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Sponge egg, square pan

20 May

Ok. That’s a pretty pathetic recreation of Spongebob. Gotta give me marks for trying though, right? I was away in Langkawi (an Island off the northwest coast of Malaysia) for a work engagement and came home with makiyakinabe or a  Japanese rectangular omelette pan that is used to make Tamagoyaki or Tamago or Dashimaki.

Foreign as they sound, they all mean the same thing: grilled egg or a Japanese omelette that’s make by simply rolling layers of omelette into a rectagular “cake” like roll. It’s a popular feature in the Japanese bento (llunch) box and a sushi sushi neta (topping) too. I like it cos it’s pretty to look at and, well, cos I like all omelettes. If you’re not feeling like a Japanese meal, the Tamagoyaki can work as a side dish to any meal too.

There are sweet and savoury tamagoyaki, depending on your preferance. I prefer the savoury one which generally means you mix the eggs (about 3) with dashi (stock) and Japanese soy sauce and beat them well. I added pepper too and a dash of salt.  If you want it sweetish, add some mirin and sugar — just a little, mind you.

Making the tamayogaki isn’t difficult but there is an art to rolling the layers of egg while the pan is still on the stove without browning it too much. Watch this video on how it’s supposed to be done. It’s pretty amazing.

This is the makiyakinabe. You can find it at some kitchen shops in KL but in langkawi, where there is no tax, it’s a lot cheaper. I got my Maxim pan for just Rm30.

Now, once you have beated the egg-dashi-spy sauce mixture, heat the makiyakinabe and grease it with some butter/oil. Have some melted butter reasy in a bowl for you have to keep brushing the pan. Watch the video link to get an idea of how this is done.

Once grease, pour a portion of the egg mixture into the pan and swirl it around so that the surface is equally covered with egg. You just want a think layer so be wary how much you pour. Let it set for  a minute or tow and then using a pair of chopsticks (if you’re adept at it) or spatula/spoon, roll it inwards to form a rectangle at the far end of the pan. Brush the pan with butter again. Use a heat resistant brush or you may be in trouble.

Pour another layer of egg — make sure you gently lift the rolled egg cake so the liquid egg mixture flows under it. Turn the pan 180 C and start rolling the egg cake up again, till you get a thicker roll. Repeat till egg mixture finished.

To keep your tamagoyaki pale yellow, keep the fire low. Mine ended up a little brown as I wasnt watching the heat. You also would want to use light soy sauce to avoid darkening the egg batter too much.

You can, of course, add some tamagoyaki by adding finely chopped scallions to the egg batter. Or green chillies, onions, garlic, or  you can slip in a thin sheet of  nori seaweed. on the egg layer before rolling it upwards.

If you are like me and prefer your tamayogaki firm, you can slip it under the grill for a about 5 mins. Or you could it microwave it for a bit too. The egg roll/squares are usually eaten with soy sauce or grated radish. You could also make a dip with Japanese mayonnaise too.


3 eggs

1/4 cup dashi

pinch of salt and pepper

dash of soy sauce

Lazy gourmet

15 May

It’s that time of the month again. I mean, the time when my fridge is bare and I find myself hungry but too lazy to go out and buy dinner. I have to make do with what I had: 3 eggs, 2 local sweet potatoes, half a can of green peas, about a cup of pureed tomatoes and a packet of vegetarian chicken — seitan if you will. After scratching my head for a few minutes (more like 30 mins) I decided to make my version of a chicken pot pie. I had no frozen puff pastry on hand and didn’t feel like making it from scratch (told you it was a lazy night) and I was trying to reduce my carbs to shed some pounds so I decided to use the eggs to bind the chicken, peas and sweet potato together. It’s kinda like mix between a pot pie and a terrine.  A pierrine?

Sweet potato and (veg) chicken, you frown? Yeah, well I was wondering myself how that would turn out but I had no choice. So I lightly steamed the potatoes till they were just a little tender — just about 10 mins. Make sure it’s not so tender that a fork can pierce right through it. I wanted it still firm. Skinned it and sliced it into 2mm thick slices.

I then roughly cut the chicken (1 cup) into 1 inch pieces. I lightly toasted it in 1 tbsp olive oil, seasoned it with black pepper and some paprika. Added about 2 tbsp tomato paste and mixed in all on the heat for about 5 mins. I used a cylindrical cake pan with a loose bottom for this. Grease the pan. Layer half the sweet potato to form a nice base. Grease the tops of the potato base with melted butter so they’d stick. And then piled in the chicken onto the potato. Top the chicken with the remaining sweet potato.

