Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Home-made Siew Pau

I have always wanted to try making Siew Paus at home but had never really gotten round to doing it. Mostly because I wasn't very sure on how the "oil" and "water" doughs work and the technique of rolling the pastry. There's a certain way of doing that which would result in the thin flaky pastry of the Siew Pau.

Then I stumbled upon this blog here which had very clear instructions and photos (yayyy!) on how to fold and roll the pastry. What a godsend!

The first time I tried that recipe I found the dough to be a bit dry and so it was quite a task folding the siew paus & making sure the dough stick together at the top and not have "erupted volcanoes" as a result! So, I tweaked the recipe a bit and the 2nd attempt yielded softer, more pliable dough which turned out very well.

Here's my "tweaked" recipe:

Water Dough
120g plain flour
120g bread/high protein flour
100ml cooking oil
40g castor sugar
1 tsp honey
150ml water

Oil Dough
125g plain flour
80g shortening


Water Dough
1. Sieve the flours into a bowl. Rub in the oil until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
2. Mix the sugar & honey with the water. Pour into flour mixture and knead into a dough.
3. Rest the dough for about 30min.
4. Divide dough into 18 pieces.

Oil Dough
Just mix the shortening into the flour and rub/knead into a dough. Divide dough into 18 pieces.

To Roll & Fold Dough:

1. Flatten the Water Dough in your palm & place the Oil Dough on top (Pic 1)
2. Fold the Water Dough over the Oil Dough (Pic 2)
3. Roll out the combined dough (Pic 3)
4. Roll up the pastry into a "swissroll" (Pic 4) and then roll it out again - repeat Pic 3 & Pic 4
5. Roll out dough into a circular shape, put in about 2 tbsp filling, fold & pleat the siew pau.
6. Brush the paus with some beaten egg yolk and bake in 180deg C for 25 minutes

Oh, for the Filling, here's the recipe:

300g char siew/chicken fillet (or whatever meat you fancy!) - diced
100g green peas
1 Bombay onion - diced
1 tbsp chopped garlic
2 tbsp cooking oil
2 tsp salt & dash of pepper
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp black soya sauce
1 tbsp soya sauce
2 tbsp chinese wine
100ml water
1 tbsp cornflour mixed with 2 tbsp water
some chopped chinese parsley

1. Saute chopped garlic & bombay onion. Add in charsiew/chicken/meat and green peas.
2. Add in all the seasonings, sauces and water & let simmer for about 15 minutes.
3. Add in the corn starch to thicken the gravy, chinese wine and chopped parsley.
4. Cool the filling before making the siew pau.

I'm so glad to say that the pastry turned out perfect - flaky and crispy!

Do try this at home - it's really quite easy and not as intimidating as I thought!

LL loved this so much - he practically polished off the entire batch and kept asking me to make some more! Can't blame him because I used charsiew bought from Spring Golden, you know!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sunshine Chicken & Chef Tam = great combination!

The first time I heard about Sunshine Chicken was through Babe In the City-KL. It was she who introduced and then invited me and some other food bloggers, on behalf of Sunshine Chicken to a sumptuous lunch at Kedai Makanan Chef Tam in Selayang. That occasion was to showcase Sunshine Chicken's chickens, of course, as well as some other dishes courtesy of Jin Chwan Seafood prepared by Chef Tam. Sunshine Chicken has a farm in Kuala Lipis where their chickens thrive on natural food and fresh air & water and generally have free run on the hilly grounds of the farm. Therefore, is it at all surprising that these chickens taste totally different from the usual market chickens, with their superb flavour and distinctly succulent meat texture!

I remember when I was a kid growing up in Ipoh, my mom used to rear chickens in the backyard. I remember that one of my tasks then was to feed them - mixing their feed with water before dumping it into their feeding troughs. We bred them for their eggs (it was fun picking up the eggs among the dirt & chicken poo - yeahhh!) and meat, of course! And a few months before "Koh Toong" (Winter Solstice, which is 1 month before Chinese New Year), this skinny old guy would come pedalling on his trusty-rusty bicycle to "yim" the cockerels in our brood. "Yim" means to castrate - and that fella did it with some thread and a small sharp knife, I remember. And the funny thing was - these cockerels would be just fine & dandy after the "surgery" - like nothing happened, no downtime at all! Yeah, cocks are hardy creatures eh! (LOL!). Anyway, these castrated chickens - "yim kai" (are they even cockerels now?) will then grow and grow and by Koh Toong and CNY, we would be feasting on these giant fowls - I remember we always had slabs of these poached yim kai in the fridge which would last us at least a week after! Mind you, those yim kais could grow into huge birds - at least 5kg in size!

But then sad to say, yim kais seem to be a thing of the past or maybe only available in the smaller towns because once I migrated to KL, I have never had the chance to come across them. Until Sunshine Chicken came along - yes, they do have them on their farm! And when I heard from Babe that this will be featured in the lunch - boy, was I excited! I mean, come on... the last time I ate yim kai was like, decades ago!

