Healthy Kitchen Smells Fresh

October 30, 2008

Mee Siam

Filed under: Asians, Cooking, Gluten-Free, Life, Malaysians, Noodles — nshahida @ 8:17 am

Noodle is one top-ranked favorite in my household, any kind of noodles.. – rice noodle, egg noodle , pad Thai noodle , soba and etc. We can eat noodles everyday! Well not that crazy.. Those who are sailing the same noodle-crazy boat would understand what I am saying.

In answer to our ‘all time’ need for noodles , we plan our menu once per week noodle dish for moderation. Alhamdulillah, moderation makes us satisfied enough! ( Smile)

One of the best dishes , I’d say the winner to my husband is mee siam or Siamese noodle . Mee Siam is stir fried noodle comes with spicy sweet sour gravy. With all those garnishing makes it look perfect and mouth watering. Siamese noodle? I am not certain if I translated it right so am I for it’s ‘hometown’. Do they actually have this kind of dish in Thailand? I really am curios!! Or may be we Malaysians just randomly created our own for the obvious sweet sour flavor also known as flavor of Thai.

The flavor is quite overpowering yet soothing to your tongue and throat . When I say throat, I am no kidding.. it really does the job, masyaAllah! can you consider this as a natural remedy for sore throat or may be cold? waAllahu ‘alam.. to me,it’s quite comforting for a taste of Asia.

Now, How did I get the recipe?

I asked people around for the recipe and from my observation, different people make their Mee Siam differently and not to mention, tastes good on it’s own way and that sweet sour flavor isn’t going anywhere but there.. still there.

Some people love it with  rich creamy sweet sour gravy , the others prefer Mee Siam as is. I am in that “the others” category. I prefer the one with no coconut milk added.Thus,I finally ended up with one recipe , to my humble opinion is good. ! I ultimately made my own comparable mee siam to a husband who has been missing his grandma’s so badly eventhough mine isn’t as good.

This recipe is updated by the combination of hundreds sources I referred to. MasyaAllah, they were all such a great help . And I’ve been using this recipe until today…

Mee Siam (Serves 4 – 5 people) [for Allergy-free version, See below notes]

Ingredients:

1 Package vermicelli rice noodles ( prepare the noodles by soaking in warm water for 20 minutes or until pliable soft but not too soft and drained, set aside)

2 Cups fresh shrimps or thinly sliced chicken breast or beef (See Notes)

2 Cups bean sprouts

4 Stalks green onions, slice 1 inch length

5 Stalks green mustard/ bok choy, slice 1 inch length

3 Tablespoons sugar

Salt to taste

1 ½ Cup water

3 Tablespoons canola oil

To Blend:

4 Tablespoons chili paste ( for extra hot)

½ Cup soy paste or taucheo (available in Asian grocery stores)

2 Large yellow onions

2 Cloves garlic

1 Teaspoon shrimp paste or belacan (available In Asian grocery stores)

1/3 Cup dried shrimp (available in Asian grocery stores)

Blend all together till well blended.

Garnishing:

Malaysian spicy chili sauce ( See Recipe below)

3 boiled eggs , slice in quarter

2 key limes or limes, slice in half

1 Cup chopped green onions

Fried shallots

Method :

Heat a large wok on medium – high heat. Drizzle canola oil and let it heated for couple minutes. Pour in the blended ingredients and sauté until fragrant and dark red is

paste formed.

Spoon out half of the paste and set aside for later use in gravy. Continue to cook the other half. Add salt, sugar.. Adjust salt to your taste. Add the vermicelli rice noodles, sliced green mustards, sliced green onions. Toss well and until completely cook. (the noodles should be softened when it’s cooked)

For Gravy:

Add in the other half ( the one that has been set aside) in a medium pot, pour water in. Bring it to a boil on medium high heat. Add in salt, adjust accordingly. Keep stirring.

If adding beef or chicken, go ahead add now and let the meat completely cooked and tender.

