Feb 26, 2010

When You are Smiling..

Well, this song from Louis Armstrong has nothing to do with this steamed pau(cake). But I thought, what the heck..! After all, the paus are named as Smiling Pau because when a steamed pau cracks at the top, its said to be smiling. And when it cracks at the top, it doesn't mean you fail in your baking, but in fact, it means you succeeded.

I am sharing an old recipe I posted online in my forum. My online friends knew that I was struggling to make this pau smiled at me for the longest time. Finally, after 10 tries and many trashed paus, I finally got it to smile at me.

Sharing with all my trials and efforts..

Recipe came from a Chinese cookbook which my mom had for years. Called the Chinese Dim Sum.
Note that I changed the flour used in the original recipe. It was Cake flour. I used Hong Kong Flour.

Ingredients for starter dough
180g Hong Kong Flour
110ml water
30g instant yeast(2 tbsp level)

Method for Starter Dough
1. Mix all the ingredients together and knead into a smooth dough.
2. Leave it in a deep bowl and covered with a damp cloth.
3. Leave it in a warm place to proof for at least 3 hours.
4. After one hour, it should look like this:

starter dough proofing stage(after 1 hour)

5. After 3 hours, it should be double the size. It should be smelly.

Ingredients for 2nd Dough
180g Hong Kong Flour
100g castor sugar
1 tbsp cooking oil
1/2 tsp Shortening
1 tbsp white rice vinegar
1 tsp Double action baking powder
1/2 tsp ammonia powder

Method to combine together
1. Mix 2nd dough ingredients with Starter dough.
2. Knead to form into a dough.

Mixed dough with Starter Dough

3. Divide the dough into 40g balls.
4. Flatten each dough ball and add 2 tbsp of Char Siew Fillings.
5. Wrap to seal and leave aside to proof for another 15 mins.
6. Steam in rapid water steamer for 15 mins.

Original recipe includes 1 egg in the 2nd dough ingredients. Thus making the pau looks yellowish(even in the photo in the book). So I omitted the egg and added 0.5 tsp Shortening.

Best of all, it survived the cooling stage. Still fluffy and nice. Of course, its best to eat when its piping hot..then the char siew sauce is moist.

Ingredients for Char Siew fillings:
300 g Char Siew pork, chopped finely(you can buy this ready roasted one from shops)
3 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
4 shallots(diced finely)

120 ml water
2 tbsp light soya sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp dark soya sauce
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp tapioca flour
1 tbsp corn flour
1 tsp plain flour

Method for fillings:
1. Mixed the seasonings together in a bowl
2. Stir Fry onions in the wok
3. Diced char siew pork
4. Add seasoning into the wok to stir fry
5. Stir fry till its sticky and thick
6. Add diced char siew pork to stir fry
7. Add sesame seeds to stir fry
8. Turn off heat, remove to cool completely before using.

Feb 25, 2010

Man Eating Crocodile

Pun included..! There are 2 ways to read the title;

Man Eating Crocodile could mean a Crocodile was caught eating a man(human). Or it could also be read as a Man was eating a Crocodile.

In my case, it more likely to be Woman Eating Crocodile. After watching Flavours of Life on Okto! last Thursday where they were showing how crocodiles are bred and harvested for the meat to be use as an ingredient for restaurants, I decided to make some soup with it.

I found out that the supermarket above my store sold frozen Crocodile meat. So I bought a packet and also a pack a chinese herbs to cook with it. The last time we had crocodile meat dish was several years ago when Natasha was very little. She had asthma and was told to eat crocodile meat related dishes to prevent asthmatic reactions like wheezing and shortness of breath. To help her to enjoy it, I had to cook it in an interesting way and make sure the whole family eat it too so she won't think she eating medicine.

Back then, I don't understand how the meat was to be cut or sliced or which cuts of it serves a better way of cooking. And I remember all not too fondly that it smells like as if we are eating handbags made of crocodile hide.

After this TV program, I had a better idea. Its meat along the belly, or hind legs or further inside(away from the skin) should be use for stir fries. For meat nearer to the skin, those can be use with chinese herbs to hide the smell.

With this new found knowledge, I decided to make soup with the slab of meat.

