Chai Tow Kway (Fried Carrot Cake)

Chai Tow Kway (Fried Carrot Cake)

Hello Everyone! I can’t believe that the year went by so quickly – it’s already the third day of the last month of the year! Before we dive into tonight’s post, I would just like to mention that 5 out of my 6 recipe entries for the month-long King Chef 2021 Challenge over on TikTok that I participated in, made it on the Top 20 list of weekly winners! This was also one of the reasons why I hadn’t been posting on my blog as I was focused and occupied in developing creative and unique recipes for the challenge. I think next year (month), I’ll share those recipes on the blog. In the meantime, you can head on over to my TikTok and watch my video entries for those dishes!

Moving forward, tonight, I will be sharing one last dish from Singapore before we fly off to our second last destination on our Flavours of Southeast Asia journey. The dish is known as Chai Tow Kway, or in English, Fried Carrot Cake. Yes, I can see the looks of confusion for those who don’t actually know this dish – because I had the same confusion when I first heard of it. I imagined an actual carrot cake being fried. Au contraire, despite its name, this Singaporean street food favourite doesn’t contain any carrot at all. It is actually made of white radish (daikon), which is first steamed, and then fried, giving it a crisp exterior while still soft and chewy in the center. The reason why it is called carrot cake is because the word for daikon, can also refer to a carrot because of a loose English from Hokkien translation.

Chai Tow Kway (Fried Carrot Cake)

To make this dish, white radish is grated and then steamed with rice flour and water. It is then cubed and tossed in a wok with eggs, preserved radish, and other seasonings. I opted to add thick sweet/dark soy sauce but you can leave this out. It is a much-loved local comfort food, not only in Singapore, but also in Malaysia, and can be consumed at various times of the day; it goes from being a breakfast dish, to a side dish, to a late-night supper dish.

PREP TIME 25 MINS* | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR | SERVES 2-3

*Allow for additional time to cool the steamed radish and to cool the steamed radish cake in the fridge overnight.

INGREDIENTS

Steamed Radish Cake Ingredients

For the radish cake

  • 600g white radish (daikon), shredded or grated
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 & 1/3 rice flour
  • 1/3 cup glutinous rice flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1 cup water

Chai Tow Kway (Fried Carrot Cake)

For the chai tow kway

  • Radish cake, fried
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 red chillies, minced
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 stalk scallion (light green and white part only), finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp salted (preserved) radish
  • 1 tsp sambal paste
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper powder
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce (optional)
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • Blanched bean sprouts
  • Scallion (green part), shredded

METHOD

  1. Steamed Radish Cake: Combine the shredded radish with 3 tablespoons of water in a medium-sized stainless steel (or heat proof) bowl. Steam until the radish turns translucent, about 25 to 30 minutes on low heat. Once done, remove from the steamer and set aside to cool down.
  2. Add the flours, salt and, and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Add the water and mix thoroughly to combine, to get rid of any lumps.
  3. Add the cooled radish to the flour mixture and mix well to combine.
  4. Pour the radish flour mixture into a 8-in square cake tin and steam for 30 to 35 minutes over medium-high heat. Once done, remove from the steamer and set aside to completely cool down for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator. This will allow the cake to firmly set.
  5. Once the cake is firm, remove from the cake tin and cut into smaller chunks.

Steamed Radish Cake

Steamed Radish Cake

  1. Chai Tow Kway: Add cooking oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Fry the radish cake (in batches if needed), until the edges are brown and crispy-looking. Remove from the pan and transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up the excess oil.
  2. In the same pan, sauté the garlic and chillies until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the onion and scallion, cooking until soft, before adding the salted radish. Cook for a further 45 to 60 seconds.
  3. Add the sambal paste, followed by the fish sauce, white pepper powder, and dark soy sauce (optional), mixing well to even coat the radish cake.
  4. Push the ingredients to one side of the pan. If your pan is feeling a little bit dry, and a bit more oil and add the eggs in. Stir to scramble and cook, about 30 seconds and then stir fry together with the other ingredients.
  5. With the heat off, add the blanched bean sprouts and shredded scallion. Toss to combine and the plate up.
  6. Top with extra bean sprouts, scallions, and red chillies. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Chai Tow Kway (Fried Carrot Cake)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

