Sunday, August 23, 2015

Beef Brisket Clear Soup Stew / 清湯牛腩

Beef Brisket Clear Soup Stew is a very popular Cantonese dish. Sweet and beefy in taste, soft and tender meat and clear soup with hints of spices. It may looked like a normal dish, the scent and fragrance of the soup from hours of simmering is lip-smackingly delicious.

Undeniably, the clear beef brisket soup has such a strong umami flavor that you cannot resist but finish it to the last drop.

In my hometown Kampar, we do have this soup serve alongside with dry noodles. In Hong Kong, this dish is easily available, especially the famous Kau Kee Beef Brisket Soup Noodles. Asians have plenty of ways of cooking their version of 'beef stew' or 'beef soup', while Cantonese prefers this clear soup version. However, different family will have different preference in the type of spices added into the soup.

I stewed this pot, and I served 6 adults along with fluffy white rice. Yumms!

(Source : Chinese Food Recipe with modification)
  • 650g Beef Brisket 牛腩
  • 200g Beef Shin 牛腱
  • 6 Water Chestnut (Optional) 马蹄
  • 10 Beef Balls (Optional) 牛肉丸
  • 1 White Radish 白萝卜
  • 1 tbsp Shao Xing Wine 绍兴酒
  • 2 stalks Spring Onions 葱
  • 40g Old Ginger, sliced 老姜
  • 2500ml Water 水
  • Sea Salt to taste 海盐
Spices for the soup
  • 1 Bay Leaf 香叶
  • 10g Rock Sugar 冰糖
  • 1/2 tsp Fennel Seed 小茴香
  • 1/2 Szechuan Pepper 川椒
  • 1 Cinnamon Bark 桂皮
  • 4 Cloves 丁香
  • 2 Star Anise 八角
  • 1 piece Licorice Root 甘草
  • thumb sized Sun-Dried Tangerine Peel 老陈皮
  1. Preparation - Cut meat into pieces and white radish into big chunks. Give the spices a quick rinse. Soak tangerine peel till soft, scrape off the whitish part. 
  2. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add brisket and shin into the boiling water, simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, drained, rinse the beef pieces and the saucepan to get rid of the scums. 
  3. Heat a pan with some oil, fry sliced gingers till fragrant. Add in the rest of the spices, shao xing wine, rock sugar, beef brisket and beef shin. Stir well. Add in water and bring to a boil. 
  4. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 30mins, scoop the scums away (if any) and add in 1 stalk of spring onions. 
  5. Add in white radish and beef balls, continue to simmer under low fire for another 30mins (or more), covered. Check the tenderness of the beef brisket and beef shin to your likeliness
  6. Turn off the heat, add salt to taste. Let the soup continue to 'cook' under it's own temperature, for another 30mins.
  7. To serve, reheat the soup, scoop onto the bowl, sprinkle spring onions and serve with fluffy white rice.
This recipe is very forgiving. You can choose to use only beef brisket if you doesn't like beef shin. I added some beef balls into the stew because my big boy Max would love to have em'. Water chestnut can add extra sweetness to the stew. I happened to have some at home, so, I just conveniently add some in there.

I got my beef brisket, beef shin and beef balls from Chinatown wet market. Beef brisket cost S$10 per kg. Good deal eh.

The variety of spices I used is quite alot. But if you don't have all of them in the list, you can opt out some of them. However, ginger, spring onions, szechuan pepper, rock sugar, tangerine peels are essential. Otherwise, you won't be able to get even the right flavorful taste of the broth.

I didn't remove the ginger skin. Ginger and ginger skin has health benefits. I'm sure very little people knows that leaving the skin on your ginger is better for you. Ginger skin doesn't only makes the dish taste better, it aids in digestion by improving absorption of essential nutrients and helps to break down the proteins in your food. Of course, for some cosmetic reasons on certain dishes, I will still remove the ginger skin :)

Fusing with the lean meat into one, the brisket has generated a heavenly consistency. I brewed the soup for 30mins, and the flavor of the spices is all over the soup. I don't the spices to over-powered and covered the beefy taste, because beefy sweetness is eventually what we want. So, I removed the strong flavored spices star anise, cinnamon bark, cloves and licorice root from the soup. You can also do the same or if you prefer stronger spices flavor, you can leave the spices in the soup all the way.

