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RayaFest 2018: Pulut Lepa Terengganu

Being from Terengganu, I grew up thinking fish is a natural, common ingredient in so many local favorites; nasi lemak with sambal ikan tongkol, karipap, pulut panggang (we call ’em pulut lepa)… but *of course* fish is the main ingredient!

Wait… you guys have nasi lemak with chicken rendang and *gasp* paru (beef lung)? Karipap kentang? What is this orange coconut nonsense in this pulut panggang?!! Well, imagine how shocked I was discovering what them West-coast folks are eating.  This was probably when I was about 7 or 8 years old.

Anyway, fast forward to today, I really miss the East-coast pulut panggang with fish filling.  On very rare occassions someone managed to find it here in KL and I would eagerly wolf them down, but they mostly turned out quite underwhelming.  But we compromised anyway, because it was better than nothing.

Finally I thought, why not make it myself and serve it for Hari Raya? I looked around for recipes online, and combined with Kak’mbang’s knowledge and experience we managed to make a decent Terengganu-syle pulut lepa which Mummy and my aunties (all Terengganu natives) accepted as truly authentic.

Here it is, if you ever feel like having some Terengganu fare.  Do note that this recipe makes a lot, so feel free halving it.  Leftover fish filling can also be used in yummy Terengganu-style karipap.

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Ramadan Cooking: Peri-peri Sausage Rolls

Ramadan mubarak, everyone! I can’t believe a year went by so fast.  Since I get off work an hour early, again I try to make small dishes like appetisers and snacks for breaking fast.  I still have a few bottles of Nando’s PERi-PERi sauce in the larder, so I looked through their website for ideas.  These sausage rolls looked so yummy, so away I went to Ben’s Independent Grocer during my half-hour afternoon break to buy what I needed.

A few things I did for this recipe: I used chicken cheese sausages and breadcrumbs with Italian herbs, and I think this made the rolls “taste like pizza”.  I also used Italian flat-leaf parsley instead of English (I wasn’t sure which one I was supposed to use until I came back and watched the video), which had a stronger flavor I didn’t fancy too much, so I’ll use English parsley next time.  In the spirit of Ramadan I gave the dish a slight Middle Eastern twist and used habbatus sauda in place of black sesame seeds.

Mind you this recipe makes quite a lot of filling, and depending on how big your bread is you might end up with multiple rolls instead of just one as stated in the original recipe.  I used Massimo white sandwich loaf, and ended up with four rolls in total.

Overall this was a delicious snack, great for moreh and sahur, as well as for potlucks and afternoon tea.  Give it a try!

Based on the recipe by Nando’s UK.

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Weekend Cooking: Air-Fried Caramel Banana & Coconut Spring Roll

Kak’mbang and I were just chilling out one day talking about food (because why not), and she mentioned this yummy looking recipe she found on a random can of F&N sweetened condensed creamer.  Only the ingredients list was on the can, but spring rolls stuffed with bananas and grated coconut and drizzled with sweetened creamer? Heck yeah!  The recipe was a bit of a treasure hunt to find, buried somewhere on F&N’s website, and last I checked the website no longer works, so I’m glad I have this written down here.

The original recipe was for regular fried spring rolls, but since Mummy is trying to watch her fat intake (as should I -_-), my version is air fried, and the results were still so so amazing.  I highly recommend using pisang mas because of their wonderful sweetness and fragrant banana flavor, but just use whatever type you have on hand.  Because the filling is rather wet, I separated 12 spring roll sheets upfront to speed up the wrapping process, and while working on one sheet, I covered the rest with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out.  I also rolled the spring rolls a bit tighter to get more layers and prevent them from bursting.

Guaranteed to be a hit among kids and adults alike.  Try it out!

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Weekend Cooking: Apple Cider Doughnuts

Post turkey dinner I had a lot of apple cider left over, and was wondering what to do with it.  I can’t remember how I stumbled upon the idea of making doughnuts with apple cider, but now that I have, why didn’t I think of this sooner??

