Happy Birthday Geminis

A Gemini

Two souls live in you, heavenly twins
Which one are you showing of your two sides?
Is it darkness? Is it light?
There’s so much more than within sight
Heaven’s twins, walking among the stars

Good talker you are, communicator
Your speech always clever
Witty, your interests are hard to bind
Lover of challenges and games of mind
Heaven’s twins, they are walking among the stars

Appreciating the written word
Traveling places of this world
But Gemini, don’t stretch too thin
Not just this and that of ev’rythin’
It’s the heaven’s twins, walking amon the stars

Thus, oh twins, hear me well
And heavens shall be yours to dwell:
Dive not into much, but dive deeply
And of your father you will be worthy
Watch the heaven’s twins, walking among the stars

( a quote i borrowed from the net)

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So many of  you are Geminis.

Cannot keep count and I truly missed out one or maybe two.

Mrs. Chan is losing her memory, age is catching up. Anyway, as an effort to redeem my bad, here’s a tray of beautiful cupcakes to rejoice and feast your eyes.

You wouldn’t want to eat those cupcakes, I assure you. Before baking, I was so full of expectations. Looking forward to a tray of beautifully frosted cupcakes. I cried with disappointments. The frosting was too sweet, the cake too dry and dense.

Anyway, it is the thought that counts, right?

Let that be.

2 types of cupcakes, a vanilla and a chocolate are chosen to signify the Gemini in you.

Happy Birthday, strangers.

Happy Birthday to my friends I have made but yet to meet.

Happy Birthday to my best friends; Karen, Joey, Norli, Nani and Nurul.

Happy Birthday to my brothers, Edward and Mitch and sister Agnes.

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Bubur Cha Cha 莫莫喳喳

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Bubur Cha Cha is neither Cantonese nor Hakka.

From it’s name bubur; I gather it must have been a Nyonya dessert. Research on the internet, explains that Cha Cha or Che Che means “abundance”. Aptly. This  dessert is very rich and creamy; with thick coconut milk and starchy tubers. It can be served very fancifully, dressed with many condiments like colorful jellies, gingko nuts etc in a dessert house.

At Hakkachan, we love to have it simple but with a little bite. While many choose the sago pearls, mom prefers to serve our Bubur Cha Cha with Tapioca Chewies.

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INGREDIENTS for BUBUR CHA CHA:-

1 medium size gold/yellow sweet potato (cut into cubes)
1 medium size purple yam (cut into cubes)
1 medium size taro (cut into cubes)
8 cups of water
1/2 cup tapioca pearls or Tapioca Chewies
3 stalks of screwpine leaves (pandan leaves)
400 ml coconut milk
Palm Sugar
Sugar
Salt (Optional)

METHOD :-

1. Boil the yam and taro in water with the pandan leaves.

2. Once the yam and taro are slightly soft, add in the sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to medium.

3. The sweet potatoes usually cooks fast, so to prevent it from being too mushy, I usually scoop them out into a bowl and set it aside.

4. Add in palm sugar.

5. Add in coconut milk that has been added with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil.

6. Remove pandan leaves. place back the sweet potatoes into the pot.

7. Turn off the stove. Toss in the Tapioca Chewies. Serve hot or cold.

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INGREDIENTS for TAPIOCA Chewies

1 cup tapioca flour
Hot boiling Water

METHOD :-

1. Put tapioca into a deep bowl.

2. Pour just enough hot water to cook the flour and form into dough.

3.  Bring to boil a small pot of water to cook chewies. Set another bowl of cold water.

3. Continue to knead dough. Once ready, form into long sausage shape.

4. Either use sharp knife or best a scissors to small diagonal strips and drop them into the boiling pot.

5. Once cooked, the chewies will float to the top. Let it continue to cook a little.

6. Scoop them out of the hot pot and toss them into the cold bath.

7. Drain and toss into the pot of Bubur Cha Cha.

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hakka lui cha 客家擂茶

Ren Ri 人日 or Man’s Day, falls on the 7th day of our Chinese Lunar calendar. Growing up in a hokkien family, we never celebrated this day as we prided our own Heavenly God’s Day which falls on the 9th . Competitive, yes the Chinese are very.

My kay el friends and colleagues, majority Cantonese, celebrate Ren Ri by tossing a Yee Sang which symbolises prosperity.

My earlier encounters with Lui Cha weren’t very impressive. Yearly, I would be invited by my cousin’s wife, a hakka who hosts a party to serve “ham cha” meaning “salted tea” or what I have now intimately got familiarised to, as “lui cha”. Never really liked it then. The broth made by her was not very agreeable to my palate. To remain a courteous guest and relative, most times I would just eat the assorted vegetables, rice and nuts tossed together.