Now, I am able to make this beef brisket clear soup stew at home anytime. To me, the best part about cooking is that you are willing to make something from scratch, and your loved ones enjoy eating it.

I find this soup absolutely suitable for all-year-round dish. The soup is clean, slightly sweet, intensely beefy. Surely will cook it again in near future.

What's next for me to explore? I don't know. I shall think about it :)

Happy cooking!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Pandan Coconut Butter Cake (班兰椰香牛油蛋糕)

To me, the flavor of Pandan is wholly unique and indescribable. The butter cake is nicely perfumed with the scent of Pandan leaf and coconut, but taste wasn't overpowering. Pandan and Coconut? Yes! They are perfect match!

I received a request on Friday night, asking me to make a cake for one lovely auntie who's celebrating her 84 years old birthday over a Soka Gathering. Idea strikes me, and I drafted this recipe on a paper on a friday night at 11.55pm before I forget. I tweaked the ratio using my all-time-favorite Butter Cake that I've posted back in 2012, and I get started with my baking preparation.

This cake is really overwhelmed with response from fellow beautiful aunties and uncles who tasted my Pandan Coconut Butter Cake this afternoon. Both Facebook readers, friends who had been WhatsApping me for the recipe, yes I know. I've rushed this recipe for you guys now as promised.

This cake is really yummy. I can't help it but wanting to share to everyone. It's so moist, fragrant and flavorful. Me and Max only get share a small piece because fellow aunties and uncles snatched the whole cake within a few minute when the birthday auntie says "Wah! Very delicious leh!". That's how overwhelmed it is.

There is no need to frost the side of the cake at all. Sometimes less is more. And that's how I feel.

This makes large cake and good for you to bring it to a party. Please read all the notes and steps that I've written. Those details are there for a reason.

  • 250g Salted Butter, room temperature
  • 5 Eggs, large sized and in room temperature
  • 150g + 50g Castor Sugar
  • 200g Self Raising Flour
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Bicarbonate Soda
  • 1 tsp Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (Optional) 
  • 50ml Coconut Cream
  • 20ml Concentrated Pandan Juice *See Preparation Note
  • 25g Desiccated Coconut
Whipped Cream Topping
  • 1 tsp Corn Flour
  • 1 tbsp Water
  • 1.5 tsp Castor Sugar 
  • 100ml Dairy Whipping Cream
  • 50ml Coconut Cream
  • some grated fresh and firm coconut flesh
  • some green lime zest
  • some edible sugar flowers as deco (Optional)
Preparation Note
- You will have to prepare the concentrated pandan juice way in advance, at least 5 hours. The reason is because you need time to allow the pandan juice to set before you can get the best out of the best that sunk at the bottom.
  1. Buy a bunch of Pandan Leaves (aka Screwpine Leaves). It cost me about 20cts from the wet market. 
  2. Wash Pandan Leaves clean and snip them into pieces. 
  3. Dump pandan leaves into the juicer, add a cup of water and blits away. 
  4. Strain the pandan juice, covered, and keep them in the fridge to set for few hours. I left mine in the fridge untouched overnight.
  5. When the pandan juice is set, you will see two layers. The dark greenish colored concentrated pandan juice will sink down. That dark green part is the part we want for the cake. 
- Yes. It's tedious to make your own concentrated pandan juice. You can choose to use the bottled  pandan paste that you can conveniently bought it at any Phoon Huat or Supermarket. But you know? It taste different. You can go ahead and use it. The choice is your's.

The dark greenish concentrated Pandan juice sunk at the bottom after it's left in the fridge overnight.

