15 Jul 2014

toasted coconut waffles

I've made a few variations of waffles up to date, but my sister keeps coming back to these ones (I like liege waffles!). I worked out a recipe last holidays for these coconut waffles but I forgot where I put it...so I've come up with a different one that tastes just as good if not better. I made some with pandan paste last week and wanted to try making some without. Tastewise, my sister prefers the green ones but I'm ok with either. 

I still see them being sold in Vietnamese bakeries around my area and I think they're still as popular as they were back then. I'm not quite sure how much one costs nowadays, but back in the heyday they were about $1 each.

My sister is a crazy waffle eater so I often make double batches to be toasted later. If you're interested I've included an ingredient list at the end of the post since not all ingredients are doubled. For my previous waffle recipe that incorporates yeast, please click here

It's become a habit to do chicken scratchings on sheets of baking paper when I bake so I can adapt and perfect the recipe for another time. Actually, this is what my uni notes look like. Unfortunately there is no food involved.

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toasted coconut waffles     makes 7-8 
adapted loosely from the recipes in the manual

200g plain flour, sifted
1 1/2 tsp baking powder, sifted
120g caster sugar 
50g desiccated coconut, toasted
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
300ml coconut milk
60ml cooking oil
about 1/2 tsp pandan paste (optional)

Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, coconut and salt into a medium sized mixing bowl. Stir to combine and make a 'well'. In another bowl, beat the eggs. Add coconut milk, oil and pandan paste (if using) and whisk to combine. Pour into other bowl and stir to combine. Cook waffle mixture on a hot waffle iron according to manufacturer's instructions. I like to use the 'darker' setting.

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Edit: Photo added 8 January 2015

double quantity waffle batter

300g plain flour, sifted
3 tsp baking powder
200g caster sugar
100g desiccated coconut, toasted
two pinches of salt
3 large eggs
600ml coconut milk (or 400ml coconut milk + 200ml milk/water)
120ml cooking oil
few drops of pandan paste 

Cook as above.

8 Jul 2014

poppin' chicken

I came across this recipe in a local food magazine when I was in Malaysia. It's a home-style fried chicken dish but I was intrigued by "cekur powder" (沙姜粉/sha jiang fen). I asked a supermarket staff if she's heard of it/stock it but she said she wasn't quite sure. A Malay customer tried to help me find it, but we found something else instead. When I got home, I asked my grandma about it and she told me it's a type of ginger and she doesn't like the taste of it. I tried my luck at a herb shop near my grandma's and they actually stocked it. I bought a small quantity back just to make this. Opening the sealed bag, it smells quite fragrant and familiar. I haven't seen it on the shelves in Asian grocers here, but it might be available in traditional herbal medicine shops. If you can't find it, I think it's ok to leave it out since the recipe only requires a little bit.

This actually reminds me of the Taiwanese popcorn chicken (盐酥鸡/yan su ji), sold at a street vendor near my uncle's apartment in Taiwan. We'd pass the stand everyday and grab a bagful on our way out and some more with iced lemon tea on the way home. It was so so addictive just like these!

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Taiwanese crispy chicken     serves 4 as part of a shared meal
Adapted from Josten Tan’s recipe in Famous Cuisine 名食谱 vol. 85

2 pieces chicken thigh fillet (approx. 500g)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Half a thumb of ginger, finely chopped
30ml soy sauce
Dash of sake or shaoxing wine
50g self raising flour
25g rice flour
Water, as required
Coarse sweet potato flour (粗番薯/地瓜粉), as required* (or cornstarch)
Cooking oil, as required
2 handfuls of Thai basil leaves, roughly chopped
Five spice pepper salt, as required**
A good pinch of sand ginger powder (沙姜粉/cekur/sha jiang fen) powder, (optional)***

Trim excess fat off chicken and cut into thin strips. Cut chicken into bite sized pieces if you want to make popcorn chicken. Marinate with garlic, ginger, soy sauce and wine and leave for a few hours up to overnight.

To make batter, combine self raising and rice flour with enough water (approx. 125ml). Batter should be runny. Add in a glug of cooking oil if you want and mix in thoroughly. Leave to rest for 10-15 minutes and stir again before using.  

Dip chicken strips into batter and coat well with coarse sweet potato flour. Deep fry in hot oil until light golden. Drain chicken of oil and deep fry again until crispy.

In another wok, heat and toss crispy chicken with basil leaves, five spice pepper salt and sand ginger powder until basil leaves begin to dry. Serve hot.

