Friday, February 13, 2015

Kueh Bangkit (Melt-In-Mouth Coconut Cookies)

Max asked for Kueh Bangkit this year. When I asked him to describe what kind of specific bangkit he wants, he says "You know? That sweet-powdery softness and warms your mouth with the fragrance of pandan and packed with coconut flavor?"

Ohh,,, he has a specific request!


Ever since I started learning baking, Kueh Bangkit was never on my to-bake list. Not until Max asked me to do so. Kueh Bangkit is one of his favorite Chinese New Year cookies. Obviously (refer to above on how he describe that)

In my childhood memory, my faint recall was that Kueh Bangkit is sweet, chalky, packed with coconut flavor, and melt-in-mouth. When I said melt, it really melts IMMEDIATELY in the mouth. The moment the cookies touches the tongue, it melts. Yes. That's the one! 


When I grew up, moved to Singapore for work, everything has turned commercialized. Unlike my home-town Kampar that sells home-made cookies during my childhood times. They do, still have some in Singapore, but really good ones? You've got to be lucky to find one. I started to dislike Kueh Bangkit ever since store-bought bangkits invaded the market. Bangkits displayed on the supermarket or neighbourhood bakeries didn't attract me at all. This is where I stopped having interest on Bangkit. 

I tell myself, if I want to make, I will make the one that makes me find back at least 70% of my faint childhood feel (probably). If not, I won't consider my bangkit a success. So, this post is to share with you my experience on my attempts on Kueh Bangkit.  


As usual, before I start experimenting something, I will make sure I do some reading. I flipped through some cookbooks, check out the online recipes. Comparing the liquid and dry ingredients ratio, I finally settled with fatboo's recipe that sounds really convincing. 

Some people tells me that Kueh Bangkit is easy to make. But mind you, they are easy to fail too. So, becareful on that. To ensure my first attempt a success, I followed the recipe obediently without tweaking it. This also means, I followed the particular ingredients (and the brand) mentioned on the recipe. Only on the 2nd and 3rd attempt, I then tweaked the recipe abit. So, please... be good. For best chances of success, just follow as I said. 


This recipe ask for Ayam Brand Premium Coconut Cream and Sago Flour. Max hunt these two ingredients up and down for me and it is not avail. We managed to found Sago Flour at Sheng Siong Clementi. For the coconut cream, he is so smart enough to call Ayam Brand Singapore to ask for it. Later, we learnt that Ayam Brand Premium Coconut Cream is named as Pure Coconut Cream in Singapore. So, same content, different name I guess. According to Ayam Brand staff, this particular Coconut Cream gives the most similar quality as the freshly squeezed coconut milk in the market. It contains nothing else except coconut cream (no stabilizer).  

DISCLAIMER : This is NOT a sponsored post. Because this Coconut Cream really brings out its good flavor. I feel that I should credit and recommend this coconut cream to you guys to ensure higher chances of success in attempt. And please remember, this recipe ask for coconut CREAM, not coconut milk. Becareful. 


Ingredients
(Source : Fatboo, with modification after my 3rd attempt)
  • 800g Sago Flour (2 packs of 400gm)
  • 10 to 12 Pandan Leaves (Screwpine Leaves)
  • 240gm Ayam Brand Pure Coconut Cream
  • 300gm Icing Sugar (Originally ask for 200gm) *See Note
  • 3 Egg yolks (medium sized eggs 50 - 55g)
  • Drops of Red coloring (optional)
Note : 
  1. I increased Icing sugar from 200g to 300g Icing Sugar on my 2nd and 3rd attempt, and I swear that it does taste better! The existence of Sugar enhances the coconut flavor.   
  2. This recipe makes approx. 330 Bangkits, depends on the cookies thickness. I've got 220 out of this recipe. So, I assume that my cookies is thicker than Fatboo's one. 
  3. The existence of red coloring is to add some festive feel to the overall look of the bangkit. It's absolutely optional.  

Flour Preparation

10 - 12 Pandan Leaves : Wash and wipe with paper towels till dry. Cut into desired lengths. 

800g Sago Flour : In a big wok, fry sago flour over low heat for 10 mins. Stirring all the time to ensure the flour is not burnt. The initial frying stage would be lumpy and hard to stir. 

Cut Pandan Leaves : Add it into the flour and continue to fry another 10mins till flour is light and the pandan leaves are dried and crinkled. The flour will become dry and flies up when stirred. This indicates that the flour is ready. 

Note : 
  1. You may not be able to finish the Sago Flour at the end of the baking process. But it's better to prepare more as some will be used for managing the dough, flouring the pastry board and so on. Read on, experience it, and you will know. 
  2. You can prepare the flour one day in advance (or upto 5 days in advance), as the flour needs to cool down completely before you can use them. 
  3. It is highly advisable to leave the fried sago flour overnight to ensure that it is completely cooled. Once it is cooled, sift and store the prepared flour in air-tight container.



