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*August 2010 COTM - COMPLETE ASIAN: Indonesia; Malaysia; Singapore

Our cookbook for August is The Complete Asian Cookbook, by Charmaine Solomon.

Please use this thread to discuss recipes from the chapters INDONESIA, MALAYSIA, and SINGAPORE

There are a variety of editions and publishers of The Complete Asian Cookbook, although it appears that the recipes for the most part are unchanged between them. Please mention the edition you are using along with the page number when you report on recipes.

The Chowhound Team has asked me to remind you that verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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  1. Taukwa Dan Taugeh (Bean Curd and Bean Sprouts), Pg. 233, 1992 Edition

    This recipe called for "2 squares yellow bean curd." When I first read that I immediately thought tofu. Since I never did find yellow bean curd tofu was what we used...tofu, about 8 oz. bean sprouts, 2 garlic cloves, peanut oil, salt & pepper, and soy sauce to taste. Slice the tofu, rinse the sprouts. Fry the garlic, add the tofu and stir fry about 5 minutes, add the seasonings, serve. I'm embarrassed at how simple this dish was to prep and cook. Perfect for a busy person's dinner, though. Together with the Burmese stir-fried vegetables, steamed rice and broccoli it was terrific. Perfect for a busy person's meal.

    21 Replies
    1. re: Gio

      I've read that in Indonesia they sometimes soak bean curd in water+turmeric to color it yellow. I wonder if that's what they mean by "yellow bean curd" or they mean egg tofu or something completely different.

      ~TDQ

      1. re: Gio

        I was looking at the recipe directly beneath that one (if memory serves) and it calls for the same thing: "2 squares of yellow tofu" or somesuch. And I thought the same - tofu? But then I started second guessing myself. I'd love to make it with tofu, but worry that it will be a disaster because it is the wrong thing. But given you're experience, I'm much more willing to try it out. Thanks.

        1. re: LulusMom

          Is there anything in CAC or Cradle of Flavor that talks about what yellow bean curd is? Unfortunately, I don't have CoF...

          ~TDQ

          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            Good thinking 99! I just looked in my CoF, and he says that cooks in that region normally fry the tofu to a crispy golden color before using. So - tofu same as yellow bean curd? Still somewhat inconclusive. He also says they find unfried tofu boring, so obviously the usual stuff isn't the exact same thing, but you could fry or (one of my new favorite tricks from the Gourmet book) roast/broil it first.

            1. re: LulusMom

              Wellll.... I had Googled "yellow bean curd" and got umpty-nine hits for Tofu. Now let me tell you... when DH added the tofu to the wok he left it alone for a few minutes to sear/brown/crust on a side then turned it over to do the same on the other side. It was delicious. Especially since it had been cooking with the garlic. Then, with the addition of the other seasonings... even better.

              1. re: Gio

                So - you fried it and turned it into - TADA! - yellow bean curd. At least that is how I'm taking this info. Looks like you did exactly the right thing, despite some lack of information.

                Speaking of which, I am finding some of the book kind of unclear. I spent some time at my favorite local asian store this morning and the guy was very helpful. Couldn't help me on everything (I believe he's Chinese), but did give me some good tips.

                1. re: LulusMom

                  Works for me! I will have to consult Gourmet for the roasting/broiling step. Do you think it would work in a toaster oven?

                  ~TDQ

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    How hot does your toaster oven get? I used the oven at something like 475 or 500 (my broiler doesn't work). But maybe lower heat for a longer time *might* work.

                    1. re: LulusMom

                      Hmmm...good question. I guess I've never checked, but it would be easy enough to check with my oven thermometer. It has a "broil" setting that we've used to broil fish and pork chops in the past.

                      ~TDQ

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        If you can successfully broil fish and pork chops in your toaster oven, I'm sure you can broil tofu just as successfully.

                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                          That's what I'm hoping, Caitlin! So much more energy efficient than heating up my whole oven, depending on the amount of tofu, of course.

                          ~TDQ

                        2. re: The Dairy Queen

                          yellow bean curd = a type of tofu. It's not egg tofu which is creamy. This is firm and like a pressed tofu. It's a type of "tuakwa". The type I buy is already pretty firm and yellow. Doesn't require initial frying.

                          Best photos I could find: http://crystalbyblog.blogspot.com/200...

                          http://www.soyafoods.co.th/e_pdinfo5....

                          Malaysian glossary: http://www.malaysianfood.net/glossary...