Do go and read about how yim kais come about in Sunshine Chicken's website - the caponisation (castration) and the time taken for them to mature so that their meat will be at the best flavour and texture. Do contact Gerald at 016-662-0105 for orders/queries!

OK, I digress too much - let's get back to the review. Before the lunch started, we took a short walk over to Jun Chwan Seafood Garden a few doors away from Kedai Makanan Chef Tam. The moment you step into the shop, you will be greeted by tanks and tanks of live seafood... the exotic ones ranging from geoducks, japanese snails, moray eels, deep sea garoupas and all kinds of fishes - can't remember all their names!

You can buy your live seafood at Jin Chwan and get it cooked at Chef Tam's or bring home with you...

After the "familiarisation tour" at Jin Chwan, we made our way back to the restaurant, our tummies already growling, hehe!

Kedai Makanan Chef Tam

No.6A Jalan Bidara 2/4, Taman Bidara

68100 Selayang

Tel: 03-6138-8751

First dish to arrive was this plate of humongous Canadian Oysters!
Just look at the size - and these cost only RM4.80 each at Jin Chwan! Squeeze a slice of lemon and add a dash of Tabasco Sauce on it....ohhh.... heavenly!

Now you see it...

... now you don't!
Next, the STAR of the lunch.... definitely is the Steamed Yim Kai!

Served with the yim kai were these delighful spoonfuls of authentic chicken-flavoured steamed Sinchiang rice. The grains were round, fluffy, with an almost-glutinuous texture and totally infused with the juices/essence from the steamed yim kai! The rice was so flavourful you can actually just eat it on its own!

You can see the lovely yellow skin of the yim kai - a result of their special corn feed.... the meat texture is certainly more chewy than the ordinary chicken you get from the market... the more you chew on it, the more you taste the authentic flavour and aroma of real chicken. LL declared that was really the best chicken he had tasted and I couldn't agree with him more!
This was my portion - don't touch!
After we have polished off the yim kai, this beautifully steamed Aussie Jack Pearl fish was placed on our table. The sweet fine texture was enhanced with some superior soya sauce which brought out the superbly fresh flavour of the fish. At RM98 per kg, the price is indicative of the top-notch quality of this fish.

Cheese-baked Japanese Snails was next. The de-shelled snails were overwhelmed in the huge platter of cheese and unless you are a cheese fan, you may find this a bit too cheesy!
Sunshine Chicken showcased their Free Range Chicken in the next dish - Roasted Ma Choe Kai! Ma choe kai - literally translated to mean "horse grass chicken" - and that's exactly what it is: chicken which fed on horsegrass in the free range farm.
This superbly roasted chicken truly showcased the chef's skills... from the almost-paper thin skin to the well-marinated meat.
To get that crispy paper-thin skin, the chicken has to be hung dry (for hours!) before being roasted in the right temperature for the right amount of time...

Just look at that yummylicious glistening golden-brown skin.... utterly delicious when eaten with a dollop of ginger+spring onion dip!
The next dish was Braised Tofu on a bed of baby kailan (choy tam) - perfect blend of protein and fibre! The tofu was very smooth and soft - clear indication of "homemade" stuff - another show-off dish from the chef, hehe!
More fibre... Pea Shoots lightly saute'ed in garlic... plain, simple... just how I like my veggies!

Our affable and friendly hosts - Chef Tam and Gerald of Sunshine Chicken

The meal ended on a sweet note with this super shiny and very black Qwailin Ko (tortoise shell jelly) on its bed of colorful canned fruit cubes...

It was a very pleasant outing for me, despite making a wrong turn looking for the place and eventually "rescued" by Babe & Captain Hook, haha! It was great catching up with some of the floggers, besides Babe (thanks for the white wine!) - Lyrical Lemongrass, FBB, Nomad Gourmand, Ciki... and meeting for the 1st time Cumi, Just Heavenly Pleasures, Tham Jiak and Gourmet Garden (from Penang).

And thanks to Gerald for having us... :-) >>> have cooked the ma choe chicken at home, hainanese-style - it was gorgeous! Will feature it in my next blogpost!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Rakuzen Subang

Rakuzen Japanese Restaurant
15 Jalan SS15/5A

47500 Subang Jaya

Mention "Rakuzen" only and many people would associate "decent Japanese food" with it. Their outlet in Subang has been in existence for quite a while and we have been there many times but I have yet to blog about it.

Rakuzen is extremely popular - and unless you go there very early, you will have to wait for quite a bit if you didn't make any booking! It is wise to book your table early, to avoid disappointment. On the few occasions that I was there, there was a pretty long queue waiting outside the restaurant!
I like their simplistic decor - on the Ground Floor, wooden tables flanked one side while the other side is taken up by a long countertop where you can see the crew slicing the raw stuff, wrapping handrolls, saute'ing teppanyaki etc. On the 1st Floor, the tables are laid out tatami-style... open hall as well as a few private rooms.

Nabe Udon Set - that's what NL ordered. A huge claypot of simmering udon with an assortment of tempura floating on top. The set came with California Maki (below) too, in addition to the chawanmushi, miso soup, salad, pickles and fruits. All for RM38.

