August 28, 2009

"My Sweet Malaysia": Tambun Biscuits or Tau Sar Beng 淡汶豆沙餅

I'm happy and proud to be a part of the Merdeka Open House this year. (By the way, merdeka means independence in Malay.) It is an annual food-blogging event that's held in conjunction with Malaysia's Independence Day. This year, our country will turn 52. Thanks, Babe in the City - KL for hosting this virtual open house for us all Malaysians out there! Very, very meaningful indeed!

I've been following the event since I discovered it last year. But, I never get around to take part in it till now because I only started my blog about three months ago. This year's Merdeka Day means a lot to me because it'll be my first one back home since I left for the States in January 2007, and I haven't been home since then. I'll be flying out in less than eight hours and touch down early Sunday morning at Kuala Lumpur International Airport to reunite with my beloved family and friends. Can hardly wait!!! *Hold my breath ... Ahh ...*

Little did I realize how precious and lovely my country is till I left home. As Malaysians, we should cherish, preserve and protect the multicultural and rich heritage of our country wherever we are. I'm glad to say that it is the diversity of our country that has helped build the tolerance against and openness toward cultural differences in me.

For instance, as a Malaysian of southern Chinese descent, I like to experiment with different stuff in my cooking, baking and eating habit. You'll see that easily once you've started mingling with other Chinese from especially mainland China. (This is just my opinion based on my experience.) Of course just like any other countries, we can't expect Malaysia to be perfect, i.e. corruption-, crime-, drugs-, alcohol-free and so forth. It takes time for things to change.

So, for my virgin entry in the Merdeka Open House, I'm entering tau sar beng, or Tambun biscuits (淡汶豆沙餅) since the theme for this year's is "My Sweet Malaysia." As the theme implies, the food has to be Malaysian and sweet. The pastry is a very delicate treat with sweetened mung bean paste wrapped in flaky Chinese pastry. They can only be found in Malaysia because they were invented by some Chinese who had settled in Malaysia years ago.

The recipes that I used for Chinese flaky pastry and mung bean paste came from SeaDragon, another great Malaysian baker blogging from the Down Under. I'd have to say they're definitely a keeper! I remember I did have pandan Tambun biscuits before. So, I decided to knead in some pandan paste to half the dough for Chinese flaky pastry. So, I ended up having original and pandan tau sar beng.

Just so you wonder, my mung bean paste is dark in color because I used whole instead of skinned mung beans to make it. Yet, the taste wasn't affected! They tasted oh-so-good that they brought tears to my eyes--they reminded me so much of home!

Selamat Hari Merdeka ke semua Anak Malaysia! (In Malay: A happy Merdeka Day to all Malaysians!)

Tambun Biscuits or Tau Sar Beng 淡汶豆沙餅 (Adapted from SeaDragon's)
Makes 20 biscuits

For the Chinese flaky pastry Water dough:
100g bread flour
100g cake flour

70g lard (you can use shortening instead, but I prefer lard), at room temperature
20g powdered sugar
100ml water, or adjust as necessary

Oil dough:
120g cake flour
60g lard (you can use shortening, but I prefer lard), at room temperature

400g mung bean paste, divided into 20 equal portions with each weighing at 20g and set aside for use later

1 egg, slightly beaten for eggwash
some white sesame seeds, to be sprinkled as "topping"
  1. For the water dough: Combine (A) together and sift into a mixing bowl, then cut in lard. Stir in powdered sugar to combine, followed by enough water and mix to get a soft dough, knead till it's smooth to touch. Cover it with cling wrap and set aside to let rest for 15-20 minutes
  2. For the oil dough: Cut 60g lard into 120g cake flour till combined, knead it till it has the same malleability/pliability as the water dough
  3. After the water dough has rested for 15-20 minutes, divide it and the oil dough respectively into 20 equal portions (I did this by weighing the whole deal and doing math 101 ... if you get what I mean); cover them up to let rest for another 15 minutes
  4. To each portion of the two dough, wrap one portion of the oil dough into one portion of the water dough and seal the edges tightly. Then, roll the combined dough out into an oval or a tongue shape and roll it up from the shorter end Swiss roll-style to get a "cigar"
    Repeat with the remainder in the same manner
  5. To each of the "cigar," turn them 90 degrees so that they look like the capital letter "I"
    Roll out again into a tongue shape and roll it up from the shorter end Swiss roll-style Repeat with the remainder in the same manner
    *Refer to here for the photos on how to carry out steps 4 and 5
  6. Roughly round each of the rolled-up dough up
  7. Roll out each combined dough into a flat round disk with the center thicker than the edges, then wrap in a portion of the mung bean paste. Seal the edges tightly; repeat with the remainder in the same manner
  8. Arrange them on prepared baking sheet(s), then apply eggwash and sprinkle with some white sesame seeds over each
  9. Bake them at 200C/400F for 18-20 minutes or till light golden in color


