD.This is the best way to chillout. Alternatively, you can buy ready blanched almond or ground almond meal.

After putting in the Orange cake to bake for an hour, the girls left to go for a walk in the park to work out an appetite, when it is time for to start working on the next cake.

"This flourless Orange cake is moist and had the truly awesome orange flavour. As the almonds are not finely ground, it has a nice texture."


2 Unblemished oranges
1 1/2 cups Blanched Almonds
1 cup Castor Sugar
5 eggs (size 61 gm)
1 tsp Baking Powder
Icing sugar for dusting


  1. Buttered or lined a 20cm (8 in) cake tin.
  2. Place the washed oranges in a pot with enough water to cover. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for two hours. Drain oranges and allow to cool.
  3. Blend almonds and sugar in a food processor until almonds are in quite small pieces. Transfer to plate.
  4. In the same food processor, blend the whle oranges to a puree. Add almond and sugar mixture and blend briefly before gradually adding the eggs and baking powder, blend until smooth.
  5. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake in preheated oven for 1 hour Cool for 10 mins before unmoulding to a cake rack.
  6. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dried Anchovies with Petai

I am taking the opportunity to revisit some of my favourite home cook dishes while my mum is visiting us from Malaysia.. This is a dish I requested from Mum to cook for lunch today. It is a dish of stir-fried dried anchovies, onions and 'Petai'. Petai is a kind of seed or bean that is bitter and have a very strong aroma, which makes this unusual delicacy an acquired taste. It is popular in South East Asia and North-eastern India. This beans are only available fresh in the SE Asia region, it is harvested from stringy twisted seed-pod on a tall tropical tree. They are available in Melbourne in small can, preserved in brine.

1 can (170g) Petai drained - use fresh beans where available
60g Dried anchovies (Ikan bilis)
1 Red chilli, sliced
4 tbsp of cooking oil
3 Big onions sliced
1 tsp Sugar
1 tbsp Black soy sauce


  1. Heat the oil in the pan. Fry the dried anchovies.
  2. Remove and set aside the fried anchovies, leaving the oil in the pan.
  3. Stir fry the sliced onions and chili in the pan
  4. Next put the petai to fry with the onions.
  5. Dissolve the sugar in the soy sauce, and pour and stir in the pan.
  6. Lastly, shut the flame off and stir in the fried anchovies.

Mum's tips:
  • Taking care not to overfried the anchovies, as with any food it can impart a unpleasant bitter burnt flavour. Remember to control the heat when anchovies are about to be brown.
  • Optionally add a teaspoon of thick sweet black soy sauce ('Kicap manis') for colour
  • Do not brown onions until it caramelised as in Western cooking, preferable onions have a little bit of rawness.
  • Keep fried anchovies slightly crispy when stirred into the onions and petai to maintain contrasting texture. So drop the when you mix the crispy fried anchovies in.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Outback Game Meat

I have been away on holidays again. It is so hard to keep up with the blog when you are on holidays. I have been ambitious, planning to keep up with the posting with my Netbook, in reality you just cannot focus on the blog while on holidays.

My holidays took me to the Red Centre of Australia. This place is also known as the outback of Australia. We stayed the town called Alice Springs, a remote city surviving on activities from the gas fields, cattle farming, and a major stopover for trucks and trains from Adelaide to Darwin (northern end of Australia).

We camped in the caravan and National parks. While at Alice Springs we get to eat out at Red Ochre Cafe , a local restaurant on one cold and rainy afternoon. Here we get to sample some local fare. We had a camel pie, and a plate of assorted items ('antipasto') which include Emu and Kangaroo meat served with turkish bread and some dips.

Camel is considered a pest or unwanted species of animals, or ferals. They have been imported during the mid 19th to early 20th century to transport goods in the harsh and arid land. During that time, the Afghans were hired as the camel drivers. The camel population has grown steadily and is believe to have reached a million, the government recently allocated $17 million to get rid of this animals. Some of these has been captured and slaughtered in abattoir. So the meat are readily available. Similarly kangaroos has been culled to control the population. These animals ended up on the dining table as game meat. Not too common in Melbourne, but more so in the bush country.
I find the Emu and roo meat a bit tough and chewy. They are usually cooked rare, or alternatively they should be stewed for many hours to tennderise them.

