Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Spiral Chicken Curry Puffs Epok-Epok / Karipap Pusing

Sometimes, I wonder if curry puffs or karipap is a typical Singaporean or Malaysian thingy... because I know many Singaporeans including me have craving for curry puffs at times. or maybe it is just me???

Instinctively, curry puffs is always one of the local food that I love to eat when I'm in Singapore. Being a Singaporean, I have also tried to convince and educate my chili-resisting child the beauty of curry puff eating but sadly, my boy is still not trying. Maybe, my boy is just not Singaporean enough... Or maybe, it is just me that is too nuts about curry puffs??? Being mum, I can't enjoy anything delicious without feeding my child. Maybe I can make non-spicy-non-curry chicken puffs for my boy. Non-spicy-non-curry puffs!!!??? Sounds ridiculous, isn't it? ... but I hope that my boy will like his non-curry puffs as much I love my curry ones! For this reason, I like to compromise...

Years ago, the little fatty me love eating curry puffs. I remember making curry puffs with my grandmother, mum and auntie Lita. Auntie Lita was like part of our family when we were young... She is our helper that lived with us for more than 10 years and had to returned to Philippines reluctantly to fulfill a marriage obligation. You know... words can say how much we missed auntie Lita.

I remember watching how my grandmother giving instructions to my mum and Lita. Like usual, our curry puffs were made with grandmother's agak agak (estimation in Malay) instructions which leaves me minimal amount of information to make mine. Back in those days, we often made two versions of puffs. The chicken curry potatoes ones and the tomato-chilli sardine ones and they are mostly wrapped with an oily pastry containing Planta margarine. Unlike my boy, I love love love my curry and sardine puffs! I often had more than three puffs in a go and packed another few subsequently for school in my Hello Kitty lunch boxes.

Over the years, I have lost grandmother, mum, auntie Lita and my Hello Kitty lunch boxes. I know that it is sad but the least that I possess now is the rest of my family and my memory. A memory that can help me to cook my own curry puffs according to the most traditional way that I like... A memory that also remind me to love and cherish all that I have...

Based on my memory and knowledge, these are the curry puffs with flaky spiral pastry that I have made... Hope that you like them as much I do.

spiral chicken curry puffs epok-epok karipap pusing
My spiral chicken curry puffs
The puffs that I made are mostly filled with these potatoes ...
... cooked with non-curry vs curry seasoning.
This is how I cooked the filling ...
This half was cooked with curry seasoning and the other was cooked with soy sauce and 5-spice powder.
To make a spiral dough, I need to prepare 2 types of dough. 
Then, I had to roll and "roll"...
At this stage, I can clearly see the spiral design on each portion of dough.
I used the mould to shape my first puff initially ...
... and decided to crimp the rest using the traditional method because this is the way I like the most.
My mum said that the addition of shortening in the frying oil can make crisper puffs and I did what she said.
I'm happy to see the defined spiral designs on these puffs ...
... and enjoying them like I always do :)

When these puffs were gone, my boy kept telling me... "Mum! Can you make more curry puffs with no curry for my school lunch?" ... and I said "yes" instantly.

This is how I made my chicken curry and chicken non-curry spiral puffs.

To cook enough chicken curry (or non curry) filling to make 10-12 decent sized curry puffs:

1 tbsp cooking oil, preferably rice bran oil
1/2 of a large onions, finely diced
150g chicken thigh fillet, skinless, boneless, cut into large chunks
2 potatoes, peeled and finely diced
80 ml water or more if required
a pinch of ground white pepper

To season this amount of non-curry filling, add:
3/4 tsp five-spice powder
1/2 tsp chicken stock powder, optional
1/4 tsp salt or any extra to taste
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp dark soy sauce

To season this amount of curry filling, add:
1/2 tsp chicken stock powder, optional
1/4 tsp salt or any extra to taste
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp curry powder or extra according to taste*
1 sprig of curry leaves

* I have used mild curry powder which is good enough for me but not hot enough for my husband. You can use hot curry powder if you like your curry to be spicier.

2 eggs, boiled, shelled and cut each into 8 - you will get a half egg as leftover.

