Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sago Sai Moo, Stuffed Pearl Sago

I would only make these appetizer when I desperately crave for them, which I try not to let it happens often. It takes too much times to make and too little to put in my mouth, and that is just torturing me because it happens to be my favorite one.

In Thailand these delicious appetizer can be founded easily everywhere - if you see food stalls, chances are you'll find one that sells these stuffed pearl sago.

Before making them, let's make sure that you are not confused between pearl sago and pearl tapioca (tapioca pearl)

Pearl sago is made from starch extracted from Sago palm tree. Tapioca pearl is starch from Cassava roots (Yucca roots). In general, they looks the same, and that how people be often mistaken, the different can be felt in texture. How would you know which is what? the label.

Tapioca pearl, size 1 mm.

The original of making Sago Sai Moo is to use pearl sago, but more and more pearl tapioca is used since cassava roots are more easier to grow when Sago palms start to disappear.

At my parents' house, we have a small swamp filled with sago palm trees. We always get a really good use out of them - every parts of the tree can be used. My younger sister and I used to have a play-house our big brother and his friends built for us using sago palm stems to build walls and the leaves to make thatch roof. We even spent a few nights in there.

Later when we needed a new pathway to get to the land, and the only way to get that is to fill the swamp, we decided to fill some small part of swamp just wide enough for cars to pass through, and try to keep sago trees alive as much as we can.

Some small sago trees at my house are growing back after some were cut down to make a pathway.

As expected, I couldn't find pearl sago here in New York, so pearl tapioca went home with me.

Prepare Stuffing
- 1/2 cup ground pork
- 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
- 1/4 preserved radish (found in Asian grocery)
- 1/2 ground roasted peanut
- 1 table spoon herbal paste

- 1 1/2 table spoons fish sauce
- 2 table granulated sugar
- 1 table spoon saute oil

preserved radish

1. Pan on medium heat, add in oil, saute herbal paste until fragrant then add chopped onion, and saute until translucent.

2. Crank up the heat to high, add ground pork, saute until all the pink disappear. Season with fish sauce, sugar.

3. Add ground peanut and preserved radish. Saute all ingredients to incorporate - no liquid left. The stuffing should be a bit sticky together, so it'll hold its shape when forming a ball.

4. Taste it, the stuffing should lead with a bit sweet taste follow with salty, and it should taste a bit stronger than what you think it is because it will be a perfect taste when it is warped with tasteless pearl tapioca.

Set aside and let it cool down completely.

Preparing tapioca pearl

- 1 1/2 cups tapioca pearl (size = 1mm.)
- 1/3 cup or more warm water

Rinse tapioca pearl for a few times. Put them in a medium bowl and gradually add warm water then start to massage them until they're soft and sticking together - add a bit more water if they feel dry.

Cover them with wet paper towel or cheese cloth. Let them sit for 1 hour.
Rinsed pearl tapioca

Shaping, stuffing the balls

Scoop small amount of soaked pearl tapioca with your fingers, flat it out to from a disk shape - about 2 inches wide. Put generous amount of stuffing on and wrap it close forming a small ball - about 1 inch....continue making them.

Lay them on a steamer plate covered with lightly oiled parchment paper - leave some hole open to make sure the steam can come up. (if you can get some banana leave, use it instead of parchment paper. That is what we use in Thailand. It works fantastic for steaming.)

Steam them until they look almost translucent - take about 5 minutes - don't leave them to be completely translucent on the steamer, you will end up with over cooked pearl tapioca.

Tip : Pearl tapioca is sticky while it's still hot. They will stick to everything that comes to contact, so make sure that all tools using to handle it are lightly oiled including the resting plate.

Lightly coating the plate with garlic oil is the best way in this case. It gives Sago Sai Moo a very delicious smell.

It usually serves with fresh green leaves, cilantro and fresh Thai chillies - take a tiny bite for a good kick in a mouth.....

