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Archive for September, 2011

I remember one evening over 8 years ago, I cooked curry chicken for dinner. But right after cooking I just didn’t have the appetite for it at all, and even had a little nausea. I didn’t know what had happened, until a month later I found out I was pregnant with our first child Alexander. I stayed away from this food during that pregnancy. Even after I gave birth to Alexander, there was a period of time I was hesitated to eat curry chicken again. Thank goodness the fear went away!

Curry Chicken

Curry Chicken

Malaysian Curry Chicken Recipe (serves 8-10 people)

Ingredients:
8 chicken thighs– cut each thigh into 3 pieces
8 chicken legs– cut each leg in half
4 tbsp meat curry powder
2 tbsp salt
1.5 lbs potatoes
2 cloves garlic– chop finely
2 small cans (165 ml/5.6 fl oz each) of coconut milk– stir well
salt to taste

for curry sauce (for 3-4 serving, can be prepared ahead and kept frozen):
1 pack “A1 Best Globe” brand curry paste
1 big can (400 ml/13.5 fl oz) of coconut milk– stir well
3 buah keras– chop very finely
2 stalks fresh curry leaves
2 tbsp sambal chili

Method:

  1. Prepare curry sauce: Heat up 3 tbsp oil in a frying pan over high heat. Saute buah keras and curry leaves briefly until aromatic. Add in curry paste and sambal chili, stir for a few minutes. Pour in coconut milk and turn down to medium heat. Stir constantly to prevent burning at the bottom. Cook until the sauce bubbles with red oil sipping out from the bubbles (I call it “volcano eruption” :-)). At this point the sauce should be aromatic. Continue stirring curry sauce for a couple of minutes. The consistency of the sauce will look like oily mud (I call it “lava” :-)– see picture below). Set aside. The sauce can be prepared ahead and kept frozen in batches.
  2. Clean chicken pieces and rinse well. Rub chicken with 2 tbsp of salt and curry powder. Season for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, peel potatoes and cut into big chunks. Soak potatoes in lightly salted water to prevent browning. Drain when ready to cook.
  3. Heat up 3 tbsp oil in a wok over high heat. Add potatoes and stir for a few minutes (potatoes are partially cooked). Dish out but maintain high heat. Add in 2 tbsp oil and saute garlic briefly. Add in chicken pieces, stir constantly until there’s no more blood coming out from the bones. Pour in coconut milk, potatoes and 3 tbsp of curry sauce, cook until chicken are cooked and potatoes are soft, stir occasionally. When these is little liquid, add in more curry sauce (adjust to personal preference) and salt to taste. The sauce should be of thick consistency. Serve with steam rice.

Regina’s Note:

  • If there’s still lots of liquid in the wok when chicken are cooked and potatoes are soft, remove chicken pieces and potatoes then cook down the liquid a little more, so chicken and potatoes are not overcooked. However, if there’s too dry then add in some hot water.
  • Always to stir constantly especially when the sauce thicken, to prevent burning at the bottom of the wok.
  • A slightly thinner curry sauce is always good for dipping bread.
Making curry chicken :-)

Making curry chicken 🙂

Curry sauce

Curry sauce

Making curry chicken :-)

Making curry chicken 🙂

 

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In Malaysia there are lots of “kuih” (cakes sold in small pieces) made with glutinous rice and coconut– “pulut inti” is one of them. People eat it as breakfast, tea time snack or dessert. Traditional pulut inti are glutinous rice with sweetened grated coconut on the top, then wrapped with banana leave to a pyramid shape with a square or rectangle bottom. I cheated by using cling wrap instead of banana leaves :-). Also, some pulut inti sold in Malaysia are bluish in color– this is because people sometimes use blue pea flower to dye the rice. I don’t have such flower here for the coloring, but I do have pandan extract that gives green color. The first time I made these treats, I over mixed pandan extract into the rice, so the rice came out very evenly green. So this time I just slightly mixed in pandan extract, and it turned out very beautiful with that marble look– just like a piece of jade with all kinds of green and shade.

