Sunday, 27 January 2013
Remembrance Of Snacks Past - Soon Kueh 笋粿 (Steamed Bamboo Shoot and Turnip Parcel)
Soon Kueh, literally meaning bamboo cake in Teochew, is a very popular snack back in Singapore. Traditionally, these are made with bamboo shoots, bangkwang (also known as yam bean/jicama or Mexican turnip), shiitake mushroom and dried shrimps. Disappointingly, many hawker vendors tends not to include Soon or bamboo, in their filings these days but the best stall will as the addition of the bamboo shoot gives a subtle sweetness, therefore much better flavours.
This is one of my favourite snacks back in my teenage years and something that I would often made a special detour after school to my favourite stall just to buy a handful of these and then munch through them on the way home. It was a good hour and a half's journey and yet, that had never stopped me from accomplishing the mammoth trek just to cater to my personal indulgence. However, ever since I left Singapore, I had less opportunity to fulfilled my cravings for these beautiful delicate parcels which is why I had to resort to making this myself often in order to satisfy my own gluttonous desires.
This recipe will yield about 30 parcels which might look a lot but trust me, they are so moreish that you will find them dwindling in numbers as soon as they comes out of the steamer. If by pure luck that you still have some leftover, they are absolutely delicious lightly pan-fried the following day for a crispy and delightful snack, top with a dollop of good chilli sauce. My favourite will be with some Nyonya Sambal chilli for that extra spicy kick. So good!
Ingredients (Makes about 28-30 parcels)
1 small yam bean/jicama/bangkwang, roughly 500g, peeled and cut into julienne
200g cooked bamboo shoots (vacuum packed or tin are both fine), cut into julienne
4 large dried shiitake mushroom, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes
1 tbsp dried shrimps/hae bee, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes
1 tbsp peanut or sunflower oil, plus extra for brushing
2 shallots, peeled ad thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp shaoxing rice wine
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp chicken stock or water
sea salt and ground white pepper, to taste
2 spring onion, cut into rings, to garnish (optional)
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped, to garnish (optional)
3 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, to garnish
Sweet flour sauce or ketchup manis and chilli sauce, to serve
For the dough:
250g rice flour, plus extra for dusting
80g tapioca starch
3 tbsp peanut or sunflower oil
Prepare the filling. Drain the mushroom, remove the tough stalk and thinly sliced. Drain the dried shrimps and roughly chopped.
Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat. When smoking, add the shallots, garlic and dried shrimps and stir fry for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and yam bean and cook for another 3-4 minutes before adding the bamboo shoots, followed by the rice wine, soy sauce, sugar, stock or water and season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes, until the yam bean is tender and the mixture is almost dry. Remove and set aside to cool.
Bring the water to the boil. Meanwhile, sift the rice flour and tapioca starch into a large mixing bowl. Pour the boiling water into the flour mixture and stir to mix well with a spatula or wooden spoon until smooth. Lightly dust a work surface with some rice flour, turn the dough onto the work surface. Make a depression on the dough and pour in the oil. Knead well to incorporate the oil into the dough. Cover the dough and rest for 10 minutes.
With damp hands, knead the dough until smooth and pliable. Divide the dough into 28-20 equal portions and cover them with a clean, damp tea towel to prevent them fro drying out while you start forming the little parcels.
Lightly dust the work surface and roll each portion into a thin circle, roughly 10 cm in diameter and 1-2 mm thick. Trim with a cookie cutter if you want a perfect circle. Place 1-2 tablespoons of filling onto the centre of the dough circle. Fold the circle in half to enclose the filling. Press on the edges to seal well. If they don't adhere, mix some rice flour with a bit of water into a paste and use this as an adhesive to seal. Repeat with the remaining dough and fillings.
Prepare the steamer. Lightly brush the steaming tray with some oil and arrange the soon kueh on it, space slightly apart. Stream for 10-12 minutes, until the dough turn slightly translucent and the soon kueh are cooked through. Do not overcrowd the steamer and do this in batches so the soon kueh can cook evenly.
Once cooked, brush the surface of the soon kueh with some oil to prevent them from sticking. Transfer onto a serving dish and garnish with the spring onion and chillies if using. Serve warm with the sweet flour sauce and chill sauce on the side.