Pastry Preparation

1) In one bowl, stir 240gm Coconut Cream and 200gm Icing Sugar with hand whisk till sugar dissolved and mixture turned semi-greyish thick sugary solution.

2) In another bowl, whisk 3 Egg Yolks and the remaining 100gm Icing Sugar under high speed till creamy white and sugar is dissolved.

3) Lower speed, add in (3) coconut sugar solution and whisk till well mixed.

4) With a wooden spatula, add in 560gm Fried Sago Flour, still till well mixed. *See Photo

5) Cover the dough with a piece of wet cloth to prevent pastry from drying out, let the dough rest awhile.


You only need to mix 560gm Fried Sago Flour into the wet mixture. The rest of the fried sago flour is for you to dust the working top, adding more flour to the sticky dough, dust the rolling pin, and everything else. The pastry is VERY STICKY. In my first attempt, I thought somewhere went wrong, I was worried through the entire experiment as it's not easy to handle.


Rolling and Cutting the Pastry

1) Line pastry board with a piece of clingwrap to prevent it from sticking.

2) Working with a cake scrapper, cut out 1/3 portion of the sticky pastry, sprinkle some fried sago flour over, knead in. You need to add in flour bit by bit till pastry is smooth, soft and pliable.

3) Flour worktop, place pastry on it, roll dough out to to your desired thickness. For all my 3 attempts, I conclude that 6mm thickness is ideal for my personal preference.

4) With cookie cutter, cut out the bangkit, place it on a lined baking tray.

5) Using a skewer or a toothpick, put a tiny dot of red color on the bangkit to give this cookies an overall festive feel.


Baking

Bake in pre-heated oven at 160 degree for 10mins. This initial 10mins is to allow the bangkit to set the design.
Then, reduce the temperature to 130 degree, and continue to bake for a further 10 to 15 mins or till Bangkit is very light beige in color. Keep an eye on it. Gauge it yourself. Your oven and my oven temperament might not be the same.

In the original recipe, it mentioned 160 degree for 10mins and 130 degree for 20mins. I tried, but I think 10mins + 10mins is sufficient. So, always feel it yourself. Because your bangkit thickness might be different from mine.


And this is how it looked when it is out of the oven, The hairline cracks on top of the cookies looked quite nice tho. And the little red dot makes the whole bangkit looked nice. I like!


It takes me 3 attempts to understand certain tricks. I learn new things in every baking experiment. For this bangkit, here's my sharing ...

My 1st attempt : Followed the original recipe obediently. Taste and smells good, but not sweet enough to my liking. Fragile cookies, definitely need alot of tender-loving-care. And it does melt-in-the-mouth very quickly as promised. I'm satisfied, and I consider this a success. Max says this gives him childhood feel. I don't know how true.

My 2nd attempt : I tried tweaking the recipe by using 80% sago flour and 20% tapioca flour, and increased sugar from 200g to 300g. The result, taste and smells better with the enhancement in sweetness. But cookies texture is not what I expected. The cookies is 'crunchy'! And yes, it does melt-in-the-mouth, but it melts VERY slowly... Duh! I don't know why, but I consider this is a failure because the cookies texture is not what I wanted. My MIL literally 'promote' it to her friends who came to our house. And I also don't know why this failed bangkit is a crowd pleaser. *face-palm*

My 3rd attempt : This is the recipe written as above. 100% sago flour, 300g sugar. Result was satisfactory. Cukup lemak, cukup wangi, cukup manis (literally means enough of coconuty, enough of sweetness, and nice fragrance in Malay). Although the cookies is still on the fragile side, they are better than the 1st attempt. But to be honest, you can't expect tough cookies to give you melt-in-the-mouth feel. Usually fragile cookies does. That's the logic I guess. I found the 'feel' on my 3rd attempt. And also, I'd say this is a success!


Kudos to this recipe. These cookies are good and well received. Definitely better than store-bought. I guarantee you this for sure. And yes, I repeat myself again, it does melt-in-the-mouth quicky! I have to say, I love this recipe, I really do.

But is this the perfect recipe? Maybe yes to me, but maybe no to others. I will continue to search for a perfect ones. If you do have one, please do share with me. Ok?


And a quick tips for you. When you arrange the cookies into the container, use chopsticks to do the work, With my clumsy fingers, I just couldn't control it well, I damaged a few cookies during the process. And I quickly use chopsticks to do the rest of the cookies arrangements.




I hope you like this recipe. And if you do, please go ahead and share this recipe with your friends and relatives.

In this New Year, may good luck and prosperity follow everyone of you. Happy New Year everyone!!!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Salmon Fish Bone Tofu Soup (三文鱼骨豆腐汤)

Milky and light brown fish soup, full of flavor and packed with nutritious goodness. This is what I cooked for my family for dinner tonight. Not only the fish head, there's alot of fish bones in it too! Especially my skinny Mother-In-Law needs alot of nutrients now. Like Calcium, Omega and other goodness. All in this pot of soup.