If adding shrimp, add a few minutes before turning off and removing the pot from the heat. (See Notes)

Malaysian Hot Chili Sauce:

Ingredients:

Blend together :

1 Large yellow onion

2 Cloves garlic

4 – 5 tablespoons chili paste

Other Ingredients:

Sugar and salt to taste ( not too much)

1 Tablespoon vinegar or lime juice

1 Tablespoon canola oil

Method:

On medium high heat, place a small wok or pot and drizzle the oil. Let it heated. Add the blended paste , sauté until brownish red and fragrant. Add sugar, salt accordingly. Spoon in vinegar/lime juice. Continue to cook until slightly thick and pasty.

Preparing Mee Siam:

In a bowl of stir fired noodle, pour in the gravy. Garnish with boiled egg and lime. Spoon a dollop of Malaysian chili sauce and sprinkle with green onion and fried shallot.

For Soy-free, shellfish free, and egg free version:

– Taucheo or soy paste is made from soy bean, if you can’t use it, just add 1 tablespoon thick tamarind juice , a little bit more salt and Palm sugar.

– Dried shrimp can be subbed with chicken bouillon. Also try to replace water with low sodium chicken broth if you can.

– You can omit the belacan or shrimp paste

– Boiled egg can also be omitted for garnishing.

P/S – All the subbing will change the flavor of real mee siam.. The main flavor from the dish is sweet-sourness from tamarind and taucheo. Adjusting the tamarind juice, sugar and salt will help to get the true taste closer but not the same. At least you still are being able to enjoy it.. right?

Notes Of The Day

1- If you choose beef as your meat of choice, submerge the meat into hot boiled water and let it tender and cooked. Save the beef stock for gravy instead of water.

2- For gravy – to keep the sweetness and tenderness of the shrimp, add it in the gravy during the last minutes you cook the gravy; for the last 3 minutes. Otherwise you will end up with tough and rubbery shrimp.

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October 29, 2008

Karipap : Fry it or bake it?

Filed under: Bakings, Malaysians, Savories — nshahida @ 8:57 am
Baked Karipap - served with hot tea

Baked Karipap - served with hot tea

Karipap or curry puff is one of the most favorite savories among Malaysians – Malay, Chinese , Indian and others, we all love it. If I am not wrong, people from South Malaysia and Singaporeans call karipap as epok-epok. Basically, it is a mini pie with meat potato curry filling. Sometimes with black pepper meat or shrimp and veggie filling or just tuna; either way works great. The crust/wrapper made from all purpose flour, water and butter/oil/shortening ( to crisp them up) just like making pie crust . Divide the dough to small balls, roll them up, spoon the filling in the middle, wrap and crimp and ready to swim in the pre-heated oil. For more variation, puff pastry dough is also used as a wrapper and we call it spiral curry puff . Long story short, this great snack is easy to make and very fulfilling to be savored and definitely make your day.

Since my husband loves karipap, I make this mini pie almost once per 2 months.. I personally make my karipap wrapper with oil and alhamdulillah, it has never failed me… so far! I make 2 batches of the recipe I’ve been using since the first time I made my own karipap , Thanks a gazillion to mom for the great recipe. It yields 30 to 40 karipaps alhamdulillah – depending on size. It sounds a looottt for 2 eaters…don’t get me wrong.! We don’t eat the whole batch at a time, I freeze them for later light snacking. It usually last us 1 to 2 months or longer.

The final process making the karipap is.. of course to cook them. Deep frying freaks me out, to be honest, I am not much of a deep fryer.. I do deep fry , but only 1 -2 times per month.. yes, I count it! Avoiding deep frying in making Malaysian snacks or savories seemed impossible. Totally giving up those signature Malaysian ‘kuih’ is even more impossible to me .So one day, hubby suggested to bake those karipap in the oven.. Thanks to him!! It sounded appealing and was I down to it . The result we got was as crisp but slightly dry compared to the deep fried one yet still moist from the inside and delicious.The most important thing is I finally get a tasty non-hydrogenated oiled and less guilt karipap.. alhamdulillah! Eversince, we use the same method when making karipap over and over again. See.. It’s now possible to enjoy Malaysian pie without having to fry ‘em.

