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Sunday, September 14, 2014

From mooncake to bao

bao : / bao1 /
Verb : To wrap
Noun : an edible type of bun.   

This is a journey of a bag of Hong Kong flour that wanted to be a very famous mooncake. It wanted to be the ‘atas’ type of moon cake that contains fancy lotus paste with macadamia nuts bearing lots of Chinese tattoos on its body. When it realised that the baker’s family did not like mooncakes very much, it decided change is inevitable in this fast changing world.

So the Hong Kong flour decided to break out of its mould and find a new lease of life. 

It went back to its roots to live out its original purpose. That is, to be the best bao it can ever be. It was a good career move, because the career of a mooncake does not last as long as that of a bao.

Al-dough the lotus paste went through a period of identity crisis ( after almost being part of a mooncake and now being part  of a bao ), it followed the wishes of its companion and continued to do what it is best at doing, it is to be part of a lotus paste bao. 

The end.

 Makes 12 baos. Credits : Happyhomebaking

(makes 12) 
300g Hong Kong pau flour
3g baking powder
3g instant yeast
30g caster sugar
160ml water
15g vegetable oil

240g red lotus paste, portioned out as 12 x 20g balls. I used PH brand.

Method :
Combine flour, baking powder, yeast and sugar. Mix.
Add water. Knead, 5 minutes.
Add oil, knead 10 minutes until it achieves gluten formation.
Rest 15 minutes.

Make 12 portions of dough balls.
Flatten dough, wrap with prepared lotus filling, seal edges.
Rest the bao on flattened out cupcake liner, seam side down, 10 minutes.

Evenly space the baos ( 1 inch apart ) and steam on high heat, 12 minutes.  For best effect, line the steamer cover with a cloth so that condensate does not ruin the bao.

Verdict : Oh, so soft and good! I wished I had made more. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Ramen style soft boiled egg

Some part soft, some part bouncy.

No ramen is complete without the egg

Ramen is not complete without its soft boiled egg, regardless of all other accompanying ingredient. It is a challenge to make because the perfect egg is supposed to have a slightly runny yolk with a bouncy white. The temperature of eggs, heat capacity of the boiling medium are factors which are difficult to control to yield the perfect hanjuku tamago.

The Straits Times lifestyle section recently ran a feature on the Hanjuku Tamago and I took it as a sign to try it for myself. It was a lot of fanfare just for 2 eggs that day – I have hurt my dominant left hand and therefore had to delegate the delicate task to hubby. He did a better job than I would have done anytime – the peeled egg was perfect and without blemish.

6 minutes is perfect timing for a 45g egg, with an additional soak of 2 minutes  in a warm shoyu bath.  If a runny core is not your favorite, try 7-8 minutes for a slightly firmer core.

Ingredients :

2 eggs, cold
shoyu bath ( any braising liquid from your favorite recipe )
ice bath

Method :
Bring a pot of water ( sufficient to cover the eggs ) to a rolling boil.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cold eggs directly from the fridge to the boiling water.

Adjust the heat until the water just simmers for 6 minutes.

Transfer the egg to an ice bath, 3 minutes.
Gently peel off the shell.

Coat the egg in shoyu based braise liquid for 1 – 2 minutes.

Cool the egg before cutting it.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Smoked smelt cocoon

The sauce was overdone but the snack was incredible with or without it.

This concoction is the fishy version of the corndog.  I did not season the potato so as to allow the deep, smoky flavor of the smelt  to take center stage . The secret to easy handling is to chill the prepared cocoon just before frying.

These cocoons are dainty and make a light, elegant meal.  Lovely with either wasabi or honey mustard.

Makes 8 cocoons.

A tin of smoked smelt marinated in oil. I got these from Hubers Dempsey.
3 potatoes ( I used 2 waxed brastagi and 1 russet )
1 cup of rice flour, 1 Tbsp of oats

method :

Drain the smelts.
Steam the potatoes and rice them with a ricer while hot.  Discard the skins.
In the cusp of the hand, sandwich 1 smelt with the potato.
Compact the potato such that the smelt is secure.
Roll the cocoon in flour mixture.
Chill for 1 hour.
Deep fry in a deep pot of very hot oil, 1 minute.
Tastes great with salad as sides.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Kuih Kasturi

This snack could be found in most day markets decades ago but has been making a disappearing act in Singapore for the last couple of years. The difficulty is compounded by the fact that it is not easy to find a katuri that has a light batter which gives an addictive crunch.

The last time I had my ideal light as paper battered kasturi was from a stall in Tekka Market. Unfortunately, it was closed for good after the place underwent extensive upgrading.

Getting down to make it on my own allows me to appreciate the effort  that goes into making it. I have yet to grasp the magic ratio of water and flour for the batter and the ideal temperature of the beans before frying. In any case, I am halfway there to achieving it. While I locate the illusive hawker auntie who disappeared from Tekka, I am glad I have this recipe to tide me through.

Adapted from guaishushu

Ingredients :
Filling :
200g cooked unshelled mung bean, drained
70g freshly greated coconut
50g sugar
25g plain flour

batter :
70g rice flour
30g plain flour
1 small egg
110ml water
pinch of salt
pinch of turmeric

Method :
1.    Combine ingredients for filling in bowl 1.
2.    Combine ingredients for batter in bowl 2. The batter is of the right consistency when it can coat the back of a spoon.
3.    Compact and make balls out of the bean mixture.
4.    Flatten lightly. Freeze until firm, 30 minutes.
5.    Heat a pot of canola oil.
6.    Deftly dip the frozen mung bean cake into the batter and deep fry.
7.    Drain and serve warm.