Sunday, January 15, 2012

Super Easy Steamed Nian Gao (tikoy)(简易年糕)

It is auspicious for Chinese to eat nian gao/sticky rice cake during Chinese New Year as 年糕 symbolizes "Nian Nian Gao Sheng" 年年高升 which is wishing you to have a higher position in your job and also to increase your prosperity year after year.  Sticky rice also means family unity and togetherness.  So, it is good luck to eat nian gao. 

After attempting a steamed nian gao last year that was kinda hard.  I wanted to create a recipe that is easier to do and softer.  I saw a video on YouTube and see how the traditional nian gao was made and it took 12 hours.  The long hours were needed to caramelized the white sugar to make the nian gao.  I don't want to spend 12 hours in my kitchen and keep adding water to my steamer.  So, this recipe was created.  I used the American brown sugar to cut out the first step in my previous recipe, as it dissolved easily in hot water.  All you need is a bowl and a whisk and a weight machine, then just mix all three ingredients in the same bowl and prepare to steam.  This recipe is especially shared by me to overseas moms who want to pass down the Chinese New Year tradition to your kids and want short-cut!

As you can see, I turned it over to cool on my wire rack.  You definitely learned from your mistake!  Next time I would turn it over and cool on a flat surface so that it would be smooth.  I also decorated the middle with a half red date (I have no intention of eating the red date so I didn't bother to cook it, if you wish to eat it, you will have to place the red date in when it was half cooked, about 30-40 minutes into the steaming).  As I didn't lined my bowl with banana leaves or parchment paper (I just sprayed it with oil), I was afraid that if I left it in the bowl to cool, it might harden and stick to the bowl.  So, I turned it out to cool when it was out of the steamer.   You can also choose to line your bowl with parchment paper at the bottom and just oil the sides of the bowl.

Verdict:   I am very happy with this as the nian gao was really soft on the first day.  My girls and I tried some on the 2nd day and it was still soft and sticky!  The above nian gao had been harden for three days at room temperature and as you can see, it was no longer soft and sticky (This is the time for pan-frying).  Or you can just heat it up in the microwave for 20-25 seconds (900 watts) or 15 seconds (1100 watts), and it would turn right back to soft and sticky!  It might not be as fragrant as the caramelized sugar version that was steamed for 12 hours but I am happy with this super easy version.  The fragrant of this came from the American brown sugar that you used.  I will stick to this recipe from now on, all of you are welcome to try this and feedback to me!  Go, go, go make!

With that said, I am sharing this easy nian gao with Aspiring Bakers #15: Auspicious Dishes for CNY hosted by Wen's Delight.  Go check out the roundup on Feb 1st.  :-)

Friday, January 13, 2012

LCOM's Hei Jian (虾煎) Shrimps Omelette

One of my childhood favorites is "oh jian" or Malaysian style oyster omelette.  It is one of the hawker delights and usually we would order this in addition to our dinner (usually fried or soupy noodle).  It has a gelatinous texture and kind of gooey with crispy edges.  Normally serve with sambal.  In Taiwan, they have their own version too which is called "oh ah jian" but theirs was ladle with a lot of sauce.  This starch mixture recipe of mine came from a Taiwanese cooking show.  I adapted their flour ratios and played with the water amount.  I failed the first attempt which created a hard starch and not gelatinous.

Okay, now you should have noticed mine is "hei jian" (shrimp) and not "oh jian" (oyster).  Well frankly I loved the eggs and the gelatinous texture but not necessarily the oyster, also I wanted the convenience of eating it whenever I feel like it and not rushing out to buy the oyster.  But of course you can substitute the shrimp with oyster or simply use both.  But this shrimps omelette pancake (虾煎) can definitely satisfied my cravings.

One think I need to note though.  It is not easy to fry an excellent omelette, it takes skill.  I still need to play with it some more as I don't have the feel yet.  Since I love the gelatinous texture, I might want to add more, but more doesn't means good as the outcome with eggs won't come out great.  It needs to have a balance and I haven't gotten it yet.  I got the starch mixture right but I haven't gotten the technique right yet, I still need lots of practices.  If you know how to fry a killer Malaysian style oyster omelet, please share your technique with me.  Thank you in advance!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Taro Chips

When I saw this recipe posted at Simple Recipes, I just had to try it.  I love taro and heart taro chips, so her easy instruction of making taro chips got me interested.  She has some step-by-step pictures at her blog (link provided below), so you can hop over to have a look.

This taro chip is crispy yet a bit hard.  It's like the other fruit and veggie chips that we bought.  I thought this would make an excellent Chinese New Year snack too.  It must be good as my hubby finished the whole thing and left me with an empty bottle!! 

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Barley Brown Rice (薏米糙米饭)

I guess I never satisfied with brown rice alone.  I have read that barley is good for us.  It is a very good source of fiber, selenium, niacin, phosphorus, magnesium, copper and manganese. The health benefits include aids regulatory, lower cholesterol, intestinal protection (the insoluble fibers feed friendly bacteria and this friendly bacteria prevent the disease causing bacteria to stay in the intestinal tract), prevent gallstones in women, lower risk of type 2 diabetes, and etc.

In Malaysia, we have barley drink.  In Korea, they have toasted barley tea (I wanted to try this, but always forgot to look for toasted barley while in the Asian/Korean market).  They have barley and beans rice in Korea too.  So, I tried to incorporate some barley into my brown rice so that I can eat it more often.  I experienced with 1/2 cup of barley with 1 1/2 cups of brown rice and it was delicious.  I think my family couldn't tell a difference if I didn't tell them.  Slowly, I want to add more barley into my brown rice and play with the ratio some more.

Make sure you buy hulled barley and not pearl barley as pearl barley is not considered whole grain as the outer hull and bran had been stripped during processing. But if you can't find hulled barley, pearl barley is still good.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Korean Seasoned Spinach (Shigumchi Namul)

My version of Korean seasoned spinach.  A common banchan served with Korean meal or in restaurants.  I wanted to keep the original color yet well seasoned, no soy sauce in this.  Next time I would prepare two bunches of spinach so that I would have some leftover for vegetarian bibimbap the next day.  One bunch doesn't make a lot and if you want some leftover, make more.

I feel healthy by eating Korean vegetarian banchan, either the pickled one or seasoned one.  Does anyone knows how long I can keep this seasoned spinach in the refrigerator? 

Monday, January 02, 2012

Stir-Fried Dried Anchovies (Meddruchi Bokkeum)

I tried this soy sauce version at one Korean BBQ buffet place that we went to and was impressed.   It was different from Myulchi Bokkeum and had some green chili on it.  I loved this soy sauce version too so I wanted to recreate it at home.  I added red bell pepper and onion in mine.  You can omit the red bell pepper but don't omit the onion as it went really well with this dish.  This dish can be spicy, it depends on the green chili that you use and how hot they are.  My green chili was not hot at all so it didn't turn out spicy but sweet and savory.  I duplicated it pretty well and close to the one that I had tried.  My hubby finished the whole bowl!!  Luckily I saved some away for bibimbap the next day.  This is part of a banchan or side dish of a typical Korean meal.  Enjoy!  And as you know I welcome feedback.  :)