Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hakka Yam Abacus Beads Noodles

This noodle dish is a Hakka cuisine. We love eating this small cute little noodles. But surprisingly this noodle is not easily available from Chinese restaurants or hawker centres. So in order to enjoy this noodle, I made this a couple of months ago and am sharing it today with Little Thumbs Up January 2015 : Pasta/Noodles. 

These little rounded noodles are made up of mashed steamed yam and tapioca flour, which is mixed with a little boiling water, to form a dough. The dough is then made into small round balls (about the size of a small cherry tomato),  with one side pressed in the centre to make an indentation (resembling the abacus). The balls of noodles are then dropped into hot boiling water, drained and stir-fried as a noodle meal. 

A plate of Hakka Yam Abacus Beads Noodles

To make the yam abacus, firstly yam is steamed and mashed, then mix with some tapioca flour, and a little hot boiling water to make a dough. Pinches of dough is formed into small round balls, with an indentation on one side (use the back of a round chopstick), to resemble an abacus. They are then dropped into a pot of boiling water to cook, and when they start to float up, they are cooked. Remove and drain, they are now ready to be stir-fried.

The abacus beads noodles are soft on the outside with chewy centre, and is usually stir-fried with meat, mushrooms, soy sauce, oyster sauce and garnished with lots of crispy fried shallots and chopped spring onions. Serve hot, though they are great when eaten at room temperature too. A small plate is really quite filling! I love eating it with a condiment of sliced hot bird's eye chillies with a dash of light soy sauce.

Hakka Yam Abacus Beads Noodles
(adapted from "Delightful Snacks & Dim Sum", Agnes Chang)
600gm yam, cut into chunks, steamed until soft and mashed finely
300gm tapioca flour
1 tsp salt
some boiling water to mix, if necessary (I used about 3-4 tbsps)

2000ml water
2 tbsp oil

4 tbsp oil
1 tbsp chopped garlic and shallots
3 tbsp dried prawns, soaked
2 tbsp dried squid shreds, soaked (omitted)
200gm minced meat
3 dried Shiitake mushrooms, soaked till soften, and cut to thin slices
3 tbsp black fungus, soaked, shredded (ommited)

Seasoning :
1 tbsp fish sauce (I replaced with oyster sauce)
1 tbsp chicken stock granules (I use 1/2 tsp)
1 tsp dark soy sauce
salt to taste (I use light soy sauce)
1/4 tsp white pepper powder
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 cup water

Garnishing :
1 egg, fried into thin omelette, shredded (omitted)
some chopped spring onion, red chillies and fried shallots

  1. Combine mashed yam and tapioca flour, mix into a pliable dough, adding some boiling water if necessary. Divide into small portions and form into the shape of abacus. (pinch some rolls of dough, the size of a small cherry tomato, roll in between your palms into a round and make an indent in the centre with your fingertip). Cook in rapidly boiling water until they float to the surface. Remove and place the abacus rounds into a pot filled with cool water. Repeat until all the abacus rounds are cooked. Drain and place in a large bowl. Mix with 2 tbsp oil. Keep aside.
  2. Heat up 4 tbsp oil, saute chopped garlic and shallots until fragrant. Add in dried prawns, dried squid shreds and stir-fry until aromatic. Add minced meat, mushroom shreds, black fungus shreds and stir-fry until fragrant. Add in seasoning and bring to the boil. Stir in yam abacus and stir-fry until dry. Taste and dish up. 
  3. Garnish with shredded omelette, spring onion, red chillies, fried shallots and serve hot.

I'm linking this post to :
Little Thumbs Up January 2015 : Pasta/Noodles organised by Zoe of Bake For Happy KidsDoreen of My Little Favourite D.I.Y, and hosted by Anne of My Bare Cupboard.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Brown-Butter-and-Vanilla-Bean Weekend Cake

This week's bake at Tuesdays With Dorie (TWD) where we are currently baking from the lovely book "Baking Chez Moi", by Dorie Greenspan is Brown-Butter-and-Vanilla-Bean Weekend Cake. 

According to Dorie, "The French call this a weekend cake because it will last all weekend, and it's good with so many kinds of weekend meals and outings."

I've made the cake twice, the first time, I've used a hand whisk. The cake did not really rise, the texture inside is full of holes, obviously I may have done something wrong during the mixing of the batter! But the cake tasted really good! 

The first bake ; lots of holes and did not rise that much at all.

Interestingly, this cake is baked in a loaf pan which is placed on two baking sheets that are stacked up together with the top sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.

The second bake : turned out really nice.

Made the cake the second time, this time using the stand mixer with the balloon whisk attachment, from the whisking of the eggs, right through to the adding of the brown butter, which is the last step before baking. The cake bakes up really nice, well risen and moist, with lovely golden crust. I was really impatient to slice into it, but did as Dorie suggested, to wrap it in plastic wrap and leave it overnight for the flavours to develop. 

When I sliced it the next morning, I was all smiles as the crumbs are moist, there's no holes like the first time I've made it, and it smells really nice with the vanilla. It has a tight, dense but soft crumbs. The cake is buttery with the lovely scent of the vanilla and the light fragrance from the rum.  The only changes I made was to reduce the sugar to 180gm from the original 250gm, and the sweetness was just right for us. I've used salted butter and have omitted the salt. And I've lined the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, though it was not mentioned in the recipe, I always do that with my bakes.

As for the browning of the butter, Dorie mentioned that it takes just seconds for the butter to turn from a deep honey-brown to black, so keep a lookout for it, do not turn your back on it! (just love her friendly and easy to understand instructions!). I'm so relieved that I've managed to brown the butter to a deep honey-brown without any blunders! :)

I like eating thin slices of this cake, with a cup of warm tea. Though it cannot be seen clearly from the photo, the tiny specks of vanilla seeds are all over the cake. A tasty buttery fragrant cake!

To see the other bakers take on this cake, do stop by Tuesdays With Dorie (TWD).

and I'm sharing this post with :


Monday, January 26, 2015

Stir-Fried Kailan with Ginger, Garlic and Chilli

"Veggie Variations", the theme for this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). It's veggie week! I've harvested some homegrown Kai Lan from my potted garden and made Diana Henry's stir-fried veggie dish. She uses Kale, which I have not eaten nor seen before, so I've used my homegrown Kai Lan which is also known as Chinese Kale. I do wonder whether is the taste similar to Kale.

Kai Lan from my potted garden

A simple stir-fried dish, our version is pretty much similar to Diana Henry's  recipe ingredients. She has pre-boiled the Kale before stir-frying them, but I have omitted that step since I've used Kai Lan. A nice dish to serve for dinner along side some other dishes to eat with fluffy hot white rice.

Stir-fried Kale with Ginger, Garlic and Chilli
(adapted from "Food From Plenty", Diana Henry)
400gm (14oz) kale (I use my homegrown kai lan, cut into pieces, separating the stems and leaves)
2 tbsp oil
1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2cm (3/4in) fresh root ginger, peeled and chopped
4 spring onions, chopped

  1. Remove the ribs from the kale and tear or shred the leaves. Put into a large saucepan, cover with boiling water. Add salt and cook for about 4 minutes, then drain. (I use kailan, and omitted this step).
  2. Heat oil in a wok and fry the chilli, garlic, ginger and spring onions for 2 minutes (don't let the garlic burn). Add the kale. Cook for 1-1/2 minutes, turning to absorb the flavours. Season, squeeze over fresh lime juice and serve. (Add the stems, cook for about 2 minutes, then add the leaves, cook for a further 3-4 minutes. I did not use lime juice).

I'm linking this post to I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week "Veggie Variations"

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