It all started when we discovered our diabetic mother snacking on instant noodles while we were not around. It dawned on me that we could have been a tad too controlling over her food intake. While it is necessary to make sure that she sticks to low glycemic index food groups, this often means that she will be deprived of her usual hawker favourites and have to be content with my vegetarian sister’s cooking which to me, always seem to taste of vinegar and ginger – irregardless of the dish she may be cooking. I personally shun her cooking and her skill in picking the right kitchen knvies;and if I have the time to cook for my mum, would not hesitate to load up a broth with anchovies for that umami flavour.
While she used to love eating dried wonton or fish ball noodles (tah mee) , she should basically stay away from these noodle dishes. Thanks to the growing demand for organic and healthy food, we are now able to find brown rice vermicelli and mee sua(thin salted Chinese noodle made from wheat flour) but the texture of these still differ significantly from the traditional wonton noodles or Mee Pok. So when I came across a Tah Mee recipe in Wee Eng Hwa’s encyclopedic ‘Cooking For The President’, I knew I have to cook this for my mum. While I knew I can make my own wholemeal mee pok by tweaking a good pasta recipe, a good sauce is what would deliver an authentic Tah Mee experience.
In the heart of a good Tah Mee has to be an outstanding chili sauce and this one…. is to die for.
Made up of a mixture of aromatics, spices and dried shrimps, this chili sauce is so good that I can polish off a bowl of steamed rice with it alone. For those who would try to make this, make a big batch because your whole house will be smoked through with the odour of the spices irregardless of the portion size you are preparing. Another word of caution is to fry the ingredients over low heat and exercise patience. I burnt my first lot with an over zealous flame and the bitterness from the burnt sauce rendered it totally unpalatable.
With the first component of the Tah Mee completed, look out for the next installment of home made wholemeal Mee Pok!
As the last pineapple tart gets depleted from the ubiquitous red lidded plastic tub, it becomes official, Chinese New Year is over. There will be some who are still working off the CNY left overs but for me, I am eager to stash away my pineapple tart molds and return to something more fundamental. When you are sick and tired of eating the sweet fare day after day for almost a month, you yearn for something more basic, something from good old Tish Boyle’s cake bible.
It doesn’t surprise me at all when I instinctively reached out for Tish Boyle – after all, I have had happy results with her various pound cake recipes. As I perused over this recipe, I couldn’t understand why I had not tried this before. It is extremely basic and can definitely become the base of many interesting variations to follow. I am always delighted when I discover a good basic recipe which I can potentially work into a cup cake or a frosted layer cake just like Isabella’s Lemon Meringue Cupcake base and Alex Goh’s Jam Topping Sponge Cake base. This one is unique for me as it falls somewhere in between the spectrum of a pound and a sponge cake. With the use of unbeaten egg white, the cake turns out lighter than your typical butter cake but considerably more fulfilling in texture than the airy sponge.
Yielding the fine crumbed cake that I have come to associate so easily with Tish Boyle’s recipe , this one turned out to be even more velvety than the Plainly Perfect Sponge Cake.
The clean white finish makes this a perfect base for layering and frosting. Imagine how pretty this would look in a white on white frosted wedding layer cake when you cut it using your knife!
I am certain you will see me use more of this in my future cake postings. For now, I encourage you to give this a try and am sure you will be as delighted as I have been with it.
31/2 cups (325g) sifted cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
2 sticks (227g) unsalted butter
1 cup (300g) granulated sugar
6 large egg whites (about 150g)
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest (optional)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1½ cup (320ml) whole milk
1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 350F or 175C.
2. Grease the bottom and sides of 2 9-inch round cake pans and dust with flour. (You can use any cake mold but beware -this cake bakes best as a thin layer. Baking it to full height in a 9-inch or 6-inch pan will require longer baking time and you will get a browned cake)
3. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
4. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter at medium high speed until creamy (30seconds). Add sugar and continue to beat at high speed until light . (about 2 mins)
5. Reduce speed to low and add in egg whites one at a time and mix until homogenous.
6. Add in lemon zest and vanilla extract and mix well.
7. Add the flour mixture in alternating with milk. (add flour in 3 additions and milk in 2 additions)
8. Divide the cake batter evenly into the 2 9 inch cake tins and smooth the tops.
9. Bake the cake for 25 to 30mins until an inserted cake tester comes out clean.
10. ( You can also bake them in cup cake liners or muffin pans- they will work with the baking timing suggested above to yield a snowy white cake.)