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lime-shake for The Dog Days

Holy Moly!!...We hit 103F today in NYC. It made me feel like a lame chicken in an oven. Normally our apartment can be tolerant the heat very well, but, not today when the heat waves has no mercy.

We usually turn on the AC only at night and turn it off in the morning, which is enough for the cool air to linger inside the room during the day time. With the help of an electric floor fan, we able to manage the temperature inside the apartment at 72F when the outside was 92F. But today is a record.

I could feel the heat right after half an hour of turning off the AC, still I had the orders to finish off and I needed the iron on, so I beat my self up to finish all the orders off before noon and turned on the AC all day and made each of us a glass of lime-shake.

It's my favorite non-alcohol, non dairy drink in the hot days. It is truly simple refreshing with just pure fresh lime juice, simple syrup and a half cup of ice. From this easy recipe, you can make tons of delicious cocktails - Mojito, Amaretto Sour (fresh lime version), Margarita etc.

Make Simple Syrup
- 1 : 1 granulated sugar and water (I love to add a tiny pinch of salt to make the sweetness a little bit round)

Put them together in a pot, heat to bubbling boil, reduce the heat, keep stirring til all the sugar melted. Turn off the heat and let it cool completely.

Shake Shake Shake
- 2 fresh limes, juiced
- 2 table spoons simple syrup
- 1/2 tea spoon salt
- 1 cup of ice
( put in some mint leaves is another good choice)

Put everything in a blender, blend until it becomes smoothie ice and enjoy the hot day. It really works, trust me.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pullman Bread

When I wanted to try to baking breads, I chose this Pullman Bread to be my first try. I just thought that if I knew how to bake this basic bread, I'd never buy sandwich breads again, and we never buy them since.

It really feels good to have a sandwich with your own homemade bread. The fresh taste and homey smell makes everyone happy.

When I first try this recipe, it came out a bit salty for us. I thought the recipe was giving a wrong portion of salt then I remember the surprising face on one of my friend when I told her that we eat rotis with condensed milk and sugar sprinkled on top.

She thought it was weird because when it comes to table breads most westerners love their breads in a bit of salty side.

When I don't bake my own breads, I usually go to Panya, the Japanese bakery on 9th street btw 3&2 Ave. They have white breads just like what we have in Thailand - the familiar taste and texture.

So in this recipe I reduced salt and adjust sugar.

- 4 1/2 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
- 3 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1/2 tablespoon coarse salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/3 cup nonfat dry milk
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups warm water, vegetable oil for bowl and pan

1. Combine the flour, yeast, salt, sugar, dry milk, and butter together with the electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the warm water, and beat on low speed until the dough smooth and elastic, about 5 mins.

2. Oil lightly another large bowl for resting the dough. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and starts knead it by hand about five times to make sure that the dough is fully incorporated, and forms a smooth ball. Put the dough into the oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, let it rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

3. Punch down the dough (one punch is enough) to release air. Pull all the side to the center (a punch hole) Invert the dough in the bowl, so the smooth side is up. Cover it with the plastic wrap again, and let it rise for about 1 hour more.

4. Generously brush a 13" Pullman loaf pan with vegetable oil, making sure to coat the underside of the lid, and all sides of the pan. Set aside.

5. Turn out the dough onto the lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling-pin, roll out the dough to a 13-by-8 inch rectangle, with the long side facing you. With your hands, roll the dough toward you, gently pressing as you go to form a tight log. Pat in the end to make it even. Gently roll the log back and forth to seal the final seam.

6. Place the log into the prepared pan, seam side down. Close the lid with three-quarters left open. Let it rise in the warm place until the log almost touching the lid, about 45 mins. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425F

7. Close the lid completely and bake, rotate the pan halfway through, until the loaf is light golden brown, about 45 mins.

8. Reduce the temperature to 350F, and continue baking for another 30 mins.

9. Transfer pan to w a wire rack, let it cool down for 10 mins. ( the bread should have a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom, if not, continue baking and checking at every 5 mins. until the crust is deep golden brown.

10. Remove the bread form the pan, let it cool down completely before slicing.
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