Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Think sweet!

My friend Sophia, who was born and grew up in Asia, makes fabulous ethnic desserts, so I was quite thrilled when she agreed to give me a cooking lesson on how to make a couple of them. The first dessert was Indonesian, and involved mixing grated coconut, grated cassava, butter, eggs, sugar and flour together, spreading in a pan and then steaming for 40 minutes. Sophia has made this dish so many times, she doesn't use a recipe.
A Malaysian dessert made with sticky rice flour.

While this was steaming, she showed me how to make a Malaysian dessert with glutinous rice flour. It was even easier! She adds salt and Pandan, a Thai flavoring which turned the flour green. Next you mix in water and sugar, and then form a tablespoon or so of the dough into a ball. Flatting the dough to a round circle, then plop a small chunk of brown sugar cane on the dough and form a ball around it. You then drop the ball into boiling water until it floats to the top. Remove the ball from the water and dredge in grated coconut. It's best to eat these slightly warm, as the sugar cane melts into a liquid that explodes -- delightfully -- in your mouth. Yum!

The Chinese have a very similar dish, called tang yuan but is stuffed with a sweet bean paste instead of sugar cane. This treat is served at the Lantern Festival which occurs 15 days after Chinese Lunar New Year.

Are you going to China?

If you're planning a trip to China, check out my website, and feel free to email me with any questions.

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