Pork belly and Squash Burmese – Nonya Hybrid Curry

IMG_0700

Adapted from this Burmese pork and pumpkin curry recipe, I added fresh lemongrass, substituted ground turmeric with fresh, and parcooked the squash (roasting) to avoid chopping raw veg, saving time and preserving my delicate mitts.

Fresh lemongrass and turmeric are way better than fresh, freeze whatever’s not used. If fresh isn’t available, substitute dried ground turmeric, but I’m not sure if dried lemongrass would work as it would be difficult to rehydrate successfully to grind to a paste.

Tamarind brings sourness, coconut milk richness, but both could also be left out (neither are in the original recipe). Tomato makes it a bit sweet and mellow.

Ingredients

250-300g/ 0.5lb pork belly, diced
1/2 large squash
1 tomato
2tbsp vegetable oil
1tbsp shrimp paste (optional)
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp tamarind paste (optional)
200ml coconut milk – canned, or 2 tbsp/35g santan powder + water, or 50g creamed coconut + water (made up to 200ml)

Spice paste
1 small onion
2-5 cloves garlic
4 fresh green chillis
1 inch/thumb size piece fresh ginger
1 stalk fresh lemongrass
1 inch/2cm fresh turmeric
2tbsp ground coriander
1tsp ground cumin
1-2 tsp chilli powder/ dried chillis (optional)

IMG_0688

Method

Roast the squash cut side down in a roasting pan with 2tbsp water (to stop it drying out) 20-30 mins 200C, until the squash is soft enough to cut into chunks but still firm so it won’t disintegrate in the curry.

Grind ingredients for spice paste in a food processor/pestle and mortar (the latter will take heaps more time and elbow grease). If you’re a massive wimp, deseed the chillis.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan, fry the spice paste (rempah) until fragrant (a few minutes). Then add the tomato and fry a few minutes longer.

rempah

Brown the meat, then add the coconut milk and rest of the ingredients.

Simmmer for about 45 minutes or more, don’t let it boil too high or the meat will get dry.

Serve with white rice +++++

Kuih Bengka Ubi Kayu

kuihbengkaubikayu

“Kuih” is malay for cake, “bengka” means lard, in this case due to the appearance (kuihs are v dense, often chewy/ soft as tapioca/ glutinous rice/ rice flours are used); ubi kayu stands for tapioca.

In Malaysia, this would be made with fresh, grated tapioca, and cooked on a charcoal grill/ oven, so the top would be much more browned.

This kuih is one of the easiest to attempt outside of SE Asia if you have an oven, all ingredients are widely available from Asian/Chinese supermarkets.

Recipe adapted from this book; an incredible, compendium of Nonya recipes, thoroughly tried and tested by Straits Times food editors for modern and most Western kitchens.

Ingredients

500g grated tapioca (frozen pre grated is okay)
2tbsp tapioca flour
150 ml thick coconut milk
50-100g/ 1/4-1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp pandan essence (if you use extract, the colour will be a very (**ahem**) “vibrant”, likely radioactive, green

Method
Preheat oven to 180C/ Gasmark 5.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. It will be quite gloopy and liquidy, so just stir until evenly mixed.

kuihbengkaubikayu-ingredients.

Immediately, pour into a banana leaf/ grease proof paper lined 7″ baking tin (use a smaller/ bigger tin if you prefer a taller/ shorter kuih)

Bake for 40 minutes

kuihbengkaubikayu-prebaked

Remove kuih from oven, and turn heat to 250C.

When preheated, bake for a further 10 minutes or until the top turns darker brown/ slightly crisp.

Don’t bake too long, or the kuih body will be tough.

kuihbengkaubikayu-baked

Cool completely, then cut into small pieces approximately 1-2 inches in size, and serve.

Will keep for a couple of days, after that it becomes hard and cardboardy.

Bukkumi – Korean sticky rice flour pancake (red bean)

bukkumi

I used Maangchi’s recipe for bukkumi, which is ridiculously easy. In the video she says these can be made in 10 minutes; as this was my first attempt, I ran over slightly but only just.