On a side note... This soup is NOT FISHY all. It depends on how you cook it.


This soup is indeed nutritious, delicious and versatile. You may replace with your favorite vegetables in this recipe. Besides, having a warm fish soup is so comforting especially during the cold season.

I spotted some really fresh Salmon fish head and bones at Chinatown wet market today. Fish monger packed them into a big pack and selling it to me at S$8.00. There's quite alot of meat in the heads and the bones actually. For those who often cook fish soup will know fish bones and head has lots of flavor.

And this is how I prepare this soup....

To prepare :

1. Gently, give the fish head and bones a quick wash. Drain them using kitchen towel. Yes, you will need quite alot of kitchen towels to do the work. But if you did it well, it would make pan-frying easier. Wet fish will makes your pan-frying fish experience turned disaster.


2. Heat up some oil in a wok, add in few slices of ginger, sprinkle some salt. Under medium fire, pan fry the fish head and bones until lightly browned. You don't have to put too much oil. Salmon itself is oily. It will release oil on its own.


3. Let the fish rest on the paper towel to drain up some excess oil.


S$8.00 for all above fish bones and head is definitely too much for today. I divided them into two portion. 1 portion eat fresh, another portion wrap well and freeze away for next week. This means I only paid S$4.00 fish bones and head for 1 recipe.

Ingredients
(Source : Annielicious Food)

  • Some Salmon fish head and fish bones, about S$4.00
  • 2 thumb sized ginger, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed 
  • 1 block of firm tofu
  • 6 stalks of dried mushrooms, soaked till soft
  • 1 stalk of leek
  • slices of daikon
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorn, crushed
  • 1 bird's eye chilli
  • a kettle of hot boiling water... This is important
  • thumb sized rock sugar... This is important
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp Shao Xing Wine (Chinese cooking wine)
  • dashes of pepper
  • Salt to taste
for garnishing
  • some Spring onions
  • some Coriander

As I mentioned earlier, you may replace with your preferred vegetables. If you don't like Salmon, you can use Threadfin bones too. Add in more ginger if your tolerance of fishy smell is low. But as I said right at the beginning, this fish soup is not fishy at all. But that's provided you follow my instructions.

But I have to confess that pan-frying the salmon fish bones do makes your kitchen  smells fishy. It's unavoidable. If you pan-frying fish at home before,  you will know what I mean. So, your kitchen do smells fishy after pan-frying the fish bones. But the soup won't taste fishy. Is that clear now?


Method :

  1. Boil a pot of water. We need hot BOILING water. Don't use room temperature water. 
  2. In a pot or a casserole, heat up a tsp oil, fry the ginger and garlic till fragrant. Add in pan-fried fish bones and head. Cover up with lid, let it fry for 5 to 7 minutes or until the fish bones and head is well heated up. Keep an eye on it, and don't burnt them.
  3. Add in the hot boiling water until the water covers the fish head and bones. This is important. You have to follow this if you wants milky looking fish soup.
  4. Add chinese mushrooms and black peppercorn. Turn fire to high heat and let it boil for 10mins. And then, add tofu, turn to medium low heat, and boil for another 10mins. 
  5. Remove any scums and oil floated on top of the soup during boiling process. Don't be lazy. Try to keep as little oil as you can in the soup.  
  6. Add shao xing wine, rock sugar, fish sauce, and salt. Give it a stir. Taste.
  7. Add in daikon slices and bird's eye chilli, cover lid, continue to boil for another 10mins. Taste the soup, add more salt if needed. Once it is okay, heat off, and leave it there. 
  8. Until you are ready for the meal, reheat the soup, garnish with spring onions and coriander.


Add in the hot boiling water into the the pan-fried bones gives milky looking fish soup base. If you use room temperature water, you might not be able to achieve what you want. I need to re-emphasize, it is HOT BOILING WATER. Don't give me lukewarm water or whatever nots.


Boil the fish head and bones under high heat at the first 10 minutes is also part of the trick that gives milky appearance soup result.


Ooohhh,.. Look at the milky and light brown color! Is this what you want to achieve? If yes, please DO NOT skip any steps that I mentioned earlier. My soup looked clean and very little oil.


Flavorful fish bones soup and some vegetables. Yes, this is simple, economical and absolutely delicious. You don't have to dry up your wallet to eat well.

I still remember how my mother-in-law complaint to me about the fishy smell on her salmon fish bones soup that she tried cooking months ago while I'm away from home. Today, she's actually savoring every last drop of broth in her bowl. I'm glad.


I hope you like it.

Comin' up... I will come up with some Chinese New Year dish. Stay tuned!