*Should be available in Asian grocery stores near the packaged flour section. I didn't think the flour would fry properly because it was quite lumpy, but after frying, I was surprised those lumpy bits turned into crispy bits.

**My dad makes his own blend and cooks it over a low heated wok. The original spice blend in the magazine includes: 1 Tb five spice powder, 1/2 Tb fine salt, 1/8 tsp sand ginger powder, 1/8 tsp pepper.

***If you can't find it, just leave it out

Edit: 10/07/14 I'm submitting this post to Cook Your Books #14 hosted by Joyce of Kitchen Flavours.

4 Jul 2014

grandma's kitchen

① Indoor kitchen
② Cleaning fish
③ Frying stuffed eggplant
④ Snake (long) bean omelette  
⑤ Stir fried amaranth 
⑥ Stir fried amaranth
⑦ Stir frying dried shrimp and belachan
⑧ Stir fried okra (lady fingers) with dried shrimp and belachan
Rempah (spice paste) for acar (spicy pickled vegetables)
⑩ Vegetables ready for pickling
⑪ Mixing the cooled rempah with the vegetables
⑫ Pumpkin and red bean / pandan coconut bao (steamed buns)
Huat gao (steamed cake) made with sponge mix
Huat gao (steamed rice cake) made as offerings for the Gods and my grandpa

3 Jul 2014

larb gai

I just came back from a short holiday at my grandma's and I think I came back with a new found appreciation for the tropics. One of my main aims for travelling this time round was just to eat (chee cheong fun - steamed rice rolls) and learn some dishes from my grandma; which I am happy to report that I did. Something I miss was the availability of food in such close proximity. I'd often wake up and be taken to have noodles for breakfast. Some days I'd have roasted meat rice, yumcha or walk down to my favourite mamak store for roti telur (roti canai with egg) and teh ais (iced milk tea). Coming back, the food choices available aren't as interesting. Though I guess it gives me a good reason to go again in the future.

Speaking of larb gai, it wasn't something I learnt from my grandma nor did I eat it when I was in KL. Instead, it came from deciding what to do with the chicken mince! I remember eating something similar in a Thai restaurant a while ago and so I began to do a little research in attempt to recreate it. Sweet, savoury, sour and spicy, it tastes great by itself, with some freshly steamed rice or bun (thin rice noodles).

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larb gai (Thai minced chicken salad)     serves 4+ as part of a shared meal
adapted from Thai Food and Cooking by Judy Bastyra & Becky Johnson and Tiny Urban Kitchen

2 lemongrass roots (white bit), sliced thinly and finely processed
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
500g chicken mince
cooking oil, as required
sea salt, as required
fish sauce (Squid brand), as required
white pepper, as required
chicken stock powder, as required

nuoc mam pha*, as required
Thai sweet chilli sauce (Pantai brand) or chilli sauce, as required

To serve
toasted rice powder (khao khua)**, as required
1 bunch coriander, roots trimmed
1 bunch Thai basil/mint, leaves plucked
1 baby cos lettuce, leaves trimmed
1 lime, cut into 8 wedges

Heat up a wok and add some cooking oil. On low heat, sauté lemongrass, garlic and shallots until fragrant. Transfer to a small bowl. Turn up the heat and add some more cooking oil to cook the chicken mince, allow the bottom to brown before breaking it into small pieces, stirring in the process. When chicken is nearly done, add the lemongrass mix and stir thoroughly. As the meat juice begins to evaporate, season well with salt, fish sauce, white pepper and chicken stock powder. Stir fry until meat juice completely evaporates. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

For the sauce, combine nuoc mam pha and Thai sweet chilli sauce to your liking.

To serve, take out a portion of the mince and mix in 1 heaped teaspoon of toasted rice powder and some coriander and Thai basil/mint. Add a few tablespoons sauce and stir to combine, adding more sauce if necessary. Transfer onto a baby cos lettuce and squeeze lime wedge before eating.

*My dad makes his own dipping fish sauce which is made of combining fish sauce, white vinegar, sugar, water and smashed garlic cloves. Once you are happy with the taste, bring to the boil and allow to cool before storing in an airtight jug. Store in the fridge.

**Heat a wok. Turn the heat to low and add a rice cup full of glutinous rice. Gently stir fry until golden brown and fragrant – this may take around ten minutes. Allow to cool before processing it to a fine powder. For further information, see here.

Edit: 10/07/14 I'm submitting this post to Cook Your Books #14 hosted by Joyce of Kitchen Flavours.