Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies . They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.
Nutrition research suggests that nuts are good for your health. Nut butters, or pureed nuts, make it easy to use nuts in cooking. Although peanut butter is a staple in North America, most popular as the star ingredient in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and beloved in peanut butter cookies and other sweets, it's seldom used in preparing savory dishes. Nut butters -- including not only peanut butter but almond, cashew, and walnut butters -- are common ingredients in many Asian and African countries, used in a wide array of savory dishes. Nut butters add complex & interesting flavors to dishes, provide body & thickness to sauces, and can be used to replace the dairy fats or other oils in recipes.
I was very excited with this month's challenge as using nuts in cooking can be found in a number of Asian recipes. I decided to go all out Asian this month and be even more adventurous than normal. In fact I decided to come up with two recipes. The first recipe is Gado-Gado or Indonesian Salad with a Peanut Sauce.
Gado-Gado (Indonesian Salad with Peanut Sauce)
Recipe Adapted from "Meals from Asian Kitchen"
Serves 4 - 5
Ingredients for the Salad:
300g water convolvulous (kangkong), cut into 3" length, blanched
500g beansprout, cleaned and blanched
200g longbeans, cut into 3cm length, blanched
300g cabbage cut into bite sized and blanched
400g cucumber, cut into bite sized pieces and blanched
4 hard boiled egges, cut into quarters
3 large soya bean cakes (taukwa), fried and cut into 1" cubes
200g boiled potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
3 pieces of tempeh (fermented soya bean cakes), fried and cut into bite sized pieces
2 - 3 cups of prawn crackers
Ingredients for the Sauce:
500g raw peanuts
20 fresh red chillies
4 cloves garlic
2" x 2" piece shrimp paste (belacan)
80g palm sugar (gula melaka) cut into small pieces
50g tamarind paste, soaked in 225ml water
Salt to taste
1) Prepare vegetables and other salad ingredients and arrange on a large platter. Set aside.
2) Grind chillies, shallot garlic and shrimp paste and set aside.
3) Roast the peanuts, cool and remove skin. Pound coarsely. Boil the peanuts in 1 litre of water for an hour over low fire. Stir occassionally
4) Fry the grinded paste with 3 tbsp oil until fragrant. Remove and add this to the peanuts which have been cooking for 1 hour. Stir well to mix and cook for 5 mins.
5) Now include the palm sugar, tamarind sauce and salt to taste. Simmer for another 5 mins. Transfer to a serving bowl.
6) Serve salad with prawn crackers and peanut sauce.
My second recipe is Glutinous Rice Ball or Tang Yuan (汤圆 in Chinese), also known as Ah Balling, is a Teochew Chinese Dessert. Basically, it comprises glutinous rice balls served in a hot sweet soup, such as peanut soup or even ginger soup. It has a filling which can be made of peanut paste, yam or black sesame paste. In Chinese culture, it is traditionally served on Dong Zhi, the winter solstice. By eating tang yuan, you welcome in the winter and become one year older. Tang yuan makes a delicious winter snack and is easy to prepare. Despite its association with mid-winter, it can be enjoyed at any time of year. I decided to make mine with a black sesame paste filling.
Glutinous Rice Dumplings with Black Sesame Paste (Tang Yuan)
Recipe Adapted from Rasa Malaysia
8 oz. glutinous rice (sticky rice) flour
180 ml water (3/4 cup water)
1/4 cup black sesame seeds
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter (1/4 cup or 4 tablespoons)
50g of fresh ginger
80g of sugarcane rock sugar
10g of pandan leaves (tied into a knot)
10g of chrysanthemum flowers
4 cups of water
1) Lightly toast the black sesame seeds over medium fire until you smell the aroma of the black sesame seeds. The sesame seeds will start popping when they are heated, so use your lid to cover. Don’t burn the black sesame seeds; transfer them out and let cool as soon as they smell aromatic.
2) Use a mini food processor to grind the black sesame seeds until they become fine. Transfer the ground black sesame into a wok, add sugar and butter and stir well to form a thick paste. If they are too dry, add more butter. Dish out and let cool in the fridge. (This will make the filling easier to handle)
3) In a big bowl, mix the glutinous rice flour with water until it forms a smooth paste and no longer sticks to your hands. Divide it equally into 16-20 balls (depends how you like the size, the bigger the size, the easier it is to do the filling). Flatten each ball in your palm, and then use a pair of chopsticks to pick up some black sesame paste and lay it in the middle of the flatten ball. Fold the edge to seal the dumpling. Lightly roll it into a ball shape using both palms, very gently and delicately. Set aside.
4) Prepare the ginger syrup by boiling the water. Add the ginger and screwpine/pandan leaves (optional) into the water and boil for 10-15 minutes with medium heat. Add sugar and chrysanthemum flowers and boil for another 5 minutes. Lower heat to simmer and reduce to about 3 cups of water. Add more sugar to taste if you like.
5) Heat up another pot of boiling water. Drop the dumplings into the hot boiling water. As soon as they float to the top, transfer them out and into the ginger syrup. Turn off heat and serve the black sesame dumplings in a bowl immediately.
Don’t be too greedy with the black sesame paste. Use moderate amount for your dumplings or else the dumplings might “burst” when you roll them into balls. They might also “burst” during boiling.
You want to boil the dumplings separately so the ginger syrup doesn’t get cloudy. In case some of your black sesame dumplings burst, you will not ruin the ginger syrup.
If you wish to have the black sesame dumplings without the ginger syrup, just boil them in the hot boiling water and serve your dumplings with that hot water. Eat only the dumplings, but not the hot water.