Friday, September 19, 2014

BEST Singapore Chilli Crab (辣椒螃蟹) - (AFF - Singapore #2)

When one mention Singapore, who doesn't know Chilli crab? This popular seafood dish had been around since 1956. Fresh crabs stir-fried in a semi-thick. sweet, tangy, savory, tomato and chilli based sauce which will electrify your palate and satisfy your tastebuds.

Arguably one of Singapore's greatest culinary inventions. If you are a fan of seafood, this is one dish that you must try while you're in Singapore.


Don't get cheated by it's red and spicy look. Despite its name, chilli crab is NOT a very spicy dish.

The spicy and tangy sauce is made deliciously fragrant with rempah (spices) and lime or calamansi juice, while corn starch and egg ribbons are added to give the chilli crab dish the fluffy texture at the end of the cooking process. For extra oomph, order some fried mantou to scoop up the thick gravy, which will leave you hankering for more.


I adapted this recipe from Chef Master Classes on his World's BEST Singapore Chilli Crab Recipe, which he mentioned that his recipe is based on a food trip to Punggol Point, Singapore. I don't know how BEST this recipe would be. But by reading the recipe list, I think I wanna use this recipe as a reference. Also, Violet Oon is the brand ambassador of Singapore Food. So, her recipe as a guide will never go wrong I guess.

Ingredients
(Source : Chef Master Classes & Violet Oon's recipe, as a guide, with modification)
  • 2 Mud Crabs or Meat Crabs (or Roe Crabs if you wish) - about 800g each
  • 1 portion Rempah (Refer to below for recipe)
  • 6 tbsp Tomato Ketchup
  • 3 tbsp Sugar
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Tau Cheo (fermented bean paste)
  • 1½ tsp Corn Flour / Tapioca Flour + 1½ tbsp Water
  • 5 tbsp Peanut Oil
  • 1 cup Water (or more)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • some chinese parsley (garnishing)
  • some chillies (garnishing)
  • some spring onions (garnishing)
Accompaniment 
  • Mantous (馒头)  from the supermarket frozen section, thawed. 
  • Enough oil for deep-frying the Mantous (Mixture of 1 : 1 ratio of Butter + Peanut Oil)  



For the rempah (Spices)
  • 6 Shallots
  • 6 Garlic
  • 5 Red Chillies
  • 2 to 3 Bird Eye Chillies, depends on individual
  • 2 Candle Nut
  • 1 thumb sized Galangal (or replaced by Ginger if you don't have Galangal)
  • ½ Green Lime, extract the juices (or use calamansi as alternative)
  • 2 tbsp Belacan Powder (toast your own belacan if you can't find belacan powder)
To prepare the rempah : Put everything in the chopper and blitz away until fine texture is achieved.


To prepare the crab, I'd posted How to clean crabs video last month. Or, below photos shows you roughly how it is cleaned and prepared. And preparing crabs is NOT as difficult as what you imagined. Be COURAGEOUS!!!


Get everything ready before start cooking is the rule. Always remember. Cooking chilli crab is not difficult. But preparing needs time.

Cooking Method 
  1. Heat oil in a wok until very hot. Fry rempah until fragrant. 
  2. Add tau cheo, sugar, salt and tomato ketchup. Stir well. 
  3. Add in crabs, stir well. Then, add water, stir, cover until crab shells turned bright red, indicating that the crab is cooked. 
  4. Beat 2 eggs in a bowl, pour into the sauce at the side, gently mix well. Simmer for another 10 seconds, 
  5. Heat off, dish up, garnish with coriander, spring onions and chillies. Serve with hot deep fried mantous.

This recipe is good. It's a little messy, but worth it for sure. And you can always vary the recipe to your taste. You want it sweeter? Spicier? It's up to you! :)

Max and I scarfed the whole plate of crabs down with all the mantous. It tastes so good with deep fried mantous and it is also good with a bowl of hot rice!


Yummmss!!! Definitely recommended!


Do share with me if you have any better recipe :)


I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest (Singapore) – September Month hosted by Grace Phua of Life can be Simple

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Hainanese Chicken Rice (海南鸡饭) - (AFF - Singapore #1)

In conjunction with this month's Asian Food Fest, I cooked Hainanese Chicken Rice (海南鸡饭) for weekend lunch. This dish is very well known here in Singapore and it is considered one of the national dishes. You can find Hainanese Chicken Rice almost everywhere in Singapore!


Hainanese Chicken Rice is a dish adapted from early Chinese immigrants originally from the Hainan province in southern China. It is based on a well-known Hainanese dish called Wenchang Chicken (文昌雞), due to its adoption by the Hainanese overseas Chinese population in the Nanyang area. (Source : Wikipedia)


Bite-sized pieces of blanched white chicken, fragrant rice cooked in chicken broth, delicious ground chilli and spring onion ginger oil. And some likes going with dark soy sauce, some don't. These are common way of eating Hainanese Chicken Rice in Singapore.