The camel meat pie is excellent. Juicy and mildly flavoured with dried kumquat or orange peel.

At Kings Canyon (National Park) grocery/fuel station store, we came across frozen Kangaroo tails about one and half foot long. I wish they sell these in Melbourne. I would love to cook a delicious stew out of these. At the store, we picked up some camel steaks (and together with some crocodile meat which we bought at the butcher in Alice Springs), we cooked them camp. I must say I like the flavour and texture of the camel meat.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Pasta alla Puttanesca – Whore’s pasta

Puttanesca come from the Italian word 'puttana' which means ‘whore’, there are a few stories on the origin of this sauce. One story goes to say that due to the limited time and the inconvenience to shop at the markets, people in these 'category of profession' (presumably in Italy )  would cook simple pasta using whatever they can get from the kitchen larder, and therefore the creation of this delicious recipe.

This sauce is very simple to made, and use ingredients that is easily available. I reviewed a few version of the recipes on the Web. I picked up some ideas watching Jamie Oliver on the youtube, which to my dismay was dubbed in German. Once I have an idea of the basic ingredients, I gathered most of the ingredients that were available in the kitchen.

4 tablespoon of Olive Oil
6 cloves of Garlic, sliced
1 Onion, sliced
1 bottle (300g) of Kalamata Olives*
1 bottle (110g) of Capers**
8 pcs of Anchovies
2 Dried Chillies,
2 cans (800g) of Diced Tomatoes
Some Oregano
Sea sal;t and Pepper to taste

*Sandhurst’s Barchetta kalamata
**Sandhurst’s Baby Capers


Heat the olive oil in a pan. Saute the garlics and onions in the oil, control the heat to avoid ‘burning’ the garlics. Put in the rest ingredients in the order above. Slowly adding them to cook without dropping the temperature in the pan too quickly. When all the ingredients are in the pan, let it simmer for 25 mins or so to reduce the sauce to a saucy consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.

While cooking the sauce, you can start boiling the water for the pasta.

The amount of sauce cooked is enough for six servings. Any excess can easily be kept in the bottle for another day’s quick meal.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Bebek Betutu – Balinese Roast Duck in Banana Leaf

Back from my holidays, this is my first attempt cooking a traditional Balinese cuisine. We have no idea how it will turn up, but brave enough to invite friends over to dine with us.

When we served it, I was thrilled with the result. The flavour was intense and complex with each of the herbs flavour revealing itself, complementing each other so well, not one overwhelming the other. Honestly, we have never tasted it like this in Bali. I am trying to figure out why it is different – could be the fresh herbs and generous time given in the preparation and cooking, e.g. rubbing the herbs on the duck and the one-hour steaming followed by half an hour baking in the oven. Whatever it is, we have the advantage of ample time and fresh herbs, which is always the constraint or has cost implications for a restaurant.

1 Whole Duck, about 2 kgs
18 Shallots, sliced thinly
6 cloves of Garlic, sliced thinly
1 stalk of Lemongrass, tender inner part of the bottom third only, finely sliced
6 Macadamia or Candlenuts (buah pala), chopped
5 cm Fresh Ginger, peeled and chopped
7.5 cm Turmeric root, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon Black Peppercorns, crushed
5 Bird’s-eye Chillies, sliced
1 teaspoon Coriander seeds, crushed
2 teaspoon Dried Shrimp paste, dry roasted and coarsely crushed
1.5 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoon Oil
Banana Leaves, parchment paper or aluminum foil for wrapping
Wipe the duck dry and set aside. Mix all the ingredients above except for the banana leaves in a bowl. Ensure that it is mix well (I use my hand to mix it). Rub the duck inside and outside with the mixture and fill the centre of the duck with the remainder. Close the opening of the duck with satay skewers (I use little cocktail picks). Wrap it in several layers of banana leaves or foil and steam it for 50 minutes. Transfer the duck to the oven to bake at 180 degrees centigrade for 30 minutes.
To serve, remove the duck from the banana leaves and cut into small pieces and serve with the ‘stuffing’.
Tip: Shallots are very expensive here, and 18 needed! I substituted half with onions. Kencur root is unique spice usually used in Balinese cooking. It has the aroma of the camphor. I still have not acquired the flavour. I left it out from the mix - you won’t missed it, unless you are a Balinese.
In Ubud, Bali, some restaurant serve the dish with chicken instead, therefore ‘Siap Betutu’, siap is chicken in Balinese, and betutu is roast or smoked. We had this dish in Bunute Restaurant (photo on the left and below, with my son Aaron). Notice the chicken is too soggy.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Guling Celeng - Balinese Roast Suckling Pig