Method - for the Cake
  1. Pre-heat oven at 175 degree, fan OFF. 
  2. Prepare 8 x 8 inch square baking pan. Line the base and the side nicely.
  3. Separate egg whites and yolk 
  4. Sieve flour together with baking powder and bicarb soda.
  5. Mix both concentrated pandan juice and coconut cream together in a small bowl. 
  6. Cream butter and 150g castor sugar until pale and fluffy. Add in extra virgin coconut oil (if you have it), beat for awhile, and followed by adding egg yolks, one at a time. 
  7. Put in half of the sieved flour, mix on low speed until they are half mixed. Add in pandan juice and coconut cream mixture in 2 additions until well incorporated. Mix in the balance flour. As long as the batter is mixed well, stop it. Do not over-work the batter.  
  8. Beat egg whites until soft peaks, gradually add 50g castor sugar in 3 additions until egg whites achieved stiff peak.  
  9. Take 1/3 of the egg whites, fold into the batter. Take another 1/3, and repeat the folding process. 
  10. pour the mixed batter to the balance to the mixing bowl where the balance 1/3 egg whites is. Continue to fold it until well mixed. Be gentle. We need to retain the egg whites bubbles as much as we can. 
  11. Pour batter into the lined pan, level, and bake it for 1 hour or until skewers comes out clean. Leave cake to cool completely, use clingwrap to wrap it well and put them into the fridge overnight to let the whole cake infuse. Butter cake taste better overnight :)
Method - for the Whipping Cream & Decorations
  1. Ensure Whipping Cream is always in chilled condition. This is the first thing you need to check.
  2. In a small saucepot, add in corn flour and water. Stir well on a very low heat. It will turn sticky and gluey very quickly. So, you will have to remove it from the heat once it starts to thickened and quickly pour the thickened corn starch onto the castor sugar. Continue to stir until the castor sugar is melted.
  3. Prepare bowl of ice water, get another clean and dry bowl, sitting on top of the ice water, pour 100ml of whipping cream. Whisk till soft peak.
  4. Add in the thickened corn starch mixture into the whipping cream and continue to whisk till stiff peak is achieved. Keep it in the fridge. 
  5. In another clean and dry bowl, sit on top of the same ice water, whisk 50ml coconut cream till stiff peak.
  6. Take out the whipping cream, combine both whipping cream and coconut cream together, put it back to the fridge for later use.
  7. As part of the delicious topping, I grate some firm coconut flesh coarsely using my microplane, and then sprinkle a tsp of castor sugar on top of the grated coconut. 
  8. Grate some green lime zest to create another level *fwoh* to the overall taste of the cake and it gives nice color contras to the grated coconut too.
  9. To assemble - I want my cake to look clean and showcase the beautiful pandan color of my cake, So, I trim the side of the cake. However, trimming is absolutely optional. Spread the cream on top of the cake generously. Push the cream to the edge, but leaving some space to avoid cream touching the side. Sprinkle grated coconut flesh evenly and top with green lime zest for the color contra. You can stop here, or you can add more decorations if you wants. 
Note : This is a fresh whipping cream with coconut cream. Fresh whipping cream always taste delicious, not as heavy and rich as buttercream, and they are absolutely not as stable as other cream. They must be chilled all the time. I added some corn starch, wanting to delay the melting time of the whipping cream. You can add gelatin of course, but I didn't do that this time. Always remember this point. This whipping cream is NOT stable. Never attempt to put the cake under room temperature and leave it unattended. The whipping cream topping will melt. If you want sturdier cream as topping, then, you have to change the topping recipe to suit your individual preference.

The side of the cake is trimmed to showcase the nice green color. 

Grating my coconut flesh using Microplane. 

And not to forget the nice touch of green lime zest. 

The result of this cake..... Simple, old-fashioned flavor. Combination of Pandan and Coconut, this definitely won't go wrong. Adding Extra Virgin Coconut Oil gives extra flavor to the cake. It's like, instead of adding coconut essence, I would recommend you to add Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. They smells amazing and they are genuine stuff! I use Coconut Oil for cooking too. But if you don't have em' at home, then you can choose not to add. It makes no sense for you to buy a bottle of Coconut Oil just because you wanna use 1 tsp for this cake.

I like my cake to be less complicated and unpretentious. Although cake decorations will create good impression to your guests and wow them, but the cake must be delicious! Good flavor and texture must be the first priority! Share this recipe if you agree with me. Hahah.

I love the topping. The white snow flakes melting away, the greens came alive. It's like... Winter turning into Spring! How lovely!

 Look at this beautiful white hair auntie. She's 84 this year. Her sweet smiles melts my heart away :)

As long as the fellow seniors are happy, my effort is worth it for sure :)

Happy Baking everyone!