Sunday, March 7, 2010

Taro and Coconut Sago Dessert ("Sai Mai Lo")

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If you've ever gone for dim sum at your local restaurant where they have the push carts, you may have seen this dessert before. I've noticed these days that most restaurants make the sago dessert using honey dew lemon-based juice. It's really a shame that this dessert, "Sai Mai Lo" is hard to find, and it probably explains why I'm always hitting up the bubble tea shops for a cheap substitute that's essentially artificial flavouring based. Before we begin, I must say that I'm immensely confused about the terminology in differentiating between Tapioca, Tapioca Pearls, and Sago. Oddly enough, Sago is also referred to as "Frog Spawn" or "Fish Eggs" due to its similarity in appearance.

This is a dessert that can be served warm or cold. In addition, this interpretation calls for Taro, but you may skip the Taro steps entirely if you wish to only make it a Coconut Milk Sago Dessert.

The ingredients are:
  • 3/4 bowl of Sago
  • roughly 1/2 to 1 cup of chopped Taro
  • 1 can of Coconut Milk (~400mL)
  • 1 can of Condensed Milk (~200mL)

Preparing the Sago Jelly:
  1. In a medium sized pot, bring the water to a boil on medium-high heat.
  2. Once the water is boiling, add the Sago. Stir the Sago gently to prevent clumping at the bottom of the pot, and continue to do so until the water boils again.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and cover for 3 minutes.
  4. Prepare a cool water bath by placing a mesh strainer over a mixing bowl, and turning on the tap so that a gentle stream of cool water flows into the mixing bowl. Drain the Sago into the mesh strainer. This step is important to stop the cooking process of the Sago jelly. NOTE: Your Sago should be clear on the outside, but the centre should still be white. If the Sago is cooked fully now, it will turn to mush by the end of the recipe. Cooling it now will preserve the ball shape of the Sago.
Preparing the Taro:
  1. In a small pot, boil the taro until it's tender enough to mash. Don't mind the amount of taro my photo as I was actually using the rest of the taro in another dish that night.
  2. Remove the taro from the water and mash it into small chunks about the size of chocolate chunks used when baking cookies. Keeping it in chunks will provide some texture in the dessert.
Making the Taro and Coconut Sago Dessert:
  1. In a large pot add 2 to 3 litres of water and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. The water level should not exceed 3/4 of the height of the pot at this point.
  2. SLOWLY add all of the condensed milk while stirring. Stirring will prevent the condensed milk from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  3. Add the coconut milk into the pot, turning it into a creamy white colour
  4. Add the taro to the pot and continue to stir
  5. Once the liquid boils, turn the heat off and REMOVE from the heat. Add the Sago to the pot and cover.
  6. Serve either warm or chilled. Remember to give a gentle stir prior to serving as the Sago will settle.
I borrowed the following picture from Wikipedia just to show what the dessert will look like when serving.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Glutinous Lunar New Year Cake

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I haven't been posting new recipes in a while simply because my work schedule was too hectic, and then the new year festivities began. With the year of the Tiger just beginning, there is no better way to celebrate than with some Glutinous Lunar New Year Cake.

The recipe calls for the following ingredients:
  • Glutinous Rice Flour (a 400g bag)
  • 1 tsp wheat starch
  • 2 lumps of sugar cane sugar (or 3 sticks of brown sugar - see other recipes for the brown sugar that I always use)
  • 2 cups of water
The approximate time to make the cake is roughly an hour and a half from start to finish:
  1. First melt the sugar and water. Be careful not to burn the sugar, you only want the two to come together to form a homogenous mixture. Once the sugar has melted, remove from the heat.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the wheat starch and the glutinous rice flour.
  3. Slowly add the heated sugar and water mixture to the dry ingredients. Work slowly here to incorporate the wet and dry ingredients together. I prefer to mix the two by hand as I find that the use of an electric mixer causes too much of a mess and offers less control.
  4. The goal is to turn the cake mixture from a chunky peanut butter appearance to a smooth peanut butter feel. During the mixing process, you will need to break up any chunks of the dry ingredients that may have formed. By mixing by hand, there's more control over the entire process.
  5. Oil a casserole dish or deep cake pan. Add the cake mixture to it and smooth off the top. Prepare a double boiler to steam the cake. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to medium, place the cake dish in the steamer, and steam for 1 hour. After you're done steaming, you may garnish by sprinkling some sesame seeds on top, and adding a red date (called "hung jo")