The Balinese daily food are quite simple. Usually they have rice accompanied by a selection of dishes, which includes vegetables, maybe a small amount of meat or fish and a variety of condiments (sambals). You can get a feel of this simple meal by ordering ‘Nasi Campur’ at a ‘warung’ (small eatery) in Bali.
In contrast, during a festival or ceremony, they prepared lavish dishes and eat together in a community.  One of those traditional dish that is usually served during ceremony is ‘Babi Guling’.

Today, it is quite common for this dish to be served in restaurants all over Bali.  One of the more well known restaurant serving this dish is ‘Ibu Oka’in Ubud.

This restaurant only serves this dish in various configuration. Business starts at 10am and usually sold out by about 3pm. I was told they can sell about five pigs a day. When we were there, we ordered the ‘special’ option which includes some crunchy bits of the roasted tribe and intestines. The standard option is just a plate of rice with a few slices of the pork and a small piece of crackling. The sauces from the marinade are poured over the serving. The marinade are made from ingredients which include garlic, shallots, fresh ginger, candlenuts, turmeric root, coriander seeds, galangal, bird’s eye chillies, lemongrass, black peppercorns, kaffir lime leaves,  dried shrimp paste and salam leaves (balinese herb).

I find the serving quite small, with a small piece of the pork. Lots of rice though, with generous amount of sauce poured over it. It is not like 'Wow, this is really good!' response. The sauce is very gritty with the residual of the spices.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Malaysian Satay

Note: I am currently having my vacation in Malaysia and Bali. Therefore I am taking the opportunity to write about the my culinary experience during my travel.
This particular way of preparing meat on the skewer is unique and prevalent in this Region (South East Asia). You will come across this cuisine when travelling in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. However, the flavour and style in the preparation differs between Malaysia and Indonesia (Singapore’s is similar to Malaysia). The proportion of spices used is different and the peanut sauce that accompanied this dish is usually more starchy and glazed in Indonesia.

After we landed at the KL International Airport in Sepang, on our way to KL (about 80 kms) we stopped over at Kajang, a town famous for its satay to the extent that the term ‘Satay Kajang’ is used by restaurants throughout the country to suggest the excellence of their satay.

The satay is accompanied by raw onions, peanut sauce and ‘Ketupat’- compressed rice cakes. The rice cakes are prepared by packing uncooked rice into a cage weaved using cocunut leaves. When the package is boiled, the rice inside starts to cook, swelling and compressing itself into cakes.

Back home in Melbourne, when the mood permits, we sometimes have a satay party. The preparation of satay takes a lot of effort and time, starting the day before the event. We would prepare the marinade from scratch using lemon grass, ground coriander, garlics, onions, turmeric etc., The meat is cut into little cubes. We then marinade the meat and leave it in the fridge overnight.

Next, we will have to prepare the peanut sauce. As the satay is best served hot from the grill, we cook them over the charcoal fire and served hot. This is typical of ‘slow food’ cooking; with many stages of preparation but well worth the trouble. 

