An Exercise In Trivial Pursuits

Fatshion, Food & Frivolities – Life in Las Vegas & Singapore


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Meatless Monday: Ginger & Sesame Oil Stirfry

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Prior to this, I’ve done 2 stirfry recipes (methods?) in my other Meatless Monday posts. Both of which required the use of minced garlic. The thing is, not everybody likes the taste of garlic and some people (like staunch Buddhists) don’t consume garlic at all. Here’s another simple Chinese-style stirfry method that I use. It’s basically 3 ingredients and takes less than 15 minutes from start to end – HOW EASY IS THAT?!

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Ginger & Sesame Oil Stirfry

Serves 2. Prep Time: 5 minutes. Cooking Time: 10 minutes.

3 tablespoons Sesame Oil

1/2 cup of sliced ginger

2-3 cups of any kind of chopped veggies of your choice (I just used a frozen pre-packaged mix)

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Method:

1. Peel ginger root, cut into thin slices, then julienne them into matchsticks.

2. Heat the sesame oil in a frying pan or wok.

3. Add the ginger matchsticks into the oil and fry till they turn golden brown.

4. Add the veggies (I don’t even bother defrosting mine) and fry till vegetables are soft.

5. Serve hot!

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That is all! And that was what we had for lunch the other day!


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Meatless Monday: Chinese-style Steamed Egg Custard

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This recipe is not vegan-friendly but so good for other non-meat eaters in general because it’s so easy, so nutritious (eggs basically contain everything required for some cells to turn into a chick) and easy to digest! There are also so many variants of it!

Growing up I used to love this with some marinated minced pork and salted veggies at the bottom. You can add anything or nothing (just eggs and water) to this dish BUT the key thing is to get it silken smooth like a block of tofu! The secret lies in getting rid of air bubbles before steaming and steaming it at a low heat so it doesn’t bubble up. Because when it does, the end result will be a honeycomb-like texture.

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Chinese-Style Steamed Egg Custard

Serves 2. Prep Time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 15-20minutes.

3 Large Eggs (retain the larger half of a broken shell)

2 tablespoons Soy Sauce

2 tablespoons Sesame Oil

1/2 cup Spring onions (for garnish)

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Method:

1. Break 3 eggs into a bowl.

2. Using 1 of the broken egg shells as a measuring cup, put in 1.5 x worth of water into the eggs. If there are 3 eggs, you fill the 1/2 broken egg shell 9 times.

3. Prepare the steaming vessel and bring the water to a boil. (I used a wok with a rack and filled up the water to a level where it wouldn’t touch my bowl during steaming.)

4. Add sesame oil and soy sauce into the beaten egg. Stir thoroughly.

5. Using a sieve, pour the egg mixture into the bowl you’ll be using for steaming. The sieve makes the mixture smoother and prevents the little bubbles from forming, thus ruining the silken smooth texture of the final product.

6. Lower the heat. (I use a low heat – setting 2 or 3). Put the bowl with the egg mixture into the steaming vessel.

7. Cover and steam for 15 to 20 minutes.

8. Upon serving, garnish with chopped spring onions!

T and I had this for lunch with the GARDEIN Sizzling Szechuan Beefless Strips, a Sesame oil and Ginger Stirfry (which I will share the recipe of soon), and steamed brown Jasmine rice.

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Meatless Monday: Easy Cheesy Pasta Bake

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I made this for Sunday brunch yesterday. The day before, T and I went for a 2-hr long hike at Mount Charleston after I did a 1-hr Hot Yoga class, so I thought I could reward myself and eat something indulgent. This is indulgent for me because of the cheese and pasta – I’m diabetic and I’ve been trying to cut down on the carbohydrates. I got up at 10am and made this in a jiffy!

This is so easy anyone can do it! I swear, even as a meat-eater, you won’t feel like a rabbit eating this! Also 1 cup of Silk Soy Milk has 8g of Protein and each of the LightLife Jumbo franks have 13g of Protein – something that I’m always asked as a vegetarian is “where do you get your protein from?” This is where and how!

As you can see from the picture below, I used Barilla’s Whole Grain Rotini because compared to white carbs (breads and pasta) it’s better in helping diabetics steady their blood sugar, and the switch has been welcomed in our home as it satisfies just the same. These are of course optional, but I just thought it’d be good to clarify why I chose to use these products. (Not endorsed…)

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Easy Cheesy Pasta Bake

Serves 2 – 4. Prep Time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 20-30 minutes.