This dish can be simple. But to make it good, you need some patience here. Everything starts from stepping into the market and select the freshest ingredients, picking the right Kampong Chicken (or Free Range Chicken), ensuring the rice is well cooked, and to prepare the condiments well.

My mom always says, Chicken Rice is a simple dish, but this probably can categorized as Kungfu dish (功夫菜). It means the dish is using simple ingredients, but to make it good, it needs alot of attention and every details must be well taken care of.

Chicken should be cooked very lightly, pink inside the bones, not too bloody, and with a gelatinous skin. I'm still learning :)


A lot of effort goes into the preparation of this flavorful dish, with effort of slowly blanching the chicken until it is fully cooked, before immediately soaking it in cold water. This stops the cooking process and ensures that the meat remains tender, and is also why the meat is usually served at room temperature. 

Ingredients 
(Source: My mother-Mdm Chai, her source is from a Hainanese Chicken Rice Stall's owner in SG)

The Chicken
  • 1 Kampong Chicken (or Free Range Chicken), estimated 1kg
  • 5 thick slice Old Ginger, about 35g
  • 2 cloves Garlic, bruised
  • 1 sprig Spring Onion, tied into a knot
  • 2300ml Water (or more)
  • 1 tbsp Sesame Oil
Rendering Chicken Fats 
  • 150g Chicken Fats / Skins
  • 1 tbsp Peanut Oil / Cooking Oil
The Rice
  • 475g Jasmine Rice (95%)
  • 25g Glutinous Rice (5%) (Trade secret)
  • 500ml Chicken Stock
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 8 tbsp Rendered Chicken Fats (Or you can use shallot oil as alternative)
  • 4 strands of Pandan Leaf (Screwpine Leaf), tied into 2 knots
  • 1 stalk Lemon Grass, lightly bruised
  • 4 cloves Garlic, bruised
  • 2 thumb sized Old Ginger, sliced
  • 2 tsp Planta / Margarine (Optional. I didn't use and I don't recommend) (Trade secret)
The Chilli
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 3 Red Chilli
  • 2 Bird Eye Chilli / Cili Padi
  • 1 thumb sized Young Ginger
  • Juice from 3 to 4 Small Calamansi
  • ½ tsp Salt, or more to taste
  • ½ tsp Sugar, or more to taste
  • ¼ tsp MSG (Optional - I didn't use)
  • 1 to 2 tbsp Chicken stock to dilute it. But I'd prefer 2 tbsp Rendered Chicken Oil
  • 1 tsp DelMonte Ketchup (Optional) (Trade secret)
Spring Onion and Ginger Oil (Optional)
  • 100g Old Ginger
  • 25g Spring Onions (or more)
  • 2 tbsp Rendered Chicken Oil
  • 1 tbsp Sesame Oil
  • ½ tsp Salt, or more to taste
  • ½ tsp Sugar, or more to taste
  • ¼ tsp Chicken Powder (Optional - I didn't use)
Dark Soy Sauce
  • 20g Rock Sugar
  • 30ml Water
  • 50ml Dark Soya Sauce
Dressing for the chicken
  • ½ thumb sized Rock Sugar (Trade secret)
  • 2 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Shao Xing Wine (绍兴酒), also known as Hua Tiao Wine
  • 1 tbsp Sesame Oil
Garnishing
  • Coriander
  • Sping Onions
  • Cucumber, sliced
Alot of effort goes into the preparation of this flavorful dish yea.

Method - The Chicken
  1. Wash and trim any visible fat from the chicken. Cut away the chicken feet. Stuff old ginger, garlic, spring onions into the cavity of the chicken. 
  2. Bring water to a boil. Once water is boiled, hold the chicken head (refer to photo), soak the chicken body into the boiling water. With your hand still holding the chicken head, lift the chicken up, and soak it into the boiling water again. Do this for 4 times before you release the chicken head and let the chicken soak into the water completely. By doing this, water will go into the chicken cavity completely. This is to ensure that the whole chicken is well cooked.
  3. Keep an eye on the pot. Once you see the water is boiling again, turn to very low heat for 5 mins, and then heat off. Let the chicken sit inside the hot water untouched and covered for 30mins. If your chicken is big, you might need another 5 mins or so. For this part, you have to gauge it on your own. Prepare a tub of ice-cold water, preferably with ice cubes. 
  4. Once chicken is cooked, using chopsticks, gently remove the chicken from the water and place the chicken into a tub of tap water, let the tap water running for 10mins. And then, transfer the chicken to the tub of ice-cold water.
  5. Once chicken is completely cooled, drain. Apply 1 tbsp Sesame Oil on the chicken skin. Set aside.

Method - Rendering Chicken Fats
  1. Roughly chop the chicken fats and skin. 
  2. In a small sauce pan, heat up peanut oil, and add in the chicken fats and skin. Let it cook over very low heat for 30 mins (or upto 1 hour) until the liquid fat renders away. Pour off and keep the liquid fats for later use. You may discard the crispy chicken fats.

