Monthly Archives: March 2013

Malaysian Joong

My grandfather used to make joong – tamale-like packets of glutinous rice, meat, and other goodies wrapped in bamboo leaves – that I loved to eat. They are available in Chinese supermarkets, but they never quite have the wonderful fillings that my grandpa included in his. So I was delighted when Angela Liu’s mother, Wan, offered to teach Katie Chio and me how to make them. Wan’s family came from the same area of China as my grandpa, but her joong were Malaysian style, made in a different shape and with different fillings from the traditional Cantonese joong. Still, I was eager to learn so I could later include the fillings I remembered when I made my own.

The Malaysian joong are tetrahedral in shape – with 4 equal triangular sides – instead of the elongated pillow shape of the Cantonese versions, and they are filled with a mixture of  diced pork belly, shrimp, Chinese mushrooms, and ground coriander. The tricky part about making these joong is the wrapping of the bamboo bundles. Katie was a star student, picking up the technique quickly, but the one lesson wasn’t enough for me to perfect my wrapping technique; it will take more practice for me to replicate the tightly wrapped bundles that Wan created. Still, they turned out quite deliciously and despite the different filling ingredients, brought back fond memories of my grandpa’s joong.

28231619Malaysian Joong

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 packet bamboo leaves

kitchen twine

5 pounds long-grain sweet rice

5 shallots, sliced

1/2 cup oil

5 1/2 teaspoons salt

Filling:

1 3/4 pounds pork belly, with skin removed, diced

8 ounces dried Chinese mushrooms, soaked in hot water, and diced

dried shrimp (optional)

2 teaspoons ground coriander

3 teaspoons white pepper

salt, pepper, and sugar to taste

PREPARATION:

Wash and soak the rice for two hours.

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Take about 75 dried bamboo leaves and boil them in a large pot of water for 30 minutes to soften them. Cut off the tough stem ends of the leaves. Wash the leaves. Soak them again in cool water to keep them soft.

Sauté the shallots in oil until brown. Drain the rice. Stir in salt and shallot cooking oil.

Prepare string to tie joong by making a bundle of five strings, each 2 feet long, tied together with a loop at the end. Make 8 bundles. Place the loop of one bundle around a supporting hook, with space below it to place and tie a joong.

Now the tricky part: wrapping. Probably best understood by watching the process in the following videos. I’ve provided 3 videos of Wan making 4 joong to provide different perspectives and clarify points of the wrapping process.



Place two bamboo leaves together, overlapping by about two thirds, with the smooth side of the leaves facing up. Fold the leaves to the side and up, about 1/3 way up, to form a pointed pocket, cradled in your left hand. Put 2 heaping tablespoons rice into the pocket, then 3 heaping tablespoons filling, then top with 2 heaping tablespoons rice, filing the pocket.

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Fold the top down across the rice packet. Tuck down the left, then right edges of the top leaves, cradling the outside of the packet. Bring the sides of the top leaves together and wrap around to the right of the packet.

Take one strand of string and wrap it around the joong twice. Make a square knot, tightening the tie by pulling against the string supported by the hook.

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Continue wrapping joong with the remaining leaves, rice, and filling.

Boil a large kettle of water. Place the joong into the water and return water to a boil. Lower the heat and gently simmer the joong for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on the size and density of the joong.

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Cut string, unwrap joong, and discard the leaves & string. Serve.

Cooked joong may be refrigerated or frozen. Thaw, steam to reheat and serve.

Warm joong can also be sliced, flattened, coated with a beaten egg, and browned in a fry pan.

May be served drizzled with oyster sauce.

2815101628151106Thank you, Wan, for the wonderful lesson!

Fried Sesame Balls (Jin Deui 煎堆)

Angela Liu’s mom, Wan, came over from her home in Malaysia to help with Angela’s baby delivery and care. As a bonus, Wan instructed Angela and a few friends how to prepare various Cantonese dishes.

DSC09584The first dish was fried sesame balls. I was especially excited to take her lesson on this, as sesame balls straight out of the fryer are a real treat. Like fresh bagels, sesame balls, once cooled, just aren’t the same.