1 tbsp Olive Oil

3 Jumbo Soy Franks (or 2-3 cups of sausages of your choice)

1 tbsp minced garlic

2-3 cups water (for boiling pasta)

2 cups of dry pasta

1 3/4 – 2 cups shredded Mozzarella

2 cups Soy milk (or any kind of milk of your choice)

1/2 cup chopped green onions (for garnish)

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Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degF
  2. Boil pasta for 6-8 minutes until partially cooked (the cooking process continues in the oven)
  3. Chop up franks and fry them up in olive oil and minced garlic. Then set aside.
  4. Add 1 cup of cheese to the bottom of a greased baking pan. (I used a 5″x9″ that was perfect for the amount I cooked so experiment with your own cooking vessels if necessary)
  5. Add 1/2 of the partially cooked pasta on top of the cheese.
  6. Layer the franks & garlic over the pasta (save a few pieces for topping the bake at the end)
  7. Spread the rest of the pasta evenly over everything.
  8. Pour milk evenly over everything in the baking pan.
  9. Top off with the remaining 1 cup of cheese and “decorate” with some franks.
  10. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. (This depends on your oven.)
  11. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes before garnishing with chopped green onions.

 


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Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Mushroom Dumplings

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These are Chinese-style dumplings. In my books, they are both wantans (or wontons) and jiaozi. I had a craving for Chinese dumplings in soup and because I now live in Las Vegas, it’s not like I can just go across the street to buy them for S$3 with a belly-warming clear broth. You might have heard this from me before but I’ll say it again, hot soup on a cold day is like a much-needed hug from within… so so comforting!

So anyway, I did the best I could with what I had and T thinks they’re not different from the ones he’s eaten at P. F. Chang’s. Most cooks would probably find that insulting seeing that it’s bastardised Chinese food – but not me. I’m not a cook, you see. I’m a vegetarian trying to make meatless home-cooked meals that are budget-friendly and require almost no effort at all. And if it satisfies my cravings and feeds my husband, I’m happy to share the recipe. 

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Vegetarian Mushroom Dumplings

Serves 2 to 4. Yields about 25 dumplings. Prep Time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 20 minutes.

1 1/2 cups mushrooms (I used a tin of straw mushrooms)

1/2 cup water chestnuts 

1 large onion 

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon vegetarian oyster sauce (Mushroom sauce)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon corn starch

1/2 teaspoon ginger powder 

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 egg (used as a wash to seal edges)

Wonton wrappers 

Method:

1. Dice and sautee onions in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil till they are soft and reduced. (Sauteeing them releases their natural sweetness)

2. Mince mushrooms and water chestnuts. 

3. Mix and stir all the ingredients – sauteed onions, minced mushooms, minced water chestnuts, pepper, ginger powder, salt, cornstarch, sesame oil and vegetarian oyster sauce.

4. Prepare wonton wrappers by putting them between moistened kitchen towels to prevent them from drying out.

5. Put a teaspoon of the filling into a wonton wrapper and seal the edges with egg. I dipped my pinkie finger in the egg white and painted the diagonal edges so that it folds up into a triangle parcel. You can stop here or pull the opposite ends of the bottom together and seal again with egg white. Pinch all edges tightly! 

6. Prepare a pot of boiling water while you’re making the dumplings.

7. Drop the dumplings into the boiling water. Once they float, you know they’re done!

I served them very simply with mee sua cooked in a broth of vegetable stock (2 1/2 cups water and 1/2 vegetable stock cube) with egg drop and some julienned lettuce (raw). 

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Meatless Monday: Veggie Burger

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Here’s something I made from scratch – burger patties and the burger buns! If I can do it, so can you. The burger buns recipe is actually French Bread Rolls to Die For found on allrecipes.com. I will continue experimenting with the bread but the patties are good on their own, so if you have no bread, just eat them alone anyway.

The recipe below is for 6 burger patties and is an original.

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Veggie Burger

Serves 6. Prep time: 20 minutes. Cooking time: 30 minutes.

2 cups water

1/2 cup dried lentils

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup diced canned tomatoes (I used Fire Roasted but you can use any kind)

2 cups beans (I used chickpeas but you can use pinto or anything else)

1 cup corn kernels

1 cup shredded cheddar (I used Cheddar Jack)

1 cup breadcrumbs (I used Panko because it’s so crunchy)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground tumeric (Optional)

2 large eggs (beaten)

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Method:

1. Boil lentils in water for about 15 to 20 minutes until tender. Drain and mash.

2. In a large mixing bowl add all the ingredients (tomatoes, beans, lentils, corn, cheese, spices, egg, breadcrumbs except olive oil) and mix till thoroughly combined. Best to use hands and feel free to squish everything. Quite fun! LALAALA…

3. Divide the mixture into 6 patties.

4. Fry the patties in olive oil over medium-high heat. Try not to crowd the pan. Cook 3 – 5 minutes on each side until brown.

