Sunday, February 06, 2011

We have had a new helper in the house since Lolita left after being with us for more than 5 years. We thought Trin would have a hard time adjusting but surprisingly, she's shown herself to be more resilient than we give her credit for. I think kids generally are a tougher bunch than we think.

So now we have somebody new and she's literally driving me up the wall. Perhaps it is early days and I am impatient by nature but this new person is really exasperating me quite a bit. On the good side, I guess it has forced me to be less complacent, less lazy and more hands-on in the home and in the kitchen. When you have a competent, efficient helper, it's always tempting to just give in and let her handle everything, run the kitchen etc. But these days, I find myself more involved and that can't be a bad thing right?

For one thing, I know what is actually in my fridge. For another, this is the first time in years, many years, that I have cooked as much as I have over the new year period. In previous years, we opted to eat out during the New Year or freeload off my mother's dinner table. But this year, I guess I went on overdrive. This is what I cooked over the four-day period:

Day 1 - steamed radish cake served panfried

Day 2 - chicken curry

Day 3 - fried beehoon with shredded chicken

Day 4 - chicken soup with abalone, fish head curry and giant panfried prawns in tamarind and chilli

It feels really good to be back in the kitchen experimenting. I experimented with the radish cake for the first time about two days before the New Year and it turned out too salty and too hard. On New Year's Eve I tried again with different composition of water to flour and it turned out a tad loose after steaming. I chucked it in the fridge and by the next day when I took it out to panfry this in the morning, it was just right - a nice soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture. Perhaps still a tad too salty even though I'd cut back on the salt by quite a lot. Next time, this will just be a pinch.

Best compliment - the kids and KH liked it. For a picky eater like KH, this was a real compliment. I'm planning to do this again but still experimenting - this time, I'd add shallot oil and chicken stock instead of water to the flour.

I am documenting this for my own memory (which has become rather leaky in recent years), and not because this is a great recipe to follow. I picked elements from other radish cake recipes on the net but in terms of proportions, I really just relied on my own gut feel estimates.

I used chinese sausages (laap cheong), dried scallops (the small ones), fresh shitake mushrooms and dried shrimps (hae bi). I soaked the scallops and the hae bi in hot water. Grated about 1 and a half radishes. Boiled the radishes using same hot water I used for soaking. Then I chopped up the soaked, now soft, scallops and hae bi. Meanwhile, I chopped up the laap cheong, panfried it without adding oil. When the oil from the laap cheong has come out, I add the scallops and hae bi, then the diced mushrooms.

Meanwhile I add rice flour and a little bit of wheat starch flour. I know now that the trick is to keep the proportion of flour very low. I got a bit nervous when I saw the loose watery texture and added more flour the first time I did it - big mistake. The flour is really there to just adhere the radish strips together and not really form the base. I seasoned the mix with salt and pepper and a dash of soya sauce. Keep the dash very very light. Then I added the ingredients in the pan, dropped the whole thing into a shallow disposable foil pan and steamed on high heat. Voila. Have to say, it turned out very very well!

Like I said, next round, I would try panfrying the cake with shallot oil and use chicken stock instead of just water when adding to the flour/radish mix.


Cory said...

i always thought radish cakes were difficult. thanks for sharing the recipe :) looks like a keeper, like yr mee siam goreng!

mummyof3 said...

yums! way to go! here's to more successful experiments! and yes, pls post, i'll come by and cream off your ideas/attempts when i run into a rut with my cooking (which seems to be happenning now).