Beat 2 eggs and season with salt and pepper. Add in the green peas. Pour the egg + peas mixture into the cylindrical pan (onto the chicken) and let the egg flow down and all over the chicken and potatoes. Bake for about  30 mins. Take it out, sprinkle some parmesan cheese over the top and bake again for about 15 mins. Oven temperature should be about 180C. Remove and let cool.

The egg actually worked quite well in encasing the ingredients; although you might want ttry pastry if you have some or are feeling more industrious than me. Once you remove the dish from the oven, let it cook completely, remove  the loose bottom of the pan and serve. Goes well with pesto or sauce or even yoghurt.

Meringue mystery solved

4 May

Ignorance, really, isn’t bliss. For the longest time, I assumed that making a meringue (and derivatives of it) requires super chef skill. Although “whip egg whites till they form firm peaks” doesn’t sound remotely like  “remove the starter motor from the engine. Bolt the bellhousing to the engine block, and torque to the manufacturer’s recommendations …” (that’s for installing your car’s engine, btw); I was still certain it was a complicated process.

Anyway, since our theme for this month’s Don’t Call Me Chef (a monthly column in The Star) was centered on eggs, I decided to be brave and make some meringue cookies.

Being a little clumsy, even the idea of having to separate the egg whites from the yolks was daunting enough. I have done it before but it hasn’t been pleasant. Often, a little of the yolk seeps through and sometimes I let it be. Of course, when more than a little yolk gets in, I end up having to start from scratch and use the contaminated batch for something else … like an omelette or such.

Once I had to two contaminated batches, which made my neighbour quite happy to have a batch of egg tarts for no rhyme or reason. Anyway, that’s why I hesitate when a recipe calls for egg separation. With the meringue there is no escape. You use only egg whites and no contamination is allowed.

Thankfully, I came upon a tip on separating eggs: it’s easier to separate the eggs when they’re chilled. Ah, so! They were much easier and I got it right my first attempt.

Next the whipping. Thanks to my new toy — the Kenwood Pattisier — this was a cinch. Start with the egg whites — I used three for a batch of 10 meringue cookies. Whisk the whites (speed 12) till they become firm but not too stiff. They should still be a little liquid-y. Add 1/4 tsp cream of tartar into the whites.

Now, add the sugar in gradually — I used about 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp. (the recipe called for 3/4 cup but I find this too sweet). Continue whipping till it becomes really firm — when you lift up the paddle the mixture should stay firm and not drip from the whisk.

Ahh… perfect.

Spoon mounds of the whipped whites onto a lined baking sheet. They’ll form nice wave-like mounds: it’s ok if they are irregular in shape.

Bake at  105 C  for about 90 or 105 mins. When they’re done they should be crusty (but not dark or even browned, just a shade pale yellow and sport a pearly glow) and the inside a little soft. It should come off the sheet easily and when it goes in your mouth, it should melt.

The cookies can be eaten alone, or with some fruit or cream and nut crumble. Yummm

Scrambled eggs, 2.0

3 May

I have never been a fan of scrambled eggs. The wet-ish texture just of this popular breakfast dish has always made me steer clear of it. I am, however, the minority. scrambled eggs are a favourite breakfast dish all over the world. Baked, double boiled, microwaved and even baked, there are a multitude of ways to jazz up your scrambled eggs. If you’re interested to vary your method, you might want to check out this site that’s dedicated to scrambled eggs. Yeah, can you believe it?

As for me, I like my eggs well done. Fried or as an omelette (or its variants — fritatas and quiches are fine) are as far as I’ll go. So it’s rare that I order scrambled eggs. When I visited India a couple of years ago however, I decided to try the Indian version of  scrambled eggs, called egg bhurjee, at my hotel in Delhi.

I loved it. Firstly because it was kinda spicy. Secondly, it wasn’t wet at all. No, I lie. The dish was a little wet but the eggs were completely set. The moisture was from the tomatoes added into the eggs, giving it also a sourness that added some zing into an otherwise predictable flavour.

The indian scramble had onions (lots of it), some spices (I detected cumin and chilli powder), curry leaves and chilli. Once I discoevered this jewel, I ordered it at the different hotels I stayed in all accross Rajasthan only to discover that even a dish like this varied in each location.