I used Just Hungry’s red bean paste recipe.

And also tried a green bean/ mung bean filling using Maangchi’s recipe again.

Adding black sesame seeds for nuttiness and a lil crunch.

The bukkumi are fried but not particularly unhealthy as only a small amount of oil is used, a tsp or so, just enough to grease the pan.

bukkumi_raw

Place on a baking tray lined with cling film or plastic as they’re ready. No touching or they’ll stick together. Freeze them as is, bagging when frozen solid. They keep for up to a month or so, cook straight from frozen.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Ginger cookies

peanutchoccookies

Working from a base recipe of 4-6-10 (butter:sugar:flour), 1 egg per 100g/ 4 fl oz butter, substituting approximately half the butter for peanut butter and adding stem ginger syrup (or possibly honey) to make the cookies extra chewy.

Baking at 140C/280F for 20 minutes, should make the cookies crispy yet also chewy/ melty on the inside. This will vary from oven to oven, but, hey, practice makes perfect (?) They’ll pretty much always taste good, no matter what you put in, even if they don’t turn out exactly as intended.

Ingredients
2 oz/50g butter
2oz/ 50g peanut butter (approx 2 tbsp)
6 oz/150g sugar (brown/ white/ mix, doesn’t matter)
1 egg
2 pieces stem ginger, finely chopped, plus syrup
10oz/ 225g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder (optional)
100g chocolate chips
nuts, raisins, whatever you feel like.

Method
Melt the butter in a large heatproof bowl over simmering water.
Add the peanut butter, stir gently until blended, remove from heat.
Mix in the sugar, and then the egg, and stem ginger and syrup.
Mix in the dry ingredients (flour and raising agent, if using), until a smooth, firm dough is formed.
Mix in the chocolate chips/ nuts/ raisins etc.
Form into balls using heaped teaspoons, arrange onto a greased, lined baking sheet, gently flattening them with the back of the spoon.
Makes about 20-30 cookies depending on size.
Bake 140C/280F for 20 minutes. For crisper cookies, bake approximately 160C/320F for 15 minutes.

nb. dough can also be frozen (up to a month)/ refrigerated (up to about 3-5 days) until required.

NoT Halloween – Squash/Pumpkin pancakes – nán guā bǐng 南瓜饼

squash bing

I ate a lot of these in Beijing…

Chewy little pancakes, slightly crisp and nutty on the outside and chewy on the inside. Rolling in sesame seeds before frying adds nuttiness.

There are no exact measurements for this recipe, quantities vary according to the size and water content of the pumpkin.

Use roughly between 1:1 and 1:2; pumpkin: glutinous rice/ mochi flour.

Eat as they are, or with fruit and honey/condensed milk/ gula melaka syrup/ ice cream.. .

Ingredients

200g roasted pumpkin/ squash (roughly 1/2 squash)
200-300g glutinous rice flour/ mochi flour
sesame seeds (optional)
vegetable oil (for frying)

Method

Cut the pumpkin/ squash into large sections, remove seeds and roast for 30 minutes (or until soft) at 200C/390F.
Scoop the flesh out from the skins and mash, removing as many lumps as possible.
Weigh the squash (mass/ volume) and add equal amounts of glutinous rice flour.
Mix until a smooth dough is formed, adding more flour if necessary. It should be a bit like play-dough, will form a ball, not sticky.
If dough is too dry, sprinkle a teaspoon of water, gradually adding until the right consistency is formed.
Divide dough into balls about an inch or so in diameter (or however big you like ’em).
Roll in sesame seeds (if required).
If you have big balls (!) you can boil the bing first, to speed up the cooking time.
To boil: add the balls to a pan of boiling water, cook until they float to the top, then drain.
Heat a teaspoon or so of oil in a non-stick frying pan, and fry the balls until they’re golden brown on the outside.
If they seem to stick to the pan, they’re merely not done yet, so give them a little while longer.
Serve immediately and EAT with anything you like :)