Saturday, February 27, 2010

Honeydew Sago


Yuan xiao (元宵, teochew: 十五晚 chap ngo meh), the 15th day of the first lunar month, is both Lantern Festival and Valentine's Day for the Chinese. It also marks the last day of the Chinese New Year celebration. After meeting my relatives in my maternal grandma's house on the second day of new year, all the twelve aunties (including my mum) in the family will each cook up something and meet again to celebrate yuan xiao.

Sago is made from the starchy juice extracted from the trunk of a palm tree in New Guinea. When uncooked, the dry sago pearls look like the tiny styrofoam balls that form a styrofoam board. When cooked, it expands to twice its original size, turns translucent, soft and chewy.

The first time I had honeydew sago was during my primary school days. I remember eating it at a restaurant with my extended family for some celebration (either yuan xiao or my maternal grandma's birthday). The dessert (last dish) served was honeydew sago. Just like any typical restaurant, the dessert was brought to the table in a large serving bowl, then the waitress would scoop it into smaller bowls for our individual consumption. Both my cousin, YS, and I thought it was the most wonderful dessert we've ever tasted. We must have had at least two helpings then. ^^

Made this for tonight's celebration. It has been a hot sunny day today, I'm sure my dessert will be a welcomed dish tonight ^^

Honeydew Sago


One honeydew (or rockmelon), cut into cubes
150ml/half to three-quarter cup Water
300g Sugar*
125g/half a packet Sago
Lots of water (to boil sago)
250ml Coconut milk
1 litre Fresh milk

*Amount of sugar is approximately 20% the volume of liquids as water from the melted ice will further dilute the soup. My personal preference is 10-15%. without ice.

  • Boil sugar with 100ml water till sugar thoroughly dissolves. Cool the mixture. (I usually do this the night before)
  • Boil sago in big pot of water for 5 minutes, constantly stirring. (sago is only 50% cooked through at this time)
  • Rinse half-cooked sago in tap water to remove the starch.
  • Boil sago in fresh water again for another 5 minutes, constantly stirring (sago should be 90% cooked through now, translucent with some bits of whites still in the middle. I usually stop at 90% because continue cooking till 100% will result in over-expansion in other 90% of the sago and cause them to become too soft and gooey).
  • Rinse sago in tap water again, till sago is completely cooled.
  • Quickly mix cooked sago with the liquids in a serving pot (I used my Endo thermal pot. Mixing them quickly will prevent cooked sago to lump and stick together.)
  • Add honeydew and lots of ice. Serve.

 90% cooked sago ~

Brought a pot of honeydew sago to my niece's birthday party as well (I attended 2 gatherings tonight). Heard a guy murmuring "Yum yum" to his bowl of honeydew sago... I think he had at least 3 helpings just now... hahahaha... success! Yay! (^___^)v

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mini CNY Makan


"Mini CNY Makan" ~ this was the title of the email invite that Agnes sent out to us. The makan session this afternoon was not mini at all, it was a BIG feast with lots of good food to enjoy. Agnes, Ann, Boss, Rachel and all, thank you for waking up at 4am to prepare these wonderful dishes  ^__^

Yu sheng (鱼生) was the main highlight of today. There are three kinds of radishes in yu sheng: carrot, white radish, green radish. Green radish tastes fresh on the first bite, but slowly turns bitter and spicy after chewing on it more. Boss said that we should soak the shredded green radishes in water to remove the bitterness and spiciness.

Yu Sheng ~ contributed by Agnes

Chicken wings ~ contributed by Agnes, fried by Mag's maid

Salmon teriyaki ~ contributed by Rachel

Gyoza ~ contributed by Rachel

Anti-clockwise (left to right)
Fish cake ~ contributed by Margaret
Meatballs ~ contributed by Agnes
Chap chye ~ contributed by Boss

Curry chicken ~ contributed by Ann

Fried bee hoon ~ contributed by Ann

Fried dry mee siam ~ contributed by Ann

After looking at these pictures, Mr Tofu commented that we do anything but work. Sour grapes... Hahaha... ;)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Butter Cake


It is my family tradition to make butter cakes for the new year. Throughout the years, I have tried asking my mum why we have this tradition.