In India, the egg bhurjee is not confined to breakfast. You can have it as a side dish to eat with your rice or flat breads. Sometimes, paneer or Indian cheese can substitute the eggs (just as tofu can substitute eggs in a vegan scramble) and this too is delicious.

For my spicy scramble, I added some boiled potatoes (take it out before your fork can pierce right through it; cubed), green chillies, tomatoes, onions, red chilli flakes, cumin and a little bit of tumeric and seasoned with salt and pepper.

Stuffed pocket: always a good thing

17 Mar

Pita bread is a delicious pocket bread that’s associated with Middle Eastern or Mediterranean cuisine. What’s amazing about the pita bread, or simply pita, is the way a pocket of air opens up in the centre while the dough puffs up in the oven. Quite ingenious, no? The pocket makes pita perfect for a sandwich, though many use it to scoop sauces or dips.

This post isn’t about pita but a pita sandwich (look out for the pita post soon). I had some leftover hummus I wanted to finish off and what better bread to go with hummus that pita? Putting the sandwich together was real easy but there was some prep involved sine I wanted to add sundried tomato pesto to the mix. What this entails is hours of slow baking cherry tomatoes in the oven (five to six hours!) and then blending them with some pine nuts, olive oil and cheese. Once you get this done, you’re good to go.

Toast the pita. Spread a generous layer of hummus on the bottom sleeve of the pocket. Hard boil two eggs and then chop it up small and mix in some pitted black olives (chopped small too) and Parsley (chopped as well). Slice some iceburg lettuce. Mix them all together and season with salt and pepper.

Fill a layer of the sundried tomato pesto on the hummus (or you can spead it on the top sleeve of the pocket) and the spoon the egg+olive+parsley filling in.

Sit yourself in front of the TV and enjoy!

Egg sandwich, pepped up and ready to go

3 Mar

An egg sandwich is hardly glamorous. But in the world of sandwiches, my comfort food is the good ol’ egg sandwich. Not the type that’s smothered with mayo, but a good, juicy (yes, juicy isn’t reserved for steaks) fried egg sandwich with onions and relish of choice.

My egg sandwiches have gone through several phases of evolution. In the early years, they were simple — just fried with some onions and scallions, seasoned with pepper and salt.
Then, my grandmother acquianted me with her way of frying an egg — mixing cumin and chilli powder into a paste that’s beaten with the egg; the onions stay but not the scallions.
Over the years my fried eggs are filled (with a variety of vegetables from mushrooms to spinach to potato) and are served with a relish of some sort — home made and randomely concocted, of course.

This morning’s egg sandwich was filled with mushroom (swiss brown, sliced) and leek and covered with melted mozzarella; seasoned with red pepper flakes, black pepper, salt and some oregano; and served on a bed of lettuce laced with some pesto I made from parsley (pic above). I polka dotted the pesto covered leaves with some yellow mustard — a trendy sandwich — and included a generous slice of tomato, lightly grilled.

It’s a really simple sandwich but because of the pesto, there is some prep involved. You can of course use store bought pesto but I find them way too expensive. Plus, where’d you go to find parsley pesto?

But hey, you end up not only with a delicious egg sandwich but some pesto to use for a pasta dinner.

Confucius say …

16 Feb

Fortune cookies can be real trouble … if you take them fortunes seriously. Remember when Homer’s fortune cookie told him he would find happiness with a new love in the Last Temptation of Homer (S9)?

Do you ever wonder who writes these fortunes and what goes through their minds when they do? Remember the time Homer got so fed up with the fortunes in his cookies he decided to do something about it: he became a fortune cookie writer in Chinatown? “You will invent a humorous toilet lid” may not have been a profound fortune … but it’s hilarious.

Seriously though, coming up with fortunes for them cookies are difficult. I’ve eaten a few fortune cookies in my time and the most common fortunes were courtesy of Chinese thinker Confucius. Haven’t you cracked open a cookie to read something like: Confucius say (the bad grammar is intentional), “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” or “Man who run in front of car get tired”. The second one isn’t really Confucius. Or is it?

I made a bunch of fortune cookies for a gambling session on the second day of the Lunar New Year and it took me a while to come up with 40 fortunes. In the end, I repeated a few because I was getting sleepy thinking up new ones … after a while, I came up with some doozies like, “If you believe this fortune, you’re mad” .

