Thursday, July 24, 2008

Radish Dumplings (Sabah Style)

It is amazing on how many types of flour are available in an Asian market. The varieties are countless and they outnumbered any stocks in my regular neighborhood grocery store.

From glutinous rice flour to wheat starch, water chestnut flour to chinese 'pau' flour, I realized now that Asian cooking is no child's play! If I cannot get one type of ingredient, I find it difficult to substitute as Asian cooking is very particular on the taste of a certain ingredient that makes up a dish and any attempt to add condiments or other non-specified ingredient simply deviate from the original recipe. It is fun to create something new and yet we all like to retain something old, especially in the tastes of food that we usually eat and consider as comfort food.

Making this dumpling was new to me as this is the second time I attempted to use the glutinous rice flour but for a wet filling rather than a dry one as in the previous post on Green Tea Glutinous Balls. I wasn't sure what consistency of the wet flour should be to yield a stretchy and thin casing for the radish and dried shrimp filling. In fact I tried 2 different approaches to making it and luckily the second time round, I got hold of the required texture. The 1st approach that mixed glutinous rice flour together with rice flour with added water simply landed me in a mess and my fingers were simply mushed into sticky wet dough with no way to roll nor knead. I was about to give up till I took pity on the cooked radish and saved it from going into the trash! And also, I promised my cousin Agnes that she will see one of her favorite 'kuih' here. And in the second approach, I used the glutinous rice flour and water only. Sometimes, things are so simple and we shouldn't try too hard!

Known as 'Lo Pet Pun' in my hometown, this savory snack size dumpling which measures roughly 2 to 2.5 inches in size and pat to a flat round shape, steamed on banana leaves and glazed with oil is usually eaten as breakfast and sold at teatime. For people with sweet tooth, this snack might not appeal to them as it is pungent with the dried shrimp, mushy and wet with the radish and sticky chewy and oily with the glutinous rice flour casing. But if anyone who is like me who prefer savory to sweet, this one is lip smacking good and like Agnes described it, it is stuck to your teeth good!

The making process was quite laborious, from the slow mixing of the water into the flour and slowly kneading it to firm consistency and not sticky on the hands. At first I attempted to wrap the fillings using the Nyonya Angkoo style, which puts all the fillings in the middle and pinching and wrapping the dough all around. I find the dough breaking apart and the fillings kept pushing out. To me, cooking is a science and I have to put on my thinking cap all the time, despite all the patronising remarks that I always get from people who only eat and never made a dumpling in their whole lives! And so, I thought of a brilliant idea. I took one little piece of the dough and roll it out to 2 inches wide and put the fillings in the middle and proceeded to roll a second piece and place that on top of the filled one and pinched the sides to enclose them! I am not sure what is the real technique employed in making these dumplings but I am sure mine worked out perfectly. I just had to make sure that the dough is rolled out thin but my pinching of the sides made a rather rougher edge than a perfect circle.

The steaming process was the easiest part as with all other Asian delicacies, as long as you don't get impatient and crank up the heat too much. Half way through, I brushed some cooking oil on the surface of these dumplings to keep it moist and also to produce the oily casing as it is. The taste was good according to my father in law, who is the extra guinea pig besides Missy E. As for the little girl, she told me to take out all the fillings and she wanted the chewy sticky white part only. Well, obviously she belongs to the sweet tooth group! As for me, I was munching away, pulling away the stretchy casing while some stuck to my tongue and tooth and the fillings drooping out everywhere while my lips is coated with oil. I am a happy woman.


Agnes said...

Wah!!!! You made it already!!! So fast :D:D

ICook4Fun said...

I remember eating this kueh back in Malaysia. I always prefer this kueh than the sweet ones. Its really good and the filling has lots of pepper in it.

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

hidy hidy! i love this, my mom used to make them well. they don't make it so good in the markets anymore..everything is 'toe gung jen liao'. keep it up, make curry happy but not fat!:)