Wednesday, 23 January 2013
Bubor Cha Cha (Nyonya Yam, Sweet Potato and Sago Jewels in Coconut Milk)
Bubor Cha Cha, the very mention of it would trigger a snigger or two. Is it a dance? I was asked by those who suffered from childhood depreviation of this legendary Nyonya pudding. Oh I do feel sorry for them lost soul who doesn't know the good of it. No it's not a dance fool! You might be confusing it with the popular cuban Cha-Cha-Cha dance but make no mistake, a dance it is most certainly not.
I know we Peranakan are famous for the arrays of delicate Nyonya kuih that requires the agility of a master contortionist to twist and bend the dough into multi-colours and drool-inducing cakes but to me, this simple pudding is all it takes to transport me back to my childhood.
Although preparing this beautiful pudding is time consuming but the end result is most definitely worth it. The most labour intensive part of this is the making of the tapioca/sago jewels but these days, you can easily get them ready made from any good Chinese supermarket which will save you some time. All they requires then is to simply drop them into boiling water to cook them and Bob's your uncle. However, for me, the best memories of this was the making of these coloured jewels with my nan. With my tiny hands stained in an eclectic mix of red, blue and green, tiny pieces of coloured dough would be magically transformed into bright, glorious gem stones.
With the recent sudden spell of heavy snowfall that is blanketing the whole of London, what could be better than to have a bowl of these warming and comforting Bubor Cha Cha to get you through the freezing cold weather.
Ingredients (Serves 4-6)
550g-600g sweet potato (use a mixture of yellow, white or purple sweet potato)
1l coconut milk
450g caster sugar
4 pandan leaves, tied into a knot
For the tapioca/sago jewels:
250g tapioca flour, plus extra for dusting
1l cold water
red, blue and green food colouring
Peel the sweet potato and yam. Cut into 1 cm cubes.
Prepare a steamer and steam the cubes for 15 minutes until they are cooked. Do this in batches if necessary. Set aside.
Meanwhile, combine the coconut milk, sugar and knotted pandan leaves in a large pan and bring to the boil over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar completely. Turn off the heat and allow to cool. Discard the pandan leaves
To make the tapioca/sago jewels, sift the tapioca flour into a large bowl. Add about 5-6 tablespoon of cold water and mix well with a spatula or wooden spoon to form a fine paste.
Bring the rest of the water to the boil in a pan. Pour in about 80-120ml (depending on the absorbent of the flour) of boiling water to the flour paste until it changes texture and colour and turn onto a thick, opaque paste. Continue to mix well to remove any lumps. Replace the pan back onto the heat and allow it to boil gently.
Lightly dust the work surface with some tapioca flour and transfer the thick paste onto this. Divide int three potions. Add enough colouring to each portion to turn then into red, blue and green. Roll each portion into long strips, roughly about 1cm diameter. Cut the strip into 1 cm squares (it doesn't matter if it's not perfect).
Turn up the heat and bring the simmering water to a rapid boil, adding more water if necessary. Drop in the tapioca squares and cook them in batches. They are done when they risen to the top. Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge them into a large bowl of cold water to prevent them from sticking together.
To serve it chill, combine the yam, sweet potato, tapioca jewels and coconut and chilled in the fridge for a few hours before serving.
Alternatively, gently warm up the coconut milk over medium-low heat and add the bits to this before ladling the bubor cha cha into individual serving bowls.