5. Serve on its own or in a burger bun!

YUM! I popped the 2 leftover patties into a toaster oven for lunch the next day and it was soooo good with extra spicy sambal!

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Meatless Monday: Dhal Nat for Curry

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I like what I did with the name of this recipe and my friend Natalie Giacchi who gave me the original recipe thinks it’s dodgy. But since she countered that statement with some “hahahas” I take it to mean that it’s okay with her.

Dhal or Dal is the Hindi name for lentils. Lentils is a great source of very affordable protein. In the same vein as the Chickpea Curry from 2 weeks ago, a vegetarian can only eat that many eggs and tofu for protein before getting sick of it. Also, T loves Indian food.

After researching recipes, experimenting and talking to my Indian friends (hello Shridar Mani), I’ve come to the conclusion that cumin and onions are the key ingredients and you must remember to fry your spices before you add fluids.

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Dhal Nat for Curry

Serves 4 – 6. Prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 1 hour

1 cup lentils

4 cups water

2 medium sized potatoes (diced)

1 medium sized carrot (chopped up)

1/2 large onion (sliced)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon tumeric

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt

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Method:

1. Boil chopped up carrots and potatoes until slightly soft. (About 15 – 20 minutes)

2. In a pan or skillet, add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil then fry up onions and garlic. (I just use the enamel pot that I’ll be cooking the curry in.)

3.  Add all the spices into the hot oil and turn the heat up. Once everything is mixed and nicely browned, turn heat down to medium.

4. Add boiled potatoes and carrots into the oil and stir.

5. Add pre-soaked lentils (prepare the lentils according to your package) and 4 cups of water to cover the mixture and turn the heat up high.

6. Continue stirring curry and once it comes to a boil, keep it boiling for 5 minutes before turning it down to medium heat.

8. Simmer on medium for 30 to 45 minutes until lentils are mushy.

Yum!

This recipe makes for a rather mild curry and if you want more heat, you can add chili powder or more cumin – which is the spice that you normally smell when you eat curry. Also, if you refer a more diluted curry, add a cup more water.


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Meatless Monday: Whole Wheat Bread

I made bread and it was so yum! I have to share this recipe even though it’s not mine. My friend Patrick (who loves baking bread) shared it with me and I followed his modification to make this loaf. OMG so so good! Thanks also to my cousin Megan who sent me whole wheat flour (she’s awesome that way)… hahahha!

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I once shared a Cucumber & Cheese Toasty recipe (method?) because my ex-colleague Pearlyn was sad that I couldn’t share yummy ham sandwiches with her anymore. At the same time, the purpose of this series is to encourage people to go meatless and show how many different things vegetarians can eat other than salads. Shortly after this loaf cooled, I sliced into it and had the ends with a pat of butter – OH SO GOOD!!! Also, the house was so warm and homey with the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through.

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T and I eventually ate it all up within 2 meals – I served it as a “bread platter” of cucumber/mayo and egg-in-a-hole sandwiches. So easy, so delicious! You get your carbs, protein and fibre all at once!

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The original recipe is Titli Nihaan’s Simple Wholemeal Bread – copied below without amendments from her original post.

Ingredients
  • 500 g (1 lb) strong wholemeal flour
  • 325 ml (10 fl oz) lukewarm water
  • 1 tsp dried yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp salt
Instructions
  1. Mix about 4 tbsp of the water with the yeast in a small bowl and leave for 10 minutes to allow the yeast to activate.
  2. Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast and the rest of the water. Mix to form a lumpy dough.
  3. Add the oil before all the flour has been incorporated and mix well to a smooth dough.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  5. Place the dough in a lightly-oiled bowl, cover and put in a warm place to allow the dough to double in size.
  6. Knock back the dough on a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes.
  7. Place the dough in a lightly-greased 1lb loaf tin, cover with lightly-oiled plastic wrap and allow to rise until it fills the tin.
  8. Place a tray of water in the oven and bake the bread at 190°C/375°F fan oven, 220°C/430°F normal oven, for 25-30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
I however used 360g Whole Wheat Flour and 140g Bread Flour instead. Turned out pretty good and I might try 100% wholemeal flour the next time.

