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During Chinese New Year, special emphasis are placed on the symbol represented by certain dishes. One of the common celebration dish is the turnip cake or loh bak gou.
Turnip cake, also called daikon cake, radish cake or carrot cake (in Singapore), is a Chinese dim sum dish made with shredded radish (Chinese or daikon) and rice flour. Once made, the radish/rice flour/water mixture can be mixed with dried shiitake mushrooms, dried shrimp and Chinese sausage (lap cheong) for added flavor.
The batter is then poured into a steamer lined with foil or cellophane and steamed for 40-60 minutes, until it solidifies. The cake can be served right after steaming, or can be further cooked, usually pan-fried either whole or in pieces.
Turnip cakes are served at Chinese New Year (definitely for Cantonese celebrators) because they are associated with a phrase meaning “good luck.”
Steamboats or hot pots with variegated ingredients are cooked in a simmering pot of broth at the table usually communally.
It’s a quintessential Chinese get together in terms of sharing food or socializing.
With possibilities of lots and lots of ingredients and stocks are just endless.
The typical steamboat ingredients include thinly sliced meat (shabu shabu cuts), leafy vegetables (Tung Ho – Garland Chrysanthemum), seafood, noodles, mushrooms , the list goes on.
These cooked food is either eaten with a dipping sauce or sometimes as a soup.
The shabu shabu cuts due to the extremely thin slices are cooked within seconds of dipping into hot broth. I normally purchased few packets of different variety of meat in advance and store in the freezer.
Tung Ho or Garland Chrysanthemum need only to cook for a few seconds in boiling broth.
Just dipping them into the hotpot soup to enjoy the freshness while still crunchy.
I normally prepare my own dipping sauce something similar to the chilli sauce served at Coca Restaurants.
The broth is made from chicken drums or chicken bones. These chicken broth are frozen until required.
3 stalks of celery
1 big carrot
1 packet of frozen bamboo clams
2 tablespoon of minced garlic
4 tablespoons of XO sauce
1 tablespoon of cooking wine Hua Tiao Chiew
Home made chicken broth
Cleaning Bamboo Clams:
Pre-cleaning tip: Soon after you dig your razor clams, put them in cool fresh water. This will allow them to pump most of the sand out of their systems.)
Place the clams in a colander and place the colander in the sink.
Pour boiling water over the clams, then rinse them with cold water.
Use your fingers to pull the clam body from the shell.
Snip off the tough part of the neck just below the valve. Get close to the end.
Put the edge of your scissors in under the zipper and snip upward toward the end of the neck.
Make sure your scissors go into the lower chamber of the neck to save time. If you missed it, put the scissors back in and cut through the lower chamber. Continue all the way through the end of the neck.
Use your fingers to grab the digger and gills.
Squeeze gently and pull to separate the digger from the body.
After rinsing, the body is ready to eat.
Snip at an angle across the end of the digger.
Insert the scissors into the middle part of the digger.
Cut all the way through the end of the digger, keeping in the middle so that the digger will lay flat for cooking.
Pull the digger apart so that it lays flat.
Pull the dark material from the digger. Only remove the dark material.
Gently pull the digger flat and rinse. There will be soft material that remains on the digger as shown. The digger is now ready to eat.
Trim tough fibres off celery.
Slice both vegetable.
Boil some water in a pot. Add a little oil.
Blanch the above vegetables in the boiling water. Set aside.
Heat up 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a wok.
Fry minced garlic till fragrant before adding bamboo clams to fry briefly.
Then stir in the blanched vegetables and mix well with XO sauce.
Add 3 tablespoons of home made chicken broth (or chicken stock).
Leave it to simmer for two minutes.
Drizzle with one tablespoon of Chinese cooking wine on top and stir evenly.
Turn off the heat and transfer to serving plate.
Do not overcook the bamboo clams otherwise it will turn rubbery.
Bamboo clams is properly cooked should be crunchy.
Beef Brisket (8 to 10 pieces)
1 medium size carrot
3 stalks of celeries
1 big sweet onion
1 packet Sunshine Puff Pastry (2 pieces)
3 bowls of home made chicken stock
Salt and Pepper
Rinse all the vegetables.
Cut all the vegetable ingredients into cubes .
Slice the beef brisket into cubes.
Heat wok and fry the sliced onions until transparent.
Add the beef cubes and all the other ingredients together with the chicken stock and simmer for half an hour.
Season with salt and pepper.
Pastry Puff Preparation:
Thaw the frozen puff pastry at room temperature for about 1/2- 1 hour
Dust the roller and surface you are working on with some flour. Cut a portion of the puff pastry.
Roll out the dough as thin as you can (about 1 mm).
Scoop the minestrone soup into oven safe soup bowls.
Cut out a piece of rolled puff pastry dough to cover the soup bowl. Secure the edges with water.
Using a pastry brush, brush egg all over the puff pastry so that it will have a nice sheen after baking.
Bake in preheated oven of 180C (356F) for roughly 10-15 minutes till the puff pastry is puffy and golden brown as shown in the photo.
2 large dried white fungus clusters
1 half ripe Philippines Papaya
200g rock sugar (amount varies according to preference)
8 cups water
Soak the white fungus clusters in tap water for one hour. Trim the brownish yellow base of the white fungus clusters with scissors and separate the white fungus into small bite size.
Fill an earthern pot with 8 cups of water.
Add white fungus and cook over medium heat for fifteen minutes.
Skin Philippine papaya and cut into bite size portions.
Add papaya and rock sugar into the pot and further boil for another 15 minutes.
Adjust the sweetness to your own preference.
Serve hot or cold.
You can refrigerate the leftovers for a cold dessert.
Chopped chicken bones
Shredded celery, carrot and sweet onion thinly sliced (mirepoix)
1 can of Tomato Paste
2 tablespoons of all purpose flour
1 cup of red wine
3 peppercorn crushed
1 tablespoon of cold butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped chicken bones to pieces.
Shred celery and carrots thinly.
Heat pan till smoking.
Roast bones for about 20 minutes. Turn once for even browning.
Spread mirepoix around bone.
Add tomato paste to bone and vegetables on low fire.
Add in all purpose flour.
When flour turn brown, deglaze with red wine.
Add stock to boil.
Simmer over low five for one to two hours.
Strain with sieve.
Add salt and pepper to taste
Finally, add cold butter for smoother paste.
You can store the balance of the brown sauce in bottles.
Serve the brown sauce with steak to complete your meal.