I'm back! lol. Took some self-proclaimed holidays post the Chinese New Year celebration, fought the winter storm over the past week, laid back and rested and now I'm feeling all recharged! Browsing through my album, I reckoned I shall start off with this - Chee Cheong Fun (Steamed Rice Rolls) 猪肠粉. Something light and easy to write about, pleasant and soothing (hopefully) to read about lol.
My history with chee cheong fun started when I was a kid still. Back then chee cheong fun to me was steamed rice rolls of bite sizes that came served with just the sweet sauce 甜酱 with plenty of sesame seeds sprinkled on it. You get to pick the ingredients to go with the cheong fun - fish balls, meat balls, fish cakes, mini sausages, bean curd sheets (fuchok) and plenty more. Years later when I tolerated spiciness better, I started having them with some hot sauce on top of the existing sweet sauce (in a 1:4 ratio maybe). So that brought the cheong fun a different dimension; it is now packed with an extra flavor.
Then came another version of chee cheong fun into my life. Instead of them rolled, they came in sheets. Briefly cut, you can have them plain or served alongside a variety of yong tau foo. And instead of the sweet sauce, they came in a shallow pool of curry. Interesting...
At some points, dad introduced me to yet another version of chee cheong fun - his hometown, the Taiping version! This Taiping version has got to be the simplest version of all. Simple yet unbelievably awesome! There's the cheong fun in it; and there's the special red sweet sauce that came served with it. Oh, and it's loaded with fried shallots too. That's it! The red sweet sauce tastes very much like the red sweet sauce that is often served with steamed yam cakes. And as unique as it sounds, some cheong fun stalls actually sell those yam cakes too. So a lot of times, you'll see patrons slurping away plates of chee chong fun topped with yam cakes, all in a same serving plate. Even more interesting... lol.
An all-time big fan of chee cheong fun myself, it didn't take me that long to be craving for this when I moved here. And this featured here is a personal preference of mine; it's a bit of all those above mixed together. Rolled cheong fun with an assortment of yong tau foo and side dishes, drenched in both the sweet sauce and curry gravy with a dollop of chili sauce on the side and finished with sesame seeds and crispy fried shallots for garnishing. I haven't got the talent to be making my own steamed rice rolls just yet, so store-bought ones it is for now! Having tried a couple of different brands, the plain ones produced by the Canada Hung Wang Food Inc. has always been my choice. But someday, someday I shall live up to the challenge and start rolling my own in my kitchen lol.
Chee Cheong Fun (Steamed Rice Rolls) with Curry and Sweet Sauce 咖哩甜酱猪肠粉
(A) Steamed rice rolls
1 pack store-bought fresh rice rolls (19oz package)
Set the steamer ready. Bring the pack of rice rolls to steam on high for about 10 minutes. It will soften considerably at the end of it. Turn the heat down low enough to just keep the rice rolls warm until serving time.
(B) Yong Tau Foo
1 tub fish emulsion (1lb) (previously mentioned with a photo in the post on Yong Tau Foo 酿豆腐)
3 stalks spring onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp sesame oil
3 dashes white pepper powder
4 pcs firm square tofu
1 Chinese eggplant
12 fried tofu puffs
The choices of yong tau foo should never be limited to just these few types here. Apart from these few here, I have got a couple others featured previously in the Yong Tau Foo 酿豆腐 post. So it's all about what you personally prefer at any time really. Also a note on the difference between this version of yong tau foo and the one that I previously made, I opted to have them deep fried this time rather than pan frying them. If you're in for pan frying - hop on over to the previous post; if deep frying it is, then this is it! lol.
1. Add in the chopped spring onion, sesame oil and white pepper powder to the fish paste. Mix with a spoon until well combined. You can have this done in advance and left refrigerated until stuffing time.
2. Cut the Chinese eggplant at a 45-degree angle into slices of about 1" thick. Create the opening for stuffing by gently slicing through the center of each piece, halving the thickness and stop right before reaching the edge.
3. Halve each of the tofu diagonally then make a small slit down the center of all the triangular pieces. Alternatively, you can choose to make two curved slits (a lip-like shape) and create a pocket by removing the lip-like center bit.
4. With the okra, make a slit down each of them.
5. Make a small hole through the fried tofu puff. Gently turn the puff inside out to create a cavity.
6. Using a butter knife, work gently on stuffing the tofu, eggplant and okras with the fish paste. With the fried tofu puffs, depending on how much fish paste you have got left, you can choose to have them stuffed to the brim like others, or you can choose to spread the fish paste around the curved inner layers.
7. Heat up enough oil for deep frying in a wok. Make sure it is well heated before you start with the deep frying. Turn the heat down to medium heat and fry the stuffed yong tau foo in small batches (overcrowding brings drastic change to the oil temperature, and that's bad!). Fry first with the fish paste side down before flipping them over. Fry until they are done, looking golden brown. The eggpplants takes the most time to be ready. With the fried tofu puffs, they take way shorter a time. So keep an eye on them!
8. Once done, drain on a sieve before transferring them to a plate lined with layers of paper towels.
(C) Other side ingredients
12 imitated crab filaments
12 fish balls
Bring the crab filaments and fish balls to steam in a steamer for about 5 minutes. Keep warm until serving time.
(D) Curry gravy
1 pack instant curry laksa paste (I used Tean's Gourmet)
150ml coconut milk
Making the curry gravy from a pack of the curry laksa paste will give you more than enough for this chee cheong fun meal alone. You can have the rest saved up and have an instant, time-saving curry laksa meal the next day or so!
1. Empty the packet of curry laksa paste into a stock pot with 1.5L of water in it. Bring to a rapid boil for about 5 minutes.
2. Add in the coconut milk and once again bring to boil. Turn the heat down to low and let simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes.
(E) Sweet sauce
Adapted from The Waitakere's Redneck Kitchen (who in turn had adapted from cwl @kitchencaper)
7 tbsps Hoisin sauce
2½ tbsps light soy sauce
1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
1/2 tsp dark sweet soy sauce (ABC kecap manis)
1/2 cup water
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Bring to a slow boil on a medium-low heat until it reaches the right consistency.
(F) Crispy fried shallots
10 shallots, skin removed
enough oil for deep frying
a pinch of salt
Have the shallots thinly sliced. Heat up enough oil for deep frying and deep fry the shallots. I have the method better detailed in my previous post on the Homemade Crispy Fried Shallots 香酥红葱头油 .
toasted sesame seeds
Sriracha chili sauce
1. Cut up the steamed rice rolls into bite sized pieces. Divide and transfer to individual serving plates.
2. Arrange on the yong tau foo pieces on the side. You can choose to cut the yong tau foo in halves prior to serving or just serve them whole. Add in the crab filaments and fish balls next.
3. Drizzle in about a tbsp or two of sweet sauce.
4. Top with the crispy fried shallots.
5. Sprinkle a generous amount of toasted sesame seeds all over the rice rolls.
6. Squeeze in about a tbsp of Sriracha chili sauce on the side.
7. Just prior to serving, spoon in the curry gravy (about the same amount as the sweet sauce) and serve warm!