Savory Steamed Rice Dumplings will forever change your breakfast goals with its amazing flavors of garlic and Chinese dried radish.
Savory Steamed Rice Dumplings, or as what we commonly refer to as "Chwee Kueh" in Singapore, is a popular breakfast dish back home. "Chwee Kueh" literally means "water rice cake". It is a really simple dish - a rice flour and water mixture that is steamed in small cup-shaped containers or saucers and topped with a savory dried radish topping.
After 2 1/2 months, my mom's visit has come to an end. Before she left yesterday, we asked her what she'd like to do or eat. Although she was going back to Singapore where Singaporean cuisine was readily available, she wanted me to cook Hainanese Chicken Rice for lunch. And I made some "Chwee Kueh" for her breakfast as well.
I have not made these rice dumplings in a while and made a mistake by filling the mold cups almost to the brim and that caused the dumplings to sink a little in the middle while steam cooking. But that worked in our favor as the little indentation served as a cup to hold more toppings, although the bottom of the rice dumpling was a little too densed for my liking. So, do note not to fill up your molds too much when you make this.
Savory Steamed Rice Dumplings
adapted from "Singapore Hawker Food"
14 oz Chinese Dried Radish
4 tbsp Chopped Garlic
15 tbsp Cooking Oil
1 tbsp Sugar
2 1/2 cup Rice Flour
2 tbsp Caltrop Starch or Cornstarch
6 1/3 cups Water
1 tsp Salt
1. Soak chinese dried radish in water for 15 to 30 min. Drain and mince in food processer.
2. Heat oil in a pot and place the dried radish in. Simmer on med/low heat for 40 min.
3. Add chopped garlic and stir well. Simmer for another 10 to 15 min or until fragrant. Remove from heat.
4. Add salt into water and bring it to boil. Remove from heat.
5. Add rice flour and starch into water and mix well.
6. Pour mixture into molds. (Small 2 inch diameter cups) Fill about 1 inch deep.
7. Steam cook for 15 to 20 min.
8. Serve with radish topping and sambal chilli, if desired.
Pineapple Tarts with a unique pineapple jam and buttery pastry that they simple melt in your mouth.
Pineapple tarts, a delicate sweet treat that is a Chinese New Year must have. In a blink of an eye, we have taken the leap of faith and plunged into 2017. And now, it is time for me to get into the full swing of things to prepare for one of my favorite holidays that we celebrate in Singapore - Chinese Lunar New Year!
After the year of the Monkey comes the year of the Rooster, which begins on January 28. Celebrations traditionally start from the evening preceding the first day, with a "Reunion Dinner", where families make it a point to get together for a special dinner that is comparable to the American Thanksgiving dinner. Homes would have been given a thorough cleaning and all customary Chinese New Year snacks and pastries prepared in time for the first day.
One of the Chinese New Year snack that I always prepare every year is Pineapple Tarts. This melt-in-your-mouth little pastry tart is a popular snack amongst my family and friends whom we celebrate this auspicious occasion with annually. So, it only make sense for me to make them in large batches. I usually take a day to prepare the pineapple jam and the next day to bake the pastries. It is best store the tarts in the refrigerator and bring them to room temperature before consuming.
By Miss Crumbs A Lot, inspired by "Rasa Malaysia"
4 Pineapples (skinned and core removed)
1 cup Sugar
1 tsp Whole Cloves
2 Whole Star Anise
2 Cinnamon Sticks
Sieve or Cheese Cloth
5 cups All Purpose Flour
4 tbsp Cornstarch
1/2 tsp Salt
8 tbsp Powdered Sugar
2 cups Butter (4 sticks)
4 Egg Yolks
1. Cut pineapples into small chunks and blend them in a food processor.
2. Pour mixture through a sieve or wring it with a cheese cloth to remove as much juice as possible.
3. Place mixture in a non-stick pot or a dutch oven pot with sugar, cloves, star anise, cinnamon sticks and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent burning.