babe_kl said...

Wow they really looked good. Thanks for participating ;-) and welcome home!!!

Pei-Lin said...

Hey! Thanks for the prompt feedback!

I'd like to thank you for organizing such fun and meaningful event! I'll definitely do it again in the future!

Lianne said...

wow! respect :-) I cannot imagine making these from scratch even though I crave them sometimes. at most just boil some tong sui or bake a cake. yours look really good, and can commercialised them in US? Who know eh. Happy Merdeka btw :-)

Jin Hooi said...

OMG.. Tambun biscuits .. my favourate !!!! They look really really good , well done !!

Pei-Lin said...

Thanks all!!!! Am really flattered!

@Lianne: Commercialized in the U.S.!!?? Eh! You've overrated me lah ... But, I'm now in Malaysia. So, I can't even if I want to hahaha ...

@Jin Hooi: I believe you can make them, too!

tracieMoo said...

it looks exactly like the store bought ones.. I thought it was black sesame filling a second ago.. thanks for the recipe!

Pei-Lin said...

Thanks for stopping by tracieMoo! LOL, I know ... that's the consequence of using whole instead of skinned mung beans! Try this though! Your loved ones will be thrilled and impressed!

rokh said...

wow salute for taking up this feat. looks delicious!

Pei-Lin said...

Thanks rokh!!!! Your bakes are very good, too!!!

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Dodol & Mochi said...

Hello, Anonymous!

I don't mean to address you this way ... Sorry about that first of all.

Thanks a lot for the encouraging words!! Each word counts! This means tremendously to me!! Giving me more fuel to go further!

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I owe you once this time ... Please let me know if you need any help or questions solved, yea? I'll try to as long as it's within my capability. ^^


Anonymous said...

I inclination not acquiesce in on it. I regard as nice post. Especially the designation attracted me to review the intact story.

Dodol & Mochi said...

Oh, thank you so much for the encouraging words & feedback!! I'll try to do better! Thank you for dropping by! =D


Anonymous said...

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Pei-Lin @ Dodol and Mochi said...

Hello! Firstly, thanks a lot for dropping by! And sorry for getting back to you this late! You're more than welcomed! Glad that the info here actually helped you! Y'know what, I never would have thought my rambling would actually be of a help academically! LOL! Anyway, you've made my day!! =)

Anonymous said...

Good fill someone in on and this post helped me alot in my college assignement. Thanks you seeking your information.

wendyywy @ Table for 2 or more..... said...

Hey, did you know that there is another Tambun in Penang???? It's a fishing village.
I go there quite often for seafood.

The Tambun in Perak is famous for pomeloes only.

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Hello, Wendy!

No, I wasn't aware of that other Tambun in Penang! Sad to tell you, I can't even remember when was the last time I was there. I think it was like when I was 10 gua ...

Thanks for pointing that out to me! Must have misheard or had erroneous recollection when I was writing this post last August! That was like 1 day before I flew off the U.S. and back to KL! Too excited albeit tired at the same time gua ... Hahaha! So 大頭蝦! But hor, it seems like most of the towns around the Ipoh area are famous for pomeloes, including Bidor ... That was what I heard from a co-worker of mine who's from Bidor.

Anonymous said...

Hi Pei Lin, I have been lurking around your site for a while now and only now decided to drop you a line. I have been trying to make the flaky chinese pastry using seadragon's recipe but failed miserably....I can never seem to get the spirals nicely. When I cut the dough, you can see that the spirals look "torn.." I am so tempted to make the tau sa beng you post here but am terrified that the pastry will fail me.....what did I do wrong? Is the temp to hot that the ghee melted? BTW, what is mung bean in malay? Is it kacang hijau? Cant be right coz from the pic posted, it looks like kacang dhall?


Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

OM, I'll get back to you in details ... My brain is defunct now. LOL! I'll try to reply to you during lunch break tomorrow. Thanks for being my reader. =)

Have a lovely week!


Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Hello, OM!

Sorry for the late reply. Was caught up with something else during lunch break at work today.

1. Before I proceed further, I'd like clarifications for the following:

"I can never seem to get the spirals nicely. When I cut the dough, you can see that the spirals look "torn."

What do you mean by that? Where is your location now?

2. I've only tried making Chinese flaky pastries using lard, or a combo of lard and shortening (the ratio is usually 3:1 for lard to shortening). I've not attempted making the pastries with ghee, margarine and even neutral-flavored oil (e.g. vegetable, sunflower, canola, and rice bran oil). Since commercial lard isn't accessible in Malaysia, I'm planning on experimenting with the three latter ones and shortening here. Compared to the type of commercial lard I'd used before, I think ghee melts much more easily, especially in hot weather like Malaysia's. But my words are still highly debatable since I personally haven't handled ghee much. I'd have to say, though, commercial lard (the one I'd talked about in my chrysanthemum pastries post) is the best fat for making Chinese flaky pastries.

3. I think in the much warmer and more humid Malaysia weather, it gets trickier to handle the oil dough for Chinese flaky pastries. I hope I can share my experience whenever I can get my hands on making the pastries in Malaysia. The Chinese flaky pastries I made, which can be seen on my blog and Flickr photostream, were all churned out in the States. And at where I was, the weather is SO MUCH more different: much drier and cooler.

4. Mung beans are kacang hijau in Bahasa Malaysia. Haha! That was because I used whole mung beans, not skinned ones, as those were all that I had. That's why the paste looks dark, which is unconventional. But, the taste wasn't compromised. I even used the same batch of mung bean paste to make ang koo kuih. Skinned mung beans are the ones people use for making mung bean paste; hence, the fairer color. Mine isn't made with kacang dhall lar ... HAHA!

Hope these help. Awaiting your reply. But I can only reply to you whenever I have a minute. Been uber busy lately with work!

Thanks for visiting my site!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for replying Pei Lin. I am located here in KL. I used ghee because I read that it taste better than shortening and I cant find lard here. It was the first time using ghee for me too and it melted easily. I also tried with Crisco shortening. It was a bit better but not as nice as the ones you made. When I said that the spirals look torn, I meant that the spirals were not clear cut- some seem interspersed with the neighbouring layer. I even tried to put the dough in the fridge hoping to get clearers spirals but to no avail....

Sorry if I sound stupid but are you saying you used the normal kacang hijau. Are there deskinned kacang hijau sold? They all look the same to me ( all skinless).....I guess the color of the paste confused me a little. I expect Seadragon's to be darkish too but its almost pale yellow. Do they label deskinned kacang hijau on the packet if I want to get a lighter color paste? Maybe I should wait until you have tried out making tau sar piah here before I attempt huh...? I was hoping to try out on Oct 20-21 when I am on leave......sigh:(

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Hey, OM!

OK, lemme reply to you in point form:

1. Then, our weather can be a culprit as it's warmer and more humid in Malaysia.

2. Ghee definitely tastes WAY better than shortening! For shortening, I've stopped buying shortening of any other brands and the one sold at bakery supply stores. I trust the brand Crisco more due the trans fat issue. As of now, I think shortening is the best alternative to the commercial lard I once used in the States. IMO, shortening and possibly, margarine yield the most chances of success with Chinese flaky pastries, when compared to ghee and neutral-flavored oils. But, I'm eager to try using ghee to get a feel of how it's like to work with it. Not now, I've not been cooking and baking for close to 3 weeks due to family relocation; hence, a messy and not-so-well-equipped kitchen.

