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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Bubur Kacang Hijau

note on pix - the one in the blue bowl is plain bubur kacang, the one in green is bubur kacang with durian.

Bubur Kacang is my entry for this month's WTSIM hosted by Johanna over at The Passionate Cook. This month's theme is hotpuds. And I thought what a great way to showcase the ubiquitous Bubur Kacang, the most popular of all bubur in Malaysia! Bubur the word for porridge in Malay can be used for both sweet or savoury dishes. For sweet dishes, it is usually made with coconut milk - probably a combination of thin and thick coconut cream- and fuits, jellies, sticky rice, sago pearls or even dough made of flour and (more) coconut. Usually served hot on its own for tea.
I like serving bubur kacang for dinner parties especially when the theme is Asian/Malaysian. The sweet scent of the bubur warming up as the guests wait to be served their puds lend a promise of exotic escape. And the sensation of mingling layers of nutty, caramelly, sweet and slightly salty tastes makes those who taste it for the first time pause to savour on each flavour slightly longer. Even those who might not find the dessert particularly enchanting would talk about how surprising they find the taste of caramel+salt+sweet taste so good together.
It is also enlightening how something so mushy, soft and comforting and soothing can be exotic at the same time. Maybe I am getting older but I think it is all of these homely and surprising factors which make Bubur Kacang remains as everyone's favourite and why when you think of sweet bubur, it is Bubur Kacang that comes to mind first.
Then you talk about the mung beans, which when left to sprout would turn into bean sprouts or taugeh. I usually tell them about my experiment as a child thinking my mom was saying nonsense trying to build my own taugeh empire under the bed. It was very successful I must say until 16 days later when I came home from school to a nasty stench. And of course there is the cellophane noodles which is mung bean based and makes a great noodle salad (kerabu suhun). And then you tell them about how good mung bean is. And how in Malaysia, Bubur Kacang is usually served hot as a tea time treat even on a hot day as mung bean is reknown for its cooling properties. A fact my dad usually reminded us everytime we had it for tea probably to alleviate his guilt for indulging in the second bowl.
Durian is strictly optional and usually added when it is in season. I usually make it into durian cream to be poured over the bubur kacang when the guests feel inclined to. Or serve it as durian ice cream on top of the bubur kacang.

Bubur Kacang
200g mung beans
1l water (you may have to add more later)
400ml coconut milk
3 pandanus leaves
2 disk of palm sugar
1/2 cup dark muscovado sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 pieces of durian per person ---> optional

1. Wash mung beans thoroughly. In a pot, boil mung beans in a liter of water. Turn the fire lower and leave to cook until the beans break. The beans will double or triple in size. Taste the texture, if it is still hard or al dente - add more water. I usually add a cup at a time. Do not skip this part - if the mung beans don't break and turned mushy, the bubur doesn't work at all.
2. Once the beans are ready, add in coconut milk, pandanus leaves, palm sugar and salt. Stir to combine. Taste for sugar. Add the muscovado sugar as you please.
3. Once the bubur reach the boiling point, lower the fire, stir to combine all flavours and leave to simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Keep tasting for saltiness and sweetness. If you fine the bubur to be too thick, add water and let boil again.
4. To make Bubur Kacang Berdurian, add the durian flesh at this point. To serve different people who wish to have it with and without durian, serve it with a jug of durian cream*** on the side, leaving them to add as they please.
5. Serve hot.

***To make durian cream - combine durian flesh and 165ml of coconut milk in a pot and bring to boil. Add sugar and salt to taste. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Chicken Kway Teow Soup

All the Carnavaling (Mardi Gras) left all of us exhausted and nursing sore throats. The party started last Friday and didn't end until Wednesday morning. there were pub crawls, parties at various princes' venues - this is the heart of Carnaval country in NL - and parades.

I usually have a pot of soup as standby at home since the only eating outlets open are usually the snack bars, pubs, doner stands/cafetjes and the fast food outlets. alcohol were consumed in copious amount and noone really celebrated pancake tuesday.

So you would understand my need to cleanse up the system on Wednesday. Something devoid of too many flavours. I wanted something warm and comforting and easy to assemble and eat. Something without oil or alcohol and yet still picking me up and telling me I will be OK and that zingy sounds in my ears will be gone in less than 24 hours.

I started with the chicken soup, which I already have. Instead of a whole chicken, it is made with 4 chicken whole thighs, some ginger, 2 stems of lemon grass and some anise, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and black pepper. They are left to boil together happily at least one to one and a half hours. By that time, the chicken will fall off the bone and is so soft and velvety, it melts in the mouth. It is easy to just use 2 forks to shred the chicken meat and left on a hot plate.

I used rice sticks instead of the usual noodles. In the same pot used to boil the noodle, blanch the bakchoys and abalone mushrooms for less than 2 minutes and later plunge them immediately in cold water. They join the chicken in the hotplate. To that I added some coriander, julienned green peppers and toss them together like salad. I added a spash of toasted sesame oil, light soy sauce and lemon juice. Leave them to rest while the noodle is cooked.

Then the noodle is ready, I tossed it together with the chicken and veggies and they go on my bowl and then the piping hot soup is ladled over.

A mixture of sesame seeds, sea salt and white pepper is sprinkled over the noodle soup and it is ready to eat.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bergedil daging

In this house, we love our burgers, kebab, meatballs and bergedil. Bergedil is usually made with beef and potatoes and a few other things. It is essentially a beefcake. The usual ratio albeit the homemade one is 50:50 beef to potato but the ubiquitous bergedil usually found in stalls serving nasi campur (Malaysian version of rijsttafel) is usually made with very little beef.