4. Reduce heat to low if pineapple mixture is burning. It should brown gradually until it is dry, golden brown and easily molded. (It usually takes me 2 to 3 hours)
5. Remove the spices and allow the jam to cool. It may be refrigerated for later use. (I usually do this a day in advance)
6. Roll cooled pineapple jam into 1 tsp full sized balls and set aside.
7. Sieve flour and cornstarch into a large mixing bowl.
8. Cut cold butter sticks into small cubes and place in flour.
9. Using your finger tips only, rub the cold butter cubes into the flour, until it resembles breadcrumbs.
8. Add salt, powdered sugar, egg yolks and mix until a soft dough is formed. The dough should not stick to your hands. More butter may be added if it is too dry.
For Open-Faced Tarts
1. Roll out the dough till it is about 1/4 inch thick and use a flower shaped cookie cutter to cut out the dough.
2. Place rolled pineapple jam onto each flower shaped cookie dough and place on a baking tray.
3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 min.
4. May be refrigerated but best to consumed at room temperature.
For Enclosed Tarts
1. Pinch about 1 1/2 tsp of dough, roll it into a ball and flatten it to form a 2 inch circle. Place rolled pineapple jam in the middle and wrap it with the dough. Shape it into a oblong shape, score the top gently with a knife and apply egg wash (1 egg yolk and 2 tbsp of milk).
2. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 min.
3. May be refrigerated but best to be consumed at room temperature.
Makes approximately 100 pieces
Cekodok Pisang, Fried Banana Balls in Malay is great as a snack in the afternoon with coffee or tea.
Cekodok Pisang (Fried Banana Balls) is a traditional Malay fritter snack in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore that is made from flour and then fried. They are usually round in shape and vary in sizes. There are many other varieties other than bananas, such as anchovies, corn, onions or shrimps. These quick and easy to make fritters can be eaten at any time of the day; you can have it for breakfast, afternoon tea or as a deserts after meals.
Bananas are always on my weekly grocery list - the family enjoys having this sweet and starchy fruit, particularly for breakfast. However, there will be times when nobody eats them, the bunch of bananas stays in the fruit basket and before you know it, they are now overripe.
A long time ago, a friend of mine from Singapore had shared this delicious recipe with me that uses ripe bananas and it has always been a go to for me whenever I am left with some.
1 cup Plain Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
A Pinch of Salt
5-6 Ripe Bananas (mashed)
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
1. Mix all the dry ingredients together and add to mashed bananas. Mix well.
2. Mixture will be goopy and lumpy, add vanilla essence.
3. Heat oil for deep frying. Spoon little dollops of mixture into oil and fry till golden brown.
Radish Cake, a popular and traditional Dim Sum dish that may be served steamed or fried! One recipe with two serving options.
Radish Cake is one of the popular Dim Sum dishes and our favorite as well. Dim Sum - a style of Chinese cuisine, most commonly Cantonese, prepared as small bite size portions served on little bamboo steamer baskets or on small plates. I consider Dim Sum to be a great brunch alternative. Traditional Dim Sum often include a variety of buns, dumplings, little tarts & cakes (sweet & savory) and petite portions of meat and vegetable dishes. I've always enjoyed a Dim Sum brunch because of the variety of dishes that I'd get to eat.
Radish Cake is made with radish or daikon and often pan-fried till crispy and crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside before serving. You may consume it without frying and it will just be soft overall. We like it fried and often have it for breakfast.
by Miss Crumbs-A-Lot
250 g Rice Flour
300 g Radish or Daikon (shredded)
650 - 750 ml Water (depending on how dense you'd like your cake to be)
4 Dried Shiitake Mushrooms (soaked and thinly sliced)
1/8 cup Dried Shrimps (rinsed and finely chopped)
2 Chinese Sausages (finely diced)
1 tbsp Oil
2 tsp Salt
1. Heat oil and stir fry dried shrimps till fragrant. Add Chinese sausages and fry for 1 to 2 min.
2. Add mushrooms and radish and mix well. Season with salt. Remove from heat
3. Mix flour and water in a large bowl.
4. Add radish mix into flour water mix. Stir well.
5. Transfer the mixture into an 8 inch square pan.
6. Steam cook for 1 hour or until firm.
7. Remove from heat and let it cool and set. Refrigerate it for 3 to 4 hours or overnight.
8. Cut radish cake into slices and pan fry before serving.
Ang Ku Kueh (Red Tortoise Cakes), a traditional Singaporean Chinese celebratory pastry, that has an iconic flavor you will never forget.