Now if I though coming up with the fortunes were hard, I soon found that making the cookies were doubly hard. Well, actually its an easy recipe and making the batter takes less than 10 mins. But because you have to shape the cookies while they’re hot — as in STRAIGHT out of the oven, not a minute later (seriously), you have to bake them, at the most, two at a time. Now, let’s do the math: I baked 40. At the snail’s pace of 2 cookies at a go multiplied by each batch taking 7-10 mins; it took me about 2 hours and a half. And it’s not like you can go watch a movie while it bakes; no have to keep working. Spreading batter onto tray, shove it in the oven, wait 7 mins, take it out and immediately put in another batch; rush to fold the two that came out (your finger will be sore touching the hot cookies); greasing the tin and repeating the whole process again. Also you have to keep an eye on the cookies that are baking cos though the baking time is estimated at 5-7 mins, sometimes, if you spread the batter to thin, it will brown quicker.
The cookies tasted yummy as did the batter (I must confess to being a batter whore) but will I make these again? Not likely. Too much hard work.

Fortune Cookies
3 egg whites
3/4 cups sugar
3 tbsp melted butter
3/4 tsp. vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
Dash of salt

Preheat oven to 180C. Mix egg white and sugar and whisk till fluffy but not till it forms peaks. Add rest of the ingredients; keeping the flour for last.

Drop a spoonful of batter on a greased baking sheet and spread it in a circle. Distribute the batter evenly. Put 2 per sheet. Bake for 5-7 mins or till 2/3 of batter (from the outer rim inwards) browns. Remove and immediately put in next batch to save time.

Work immediately on the cookies. Insert fortune and fold round cookie in half; sandwich in a cup and bring edges together (one edge goes in the enside of the cup and one on the ouside. Place folded cookied inside a muffin cup to keep the shape. Once cool (3 mins or so) store in an air tight bottle. Repeat. Repeat and repeat.

Be warned that if you dont fold the cookies immediately they start to harden and will crack when you fold them.I wasted a handful this way.

Love takes time. Love letters too.

8 Feb

With less than a week to Chinese New Year, I am truly getting into the spirit of the season. No, I don’t technically celebrate Chinese New Year. But what I do every year is join some friends who so celebrate the New Year  and gamble the night away. (Girls, we’re on for the 15th eh?). But more than just gambling, I love all our  celebrations because these are times when people forget about potty politics and silly scandals. It’s all about family, food and fun and that’s what life should be about.

Now Chinese New Year would not be Chinese New Year without kuih kapit or love letters. This year especially, since the first day of New Year falls on Valentines day. Now, I’m not a soppy person. I think I have actually only written an actual love letter once in my life – a silly adolescent crush and a mopey letter I wish I had never written. Anyway, I decided to take my good friend Melody’s suggestion and be corny and make some love letters.

I found a recipe for Kuih Kapit in an old recipe book of my aunt’s – The Malaysian Cookbook (Preston). I also decided to go online and counter check the recipe with some others. There were slight variations but they were all the same for the most part.

So, first things first. I bought my mould from my trusty neighbourhood sundry shop: Peng Soon.

Got all my ingredients: Rice Flour, plain flour, eggs, vanilaa essence, oil (for greasing the mould) and a tall glass of water (standing over the fire is exhausting).

Sift the flours together (70 g rice flour, 15g plain flour) and whisk in the sugar (75 g castor sugar). Slowly stir in the coconut milk (3/4 cup) and mix until you get a smooth batter. Break in the eggs (2 eggs) one at a time and mix it in. Add a drop of vanilla essence.

Grease the mould with some oil. Traditionally, the love letters are made over a charcoal fire. But I didn’t have charcoal and I don’t have a barbeque grill so I just heated it over my gas stove fire. It still works.

Pour the batter onto one side of the mould (about 1/2 cup), make sure it’s not too thin a layer but not too thick either or it won’t be too crispy.

Close the mould and press tight till extra batter flows out. Place mould on fire for a few minutes, until batter is light brown. You will have to test it out a few times to get the hang of it.

Remove from fire and with a thin knife, peel of  the cooked kuih kapit from the mold and fold in half and then again in half. Press down hard and store in an air tight container.

Repeat. You’ll get about 35 pieces per batch of batter. Unless of course you spoil more than the 5 I did.