3. As for the spiral pattern thingy, I think you may need to pay more attention to the wrapping and folding and shaping parts of the oil and water dough. The folding part ("lamination") must be done correctly to get that effect. AND, the fat (ghee in this case since that was what you used for yours) melted terribly I'd assume; hence, the awkward pattern of the pastries. These are just my wild guess. After all, going hands on and experience are always the best sources to learn from. I've not really refrigerated my wrapped dough while making the pastries. I think it's much easier than French puff pastry.

4. Yea, I meant kacang hijau ... the ones we use to cook tong sui ("loke dao sar" 綠豆沙 in Cantonese/bubur kacang hijau in B.M.).

Mung beans with skin on look like this:

Skinned mung beans (with no skin on) look like this:

Like I said, my paste looks dark because I used whole mung beans, i.e. kacang hijau with skin on. I processed whole mung beans in a blender (due to laziness). SeaDragon's paste is authentic in this sense as to make mung bean paste, kacang hijau tidak berkulit are used; hence, the pale yellow color.

Yes, skinned mung beans can be found in supermarkets and kedai runcit easily. When I was in the States, I got my Asian ingredients at Asian grocers.

Erm ..., don't wait till I've made, which I dunno when it's gonna happen. It's not gonna be too soon as my family is relocating. Plus, I don't intend to make tau sar beng again. LOL! Other Chinese flaky pastries for sure. Lou por beng has always been in my plan. Once I've settled down, I'll work on that.

OM, you don't sound stupid ... PLEASE DON'T EVER SAY SO. We are all learning along the journey. I have gobs of things that I still dunno of. AND, don't wait for me. Do it whenever you feel like it. Perhaps, you have to abandon ghee this time around since it melts so easily. Try with Crisco shortening or a combo of the shortening and margarine. How I wish we can source that kind of lard I once used in Malaysia easily. I guess it's a very Mat Saleh thing.

Hope these help! All the best! Happy baking! Do lemme know how your pastries turn out!


Anonymous said...

Dear Pei Lin,

Thank you for the lengthy explanation and patience esp when I know you are busy with your work. I consider myself a novice baker. Baking and cooking is something I picked up or rather ventured into fully after I got married about 3 years ago. Before this, cooking was a means to an end - to survive so to say when I was studying in Australia and then living in US and Japan...Somehow, for the past year or so, it has started to become like an addiction or obsession. There are times when I would come home from work all tired and still manage to whip up something till midnight...I sometimes find all the whipping, blending etc terapeutic...

Anyways, you are right. I still have some leftover Crisco. I will try to give it a go again. You never know until you try it out hands-on. I may also use the whole kacang hijau if I cant find the deskinned ones. After all, it may be a healthier option and like you said , the taste is not compromised and thats the most important thing. I will let you know how it turns out ok...:)) and here I am, a fats and oil expert having difficulty working with shortening :D My students will be laughing if they knew : D


咖啡欣。caffeine said...

May I know where can get Crisco? any supermarket? like Jusco?

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Hi, caffeine!

I assume you're in Malaysia. So far, I haven't found Crisco shortening in regular supermarkets e.g. Jusco and Tesco. I got mine at local bakery supply store. The one I frequent is called Yen Bakery Supply at Taman Maju Jaya(?), somewhere in Cheras and Ampang.


咖啡欣。caffeine said...

Thank you very much!

Anonymous said...

Hi Pei Lin,

I DID IT!! I got my tau sa piah and it was really lovely and flaky. I had 3 in one go! I got the skinless mungbeans (my Indian friend bought for me) and made the paste. Was abit heavy handed with the five spice powder but still it was ok. I realised today after making the pastry what I did wrong the last time. The malleability of the water and oil dough was different the last time. Also, ghee is too soft to handle in this weather. I used Crisco only this time and it worked out just nice. You dont need to put it in the fridge. I am SOO HAPPY> Its silly how I feel so elated as if I have accomplished a big feat. Thanks again for all your encouragement. I think I am now confident enough to tackle the chinese pastry for seremban siew pou or maybe even the flaky yam mooncake....?? What do you think?


Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Hey, OM! First of all, I'm so sorry for such an uber late reply! Been almost-bed-ridden since last night after coming back from work. I'm actually on medical leave now ... LOL!