                          Another riff on this dish is salted fish with the bean sprouts, instead of tofu.

                          1. re: jadec

                            Per your link: "+often tinted yellow with a food colorant"

                            The food colorant is traditionally turmeric, as I understand it. Does that sound right to you, jadec?

                            ~TDQ

              2. re: The Dairy Queen

                The yellow bean curd is a more dense, drier bean curd than the regular "creamy" tofu. You can get it at most asian markets alongside the regular tofu.

                1. re: boogiebaby

                  Do you know what makes it yellow and what makes it more dry?

                  Does it just get pressed and strained longer than regular bean curd; is that was makes it more dry?

                  Sorry, I'm just very obsessed by tofu lately.

                  ~TDQ

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    I believe they just press it more and add some turmeric to it.

                    1. re: boogiebaby

                      Awesome, thank you. Again, sorry for my obsessive line of questioning, I'm just in that kind of mood lately!

                      ~TDQ

                  2. re: boogiebaby

                    Is this perhaps the same or similar to what is often labeled nigari tofu? That is usually sold in flat rectangular blocks in a plastic pack (rather than in water), and it is denser, firmer, and drier than even regular "extra-firm" tofu, and has what could be described as a yellower color (not yellow, but not creamy white). I like its texture.

                    (My understanding is that nigari is a coagulant used in tofu making [just looked it up: magnesium chloride], but this variety of tofu, which presumably requires more of it, is labeled nigari tofu, at least in the US.)

                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                      It's similar in texture and can probably be substituted but is not as yellow. Being from SEA I'm more used to the yellow versions so I prefer to buy those, which are distinct from the nigari types.

                      Just FYI most tofu sold in Asian is marketed at (and often produced by) specific Asian groups. Nigari is a Japanese version. The yellow tofu (this is the name on the package) is generally used by Chinese.

                      1. re: jadec

                        Yes, I know nigari tofu is Japanese - I can get it in lots of markets near me, not just Asian markets, so I thought it might be similar and a decent substitute if availability is an issue.

              3. re: Gio

                After all our discussion about the yellow bean cake, I decided to just go ahead and do my roasted tofu thing. I have NO idea how authentic it was, but it was pleasant (husband actually raved). I made the TAHU GORENG KECAP (p. 204) - aka fried bean curd with soy sauce. You make a sauce/paste of onions, garlic, soy sauce, sugar (I used brown) and either sambal olek or 1 chili. Once I roasted the tofu (about 25 minutes at something like 475), I covered with bean sprouts and sliced green onions, then the sauce. Perfectly nice, but I think the recipe in the Gourmet book (which is fairly similar) is better. Still and all, always great to get a tofu main dish raved about in this house!

              4. Ayam Panggang Pedis (Grilled Chicken with Hot Spices), p. 185

                This is a keeper. I didn't grill, but made it as a roast chicken. I blended the marinade in a food processor - sambal ulek, onion, garlic, dark soy, palm sugar, lemon juice, peanut oil, black pepper and salt. I basted with the leftover marinade a few times and made a sauce with the pan drippings to drizzle over.

                I've been trying a lot of different marinades for roast chicken lately, but E said this one was his favorite. It made a great dinner served with Coconut Rice, p. 266 and Cucumber Salad, p. 449.

                 
                12 Replies
                1. re: Rubee

                  Looks fabulous. And how was the coconut rice?

                  1. re: Rubee

                    Great to hear. This was high on my to try list. That photo just may have pushed it up even higher.

                    1. re: JoanN

                      Thanks Jane and Joan! I posted about the coconut rice on the Burma thread - came out perfect, thanks for the helpful hints Jane.

                      The chicken leftovers made great lunches the last couple of days. E ate it in chicken burritos, while I made Vietnamese summer rolls. I also cut up the leftover Korean cucumber salad (p. 449) and added it too (along with rice noodles, cilantro and scallions).

                       
                      1. re: Rubee

                        I am so jealous of the marvellous meals you seem to knock up at the drop of a hat. Can I come and live with you please, Rubee? I hear it's awfully nice in Phoenix this time of year....

                        1. re: greedygirl

                          Thanks GG! I work at home and do a lot of the prep work during the day/night before. You're welcome any time!

