Sunday, February 26, 2017

Traditional Hainanese Nian Gao (Sticky Rice Cake) Making 传统手工制作海南红糖年糕

On the third day of my stay in my village in Hainan, the weather suddenly turned chilly. It was a lovely 21°C when I arrived, but the temperature dropped to 14°C three days later.

It became so cold at night that I had to wear two sweaters and bundled myself with 4 blankets when I sleep. Also I had to keep the bedroom windows shut all throughout my stay. So funny, right? I live in a country where daily temperature averages 30°C, I couldn't adapt to the sudden drop in temperature here.

That afternoon when I woke up from my usual nap after lunch, I found the entire family busy in the kitchen. They were making the traditional Hainanese Nian Gao (sticky rice cake) for our ancestor worship.

My nephews and their children were still enjoying their Lunar New Year holidays so it was a boisterous activity with the extra helping hands. The kids had 3 weeks of vacation but they were complaining that their "heartless" teachers gave them lots of homework. LOL

Sister-in-law decided to make a huge nian gao as there were so many family members at home. She prepared more so I could bring some back to Singapore. She used 5 kg of glutinous rice flour.

I watched as she knead the dough .... it was hard work, but my sister-in-law has strong arms despite her advanced age. Her second daughter-in-law helped when her arms were tired.

Only my sister-in-law knows the consistency of the dough and when it was ready, she allowed us to shaped them into ovals for cooking.

We had to use the old wood fire stove as the nian gao was going to be huge. She boiled some water with dark sugar and coconut milk, then she put in the shaped dough to cook.

When the dough floated to the surface, they were cooked. I was offered a piece to taste, she drizzled some coconut sauce over it.

The sticky rice cake was not overly sweet and it didn't stick to my teeth. When eaten with the coconut sauce ...., Wow!! I like the taste of this combination. you could taste the creamy coconut. I thought this was the final product. No.

Sister-in-law continued cooking the dough. Then she used two wooden rods to twist the cooked dough in a clockwise direction. She kept doing it until the oval shaped cakes were broken into a lumpy mess.

Then her two sons took turns to blend the mixture with the wooden rods until it was smooth. That took almost an hour to get that smooth consistency.

Have a look at this video where my nephew shows how to blend the nian gao :

Phew! This is truly very exhausting. I doubt I could do this in Singapore by myself.      

When the cooked sticky rice cake is ready, they transferred it to a huge basin to cool. 

Second daughter-in-law smoothen the surface of the cake and smear fragrant peanut oil on it before covering it up with banana leaves.

Two days later, we were elated to taste the delicious nian gao. That is a huge basin of nian gao!  haha....

We heat some in the microwave oven. It was soft and chewy, did not stick to our teeth. There was a lovely coconutty fragrance. I think it would taste better eaten with fresh coconut shreds.

We sliced some and dipped them in a batter and fried it. The children love this crispy sticky rice cakes which turned gooey after frying, so they had fun "playing" with it. LOL

I prefer the earlier version where coconut sauce was spooned over the sticky rice cake. But the family members prefer their nian gao where the ingredients are all blended together.

This is a fantastic activity where all the family members gathered to make the traditional offering to our ancestors. They would be very pleased and proud seeing us united and living harmoniously.

海南人的红糖年糕, 叫做甜粑, 是逢年过节祭祀都必备的食物。以糯米、红糖为原材料。

按我们家乡琼海风俗,一到过年,不少农户都为欢度新春佳节而赶制年糕。我们家的红糖年糕, 特别的大气,一次制作十几斤, 一般会用大圆器皿来盛。


先将糯米泡在水中,第二天将泡软的糯米用石磨磨成米浆 (在许多农村已比较少见了)。后加入红糖、椰汁搅拌均匀,形成糯米粑, 放到椰浆里用柴火灶的大火煮。

糯米粑浮上来就熟了, 再用两根木棍反覆搓, 这样甜粑绵韧性就好。最后装进器皿待凉了才吃, 放一个多月都不会坏。


我们家传统古早味椰汁红糖年糕, 软软的、QQ的,淡淡的散发椰奶的鲜香。那口感绝对是外面卖的年糕没法比的。不能贪嘴哦 。。。因为这个是糯米制品,不好消化的。

Friday, February 24, 2017

Traditional Hainanese Dessert - Zhu Loot 海南传统农家小吃 - 甜薯奶

During the two weeks that I was back in my village on Hainan island, I was constantly amazed at the traditional Hainanese food that my sister-in-law prepared for us.

