We’ve finally reached the third installment in the Bak Chang series and today, I will feature our family Bak Chang recipe. Now, this recipe is definitely not for beginners as a considerable amount of skill and estimation on ingredients are required. You see, with home-cooked food, we don’t measure ingredients using measuring spoons or cups. Rather, it’s a lot to do with estimation or what the locals call “agak-agak” (“estimate”). So, this recipe is a guide for you so that you roughly know what ingredients go into the Bak Chang and how is is prepared and cooked.
This Bak Chang recipe is quite close to the Nyonya Bak Chang especially in the taste department. It is probably world’s apart from Cantonese Bak Chang which tends to be a bit on the saltish side and contains bigger chunks of ingredients. Those who are fond of eating saltish Bak Changs might find this not suited to their palate because our Bak Chang recipe is sweet and saltish with a slight emphasis on the former. Nevertheless, for those who are craving for a slightly sweetish Bak Chang, this might be the recipe you are looking for. In this recipe, we are looking at making approximately 25 Bak Changs depending on how you wrap the Bak Chang.
This is our family recipe for Bak Chang Read the rest of this entry »
Bak Chang (or Zongzi), meat enclosed in glutinous rice filling, is traditionally eaten in June for the Chinese. It stemmed from the Dragon Boat Festival which falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar, to commemorate the death of Qu Yuan, a famous Chinese poet from the kingdom of Chu who lived during the Warring States period. Of course, in this day and time, eating Bak Chang is more of a “seasonal food” though it is not uncommon to see Bak Chang being sold all year round.
I have been brought up to eat Bak Chang made by my parents and for me, our homemade Bak Zhang is incomparably delicious. Many of our relatives will ask for a couple of these southern-styled Bak Zhang whenever they hear my parents making them. Our family Bak Zhang is closely related to the Nyonya Bak Zhang in taste though the presentation is a little different. The pork is cut into bits rather than cubes (which are more common with Cantonese-Styled Bak Zhang) and freshly-toasted coriander seeds (also known as Ketumbar) which are blended into powder are used.
Just like our family Popiah recipe, our Bak Zhang recipe is also lengthy and labourious but the hardwork comes with immediate satisfaction as these delicious dumplings are savoured over a cup of chinese tea. When I was in my teens, I could eat about 4 of these Bak Zhangs in one sitting! There were even times when I had them for breakfast and lunch and had to be stopped from eating them for dinner on the same day because mum was worried about my over-indulgence!
Anyway, this will be a 3 part series on Bak Zhang. Following up from this post will be an exclusive video on wrapping Bak Zhang expertly performed by my parents. It’s nice to see my dad and mum combining their skills to create these delicious Bak Zhangs. The finale will be the unveiling of our family’s secret recipe for bak zhang in the hope that it can be passed on to the rest of the world. So, do watch this space!
Popiah or Popia is a dish which my mum usually cook during Ching Ming Festival (April). I have yet to learn this dish because it is labourous and demanding. I must say that I am quite biased (and with good reasons) with Popiahs because to me, only mum’s Popiah is the best (and many others say so too). Her Popiah is unlike what is sold commercially as it contains more than 10 ingredients and the vegetables are painstakingly cut into fine slivers (just slightly thicker than a toothpick) rather than going through a shredding tool. It is no wonder then that relatives would “book” a few (or quite a lot) rolls of Popiah whenever they hear that she is making some.
According to mum, there can be no shortcut to making a good Popiah. The ones sold outside which are predominantly turnip and carrot filling just don’t do justice to how a good Popiah should be made and taste like. Even the sauce spread is sourced from southern Johor / Singapore – sweet flour sauce. I suppose this is because coming from Pontian, our tastebud is much influenced by what’s available down south. And that’s not all, Popiah skin which is specially ordered from the market is used rather than the ones sold in supermarket and kept frozen. Yes, we are very particular indeed in making a good tasting Popiah.
When I asked mum for the recipe for this Popiah, I was stuck actually because mum does not use a measuring type of recipe. Rather, just like how cooking is like second nature, the ingredients and seasoning are a matter of estimates or what we Malaysians call “agak-agak”. Hence, I had to help her to make a rough estimate of the ingredients used to make this delicious dish of Popiah. If you are game for a cooking challenge, try this Popiah recipe especially if you can get your hands on the exact ingredients available. You won’t be disappointed.
This is mum’s recipe for Popiah Read the rest of this entry »
Wheat Gluten or called miÃ n jÄ«n in Chinese (traditional : éºµç‹, simplified : é¢ç‹, literally “noodle/dough tendon”; also spelled mien chin or mien ching) is one of my favourite “vegetarian” ingredients. My mum was taught how to make wheat gluten (we call it mee kun in hokkien or meen kan in cantonese) by a neighbour in Kuching many years back. It is not as easy to get this in the market compared to tofu-based products and it is usually associated with vegetarian dishes. I will come up with a vegetarian recipe in the next post.
Upon discovering the simplicity of making the wheat gluten, I realised how much profit the manufacturers would be making. All you need is flour to knead into a dough, water to wash the dough and oil to fry the gluten. I must encourage you to make this on your own because it is absolutely easy, not to mention healthy as you are making it from your own kitchen. Moreover, it is quite an experience to make it for the first time as you will be amazed (just like me) on how the dough transforms into a rubbery texture (gluten) after washing it in running water.
This is the recipe for Wheat Dough or Mien Chin Read the rest of this entry »