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Hawkers' Delights

by: Agnes Chang

Kuala Lumpur Malaysia: Lam Sye Chin 2000, $25.00, Paperback
ISBN: 983-40370-0-7

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Summer Volume: 2002 Issue: 9(2) page(s): 14 and 18

Sixty-three delightful recipes are found in chapters titled: Enjoy Nonya and Malay Temptations; Snacks; and Rice, Noodles, Porridge. This hundred forty-four page utterly delightful Chinese/English book is a true promoter of the delicacies of the various ethnic groups of Malaysia and Singapore. Salivate as you read about each recipe and see the full-page color photograph of its completed dish. Some almost pop off the page to be sampled.

Some folks wonder why they get pink and yellow cupcake-like delights from their restauranteur friends at Spring festival. Should you want some during the rest of the year, there is a recipe to make these Fatt Koh Malaysian and southern Chinese holiday foods. The food coloring in them simulates prosperity and happiness. These New Year gifts are made with fermented dough that gets steamed. They come out flower-shaped and you learn the trick of how to assure the dough cracking to look like Spring Festival flowers. That secret, by the way, is how they are placed in the pan.

The Hakka Yong Taufu is a recipe many will feel compelled to make. This soup, chock full of small peppers, tofu, okra, and fried tofu squares, is also stuffed with a ground fish melange, dried prawns, bamboo shoots, and some fish sauce. Yummy, yummy! While the recipe says to deep fry or steam the soup-fillers, we steamed ours, and in ten minutes had a healthy, easy-to-prepare meal in a bowl.

Aromatic Lok Bak is another winner. This mix of ground pork, minced prawns, onions, eggs, chopped water chestnuts, and seasonings gets wrapped in dried or fresh tofu skin before cooking. The dipping sauce alone is worth the price of the book; it is simple and super. It and all the recipes show off a related Chinese cuisine that is a marriage of many cultures and flavors.

Oyster Omelettes are a Singaporean special dish. The recipe for them uses a batter of tapioca flour, granules of chicken stock, and more. Angela Chang often uses these granules (which also come as a powder), in interesting ways. This special technique is very creative, as is having the batter partially fried before garlic is added in the center then a bit of soy sauce, wine, and green pepper bits along with the oysters. Cooking in two parts is a clever means of keeping eggs and oysters soft and savory. We have had good oyster omelettes before, but this one wins hands down for texture and taste.

Not every recipe will please every reader. The blue color of the Pulut Tatal and the difficulty in locating pandan leaves may be causes to turn pages. Never mind, just make other local favorites which will probably become your favorites, too,

Lots of books published in this part of the world advertise products not available in other countries. Turn those pages, too. Keep in mind that this volume is in its sixth printing, has sold more than forty thousand copies, and serves as testament to the fact that it does its job well. Give kudos to the author who advises that you can purchase copies through the publisher: Lam Sye Chin, No. 266 Jalan 22/39, Taman Petaling, Kepong 52100 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Please write to them, not us, for details. And when you do, inquire about Chang's Baking Made Easy volume done in 2001, and it has many Western recipes, but those for Savoury Puffs with Prawn Sambal, the Ham Tan Soh also known as Salted Egg Yolk Pie, the Century Egg Tarts, and the Traditional Lotus Paste/Red Bean Paste Wedding Tarts teach the tricks of making Chinese pastry. Also order Angela Chang's Tasty Temptations pubished in 1998. You will be glad you did just to enjoy her Deep-Fried Phoenix Balls stuffed with salted egg yolks, the Shredded Beef with Peking Sauce, the Stuffed Mushrooms with Prawn Paste, and the Home-made Velvety Egg Bean Curd, to name a few.
Oyster Omelette
1/2 pound of freshly shucked oysters, their juice reserved
3 Tablespoons tapioca flour
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons rice flour
1/2 teaspoon chicken stock granules or powder
3 Tablespoons corn oil, divded into two even batches
4 eggs, lightly beaten, divided into two even batches
3 cloves garlic, minced fine, divided into two even batches
1 Tablespoon soy sauce, divided into two even batches
1 Tablespoon rice winedivided into two even batches
1/16 teaspoon ground white pepperdivided into two even batches
two sprigs of fresh coriander, for garnish
1. Rinse the oysters and drain them well.
2. Strain their liquid through a fine strainer and reserve it.
3. Mix both flours and chicken granules or powder with three-quarters of a cup of water to make a batter.
4. Heat half the oil in flat-bottomed pan and pour in half the batter. Swirl it around and when partially set, add half the beaten eggs. Then make a whole in the center and add half each of the garlic, soy sauce and rice wine and ground pepper; then add half the oysters and stir them just until they are heated through, Be careful not to overcook them.
5. Repeat for the second half of the ingredients; and when ready, garish each batch with the coriander. If desired, serve with chili sauce on the side.
Savory Puffs with Prawn Sambal
4 Tablespoons corn oil
8 shallots
2 cloves garlic
2 chili peppers
1 teaspoon belacan
2 onions, chopped
1/3 pound shrimp, diced
2 Tablespoons tamarind juice
salt and pepper to taste
non-stick spray or a teaspoon of butter
8 ounces salted butter
1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1. Heat oil and fry shallots, garlic, chillies, and belacan for one minute. Add the onions fry until they are soft, then add the shrimp and fry for one minute before adding the tamarind juice, salt and sugar. Mix this well, remove from the heat and allow to come to room temperature, then refrigerate.
2. Heat the oven to 450 degrees and prepare a greased baking sheet. either with non-stick spray or use up to a teaspoon of butter.
3. Make pastry puffs putting 3/4 cup water and the butter into a small pot and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and add flour all at once. Return to a low heat and stir until the dough comes away from the pan. Cool for half an hour, then add the eggs one at a time and stir well until the dough looks shiny. Add baking powder and mix it in thoroughly.
4. Put warm puff dough mixture into a piping pag and pipe onto a baking sheet. Pipe tow to three tablespoons of dough mixture as one batch onto the greased pan. Continue to do so leaving two inches on all sides between each ball of dough until all of it has been used. Then bake them for twenty minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees Farenheit and bake another twenty minutes. Cool.
5. Cut the puffs into two pieces, but do so about one-third of the way down. Using a spoon, put one to two tablespoons of filling on each, cover and serve.
Deep-fried Phoenix Balls
1 pound ground pork
1/2 pound minced fish
1/4 pound minced liver
1 carrot, chopped finely
10 water chestnuts, chopped finely
4 scallions, minced
3 Tablespoons fried shallots, crushed with the side of a cleaver
1 Tablespoon chicken bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
3 Tablespoons corn oil
12 salted steamed egg yolks
1 piece caul fat, if available
2 cups corn oil
4 Tablespoons cornstarch
1. Mix the meat, fish, liver, carrot, water chestnuts, scallions, fried shallots, bouillon granules, sesame oil, salt and pepper, and two tablespoons cornstarch until well combined, then divide into twelve parts. Put a steamed salted egg yolk into the center of each. Then wrap each one in piece of caul fat, if available, and dredge with remaining cornstarch. If not, you may need additional cornstarch to coat each ball.
2. Heat oil until it is 300 to 325 degrees, they fry the balls until they are golden brown, and remove them and drain well. Cut each one in half and put them on a platter and serve.

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