Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Chinese Bean Tea Cake - 茶粿 - Caa4 Gwo2
Disclaimer (i) Since this is my Gran's recipe, it may differ from other people's grans recipe. (ii) Since this is my Gran's recipe, there is no such thing as exact measurements of volume, weight or time... only the terms, "enough", a "bit", "until it's ready"...
Some black eye beans (Looks like 1 pound)
Vegetable oil for frying
Glutinous Rice Flour 1 pound
Five Spice Powder to taste
Spring Onions to taste
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste
Pepper to taste
Chopped Dried Shrimps to taste
Chopped Peanuts to taste
How to make Chinese Bean Tea Cake - 茶粿 - Caa4 Gwo2
Soak your beans - Take some black-eye beans, the amount will depend on how much you want to make. Cover in cold water and soak overnight. The next day, take some time out and use your fingers to rub and remove all the skins. The skin won't make it inedible or anything... however, it will look more attractive without the skin.
Boil Your Beans - Take your beans and cover in water, and simmer until soft.
Mash your beans - Once soft, you can drain the water, and mash up the beans. This can be done using a potato masher, blender or some other mashing utensil. My gran uses a chinese soup spoon.
Fry the beans and make the filling - Dry-fry the mashed beans in a non-stick pan. Make sure that the pan is bone dry and no oil is used. This is to dehydrate the beans so that you're not left with a mushy wet slop that would be difficult to handle and not taste so good. After about 10 minutes or so, you and add other filling ingredients to enhance the flavour and continue frying with added oil.
Make your dough - This recipe calls for glutinous rice flour. We used the whole packet, but kept a little to the side to keep the fingers dry and non-sticky when it comes to making the separate doughy balls. So, for the moment, put around 4/5 of the packet into a big bowl. Gradually add hot (not boiling) water to the flour, mixing and kneading as you go until the flour becomes a soft doughy mixture. Not too dry, not too wet. Sorry, no measurements here.
Making the 茶粿 - filling your pastry with the filling. Cover your hands in flour, tear out a walnut sized piece of dough. Knead and roll in your hands until the dough becomes a smooth ball shape. Dip the ball in the flour to give a light coating of flour. Push a finder into the dough, making a hole, take a pinch of flour and place inside the hole. Stick the thumb of your right hand inside the hole.
Using the other fingers, turn and squeeze the dough, stretching it up and out. Your left hand should be used for support. You should end up with a fairly large cup, ensure that you fix any holes. This is the point where you find out whether you got your dough consistency correct. Too little water and the dough won't be pliable, too much water and it will be sloppy and sticky, and you'll have holes all over the place. Fill the cup with your filling about 1 tablespoon full.
Take the mouth of the cup and turn whilst you squeeze and pleat, making the mouth smaller and smaller until you can twist the edges together. Tear off the little nub that's left at the end. Pat and Smooth the dough all over
Soak your Bamboo Leaves - Bamboo leaves are used as the lining for your caa4 gwo2 to sit on. Once steamed, the dough becomes incredibly sticky and gooey. Without the bamboo leaves, you simply wouldn't be able to remove the 茶粿 from the plate. These can be soaked whilst you were making your 茶粿... so this should probably be step No 6.
Cut your bamboo leaves into squares Make sure they're large enough to fit your 茶粿 with a bit of extra space for the 茶粿 to spread.
Plop your 茶粿 on top of the leaves
Steam your 茶粿 - Place the 茶粿 on a plate or a wire rack and place inside a steamer. We used a wok full of boiling water with a high domed lid. In the water, we have a metal stand so that the dish with the caa gwo are high above the water. They don't need to be steamed for long, about 10 minutes should do. Gran says that you shouldn't overcook them or they become sloppy, likewise, you shouldn't undercook them or they're not pliable and squishy enough.
Grease up your 茶粿 - Once your 茶粿 are done, take them out of the steamer, and start spreading cold vegetable/sunflower oil over the surface of the caa gwo. This is to give them a lovely sheen, and to stop them from sticking to eachother.
Eat your lovely 茶粿 - Best eaten practically straight out of the steamer. Be careful not to burn yourself. It's wonderful when warm, squishy and pliable. Once cooled, it hardens and becomes horrible and chewy. If you have to keep them for a day or so, wrap them up in plastic to prevent dehydration. Upon eating, they can be revitalised by sprinkling some water on them and microwaving for a bit.