Ang Ku Kueh (Red Tortoise Cakes) instead of a birthday cake! Ever heard of that? Yesterday, it was Kian's birthday, the last year of his 30s. I have been bugging him about how we should celebrate it. Should we have a little party at home? Or does he want an intimate dinner with a few close friends? He has never felt comfortable being the centre of attention so he said he just wants to hang out with us and have dinner at home.
So, instead of a birthday cake, I decided to make a traditional Chinese celebratory pastry, "Ang Ku Kueh" (Red Tortoise Cakes). It is a small round or oval shaped Chinese pastry with a sweet mung bean filling wrapped in a soft sticky and chewy glutinous rice skin. It is traditionally red in color and molded like tortoise shells. Red is an auspicious color and it is believed that eating tortoises would bring longevity to those eating it as well as good fortune and prosperity.
I texted my godsister to ask for my godmother's recipe. She replied back with a voice recording of my godmother reciting the ingredients and cooking instructions, in Cantonese! And like most Asian cooking usually is, she never included the measurements. She said that she makes it based on instincts and that I had to "feel" it myself! Now, that was going to be a real challenge. Fortunately, my mother had arrived a few days ago from Singapore for a visit. And together, we managed to successfully recreate my godmother's recipe and recorded down the measurements as close as possible.
Ang Ku Kueh (Red Tortoise Cakes)
by Miss Crumbs-A-Lot
3/4 lb Peeled Split Mung Beans
10 leaves of Pandan Leaves (Screwpine Leaves)
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Coconut Milk
3 to 3 1/2 cups Glutinous Rice Flour
1 1/2 lb Yellow Sweet Potatoes
1/2 cup Water
Red Food Coloring
Banana Leaf (cut into 3 x 4 inch rectangles and oiled)
1. Soak mung beans in water overnight.
2. Drain the overnight soaked mung beans and steam cook them with a bunch of 5 pandan leaves (screwpine leaves) for 20 min or until soft.
3. Mash the cooked mung beans finely, add sugar and coconut milk.
4. Fry the paste with another bunch of 5 pandan leaves (screwpine leaves) in a wok on lo heat until it is soft, fragrant and it can be molded. Remove the pandan leaves and set aside.
5. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1 inch cubes. Steam cook them for 10 min or until soft.
6. Mash the sweet potatoes finely, add the glutinous rice flour and water. Knead until you reach a soft doughy consistency. If it is too wet/dry, add flour/water respectively.
7. Add the red food coloring to the dough and continue kneading until it is well mixed.
8. Wrap balls of the mung beans with the dough and press them into a tortoise shell mold. If the mold is not available, you may shape them into flat oval discs.
9. Place the cakes onto oiled banana leaves and shape the leaves according to the shape of the cakes. Steam cook them over med heat for 10 min.
10. Allow them to cool till room temperature before serving.
Makes 24 pieces
Sweet Potato Balls, a great way to get the kids involved in the kitchen, and they will love the taste of their own creation.
Sweet Potato Balls, a sweet treat from Singapore that I can get the kids involved in. Fall is one of my favorite season of the year. Apart from the cooler temperatures that we will eventually get to enjoy here in Houston (we are moving into the last week of October and it is finally starting to get a little chilly), I always felt that it is a very festive time of the year. The celebrations is kicked off with Halloween, followed by Thanksgiving and Christmas, all great reasons to just get together and feast!
During this time, pumpkins (a popular fall food) are everywhere. With so much focus on them, from the pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks to all the pumpkin patches that sprout up, I'd like to give some attention to sweet potatoes instead, the unsung hero of the fall vegetables. They often show up as a sweet mash in a Thanksgiving meal or as fries with the all American burger.
In Singapore, this root vegetable is often used in desserts. They are usually cut into small cubes and cooked in coconut milk or in a sugar broth. Or they can be mashed and made into little doughnut holes. I have not had them in a long time; my godmother used to make them and I remember eating 10 of them at a go!