Method - The Rice
  1. Wash the rice well, and soak it for 1.5hrs, drained.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat up 8 tbsp rendered chicken fats. 
  3. Add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass. Fry till fragrant and golden brown. Remove from the oil. 
  4. Add one knot of pandan leaf. Fry till fragrant. Remove from the oil. 
  5. Turn off the heat. Add in Planta (Optional), drained rice. Give it a good mix, until the rice are all well coated with the flavorful oil. 
  6. Transfer the rice into rice cooker. Add in 500ml reserved chicken stock and salt. Stir well. Throw in the 2nd Pandan leaf knot. Cook the rice in a rice cooker or by your preferred method of cooking rice. 
  7. Once rice is cooked. Remove pandan leaf knot. Loosen the rice with chopsticks and give it a mix. Cover the rice, and let it sit in the rice cooker for another 10mins before serving. The texture of rice is important and it takes quite a bit of experience to get it done properly. 
Method - The Chilli
  1. Combine all chillies, ginger, garlic, sugar, salt in a food processor and blitz away.
  2. Add in calamansi juice and 1 to 2 tbsp chicken stock to dilute it. But I prefer to use 2 tbsp hot Rendered Chicken Oil instead.
  3. Add in MSG and DelMonte Ketchup. Stir well. Set aside.
Method - Spring Onion and Ginger Oil
  1. Blitz ginger into paste in a food processor. 
  2. Heat the rendered chicken oil and sesame oil in a small frying pan. 
  3. When the oil is hot enough (at it's smoking point), add in ginger paste. Fry well for 2 to 3mins. 
  4. Add in spring onion, salt, sugar, chicken powder. Give it a quick stir. Heat off. Set aside and leave to infuse. 
Method - Dark Soy Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, boil rock sugar and water under low heat till completely melted and viscous. 
  2. Add in dark soy sauce, continue to cook till it thickens. Remove and leave it till completely cooled.
Method - Dressing for the chicken
  1. In a small saucepan, boil rock sugar, soy sauce and Shao Xing wine under low heat till completely melted and viscous. Heat off.
  2. Add in sesame oil. Stir well. Remove and set aside. 
To Serve
  1. Chop the chicken, Chinese-style. Arrange it on a plate. Pour the dressing over it. Scatter with a little coriander. 
  2. Serve with hot chicken rice, condiments, broth and garnishes.

Here's some notes that you need take into consideration. 
  1. Use a tall and slim pot to cook the water for blanching chicken. This is to ensure you use the minimum amount of water, just enough to submerge the chicken. Like that, you will have a better flavor chicken stock to cook the rice later. 
  2. Try to buy Kampong Chicken from Sheng Siong. They sell good and genuine black leg Kampong Chicken.
  3. If you think rendered chicken fats is unhealthy, you'd probably didn't know that you actually ate loads of them when you eat chicken rice at the hawker centre. Without them, you won't like your chicken rice. So, just do it. You can get chicken fats / skins from Sheng Siong super mart. Or simply ask the chicken seller at the wet-market. Sometimes they gave it away for free. 
  4. 95% Jasmine Rice + 5% Glutinous Rice is really a trade secret. Rice suppliers pre-mixed the rice ratio before they send to the chicken rice stall. 
  5. Planta / Margarine too, is another trade secret. It gives the chicken rice a nice color. However, I didn't use it because I'm cooking it for my family. I don't need them. And this also explains why the color of my chicken rice looked abit to the pale side. 
  6. It's not surprising that there's MSG in the chilli sauce. But I was amazed when my mom told me that DelMonte Ketchup is used for the chilli sauce. But well, this is for chicken rice stall to do business tho.
  7. Spring Onion and Ginger Oil is NOT AVAILABLE in every chicken rice stall in Singapore. Only bare minimum of them is still having this condiment. Some only serve ginger paste with oil. Cost is also one of the factor for them for not maintaining it. Hence, till now, there's an argument point that Spring Onion and Ginger Oil shouldn't exist in Hainanese Chicken Rice dish. Oh well. It's up to you :)
  8. Some says dark soya sauce plays an important part for Singapore Hainanese Chicken Rice. I confess, and I admit. I forgot to prepare the dark soy sauce. Too busy and too focused on the chicken and the rice. Damn it!
  9. Rock sugar makes a difference to the dressing for the chicken. If you could, please stick to rock sugar.
  10. The rest is just a matter of blending the ingredients and then adding seasonings, oil and stock. Making these sauces from scratch gives full authenticity to the recipe.