                    2. re: Rubee

                      Thanks for your report on the grilled spiced chicken Rubee. I had it marked, but I never get to every marked recipe in a month (let alone a year later). Your report pushed this to the frontline. We did grill ours, and it was absolutely amazing. Will go into rotation, especially during the warmer months (most of them, in this climate) when we can get the grill going. After the last Indonesian meal, I was slightly nervous about telling Lulu this was more Indonesian food, but she absolutely loved it, and even brought over her globe after dinner to ask where Indonesia is. A huge hit with all of us, and ridiculously easy to make (I didn't use the food processor - just stirred the stuff together). I used chicken thighs and grilled them for about 15 minutes per side. Wonderful.

                      1. re: LulusMom

                        I just made this one last night as well! It was a huge hit with one and all. Had guests over who won't eat anything but boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I know, I know, but they're great in many other ways). It was a tall order to make those flavorful and tender, especially on the grill, but boy did this deliver.

                        I didn't use FP either and the marinade was a snap to put together and smelled great. I did add an extra spoonful of sambal oleek and some extra garlic, as I like big flavors. Marinaded for an hour at room temp and then another hour in the fridge. Did them over indirect heat as instructed, not sure how long, but got great grill marks, great flavor and they stayed super tender.

                        Even my 9 year-old daughter -- who has absolutely zero spice tolerance -- abandoned her hot dog and wolfed some down (with several glasses of water) while exclaiming about how great it was.

                        Took a little cultural swerve and served it with the green couscous from Plenty and a mediterraneanish chickpea, feta, basil and cherry tomato salad.

                        Suffice it to say, a serious keeper. Yum. Although next time I might take Rubee's idea above about using the marinade as a sauce for serving, gilding the lily though it might be. Thanks, Rubee, for pointing this one out -- I had totally overlooked it somehow.

                        1. re: LulusMom

                          Ayam Panggang Pedis (Grilled Chicken with Hot Spices), p. 185

                          I overlooked this recipe during the actual COTM, but LLM's (and Mebby's) mention of this under the Radically Simple posting planted the seed. We finally tried this marinade and it was *great*! We made 3 chicken thighs for the two of us and made half a recipe. I let the chicken marinate this morning before heading off to work and cooked it this evening. Easy, succulent, definitely a recipe to repeat!

                          1. re: BigSal

                            This has become one of the faves around here. Our grill was on the fritz last week, but seems to be up and running again. I'll have to make this once husband gets back to town. Glad you loved it as much as we did.

                            I keep thinking I need to pull this book back off the shelf and try some more from it. I seem to remember that I had more on my list than I was able to get through in a month.

                            1. re: LulusMom

                              Thanks again LLM. I haven't used Solomon's book since last August and it was only a month, which barely scratched the surface. I hope to cook a few more chicken dishes from it to supplement World Vegetarian.

                              1. re: BigSal

                                I think the babysitters must think I'm a bit obsessed (and they're right) when they come into the house and see 3-4 cookbooks piled on top of each other with slips of paper sticking out all over the place. So many recipes, so little time.

                            2. re: BigSal

                              My turn for this recipe. I oven roasted mine as it was pouring with rain outside. Like everyone else, we loved it.

                        2. Singgang ayam - Spiced grilled chicken p.184

                          I wanted to try this recipe as I had never before grilled a chicken that is first cooked on the stove. First the whole chicken is spatchcocked (split and flattened) then marinated in a puree of onions, garlic, chiles, fresh ginger, lemongrass, turmeric and ground coriander. A sauce is made with the rest of the puree and coconut milk. I should have added curry leaves but didn't have any. Then the chicken is simmered in the sauce until done. I got a bit impatient after 30 minutes so probably grilled it earlier than I should as I wanted to speed up the process. The grilling gave an extra flavor to the outside of the bird though the simmering in liquid first meant it didn't get a crispy skin. Good flavor though. While the chicken grilled the sauce was simmered down to a thicker consistency.

                          Nasi uduk - Rice cooked in coconut milk with spices p.170

                          Having not had great success with the coconut rice in the Burma chapter I thought I'd try the Indonesian one. In addition to this being spiced, the other main difference was that this time I made my own coconut milk, following CS's directions on page 11, rather than tinned. The coconut milk was almost as easy as opening a can and I think much better for cooking rice. 2 cups of desiccated coconut whizzed in processor for 30 secs with 2.5 cups of hot water, then strained through muslin, with all liquid squeezed out by twisting the muslin. Then coconut back into processor and the same process repeated. This gave me enough coconut milk for the chicken and rice recipes (though I was only doing 1/3 of the rice recipe).