When I was young, she would tell me, "It's for Papa to eat while he works" - my dad was a taxi driver who worked 365 days a year. CNY was the time of the year where he gets the most 'customers'. The cake was probably my mum's way of showing love for my dad for working so hard on a day where most people would spend with their own family.

When I grew older, she would say, "The cake is for our relatives to snack on in case they are hungry."

Whether it's for our family's consumption, or a treat for relatives when they come over, I have taken over the role of making butter cakes in the recent years. Although I had mum's Hong Kong flour butter cake recipe, I made two cakes with recipes that I found on the internet (Hugbear's and Ju's recipe) this year. Both these recipes called for milk to be added as I wanted the end result to be moist.

Butter Cake
(adapted from Baking Mum)


250g Butter
180g Caster sugar
6 Eggs
300 Self-raising flour (sifted)
180ml Evaporated milk (Carnation Brand)

  • Preheat oven to 160`C. Line cake pan with baking paper.
  • Cream butter and caster sugar.
  • Add eggs one at a time and mix well.
  • Add evaporated milk and mix well.
  • Fold in flour into mixture and mix well.
  • Pour into lined cake pan and bake for 60 minutes*.

* Halfway through the baking, cut a slit in the middle of the cake to create the 'open' effect.

The second cake failed terribly. The batter looked very watery. I had miscalculated the amount of milk to be added.  The milk overdose caused the cake to turn into a 'kueh'... Hahahaha....

Gong Xi Fa Cai!
Happy Tigger Year!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pineapple Tarts

Being a career woman who only has three free hours per weeknight to play with, I can only afford to try out one kind of Chinese New Year goodie each year. Last year, I tried making kueh bangkit. This year, I decided to make pineapple tarts because it's both my mum and mother-in-law's favourite CNY goodie.

Chinese are very supersticious people, we like to have all kinds of 'lucky' things surrounding us during CNY so that we will have good luck for the rest of the year. One of my colleagues who doesn't cook will always keep a fish and some prawns in her freezer during CNY. That's because fish represents 年年有余 (a year of abundance) and prawns represents 笑哈哈 (full of laughter). After the new year, she will take the fish and prawns to her mum's place so that her mum can cook them for dinner. Imagine a person who doesn't cook doing this, so how can cooks not do something to increase their luck?!

My pineapple tarts will do the trick. Pineapple (黄梨) is pronounced as ong lye in dialect. Ong sounds like 旺 (good luck) while lye sounds like 来 (come). Add them up, it means good luck come come v(^___^)v

Experimented with Ju's melt-in-the-mouth pastry recipe with some variation in the butter and amount of corn flour. I came up with something that might suit my mum's fussy tastebuds.

Pineapple tarts
(adapted from The Little Teochew)


380g plain flour
70g corn flour
6 tbsp icing sugar
280g cold, salted butter cut into cubes
3 egg yolks, beaten
3 tbsp ice-cold water

  • Sieve the dry ingredients into a large bowl.
  • Add cold butter cubes into flour mixture and cut butter into tiny pieces, coating them with flour after each cut till it represents fine breadcrumbs.
  • Mix egg yolks with ice-cold water and add to 'breadcrumb' mixture.
  • Form the mixture into a dough. Do not knead or overhandle the dough.
  • Rest and chill dough for at least 20 minutes.
  • Roll dough out into 7mm thickness and cut dough with pineapple tart moulds.
  • Lay on baking tray and chill for 10 minutes.
  • Put pineapple jam onto the cookie.
  • Bake at 175`C for 20 minutes, turning the tray after 12 minutes of baking.

    Time for my favourite K-drama Daja's Spring now... Ciao! ^^
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