Now, the only problem people might get confused with is crimping the edge of your karipap. You can actually pinch the edge with fork or get a karipap cutter , easy right? However, I am not certain if karipap cutter is available outside Malaysia and Singapore . I will try to search and post a photo of the cutter mentioned here. I myself crimp the edge to make it look pretty and more traditional. Yes I admit, crimping karipap is challenging at first but believe me, it will develop very quickly. InsyaAllah, I will try to create a video on how-to’s .

Enough about my version of karipap’s ‘wiki’ , why don’t we go straight to the recipe.

Hot karipap

Karipap or Curry Puff

Ingredients:

Dough:

2 ¼ Cups All Purpose flour (approximately 260grams)

2 Tbsp rice flour

1 Tbsp cornstarch

A pinch of salt

1/3 Cup oil

1/3 Cup plus 1-2 Tbsp water ( Ice cold would be great ) – See Notes

Method :

Stir together salt and flour. Slowly pour the oil and water in the flour and continue to mix them together to achieve a consistency of not sticky or crumbly dough, if crumbly, add 1-2 tbsp. water. Set aside for 20 – 30 minute to let the gluten rest. DO NOT overwork the dough. (See Notes)

Divide the dough to 12 portions ( if making small size karipap) and roll with your hand until a small ball dough is formed. Ready to prepare the karipap.( See preparing karipap below)

Filling :

½ Lbs ground beef, ground chicken or my favorite, chopped shrimps
1 large yellow onion , diced

2 medium potatoes , peeled and cubed

1 carrot , cubed
2 stalks green onion and Chinese celery , chopped

2 Tablespoons Korma spice powder

2 Tablespoons ground black pepper

1 Teaspoon ground white pepper
1 Tablespoon coriander powder
1 Teaspoon cumin powder
1 Tablespoon fennel powder
salt to taste

2 Tablespoons canola oil

Method : In a medium pan, drizzle the cooking oil and heat on medium high heat . Add the diced onion and sauté until fragrant.

Add in ground meat of choice and continue stirring until half cooked. Then add all ground spices ( korma, black and white peppers, cumin, coriander , fennel) and the diced potatoes and stir every 2 minutes until potatoes are tender then start adding cubed carrots, green onions and Chinese celery .

Add salt and ground black pepper if necessary. When cooked, remove from heat and let it cool. ( See Notes)

Preparing karipap
Roll flat the dough. . ( not too thick or too thin)

Spoon the COOLED filling in the middle of the flat dough.

Fold over and crimp the edge of the dough to seal in the filling. Repeat the whole process with the remaining dough.

Fry in preheated oil till golden brown or like I do, bake in preheated 350F (170C) oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown . Make sure you flip the other side over half way through. so the karipaps are cooked evenly.

Prebaked karipaps ready to hybernate in the freezer.

Prebaked karipaps ready to hybernate in the freezer.

Make ahead : You can make karipap ahead by pre baking for 15 minutes or until light brown. Pop out, let it cooled and place in freezer/Ziploc bag, freeze it. It last for 3-4 months …may be more. Whenever you feel like snacking with it, thaw the frozen karipap for 30 minutes at room temperature or couple hours in the fridge.. pop in the oven or deep fry until golden brown and ready. Easy peasy!!

