Today on the menu, moon cake ; rice noodle
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”…Chinese proverb
……. more like, you will not have to listen to his incessant whining about how hungry he is LOL!
Okay, so I am a month late with the festivities of the Chinese Lunar New Year, but would still like to share with you my humble eats that I prepared at that time. My friend at the lodge wanted me to prepare a dessert and a savory hors d’ oeuvre for this auspicious occasion, so I prepared my own interpretation of the “moon cake” and my very own ( rice noodle) rice stick & shrimp savory cake with a Cape Malay style loquat & kumquat sambal on the side. I put a lot of thought in this menu!
I researched the ingredients of the “moon cake” and was rather skeptical that I would like the final result. I have even seen some recipes with the addition of soy sauce for color. Nevertheless, I prepared the original recipe that came with the fish mold, ( received this mold as a Christmas gift), and also developed my own version. I can just look at ingredients of a recipe and deduce whether it would be good or just plain unpalatable! This was exactly what transpired, the original recipe was heavy and hard and unappealing! However, my version of the ” Chinese moon cookie” though not the authentic version, was by far the most delectable morsel you have ever put in your mouth. Even our Chinese guests agreed that these were delicious, though very much to the dismay of their antiquated notions, that I was not capable of making their recipe, palate proud!
My version of the ” Chinese Moon cookie” NB, the emphasis is on “mock” moon cookie.
So freakin good! You don’t know whether you want to eat it or embalm it! Who am I kidding, there was nothing left for a next day!
Stacked rice stick and shrimp savory cakes with loquat & kumquat sambal ( pickle). There was an exciting little twang with the addition of fresh lemon pepper ( see previous post) and the curry leaves to this savory & crispy cake!! The lightly spiced, yet sweet plump loquats and juicy kumquats combined, complemented the rice stick & shrimp cakes and played almost a culinary havoc with your taste buds! A naughty little twist on my Mama’s sambal recipe! The recipe for the sambal will appear in the next post.
My dad too, makes the most appetizing sambals!
My personal quest was to create exciting flavors and textures to make this gathering memorable. Indeed, this occasion was so v e r y triumphant to say the least. NB, you could also omit the shrimp to make it vegetarian, and the rest of the ingredients of this savory cake are gluten- free to boot, so very versatile for people with specific allergies.
I decided to present the cookies in a fish bowl. Discerning gastronomes would agree that “novelty food” should be presented in a fun type of setting. These puffy, coco nutty, custardy & melt-in-your-mouth cookies created quite a stir with both kids and adults! This recipe will be in my cook book!
My version of this cookie had custard powder in the dough and a Cape Malay type of cooked dessicated coconut ( Grandmother’s recipe) in the middle and then I defiantly dipped the bottom in melted intense dark 60% “evening dream” chocolate. This chocolate has a hint of Madagascan vanilla. Normally the authentic version of the moon cake calls for bean paste.
This is the original recipe below which called for “wong tong” sugar slabs, water, lemon peel, 1 and a 1/2 cups of oil and 6 cups of flour. It really does not look bad in its unbaked stage but when baked it just felt terribly heavy! The dough was also far too oily. Duh! just look at all the oil, it requires!
This is my version below with the cooked dessicated coconut inside the belly of the fish and English custard powder in the shortbread dough. It was light ( only 1/3 c of organic sugar) so not sweet at all and unsalted organic butter but most importantly, my dough kept the integrity of the design of the mold !
“How to make food soar!”
As usual, please use organic ingredients when possible!
For the Rice vermicelli ( rice noodle) and shrimp savory cakes:
- 8 oz “Kong Moon” rice vermicelli rice stick ( soak in boiling H2O for 5 mins.)
- 8 oz cooked large shrimp, cut each shrimp in half crosswise
- small onion finely chopped
- 2 large carrots
- Large jicama, peeled
- 1/2 c chopped green onion
- a few fresh curry leaves ( for that distinct delicious flavor)
- 1/2 c cilantro ( this time leaves only)
- red chili, seeds removed & diced
- 5 cloves garlic ( pounded)
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup potato starch ( Bob’s Red Mill, unmodified, all natural). I adore this product!!!!
- kosher salt ( 2 big pinches)
- 1 T lemon pepper ( see my previous post)
- 1 t pure pickle masala
- 1 T red bell pepper seeds
Make it a vegetarian version by omitting the shrimp. All these ingredients are gluten-free as well!
Rinse the rice stick in cold water and dry on paper towels. It should not be mushy. Meanwhile, julienne the carrots (thin strips), slice the jicama, stack on top of one another and then julienne and toss with the rest of the ingredients, including the rice stick and the shrimp. Even if you stop right here and just have it as a cold type of salad, it would be delicious with all these flavors going on! Add the potato starch and toss lightly. Gingerly mix in the beaten egg with your hands without breaking up the shrimp and the rest of the ingredients so carefully julienned!
Take about a handful of the mixture and shallow fry in olive oil and a tablespoon of unsalted butter. Use a wide spatula to flatten like a pancake in the pan when cooking it . I also used a thin spatula to aid in the flipping of the cake and cook until GB&D! Place on paper towels to drain. You could keep the cakes warm in the oven warmer .
The recipe & more pictures for the loquat and kumquat sambal will be featured in the next post. I promise, I shall try to post very soon, so do come back !
Much love as always,