Congrats to you! I'm so, so happy for you! A lot of times, we just need to keep trying till we've finally succeeded, especially when we're still confident enough and somehow have that feeling that we did something wrong in our previous attempts. So happy that you decided to give it a go in the end. =D

Five-spice powder is pretty potent. But then, I believe that other mung bean paste recipes that don't call for pinch of the spice mix yield paste that tastes not as good as the one we're using here. You can consider making ang koo kuih with the paste you've got there, especially if you have leftover. Your Indian friend is so good ... Haha! =)

Yea, ghee just finds it hard to stay firm in our hot and humid weather, though, I've gotta agree that it brings a really good taste to the pastry compared to shortening. Too bad, we don't have that kind of partially hydrogenated lard in Malaysia. Lard does give the pastry a lovely taste. *Sigh* I think I'll follow what you did: using just shortening. I wonder if mixing in some margarine will work, too. OK, I won't refrigerate to chill the doughs in the future since it worked out for you without chilling. Thank you for sharing back your experience!!! =D

Yea, I know ... That's why I love cooking and baking so much. You feel that sense of accomplishment and get to taste the end products (if they turn out well). I'M SOOOO HAPPY FOR YOU, TOO! Wish I can sample your tau sar beng ... Haha!

Yup, why not! I'm looking forward to your Seremban siew bao and flaky mooncakes! Keep it up, OM!!! So happy for you! Congrats!


Anonymous said...

Hi Pei Lin,

Only managed to check your reply today. So sorry to hear that you have been down. I hope you are feeling better already. Yes. My Indian friend bought the mung bean and in return I have to give her some too as tau sa piah is also her absolute favourite. I thought it was a fair barter :))

I will definitely try out the Seremban siew pau. Right now, I am thinking of trying out your steamed char siu bao first. Just have s suddent craving for them. Cant wait..

Yes. I love baking and cooking but my only problem is that the weight is slowly catching up too.....hmm. Now I have to work hard just to lose some of the weight I gained and it all went straight to you know where....:((( We cant win all the time huh. Something just have to give somewhere.

Let you know once I have tried the char siew pau ok.

BTW: I made your lemon sauce for my salad and it was wonderful!! Loved the sauce. I will make the Cantonese lemon chicken one of these days too..

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Hey, OM!

Don't worry about being late and whatnot ... I'm just as slow in replying to others. Thank you for the kind words. Seems like all of us urbanites are too busy with life. Not much time for the virtual world ... =(

Haha! Yea, that sounded like a fair barter to me! Are you gonna make your Indian friend any Deepavali treat? LOL!

I SO, SO wanna try making Seremban siew baos! Definitely one of my faves!! HK-style char siew baos also are a fave of mine. That was why I made it to a point to make it. Be sure to use Hong Kong bao flour, though, to get white baos. I substituted ingredients in the States as it was rather hard for me to source them. Alright, keep me posted on your steamed char siew baos yea?

Ya know what, you shouldn't feel bad about it as you're not alone in this. I've put on lotsa weight, too!! HAHAHA! Yea, when there's input, there's gotta be output too. LOL! VERY true!!

Hmmm ... I'm lost ... Which lemon sauce for salad? I don't think I've blogged something of this sort!? Yea, Cantonese lemon chicken is a fave dish of mine growing up as a Cantonese and in K.L. Hope you'll like it!

In the meantime, don't stop amazing me!!! Your words have been very encouraging!!! =)

Anonymous said...

Hi Pei Lin,

Just to let you know, I got a bunch of lovely muruku from my Indian friend for Deepavali and I gave her my kuih Seri Muka that I made during the weekend. I have yet to try out the char siu bau but think I will be able to find some time next week to do so. Will let you know. I am going to try your version except that I will use the HK flour. I noticed that yours is not the yeasty kind but the baking soda type, so I will definitley give it a try.

I was referring to your version of SiukWan's cantonese lemon chicken. You poured the lemon sauce over the fried chicken while I used the same sauce but drizzled over my salad. It was just as yummy.

I love the Seremban siu pau but that will have to wait till Dec when I get some off days to work on it....Anyways, keep up the good work. I have been meaning to make your Hakka taro beads as I am Hakka and I think I should learn some Hakka dishes at least...however, it seems like a LOT of work just to cook the dish :))Will have to wait till I muster some energy for it.


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