Glutinous Rice Packets with Coconut "Pulut Inti"

Glutinous Rice Packets with Coconut "Pulut Inti"

Pulut Inti Recipe (makes about 38 bite size pieces)

Ingredients:

for Glutinous Rice:
5 cups glutinous rice– soaked for 1 1/2 to 2 hours
1/2 tsp salt
2 cans (5.6 oz/165ml each) coconut milk
2 tbsp water
1/2 tsp green pandan extract (Butterfly brand preferred)

for Coconut topping:
1 pack (4 oz) desiccated coconut
1 cylinder block coconut sugar (“gula Melaka”)– about 3 inch diameter
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
200 ml water

Method:

  1. Prepare glutinous rice: drain the rice, then add salt, coconut milk and water. Mix well. Drizzle in green pandan extract and stir briefly. This is to create a marble look on the rice so don’t over stir it. Lay rice evenly on a deep dish steam tray, steam for 20-30 minute over high heat. Set aside.
  2. Prepare coconut topping: In a small sauce pan dissolve sugars in water, then strain to remove impurities in coconut sugar. Return sugar syrup back to the pot, add in coconut and salt. Cook on low heat until coconut is tender and fragrant, and the liquid is almost dry. Stir to prevent burning at the bottom.
  3. To assemble, line mini muffin molds with small pieces of cling wrap. Put in about 1 tsp of coconut at the bottom of muffin molds, then pack in about 2-3 tbsp of glutinous rice on top of coconut. Wrap up with cling wrap. Invert the packets so the coconut is on the top of the rice.

Regina’s Note:

  • Preparing coconut topping: taste for sweetness. Add in some brown sugar if necessary for sweetness and darker brown color.

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I don’t like to eat banana as a fruit, but I do like banana in food. As a child growing up in Malaysia, fried banana was (and still) my favorite tea time snack. Anyhow, back to banana fritters– Although there are banana fritters selling in Malaysia, I never had one before until I was in US. There was a Jamaican food vendor selling (plantain) banana fritters at a local farmer’s market. I like their fritters but somehow it was not as crispy as I expect. Ever since I was successful making fresh corn fritters, I thought why not try it on banana? My first trial on banana fritters turned out pretty good– when the fritters were fresh and hot, they were crispy on the outside, and tender (almost tender like a funnel cake) on the inside. But when the fritter cooled down they were denser– still good but not great.

Banana Fritters

Banana Fritters

Banana Fritters

Banana Fritters

Banana Fritters Recipe (makes about 34 bite size pieces)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 large banana)
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup rice flour
3-4 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp tapioca starch
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup water

oil for frying

Method:

  1. Heat up enough oil in a deep medium pot over high heat (I like to use a old medium pot for frying– deep enough for the food to “swim” inside, and also less chance for oil to splash onto the stove). Insert a bamboo skewer/chopstick into the oil. When there are lots of bubbles forming quickly around skewer/chopstick, the oil is ready for frying.
  2. Mix all ingredients together. With the help of two spoons, quickly but carefully drop a tablespoon of batter into the oil (one spoon for scooping out batter, the other spoon for pushing batter into the oil and also catching any batter dripping). The batter will sink to the bottom of pot then float and puff up. Turn down to medium heat, and turn over the fritters to brown evenly. When fritters are golden brown, turn heat back to high for a few seconds before removing fritters– this is to make the fritters extra crispy and less oily. Serve immediately.

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Yes! I am proud to say I have finally perfected this recipe, after the first trial and the second trial— it tastes almost the same like the ones I had growing up in Muar. This time around the otak-otak is much softer and moisted, and has a sheen layer of chili oil. I was out time and chose to steam cook, instead of wrapped with banana leafe and pan grilled.

Muar "Otak-Otak" Trial #3 麻坡乌达-- best version!

Muar "Otak-Otak" Trial #3 麻坡乌达-- best version!

Muar “Otak-Otak” Trial #3 麻坡乌达 Recipe (makes 1 round deep dish plate of 11 inch diameter)

Ingredients:
1 container (12 oz) fish paste– see note below
1 cloves garlic– minced
1 shallot– minced
2-3 red hot Thai peppers (optional)– finely chopped

Seasoning:
2 tbsp sambal or chili paste
2 tbsp curry powder
2 tbsp tapioca starch
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp turmeric  powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp paprika powder (optional– for more brilliant color)
6 tbsp oil– see note below
4 tbsp water

150 ml (about 2/3 cup) thick coconut milk

Method:

  1. Saute garlic, shallots and red peppers with little oil until aromatic. Set aside to cool.
  2. Combine all seasoning (except water) in a big bowl. Mix in sauted garlic, shallots and red peppers. Add in fish paste and blend well.
  3. Add in water, follow by coconut milk, and mix well. Pour mixture onto a greased deep dish round plate, smooth the surface. Steam for 10 minutes until otak-otak is cooked.

