The touchdown will be just one day before our nation's Independence Day, or Hari Merdeka as we Malaysians would like to call it. This is actually going to be a return to home for good! Amazing, these past two and a half years just fled past right before me in the blink of an eye. I haven't been home since I left in January 2007! Can't believe that I'm finally going home to see my beloved family and experience the familiar again *sobbing.*
Coming as a transfer student to complete her degree in mass communication, I now found myself as a jobless graduate who has been trying her luck in the harsh job market. While it's the beginning of another chapter of my life, I'm excited and yet anxious about what to come next. In the meantime, I've been pondering over and over again. Perhaps, it's time for me to slow down on my baking and cooking. I've gained A LOT of weight since I got addicted to kitchen! I don't think anyone will appreciate looking at a fat girl *fainted.*
I'm trying to discipline myself to bake and cook less frequent and ONLY AS NEEDED. Just hope that my parents won't faint and will still be able to recognize me when we see each other again for the first time in 2.5 years at the airport. Can you imagine the embarrassment of leaving as an average-sized girl and returning as a fat girl!? Anyhow, I'll still blog but less frequently.
Here, I'd like to share with you one of my favorite kuih-muih ang koo kuih (紅龜粿). Kuih-muih (in Malay, the plural form for kuih) are a big part of the life for a Malaysian and Singaporean. Ask any one of us and we'll give you an endless list of kuih: kuih koci (my mom's and my favorite,) kuih dadar (my personal fave,) kuih talam, seri muka (love it but very fattening,) kuih lapis, jemput-jemput, onde-onde, kuih bingka ubi kayu, kuih keria and so much more!
Ang koo kuih is of Baba and Nyonya origin (or better known as Peranakan in Singapore.) The blood shared by baba and nyonya is mainly Chinese as they're part-Malay. Nonetheless, these Straits-Chinese have adopted the local Malay culture for a very long time; hence, the birth of this unique culture that can only be found in Malaysia and Singapore.
This particular kuih is aptly named "ang koo" because of its resemblance to a turtle shell that is red in color. In the local Chinese dialect of Hokkien, "ang" means red and "koo" means turtle. (I'm not fluent in that dialect though.) It has a chewy and soft skin that is made out of sweet potatoes and glutinous rice flour. Its filling is oftentimes sweetened mung bean paste, which is one of the things I like about the kuih. Still, there're those that are filled with savory mung bean paste (I detest that!) and finely crushed roasted peanut-sugar mixture (yummy!)
Because of the kuih's special appearance, there's a special mold needed for making it. But as I don't have any, I went ahead and made them to satisfy my ang koo kuih craving. The following is a very good recipe for the ang koo kuih skin from Florence. Mine look orange because of the sweet potatoes that I used, they had orange-colored flesh. And, some look green because I kneaded some pandan paste to a portion of the dough.
As for the mung bean paste, I got the recipe from SeaDragon's old blog. I actually prefer his because of the addition of Chinese five-spice powder and sesame oil, they added a flavorful kick to the paste! And instead of skinned mung beans, I used the whole ones as they're all that I've got. Lazy me, I didn't want to pass them through the fine sieve. Thus, I resorted to blend the cooked softened beans in my blender. That's why the filling of my kuih looks dark! Nonetheless, the taste wasn't compromised! Yummo!
Ang Koo Kuih 紅龜粿 (adapted from Florence's)
For the skin:
200g mashed cooked sweet potatoes
300g glutinous rice flour
2 Tbsp oil
160ml water, or adjust accordingly
some red coloring for red kuih or pandan paste for green ones (optional)
- Oil some banana leaves and set aside for use later (I used parchment paper instead as I don't have any)
- Mix (A) together to get a smooth dough, cover with cling wrap or damp cloth to prevent the dough from drying out and set aside
- Brush the mold(s) with some oil to prevent the dough for easy unmolding of the dough
- Take a small portion of the dough and roll it out with the center being slightly thicker than the edges either by hand or a rolling pin
- Wrap some mung bean paste with one of the flattened dough, enclose it by pinching the edges tightly together and then roll the filled dough into a ball using your palms
- Press the filled dough into the mold firmly to get the pattern and shape (of the mold,) then gently tap the mold onto the counter to take the dough out. Place the dough onto a piece of oiled banana leaf; repeat with the remaining dough till it's used up
*Because I don't have the mold, I flattened the filled dough up slightly to make it look somewhat like the real deal instead--except without the pattern
- Steam the filled and shaped dough over high heat for 3 minutes with the steamer's or wok's lid covered. At 3-minute mark, uncover the steamer to release the steam and put the lid back onto its position and steam the kuih for another 3 minutes over medium heat or till they're all cooked
- Remove the kuih from the steamer and brush a little bit of oil over them to prevent them from sticking to each other; let cool aside. Serve them at room temperature.
Refrigerate any leftover kuih; resteam them, or like how my family does sometimes, pan-fry them in a little bit of oil to serve them again. Pan-fried ones will become crispy on the outside, and yet, the chewy texture will still be there.
For the mung bean paste (makes 750g of paste, adapted from SeaDragon's):
300g skinned mung beans
75g lard or oil (I used lard and it really makes it taste better--though unhealthier)
1/2 cup shallots or onions, sliced (I used 1 fairly small onion as shallots are rather expensive here, and chopped it up really well)
1/4 tsp sesame oil (optional, but highly recommended)
1/4 tsp Chinese five-spice powder 五香粉 (optional, but highly recommended)
1 tsp salt
- Soak the mung beans in enough water for at least 2-4 hours; drain well.
- Steam soaked and drained beans for 30 minutes or until softened
*Because I used whole beans for this, I cooked them in a pot of simmering hot water instead like how you'd do for Chinese sweetened mung bean soup dessert.
- Remove the cooked beans from the steamer/wok and pass them through fine sieve to remove any hard particles (I skipped this part and blended them up really well in my blender.)
- Melt lard in a wok and heat it (or oil) till hot, add in the sliced shallots and cook over low heat until they're golden and aromatic; dish out and drain well, keep it for some other use. Leave the shallot oil in the wok
*Those fried shallots are so nice that we use them in so many things. I've used them for Cantonese blanched vegetable dish (e.g. romaine lettuce 油麥, gai lan or Chinese broccoli 芥蘭, choy sum 菜心), plain rice porridge, soups 老火湯 and so much more.
- Heat up the shallot oil, add in (B) and cook over low heat briefly till aromatic; add in (C) and mashed beans, stir-fry them over medium or medium-high heat till the paste has become thick and can stand in peaks. Let it cool thoroughly aside before using or storing.
*I've been freezing my pastes. So, I just thaw them out as needed in the fridge overnight and use them for other stuff e.g. tau sar beng. All these really make things easier.