Thursday, July 31, 2014

When your hubby invites his boss home for dinner.....

I would like to take this opportunity to wish my Muslim Friends a Selamat Hari Raya.

When your hubby invites his boss home for dinner....
Something unexpected. A satay dinner.

Satay: Tracing its origins to the Arabs, the satay has been adapted to the multi-cultural palates of Asians with various spicy sauces and different ways of marinating the meat.

Satay dinner

Origins: Arabs were known to skewer their meat on swords before roasting and Middle Eastern nomads would barbecue their meat on metal skewers in a dish known as kebab or sharwarma.

Kebab. Picture with compliments from a friend.

The spice trade brought Arab traders to Southeast Asia and led to the spread of Arab culinary culture to the Indonesians and eventually to Malaya. The kebab or sharwarma has also spread to India and even Beijing residents can savour fiery flavored kebabs today. However, a key adaptation of the dish in Asia is that wooden rather than metal skewers are used for the satay.

Kebab. Picture with compliments from a friend.

The satay sauce, made from ground peanuts and other spices, was first introduced in the Philippines by the Spanish from South America. It is used to marinate the pieces of satay meat, with the remaining sauce served as a dip with the grilled meat.

Serve satay with this sweet and fragrant peanut sauce.

Chicken Satay
2 pieces chicken breast meat
30 sticks bamboo skewer - soak in water for 5 hours
1 stalk lemon grass - bashed to resemble a brush

Marinate Ingredients
3 cloves garlic
5 pieces shallots
1/2 in blue ginger
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp fennel powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp brown sugar/ castor sugar

1/  Wash and pat dry the chicken breast meat.
2/  Slice thinly approximate 3/4 in width x 2 in length.
3/  Pound / blender the garlic, shallots and blue ginger until very fine.

My faithful 30 years old mortar & pestle.

4/  Marinate the slice chicken meat with all the marinate ingredients. Cover with cling wrap and keep in fridge for 1 day or over night.

5/  Skewer the chicken meat onto the bamboo skewer. Don't pack the meat too close together.

6/  For best flavor, grill it over a charcoal grill. But you can still grill it using electric oven.
7/  Dip the lemon grass in cooking oil, baste the satay 2 to 3 times and grill until cook. Don't over cook the satay.

8/ Serve the satay with cucumber, onions, compressed rice and peanut sauce.

Peanut Sauce
200gm peanuts
2 stalks lemon grass
1in blue ginger
8 dried chillies
4 candle nuts
4 cloves garlic
6 shallots
200 mls thick coconut milk
150mls - 200mls water
2 pieces tamarind - soak in hot water
1/2 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp fennel powder
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp salt
3 - 4  tbsp sugar

1/  Roast the peanuts until brown, remove the husk and pounded till grainy texture.
2/  Cut the lover segment of the lemon grass and cut into small pieces. Keep the lemon grass leave.
3/  Soak the dried chilli in hot water until soft. Remove the seed and pound until very fine.
4/  Blend the garlic, shallots, lemon grass, blue ginger and candle nuts with a bit of water into a fine paste.
5/  Heat up the oil, stir fry the chilli paste for 5 mins, add the blended paste from number (4),  keep stirring for 8 mins.

6/  Add the lemon grass leaves, curry powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, fennel powder, tamarind and water. Let it boil for 5 mins then add the thick coconut milk.
7/ Add salt and sugar to taste, simmer the sauce until slightly thicken. Remove from heat and enjoy.

To make compressed rice/ ketupat
Ketupat is made from rice that has been wrapped in a coconut leaf pouch and boiled. As the rice cooks, the grains expand to fill the pouch and the rice becomes compressed.

1/ Remove the spine of the young coconut leaf with a paring knife, so that the leaf are split into two ribbon like pieces. Wipe the leaf with a damp towel.
Make 3 loops on your left hand and do the same on your right hand. Make sure that the tail of the leaf on your right hand is on the opposite direction of the leaf on your left.

2/  Hold 3 loops on each hand.

3/  This is where it  get tricky. Fold the 1st loop of leaf on your right and weave it to the 1st loop on your left.

4/  Do the same to the 2nd and 3rd loop. The trick is keep weaving in and out.

5/ After weaved all the 6 loops, this is how it look like.

6. Make a U turn for the wider tail and weave it then make sure both the wider tail meet at the end of the diagonal.

7/ Repeat the other wider end, follow step 6.

8/  Tighten the pouch by adjusting and pulling both end of the tails. Tuck the wider end neatly.

My coconut leaves pouch is ready.
You can refer here for the step by step tutorial to weave the coconut leave pouch. Or you can play around with satin ribbon to weave the pouch.

Wash the rice and toss of access water.
Filled the ketupat pouch with uncooked rice at the top opening of the pouch. Filled till 3/4 full, as the rice cooks the grains expand to fill the pouch and the rice become compressed.

After filled with rice, tied the long end of the tail together.

Boil a big pot of water with 2 tsp salt, cook the ketupat for 3 hours. Top up with hot water when necessary, making sure that the rice pouch are immerse in the boiling water.