To prepare filling:
In a large frying pan, heat oil with medium-high heat. Cook chicken for 3 mins until slightly browned. Remove chicken from frying pan and set aside. Cook onions for 3 mins until slightly browned. Add potatoes and cook for another 2-3 mins. Return browned chicken into the frying pan. Add water, pepper and seasonings required for either non-curry and curry fillings. Lower the heat to medium-low. Cook filling (with no cover) with occasional stirring until potatoes are tender with a semi-dry texture. If the potatoes are not cooked thoroughly and the mixture is drying up, add gradual amount of water to continue cooking. When the filling is cooked, remove the pan from heat and set aside to cool completely.

Any leftover filling can be kept frozen for 1-2 weeks.

Note: I have cooked 4 times the amount of filling to make extra non-curry and curry fillings. I have cooked the leftover a little saucier and we ate them with plain rice for our weekday dinners.

To make spiral curry puff pastry (mostly adapted from Sam Tan's Kitchen):

Makes 10-12 puffs with decent amount of fillings

For the water dough:

300g all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 egg, small and beaten
1 tbsp of oil, preferably rice bran oil

In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and knead into a soft and pliable dough by hand. Alternatively, you can use a breadmaker or an electric mixer with hook attachment for kneading the dough.

Divide dough into two portions and cover them. Allow them to rest for 30 mins in room temperature.

For the butter dough:

75g cold butter, roughly diced
150g all purpose flour

Using a pastry blender or by hand, incorporate butter into flour until crumbly. Combine all by hand to form a smooth buttery dough. Divide dough into two portions.

Place one portion of butter dough on roughly rolled out water dough. Seal the butter dough inside the water dough. 

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into thin oval shape with a rolling pin. Then, roll it tightly from the bottom end toward the other end like a Swiss roll.

Turn the dough with the spiral side facing you. Roll the dough to form a thin oval shape and then roll it tightly like a Swiss roll.

Using a knife, slice into dough into 2 cm discs starting from its spiral side. The cross section of the dough will clearly show the spiral layers that you have just made.

Repeat the same shaping method with the other portion of water and butter dough.

To assemble the puffs: 

Flatten each disc into a thin circle with a rolling pin.

Place the pastry on a curry puff mould (or use your palm if you don't have one). Place 2 tbsp of filling (or just enough fillings) in the middle and fold the mould or pastry to enclose, peeling off any excess pastry if required

To crimp the pastry manually (like the traditional way), pinch the edges flat and fold in at a 45° angle to form a plait . 

Note: At this stage, the assembled puffs can be be kept frozen for 1-2 weeks. As hard boiled eggs don't freeze very well, please do not incorporate any hard boiled eggs into your puffs if you are planning to freeze them. Fry frozen puff directly if they are required to be consumed.

Heat sufficient frying oil (preferably canola oil with the addition of 2 tbsp shortening in every 400ml for extra crisper texture) in a deep saucepan over medium-high heat. Deep fry the puffs, tossing continuously until golden brown.

Remove with a pair of wooden chopsticks or a slotted spoon, shake off excess oil and drain on kitchen towels before serving.

Happy Cooking

This post is linked to the event, Little Thumbs up organised by Doreen from my little favourite DIY and me, Bake for Happy Kids, hosted by Jasline from Foodie Baker at this post.


Our Little Thumbs Up event starts on the first Tuesday until the last day of the month. Please join us! To join, simply cook or bake any recipe with the theme of the month which is POTATO for July 2014 and link with us at this post anytime until 31st July 2014. 

Don't forget your thumbs up or display this badge! And make sure that: (1) Your post must be a current post preferably within this month. (2) Please mention Little Thumbs Up in your post and link back to Bake for Happy Kidsmy little favourite DIY or/and Jasline from Foodie BakerFor more details, please see this.

What after July 2014? Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe will be the next hostess of August 2014 and her theme is FLOUR! Her Little Thumbs Up event starts on the first Tuesday of August 2014 (5th Aug) until the last day of the month. If you are wondering what kind of flour you can use to participate this event, please check out this message from Diana...