                          The coconut milk was heated in a pan with a chopped onion, garlic, turmeric, cumin, corinader and lemongrass, the rice added and simmered on lowest heat for 25 mins total. My rice was not quite done at that point but it sat happily off the heat while the chicken finished.

                          I served this with Bean Sprout Salad p.449 in the Korea chapter, which wasn't a perfect accompaniment but I wanted to use up a bag of bean sprouts. The whole meal was a bit monochrome, in shades of yellow and beige but tasty. I will definitely do the rice again, probably the chicken, when I allow enough time for the marinade and simmering. Now got to find a recipe that uses up the leftover chicken.

                          1. Chilli-fried Cauliflower - Sambal Goreng Kembang p.232

                            I made this as an accompaniment to Green Curry of Chicken p. 301 from the Thailand chapter as I had half a head of cauliflower to use up. I'm always interested in new ways to cook cauliflower as it can be a really boring vegetable when just steamed. This one has the cauliflower sliced then cooked with onions, garlic and chopped red chiles (I didn't have any so used some chile powder) and salt that have already been fried until soft and golden. A little water is added, then covered and cooked for 10 minutes. I liked this a lot and will definitely add it to my favorite cauliflower recipes, along with oven roasted with Parmesan and breadcrumbs.

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: JaneEYB

                              This is really good to know, Jane. I recently decided that I like cauliflower better than broccoli which I;ve been cooking and eating all my life...at least once a week. You can just imagine how many different ways I've cooked it. So now I'm concentrating on cauliflower and I'll definitely make this recipe. Thanks.

                              1. re: Gio

                                We should share interesting cauliflower recipes then! Another one I like is Aloo gobi, the Indian potato and cauliflower curry. What were your favorite broccoli recipes as it's one of the few vegetables my kids will happily eat so I'm always looking for variations.

                                1. re: JaneEYB

                                  I Love Aloo Gobi...

                                  Broccoli: We probably have made the very same recipes but some of my favorites are:
                                  >Roasted, of course
                                  >Steamed then sauced with a Bagna Cauda alla Piedmontese
                                  >Broccoli and Grape Tomato Salad from the Bon Appetit Y'All cookbook. Here's my report:
                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6164...
                                  >Stir-fry
                                  >Sauteed and mixed with any cut pasta: Penne, Ziti, etc.
                                  > Frittata

                                2. re: Gio

                                  I LOVE cauliflower. As a teenager I'd eat it raw with cheese (sort of in place of crackers). I like it a lot roasted with cumin seeds. Also make a pasta with lots of garlic and anchovy (either paste or bottled). I think it takes to other flavors better than broccoli. I love the idea of a thread sharing good cauliflower recipes.

                                3. re: JaneEYB

                                  Thanks for the report. I love cauliflower and the funny thing is that I have never steamed it. This is going to the top of my cauliflower list - next time I get a head from the CSA share. I bet Dunlop's salted chiles would be a great addition in place of the red chile peppers.

                                  1. re: JaneEYB

                                    I've been meaning to try this recipe since JaneEYB posted this a year ago. Today, I made this with Ayam Panggang Pedis (Grilled Chicken with Hot Spices) and cabbage stir-fries. This was easy to pull together and included a new ingredient, shrimp belacan. The shrimp belacan imparts a richness to the dish, but is *very* odiforous, more so than fish sauce. The resulting dish was flavorful and something I'd make again.

                                    1. re: BigSal

                                      "odiforous", oh am I laughing, and writing as one who has four different belacan/shrimp pastes/balachang in her fridge, believe me the stuff can becaome addictive, in spite of the olafactory side issues.

                                      1. re: qianning

                                        It was my first time using belacan. :) It will have to stay in my 2nd fridge reserved for other delicious, but stinky foods like kimchee.

                                        What else do you use it in?

                                        1. re: BigSal

                                          we cook a lot of burmese food, so burmese belechang (slightly dfferent from malayasian) is a standard condiment here, as are pure shrimp paste (goes in just about everything burmese) and malaysain belacan (i'm trying to improve my nonya cooking repetoire, slowly but surely), which both get used in various malayasian, nonya, shan and burmese dishes.

                                          1. re: BigSal

                                            a separate fridge for kimchee and belacan, like that idea!

