For this leg of our travel through the baker’s atlas, we find ourselves mixing Chinese and Malaysia cooking. The cultural mix is called Nyonyas/Baba.
Stew, soup, chowder, chili … do they make you tear your hair out and want to trash your camera. I love them all. I have multiple books on each. I have hundreds of recipes for them that we’re wild for. I make them through every season. Certainly the flavor and pedigree for many of the recipes is very blog worthy. But, really now how can you wax eloquent on something that looks like dog food straight out of the can?
I absolutely loved cooking this chicken curry. I started by soaking 4 dried red chiles and then pureeing them with shallots, ginger, garlic and a few macadamia nuts.
Soaked Chilies and the puree … they make don’t make exciting photos, at least not with the camera in my hands. Toasting the spices for the curry was heaven. Toasted cinnamon stick, cloves, coriander seeds, and cumin seeds all get ground up in a mortar with pestle and finally turmeric is mixed in with the ground spices. The Chilie puree is fried in a small amount of olive oil for several minutes and then the toasted ground spices added to that.
Finally the chicken and part of the coconut milk are added to the rich sauce and allowed to simmer. This is where the photos start to transform into less than appetizing enticing visuals.
Now the “bread” for this recipe is pancakes. Not just ordinary pancakes although the ingredient list is simple and not to unlike ordinary pancakes or crepes: white whole wheat flour, salt, coconut milk, a touch of oil and an egg. What sets these apart and creates the challenge is that word “lacy”. My first batch of lacy pancakes were created in ignorance – you know that old saying of a picture is worth a thousand words.
Yes, ignorance. I thought these were lacy. Then Elizabeth put up this link and I was sunk. Not only were the pictures of the prepared dish of the chicken and pancakes “pee-uck” (the unmentionable dog food) my “lacy” was not lacy. So try again I simply had to. The dinner was very fine, we were both happy taste wise but I wanted lacy! How nice to have just a little of the chicken left over! Lacy, you will be mine …
Several days later, thinking bigger holes, thinner batter I tried again with the lacy. I tried the tin can with bigger holes … lost half my batter through those bigger holes and got one large and I do mean large SOLID pancake. Next I tried with a pancake gadget again only with thinner batter – I just added more coconut milk until I thought it would work better.
With just a little practice I got something much closer to LACY! So I had a lacy pancake, now could I get something that might make you interested? Remember I said I had leftover chicken curry.
Color, a veggie, interest, needs something more …
Leftovers become an elegant appetizer for a little bites dinner! Holy Moly now that seems like a little bit of genius. As is so often the case with stews and soups, the next day this was even better! Now, I just have to let my hair grow back.
My fellow bloggers cooking/baking their way through Flatbreads and Flavors:
|Gretchen Noelle||Heather @girlichef|
February 26, 2012 at 11:09 pm
Not surprising that you were able to take pedestrian pancakes and stew which you claim looks like dog food and end up with a gorgeous, elegant, asparagus decorated, tiny bite delight. Sounds like a wonderful book and fun dinner.
February 27, 2012 at 7:37 am
Beautiful! I love your tapas plating of the dish, and great lace!
February 27, 2012 at 8:07 am
Aha!! Not dog’s breakfast at all! I must say that I’m quite relieved to hear that I’m not the only one who thinks that curry looks rather questionable when photographed. I took a photo of ours when it was still in the wok. Oh my. The horror.
I do like your first non-lace swirl pancakes. But the lacy one is simply gorgeous. A work of art. I would expect to see something like that at MoMA.
February 27, 2012 at 8:46 am
The non-lace didn’t look too bad Elizabeth but they didn’t cook through as well. I think the lacy actually allows them to cook better.
February 27, 2012 at 8:44 am
Oh wow.. from the unmentionable to elegant (and all the other things Elle mentioned haha) really fashionable bites!
I’m amazed how good your spices and paste looks! Wasn’t that just the most alluring smell? I loved that.
February 27, 2012 at 8:45 am
Alluring it was Karen. Loved the toasting and the grinding even!
February 27, 2012 at 9:20 am
WOW! I love those tapa art pictures you created! Lovely artwork!