"Flour is an essential ingredient in my (and I am sure, many of your) kitchen. It is the base of pastas and noodles, cakes and biscuits, or even as thickening agents in the making of a roux. The list of food items made using flour is endless. As such, we will be limiting the theme to mainly Wheat Flour, namely:
  • All-Purpose (also known as Plain) Flour
  • Bread Flour
  • Cake Flour
  • Self-raising Flour
  • Pastry Flour
  • Wholemeal Flour
  • Hong Kong (also known as Waterlily) Flour
  • Superlite Flour
  • Top Flour
You must use one of these flours in its raw form in your recipe and you must use at least 1 tablespoon or 10g of these flours in your cooking /baking.

Sorry for being a nag but I like to mention this again...

Yen from Eat your heart out and Mich from Piece of Cake and I (Zoe) from Bake for Happy Kids will be cooking and baking lots of Gordon Ramsay's recipes for the whole month of August 2014.

GORDON RAMSAY!!! Yeah... Love him or hate him! I have to say that I don't exactly adore Gordon Ramsay like crazy but I really like his humour and the food that he cooks.

Sadly, this will be our second last Cook like a Star event. Whether you love Gordon Ramsay or not, I hope that you won't miss this event and enjoy cooking with us.

Join us!!!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Japanese Deep Roasted Sesame Salad Dressing 胡麻ドレッシング - Two Recipes

I love my greens...

... and love them even more with Japanese style sesame salad dressing! This kind of salad dressing is sometime known as goma dressing (胡麻ドレッシング) and of course, goma means sesame in Japanese.

Due to our liking for goma dressing, we have tried all the brands that we can find in the Asian grocery shops in Melbourne. Some are creamier being well homogenized while some are oil based with separate layers. Some are thicker while some are thinner in texture. Some have bites of sesame seed while some can be quite stingy with its sesame content. According to me and my family, the texture and taste of all store bought sesame dressing can vary much between different brands and funny that each of us does have preference to some particular brands.

My boy's and my favourite goma dressing is the Kewpie brand but its delicious creaminess comes with high fat content. My husband's favourite is the one with the word 金 (meaning gold in Japanese or Chinese) on its label as he thinks that this brand of dressing contains more well-roasted sesame seeds than any other brands. However, the health conscious us have eventually choose another brand with lower fat content for our regular consumption despite that it is not as tasty as the kewpie or 金 ones that we like.

A few months back, Jessie from Jessie Cooking Moments told me that she has found a fantastic goma dressing when we were having our usual whatapps chat. I asked for her recipe instantly and then I received a picture of a napkin with a list of ingredients scribbled on it. I was excited seeing the recipe and start asking her lots of questions... Me getting excited over goma dressing recipe!??? Please do not laugh at me. I guess this is what most housewives do... We are excited whenever we exchange recipes!!! LOL!

At that time, I still had a one liter of the low fat dressing to finish and had plan to make this dressing when the bottle of dressing had finished.

I trust Jessie knowing that her dressing is going to be really good but as I was staring at her recipe in the napkin, I was feeling a little concerned of use of raw onion and garlic in the dressing knowing that a few people like my boy, husband, auntie J and K and me are actually NOT a fan of raw onion and garlic. To counter this possibility, here I am trying to make two different goma dressing recipes:

One from Jessie (Jessie Cooking Moments) which is mainly oil base and mine is specially made with sautéd or browned garlic and onions... Sorry but no raw garlic and onion for me, please!

Another from Nami (Just One Cookbook) which is mainly Japanese mayonnaise base and contains NO garlic and onions. Due to religion, the Chinese vegetarians in Asian countries don't eat raw garlic and onion. For the benefits of my auntie J and K, I love to try this NO garlic and onion goma dressing recipe.

Again, due to my liking for goma dressing, Jessie and I had a further whatapps conversation about her recipe. During our conversation, Jessie strongly suggested not to add sesame oil in her recipe... Interestingly, there is sesame oil in Nami's recipe and I have made them all accordingly...