Though there are restaurants selling satay in Melbourne, they are pricy and not as common as in Malaysia. As my palate has changed after living in Melbourne for 13 years, I like the quality of the spices and meat here, and the details we personally put into the home-cooked satay. I find it difficult or rare to find satay of a matching to our standard in Malaysia.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Chadian Pasta

This simple dish is inspired by Rob Barrett who has a cooking channel on youtube. When I first saw his video on Chadian Pasta, I was all fired up to cook the dish. However, it took me a while to find a time slot when I can cook the dish. Most of the daily meals have been planned by Lynna (my dear wife). So I have been heckling her to find a slot when I can cook this dish. Finally on a Friday evening, opportunity knocks on my door.

I picked up some of the ingredients, i.e. a can of chunky tuna in oil, two sweet corns and  a truss of tomatoes, while I already have the two eggs and a pack (500g) of pasta in the larder.

Put the sweet corns to boil with some salt. When it is ready, take them out and put it aside. In the same pot of boiling water, cook the pasta. While the pasta is cooking, chop up the tomatoes, open and drain the can of tuna. Cut out the corn kernels. When the pasta is ready, drain the water and keep aside a bowl of the water just in case you need some moisture for the pasta. Break two eggs into the drained hot pasta and stir it. Next stir in the tuna, tomatoes and sweet corn. Season the pasta with salt and pepper. And Voila!, we have a delicious healthy meal.
Note: Chad is an African state in the centre of the African continent.

Straits Cafe

Having found this restaurant is like stumbling on the 'El Dorado' of Malaysian cuisines. Each and every Malaysian dishes served here can be used as reference standard for most, if not all Penang-style hawker food (street food that are cook in a distinct cooking style well known in the Penang Island, Malaysia). This restaurant is own by Aaron Tan who also the Chef (photo on the far right below).
In the past two weeks, I had three meals there with the family, sampling the different items on the menu. On the first visit I had Lobak (fried pieces of minced pork and prawn wrapped in bean curd skin)  as a starter, Sar Hor Fun (Stir fried flat rice noodle with seafood bits and eggs), Curry Laksa and Pulut Hitam (thick black glutinous rice porridge with sugar and coconut milk) for dessert.

On my second visit we had Nasi Lemak, Rojak (Malaysia fruit and vegetable salad with a dash of prawn paste), Mee Goreng ( stir fried noodles) and Char Koay Teow. And the third visit we had Assam Laksa (thick rice noodle cooked in fish and tamarind broth with fresh herbs), Sar Hor Fun (again!!) and Crispy Chicken Rice. That covered the major items for Penang-style street food. I must say that every dishes met my expectation. They are authentic, flavoursome and balanced in terms of spices used and seasoning. Each dishes are also very well presented considering that this is not at the fine-dining prices.The services were excellent, we were being well look after by the restaurant front manager, Ms Jackie Wang and her staff.

The Straits Cafe is located at 241, Stud Road, Wantirna South, Melbourne

Friday, May 8, 2009

Coffee Encounters

Melbourne have a very strong coffee and cafe culture. You can find cafes in every little corner or lane way in Melbourne. Melburnians love their coffee and they have very discerning taste when it comes to coffee. Therefore, you will find many cafes here serving good coffee.

The coffee culture here is very much influenced by the large number of European migrants arriving after the World War II. And with subsequent migration from the other Continents, some interesting coffee culture are seeping in.

Here are some of my coffee experiences or 'encounters':
Froth Art - The art of drinking coffee has now advanced into 'fine arts'. I was quite delighted when served a cup of coffee with the beautifully crafted image of a woman's face. This was in a cafe at Swan Street.