Regina’s Note:

  • Fish paste: different brand of fish paste does make otak-otak taste differently. I prefer 佳发brand (see picture below)– it is frozen and can be found in Asian grocery stores. I tried 味全brand frozen fish paste, but found it is not good for making otak-otak. (1/31/12 update: I have bought 佳发brand frozen fish paste a couple of times later but they were bad both times, which was disappointing. I now use  港榮 brand fresh lady fish paste (see bottom picture). This brand is available at 99 Ranch Market, under packaged fresh seafood section.
This is the brand of frozen fish paste I used for making otak-otak.

This is the brand of frozen fish paste I used for making otak-otak.

港榮 brand fresh lady fish paste

港榮 brand fresh lady fish paste

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Sweet Fresh Corn Fritters

Sweet Fresh Corn Fritters

Sweet Fresh Corn Fritters

Sweet Fresh Corn Fritters

Sweet Fresh Corn Fritters Recipe

Ingredients:
1 ear corn
1 cup flour
1/2 cup rice flour– see note below
2 tsp tapioca starch– see note below
4 tbsp sugar– see note below
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 water

Method:

  1. Use a knife to shave corn kennels from the cob, then use the back of the knife to scrap down the cob to get pulps and juice. Set aside.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. Add water the whisk until smooth. Stir in corn kennels, pulps and juice.
  3. Gently drop tablespoons of batter into hot oil in several batches. Deep fry until corn fritters are golden brown. Turn down heat to medium if fritters brown too fast. Drain on a rack or paper towel. Serve immediately.

Regina’s Note:

  • Canned corn kennels can be used if fresh corn is not available.
  • Rice flour and tapioca starch: addition of rice flour makes the fritters crispy but produces a harder dough texture, thus tapioca starch is used to make the dough softer.

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Happy Mooncake Festival 中秋节快乐!!

Back in Malaysia, my family will always buy some Chinese ham and mixed nut mooncakes 金腿伍仁月饼(we are one of those few people who likes nutty mooncakes over the typical lotus paste with salted yolk mooncakes– too sweet for us!). Being here, it’s hard to find a good flavor mixed nut mooncake. Kee Wah Bakery’s version is similar to the taste from Malaysia, but they are expensive– selling at USD10 a piece! So this year I finally decided to make my own mixed nut mooncakes.

I don’t have any Chinese ham on hand, so I cheated by using pork floss 😉 The pork floss blended well with the nuts. Next time maybe I will use finely chopped cooked bacon instead.The whole process was rather simple, except for the wrapping part because the pastry dough was so little for the relatively large amount of the filling. It was fun over all, and– I DID IT! Now I can check it off my baking list 🙂

Mixed Nut Mooncakes 伍仁月饼

Mixed Nut Mooncakes 伍仁月饼

Mixed Nut Mooncakes 伍仁月饼

Mixed Nut Mooncakes 伍仁月饼

Mixed Nut Mooncakes 伍仁月饼 Recipe — adapted from Yochana’s Cake Delight (makes 8 pieces)

Ingredients:

for Pastry:
2 cups cake flour
2 tbsp tapioca starch 菱粉
1/4 salt
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp alkaline water 碱水
75 ml oil

for Filling (combine together, except pork floss):
3/4 cup whole almonds– lightly toasted
1 cup walnut– lightly toasted
2/3 cup sesame seeds– lightly toasted
3/4 cup raw melon seeds/pepitas seeds/pumpkin seeds– lightly toasted
3/4 cup candied winter melon 糖冬瓜– finely chopped
3 pieces candied mandarin orange 桔饼 — remove seeds and finely chopped
3 kiffir lime leaves– cut into very fine shreds
3/4 cup cooked glutinous flour 加工糕粉
8 tsp pork floss

Seasoning for the Filling (mix until salt and sugar dissolves):
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp rose wine 玫瑰露酒
1 tbsp golden rum
1 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp oil
10 tbsp water

1 beaten egg for egg wash

Method:

