Monday, January 23, 2006

Recipes From My 88-Year-Old Grandma

Coconut (or date) cake
1 16-ounce package glutinous rice flour
1 7-ounce can coconut milk
1 1/2 c. white sugar (or less, to taste)
1/3 cup oil (use canola, vegetable, or other mild-tasting oils)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together and bake for 45-55 minutes.

Variation: If making date cake, follow the recipe above, but replace the coconut milk with an equivalent amount of canned date paste, reduce the sugar by 1/2 cup, add up to 3/4 cup more milk, and add 1/2 cup walnut pieces.

Red bean cake
1 lb. glutinous rice flour
2 c. cooked red beans (soak overnight before cooking)
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. oil
1 tsp. baking soda
2 1/2 c. milk or milk mixed with bean soaking liquid
Walnut pieces or date pieces (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix all ingredients and bake for 45-50 minutes. Don't pour the mixture more than 1 1/2-1 3/4" thick or it won't cook well.

Daikon cake ("loh bak go")
All quantities are approximate--measured by eye.
8 large daikons
1 16-ounce package glutinous rice flour
3 slices fresh ginger
2 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Pepper
2 tsp. MSG
1 Tbsp. rock sugar
1-2 Tbsp. Vegetable oil
The following four ingredients should come to maybe 2 cups total:
Chopped shiitake mushrooms
Shredded, rehydrated dried scallops
Dried tiny shrimp ("ha mai")
Chopped Chinese sweet sausage ("laap cheung")

Peel and grate the daikon. Add the rock sugar (taste a bit of the daikon to see how bitter it is, and add sugar accordingly) and the slices of ginger to the daikon. Place it in a large pan over medium-low to medium heat and cook, stirring, until the volume is greatly reduced, the daikon is tender but still has some texture, and the mixture is boiling. No need to add any water--the daikon will let out its own liquid and this should keep it from burning/sticking, assuming the heat is not too high.

Remove from heat and pick out and discard the ginger. Stir in the rice flour until the mixture becomes a very thick paste/dough. Stir in the rest of the ingredients.

Line some metal pans--my grandma uses a mixture of metal cake-style pans and Danish butter cookie tins--with Saran wrap, or oil them. Press the daikon cake dough firmly into the tins with a spatula. Steam for about one hour.

Remove from heat and cool. The daikon cakes should firm up enough to be lifted out of the tins. They are now ready to slice and pan-fry (this is the most delicious way to eat them; the slices develop a crunchy, savory brown crust).

Notes: We tried microwaving some of the daikon, but didn't finish cooking it that way. I think using some parchment paper would be preferable to the Saran wrap, but we didn't try that.

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