                                    2. Pergedal Goreng Jawa (Javanese Fried Meatballs). p. 193

                                      Surprisingly, this didn't taste as exotic as the ingredients would suggest - which was good for E - but made for tasty, flavorful meatballs. Ingredients included ground beef, potato, onion, garlic, sambal, palm sugar, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, dried shrimp paste (I used belacan), soy, lemon juice, egg. I halved the recipe but forgot and used a whole egg, so some fell apart as I was frying. I also cut down on the onion a bit, it seemed like too much. I served them with some fresh cilantro alongside steamed white rice and spicy sambal. E ate his leftovers sliced up in a sandwich today.

                                      Recipe link:
                                      http://shareindonesiarecipe.blogspot....

                                       
                                      1. RENDANG (Dry meat curry) Pg. 190, 1981 edition

                                        This is the only dish I’ve made from this book recently. I thought this one turned out pretty well, rather like a Madras Beef Kurma with SE Asian overtones.

                                        I pretty much combined the Rendang and Rendang Daging recipes, reduced the tamarind a bit and added 5 chopped Serrano chilies and about ¾ to 1 tsp of Indian chili powder. It came out about a 7 ½ or 8 on the heat scale which is what I shoot for on things I make for myself.

                                        Watch out for the chili powder in her Randang Daging recipe. I don’t know what kind of chili powder she uses but my Indian chili powder is about the same as cayenne pepper so 3 tsp is a lot of heat.

                                        1. Fried Noodles, Singapore Style p.243

                                          I'm a bit hesitant to post about this as I rather played fast and loose with the recipe. But it is such a good foundation for a quick dinner using whatever is in the fridge so it is definitely joining my everynight dinners repertoire. I had some leftover pork tenderloin so that was the protein, no prawns. For veg I had celery and red peppers, both finely diced (no bean sprouts). And I didn't have any black bean sauce so just used hoisin that was in the fridge.

                                          Quick stir-fry of garlic, add hoisin, then pork, cut in narrow strips. Some water added then the veg, a couple of minutes later add cooked noodles and toss. For a very quick dinner using up the dregs of the fridge, this was well received by my kids.

                                          1. Deep-Fried Prawns with Chilli (p. 246 - Singapore)

                                            These were super easy, but compared to pretty much anything in the Dunlop books (yes, I realize they are Chinese, not Singaporean) they were nothing special. They were perfectly fine and we did enjoy, but ended up adding soy sauce at the table - something I really don't ever do. Recipe: finely chop 3 red chiles (maybe my problem was that I had to use serranos; I assume they weren't very hot) and add to that 1 clove of garlic (I used 2) and some ginger along with just a bit of sugar. Cook the shrimp (thats what I used instead of prawns) in the oil for 2-3 minutes, remove and drain, toss most of the oil and add the garlic/chili/ginger mix and fry until fragrant, then add soy sauce and either chinese wine or dry sherry; add back in the rice. Very easy, but not tons of heat or flavor. Again, maybe my chiles just weren't up to snuff and it was a perfectly fine meal, just nothing special. No photo - husband was starving.

                                            1. Stir-Fried Shrimp with Bean Sprouts and Snow Peas, Pg. 245

                                              Instead of doing a take-away for New Year's Eve we've been cooking our own Asian meal, which is a traditional NYE meal in our family, ever since 2008 when we cooked from the Fuschia Dunlop "Land of Plenty" in March of that year. It's so much better using the freshest ingredients and being able to control sodium content, etc. So, last night our mixed Asian menu was this shrimp stir-fry, Oven Roasted Spiced Chicken from China, and Stir-Fried Vegetables from Vietnam, plus steamed Jasmine rice. All recipes are in the Solomon book.

                                              This recipe was made exactly as written with the only substitution being shiitake mushrooms instead of wood fungus. Since we don't eat farmed shrimp we were delighted to find that our local supermarket had Florida Gulf shrimp on offer so that's what we used for this delicious recipe.

                                              Soak the dried mushrooms, clean the shrimp, tail and top the bean sprouts, destring the snow peas. Peanut oil was used to stir-fry garlic and ginger in a wok, add sliced celery, after a few minutes toss in the bean sprouts. Cook till vegetables are crisp tender then remove to a warm platter. Add a little more oil, heat that then add the shrimp and stir-fry till just pink. Add snow peas, stir-fry for a few seconds and return the vegetables to the wok. Create a slurry with cornflour, sugar, light soy sauce, and Chinese wine. Add to wok to thicken the sauce. This was a surprisingly tasty dish even though the only seasonings were basic garlic and ginger with a bit of soy sauce and wine at the end. Very easy to cook, too. .