Gong Xi Fa Cai!
Although the atmosphere isn't as festive as SG, KL or any Asian countries, the lovely greetings made me feel part of it. It was funny ringing home last night, especially we were asked "so how did you spend your day!?"-probably expecting an exciting answer and they were greeted with "work" and "writing". LOL.
For CNY, food plays a big part. Families reunite to have meals together, how meaningful is it? So despite not being able to be with my immediate family members, we did attend a gathering of some sort. We were at a steamboat dinner on Monday. Ar's dad's cousins (= AR's uncles) have always been kind and welcoming, inviting us over for dinners/lunches/celebrations. This year was no exception and they invited us to be part of their family tradition of having a steam boat dinner.
My grandmother has always taught me to be courteous. The "don't go empty handed" rule always come in place and so far... I don't think I attended any gatherings of some kind without bringing something. But I also know that Auntie Annie is a fantastic cook and she would probably prepare lots of food
So Peony's recipe of Chendol Agar Agar (Jelly) caught my attention straight away! Yes, it requires abit of patience but it was worth every second of it. How pretty it is? The best thing is that I made this the day before, so I just need to change, grab box from fridge and turn up for dinner! Oh, and did I mention that the steam boat dinner was held on a 36C day? LOL
You may say that it's not real chendol, especially since I took short cuts and couldn't find red beans in time. Also, they sell gula melaka by the CHUNKS here, it took me like 15 minutes to grate 5 grams of it man.... since I was baking cookies, cooking dinner AND making this agar agar at the same time, I gave up and used brown sugar instead. However, it does taste close to the real thing and looked impressive. Speaking of which, I was outside the play around talking to a mum and when I turned around, my whole box of agar agar was clean out. GONE! NO MORE...
Thank goodness I tasted one as I was cutting it.
Chendol Agar Agar (with shortcuts! and adapted from The Culinary Journal)
150 g cooked red beans (cook about 100g), sprinkle sugar on top of red beans while it is warm (I omitted it because I couldn't buy red beans in time)
1 packet agar-agar powder (swallow brand)
3 pandan leaves (omitted also)
150 g sugar
30 g brown sugar or gula melaka.
250 ml thick coconut milk,
700ml of water
pinch of salt
one packet of 300 g chendol, drained
1. Boil water with coconut milk, agar-agar powder, sugar, gula melaka/brown sugar, salt and pandan leaves. Remove pandan leaves and sieve.
2. Bring mixture to a quick boil, add cooked red beans and chendol.
3. Pour into a 6-inch x 8-inch x 3-inch tray or any desired mould and leave mixture to slightly set.
note- the setting time for me was about 30 minutes, which I thought it was unusually long. Hence, I added more agar agar powder to the gula melaka layer which shortens the setting time. But the weather was really hot then, and I had to cool it down in an aircon room.
Gula Melaka Layer
450 ml water
2 pandan leaves, knotted (omitted)
80 g gula melaka/ brown sugar
1/2 packet of agar agar powder
1. Boil water with gula melaka, pandan leaves and agar-agar powder. Sieve.
2. Pour gently onto slightly set chendol layer.
3. Leave to set. Once it turns cold, chill in fridge for a couple of hours before serving
Also check out Imperial Kitchen as the original recipe was in the Straits Times by Thng Lay Teen