There are quite a few recipes out there. Fried ones, baked ones, and after reading through the reviews I decided on the version I found on Taste of Home.

I ran out of brown sugar when making these, so I ended up using some red sugar as well.  I find that red sugar adds a richer taste to the doughnuts, perhaps closer to the taste of palm sugar, which was nice.  The recipe also called for a ginger-sugar coating, but I decided to make mine with apple cider glaze.  I need to finish off that carton of juice in the fridge!

It was also my first time deep frying something in a pot on the stove.  Previously I’ve always weaseled my way around this by either using an electric deep fryer or an air fryer, or by asking Kak’mbang to help me out with it (yeah. terrible, I know).  When I was making this, everyone in the house was taking an afternoon nap.  I didn’t want to bother Kak’mbang again, so I decided to suck it up and do it myself.

Turns out, it wasn’t so bad after all.  I did overbrown the first batch or so, and I didn’t realize that I was letting the oil get too hot, but in the end I got a batch of excellent, tasty doughnuts.  No scary oil spills, no Captain America shield (my rice cooker pot lid) needed.

These doughnuts are best eaten fresh, as it will have a nice crunchy crust as you bite into it.  Over time the texture will resemble more like soft cake bread.  Do not skip the glaze, the doughnuts have a subtle apple and spice flavor on their own, but with the glaze the amazing brightness of the apple cider really shines through.

Try it out!

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Weekend Cooking: Khaliat Nahal (Beehive)

To me, cooking is a way to destress after a long week slogging at the office.  Making bread, however, is what I find most enjoyable.   When a bread recipe appeared in Saudi Food Eman’s Facebook feed, I knew I had to try it ASAP.  I mean, bread stuffed with cream cheese and drizzled with syrup? Sign me up!

Because I was adamant about using my breadmaker for this, I had to make a few adjustments to the recipe.  I didn’t notice that the recipe uses a lot more yeast relative to the flour (which was really silly in retrospect, but ah well that’s how we learn), so after letting the Dough cycle run its full course, my dough literally looked like foam.  While I managed to save the dough by adding more flour, the bread turned out heavy and had a strong yeasty taste.  At this point, I still didn’t realize that the cause was my overproofing the dough. I instead blamed it on the plain flour I used, and switched to bread flour for my second attempt.

While the dough was a lot less wet this time around, and the bread was a lot fluffier, the yeasty flavor remained.  Finally it dawned on me that I was using the same amount of yeast but a little more than half of the flour compared to my roti paung recipe.  Since the whole point of using a ton of yeast is to cut down prep time, I must have been letting the dough sit for far too long.  I then realized my normal breadmaker Dough cycle isn’t suitable for this recipe, so I used the Pasta Dough setting instead, letting the machine do just the kneading without resting the dough.  True enough, this dough rises so fast, the earlier rolls doubled in size by the time I finished working on the last few.

The results? Lovely rolls which were bite sized and fluffy, with no unpleasant yeasty taste.  I also loved the amazing combination of exotic flavors and textures.  Creamy cheese inside fluffy bread, topped with crunchy, herby black seeds (habbatus sauda) then drizzled with sweet syrup infused with the distinct flavor of saffron.  I just couldn’t stop eating this.

Try it out!

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Weekend Cooking: Kak Seri’s Pan-fried Bananas

When I was way too young to remember, we had a lovely, stylish Indonesian lady named Seri who took care of our Highland Towers condo in KL.  Whenever my family visits KL we’d stay there, and nowadays Mummy would sometimes share stories of Seri and her antics.  One thing Mummy mentioned quite a few times was this simple yet amazing banana snack, which Seri used to make for afternoon tea.

