Thursday, June 11, 2009

Kerang Bakar Lido

Yesterday I got the urge to cook. I felt like eating cockles. Then I remembered this recipe which I managed to get (believe it or not!) from a hawker at Tepian Tebrau, Lido Beach years ago. Now Tepian Tebrau has moved to a new place at Jalan Sungai Chat. As a matter of fact, it was only just last week my wife and I went to the place.
Usually hawker will keep recipes as trade secret but I was a regular at his hawker stall. I will usually order "ais kacang" and "kerang bakar". Then one day I tried my luck. Lo and behold, he told me all the ingredients including the special ingredient that he used for his famous "kerang bakar". What so special about his "kerang bakar" is the cockles are grilled with chilli paste in half-shells. Elsewhere e.g. Umbai, Melaka, "kerang bakar" means cockles grilled in whole shells over hot coal.
Actually, I had tried this recipe once long time ago. But my maid did it all. It didn't turn out well. So you can call this an experiment per se. Maybe last time I tried to cook too much. This time I will try with small amounts i.e. 1 kilogram of cockles only.

1 kg cockles, scrubbed & washed
3 shallots
2 cloves garlic
5 dried chilli, soaked in hot water & deseeded
1 stalk lemongrass
1/2 cm shrimp paste ("belacan")
50g dried shrimp ("udang kering") the more the better
2 tbs curry powder

Boil cockles in hot water till shells open up.
Remove half of the shells.
Put all ingredients except curry powder in blender.
Fry blended ingredients till fragrant. (you can do this in a wok or a flat grill)
Add curry powder then add cockles.
Add a little oil if too dry.
Cover & stir once in a while.
Season to taste.

The experiment last night was a success. It tasted almost like the original. Thumbs up from my wife. However, it was not enough. It turned out that 1 kg of cockles only filled a small bowl at the end. It was yummy, though. The lesson learnt after this experiment and the last one is: this recipe is best done in small batches. You can blend all the chilli paste that you want but cook the cockles in small batches.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Mak Ngah's Suji Cookies

Apart from Ovaltine biscuit, this is another must during Eidul Fitr in my family. For as long as I remember, when I was growing up my mother has always been making this cookies. It is so easy to make. It takes just minutes to mix the dough BUT it takes hours to make those little balls and bake 'em. The first batch is usually finished as soon as it comes out of the oven. They just melts in your mouth.

Ingredients: (for 1 batch: can make several batches at a time)
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup ghee
3 1/2 cups wheat flour

Beat ghee & sugar till sugar dissolved.
Add flour and knead till fully combined.
Make into small balls.
Bake in 170 C oven for 20 minutes or till underside golden.

This is my family's traditional recipe. However, there are many variations for suji cookies for example, melt the ghee, add butter, brown the flour, use icing sugar, use sugee flour or cornflour etc. Some even add some other ingredients like almond, vanilla essence or even a pinch of salt. It's all up to your creative imagination but the way I remember the way my mother has always been making 'em.

Lesson of the day:
Ghee is a class of clarified butter used in Indian subcontinent cooking. It is made by simmering unsalted butter until all water has evaporated and milk solids has settled at the bottom. The cooked, clarified butter at the top is spooned off avoiding the milk solids at the bottom. Unlike butter, ghee can be stored for extended period without refrigeration in airtight container.
Caution...ghee is composed almost entirely of saturated fat!