She inherits the family dishes from our grandmother, she has since imparted her knowledge of the family dishes to her second son and daughter-in-law. I want to learn how to cook these dishes too, so I asked her to teach me.

This afternoon she was going to teach me a traditional dessert that is popular in Qionghai. The main ingredient is Chinese yam (Dioscorea esculenta(Lour.) Burkill ) which is available on our farm.

It was the first time I see these Chinese yams, they are so hairy. LOL She steamed some yams for me to taste. It tasted like potatoes.

The rest of the Chinese yams, she washed them clean and peeled the skins.

Using a grater, she grated all the Chinese yams. It became a pile of gooey stuff because the yam was very starchy.

Sister-in-law added some rice flour to the starchy yam and mixed them well to form a dough.

Her second daughter-in-law boiled a pot of water with several slices of ginger, then added coconut milk. When the coconut milk started to boil, she shaped the dough into little balls and dropped them into the boiling soup.

When the yam balls are cooked, they will float to the surface. Add some sugar to the dessert and serve it hot or chilled.

How does the dessert taste? Watch the video.

It's delicious!

Zhu Loot (Creamy Chinese Yam Dessert), a traditional Hainanese dessert which is popular in Qionghai, is made from Chinese yams and cooked in a coconut milk sweet soup. It has a savoury version too.

The Chinese yams are a good source of vitamin C for fighting infections such as colds and flu and quick wound healing, anti-ageing, strong bones and healthy immune function.

回家乡那两个星期, 我向大嫂学了几样传统海南菜和小吃。这些都是我们奶奶传下来的传家菜, 我学会了回新加坡煮给家人吃。

这天大嫂教我煮甜薯奶。这是琼海小吃, 有两种做法 :一种是甜的、一种是咸的。将甜薯磨成泥状和米粉浆混合在一起, 捏成球后下汤煮。

爱吃甜味的加糖, 姜片和椰奶; 爱吃咸味的洒上一些炒熟磨碎的芝麻,滴几滴上好的香油,加上海南特产的鲜虾酱,再倒入一些辣椒油。

甜薯也叫毛薯, 我们家农地有种。

甜薯类似山药,表面有毛,表皮有斑,剥开之后,有滑滑的粘液。煮熟之后,口感松软, 具有“清、补、凉” 滋养强身、补脾肺、涩精气、消肿、止痛的功效。

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Bon Ton Resort, Langkawi 浮罗交怡的邦塔恩度假村

After breakfast on the second day, we checked out early and Amir brought us on a tour of Bon Ton Resort which is located not too far from Temple Tree Resort. Bon Ton Resort is built on an old coconut plantation.

That explains the warning signs on the coconut trees. LOL

The resort is surrounded by padi fields and sugar cane fields with a lake in a corner of the estate.

This resort resembles a Malay village because of the traditional houses on stilts.

The interior of the houses are tastefully furnished with all the modern comforts.

There is their signature vintage bath tub .....

Guests can choose to relax or have their breakfast on the balcony which overlooks the swimming pool.

Besides an indoor bar overlooking the beautiful lake, there is an outdoor bar at the swimming pool.

You get a view of the lake while you enjoy your meal at Nam Restaurant ....

or alfresco on the deck overlooking the lake.

The alfresco area when the sun is setting .....

Here are two types of their single room traditional houses.

For the overseas visitors like us, it is an amazing way to experience the richness of Malaysia's cultural heritage.

邦塔恩度假村 (Bon Ton Resort) 就在树下神龛度假村 (Temple Tree Resort) 的旁边。位於浮罗交怡最热闹的珍南海滩, 这两家度假村属于相同的公司 。

我第一眼看到这马来甘榜和传统的房子就深深被吸引。度假村里的传统甘榜房子外表看来很旧, 但内部房间非常干净、舒适, 均备有空调、吊扇、保险箱、热水淋浴、吹风机、电视、冰箱、拖鞋、驱蚊剂、免费矿泉水、咖啡和茶冲泡设施等一切必需品。

房子拥有可俯瞰泳池的独立阳台; 浴室设有泡澡的私人空间; 还可以免费在整个度假村上网(Wifi)。

这里的餐馆提供当地特色美食和西方料理。餐馆前面是湖, 可以一边吃饭一边欣赏美丽的风景。晚上除了度假村住客, 还有好多人来这里享用餐点。

住客可以体验当地文化, 这是一个非常奇妙、特別的经验。

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