Comparing baked karipap (top) anddeep fried karipap (bottom)

Comparing baked karipap (top) and deep fried karipap (bottom)

Fried Karipaps

Fried Karipaps

Notes Of The Day:

  1. Using ice cold water is preferable because it retards the gluten (protein) development to your dough and makes the crust/wrapper crunchy and flaky.
  2. Overwork the dough means overdevelop the gluten in the flour and may end up with tough and soggy karipap.. you don’t want that.
  3. Making sure the filling is completely cooled to avoid it oozes out while frying or even before frying, it’s not pretty to see your karipap get torn here and there.
  4. For crisper baked karipap, use vegetable shortening or butter if you don’t mind once in a while higher fat snacks.. I don’t mind too!! or if you can get non-hydrogenated butter will be great – I am not sure in any other countries, but in the US and Canada.. non-hydrogenated oil butter and trans-fat free shortening can be easily found in local grocery stores and organic stores.

October 26, 2008

Ginger and Chicken , No Oyster

Filed under: Chinese, Cooking, Gluten-Free, Malaysians, Nature — nshahida @ 9:01 pm

Both my husband and I love ginger. In my cooking, ginger is almost a must- to -be- part of the fresh ingredients ; when it comes to Asian foods – Malaysian’s and Chinese’s especially.

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There are loads of benefits you will get by consuming ginger.. everyday. Let’s see some of the advantages it provides you:

  • It fights nausea better than the over- the counter anti-nausea drugs Diamamine .
  • The root herb soothe an upset stomach.
  • It  helps lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol.
  • Helps prevent the blood clot that trigger heart attack.
  • Boost immune system.

This is based on scientific research , please refer to source : Nature’s Cures

If you have one of these probs, you might want to give ginger a try. There are several form of remedies made 100% from ginger can be found in local grocery store, Asian Store and Nutrition Store or Pharmacy – capsules, powder or even grated fresh root.

Sliced ginger and ready to use

Sliced ginger and ready to use

As for me and husband, alhamdulillah , we enjoy each doses of ginger from hot tea, hot milk and home cooking meals. One of my daily cookings that helps us consume more ginger is what you see from the above mentioned title – chicken ginger.

Originally, oyster sauce is used for flavoring and provides authenticity of Chinese cuisines.. I think! But this time, I decided to make Chicken Ginger without oyster sauce because we were out of it , besides I could make it an Allergy-Free version who craves for the real taste of this wonderful chicken cuisines but can’t do shellfish – oyster, scallop, shrimp, squid and anything made from one of these. In my humble opinion, by using sesame oil for sauteing really gives the true taste of Chicken Ginger , and yes.. do not omit the ginger; that’s where the main flavor and aroma comes from. So make sure you have dark or light sesame oil in hands ;it can be found almost anywhere now.

The substitute I used in place for oyster sauce was based on my grandma’s whom I adore her cooking soooo much, she is absolutely a great cook to the whole family. I guess everybody thinks their grandma’s foods are the best.MasyaAllah, my grandma doesn’t use oyster sauce much in her cookings yet still get the wonderful flavor and of course taste. She loves tamarind and palm sugar in most of her recipes . The idea of subbing these 2 ingredients came up then. Thanks grandma! I love you…!!

I forgot to measure each ingredients in detail because it was a quick ‘experiment’ . The good news is the Chicken Ginger turned out as good even though no oyster sauce added. The actual taste is still there.. alhamdulillah!

Ok, let’s see what we need to make No Oyster Sauce Chicken Ginger. Please adjust salt and sugar to your taste.

Chicken Ginger

Ingredients:

To marinate:

1 1/2 lbs chicken breast , sliced

1/2 cube chicken bouillon

1 tsp. white pepper powder

1 Tbsp. cornstarch (See Notes)

Combine all together and marinate for 20 – 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Mix together :

1 or 2 Tbsp. palm sugar

1/3 Cup thick tamarind juice

1/4 Cube chicken bouillon (See Notes)

Mix all until sugar and bouillon are completely dissolved.

Other fresh Ingredients:

2 Inches ginger root, thinly sliced

1 large yellow onion, roughly sliced

3 Cloves garlics, pounded

2 Tbsp. dark sesame oil ( See Notes)

1 Cup thinly sliced carrots

1 Cup green peppers , slice 3 inches length

1 Cup red peppers , slice 3 inches length

1Tbsp. Cornstarch mix in 1/4 – 1/3 Cup water

Salt , palm sugar and white pepper to taste ( See Notes)

Garnishing : Chopped green onions , fried shallot, toasted sesame seeds

Method:

Heat a medium sized pan on medium-high, drizzle 2 Tbsp sesame oil and let it heat for 1 minutes or 2.

