Asian cuisines

Bitter gourd stir fry egg mix preserved & salted

Bitter gourd is very popular vegetable throughout South-East Asian cuisines, you will find this Asian vegetable in soups, stews, stir-fry dishes and healthy juice drinks. Bitter gourd aka Bitter Melon (or Bitter squash) is now widely available in Asian supermarkets and shops.

This uneven textured green vegetable is good for one’s health. Drinking bitter gourd juice is a great way to detox your body, while regularly eating bitter gourd as a part of your daily diet is known to prevent skin ailments and aids a glowing skin. It contains a lots of vitamins ad nutrients and is especially highly beneficial for diabetics for lowering down their blood sugar levels. The bitter taste boosts the immune system and while there is no accounting for taste, you are definitely into Asian food if you serve, cook and eat Bitter gourd often.

Cut in halve, remove seed & pith

Cut in halve, remove seed & pith

Cleaning Bitter Gourd

The secret of appreciating bitter gourd is to make sure you clean the bitter gourd well;

  1. Slice the gourd in half and scrape out all the seeds with membranes and pith (white sponge), leaving only a thin layer of white 2-3mm to the green skin of the bitter gourd and cut in thin slices.
  2. Or cut cylindrical and carefully clean by hollowing and removing the insides out for stuffing and further preparation.
  3. Parboil the remaining flesh (especially with larger cuts) to mellow its strong flavor for a few minutes only, then prepare for casseroles, stir-fries, stews or soups.

With young and smaller bitter gourds I skip parboiling but make sure I clean them well and season during stir-frying, to ensure that bitterness turns into a pleasant flavor adding to the final dish.

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From left to right: Salted Duck eggs, Chicken eggs, Preserved eggs

Various eggs

  • Century eggs 皮蛋 pídàn is a Chinese delicacy, preserved duck, chicken or quail eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime and rice hulls. The traditional method of processing time depends on the method and may take several week up to several months. At present a simplified approach of soaking the eggs in a chemical bath for 10 days speeds up the aging process while wrapped in plastic. We buy both interchanging century eggs wrapped in rice hulls or in plastic packs for convenience, it can be cooked and often used in cold dishes as salads too.
  • Salted duck eggs 咸鸭蛋 xián yā dàn or 咸蛋 xián dàn (salted eggs) is another typical Chinese food preserve made by soaking the duck eggs in brine or in damp salted charcoal. You do not see them often anymore, eggs covered in a thick layer of salted charcoal paste, mostly they are wrapped in plastic containers or vacuum packed. We often eat them as a side dish with congee (rice porridge) or as an ingredient in baking, rice dumplings or stir-fry dishes. You need to cook salted duck eggs before further preparation in cooking or baking.
  • Eggs are a common staple food and one of the most versatile ingredients used in cooking. The most commonly used bird eggs are chicken, duck, goose. In more refined gourmet dishes the two opposites in egg sizes, quail eggs or ostrich eggs may be used.

Bitter gourd stir fry egg mix preserved & salted

While stir fried bitter gourd with eggs is a common dish found in many local South-East Asian cuisines, the origin of this dish is infused by leftover rather than a particular native dish  since we have eaten many bitter gourd egg stir fry versions. The ingredients are more or less the same the used seasonings may differ by locality and cook. A simpler version will be linked here soon.

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Sliced bitter gourd, three eggs mix and chopped garlic

Scroll down for this recipe as shown in the image.

 

Note: a word of caution while bitter gourd is highly nutritious, the vegetable should not be eaten or given to allergy sufferers, pregnant women and young children:

  • If you happen to be allergic for melons such as honeydew and cantaloupe (cucurbitaceae plants aka gourd family) you better avoid preparing or eating bitter melon.
  • For pregnant women the vegetable contains laxative component which may cause premature contraction and lead to miscarriages. Contact your doctor first.
  • For very young children, since the plant insulin is very effective in keeping blood sugar levels down it might cause the child sugar levels to drop.
  • For diabetes, you can add bitter melon to your diet but MUST check you blood sugar level and consult your doctor if in treatment with sugar medication, because bitter melon can cause your blood sugar levels fall dramatically if consumed too excessively.