Ethiopian Coffee - It is a great treat to have someone prepares fresh coffee while you finish your meal at Harambe Restaurant, Footscray. When I mean fresh, this is truly fresh, it starts off with roasting of the green coffee beans, grinding and brewing the coffee. The coffee is then served in a clay jug. It is believe that the Ethiopians were probably the first to discover coffee. In the Ninth Century, the coffee were only found in Ethiopia, the Ethiopian highlanders are the first to cultivate the native coffee beans. This explains why the coffee is so deeply rooted in their history and culture. I cannot help but noticed that Ethiopian have their coffee in Chinese teacups. Chinese influence in East Africa dates back to as far back as in the 14th Century. The East African have early contact with the Chinese traders, among the items that were traded are porcelain, silk, elephant tusk etc., Frankincense was much sought after.
Home Brew - At home, I brew my coffee using a Bialetti moka pot. The one I have is quite fancy with two spouts and a convenient platform to hold and heat up two espresso cups. This is the next best thing to an espresso machine. I enjoy the time spent grinding and waiting for the coffee to spew out into the cup. It is so typical of my lazy weekend; chilling out - no rush, just relax, and the aroma of the coffee that fills the air.
Indulgence - When you like your coffee so much, you can have a big bowl of it at Laurent Patisserie, in Chadstone Shopping Mall.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Pesto and Pasta

This is a classic and basic Italian cooking. The main component is the pesto sauce. The pesto sauce is very versatile. You can combine the sauce with any pasta or you can even served it with risotto. I would sometime spread the Pesto on the toasted bread.

The pesto is very easy to prepare, all you need are good and fresh ingredients. Have it all mixed or churned in the food processor.


100 grams Pine Nuts

3 handfuls of Fresh basil leaves

Extra virgin olive oil

100 grams Parmesan Cheese

Half a clove of Garlic

Sea Salt and ground black pepper

Method - Lightly toast the pine nuts in a pan. Grind the Pine Nuts in the food processor, or if you prefer you can pound them in a mortar. Take the grounded pine nuts and reserve it in a bowl. Next, grind the basil leaves with the garlic. Mix the pine nuts and basil together. Pour some olive oil and half of the parmesan cheese into the mixture. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Gradually add the olive oil until you get a smooth paste.

Cooking pasta seems like a simple job, but if you want to cook perfect pasta, there are few things to take note. Pasta should be cooked ‘al dente’, an Italian term used to describe the pasta that is cooked through but maintain it’s firmness.

I usually check the cooking time on the packaging and set the timer, when the cooking time is almost up, I would take a few strands to check (by eating them) if it is ready. The cooked pasta should be felt firm when bitten, as opposed to starchy and soft if it is overcooked. The time between under-cooking and over-cooking is so brief that you have to monitor the pasta very closely in the last few minutes of cooking time. "You can cook the best tasting sauce, but if you messed up the pasta, the end result is not good", this has always been my mantra when cooking pasta.

When selecting your pasta, take a closer look at the texture of the pasta. The texture will give you an idea of the quality of the pasta. Avoid those that are smooth and almost glazed. These pasta when cooked are extremely slippery and the sauce will not stick and lacks the texture. Take a closer look at photo above (by clicking on it) to appreciate the texture.

In pasta manufacturing, one of the process is to extrude the dough through a die. The quicker they are extruded, the more pasta can be made in a shorter time (make more money). However, this compromise on the quality of the pasta. There are huge choice of pasta from Italy in Melbourne, I usually stock them up in my larder whenever I come across the good quality ones in the supermarket or 'deli' grocer.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Fragolino – Dessert Wine

My story on the Fragola grapes continues here with the tasting of the Fragolino wine. I managed to purchased a few bottles of the Fragolino in a local bottle shop (liquor store).
The sweet red wine is made by Michelini winery, which is located in the cool Alpine region at Mytreford, about 300 km from Melbourne. I do not know a great deal about their wines except that they may be the only one in Australia who make wine with Fragola grapes.

As part of the blog, I plan to put down some tasting notes. However, I have almost finished a bottle of Fragolino and still could not work out the tasting note. I have to sought some help from my son, Aaron.
This is his comment:
“My first impression is the strong flavour of strawberry jam. It has some acidity. Slightly bitter finish. Overall a light sweet red wine without much complexity”
We had the wine as dessert with some soft cheese from Locheilan Farmhouse Cheese which we bought when we visited the Goulburn Valley during Easter holidays.

Garden Grocer

Along the stretch of road towards the countryside from where we live, there are a few ‘garden grocers’ who sell home grown fruits and vegetables.

