Friday, October 7, 2011
Chinese red bean pancake
What it is suppose to look like:
The first time I tried a similar recipe, it didn't turn out well. In fact, it was a major disaster. The red bean fillings burst in the wok and the pancake unfolded. And the batter wasn't crispy at all. I was quite disheartened with the final product of the dish and really envied those fine dining Chinese restaurants which served up scrumptious crispy red bean pancakes during reunion or wedding dinners.
This time, I spotted another recipe which was more promising. I attempted it again but this time, I made my own red bean paste using a pressure cooker which helped save a lot of time. I was really delighted by the taste and texture of the red bean paste. It's not as refined or smooth since I used an immersion blender as compared to the traditional method of passing it through a fine sieve. However, I think the texture is quite favourable as you get to chew on the grainy red bean bits in the paste. I think I could have improved on the batter as I could have made it thinner and thus it would have been more crispy. The outside edges were very crispy but the inside was more of a soft doughy 'ham chin peng' texture. But at least my red bean filling was generous; or maybe I was being a bit too greedy and overstuffing the mixture. It was a much better improvement compared to my first attempt so hopefully I can refine this recipe in the future.
50g plain flour
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp custard powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
6 tbsp (approx 120g) red bean paste, divided into 2 equal portions
20 pinenuts, toasted (optional)
Combine all batter ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix with a hand whisk until well blended and is a thin runny consistency. Divide the batter into two equal portions.
Meanwhile, take one portion of the red bean paste and place it between 2 pieces of clingwrap. Then, with a rolling pin, lightly roll it into a flat square piece and put aside. (optional step).
Lightly grease a large flat non-stick pan with a little cooking oil. Pour in one portion of the batter. Turn and tilt the pan to allow the batter to run evenly to the edge to form a thin layer of pancake. Cook over a gentle low heat for 2 minutes or until the pancake is cooked. Do not allow the pancake to brown.
Use a turner/spatula to lift pancake onto a plate. Do the same for the other portion of the batter to make a second pancake.
Spread one portion of red bean paste across the centre of each pancake. Remove one side of the clingwrap and flip the red bean paste onto the centre of the pancake, and peel off the other side of the clingwrap. (optional step).
Scatter pinenuts over the red bean paste, if used. Fold the near end of the pancake over the filling. Tuck in both the sides. Smear a little beaten egg along the edge and fold the remaining flap over to seal the pancakes.
Deep-fry the pancakes in hot oil until golden brown and crispy. Once they puff up, do not move them around to prevent them from bursting. Remove the pancakes with a perforated ladle and drain on several layers of paper towels.
Cut the pancakes into slices and serve hot.
Red bean paste recipe
450g red beans, washed (can be soaked at least 3-5 hours or overnight, cover with water, to shorten cooking time)
3 screwpine (pandan) leaves, shredded and knotted
1 litre water
3 tbsp cooking oil/lard (?75-150ml)
550g castor sugar
Cook red beans and water in a pressure cooker for 35-40 minutes until beans have softened. Remove beans and drain. Process the beans in a blender until smooth.
Heat oil in a wok or deep saucepan and add in the sugar. When the sugar has melted a little, pour in blended bean paste.
Cook on low heat, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved completely. (Melt lard and heat it till hot in a wok, stir-fry 1/4-1/3 of the sugar till melted. Then, add in the bean paste and stir-fry/mixing in the remaining sugar little by little till incorporated. Continue stir-frying till the paste becomes thick and can stand in peaks).
Keep cooking and stirring the paste until it is thick and dark brown and the paste leaves the sides of the pan. Cool and use the red bean paste as required.
Note: Stir constantly as the red bean paste may burn.