Huat Kueh 发糕 or Prosperity Cake by Louisiana van Menxel

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A Guest recipe contribution from my Indonesian-Chinese friend and fantastic home Chef Lousiana van Menxel. Both our family moved around the same time to India and she has single-handedly rocked New Delhi with her famous Sate’s and left a lingering Indonesian food impression behind. They were sad to see her leave and I am very happy to enjoy her up close again, a more than welcome opportunity to sample even more of her dishes.

Louisiana shared her recipe of making Huat Kueh 发糕 (Fa Gao aka Fa kueh) or Prosperity Cake. Kue’s are a popular snack in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, (even Vietnamese and Thai dessert versions) as a former colony it is also popular in The Netherlands. What makes it so special is that besides local native specialities you can distinguish many different cultural influences as Chinese and European pastry making methods.

Another indication is language in Chinese-Indonesian culinary culture, mainly through loanwords derived from the Hokkien, Hakka and Cantonese dialects for many snacks and dishes. For example kue is derived from the Hokkien pronunciation ‘kueh’.

Huat Kueh or easier pronounced Prosperity cake, the name originates due to leavening process when the cake produces a bloom that bursts, opening up the top like a flower symbolizing a burst of prosperity.  The prosperity cakes were often used as props in many Lion dances during Chinese New Year’s celebrations or business openings to bring prosperity and good luck.

If not by friends or family food talk, a simple search on the internet will provide an impressive overload on recipes and making methods for Huat Kueh, which also proves how popular this scrumptious little cake is in south-east Asia and in Chinese diaspora’s across the globe.

'Huat Kueh' 发糕  Prosperity Cake

‘Huat Kueh’ 发糕 Prosperity Cake

 

The earliest method of making these cakes comes from the tradition of making Chinese rice wine as was customary in the old days in many farm households, a sustainable life was a survival necessity. Nothing was spoiled and everything has it purpose or re-used, so were the wine lees (sediment after wine is filtered). Wine lees* as well as soy pulp (okara) were fed to the pigs on the farm or the lees were used to be mixed with rice flour into fermentation in making these prosperity cakes, hence the wait for a couple days but it is absolutely worth it.

Fermented rice has many purposes and I have seen the product in plastic containers at the Oriental Supermarket in The Hague on display directly in front when you pass through the entry gates. Worth to note is that in south-east Asia you will often notice the use of Eno* as a substitute for baking powder.

Can’t wait to try my hand with Louisiana’s Huat Kueh, have devoured these on many occasions and now they hopefully will burst as prosperous out of my steam pan soon and yours too 🙂 However if you rather like to just east them, she is happy to make them for you, send me an e-mail request to connect with Louisiana HomeChef.

Terima kasih banyak, Lousiana! ♥ 非常感谢!

Huat Kueh 发糕

Louisiana’s resep asli in Indonesian for English recipe box below;

Bahan:
Mix A:
250 beras
2 sendok air
2 sendok teh ragi/ tape
2 sendok teh gula
Campur semua diamkan 2 hari

Mix B:
300 gr gula
4 gelas air
Di masak dan diamkan dingin

Menggabungkan:
A+ B di mixer di halusin semua baru campur 600 gr tepung beras dan diamkan 9 jam dan baking powder 2 sendok teh.

sebagai langkah terakhir:
Panaskan royang 20 menit
Taruhkan mangkok ke dlm kukus
Taruh ENO 2 sendok
Baru tuangkan kedalam mangkok kukus 20 menit.

Dingin dan Selamat makan

 

Prosperous tray of Huat Kueh

Prosperous tray of Huat Kueh

Note:

  • The Japanese sake rice lees makes a perfect marinade base for meat, vegetable or fish, read this food & wine article by Makiko Itoh. Digesting of brown lees is also good for health especially lowering the risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease according to a PubMed (US National Center for Biotechnology Information) article click to read for more information.
  • Eno (a fast-acting effervescent fruit salts, used as an antacid for upset stomach and reliever of bloating) contains; sodium bicarbonate, citric acid with anhydrous sodium bicarbonate, when it gets mixed with water the bubbles of CO₂ gets produced which relieves gases. The soda neutralizes the acids in the stomach. Hence their tag-line; “Gets to work in 6 seconds”. Available in little 150 gr. jars or 5 gr. sachets  at most Asian shops and supermarkets in The Netherlands and other European countries, however since 2013 it is withdrawn from the UK market. While Eno can be taken  by diabetics, their competitors with alternative fruit salts use sucrose making it unsuitable for diabetics.