Although Hainanese Chicken Rice stalls in Singapore is selling lip-smacking delicious chicken rice. I'd tried my very best to note down every single thing my mom told me. This recipe may not produce exactly the same result as store-bought chicken rice. This might be due to the recipe that I've written above might have tweaked to adjust to my own agaration (estimation). I see a room to evolve further in years to come.There are some ingredients (eg. Planta/Margarine or MSG or DelMonte Ketchup) is an optional. Since we are cooking for our family, just do it whenever you feels comfortable. If you feel that there's no need to add them, just go without them. I'd prefer original taste.


I personally quite happy with it for now. Maybe I should find a day to try some other well known chicken rice in Singapore (eg. Chatterbox?), or until I found another inspiration for further modifications to it.

Do share with me if you have any better recipe :)


I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest (Singapore) – September Month hosted by Grace Phua of Life can be Simple

Sunday, August 17, 2014

How to clean crabs

A small demonstration on one way to clean and cut a crab. 

Everyone has their own method to do. But this is how I did it for my Chilli Crab dish today.

video

Friday, July 25, 2014

Simple Sous Vide Chicken Legs

Recently, I'm learning Sous Vide cooking techniques at home. All thanks to Alan for encouraging me and connect me to this awesome Polyscience product. Also, I chance up to have a great lunch at Heston Blumenthal's restaurant on my recent trip to London. I witnessed how they cook my lunch using sous vide techniques!

After I came back from my 3 weeks Europe trip, I tied up my hair, put on my apron, take a deep breath and start exploring my sous vide machine, starting with the most simple recipe. Simple Sous Vide chicken legs, and then I roasted the chicken legs into perfection before serving.


For those who doesn't know what sous vide is - Sous vide (literally under vacuum in French) is one of the most popular modernist cooking techniques. If you've ever heard or watched famous chefs like Thomas Keller and Heston Blumenthal from hit television shows, they are the people who usually seen promoting sous vide cooking on TV.

Sous vide is very different from traditional cooking method. It needs alot of reading and understanding, as conceptually, it can be very difficult. From the various types of sous vide equipment, questions about vacuum sealing, the food science on the safety of sous vide can be quite confusing at the beginning. It takes me quite sometimes to explore and understand sous vide before I finally decided to invest on the equipment a year later. It's expensive! Of course I have to understand a few basics sous vide cooking before I invest on one.

I won't write too much to introduce on sous vide here, because all infos about sous vide is easily available on google. Once you understand a few basics, sous vide cooking is one of the easiest and most foolproof ways to cook. It saves me alot of time preparing my weekday dinner ahead!


My Sous Vide Professional Series machine, clamped on a big and tall stock pot, vacuum sealer made in Italy, vacuum bags, and some basic ingredients.


How simple? I just rubbed the chicken legs with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put the legs into the vacuum bags, add a few dashes of olive oil, throw in a clove of garlic and some thymes. Seal it.

Ingredients
  • 4 Fresh Chicken Legs
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 4 strands of Thymes
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 tsp Freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive Oil 
Method
  1. Pat dry chicken legs with kitchen towels. Rub chicken legs with salt and pepper. 
  2. Put the legs into the vacuum bags, add a few dashes of olive oil, throw in a clove of garlic and thymes.
  3. Vacuum seal the bag. Sous vide for 4 hours at 70C. 
  4. To serve : Pre-heat oven at 270C, fan ON.
  5. Gently remove the chicken leg from the vacuum bag. Put the chicken leg into the oven for 10mins.
  6. Remove from oven and serve immediately. Incase if you wants better appearance, you can either leave the chicken leg into the oven for another 3 to 5mins or blowtorch it as a finishing. 
Here, they are all nicely vacuum sealed and ready to go into the water-bath.


Knowing that I need to crisp the chicken leg skin under a very hot oven before serving and thus the meat will be cooked slightly more from sous vide treatment, I sous vide the chicken leg at temperature 70C, which is slightly lower than the desired core temperature (74C).

The actual process of cooking sous vide is simple. You just need to determine the temperature you'd like to cook your food. Press the button, sous vide machine will heat up the water up to that temperature you want. Place the bag of sealed food in the water-bath until it is done.


When they came out of the sous vide waterbath, there are two options :

1st Options (To eat immediately)
  1. Slightly pat dry the chicken leg with paper towels. Remove garlic and thymes. 
  2. Put the chicken legs into a very hot oven and roast for 10mins or upto 15mins. Or as I mentioned above, blowtorch up to it's perfection. 
2nd Option (To Keep)
  1. Prepare a large bowl of ice-cubed water. Remove the vacuum sealed chicken legs from the water bath. Shock in cold by putting the bags into the ice water until the chicken legs are completely cooled. 
  2. Place the chicken legs bags into the freezers and freeze away. 
  3. To serve - Put the frozen bags of chicken legs into the sous vide machine with the same setting (70C) and let it sous vide for about 30mins (or more) while you pre-heat your oven.
  4. Repeat 1st Options steps.
Blow-torching your food is another awesome cooking method. If you are trying to get your guys to help out more in the kitchen? Buy a blowtorch. No kidding. I know blowtorch isn't really necessary, but it does make the process easier (and way more fun for the guys). It browned the meat very well :)


The thing about sous vide is that the temperature should ideally be the exact temperature you want the food to be when it is done. The result is a piece of meat that has retained the maximum amount of its juices, while still being done. It's an astonishing technique, but all my rambling has done miraculously little to convince anyone. Not many friends around me is into sous vide actually. Even my mother-in-law gave me the weird look when she first saw what I'm doing. I can understand that. Sous vide is not common in Asia tho.