Add in sliced ginger and marinated chicken and saute for 2 minutes. Stir every few minutes until the chicken just slightly crisp and fragrant from the ginger .( Do not cook the chicken too long especially chicken breast , this is to keep the chicken moist and tender)

Stir in the onions, peppers and carrots until they begin to soften. About 4 – 5 minutes. Pour the sweet sour mixture ( tamarind, palm sugar, chicken cube) , let it boil. Lower the heat to low , slowly pour cornstarch mixture, keep stirring to avoid lumps.Add more water if necessary . Let it thicken , add salt/sugar / white pepper to your taste. Garnish with chopped green onion, fried shallot and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

Serve immediately with hot rice.

Served with hot jasmine rice

Notes Of The Day

  1. If you can’t use or out of cornstarch, replace with potato starch or sweet ( glutinous) rice flour . These too are great option to thicken your sauce.
  2. If you can’t find chicken cube ( the halal) in your place, vegetable bouillon would be find.
  3. Use Dark sesame oil for best result. light sesame works too. Like olive oil, grape seed oil and other low saturated fat oil… sesame seed oil provides health benefit to us and help lower cholesterol. If canola oil all you have, that’s find! .. it just the real flavor you will miss. Try not to use olive oil.. it works terribly.
  4. I didn’t have to add salt and extra sugar – chicken cube contains salt.  I only had to add a little more white pepper –  I wanted it hot and spicy.

October 25, 2008

Baguette

Filed under: Cooking, Savories, Soups, Vegetarian — nshahida @ 8:51 pm

As promised from the previous entry , I made this french bread after I’ve been craving for so long to make it my own. The texture was perfectly crispy from the outside and gooey chewy from the inside.. great for lunch! It took me a good 4 hours to get it done but alhamdulilah.. not so bad for the first timer making baguette! I truly satisfied.. I really am.

I followed this recipe to the letter. It might look tonnes of work required .. it’s not!

Slice ’em, ready to go..

Made Garlic Bread – Broil it for 3 minutes, drizzle with grape seed oil ( you can use extra virgin olive oil or may be canola oil; normally spread with butter but I am in the no-trans fat mood) , spread with toasted garlic and sprinkle with sea salt. Put it back in the oven , broil for 3 more minutes.. done!

Serve it with hot pumpkin soup or soup of your choice and you are good to go!!….Have a great lunch! 😀

October 24, 2008

Coconut Ice Cream for all of you.

Filed under: Desserts, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Vegetarian — nshahida @ 12:08 pm

Does coconut sound familiar to you?  to my knowledge , It does for people who live in a tropical country such as South East Asia and some part of Africa. Probably in Hawaii and Caribbean they use coconut a lot too. As for Malaysians, we are grown up with coconut milk , everyday.. ok , I am exaggerating . Not daily but it is “all time available” in the kitchen and we still using it today.

Nowadays, I see Vegans in America and Canada..(I am sure from any other countries too ) use coconut milk a lot for milk alternative in their cooking. This is especially to achieve rich creamy and flavorful dishes as they can get from dairy products/foods.

Ok, I am not a coconut expert so enough about it. What I am about to share you is coconut ice cream that I actually whimped out to even experiment with. Alhamdulillah, I did. I was inspired by a friend , can I just say she is like a sister to me who very much loves ice cream for it’s richness . Let me make it clear, she is not very much into dessert but ice cream.. definitely the only. And recently she can’t tolerate anything dairy for some reason ( let me ask her if she’s ok to say it out loud here, ok I decided not to) . As she mentioned about ice cream made from rice milk, my first impression was not so creamy and more on sorbet-y side.. am I right ? correct me If I am not!