Bergedil is also essential component in soto ayam and served as an accompaniment or a topping, together with cucumber, bean sprout and a few other garnishes.

In Indonesia, the more famous bergedil - or pergedil/bergedel/pergedel - are made with tofu and corn and usually served as snacks for tea or elevenses or an accompaniment instead of the main meal.

Note on the potato - most would use boiled potato instead of roasted but I usually fry or roast the potatoes because boiled ones tend to make the mixture too wet thus breaking easily. I find the taste also improves with roasted potatoes.

Note on the onion - some will just put freshly chopped onions. But I prefer browned onion which is sweeter and makes the bergedil taste a lot richer.

Bergedil Daging

500g mince beef
500g potato - roasted, peel and mashed
1 large onion - chopped and fry until brown and left to cool
a few sprigs of coriander - chopped
1 tsp corn flour
salt and freshly crushed black pepper
1 egg - beaten

Combined all the ingredients but the egg in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Leave to rest for 5-10 minutes so all the flavour permeate into each other. Wash your hands and make an egg shape out of the beef then flatten it into a oval disk. Leave the bergedil to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or until ready to fry. Heat some oil in the pan enough for shallow fry (do not try to deep fry it will break!). Coat the bergedil in some egg and fry till golden. Serve immediately.

I like serving my bergedil with sweet chili sauce and piping hot rice, or just eaten as is - a custom we call Ratah in Malaysia. Oh my kids, being Netherlanders eat them with Mayo ;-)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Chocolate Swirl Scone Loaf

I struggle to find the scone recipe that works everytime. Actually the one that works the first time. There is that recipe on Good Food from a few years back which came with a very long story. I've tried it a few times over the years. It didn't work for me. It says to cook in a very high setting oven for only 10 minutes but it didn't rise... and when it did, it didn't deliver the promise. Neither did Delia's or Gary Rhodes' recipes.

Needless to say, I get excited everytime I see a new one especially with the Spring issue of Donna Hay - thanks to Babe, I am a new Donna convert. Issue 41 has a feature on Scones and 5 recipes to try. I have tried two of them. Both were hits with the family, especially the in laws but this one, for me is a winner!

The texture is flaky and crumbly yet cakey like a good scone should be. It is not so buttery which will be adjusted the next time I play with it. It worked the first time! The only rising agent in the recipe is self raising flour and I love the absence of the sodaish which is quite typical with store bought scones. The only adjustment I made was the addition of some Maddon salt and using cream to brush it before baking instead of milk.

Chocolate Swirl Scone Loaf

225g (1 1/2 cup) self raising flour sifted
55g (1/4 cup) caster sugar
a pinch of salt
50g cold butter - chopped
125ml (1/2 cup) cold milk
100g dark chocolate - grated or chopped finely
a bit of cream for brushing

Preheat the oven to 180C (355F). Place the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl and mix to combine. Add butter and use your finger tips to rub it to resemble fine breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre then pour in milk, little by little, using a butter knife to gradually mix the milk to the flour mixture until just combined.

Turn into a lightly floured surface and gently bring the dough together. Leave the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Roll out to 18cm X 24cm rectangle. sprinkle with chocolate and roll up to enclose.

Place in a loaf tin lined with baking paper. Brush with cream and bake for 30 minutes of until cooked when tested with a skewer.

Cool in the tin for 5 minutes then turn to cool on a wire rack. Slice to serve. Serve 6-8.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

happy valentine's day

hope yours is as lekker as mine ;-)

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

pasta cha cha marba

I can't really remember the first time I heard the word cha cha marba - I wonder if that is how it should be spelt. Was it in a P Ramlee movie or a friend from the north (of Malaysia)? It's a word which describes something that might started off negative, jumbled off, not thought through or things that are made of unthinkable mixture and all over the place but turned out to be so wonderful. I can't think of a better expression when it comes to this dish so this is what I call it.

This dish started off in a local Italian resto that is now closed. It was run by 2 grumpy middle age men - I think they are 50 at the most with beer bellies. One of them do the cooking in the kitchen and the other makes and bakes all the pizzas! I miss them I wish they didn't close up shop. The one who cooks in the kitchen also did the waiting and the grumpier of the 2.We went there so often, I think we have tried everything in their menu. And this (ok they call it pasta with walnut and spinach) besides their pizza remains as our favourite. They make this pasta with creamy walnut sauce with spinach in summer and broccoli in winter. And he told me the only thing you need are good pasta, olive oil, cream, white wine and the freshest walnut you can find - so buy your own walnut and shell them as you need them and bob is your uncle! I sometimes add Parmesan and sometimes eat it plain. And over the year, I use the sauce with different vegetable and find it the best way - besides soup - to use up everything in the fridge. And a delicious option for the days I wish to eat with without meat.
Pasta Cha Cha Marba
Short pasta - any shape, brand, substance of your choice ;-)
fresh walnut or store bought one - fried with no oil for a minute then crushed with mercy
a splash of white wine (replace with pasta water or chicken stock)
vegetable of your choice - here I used chestnut mushroom, carrot and leek - but it is excellent with spinach and broccoli too!
a splash of cooking cream
olive oil
salt and black pepper
1. Prepare the pasta according to package instruction.
2. When the pasta is in the water, warm up olive oil in the pan and add garlic.
3. Add the veggies and stir until wilted.
4. Add walnut, white wine and stir a bit more. Taste for seasoning
5. Add cream just before you strain the pasta.
6. Add pasta and mix the sauce into the pasta until everything is coated.
7. Grate some Parmesan on top and serve!