My first few love letters were either not cooked enough or burnt; I had to get the timing right. It just takes  a few minutes for the batter to cook and crisp but even an extra minute may burn the batter so be vigilant.

If I were to rate my love letters, I’d give them an A for taste and C for appearance. The edges of my kuih lapis were singed (kinda like the love letters of yore — yellowed paper with singed edges or maybe a pirates treasure map … nevermind) and some of them were a tad pale.  I need more practice but I will get there.

I heart you, Tart

28 Jan

Some people refer to it as the Portugese Egg Tart while others swear on their cat’s nine lives that it’s actually called the Hong Kong Egg Tart.
I’m not really bothered by the details but I read a blog which described these egg tarts as “something Portuguese, reincarnated as a Chinese dessert”.  I like that.
Having said that, there are numerous  variations of the egg tart.
There are many egg tarts recipes floating around but rarely can you find two that are identical. They share the same base recipe but add a spice or something that makes them deviants.
For example, some egg tarts are made with shortcrust pastry and some with puff pastry.
Some recipes suggest you sprinkle cinnamon or nutmeg onto the custard while others make do with vanilla essence.
At the end of the day, a recipe is just a rough guide. You decide how you want your food to be. You reap what you sow and you hafta eat what you cook …

Soft, sweet dough, shaped into balls.

Here’s a step by step of how I made my egg tart. You can, of course, alter it any way you wish.

STEP 1: Make syrup.

Add 2/3 cup sugar into 1 cup boiling water and keep on low heat till sugar dissolves. Turn off heat and let the syrup cool.

STEP 2: Make pastry

Sift together 2 cups of flour and 1 cup icing sugar. Add 2/3 cup butter and mix till crumbly. Add 1/2 an egg (beaten)  into the crumbly mix and form a dough. Chill for about 30 mins. Form into balls and shape them into greased muffin pans.

The egg mixture is thin but hardens well in the often

STEP 3: Egg custard.

Break and beat 41/2 eggs mixed with a drop of vanilla essence. Strain the egg mixture. Add the syrup and mix well.

Sunny and nice.

STEP 4: Assembling the tarts

Pour the egg mixture into the pastry cups. Bake in a moderate oven (160C) for about 30 mins or till custard sets.

Yummy. I actually reduced the sugar a little as I didn’t want my tarts to come out too sweet and I’m glad I did. They were good and not too eggy (well as not eggy as an egg tart can be!)

So, until I determine for sure if these are Portugese Egg Tarts or Hong Kong Egg Tarts, I’ll call them my Midnight Egg Tarts.

No Egg Omelette

8 Jan

I saw a carton of Organ’s “No Egg Egg Replacer” in the supermarket the other day and I had to get it. Not because I am thinking of quitting eggs (not yet, at least) but I was just curious about how an egg replacer would work and, more importantly, how authentic the taste would be.

The “No Egg Egg Replacer” comes in powder form: it is, after all, made of Potato starch, tapioca flour, vegetable gum (methylcellulose, calcium carbonate), citric acid!

1 tsp of Organ No Egg + 2 tbsp water = one egg. That’s what the instructions on the box said. The box also had a simple recipe for (No Egg) egg custard.

Although it made more sense to use the Egg Replacer in cakes, pastries and such, I decided to see if the No Egg Egg Replacer could actually be made into a No Egg Omelette.

I usually go for a two-egg omelette, so i mixed 2 tsp of the No Egg Egg Replacer (you can tell I kinda like saying this) with 2tbsps water. I heated some onions in butter, added spinach and then the Egg Replacer.

OK, for one thing, the texture is nothing like egg. Maybe congealed egg whites but this mixture was a little too gummy. Err….

Ok, I don’t think frying an omelette was going to work. Scratching my head, I picked up the box again, and notice the “warning note” at the back:


Egg replacer is not suitable for making scrambled eggs or omelettes.

Doh! Seriously, a Homer moment! Oh well, you can’t knock a gal for trying. Now that I have just wasted two No Eggs, I  will (hopefully) learn to take it easy and read instructions properly and not just jump headlong into some silly experiment. Ha! Sounds like a resolution for 2010.

Now, my problem. Should I eat the gummy omelette or should I just trash it. (in my head I hear my mother’s words:  “… think of the starving children around the world…”).

Awwww, Ma!


Egg replacer is not suitable for making scrambled eggs or omelettes.