My passion towards Lui Cha makes a turn after getting acquainted with the Hakka Chans.

Every Ren Ri, senior Mrs. Chan will be very busy prepping up a big Lui Cha party for the whole village and our clans’ folks. 7 large plates of lightly fried assorted greens, white steamed rice or puffy rice served with Lui Cha. Simple, healthy salad food to many but a good Hakka Chan’s Lui Cha lies in the making of this tea broth.

Although Lui Cha  擂茶; literally means “pounded tea”, it is not. Of course, today many can choose the blender. Anyway, Mom is traditional and romantic, she prefers to gruel ingredients inside a specially made ceramic pot with a guava branch. I have the honor to witness the “behind the scene” of the long gruelling process of making this much loved tea paste.

Simple as it may sound; it is truly laborious.

Mom is trimming the heart shaped ku-li-xin, leaf by leaf, avoiding the stems and thorns.

The complete ensemble of 5 herbal leaves when available, when unavailable, you can cut them to 2 or 3 with basil as a compulsory base.

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Wormwood, what a name!

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It took me the longest time to find a name to this herb. Look at the serrated edges, you can half guess it’s name; Sawtooth Coriander. This herb is rarely seen or sold in wet markets. Growing up, I have never encountered this plant till I stepped foot into Hakkachan. I have grown very fond of it’s pungent and spicy taste. Try julienne it into tiny strips and toss some light soya sauce as a condiment for steamed chicken or blanched pork belly. Heavenly.

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“Acanthopanax” is grown abundantly in mom’s garden. A small was given to me and I am ashamed to share that it hasn’t flourished well under my care. Anyway, after much research, this commonly known to our family as “ku-li-xin” or “bitter hearts” has palm shaped, ternate compound leaves and hook shaped thorns along its stem pointing downwards. Bitter in taste, this herb is ‘cooling’ and has detoxifying properties that dispel heat, damp and ‘wind’. Older folks use them to alleviate ‘heaty’ cough, rheumatoid arthritis.

 

RECIPE for LUI CHA PASTE 
Ingredients for Lui cha tea paste :  (serve 4-6 persons)
  • 2 cups   acanthopanax/ku li xin leaves
  • 1 cups   mint leaves
  • 2 cups   basil leaves
  • 1 cup     chainsaw leaves
  • 1 cup     wormwood leaves
  • 1 cup     roasted sesame
  • 1 cup     roasted peanut, crashed
  • 1/2 cup  chinese green or brown tea leaves
  • 1 cups  hot water
    (blend all ingredients into paste ~ like making pesto)

METHOD:-

1. Toast sesame seeds. Fry peanuts in a wok without oil. Keep stirring till it is fragrant. Cool and shell skins.

2. Put in the green herbs, batch by batch. Add in a little water and gruel

3. Put some peanuts and sesame (to individual’s liking) into the lei-cha grinding pot. Add in some water and grind it into a paste.

You may use a blender instead. Mom occasionally does it.

The paste has to be added with hot water, salt and additional freshly pounded toasted groundnuts and sesame seeds.

Or you can make a larger batch, store the paste into containers and freeze them for future use.

Guest Chef : Cucur Udang by Cik. Zarfilla

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Zarfilla is a mouthful name to pronounce. She is more affectionally known to Agnes, Nona Sofi and I as “follylittlehead” or just Filla. We met in Twitterjaya, and later on shared many “virtual” togetherness on Instagram. The virtual world has brought many people together, whether it is through our common interest in politics, cats, food etc.

Months ago, Agnes made Filla long beans pancake, a popular hakkachan childhood snack food. She promised to cook us her specialty dishes but chose to start from the appetizer or snack food. Follow her on Instagram, you will understand why we truly look forward to the day she will cook us her Masakan Melayu.

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Knowing she is shy, she prefers to share with us her mom’s “agar-agak” or literally means “about” or “more or less” or “estimate” hand-me-down recipe, Prawn Fritters or Cucur Udang. I really welcome a homemade Cucur Udang because those served outside are laden with “alkaline” or “bicarbonate soda” that purportedly to rise in volume but leaves a funny taste to your tastebud. The trick is, always use fresh ingredients to yield great taste, great flavor.