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IMG_3250IMG_3251This bread is rather dense and I thought it was great for making Egg-in-a-hole sandwiches because it holds up well. You basically just need to use a cookie cutter (or cup) to cut out a hole in a slice of bread, then plonk it onto a pan or skillet that’s already got melted butter in it. Press the slice of bread into the butter so it lies flat and then crack an egg into the hole. Don’t move the bread for the next 2 minutes and gently lift to see if the egg white at the bottom is browned (and firm). Quickly flip and seal the deal! Grill for another minute or so before removing from the pan. What I do with the cutout bread is just mop up the rest of the butter in the pan and brown it for a minute or so on each side until toasty! Easy peasy!


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Meatless Monday: Chickpea Curry

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So I was hankering for some old fashion Singaporean street snacks in a paper cone just the other day… Growing up in Singapore, the Kachang Puteh man was a staple on street corners, even game arcades and most often at the cinema. If you were to ask me, it’d be very difficult to pick between having some tasty kachang puteh and some buttery popcorn – as a child of multi-cultural Singapore, I’d say I want both and all at once if possible. My favourite kachang puteh variety would be the steamed chickpeas (followed by the peanuts a close second) and this brings us to the perfect segue (or so I say), to today’s recipe – the chickpea curry.

T shared the original recipe with me and asked if I could make it. Chickpeas are great for vegetarians because they are high in protein, allowing us to take a break from eggs and tofu. I tinkered with it a little and what I’m sharing below is what we had for dinner. This curry I made has a little kick but is not too spicy. I’ll definitely be making it again soon!

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Chickpea Curry

Serves 2 to 4. Prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 30 minutes

2 medium potatoes (peeled and cubed)

1 cup cauliflower florets (about 1/2 a small head cut up)

1/2 cup carrots peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion (diced)

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons (meat) curry powder

2 teaspoons garam masala

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1 can diced tomatoes (14.5oz)

1 1/2 cup coconut milk

1 can chickpea (rinsed and drained)

2 tablespoons butter (Optional)

Method:

1. Put peeled and cubed potatoes and chopped carrots in a covered pot of water and bring to a boil. Simmer until potatoes are tender. Add cauliflower florets to the pot and turn down the heat for 5 minutes.

2. In a pot or pan, heat cooking oil. Brown the onions and garlic.

3. Add curry powder, garam masala, cumin, salt and ground ginger to the oil and stir for about 1 min.

4. Add diced tomatoes, coconut milk, butter and chickpeas into the browned spices. Stir over medium high heat.

5. Add potatoes, carrots and cauliflower last.

6. Stir and simmer for 10 minutes on medium heat.

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Mmmm… super yum! Served with steamed basmati rice and some crispy papadum! Protein, fiber and carbs all rolled in one meal!

ps. I bought 5 tins of Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) for 88c each! HOW CHEAP IS THAT?!??!?! Can’t wait to cook this again… YUM!

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Meatless Monday: Vegan Corn Soup

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This is a super easy one-pot dinner dish – such a hearty soup, made within minutes and cooked in a rice cooker (in lieu of a slow cooker). I swear, even the meat-eaters won’t feel too icky about this chunky vegan-friendly soup. Of course, the man featured above (aka my husband T) is a vegetarian BUT he is a non-salad-eating vegetarian so that should count for something right?

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Vegan Corn Soup
Serves 2 to 4. Prep time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 20 – 30 minutes.
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 shallots (finely sliced)
2 garlic cloves (lightly smashed with the back of a knife)
1 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
1 teaspoon chili flakes (or paprika)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups vegetable broth
1 can diced tomatoes (I used a fire-roasted one but any will do)
1 1/2 cups corn kernels (okay even if frozen)
1 lb carrots (about 3 cups chopped up)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Dried basil for garnishing
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Method:
1. In a pot, put vegetable stock to boil. If you are using cube stock, use 1 cube and 3 cups of water.
2. In a pan, heat olive oil. Add shallots and garlic. Fry until lightly brown.
3. Add chopped carrots, browned shallots and garlic, canned tomatoes, chili flakes, salt, and ground ginger to the boiling vegetable stock.
4. Once carrots are tender, use an immersion blender (stick blender) or pour out into a food processor to blend.
5. Transfer into rice cooker to continue cooking. (I changed the setting to PORRIDGE on mine.)
6. Add corn and lemon juice into the soup (which is already in the rice cooker).
7. Cover to cook for 15 minutes or leave in rice cooker for as long as you need to keep it warm.
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Upon ladling, I add dried basil for garnishing and served it with these easy to make French Bread Rolls to Die For (which were crusty on the outside and so fluffy on the inside). Also, there’s no shame in telling you that it’s so easy to cook that I basically did the prep work, then while waiting for the carrots to get tender, loaded the washing machine, then made the rest of the soup, left it in the rice cooker then went to watch TV. When the laundry was done, I loaded the dryer and went about making the bread and while waiting for the bread to rise (and the laundry to dry), watched more TV. And while the bread was baking, I watched more TV while folding laundry. I felt like a Super Susie Homemaker that day when my husband came home to freshly laundered clothes and a healthy dinner made from scratch even though I basically couch-potatoed it for most of the day. HAHAHA! Now on to create more meatless meals that take no time at all to make…
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Meatless Monday: Crusty Curry Puff

