Food Plating Attempt #1

On a quiet Sunday afternoon, I had a random desire to paint – with edible food. I have no experience painting and it seemed like an amusing idea.

Bought self some painting materials, a packet of Char Siew rice. Had my canvas set up and started painting away in the kitchen till my heart’s content. It was rather entertaining and I definitely need more practise with the brush strokes, the next time round.

drawing

Steamed Whole Okra

Steaming vegetables is one of the fastest and easiest methods to whip up a delectable dish that is both healthy and delicious. This plate of crunchy Okra barely cost me RM2, and it took me only less than 10 minutes to prep, steam & have it served?

Rolling Pin Rings Alternative: Using Dowel Sticks

I’m a fan of kitchen hacks. Coming from a family where my mum would usually work with whatever she has around the house and try to avoid spending whenever she can, I have grown to develop such a penny-pinching  habit too. To be fair, it is quite hard to source some items in KL as well like rolling pin bands.

I’ve decided to hack rolling pin rings because

  • It’s pretty expensive
    (RM72.31 for Joseph Joseph Wood Rolling Pin / RM29.94 for Casabella Silicone Rolling Pin Rubber Bands)
  • I tend to lose small items like rubber bands rather easily
  • Strong rubber smell
  • Rolling pin bands are hard to find around here
  • Dowel sticks can be used with any of your rolling pins whether its big or small.
Joseph Joseph Wood Rolling Pin
Joseph Joseph Wood Rolling Pin

 

Casabella Silicone Rolling Pin Spacer Bands
Casabella Silicone Rolling Pin Spacer Bands

Dowel sticks can be easily obtained in any craft store for a small cost. I got mine from ArtFriend @ Gardens for a couple of ringgit. Most of our dough recipes require 3mm – 5mm thickness and these dowel sticks come in those thicknesses as well.

Wooden Rolling Pin
Wooden Rolling Pin. I bought it for RM3

I tried saving by getting myself a cheap wooden rolling pin for RM3. It didn’t perform so well. The dough will easily stick onto it, and it’s not easy to keep clean and dry as I use it quite frequently. I swapped the wooden rolling pin [ after much insistence from my beau ] for a stainless steel one, and it made a huge difference. The weight actually helps me produce much more even dough effortlessly, and it’s much easier to clean.

Stainless Steel Rolling Pin
Stainless Steel Rolling Pin. I got this for RM12.

I would suggest investing in a stainless steel or silicone rolling pin as a wooden rolling pin requires more care to avoid cracking or warping. There’s also the high humidity issue in Malaysia which may encourage mold growth. Wooden rolling pins can neither be washed with soap nor be soaked as it will absorb harmful chemicals.

Recipe: Fried Nian Gao Sandwich

Happy Chinese New Year!
It’s that time of the year again to stock up on your nian gao (年糕) so you do not deprive yourself of some awesome fried nian gao sandwich. It’s a pretty popular snack with both kids and adults which is prepared at the end of Chinese New Year. Nian gao can be kept up to a year, and if you spot any mold growing just slice off the top. Based on my experience, it’s best to slice it thinly, so it cooks through better. And it does get pretty thick once you start sandwiching the nian gao slices and coating it with batter.

Recipe

  • Taro (Yam)
  • Sweet potato
  • Nian gao ( aka Chinese New Year’s cake or 年糕)
  • Flour
  • Water
  • Baking powder (optional)
  • Egg (optional)

Instructions

  1. Slice taro & sweet potato thinly.
  2. Add flour, egg, baking powder and a little bit of water into a mixing bowl. Beat until you achieve a batter with a smooth consistency.
  3. Sandwich a slice of nian ago between a taro & sweet potato.
  4. Dip it into the batter and coat it well.
  5. Transfer the sandwich into a wok of hot oil and fry till it’s golden brown.

Tips for New Cooks

  • Extra nian ago can be sealed in a zipper bag and kept in the freezer up to a year.
  • Extra taro or sweet potato can be kept in the fridge for a week or so in a zipper bag or a tight container.
  • Avoid frying in low heat for the sandwich will end up absorbing more oil.
  • To avoid oil splatter, keep the work very dry before adding the oil.
  • Newly prepared nian gao has a very soft and sticky texture that will be a little tough to slice through. Store it in a cool dry place for it to harden a bit before slicing.
  • Baking power is a drying agent that absorbs moisture. This is what helps to achieve that scrumptious crispy texture.

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Left to right: Nian gao, Taro & Sweet potato

niangao-2

Try to slice the sweet potato thinner for it takes longer to cook through compared to taro

niangao-3

Make sure the batter is not runny. Aim for a smooth consistency and if it’s too runny, just add more flour.

deep frying nian gao

Deep fry until its golden brown

How to get Thick Santan/ Thick coconut milk

When I first saw this term ‘thick coconut milk’, I was a bit clueless at first on how to get it. Sometimes in the market, you’ll see packet coconut milk that says ‘coconut milk’ or ‘coconut cream’ but it is actually the same thing. These products have thickener agents added to them according to the chef I spoke to.

How to get thick coconut milk

  1. Get a packet of freshly produced coconut milk from your local market.
  2. Pour the contents into a container and let it sit in the fridge for an hour or two so the water separates from the coconut milk.
  3. Once you notice two distinct layers, the thick coconut milk is ready to be extracted. Just scoop it out & discard the remaining liquid.

It’s best to keep your coconut milk chilled at all times for it spoils easily in Asia’s room temperature. Freshly produced coconut milk should be chilled and used within 24 hours.

 

santanmilk2
Another example

 

Fresh santan from morning market
Fresh santan from morning market