DSC09617FRIED SESAME BALLS / GLUTINOUS RICE BALLS

INGREDIENTS

Red Bean Paste:

1 pound red beans

8 cups water

Glutinous Rice Balls:

1 3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup oil

1 pound glutinous rice flour

1 cup sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup boiling water

1 cup white sesame seeds

Peanut oil for frying

PREPARATION

Soak the red beans in cold water for two hours. Drain and discard the water. Add the cups water to the beans and bring the water to a boil. Cook the beans over low heat for about 1 1/2 hours, until they are tender.  Purée the cooked beans in a blender. Heat the puréed beans in a hot wok with the sugar and oil to make a paste. Let cool.

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Mix the water slowly until the flour forms a ball, adding water as needed, to create a dough of thick pie dough consistency.

Pull off about a 1/2 inch marble of dough. Flatten into a concave disk about 2 inches in diameter.

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Make a small marble of red bean paste. Place it in the center of the dough disk. Seal the dough to make a ball and roll it between your hands to make it round.

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Roll the ball in the sesame seeds and coat it thoroughly. Roll the ball between your hands to press the seeds lightly into the dough. Place on a plate and continue to make additional balls.

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Heat the oil in a wok to a low frying temperature (about 325°). Lower heat to medium-low (warning: higher heat will cause the sesame seeds to burn). Put a batch of five balls into the hot oil and roll them around in the oil periodically for about the first two minutes of cooking. They will start to brown.

Press each ball down with a flat spatula against the bottom of the wok for about 10 seconds until it begins to puff, then release it and move on to the next ball. When done with all the balls, return to the first one and press it down against its edge, shaping it back into a ball, for another 10 seconds until it begins to puff again. Release and proceed with the other balls. Continue this pressing for about eight minutes, until the balls have become golden brown. drain on paper towels.

Here’s a secret: The more you press them, the larger the ball will puff and the thinner the shell of the ball will become! So if you like the balls thin and delicate, press away!

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Serve and eat while warm and crispy.

Makes about 4 dozen sesame balls.

NOTE: Glutinous rice flour can be found in any Asian market. Here is a photo of the brand we used.

Every St. Patrick’s Day, supermarkets run sales on their corned beef and I hunger for that old familiar taste. This year, as I did last year, I bought some corned beef and tried cooking it sous vide again. I think I perfected my recipe this year.

I tried a couple of different recipes last year (cooking at 135° for 24 to 48 hours, with the spice packet sprinkled around the beef), but the recipes didn’t quite give me the familiar texture I recalled from my youth, and the spices clung to the beef. I searched again for recipes online, combined ideas from different ones – this one, cooking at 178° for 10 hours  – and I ended up with what I had been searching for.

As with all other preparations, the cooked corned beef lost 40% of its weight by throwing off juices. Wrapping the spices in cheesecloth kept the meat clean, while still flavoring it.

The meat was perfectly cooked, fork tender yet not flaky, and retaining its luscious fat.

DSC04723SOUS VIDE CORNED BEEF

INGREDIENTS:

3 pounds corned beef (from supermarket, vacuum packed with spice packet)

4 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces

4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and halved or quartered (depending on size)

1 head cabbage, washed and cut into six or eight wedges

PREPARATION:

Heat water in sous vide cooker to 178°.

Remove beef and spice packet from vacuum pack. Wash beef well and place in a gallon Ziploc freezer bag. Wrap the spices a piece of cheesecloth (several layers thick) and tie with string into a bag.  Place atop beef in the freezer bag. Suck air account and seal.

Place beef flat in the sous vide covered in 178° water, weight down with the rack, and cook for 10 hours.

Heat 8 cups of water in a large cooking pot and until almost boiling (best, below 178°). Turn off heat.

Drain the cooking liquid from the cooking bag into a container, with the wrapped spice ball.

Place the beef from sous vide bag into the hot water in the cooking pot, and let it sit for about 30 minutes. This will remove the excess saltiness from the beef and flavor the cooking water. Put the beef back into the Ziploc bag, suck the air out, and reheat in the sous vide cooker at 178°.

Pour cooking juices and spice ball into the cooking pot, with the vegetables. Bring to a boil and cook for about 45 minutes.

Remove the corned beef from the sous vide bag and slice across the grain into 1/2 inch slices. (Because the beef is so tender, it doesn’t need to be sliced thinner.) Serve with the boiled vegetables and ketchup, if desired (I find the ketchup adds a nice sweet and sour element to the salty beef).

The corned beef slices and vegetables reheat well in the microwave, but be sure not to overnuke the meat!