  1. To make the pastry: combine all pastry ingredients in a bowl and mix well to form a dough (the texture will be like play dough). Cover and rest for 1 hours. Then divide into 8 equal portions.
  2. While the pastry dough is resting, prepare the filling: combine the seasoning and filling ingredients and mix well (you can use a stand mixer or hand mix). Divide the filling into 8 portions. Use both hands, loosely form each portion into a ball. Scoop in one  tsp of pork floss in the center of the filling, then tightly pack into a ball again.
  3. Carefully wrap a piece of pastry dough around one ball of the fillings. You might want to roll out the pastry dough to a thin layer before wrapping. (I find this step is the most challenging because only little amount of pastry used for each mooncake in order to achieve a very thin layer of pastry. As you can see my pastry was quite thick– probably because I only flattened the pastry with my palm and didn’t roll it out to a very thin layer).
  4. Dust wooden mooncake mold generously with some flour, then carefully put in mooncake and press against the mold. Tap the wooden mold on a hard surface to invert the mooncake. Repeat step (3) and (4) for the remaining pastry dough and fillings.
  5. Preheat oven to 375°F. Before popping the mooncakes into the oven, spray some water on the mooncakes (this is to remove the flour dusted on the surface so when mooncakes are baked they won’t have a powdery look). Bake for 25 minutes, remove and apply egg wash, then bake for another 5 minutes until the mooncakes are browned nicely.
  6. Remove and cool on the rack completely. Store in air-tight container for several days before serving. Unlike typical baked goods that calls for freshness, mooncakes are best served several days after baking. This is because when mooncakes “age”, the oil from the fillings and pastry slowly penetrate to the surface, soften the pastry and enhance the flavor even more.

Regina’s Note:

  • Nuts and seeds: I toasted almond and walnuts together in a big tray in the 300° oven for a few minutes, but I toasted sesame seeds and pepitas seeds separately in a dry clean frying pan, stirring constantly over medium low heat until the flavor comes out.
  • Candied winter melon and candied mandarin orange: I find the flavor from candied mandarin orange a little too strong, and amount of candied winter melon is a bit too less. I should increase candied winter melon to 1 cup, and down candied mandarin orange to 2 pieces.
  • I find my mooncake filling is a bit too much to fit into the mooncake mold– next time I should try to make 9 pieces instead.
  • I should also roll out each pastry dough to a very thin layer; this will make wrapping easier and achieve a more even thin layer all around the filling.
  • Oven temperature: while my mooncakes browned nicely on top, the bottom was a little burned. Should I try 350°F for 25 minutes, egg wash then another 5 minutes next time?
Mixed Nut Mooncakes 伍仁月饼-- pastry dough

Mixed Nut Mooncakes 伍仁月饼– pastry dough

Mixed Nut Mooncakes 伍仁月饼-- the mixed nut filling

Mixed Nut Mooncakes 伍仁月饼– the mixed nut filling

Mixed Nut Mooncakes 伍仁月饼-- ready to mold

Mixed Nut Mooncakes 伍仁月饼– ready to mold

Mixed Nut Mooncakes 伍仁月饼-- after molding

Mixed Nut Mooncakes 伍仁月饼– after molding

Mixed Nut Mooncakes 伍仁月饼-- ready for water spray, then into the oven.

Mixed Nut Mooncakes 伍仁月饼– ready for water spray, then into the oven.

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I found this recipe while I was searching online for recipes for corn pancakes. I changed the recipe a bit and also added fresh blueberries. The pancakes turn out quite fluffy too, and the prepping method is a lot easier than my other pancake recipe that calls for egg yolk and egg white separation.

Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes #2

Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes #2

Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes #2

Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes #2

Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes Recipe– adapted from Sweet as Sugar Cookies (makes 13 pieces of 4-inch pancakes)

Ingredients:
1  1/2 cup flour
2 tbsp sugar
5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt– cut down to 1/4 tsp if desired
1 1/3 up milk
2 eggs
3 tbsp melted butter
1 cup fresh blueberries

Method:

  1. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Make a well in the center.
  2. Whisk milk, eggs and melted butter, then pour into the dry ingredients all at once. Stir until just combined. The batter will be lumpy. Gently stir in blueberries.
  3. Heat a griddle or non-stick pan, then turn down heat to medium low. Pour about 1/3 cup of batter onto the pan, cook until bubbles form. Carefully turn pancakes over and cook the other side until it is lightly brown. DO NOT attempt to press down pancakes while cooking, or pancakes will be dense. Serve immediately with butter, whipped and maple syrup.


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