Their produce are grown using traditional farming method, more towards organic farming. They grew them for their own consumption and any surplus are sold to supplement their income. One of our favourite grocer is Vida Jaglica (photo above), she is originally from the Serbia, a former state of Yugoslavia.
I often picked up the produce here when they are available during the warmer season (Dec to May).
Typical items are tomatoes, eggplants, pumpkins, shallots, garlic, potatoes, etc., cooking.

The produce we get here is very much different from those that you picked up in the local supermarket. They are ripen on the ‘tree’ and therefore more flavoursome. This is especially true with the tomatoes. Quite often that produce will have to go through a complex distribution chain before it reach the consumer. The timing when fruits and vegetables are harvested took into consideration of the time to reach the supermarket shelf, this is done at the expense of picking the fruit before it is ripe. Semi-ripe produce will also have a longer shelf life. However, you will find that they do not have as much flavour.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Roti Jala - Malaysian

The food in Malaysia has so much influence from the South Indian, that in many instances we cannot clearly tell if a particular dish originated from Malaysia or has it been brought from South India. I do suspect that this dish may have been brought in. I remember coming across similar dish in the BBC's 'Feast of India' documentary. 

South Indians from Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu have migrated to Malaysia in droves during the last quarter of the 19th century and the first quarter of the 20th century. The first wave came to take up position as clerks and supervisors in the administration and construction of public infrastructure like the railways, postal services, power generation and supply, etc., Then at the turn of the century, more came as labourers to work on the rubber estates to meet the demand for the rubber commodity. They brought with them the South Indian food culture that is so prevalent in Malaysia. To name a few, the Roti Canai (Prata), Doosai, and Teh Tarik (aerated Tea) etc., 

The Roti Jala is a lacy pancakes that is best served with dishes with lots of rich gravy. We usually served it with chicken curry (as in the photo). To make the pancake you need a special funnel with four or five spouts. You can improvise by using a sauce dispenser with a spout if you cannot get hold of this funnel.

2 cups (300 g) flour

2 cups (500 ml) fresh milk

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 tablespoon oil

2 tablespoon butter

  1. Sift the flour into a reasonably big bowl. Beat the milk and egg together, and mix with the flour, salt and turmeric powder to form a smooth batter. Strain the batter to remove any lumps. The add the oil, stir and set side.
  2. Heat a non-stick pan and brush the surface with the butter. Pour a ladleful of the batter into a special funnel and make a quick circular movements over the pan to form a lacy pattern.
  3. Cook the pancake until it sets, about 1 to 2 minutes, and set aside. Repeat until all the batter is used up.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Baked Pork Bun - Chinese

A friend in the neighbourhood make very delicious pork buns. She made the pork bun in the style of the ‘Seremban Siewpao’, a well known pork bun franchise in Malaysia.  The first time we tried this buns was when we were invited to her place for tea. On another occasion, I made a special request for her to bring some  when we invited her over for barbeque.  I love these pork buns, they have a nice perfect combination of crusty pastry with soft and juicy barbequed pork fillings.  Inspired, we decided to make some.

Note: Seremban a city about 50km south of the capital city Kuala Lumpur, and ‘Siewpao’ is the Chinese word for baked bun

We researched on a few recipes and found one that is close to what we have in mind. The recipe is from Lily Ng's blog. She has very good Asian recipes. 

Making this bun requires two types of dough, i.e. oil dough and the water dough. The dough are made separately and later combined. For the oil dough, I use lard which is much better than shortening. Lard is both natural and tastier. Whereas shortening contains artificial transfat.

To make the Chinese pastry, the oil and water dough are cut into 20 grams and 40 grams pieces respective. These are folded together and rolled flat. It is then rolled like a Swiss roll and rolled flat again. This is repeated three times. This is how the pastry is made flaky. When it is done, the combined dough is cut into two. Each piece of the dough is then rolled flat again, and the pork fillings is wrapped with the pastry (photo on the right). The main ingredients for the fillings are the barbequed pork (Char Siew), shallots, green peas, soy sauce and oyster sauce.

The buns are baked in the oven for 10 minutes. They are then glazed with egg yolk and baked for another 15 minutes.