In Blogging101, I had committed myself to a weekly food/recipe post every Friday. This was to instil some branding and discipline to my blog. While my fellow Blogging101-ers had already put that into motion, I have sadly lagged behind for two weeks. But today, I finally start!
Instead of Fridays, Saturdays work better for me. So welcome to The Saturday Kitchen, a weekly column of recipes, and food and ingredients I come across.
My recipes will be a mix of traditional Asian dishes, as well as my own hybrid creations which are easy to put together. I am not a great fan of toiling in the kitchen for days on end, like our Asian foremothers did. Easy, fun and creative is my usual style.
I’ll also explore the myriad ingredients in our markets, what they are and how to use them. Hopefully, I’ll add some recipes to accompany them as well. Singapore is a melting pot of many cultures and there are lots of fabulous ingredients we use which are not often written about — such as salted fish, dried octopus, belacan and gingko nuts, just to name a few. Hope you’ll join me for a fun, culinary adventure.
So, here goes — my first recipe.
Longan & Red Date Jellies
Chinese New Year is round the corner, so the occasion begs a Chinese recipe – preferably a sweet one to ensure a sweet start to the Monkey Year.
The combination of dried longan and red dates is very traditionally Chinese. Add in some rock sugar (or ordinary white sugar), boil it up as an infusion and you get a lovely sweet, deep flavoured tea. I’ve taken this traditional combination and turned it into jellies, and used fish-shaped moulds to symbolise ‘good fortune’ and ‘plenty’. Just the thing for Chinese New Year.
12 dried Chinese red dates
12 dried longan
500 ml / 2 cups water
120g rock sugar (or 4 Tbsp white sugar) or to taste
5g agar agar powder (or 8g powdered gelatine)
Moulds that you fancy
4 Tbsp sugar
120 ml/12 cup water
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp osmanthus flower
• Rinse red dates and longan, and pop them into a saucepan with the water and rock sugar. (I usually start with freshly boiled water so it speeds up the infusing process).
• Bring to a boil and let it simmer for 1/2 hour.
• When done, turn off the flame and pick out the fruits. Discard the dates, chop the longans into little dice. Set aside.
• Slowly sprinkle the gelatine or agar agar onto the hot infusion and stir to dissolve.
• Bring it back to a boil for about 10 minutes, then turn off the heat.
• Drop some diced longan into each mould. Pour red date and longan infusion into jelly moulds and leave them to set. (You can serve it once it is set and chilled, or you can serve it with osmanthus syrup if you prefer it sweeter.)
• To make the syrup, combine the sugar, water and honey in a saucepan and dissolve the sugar over a medium flame. Add osmanthus and continue to stir for 15 minute over a low flame to reduce.
• When it’s thickened to a syrupy consistency, turn off the flame and leave it to cool.
• Serve the jellies chilled with some syrup spooned over.