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Singapore Fish Head Curry

Singapore Fish Head Curry

Hello Everyone! It’s been a while since my last post here on the blog; I’ve been super busy with work since I moved to a new department in the beginning of October, and doing some freelance work on top of that. I’ve also been focusing on creating sponsored content for Instagram and participating in a TikTok Challenge this past month. Now that things have slowed down just a little bit, I finally found the time to sit down and write this post/recipe (just hours before this is going live), to share with everyone!

We still have three more countries to venture through on our Flavours of Southeast Asia before the year ends, so the coming weeks will just be quick stopovers – and first, we’re taking a stroll through the many hawker centers in Singapore for their famous Fish Head Curry!

Singapore Fish Head Curry

The dish is actually of South Indian origins, but has been popularised in countries such as Malaysia and Singapore where it was introduced by the Indian migrants when they moved to the region. Thus, this dish is more commonly found at many Indian eateries across Malaysia and Singapore, served typically as a main to steamed rice.

Of course, there’s no problem in using the whole fish, which is what I did, as opposed to just using the head. The main reason why the fish head is much sought after when making a curry is because the meat found at the jaws, below the gills, and at the back of the neck is the sweetest and most delicate. It is also where it absorbs the flavours of the curry best. The important thing is to use fresh fish, whether sea bream, sea bass, snapper, tilapia, or any other white-fleshed fish, and to not overcook it.

I’ve had this dish many times before during my travels to Singapore and have made it a couple of times before when I was still living in Brunei. This is the first time I am making it again at home after a couple of years. The curry is thick, creamy, aromatic, tangy, and spicy; best served with vegetables such as okra and eggplant to soak up all the gravy goodness.

Note that there are some ingredients that I could not source locally for this dish, eg. brown mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, fresh galangal, and fish curry paste. The seeds I just left out, and used crushed galangal from a jar, and red curry paste instead.

Singapore Fish Head Curry Ingredients

PREP TIME 30 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 kg red snapper fish, sliced
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 15 pcs dried curry leaves
  • 3 pcs dried long red chillies
  • 3 tbsp red curry powder (or fish curry powder)
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 200 ml coconut milk (or more if you want it creamier)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups water (or fish stock)
  • 1 large tomato, cut into wedges
  • 1 bunch (5 pcs) okra, halved
  • 2 eggplants, halves lengthwise and then cut into 3 horizontally
  • Shredded scallion, to garnish

For the curry paste

  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 3 pcs red bird’s eye chillies (more if you want it spicier, or vice versa)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass (white part only), chopped
  • 1 medium-sized red onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1-inch sized ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1-inch sized turmeric, peeled and chopped
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp crushed galangal paste
  • 1/4 cup water

METHOD

  1. Curry Paste: Pound all the ingredients together for the curry paste, except the water, using a mortar and pestle, until a smooth paste is formed. This should take about 10 to 15 minutes of elbow grease. Mix the water with the paste and then set aside until ready to use. Alternatively, you can place all the ingredients in a blender and blitz them into a smooth paste.
  2. Fish Head Curry: Heat 2 tablespoons of cook oil in a heavy-based pan over high heat. Fry the eggplant slices until browned and tender. Once done, set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat down to medium, and in the same pan toast the cumin seeds, curry leaves, and dried chillies. Cook until fragrant and be careful to not burn them.
  4. Add the curry paste and curry powder, cooking and stirring continuously for about 4 to 5 minutes or until the paste darkens in colour and the oils start to separate.
  5. Add the tamarind paste, coconut sugar, coconut milk, and season with salt. Stir and bring the mixture to a simmer before adding the water and tomato wedges. Bring to a boil.
  6. Once boiling, add the fish head (and fish slices) to the curry mixture. Cover and cook on low heat for 8 – 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. In the last minute or so, add the okra to the curry and cook until tender.
  7. Transfer the fish head curry to a serving dish, top with the fried eggplant, and garnish with some shredded scallions. Serve immediately with steamed rice and enjoy!