When cooked, remove and leave it to cool. Best to serve the compressed rice after 8 to 10 hours.

Best to use Thai variety rice cos the texture is more compact and smooth.

Remove the leaf and cut into cubes.

Serve the compressed rice with peanut sauce and chicken or prawn satay.

If you don't have coconut tree at home ........

or you can't find any coconut trees nearby your home......

Stulang Laut beach 15 mins drive from my home, across the sea is Singapore.

There is another way to make the compressed rice.

1/  Wash 2 cup of rice, boil the rice with 1 tsp of salt and 3 cup of water until the rice is soft and water evaporate. Remove from heat and keep in the pot for 15 mins.
2/  Spread out rice in a greased cake tin. Cover with cling wrap, use the base of the glass to compressed the rice hard. Put weight on it.
3/  Leave it for 8 to 10 hours in room temperature. Cut into cube and serve with satay and peanut sauce.

Or you can use ready packed compressed rice. Just drop in a pot of hot water and boil it for 30 mins.

My chicken satay is ready to be serve.

Another way of making satay....Prawns satay salad. Marinate the prawns for 6 to 8 hours. Grill the prawns for 4 to 5 mins until cooked.

Peel the prawn shell, squeeze the lemon on the grilled prawn to enhance the flavor. Serve with lettuce, cucumber, onions and tomato.

If you like, you can grill the satay till slightly charred to get the mild smokey scent.

​Have these prawn crackers for gossip chat tidbits while waiting for the satay to cook.....​

Have a wonderful week ahead.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Have a rock and roll spring roll party

Having a cookout or BBQ? Try this eye roller spring rolls....
No person in the world has more courage than the person who can stop after eating one spring roll.

A spring roll is a traditional Chinese snack, made with a round, thin dough sheet with fillings rolled inside and deep fried in oil. Spring rolls have a long history in China. It is said that the pastry appeared way back in the Eastern Jin Dynasty, when people would make thin cakes with flour and eat them with vegetables on the day of Beginning of Spring.

China Spring Roll. Picture with compliments from a friend.

The cakes were called “spring dish” at that time. In the Tang and Song Dynasties, the cakes were all the rage. And the custom was even featured in the poems by the great poets Du Fu and Lu You. In the Tang Dynasty, Spring Dish was also known as “the Five-Spice Dish”, because five hot and spicy ingredients like spring onion and garlic were added in the fillings.

Ingredients for the spring roll.

Spring rolls are usually eaten during the Spring Festival in China, hence the name. Later, Spring Dishes and Five-Spice Dishes evolved into spring cakes. In the Ming and Qing Dynasties, there was a custom of “biting spring”, which means welcoming spring by eating spring cakes.

Another version of spring roll using egg crepe

The practice was believed to ward off disaster and evil. Along with ever improving cooking skills, spring cakes evolved into spring rolls, which were smaller in size. Spring rolls were included in imperial court snacks. Today, the making of spring rolls usually involves four steps: dough sheet making, fillings preparing, wrapping and deep frying.

There are numerous types of fillings, including shredded pork with chives, shepherd's purses and sweetened bean paste etc. Spring rolls are ready when they are golden in color and come on top of the oil after being fried. When served, the rolls taste better if dipped in sauces. The snacks are crisp outside and fresh inside, really delicious.

Vietnamese lady making rice paper for spring roll.

Spring rolls vary slightly from places to places, with well known types being Shanghai Spring Roll and Fuzhou Spring Rolls.

Home made spring roll wraps

To make spring roll wrapper.
1/  Mix 500gm plain flour with 1 tbsp tapioca flour, 1 tsp salt and 2 1/4 cup water in a mixing bowl to form into lumpy batter.
2/  Then use your hand to lift up the batter and slam it several times, roughly about 5 mins until it hold together in robe.
3/  Cover with cling wrap and keep in the fridge over night or minimum 6 to 8  hours.
4/  Remove from fridge and beat the batter with food processor or mixer using dough hook for 3 to 4 mins.
5/  The fun part of cooking the's tedious but fun.

6/ Use an 8 inch non stick pan, heat up the pan using low medium heat. Put a drop of oil and brush it round the pan. Reduce the heat to low.
7/  Let's play with the dough. Use your hand lift up a lump of dough and bounce it a little. The dough is very soft. Keep the dough cold for easier handling.

8/ Drop the lump of dough in the middle of the pan and smear it quickly clockwise or anticlockwise depending whether you're right or left handed. Smear as thin as possible. Pull up the balance dough quickly.
Be careful, don't burn your hand while smearing the dough.

9/  The spring roll wrap cook fairly fast, when you see the edge of the crepe start to curl up, lift up the crepe with your other hand. Made 16 to 20 pieces depend on thickness of the wrap.

10/  Cover the wraps with a damp tea towel.

Note: To make paper thin spring roll wrap require skill and practicing. For this batch the wraps is still not to my expectation, will give it a try again to get a thinner wrap.

Let's prepare the spring roll filling.