They are easy to make and these little bite-sized fritters make a great snack or dessert. Like a beignet, you can have it for breakfast, afternoon tea or as an after-meal sweet treat. And your kids are going to love helping to make them too.
Sweet Potato Balls
by Miss Crumbs A Lot, adapted from "rotinrice.com"
2 lb Sweet Potatoes
1 - 1 1/4 cup Glutinous Rice Flour (more if you prefer a more chewy texture)
1 cup White Rice Flour
1/2 cup Extra Fine Granulated Sugar
2 tsp Baking Powder
1. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1 inch cubes. Steam cook it for 10 min until they are soft.
2. Transfer the cooked sweet potatoes into a bowl and mash them.
3. Add glutinous rice flour, white rice flour, sugar and baking powder to the sweet potatoes and mix well until a soft dough is formed.
4. If the dough is wet, add more white rice flour to achieve the right consistency. The dough should be soft and you should be able to handle it without having it stick to your hands.
5. Roll portions of dough into 1 inch diameter balls.
6. Deep fry over med/lo heat, monitoring closely as they burn easily, for about 3 to 4 min or until golden brown.
7. Drain excess oil from the sweet potato balls in a metal strainer or using paper towels.
8. Best if served immediately while it is warm. It may be refrigerated and re-heated in a toaster oven at 375 degrees for 10 min.
Makes 60 pieces.
Curry Puffs, an iconic mildly curried flavored crisp pastry snack from Singapore.
Curry Puffs are a snack filled with a mildly curried flavored potatoes that is commonly found in Singapore. Last week, it was International Night at Jamie's pre-school. This was the second year they organized this wonderful event and every family would bring a dish or artifact from their home country. It was, needless to say, an enjoyable night of tasting all sorts of foods and experiencing different cultures from all over the world.
Bella was especially excited and immediately requested that I make Curry Puffs just like I did last year. It is one of her favorite snacks and she'd always recognize the fragrant aroma that fills the kitchen whenever I make it. Curry Puffs, also known as "epok-epok" is a Malay influenced pastry snack. It is usually filled with curry chicken and potato cubes. Sometimes, a slice of hard-boiled egg is included. Sardines or tuna can also be used as alternative fillings.
It was an instant hit. Everyone enjoyed it and some parents mentioned that the Curry Puffs resembled Empanadas, a stuffed pastry that is baked or fried in many Latin American countries.
by Miss Crumbs A Lot, adapted from "rasamalaysia.com"
5 tbsp Cooking Oil
1 Medium Red Onion (diced finely)
3 tsp Garam Marsala Powder
4 tsp Curry Powder
1 tsp Chilli Powder
1 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 cup Chicken Breast Meat (diced 3/8")
2 large Potatoes (skinned, boiled and diced 3/8")
1 1/2 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Salt
Sliced Hard boiled Eggs (optional)
1 lb All Purpose Flour
5 oz Butter Flavored Shortening
3/4 cups Water
1/2 tsp Salt
1. Prepare the filling first. Heat oil and stir fry onions on medium heat until golden brown.
2. Add the garam marsala powder, curry powder, chilli powder, turmeric powder and continue to stir fry gently.
3. Add the diced chicken and stir fry until chicken is cooked. Add potatoes, sugar, black pepper, salt and mix well. Set aside to cool.
4. Make the pastry. Mix flour, shortening, water, salt in a large bowl and knead well.
5. Let dough rest for 30 min. Note that the dough will not rise.
6. Roll dough out and cut them into 3 inch diameter circles.
7. Place approximately 2 tbsp of filling (and sliced hard boiled egg, if preferred) in the middle of the pastry and fold it over to form a semi-circle.
8. Pinch and fold the edges or you may crimp the edges with a fork.
9. Heat oil to 350 degrees and deep fry for 3 1/2 to 4 minutes or until golden brown.
Makes 18 - 20 pieces
A Singaporean SAHM living in Houston, Texas. Discovering her potential in the kitchen with authentic Singaporean Cuisine. And exploring the dynamic food scene Houston has to offer.