I bought the herbs from NTUC for reliving cough, phelgm. This is how the package looks like. Costs about S$4.00

Since I only had 250g of meat, I reduce the package of herbs to use by a quarter.

Here's my Woman Eating Crocodile soup..

Double Boiled Crocodile Soup

250g crocodile flank meat(fresh or frozen, not dried)
a packet of Chwee Song herbs(use only 1 quarter of all contents)
600ml water
salt to taste

1. Boil water in a sauce pot with herbs. Once it starts boiling, turn off the fire.
2. In a separate large sauce pot, add water(about 1 litre). Put a tonic pot in the centre.
3. Put the sliced meat in the centre of the tonic pot.
4. Pour the hot herbs with water into the pot.
5. Cover the tonic pot and then cover the sauce pot.
6. Turn on the stove(fire) on high. When you start to hear crackling or rocking noises, it means the water is boiling.
7. Lower the fire and continue to double boil for 1 hour.
8. Turn off the fire, add salt to taste(usually just a pinch will do)
9. Serve HOT.

If you cannot finish the soup, you can keep it in the fridge/chiller. To reheat, just double boil again. Do not reheat by direct boiling as its too hot and may evaporate all the water content.

My mom said that if you have chronic asthma, you should take this kind of tonic soup every 2 weeks for a period of 6 months.
Soup is easier to swallow and drunk.

The meat tastes like cooked pork loin. It doesn't have any smell of crocodile.

My asthma has suddenly 'disappeared' after taking this soup for the last 2 days.


Feb 20, 2010

Generations of Love

When I was a kid, my late granny used to tell me to love and care for my little cousins as if they are my blood related siblings. And she also told them never to address me in my name. But to call me as Second Sister. Why Second sister? Because of my eldest sister was the 1st born of the rank of cousins in our family. I was the 2nd. So my granny derived that I should be ranked as No. 2 as in Second Sister.

At a young age, I grew up in a family of many 'siblings'. All my cousins are younger than me. We were very close, almost like siblings. But I was also taught to be a big sister to them, setting a good example. Which also meant that I had to be a good-two-shoes and at my best behaviour all the time.

When each of my cousins were born, I helped my aunt to care for them. Running around to do simple errands of getting the milk bottle, picking up the soiled diaper to be washed. In the growing up years, I played with them. Watch TV cartoons with them. Tell them stories and tucked them in for nap time.

For years my cousins treated me as their big sister. Someone they would confide to, someone they loved and adored. As years past, we all grew up. I got married and settled down. And had children of my own. And as if, history repeats itself, my cousins now played that role I once did.

They in turn, cared and loved my children. Played with them, tell them stories and loved them the way I showered my love to them.

Here's one photo which showed 2 generations...

On the left is my niece, Tricia. Next to her is Natasha, my eldest daughter. Third lady is my cousin, Doreen and lastly, Dagmar, my other cousin. Seen here, they all took my teenage daughter to a dinner at a posh restaurant down town and brought her for drinks.

Thank you, Ah Ma..for instilling LOVE to all of us for young. And I will always remembered to pass this on the many generations to come.

Feb 11, 2010

Love One Another

I loved the way my mom used to cook the mee siam for us. When Benny and I first got married, my mom was still in her prime of health. She used to cook all these favourites. She has stopped cooking these some 10 years ago. Even though this was just a one dish meal, it is very labourous to slave over the kitchen stove and tools for hours on end just to make 1 dish.

Since then, she has taught me how to do this properly. This version of Mee siam is different from the normal fare we get in food courts. This version had Coconut milk in it. Its sweet and sour and spicy too.

This year, our First day of Chinese New Year will be spent with my mom at her home. Due to age and health, she will not be cooking for all of us. Instead, we are cooking a dish and bringing it there to celebrate Chinese New Year with her. All her siblings(my aunts, uncles) will each prepare a dish and we will dine with her.

In all the love you can have for your family, this is one we can do for each other that day.

This is what I will be cooking for 50 people on Day 1 Chinese New Year 14th February 2010. Which also happens to be Valentine's Day.

Here's the elaborate recipe to try at home. Have Fun!