I then raced home and did some research about other milk alternative for ice cream.. something came up in my mind.. what about giving coconut milk a chance! Did some research again, I found a lot for coconut ice cream recipe but for allergy free just seemed impossible. I decided to experiment myself BUT referring from several sources from dairy to vegan. I finally made homemade ice cream that is especially allergy-free ( if you can eat coconut ) and you will never ever miss dairy ice cream.. again!

Thanks a bunch to them for their helpful tips about making ice cream , I will try to update the links I referred to InsyaAllah Please stay tuned! And thanks a zillion to her also for the inspiration that leads me to this.

And for those out there , don’t be afraid to try this recipe.

Vanilla Coconut Ice Cream

Ingredients:

1 ½ Cups coconut milk (See Notes)

½ Tsp. agar-agar powder (See Notes)

Pinch of Salt

1 Tsp. vanilla extract

1/3 Cup white sugar

1 Tbsp. apricot preserve ( See Notes)

1 Tbsp. tapioca starch ( See Notes)

2 Tbsp. coconut oil

2 Tsp. lime juice

Method:

1 – In a small pot or sauce pan , combine 1 cup of coconut milk , agar-agar powder and salt.  Allow to sit, covered on your countertop.

2 – Cook over medium-low heat until agar-agar is completely dissolved, keep stirring to avoid lumps and burn on the bottom of the pot.

3 – When the mixture starts to boil, turn the heat to low. Stir in white sugar, apricot preserve and continue stirring until the sugar dissolved. At this point, the mixture should be thick ( not too thick) .

4 – If everything (sugar and agar) is completely dissolved, ( the key to determine whether it’s dissolved or not; spoon just a little bit of the mixture with a metal spoon or rubber spatula , when you can still see bits of agar then it’s not ready yet.. keep stirring.)

5 – If everything is all dissolved, remove from the heat and immediately, pour the mixture in a deep shallow bowl. Using a hand blender ( immersion blender) , blend thoroughly to achieve smooth and silky mixture. (this process is to making sure that bits from apricot preserve and agar are perfectly blended.) – if you don’t have immersion blender, regular blender or food processor works well too.

6 – Now, while it’s still warm you can start adding tapioca starch bit by bit. Again use immersion blender / blender/ food processor to bring them all together. Let the the mixture sit at room temperature until it start to firm up and then refrigerate until solid and chilled.

7 – Again, blend again with your blender until smooth and velvety. Slowly pour the remaining coconut milk, coconut oil and lime juice until well mixed. ( See Notes)

8 – Chilled again for 20-30 minutes (for best result chilled overnight) so the ingredients can get to know each other. When it’s ready, pour in ice cream machine and follow the manufacturing instruction. Process 20 – 30 minutes, pour in air tight container and allow to freeze for 20 minutes before served.

OR

If you are not using ice cream machine, beat with heavy duty electric mixer for at least 10 minutes on high speed until it fluff up. Place in the freezer for 60 minutes to allow chilling and repeat the same process for 3-4 times. I know it sounds a lot of work but it worth the effort, insyaAllah.

Notes Of The Day:

1 – Please please please use full fat coconut milk, it won’t work if using lite coconut milk.. you will not get that creamy velvety ice cream. Shake the can first before using.

2 – If agar-agar powder isn’t available in your kitchen, use agar flakes BUT the amount used will definitely change, instead of 1/2 Tsp. try 1 1/2 Tsp of agar flakes but I can’t really vouch that.

3 – For tapioca starch, you can sub with cornstarch or xanthan gum since it helps thickening and avoid crystalization for frozen dessert.

4 – In step 7 , you can add your own variation by adding frozen fruits such as banana, raspberry, strawberry and etc. I tried banana and it turned out great.. alhamdulillah.

5 – Oh before I forgot, adding apricot preserve actually enhances the flavor and also helps from crystalization when freezing.

Enjoy!!

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