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Easy 4-Step Bakkwa Puffs

Bakkwa (also known as rougan) is the Chinese version of jerky, consisting of flattened pieces of dried meat seasoned with sugar, salt and spices. It is very popular among the Chinese community in Malaysia and Singapore, and although you can get it all year round, it is most commonly eaten during the Lunar New Year. We also prepare it differently here; ie cooking the meat over charcoal so it gets imbued with a nice, smoky flavour.

Bak kwa

Photo: Alpha, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve never been much of a bakkwa fan. I don’t hate it – if I was visiting someone during the festive season and they offered me a slice, I wouldn’t say no – but I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to buy it. I’m sure many people would beg to differ though: apparently the line for the Lim Chee Guan brand of bak kwa in Singapore can stretch up to three hours!

Recently, my colleagues were tasked with making a video on ‘unique ways to prepare bakkwa’, and on my part, I had to come up with a recipe. All the good ones like pasta, fried rice and what not had already been taken. Not being much of a cook myself, I initially thought of just frying it as an omelet and calling it a day, but then my mom suggested I use it as filling for pastry, and bake it with cheese. Brilliant, Moomins!

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Closest place to my house selling bak kwa is Oloiya in Bandar Puteri Puchong. Thankfully, Malaysians are a bit saner than Singaporeans (or maybe it’s coz COVID cases are in the four digits daily these days so people are kiasi?) , so there was no three hour queue.

Oloiya sells chicken and pork bakkwa in 100, 300 and 500 g portions. Unlike pre-pandemic times, they no longer display stacks of meat out in the open, probably for hygiene purposes. Instead, everything is vacuum packed and sealed. No tasters as well. It takes away from the traditional shopping experience, but hey – safety first.

I couldn’t visualise how much each portion was because everything was already packed into plastic, so I ordered the middle option (300g – RM35). It turned out to be quite a lot, as there were six pieces inside.

Aside from traditional chicken and pork, Oloiya has items like “Blooming Beauty Pork” (basically dried bacon strips), pork / chicken floss, and snack-sized bakkwa (called Bak-Off. I’m surprised this name got approved for the market lol). For those who are looking for gifts, Oloiya also offers nicely packed gift boxes with options for personalised engraving.

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Anyway enough promo: on to the bakkwa puffs.

Ingredients:

  • 3 pieces store-bought filo pastry (if you’re feeling hardworking, you can make your own – but I don’t have a recipe for that lol)
  • 1 piece bakkwa, cut into thin strips
  • 1 slice cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten (for eggwash)

Method:

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  • Fill half of the filo pastry with bakkwa and top with cheese. Make sure there is enough space at the edges to fold.
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  • Fold pastry into triangles and seal the edges with a fork.
  • Brush egg wash on top of pastry for colour.
  • Pre-heat oven. Set to 180C. Bake for 20 minutes. (PS: If it doesn’t look brown enough, either bake for another 10 minutes, or set the oven to a higher temperature.)
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And there you have it. A creative way to enjoy your bakkwa!

If you think about it, you’re basically making a sandwich of sorts. I mean, you can’t really go wrong with meat + cheese + pastry combo. The pastry gives it a nice and crispy exterior, and the bakkwa’s sweet and salty flavour goes great with cheese. The texture also softens a bit during the baking process, so you actually get meat that is more moist.

What are some of the creative ways you eat your bakkwa? Or do you enjoy it as it is? Let me know if you’re planning to try this recipe, and how it turned out for you! 🙂

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Jade Rabbit Mooncake Series & Mid-Autumn High Tea @ Toh Yuen, Hilton Petaling Jaya

It’s that time of the year again! 

I’m talking, of course, about the Mid-Autumn Festival, which sees hotels, confectionaries and even cafes pulling out all the stops with their mooncakes.

Among them is Hilton Petaling Jaya’s Toh Yuen Chinese restaurant, which recently launched its Jade Rabbit series – inspired by the character from Chinese folklore who lives on the moon and prepares elixirs of life for Chang’E, the moon goddess. The offerings include various flavours of mooncakes and snowskin mooncakes, and come in pretty boxes decorated with images of rabbits.

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Aside from the baked classics such as white lotus paste, red bean paste, black sesame paste and mixed five nuts, Toh Yuen has also put a modern spin into its snow skin offerings, with flavours such as Blueberry Cheese, Pomegranate Raisin, Tiramisu Treasures, Chocolate Walnut Indulgence and Durian Delights. Durian lovers will definitely want to indulge in the latter, which tastes like real durian rather than flavouring, and even has bits of the fruit embedded within.

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Another must-try is the Blueberry Cheese, which has a mild, subtle cheesy flavour in the centre, as well as the Pomegranate Raisin, which is tangy and fruity. The best part is that they’re not too sweet!

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Blueberry cheese. 

You can get the mooncakes ala carte for RM30+ each, purchase a premium Jade Rabbit Series gift box of four pieces for RM118 nett, or two pieces for RM68 nett. The oriental Standard Box of four and the Oriental Bloom Premium Box of four are RM78 nett and RM88 nett respectively.

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Mooncakes aren’t all you can have at Toh Yuen, as they are also having a Mid-Autumn Afternoon High Tea promotion, where you’ll get to enjoy mooncakes as well as several other dishes.

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For our media tasting session, we were treated to plump parcels of har kau, perfectly pleated with chewy, slightly translucent skins enveloping juicy shrimps within. The chicken siumai was excellent as well, topped with delicate fish roe that just explodes in the mouth.