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INGREDIENTS for CUCUR UDANG (8 persons)

  • 500 grams soft shelled shrimps
  • 1 cup asian chive
  • 4 cups bean sprouts
  • 6 shallots
  • 500 grams wheat flour
  • 50 grams rice flour (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
  • salt
  • water
  • oil

METHOD:-

  1. Clean the shrimps and shell it completely or you can choose the leave the head and tail intact.
  2. Cut chives into 2 inches strips.
  3. Cut shallots into thin slices.
  4. Pick, clean and drain the bean sprouts.
  5. In a big deep bowl, put in shrimps, chives, shallots, bean sprouts, turmeric powder, salt, flour and water to make batter.
  6. If you like a little more crisp in the fritter, add some rice flour.
  7. Heat wok with oil and fry batter into bite sizes

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Truly a very simple recipe. You can add more quantities to whichever ingredient you fancy. Feel free to replace the Asian Chive with cilantro or spring onions, shallots with garlic; fresh prawns with pounded dried shrimps or anchovies.

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I like spending the weekend afternoon at Agnes’s abode. You give yourself the little treats and enjoyment without having to spend too much money nor time. An awesome afternoon tea with family. Homemade prawn fritters or cucur udang served with a pot of hot English tea.

Live life joyously and simply.

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what’s blooming?

I like coming home to Hakka Chan in Melaka. The peace, the tranquility amidst the fuss that mom and dad accord us, every time we are back home.

The most welcoming part though is Mom’s random garden. Each visit, there will be different plants blooming or new vegetable patches flourishing with new herbs.

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This awfully deformed sunflower is one of our the latest blooms.

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My favorite purple hydrangea, so abundantly elegant.

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Sweet smelling and very shy Jasmine.

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In the kampong, this flowering ginger plant is locally named “tissue paper flowers” because its crinkled corollas resemble crepe papers. Otherwise, it’s known as crepe ginger or  costus speciosus.

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Somehow this yellow hibiscus command more respect than the red ones that are in full bloom on the background.

sarawak kolok mee

air flown from kuching

Every so often, I am tickled and amused by how my friends are all so crazy about a certain wanton noodle cooked the Sarawak way.

How good can it be, I asked. Of course I hadn’t tasted it before.

Being a loyalist, I wouldn’t have thought of a better way to serve a plate of wanton noodle other than  it  garnished with thick juicy barbecue marbled  pork belly with a tiny bowl of chicken stock with 3 hearty meat dumplings.

Stevie, who isn’t too crazy about noodles, actually ate 3 bowls of kolo mee daily while in Kuching earlier for the Green Forest Musical Festival in year 2011. The simplicity of taste caught his attention.

Recently, a packet of half a dozen ball of kolo noodles arrived our home. Sacredly, like a much treasured commodity. Air flown and hand carried by a fellow Sarawakian friend.

I now believed that kolo mee is the much mule couriered stuff across the South China Sea between the Peninsular and the Borneo Island.

what I have, i use

Hakka Chan Simple Sarawak Kolo Mee

Ingredients:-

  • Kolo Noodles 
  • Minced meat preferably marbled pork belly
  • Fired thinly slice garlic
  • Oil from frying garlic
  • Oil for frying meat
  • Spring Onions/Basil leaves – your choice
  • Vinegar
  • fish sauce – compulsory
  • salt and pepper
  • boiling water

METHOD:-

  1. Marinate mince meat with some salt and pepper.
  2. Prepare some oil to fry garlic till crispy and golden brown. Drain and set aside for garnishing.
  3. The fragrant garlic oil be kept to use as base for assembling the meal.
  4. Use a few tablespoon of the garlic oil to lightly fry the mince meat.When cooked, drain and set aside
  5. Prepare to boil a pot with hot water for you to cook the noodles.
  6. Prepare a deep serving bowl. Put a tablespoon of garlic oil. Some fish sauce and vinegar to your palette.
  7. Toss in a ball of handmade kolo mee into the boiling water.
  8. Cook it al dente, remember not to over cook or noodles tend to be soggy and mushy. Drain.
  9. Place drained noodles into the prepared stock combination of oil, vinegar and fish sauce.
  10. Mix thoroughly and garnish with the minced meat, fried garlics and basil leaves.
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I Am Back!

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I really feel so bad for neglecting this blog.

Twitter and Instagram, make communications and sharing so instantaneous. Easy and fast. Blogging becomes time consuming and a hassle, funny it used to be a joy. It still is, don’t get me wrong.

I love sharing my Hakka Chan moments and registering them here for my family and friends. Mostly, because I want to keep this space special for my Chan family that has become a big part of my life now.

Stevie and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary last January. There are so many stories to share and I hope to include you in my loving journey of joy.

E A T . L O V E . P L A Y