Mee Siam paste:
10 cloves garlic
22 shallots
120g dried chillies (soaked to soften)
50g belacan/dried prawn paste (toasted and pounded)
120g dried shrimps (soak in water, soften)

500ml corn oil

All into the wok to be fried...

All done..after 30 mins of stirring!

Method for Paste
1. Put all the ingredients except the oil into a blender and blend into a fine paste.
2. Heat up the wok and add oil. Add the blended paste to fry over low heat till it is fragrant. Leave it aside till its cooled.
3. The paste should look very oily.
4. Note that though there is a lot of oil remaining, do not throw away this oil. As it is fragrant and to be used for frying the mee siam noodles.

Indonesian Mee Siam
Recipe by Gina Choong

400g mee siam paste
50g chives, chopped
100g soya beans
4 hard boiled eggs
4 pcs of small tau pok/dried bean curd, diced
150ml tamarind juice (2 tbsp tamarind pulp mixed with 100ml water)
7 tbsp sugar (more or less according to your taste)
100g bean sprouts
4 small limes
350ml coconut milk(or Evaporated Milk)
700ml water
1 packet of rice vermicelli(bee hoon), soaked to soften

Method for the rest
1. In the wok, add 200g of oily mee siam paste to heat. Add softened rice vermicelli(bee hoon) and stir fry till its dry and cooked.
2. Add bean sprouts to fry. Remove and set aside.
3. In a large pot, put water, remaining portion of mee siam paste to boil.
4. Once it starts boiling, add coconut milk, tamarind juice, soya beans and sugar. Turn heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes.
5. To serve, add hot gravy on fried rice vermicelli and garnish with egg, fried bean curd, chives and freshly squeezed lime juice.

Notes about the Paste
1. If you want the paste to be less spicy, use half of Dried Chilli and half of fresh red chilli. Remember to de-seed it before blending. Its the seeds that makes the paste extremely spicy.

2. Best to make this paste ahead of time. And you can store this in the fridge(after its cooked) for 4 weeks if you keep it in the coldest part of the fridge.

3. If you want to store it longer, put it in the freezer.

4. My best way was always to make lots of paste, divide it into half. One half for frying the noodles, one half for making the stock.

Feb 5, 2010

Post Chinese New Year Sale at KC

I will be having post CNY sale next week to last till end of February 2010.

Discounts from 20% to 50% for some of the selected range of products (Bakeware, Party ware, Ingredients)


From : 17 February, Wednesday to 28 February Sunday, 2010
Opening hours : 10am till 9pm

What's the scoop?

20% Discount for :
USA Cookie Cutters
Stadter Letter Press
Copper moulds for jelly
Aluminium moulds for jelly
Mini frying pan
Chocolate moulds
Aalst Range of Chocolate Fondue Sets(with free pack of Fountain Chocolate)

30% Discount for:
Party ware kits, etc
Gift Bags, Gift Boxes(paper back)
Chocolate foil wrap(for wrapping individual chocolate bons bons)

50% Discount for;
Ribbons (while stock last!)

Fixed discount prices:
Bakels Chocolate Fondant : S$8.30 per 750g pack, Usual price S$9.30 per pack. Buy a carton of 6 packs for S$48.00

SCS Butter(Salted or Unsalted) : S$2.80 per 250g block, Usual price S$3.80 each. No minimum order.

Anchor Butter(Salted or Unsalted) : S$4.25 per 454g block, Usual price S$4.50 each. No minimum order.

Anchor Cream Cheese 1kg block : S$15.00, usual price S$16.00

Hershey's Cocoa Powder : S$4.80, usual price S$5.50

Bamboo Charcoal Powder : S$9.00 per bottle, usual price S$9.50

All our Sugar Decorations(100s and 1000s) : S$3.50 per bottle Usual Price ; S$3.95 per bottle

Chef Master Liquid Gel 10oz bottle, all colours : S$12.50 per bottle, Usual Price S$16.50

Teck Aik Kee's Mild Sweetness Pineapple Paste : S$4.50 per 1kg , usual price S$4.80 per pack

If you made a single purchase of above S$300, you will get a Free Training Voucher with me. That's worth S$80.

Be there or be square..