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A more substantial dish would be Chef’s handmade La Mien, which comes topped with deep fried chicken cutlet and bokchoy. Tossed in a light sauce, the noodles have just the right amount of al dente.

The high tea is available until 22 September 2019. For reservations, call +603 7955 9122 or email PETHI_FB@hilton.com.

All of the traditionally baked and snow skin goodies are also available for purchase at the pop-up store in Hilton Petaling Jaya’s lobby or Toh Yuen Restaurant (Level 1) from  until 13 September 2019 as well as from One Utama Shopping Centre (29 August – 13 September 2019).

 

 

 

Hilton Kuala Lumpur Launches Tropical Allure – A Mid-Autumn Series Collaboration With Malaysian Designer Christy Ng

Hey guys!

With the Mid-Autumn Festival just two months away, some hotels and brands are already rolling out their mooncakes. Fans of Hilton Kuala Lumpur‘s mooncakes will recall their unique collection of mooncake boxes last year, which were designed in collaboration with Khoon Hooi (they were absolutely gorg, by the way).

This year, the hotel has teamed up with Malaysian shoe designer Christy Ng for their Tropical Allure series – a beautiful mooncake box that looks great on its own as a statement piece.

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Available in two colours – Crimson Red and Royal Purple – the rounded faux leather bag features hibiscus prints paired with gilded zippers and trimming. Aside from hand-carry, the bag can also be converted into a crossbody bag by attaching a handbag strap (sold separately for RM20). Each box comes with four pieces of Chef’s choices’ baked mooncakes at RM168. The Snow Skin Package retails for RM178, with any choice of four pieces of snow skin mooncakes. If you just want the bag and not the mooncakes, its RM148.

Classy and elegant!

The Hibiscus print also matches the hotel’s signature snowskin mooncake – the Chynna Rose (after China Rose, another name for the hibiscus flower, with ‘Chyna’ being the name of the hotel’s Chinese restaurant).

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The Chynna Rose features lusciously smooth lotus paste infused with ginseng, tart hibiscus jam and crispy almond nibs, all encased within a subtle lavender-hued snow skin.

I’ve never been a big fan of mooncakes because of how sweet they are (you tend to feel queasy after a few bites), but the Chynna Rose is not overly sweet, and the tartness of the jam is rather refreshing.

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Hilton KL chefs demonstrating how they create their signature snow skin mooncakes during the launch of the series.

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The wooden molds that are used to get perfectly shaped mooncakes. The chef explained that traditionally you’re supposed to knock three times to get the mooncake out of the mold, but I can’t remember why lol.

Aside from Chynna Rose, you can also opt for the hotel’s other renowned snow-skin flavours, such as the Heavenly Gold (Snow Skin with Pure Premium Musang King Durian – RM56), Blue Moon (Snow Skin Amaretto Lotus Paste with Blueberry Cheese Feuillantine – RM35) and Flower Drum (Snow Skin Lotus Paste with Soft Custard Egg Yolk – RM35).

For those who prefer the classics, there is Baked White Lotus Paste (RM35), Baked Pandan Paste with Single Yolk (RM35), Baked Red Bean Paste with Almond Flakes (RM35) and Traditional-style with Five Nuts Mix (RM38).

(From left) Hilton Regional General Manager Jamie Mead, model, designer Christy Ng, Director of Business Development Alex Cotterill and Director of Marketing and Comms Eugene Oelofse.

The Tropical Allure series is available for purchase at the pop-up store in Hilton Kuala Lumpur’s lobby until 13 September 2019, as well as at major shopping malls such as Pavilion Kuala Lumpur (23 August – 12 September 2019), Mid Valley Megamall (22 August – 13 September 2019) and One Utama Shopping Centre (29 August – 12 Sepetember 2019). Alternatively, order online at takehome.hiltonkl.com, call +60322642006 or email kulhi_chynna@hilton.com.

*Photos not watermarked courtesy of Hilton Kuala Lumpur. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FoTD: Yau Char Gwai – How The Chinese Breadstick Got Its Unusual Name

Hey guys!

You know how people have OOTD (outfit of the day) posts to show off their coordi and style? Not a fashionista, so I thought it’d be a great idea to do an FoTD – Food of The Day – series instead, where I post about interesting food items and the stories behind them!

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Last week for unknown reasons, I had an intense craving for Chinese breadsticks, known locally among the Cantonese-speaking population in Malaysia as yau char gwai. Literally translated, the name means ‘ oil fried ghost’, or ‘a ghost/devil fried in oil’. Legend has it that in the Song dynasty, an evil couple, jealous of a well-loved general, colluded with the enemy to frame him. The general was executed, much to the anger of the citizens. They protested by creating two human-shaped pieces of dough joined in the middle to represent the couple, frying the pastry in hot oil as if done to the traitorous couple.

What I like about yau char gwai is its simplicity – the sticks are made from dough and a bit of salt and sugar for seasoning, but typically do not have a lot of flavour. They are crispy on the outside and airy and porous on the inside, making them great for dipping and as an accompaniment to drinks and soups, such as bak kut teh (meat in a herbal soup), soya bean, porridge, coffee and even Milo. They are also cheap and filling; the above two pieces cost only RM3 (0.73 USD).

Yau Char Kwai can be found in many regions, in particular China and Southeast Asia. i goes by other names, such as youtiao (Mandarin Chinese), Cha Kway (Cambodia), Bicho (Philippines), Cakwe (Indonesia), E Kwa Kway (Myanmar), Pathongko (Thailand) and dầu cháo quẩy (Vietnam).