Prepare some salad to go along. I did mine simple. Some Oak Leaves Salad, dressed with Balsamico di Modena. No fuss!


The appearance of the meat on the photo doesn't speak how good it is. Instead of stringy tough (I mean overcooked), the knife can effortlessly cut through the meat. The chicken leg is cooked juuuuust nice! This is a simple recipe that requires very minimum ingredients. But if you'd tried this, it's enough to make anyone convert.


Max ate the chicken leg happily. My only questions was whether was it the cook (me) or the machine? When I tasted the chicken meat, obviously the machine had a hand in what happened.

To say the food that came out of the machine tasted good, is something of an understatement.

I'm still a noob in sous vide cooking. More to explore, more to learn. Do share with me if you are into sous vide. I'm looking forward to make improvement.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Totally Chocolate Chocolate Chips Cookies

A whopper of a deep dark chocolate cookie packed with chock full of chocolate chips. There's no reason to resist eating this cookies. Absolutely delicious, and by far the best cookie recipe I've ever used! There's nothing short of SENSATIONAL!!!

Incase you don't know.... Now this, my friends, is what I called chocolate cookies :)


The glass of milk is not just a prop. It is a necessity for this. A bite of chocolate chips cookies and a sip of milk? I'm totally on board. It's just heavenly! These are the chocolatiest cookies I'd ever come across.


I adapted this recipe from Nigella Lawson, but tweaked abit. It makes 12 big cookies or make it 14 if you want your cookies to be slightly smaller. I urge you to make full recipe. Because this is so good, I guarantee you, it won't keep long. But if you are only feeding 2 to 3, you can bake half the dough and freeze the other half. Just form the cookies dough into balls, freeze the cookies balls on a little tray. Once they're hard, just bung them in a freezer bag, seal, and stash it back in the freezer. You could bake them unthawed at a later date.

Using good chocolate is important. The logic is simple. If you use good chocolate, you will get good quality chocolate cookies. This is what I call an investment. And it's worth it. I used Hershey's brand chocolate chips and chocolate powder for this.

Recipe
  • 125g Dark Chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
  • 150g Plain Flour
  • 30g Cocoa Powder (Sieved)
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • ½ tsp Bicarbonate Soda
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 125g Soft Unsalted Butter
  • 75g Soft Light Brown Sugar
  • 50g White Fine Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Large Egg (cold from the fridge)
  • 320g Dark Choocolate Chips (semi sweet is preferred)
Method 
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C, fan ON. 
  2. Melt the 125g dark chocolate in a heatproof dish over a pan of simmering water. Set aside to cool. 
  3. Put the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. 
  4. Cream the butter, fine sugar and brown sugar in another bowl. Add the melted chocolate and mix together. 
  5. Beat in the vanilla extract and cold egg, and then mix in the dry ingredients. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips, mix well. 
  6. Divide the cookies dough into two portion. Wrap them with cling wrap, and shape them. (Refer pics below)
  7. Put the shaped cookies dough into the fridge and refrigerate it for 20 mins.
  8. Cut the dough into equal piece, remove the cling wrap layer and shape the cookie dough. (Refer pics below) Place shaped cookie dough on a lined baking sheet about 6cm apart. Do not flatten them. 
  9. Cook the cookie dough for 18 to 19 minutes, testing with a cake tester to make sure it comes out semi-clean and not wet with cake batter. If you pierce a chocolate chip, try again. 
  10. Leave to cool slightly on the baking sheet for 4 to 5 mins, then, transfer them to a cooling rack to harden as they cool.  
The secret of this recipe is simplicity and good quality ingredients. Do bear in mind.


Step 5 - Mix wet and dry ingredients together, and stir in the chocolate chips. Look at the sinful mess!


Step 6 -  Divide the cookies dough into two portion. Wrap them with cling wrap, and shape them.


Step 8 - Cut the dough into equal piece, remove the cling wrap layer and shape the cookie dough. No mess!


Place shaped cookie dough on a lined baking sheet about 6cm apart. Do not flatten them.


You cannot go wrong with this recipe. They are so easy and absolutely delicious! Max requested me to bake 30 pcs for him to bring to work next time.


Do I have to say more? It look and taste nothing short of perfection. This is definitely a MUST TRY recipe.

Update : Sorry that I forgot to mention, this is a crispy cookies :)

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