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I recall trying to explain what curry puffs (or specifically the Malay epok epok we were eating) were to the members of MUTEMATH less than a year ago. When I said they were savoury Southeast Asian empanadas, Roy Mitchell, their bassist immediately got it. He said they were very similar to what he makes at home. Paul Meany, their lead vocalist though, got a little shock when he bit into one because he was expecting them to be sweet, not savoury. Those ones we ate had a dry curried potato filling AND this is exactly what I am sharing today – Malay-style epok epok. The crispy, blistered crust… oh my gawd! I am salivating as I write this.

I have to qualify and say that the crust recipe is not mine. I’d like to thank my friend Syahan for sharing it with me. I failed once before using her recipe to success! My recipe for the filling however, is mine, and super simple as always with my style.

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Vegetarian Curry Potato Filling for Epok Epok

Makes filling for 24. Prep time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 20 minutes.

1 big onion diced (you should get about 1 1/2 cups worth)

4 big potatoes (you should get about 5 – 6 cups worth after dicing)

1 tin of Carrot & Sweet Peas (Or you can dice 1 1/2 cups worth from scratch)

3 hard boiled eggs (slivered into 24 pieces)

2 tablespoon cooking oil

2 tablespoon curry powder

1/2 tablespoon salt

1/2 tablespoon sugar

Method:

1. Boil potatoes until they are soft, then peel and dice into as small as you can get them.

2. Fry onions in cooking oil until slightly translucent, add carrots, peas and potatoes into the pan and continue stirring for about 2 minutes.

3. Add curry powder, salt and sugar into the frying pan.

4. Cook till the mixture is slightly mushy. (see the before and after effect in the photo above.

5. Scoop 1 tablespoon of the filling into each flattened dough then add a sliver of egg. Do this 24 times till all your dough is used up. You might have some filling left. Eat it on its own. OMG yum!

See the recipe below for dough and cooking each epok epok.

This is copied directly from Syahan and I didn’t alter a word:

Epok Epok Dough

500 gm plain flour

3 tablespoon butter / margarine

40 ml cooking oil

200 ml warm water

1/2 tsp salt to taste

1. Melt butter / margarine in cooking oil. Till all melt and combined. Set aside to cool slightly only.

2. Add hot oil and melted butter into flour and stir using wooden spoon. Be careful oil mixture can be hot here.

3. Slowly add water bit by bit to knead dough till non sticky consistency and soft dough. Do not have to add all the water if you have reached the consistency.

4. Leave dough to rest for 20minutes.

5. Weigh each dough to 20 gm and shape into balls.

6. When ready, flatten dough will rolling pin (to thickness of your preference. Not too thin nor thick.)

7. Add filling and fold the sides. Or use the back of a fork to close the sides.

8. Deep fry into hot oil.

I have no weighing scale so instead, I used 4 cups of all purpose flour and 3 tablespoons of cooking oil. It worked for me! Also, instead of weighing each dough to 20gm, I spilt them into 24 equal (sorta) balls. How I ended up with 24 was divide the entire ball into 3 equally big ones, then split each big ball into 2 and then the 2 medium balls into 4 each. So, try my method if you don’t have a kitchen scale.

Instead of using a fork to close the package, I folded the circular pastry in half and then tried to crimp it by pinching/folding. Try it either way! As you can see, I’m not very good at it either. But it does the job of sealing the puff and keeping the filling in.

Mmmmm… Sometimes I dip it in sweet Thai chili sauce and it’s such a perfect match!

Do you like epok epok or the Old Chang Kee type of curry puffs?