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Malaysia celebrates “Independence Day” MERDEKA!

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IMG_9445Malaysia is a very unique country where people of many ethnic backgrounds live together, complimenting each other. We live in a country where we enjoy each other’s culture, tradition and food. We do not teach our children to tolerate one another but we teach them to LOVE one another.

I can’t think of a better way of celebrating “Hari Merdeka” than having 2nd helpings of Nasi Lemak and Teh Tarik with our neighbours and friends. We are Malaysians!

Selamat “Hari Merdeka Malaysia”

Ingredients (serves 6)

300 gm skinless peanuts (toasted)
3 cucumbers (peeled and sliced)
3 cups of long Basmathi rice
2 leaves of pandan (knotted)
5 Tbsp virgin coconut oil

2 handfuls of cleaned dried ikan bilis (local anchovies)
600 gm of fresh prawns (trimmed and deveined, shell intact)
2 handfuls of petai (halved)
2 dried cuttlefish (soaked overnight in water)
banana leaves

Sambal base

Ingredients to blend
30 dried chilli (seeds removed, soak in a little hot water)
20 fresh red chillis (seeds removed)
5 cloves of garlic (skin removed)
2 large red onions (skin removed, chopped into small bits)

rest of sambal ingredients
5 pieces of dried tamarind (soaked in a little hot water)
olive oil
sea salt
brown sugar
water

Method

  1. Toasted peanuts can be prepared ahead of time. On a baking tray, place skinless peanuts, single layer and toast in the oven marked 170 degree celsius for 12 – 15 minutes. Remove from oven, cool and kept in an air-tight bottle.
  2. Slice cucumber and keep them cling wrapped in the fridge until time to use.
  3. Rinse 1 handful of dried ikan bilis and saute until golden brown in a frying pan with some olive oil. Drain on paper towels. Store in an air-tight container after they are cool.
  4. Rinse the Basmathi rice and add water and knotted pandan leaves into an electric rice cooker and cook. When rice is cooked, discard pandan leaves and drizzle 5 Tbsp virgin coconut oil into rice and fluff it up with a pair of Chinese chopsticks.
  5. While the rice is cooking, pound all the sambal ingredients together in a mortar and pestle. If hard pressed for time, just blend them all together using your trusted blender.
  6. Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil into a hot pan. Fry the blended ingredients together with the tamarind slices and the tamarind water. Let it simmer for 5 minutes and season with sea salt and sugar according to the taste you require. Divide the cooked sambal paste into 3 portions, set aside a portion for the sambal petai prawn dish and another for cuttlefish sambal.
  7. Rinse the remaining 2 handfuls of dried ikan bilis with water, drained and add them into the cooked sambal paste in the pan. Pour in a cup of hot water and bring the sambal ikan bilis to simmer for 10 – 15 minutes on low heat or until the ikan bilis is softened. Set aside.
  8. Slice cuttlefish into small pieces. In a saucepan, heat up the other portion of cooked sambal paste, add cuttlefish and some water to bring it to a long simmer about 2 hours over gentle heat. This is to soften the cuttlefish. Set aside.
  9. In another frying pan, heat up the last portion of cooked sambal paste and add prawns. Stir fry on high heat until prawns are cooked through then add the petai, stir for another 3 minutes and cut off the heat. Set aside.
  10. Serve nasi lemak with crispy ikan bilis, sambal ikan bilis, sambal petai prawns, sambal cuttlefish, sliced cucumbers and peanuts on a banana leaf and eat using the tip of your fingers. Trust me, it tastes so much more appetizing when you eat using your hands.

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Nutty cranberry sausage mooncake

 

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Yes I think it is time to start posting again. Finally completed my cookbook and it is with my editor right now. Time to breathe normally again. So it’s Mid-Autumn festival again, how time flies when we are busy but no complaints,  just complete “Thankfulness to God” for enabling me to do all these in this lifetime.

My family loves the nutty mooncakes with chunks of chinese sausages laced with the sweet aroma of rose water. I can’t remember when was the last time I have indulged in a good one. I guess, instead of wasting money buying and trying, I have decided to make some myself. I made some 2 years ago and they were completely gone within a day. I had to make the 2nd batch the next day. Let me share this recipe with you and hope you can find the time to make it. Enjoy and have fun. Be warned … it involves quite a lot of work.

approximately 12 mooncakes

mooncake pastry ingredients

600 gm organic all purpose flour
50 gm cornflour
1 cup olive oil
300 ml homemade dark sugar syrup – 500 ml water, 200 gm caster sugar
(dark sugar syrup can be replaced with store-bought treacle)

Ingredients for the filling

2 cups chopped walnuts
2 cups chopped almond
2 cups chopped dried cranberries
1 cups of chopped candied wintermelon
1 cup of diced chinese sausage

Binding agent for filling

3 Tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
4 Tbsp rose water
3 Tbsp glutinous rice flour
3 Tbsp icing sugar
light soy to taste
a little hot water (to bind)

olive oil (to oil the moulds)
plain flour (to flour the moulds)
2 egg yolk (as egg wash)

Method

  1. Fill a saucepan with water and pour sugar into the centre of the water in the saucepan. Low heat, cook until the sugar turns dark brown. Brushing the insides of the saucepan from time to time with a brush soaked with water to avoid the sides burning. When the syrup has turned dark golden brown pour into a glass bottle to cool. This is best done a few days or a week in advance to allow the syrup to mature. This syrup is used to color the mooncake pastry.
  2. In a large metal mixing bowl, combine all mooncake pastry ingredients evenly. Add enough oil to the dough to give a soft but not shapeless dough. A smooth dough good enough to mould.
  3. Divide dough into 100 gm balls and set aside on a baking tray covered with a damp cloth or cling wrap. Let them rest for an hour.
  4. Bring a saucepan of water to boil. Drop in the chinese sausages. Let it boil for 3 – 4 minutes. Fish out the sausages and remove and discard the sausage skin. Cut sausages into the same size as the rest of the ingredients.
  5. Roughly chop the almond, walnuts, cranberries and wintermelon. Combine all the filling ingredients together in a large metal bowl.
  6. Mix all the binding agent ingredients into a thick paste and scrape into the nuts and berry mixture. Combine all the ingredients for the fillings evenly with the binding agent paste.
  7. Weight the mooncake fillings into 80 gm balls  and place them in a baking tray. The weight of each ball filling is dependent on the size of your mooncake mould. My moulds are 100gm of mooncake pastry each. If the mould is smaller, less fillings are needed. This you will have to try it out yourselves.
  8. Roll out a ball of mooncake dough and place a ball of fillings in the centre and wrap the into a ball. Carefully place the wrapped mooncake into the oiled and floured mould. Gently press firmly on all sides and turn the mould over and knock the mould at a slant on both sides then centre, to remove the shaped dough. Practice makes perfect.
  9. Place the shaped mooncakes on a prepared baking tray and pop them into a pre-heated oven at 170 degrees celsius for 10 minutes.
  10. Slide the mooncake tray out and brush egg wash all over the mooncake to give them color and pop them back into the oven 5 minutes or until it looks golden brown with an “eat me” aroma escaping through the oven.
  11. Remove from baking tray and cool the mooncakes on a wire cake rack. Baked mooncakes are best consumed after 3 days.  This gives the crust time to absorb the oil from the fillings making them soft and flavourful. They can be refrigerated or frozen for later consumption. If you intend to freeze the mooncakes, I suggest they are wrapped in in foil and then cling wrapped for storage.

 

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