Mid Autmun Festival is upon us, and although it’s not a massive celebration, it’s quite hard to miss, with big bright boxes of mooncakes filling the entrance of most Asian grocery stores for months in the lead up.
I’m not really the forgetful type, so when there’s something that I just can’t seem to remember, no matter how hard I try, it really bugs me. Most of the time, if I think about it long enough, I eventually do remember it, but then there’s times when it never comes to me. Like these mochi- not that it’s important, but I can’t seem to remember where I used to have mochi as a kig! Was it yum cha? Was it from a bakery? Was it home made? All possible but still no closer to remembering.
It’s not something I had often as a kid, and to be honest, the only memories I have of eating any type of mochi are the frozen sort that we used to buy from the 7-eleven downstairs from my grandma’s place in HK when we used to visit. Infact, it was those mochi balls that inspired me to make (ice cream) mochi for the first time years ago.
We used to buy these steamed cakes from the Asian supermarket every once in a while- they were always cleverly placed near the checkouts so that whilst we were waiting in line, we’d be tempted by the bright colours of the many varieties available. My parents liked buying the nice round ones with red bean, but I liked the off cuts because it tasted the same, but you’d get a lot more than with the nicely shaped ones. They were always soft and chewy (unless we kept them for too long) with a fragrant pandan coconut taste but one packet was never quite enough for our family of four!
It took me a while, but I eventually managed to find the name of these cakes, and a recipe too! 🙂 Turns out they’re Vietnamese (although there’s Indonesian/Malaysian versions as well, they’re just not quite the same as the ones I used to have), and are made of tapioca, which gives them the nice chewy texture.
As I had all the ingredients in the pantry, and the method was quite simple (i.e. mix everything together and steam), I got to work quickly. There is a bit of skill involved in the layering- add the next layer too early and the two layers will mix, resulting in less defined layers (like my bottom later). Add the the next layer too late, and the layers will be too distinct and will peel off each other when cooled (like my top few layers).
To save time, I made mine all in a big pan and cut it into diamonds- they don’t look as impressive as the store-bought ones, but they tasted every bit as amazing! Only thing was they didn’t keep past a day, because they turned hard afterwards. It’s alright though- we could easily finish off the whole batch in one go next time anyway!
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
400mL coconut milk
2 cups tapioca starch/flour
1/2 cup Rice Flour
a few drops pandan essence
It’s only just starting to hit me that the holidays are ending soon, and I might never have this much time to bum around again until the end of the year 🙁 So I’ve gotten off my lazy butt and started doing the things I had meant to do since I came back from holidays.
Just yesterday, I turned on the oven for the first time since I came back and baked a couple of pots of creme caramel -a recipe which I’ve made a billion times (but have yet to upload onto this blog) But then I went to watch a movie …….and completely forgot about it until a whole hour later (double the time they should have spent in the oven). Strangely enough, they turned out to be the best batch I’ve ever made- almost perfectly smooth and silky (perhaps because my electric oven is a lot cooler than my gas one which I usually use?)
So yes, I’ve officially re-entered baking land and have started going through all those recipes I’ve bookmarked over the last couple of months (most of which I’d completely forgotten about). Meanwhile, here’s another chinese new year snack we made a while ago. I’m not quite sure how to name them but they’re basically a sweet coconutty batter (sort of like a pancake batter)deep fried until crispy- and they’re terribly addictive too!
To make, these, you need a special mould (like the one in the instructions on this site). I’m not sure whether you can buy them in Australia… We bought ours in Hong Kong- we’re buying one or two different moulds everytime we go to there now and are slowly building up our ‘special mould’ collection 🙂 So I might have a few interesting Asian snacks up on this blog soon!(egg waffles anyone?)
140g plain flour
1 cup each of coconut milk and evaporated milk, mixed
1. Beat the sugar and the ggs until fluffy
2. Add flour and mized milk in batches alternately to the egg mixture. This should be done in 4 additions (beat thoroughly after each addition). Set aside for 1 hour.
3. Heat oil (to deep fry) to meadium heat. Place mould in the oil for a few seconds (until hot) and then remove from oil.
4. Coat mould with flour mixture carefully (dip the mould into the batter)
5. Place the mould in the hot oil. The cooked rings will separate from the mould after frying (we used chopsticks to help them off). Deep fry until golden brown. Drain well and place in an airtight container when cold- they should keep for 1-2 months.
Note: If the oil is too hot, the rings will become brown really quickly and not shape well