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Friday, May 28, 2010
One of the highlights of my recent vacation trip in Taiwan was to visit the morning wet market. As we wandered down the single street market at Shuanglian (双莲市场) I felt like a little girl who has just wandered into a candy shop... I could feel my eyes glinting at the wide spread of fresh vegetables, fruits and seafood. At that moment, I honestly wished that I was residing in Taipei so that I could bring back all these fresh goodies and cook up a storm!
Among the jumbo peanuts, luscious mangoes, giant water melon and arching fish, the one item that fascinated me most was the bamboo shoots. Spring bamboo shoots are in season now and I have never seen so many fresh, plump bamboo shoots in my life. We don't normally get bamboo shoots here in Singapore. Most of the time they come already cooked and packed in vacuum packs. I was lucky that during one of the dinners with my customer (yes, I still met my customer for dinner on sunday), he had insisted that we order the bamboo salad. 90% of fresh bamboo shoot is actually water, hence the crunch is really refreshing and fresh bamboo shoot does not have the unpleasant smell that I am not too fond of in cooked bamboo shoots.
It was after this bamboo shoots siege in Taiwan that I was reminded of a Teochew Style snack which we normally have for breakfast in Singapore. Known as Soon Kueh, they literally mean Bamboo Shoots Dumpling... only irony is, the Soon Kueh we get in Singapore is filled with turnip instead of bamboo shoots. I have asked a few friends why this is so and we've arrived at 2 main conclusions :
1. Bamboo shoots are more expensive and not readily available ;
2. Cooked bamboo shoots has a pungent smell which may not agree with most people here.
So, with this spark of inspiration, I decided to embark on this seemingly crazy feat of making Soon Kueh. Crazy because they are readily available in the market - friends and fellow colleagues just cannot understand why I would want to go through the hassle of cooking my own turnip filling and kneading my own dumpling dough. Well, they don't cook and they don't blog -so they will never be able to understand.
Soon Kueh is a fist sized dumpling filled with shredded turnip cooked with bean paste and dried prawns. The ingredients can be varied by adding mushrooms, bamboo shoots and even fresh prawns. The wrapping of the dumpling can either be made with a blend of Tapioca flour and rice flour or in my case, I have chosen to work with wheat starch (tang flour, 澄面粉) . The wheat starch gives the wrapping a transparent and chewy consistency - not unlike the dim sum Harkow (shrimp dumpling) skin.
I am not very dexterous with my hands and took a while to get a dumpling that resembles the Soon Kueh.
I tried to roll out the dough into the thinnest resilient thickness I could manage and make sure that I don't get too greedy when I pile on the filling. I am happy with the results of this first attempt. The snack is especially tasty when served with fragrant fried shallots oil.
Wrapping (Adapted from AsianEasyRecipe)
375 g Tang Mein (Wheat Starch)
180 g Tapioca flour
450 ml Boiling water
3 tbsp Shortening/oil
Oil for greasing
Filling (Adapted from Madam Neo's 家常好菜)
3 tbsp Oil
1 tbsp Minced garlic
1 tbsp Soybean paste (Tauchio)
1 tsp Sugar
1 tsp Salt
55g Dried shrimps
1. Peel turnip and cut into strips and soak in water. Drain and set aside.
2. Add oil to a heated wok. Fry garlic until fragrant and brown. Add bean paste, sugar, salt and fry for a 3 mins.
3. Add dried shrimps and fry for another min. Add water and heat to boil.
4. Add turnip and cook until liquid almost dries up.
5. Cool down and set aside.
1. Put Tang Mien, tapioca flour into a mixing bowl, pour in boiling water and mix quickly with ladle or big spoon. Cover and leave aside for 15 minutes.
2. Add in shortening/oil and knead into a pliable dough. Roll out in a cylinder 4 cm /1 1/2 in, in diameter. Cut with a sharp knife into 2 cm/3/4 in slices. Dab a little oil on both sides of the slice and roll out gently into thin round shapes.
3. Place 2 teaspoons filling in the centre of each slice of dough and fold in half. Seal the edges by pressing together. Cut the edge with a pair of scissors for a neater edge.
Grease steaming trays with 1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable or cooking oil and steam Soon Kueh for 15-20 minutes. Remove and then brush with oil.
Serve hot with fried shallots oil, sweet soya sauce and chilli .
When making the dough/skin, you must use boiling water to mix with "tang mien". this is to ensure "tang mien" is cooked and skin will not crack easily during wrapping.
When wrapping, try to press out all the air so that it is compact.