1 medium size turnip
1 small carrot - cut julienne
50gm french beans - dice
2 tbsp dried prawns
1 tbsp cooking oil
3 cloves garlic - chop
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1/4 tsp black sauce ( optional )
1 tbsp sugar or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Enough water to cook the turnip


1/  Peel off the turnip skin, wash and pat dry. Slice thinly and cut julienne. 
2/  Wash the dried prawn and soak for 15 mins. Rinse and drain dry.
3/  Heat up the wok, add oil and stir fry garlic until fragrant and slightly brown. Add the dried prawn and stir fry for 1 min.

To enhance the turnip flavor, you can add chicken stock to cook it until perfectly done. Add lots of pepper too to bring out the flavor.

4/  Add carrot, french beans and turnip, stir fry for 2 mins. Add about 1/2 bowl of water and let it boil.
5/  Add oyster sauce, black sauce, sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Shake a generous amount of pepper of enhance the turnip taste.
6/  Cook for about 20 to 25 mins.
7/  Keep aside till ready to use.

300gm shrimps
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp soya sauce
1/4 tsp pepper
few drop of sesame oil
1/4 tsp corn flour
1 clove garlic
1/2 tbsp oil

1/  Peel the shrimp shell, rinse and drain dry.
2/  Season with sugar, soya sauce, pepper, sesame oil, corn flour and pepper.
3/  Heat up the wok, add cooking oil and stir fry the garlic until fragrant.
4/  Add shrimp and stir fry until cook. Dish up and keep aside.

Beat 2 chicken eggs, add 1/2 tsp salt, a dash of pepper and sesame oil. Fry into thin egg omelet. Cut into thin strips.

Dice 2 pieces of bean curds and deep fry until golden brown.

Peel the cucumber skin and remove the seed. Cut julienne.

Remove the bean sprout tail and rinse, you need approximate 100gm. Bring 1/2 pot of water to boil, put in the bean sprout and remove from heat. Give a quick stir and drain off the hot water. Do not over cook the bean sprout or else it turn soggy.

1 bunch of lettuce and coriander leaves. Rinse and drain dry.

 Fried shallots

Sweet sauce. Mix 1 tbsp hoisin sauce with 1/2 tbsp hot water. Mix well.

1/ Blend 100gm red chilli with 5 clove of garlic, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 cup water. Bring to simmering boil.
2/ Mix corn flour with water, pour into the chilli sauce and mix well. Adjust the chilli sauce consistency according to your preference. Remove from heat.

Stir fry 100gm peanuts in non stick pan until cook, remove the husks and pound coarsely.

Now let's start the rolling.......

1/ Lay one piece of spring roll pastry on the plate and brush 1/2 tsp sweet sauce and chilli sauce.
Note: This spring roll wrap tear easily.

2/ Put one leave of lettuce and top with 2 tsp of cooked turnip starting at 1/3 of the wrap.

3/  Add a small amount of bean sprout.

4/ Top with few strips of egg omelet.

5/ Top with 3 pieces of shrimp.

6/ Sprinkle fried shallots and 1 tsp of crushed peanuts.

7/   Fold the bottom of the wrap up over the filling to encase the filling together..

8/  Tuck in both sides and roll through making sure that you keep all filling together and tight.

9/  Tuck and roll neatly.

10/  Do not over stuff your spring rolls or else, the wrap will burst.
 The first roll is always extremely huge cos you tend to over stuff it upon looking at all the laid out ingredients.

Cut the roll into 4 section and enjoy slowly to taste the varieties of ingredients in the spring roll.

There are various type of wraps to make spring rolls.

This frozen spring roll pastry is suitable for deep frying.

Vietnamese rice paper. Brush the rice paper with water, put the filling and wrap. Serve immediately.

Egg crepe
120gm plain flour
1 1/2 cup water
1 tsp salt
2 eggs

1/  Beat the eggs lightly and mix with salt and water.
2/  Stir in the flour and mix well until smooth.
3/  Grease a 8in non stick pan lightly with a drop of cooking oil.
4/  Scoop approximate 3 tbsp of batter and cook the pastry for 2 to 3 mins.
No need to flip over the pastry.
5/  Remove from heat and cover the egg wrap with tea towel till ready to use.

While waiting for your turn to wrap the spring roll, try this finger licking good Coconut Glazed Chicken Wings.

6 chicken wings
3/4 cup thick coconut milk
1 tbsp soya sauce
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice

1/ Marinate the chicken wings with coconut milk, soya sauce, salt, brown sugar, pepper and lemon juice for 4 to 6 hours.
2/ Grill the chicken wings using open fire or hot coals for 6 to 8 minutes, flipping and basting the wings with the remaining marinate sauce several times until the chicken wings is cook.

This chicken wings is sweet, slightly sticky, tender and moist. Serve with chilli sauce of your choice.

Be a hit among your relatives and different from the usual BBQ parties, throw a 'spring roll party' at home, in your garden...where the ingredients are laid out and guests make their own proportions to their own personal liking. It'll be fun.

Have a nice week ahead.