Japanese goma sesame salad dressing
Salad made with Japanese deep roasted sesame salad dressing 胡麻ドレッシング
What is the difference between these two recipes?
... but both contain very aromatic deep roasted sesame seeds!
To achieve its best flavour, it is important to roast the seeds until deep golden colour like this!
To me, grinding makes a lot of difference too in releasing its aromatic flavours. 
Ingredients to make Nami's sesame dressing
Mix all with sesame seeds and mayo to get this... Nice and creamy!
Ingredients (including the roasted sesame seeds) to make Jessie's sesame dressing
This is all I need to do to make Jessie's dressing..
Pour dressing in a bottle. Store in the fridge and use whenever required.

Now, which goma dressing is better?

After trying both homemade goma dressing, I have to say NAY to this low fat store-bought dressing...

Goma dressing with lower fat content - We don't like you anymore! Sorry!
I have to say both goma dressing that I made taste very different and both are equally good in its own way. Here are the advantages of these two beautiful dressings...

Nami's recipe

Mainly made with Kewpie brand mayonnaise, it obviously tastes like the Kewpie brand goma dressing that my boy and I really like. Creamy! Yummy with lots of sesammmme... Oh! It rhymes!

It is really super easy to make because all we need to do to assemble everything. Convenient to make too if the ingredients are the regular seasonings in your pantry as you can make it as and when you want.

For vegetarians who can't consume onion and garlic, this is the perfect dressing recipe for you!

However, the nutritional content, taste and texture of this dressing depend very much on the type and brand of mayonnaise that you use. And, so please bear in mind that the choice of mayonnaise is critical to make this dressing tasting good!

Jessie's recipe

The biggest plus point for this recipe is that it contains NO preservative and NO artificial thickener! And it is very tasty!!! In fact, we reckon that it tastes more like the dressing with the word 金!

For the fact that it is made from scratch with healthful kind of oil intensively flavoured with lots of freshly roasted sesame seeds, you can use any type of oil you like. According to Jessie, olive oil and sesame oil are not preferred as they can be overpowering in their base taste. A neutral tasting oil like rice bran oil or sunflower oil, canola oil are all suitable to use.

The onion and carrot are the great natural thickeners in this recipe. You can use lesser of these if you like a less viscous dressing but we prefer ours to be this thick!

Thanks Jessie! We love this!!! And this will be our regular goma dressing!

Here we go... Two yummy goma dressing made with two brilliant recipes!

Here are my two adapted goma dressing recipes from Jessie Cooking Moments and Just One Cookbook. Both are equally good. Preference can be subjective to each individual taste or needs.

Oil based goma dressing with garlic and onion but no sesame oil

Makes about 300ml

30g white sesame seeds, roasted until light browned and fragrant*
1/4 carrot, roughly chopped
1 small onion, roughly chopped*
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
2 tbsp caster sugar
1/2 cup (120ml) neutral tasting oil, preferably something healthful like rice bran oil
Please avoid using olive oil or sesame oil
1/4 cup (60ml) Japanese rice vinegar
1/4 cup (60ml) soy sauce

Place sesame seeds in a frying pan and roast them over low heat until the seeds develop light brown colour with lots of fragrant. Be careful not to burn the seeds.

Grind the toasted sesame seeds with a motor and pestle until smooth.

In a frying pan with medium heat, cook onion and garlic until they are slightly browned and tender.

Combine all the ingredients in a processor or blender. Process mixture until well combined and smooth.

Pour dressing in a bottle or container and store it with a cover in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Give the dressing a shake before use as it separates into two distinct layers during storage.

*The original recipe contains 15g sesame seeds and 1/4 onion but I have added more to make a more stronger and texture dressing and this has been always our preferred composition.

Mayonnaise based goma dressing with No garlic and onion but with sesame oil

Makes about 75ml

30g white sesame seeds, roasted until light browned and fragrant
2 tbsp Japanese kewpie mayonnaise
2 tbsp Japanese rice vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce (I reckon this is optional)
1 tsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp mirin
1/2 tsp sesame oil

Place sesame seeds in a frying pan and roast them over low heat until the seeds develop light brown colour with lots of fragrant. Be careful not to burn the seeds.

Grind the toasted sesame seeds with a motor and pestle until smooth.

In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix everything together. Pour dressing in a bottle or container and store it with a cover in the fridge for up to 1 week. Give the dressing a good mix before any use as it may split slightly during storage.

Enjoy these dressing with your salad.