Over the Hari Raya week Kak’mbang went back to our hometown Terengganu, and came back with a good-sized bunch of pisang awak, or pisang kelat siang as we call ’em in Terengganu.  This specific type of bananas is perfect for banana fritters, so Kak’mbang decided to use them for re-creating Seri’s recipe Mummy mentioned so often.  It’s really simple to make, yet so lovely and indulgent.  Love ’em.

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Ramadan Cooking: Potato Croquettes

Ever since Ramadan started, I’ve been taking my quick breaks walking through the aisles of Ben’s Independent Grocer (B.I.G.) almost every working day.  Sometimes (very rarely) I leave empty handed, but most of the time I would buy some fruit at half price or bread or some ingredient I could use to make something small for buka puasa.  So this time I bought a bag of panko breadcrumbs, and made another recipe from Chef Kamarul’s book.

These croquettes were lovely, and reminded me so much of the snack I love back in Japan.  I noticed that mixing the ingredients using the potato masher wasn’t so effective for me, so next time I’ll switch to a spatula or wooden spoon instead.  I’ll also stuff them with cheese or meat to make them more hearty.

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Ramadan Cooking: Murtabak Maggi

Back in boarding school, every year the Form 4 seniors would organize a food carnival to raise funds for their Graduation Night.  Every class would set up stalls selling all sorts of food, from the normal stuff like pasta or nasi goreng, to the more creative stuff like banana with Milo drizzle (my first time learning that chocolate and banana go super well together), and of course, murtabak Maggi.

I still remember standing there watching my seniors prepare my order.  Cooked plain Maggi instant noodles were tossed in a mixture of egg and burger patty meat.  I’ve never tasted anything like it, and it was awesome.  This was almost 20 years ago.

Over the years I tried making it a couple of times, but I just couldn’t get the ratio of the ingredients right.  The murtabak either came out too dry, or just didn’t come together at all and ending up being just a regular Maggi goreng.  

Since I’ve got some extra time to cook something for buka puasa, I tried making it again.  I used this recipe from the official Maggi website and gave it my own little twist, a tribute to that awesome version my seniors made.  Absolutely delicious!

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Ramadan Cooking: Air-Fried Banana Spring Rolls With Nutella Drizzle

I bought a bunch of pisang mas last weekend, and they were quite green then so I thought they would last a while.  By mid week they’ve started to become overripe, so Kak’mbang asked me to try out this recipe by Chef Kamarul from his book, Resepi 30 Minit Chef Kamarul.  Overall recipes from his book look super simple yet promising in terms of yumminess, and I really do need to use up those bananas, so I gave this a go, with a few small changes.

Mummy doesn’t really like deep fried foods, so I made mine using an air fryer.  I used red sugar instead of brown because it gives a richer flavor, although it does melt really fast and makes the bananas quite wet.  Here’s a tip – be sure to separate out the spring roll sheets upfront, so that you can quickly assemble the spring rolls and chuck ’em in the air fryer.  I made the mistake of (sloooowly) peeling the sheets as I went along, and because my banana mixture was wet, the first few that I assembled became rather soggy and burst during the cooking process.  I also saved some time by using simple Nutella instead of making my chocolate sauce from scratch.

The results were lovely.  The spring roll skin crisped very nicely in the air fryer, and the sweetness of the filling was just nice, letting the natural flavor of the bananas do most of the talking.  A good snack ready to eat within 30 minutes!

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Weekend Cooking: Breakfast Biscuits

For the Breakfast Mac and Cheese I needed a quick and simple breakfast biscuit recipe, because I just wasn’t willing to fork out 20-plus ringgit to buy the frozen ones from some upmarket grocer.  There are probably other better recipes out there, but this one gets the job done.

I find rolling out the dough and cutting with a bisuit cutter to be quite tedious.  Gathering up the scraps and re-rolling them also makes the biscuits look unappealing.  Next time I’m going to roll the dough into a 3 inch thick log and cut them up into pieces, and see if that yields better results.

Based on the recipe by Paula Deen.

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