Archive for the ‘cucumber’ Category

This laksa recipe is clearly labelled ‘laksa lemak’, to distinguish it from the completely different dish of Penang laksa. I’ve heard that every region in Malaysia has its own style of making laksa, but still, the basic difference would be whether it has coconut milk (lemak) or is the sourish, fishy version (Penang style, closer to Thai laksa).

Along with poh piah, this is one of my all-time favourite dishes. We still eat it regularly at home.

In the last ten years, my grandmother – always one to keep up with new thinking on healthy eating – replaced the high-cholesterol coconut milk with tinned evaporated milk. It works very well and you don’t actually notice the difference. However, I’ve started reading the labels on tins and found that evaporated milk has a lot of added ingredients which aren’t milk at all! In future, I’d like to try to adapt the family recipe with some other coconut milk replacement instead.

The original recipe also calls for you to make your own fishballs, but I can’t remember my family doing this; we usually just bought ready-made fishballs from the (super)market. These days I myself don’t eat ready-made fishballs or fishcakes because they tend to contain MSG and chemical preservatives.

Another interesting adaptation in my grandmother’s notes is the use of spaghetti instead of laksa noodles (1 box for 7-8 people). The original recipe calls for ‘laksa flour’ which I assume refers to flour to make the noodles, a kind of thick beehoon. As it’s not so easy to get laksa beehoon, spaghetti is the most convenient alternative with a similar shape.

‘Daum Kesum’ is also known as laksa leaf. My dad dislikes the taste of any kind of little leafy garnishings but I believe that laksa just doesn’t taste right without these leaves. ‘Saffron’ is listed here, but as I noted in another posting, I think it really refers to turmeric. You can see in the alternative ingredients/quantities list at the end, it’s called ‘kunyit’, which is turmeric. And don’t forget, ‘D. Prawns’ refers to dried prawns for pounding to make the rempah, whereas the fresh prawns are for eating whole/sliced together with the noodles.

As for the alternative list of quantities (dated 1960) at the end of the recipe, you’ll have to experiment and decide which set of quantities works best for you.

Laksa Lemak PtA

Laksa Lemak B

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This is a recipe for cucumber (timun in Malay) acha.

Some interesting pickling techniques to note here – salting overnight and weighting, for example. I don’t know much about pickling but learnt quite a few things when reading about Korean kimchee recently, and also the instructions in some macrobiotic cookbooks (pickles are an important part of the macrobiotic diet). For example, the vegetables have to be kept under the surface of the pickling liquid or else there is a chance of spoilage. However, because acha is not pickled for weeks & months, this isn’t so much of problem.

Acha Timun A

Acha Timun B

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There are no vegetables specified in the acha/achar recipes I have posted earlier, however this entry provides some guidance in this area, or simply follow the instruction to use ‘any kind of vegetable available’ :)!

Acha vegetables

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The ingredients for filling and egg skin one more time! However, this time there are finally instructions on how to prepare the filling.

– the pork is specifically ‘sam chang’, the pork with fatty layers which make it tender and juicy :),
– ‘tau cheong’ (Cantonese) is used in the list of ingredients here, but in the other ingredients lists posted previously as well as in the instructions here, the Hokkien version, ‘tau cheow’ is used.

My grandmother’s tip on preparing the filling: grated bangkwang is too fine, it doesn’t give the same ‘bite’ as hand-chopped bangkwang. So no modern shortcuts if you want to get that ‘traditional’ taste :)!

See my last entry on the importance of duck’s eggs (as opposed to chicken’s eggs). Do check out my other poh piah entries here.
Popia 4A

Popia 4B

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Another page of poh piah quantities – ingredients for the filling as well as to make the egg skin. It looks like this page of notes has been revised, edited and added to several times over the years, and most likely 1994 was the most recent one – 32 years after the notes featured in my last poh piah posting. (Do check out my other poh piah entries here.)

Some indications of the changing times are:
1) different writing instruments: a blue pencil, blue fountain pen ink, blue ballpoint pen and blue felt-tip pen (must have been Schwan! the type my grandfather loved to use and stocked up the home with!).
2) differing measurement systems: katis and pounds put next to kilograms here.

Note the useful little table of equivalents for pieces of poh piah skin in pounds and katis.

I think “3 D. eggs” means “3 duck’s eggs”. See further comments here.

As what for ‘starch’ refers to, it’s not cornflour – often known as ‘cornstarch’ – which is listed as a separate ingredient. Oddly enough, in my first poh piah egg skin posting, I’ve written wheat flour and tapioca flour (where’s the cornflour?) [NB 19/5/07: just spoke to my grandmother’s friend, who is named elsewhere in the notebook the person as behind the wheat+tapioca flour recipe. She’s an amazing nonya cook of the ‘agak-agak‘ tradition, and confirms that 2 parts wheat flour + 1 part tapioca flour is what she uses.] In the second poh piah posting, I had ‘starch’ and ‘flour’! Perhaps the answer is: cornstarch and tapioca flour?? (I’ve just tried to check it up, but there’s nothing in Mrs Lee Chin Koon’s cookbook (the original 1974 version of the ‘New Mrs Lee’s Cookbook‘), nor any of the other nonya cookbooks I have.) [NB: figured it out, see my answer here.]

Once again, no instructions! But don’t despair, there are many more pages on poh piah which I will share with you in the coming days (^_^).

Popia 3

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After that wonderful Poh Piah Egg Skin making photo, of course, we’ll have a series of Poh Piah notes to follow. Don’t forget, the very first recipe I posted here was my grandmother’s Poh Piah notes from the 1990s :).

No instructions here, just quantities of ingredients for Poh Pia(h)/popia filling. If I interpret the notes correctly, this would have been enough to feed our own family for lunch & dinner, as well as family friends, ‘Choa family’ for dinner, and in December 1962, all this would have cost $10.

Measurements in tahils, katis and pounds.

Short forms and ingredients:
B. kwang = bangkuang
B. cheow = bee cheo / sweet flour sauce
Wanswee = coriander leaf

Interesting spelling variations on the Chinese words :).

Don’t forget to check out my other poh piah entries here.

Popia 1

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