Sukiyaki Zen set (RM38) ... also came with all the extra little side dishes. My grouse was that the sukiyaki was not hot enough - the soup was just warm when the pot reached our table!
California Maki @ RM8 each - these must have been left for sometime after they have been rolled because by the time they were served, the seaweed sheets were damp and chewy. Not good!
This was the Hama Platter (RM45). No complaints about this as both DL and LL wolfed down those superfresh pieces of raw salmon, octopus and butterfish!

Still not satiated with that platter of raw fish, LL ordered his favourite Sakura Zen set (RM38). This big box contained rice (which you can hardly see due to all the toppings!) and generous pieces of shrimps, salmon, hotate, squid, butterfish and crabstick. All these were accompanied by the small side dishes I mentioned earlier.
Now, if you still have room in your tummy after all of the above, why not try their Stamina Roll (RM28)? You won't be disappointed with the thick slabs of fat juicy unagi curling round the sushi rice. Really, those unagi pieces totally overwhelmed the rice, I tell you!
The Toufu Kinoko (RM20) was a mistake. It was a big round slab of tofu drowned in a starchy soup with mushrooms. It was served lukewarm but worst of all, it was quite tasteless. So, even if you are a tofu fan like me, do not order this!
Ahh... but I love their salads! I ordered this in almost every meal we had there - their Hako Kani Salad (RM18 for small portion). I just love the flying fish roe topping - the popping sound they make when you bite on them - nice! The crabstick & crabmeat, the crisp vegetables - all very fresh & tasty.
The Tempura Mori (RM26) platter was so-so... nothing spectacular, I would say. Order this only if you must have tempura with your meal!
Now for the desserts... Macha Icecream (RM6)... very strong green tea-flavoured icecream topped with a dollop of red bean paste - yummy!
Goma Icecream (RM6) - black sesame icecream! Also very yummy! Generally I do love their icecreams here as they are very full-bodied, rich and creamy.... and oh, not too sweet either!
Given the few misses,... well, the hits counted more... this still remains one of our favourite neighbourhood Japanese food joint.

My rating: 7/10

Friday, October 30, 2009

Char-siew @ Famous Seremban Favourites

A couple of weeks ago, there was this char-siew bug which seemed to have bitten some of my colleagues. They were all talking about eating char-siew and where to get the best ones. Some of them went to hunt for one famous shop in Kepong (I didn't go) and for more than a week, char-siew was the main topic when it came to lunch time.

I have read so many blog posts about this famous char-siew place in Sunway Mas... so armed with a map found in AWOL's blog, we made our way to...

Restoran Famous Seremban Favourites
No. 80-1 (Ground Floor)
Jalan PJU 1/3B, Sunway Mas Commercial Centre
Petaling Jaya
Tel: 017-279 8582
(Closed on Tuesdays)

The road leading to this place is extremely packed with traffic - both moving and non-moving ones! By "non-moving", I mean there were many cars double-parked along this already-narrow road... so weaving your car among them really requires a lot of patience and good nature!

You can also read masak-masak's post with detailed directions to this place!

The place wasn't overly crowded when we finally stepped in. It was about 1pm and there were still a couple of tables available. While placing our orders for char-siew, we were asked "you want fat or not fat?" Wow! Can choose your cuts of char-siew somemore! So being the ultimate piggy fan, we opted for "medium fat", haha!

And so our plate of "medium fat" char-siew arrived...

I like the way the char-siew was chopped chunkily - that adds to the enjoyment of biting into the sinful fatty porcine goodness, hehe!

The sides were well-charred, there was the compulsory layer of glistening caramelised coating, the meat was tender and juicy...

But... but... I felt there was something lacking in the flavour of the char-siew. Hmmm... it somehow lacked sufficient "taste" (not salty enough? not sweet enough?) almost bordering on blandness. I know, I know... so many people have been expounding the glorious taste of this char-siew... and yet, I truly feel there's some taste lacking in the marinade of the meat. Perhaps a few more grains of salt and sugar would help?

Oh... the other grouse I had was the poor miserable watery chilli sauce they served. Honestly, that was really the worst chilli sauce I have ever come across - it was really really too watery and you know how watery chilli sauce tastes like, right? I know, good char-siew should not depend on any chilli sauce... but a decent version of chilli sauce would certainly help!

So what did we have besides the char-siew? Their much-talked-about Hakka Mee, of course! I would say their version was mediocre... I have tasted better Hakka Mee. Nevertheless, it provided the necessary carbs for the meal.

We also ordered a bowl of their Fishballs... which also turned out to be very average. They were springy but I would score them average marks in the taste department.

I found the owner to be a bit on the cocky side too. I read somewhere that he's some hotshot MBA or Masters-holder... hmmm. While paying for the meal, we mentioned it was our 1st time eating in his shop... he asked us how we came to know about his shop and we said it's through some food blogs. Guess what he replied? He said "Oh yeah! so many people have blogged about my shop la, since more than 2 years ago. Now only you read ahh? - you people are 2 years late lah!"

*Shrug... roll eyes*