Singapore Fish Head Curry

Singapore Fish Head Curry

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

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Singapore Chilli Crab with Fried Mantou

Singapore Chilli Crab with Fried Mantou

Hello Everyone! As I said in my very first post for the year, I wanted to see how many of you will be able to guess the theme for this year. As of now, you probably have enough information for an idea, and to be honest, it’ll only get clearer (maybe) in April. So for now, I’ll keep you guys guessing!

Chilli Crab is a Southeast Asian seafood dish, popularised and promoted in Singapore as its national dish. The dish dates back to 1956 where a husband and wife started selling an improvised recipe of stir-fried crabs mixed with bottled chilli and tomato sauce from a pushcart.

Despite its name, it is actually not a very spicy dish at all. It is a dish where mud crabs, or any other species of crab, are stir-fried in a semi-thick, sweet and savoury tomato and chilli based sauce. The sauce is described as sensuous, sweet yet savoury, and fluffy in texture.

Singapore Chilli Crab with Fried Mantou

When it comes to eating Chilli Crab, forget about cutlery. It is traditionally eaten with bare hands as a means to savour the juicy crab meat. Restaurants that serve this each often provide wet towels or a small washing bowl with lime for diners to clean their hands after their meal. Additionally, don’t be shy. Ask for a bib. Or wear a bib when eating at home. Seriously. It will keep your clothes free from stains and sauce drops.

Chilli Crab is commonly ordered with a side dish of plain or fried rice, vegetables, or other seafood dishes such as fish. Regardless of those, there’s one thing that can’t be left out when you order Chilli Crab that contrasts so deliciously with the sauce: Bright Golden Pillows. Or simply, fried mantou buns. These crispy and greasy little nuggets are used to soak up the sauce from the Chilli Crab. They are sweet, soft, and sinful.

Before we dive into tonight’s recipe, check out the original recipe over on Serious Eats by Yvonne Ruperti.

Singapore Chilli Crab Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 10-12 MINS | SERVES 3-4

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 whole Mud or Dungeness Crabs (about 600g – 800g in weight for each)*
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 red bird’s eye chillies, minced
  • 1 half-inch knob ginger, grated
  • 1 large free-range egg, beaten
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • 1 stalk green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 shrimp bouillon cube
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup hot-sweet chilli sauce
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch, mixed with 2 tbsp of water to make a slurry
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To serve on the side

  • Steamed rice
  • Fried mantou (Chinese Buns)**

* Check out this YouTube video by Sydney Fish Market on how to choose, clean, and prepare your crabs; best to keep the fat and creamy part inside the top shell for the extra crab flavour that it’ll lend to the dish.
** You can make your own mantou buns by following this recipe over on China Sichuan Food. Alternatively, you may also find them at your local grocer or supermarket, if available.

Frozen Mantou Buns

METHOD

  1. In a large wok or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium until shimmering. Add in the garlic, onion, ginger, and chillies. Cook until lightly browned and fragrant for about a minute.
  2. Add the crab pieces, water, and shrimp bouillon cube. Increase the heat to medium-high, cover loosely, and bring to a gentle boil. Decrease the heat if necessary. Cook for about 6 minutes, until the crab has turned red and is nearly cooked through.
  3. Stir in the tomato paste and chilli sauce. Simmer for about a minute and then season to taste with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Stir in the cornstarch slurry and bring back to a boil for the sauce to thicken.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in beaten egg. Transfer to a serving dish and top with sliced green onions and fresh chillies.
  5. Serve with steamed rice and/or fried mantou buns. Take care when eating the sauce – it may have bits of shell in it from the crab. Enjoy!

Singapore Chilli Crab with Fried Mantou

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com