Sunday, 30 September 2007

CTK chronicles

Thank you everyone for checking on me throughout the past 2 unintentionally silent months (someone pinch me, did they really go by like that?)! To be perfectly honest without trying to sound like I'm feeling sorry for myself, things hadn't been easy on me on many fronts, and will not get better for another couple of months, so blogging just had to take a backseat.

(It was unfortunate that I had to be so bogged down because I definitely had lots to say, in particular with regards to Emon Chatterjee being ousted from Indian Idol!!! No way! The injustice!! The kid is GIFTED! And anyone who sounds like Sonu has an immediate place in my heart! :) So yes, if I'd already been too down to blog, this slid yet another gin tonic between my helpless fingers! Poor Emon! :( )

Of course, I could have kept you entertained with pictures of the "ugly" food I had been cooking during my absence, but none of them are quite as worthy as what I have prepared for this post! :) I cannot think of any other dish in my repertoire that surpasses this one in mindboggling simplicity (ahem, for some! ;-) ), affordability and Singaporeanness, but I can bet my bottom Singdollar that few of my Singaporean readers would have attempted making this at home and succeeded, and by that, I mean, while living in Singapore. :) Why would they when it can be procured around the clock in less than half an hour with at most, a few oily forks to wash?

It's no myth that few Singaporeans bother to learn how to cook until they become exiles like me, and I help to perpetuate that stereotype, but the things an exile would do for survival when frequent trips back aren't feasible. :)

There is nothing inherently exquisite about carrot cake aka chai tow kway but this post is dedicated to my sister (I know you're reading this!) who has attempted and failed it all of 4 times, and mean as it is to snigger, it has been one of my favourite subjects of teasing.. ;-) She lives in Japan, so maybe getting the right ingredients are tricky, or is she just not looking in the right places? ;-) I've tried to help, but my last resort - sending a bag of rice flour - sounds ridiculous, so I'll be contented with letting her savour it only on trips back to Singapore! :) heh heh...

What you need:

How to: Mix 400g rice flour with 200g tapioca starch. Add 1 grated radish (I added a grated carrot) and about 500ml of water or stock at room temperature. Add another 500ml - 800ml of boiling water or stock and stir until there are no more lumps. Pour mixture into a casserole and cook until all liquid is absorbed (it gets very thick, so the spoon will get stuck) and transfer to a steamer. Steam for about half an hour. It should have a slightly springy consistency because of the tapioca starch. Cut into small cubes when it has completely cooled.

This recipe makes enough for 8 - 10, so this plateful of cubes shows only a quarter of the final product.

Preserved salted radish (yes, again!) strips, aka chai por.

You'll also need fish sauce and crushed garlic, but my bottle of fish sauce is quite a mess, so I'd prefer to keep your appetites intact by not showing it! :)

About 3 or 4 of these guys for 2...

Not entirely necessary, but to glam up this humble dish, I sometimes add prawns.

Lastly, shallot chives for garnish.

How to: Heat about 2tbps of oil (purists would recommend lard, but I'm happy enough with sunflower oil) in a wok on high heat and throw in the cubes of carrot cake. Fry until the surfaces are slightly toasted and crisp, then splash 1 - 2 tbsp of fish sauce and add the preserved radish strips. Add garlic now if you don't like it too strong, and fry for about a minute, then add lightly-beaten eggs. When eggs are fully cooked, remove from heat, sprinkle shallot chives and serve with chilli paste.

I was too impatient to let mine brown and crisp, so it could have been darker and better. :)

Variations: This is the "white" version, which is the only version I like. The "black" version includes a dark sweet sauce which I've never learned to make and can't seem to find ready-made here, but who's asking for any? :)

Body count: About 15 prawns.


Suganya said...

Ah! You are back!

sra said...

Really unusual recipe, glad to see you back!

Jyothsna said...

Good to see you back, and with something unique! :)

Sia said...

yayyyyyyyyyyyy... u r back...
girl, r u saying emon being voted out from II-3 is the reason for ur long absense from blogsphere???? u r impossible...;) he he he...
we already have one sonu nigam so why another??? LOL....

WokandSpoon said...

Hey - you're back! Time does fly doesn't it!

Asha said...

Hello stranger!!:D
I read something about Indian Idol but don't know much about the detail.
Lot of great but unfamiliar dishes here!:))

Victor said...

Well done. Your CTK looks pretty authentic. Now if I could only give it the taste test.

How about cooking up CKT (Char Kway Teow) complete with cockles next? :P

Sharmi said...

hey welcome back! how are you dear? very different kind of recipes:)

tigerfish said...

Me, me ! I like black version. Of course, I like the white version too. When it comes to chai tow kway, don't ask me to choose.

Keropok Man said...

Hey Hey!!!

Ey, you want it to be transfat free, use Lard! haha... Sunflower izit trans fat ah?

Tanglin Halt has this guy who puts in tonnes of garlic, oh heavenly....

Your prawns very the glam hor... Arrange until like that :-)

Sandeepa said...

OMG where were you when I was pining for Emon's loss ? And then Amit pauls.

So happy to know you watched Indian Idol

Asha said...

Shilpa, after what I read "there", I just couldn't stop thinking about you and your kid.I had to come here and say hi to you again.
Think positive.Everything in life happens to be for the better. Look forward to good things to come. Take care, hugs to you. Hope you have family there to support you. We are here always, you know that!:))

Shilpa said...

Hi Suganya, sra and jyothsna, yes, I hope to be back more often! :) thanks, but it isn't all that unique in S'pore & Malaysia! :)

Hey Sia, missed you!!! :) haha, yes, i was about to make a comeback, then Emon got voted out, so I took to the bottle! ;-) but true true, sonu is unique, emon is good but should trying singing his own songs instead of imitating sonu! :)

Hey wokandspoon! yes, it does go by too fast, now i have to bring out the sweaters again! :)

Shilpa said...

hi asha, i don't have zee tv, but i kept up with II3 on youtube! :) thanks for revisiting, but i think if i have to vent, i'll do it by e-mail :) thanks for the offer, though! *hugs* nope, my family is far far away, so i'm proceeding with the greatest humility in everything i do. :)

hey victor, thanks for the compliment, but err, have never attempted CKT since I'm not a big fan of the sweet sauce, that's why i only eat it at hawker centres with strange men, so I don't have to clean up after the greasebomb! :)

dear sharmi, am fine, thanks! :) missed catching up with you, too! :)

hey tiger, i just saw that you've also made ctk before! :) i don't suppose you learned how to make it while living in s'pore??? :)

eh keropok, don't like lard, lah, i find that it stinks when it gets cold! ugh, don't even want to imagine it right now (just had lunch), haha!! no lah, sunflower oil quite wholesome, just an ordinary veggie oil.. i don't care, when i go back someday, you better point out the tanglin halt guy to me, ok? or just give me the link if you've already posted on his stall! :)

Shilpa said...

hey sandeepa, so sorry for being MIA, you must really have been rooting for Emon, since he's also from West Bengal.. ;-) i latched on to indian idol when i was loafing at work one day and watching old celebrity versions of KBC, and one thing led to another, so that's how I discovered Emon! :)

seriously, prashant looks likes a nice affable guy, but he can't hold a tune, man! i couldn't choose between him and amit paul, 'cos i was sure as hell emon would win! sigh...

Shilpa said...

PS to all who had been following Indian Idol - I thought Ankita was pretty good, and was sad she had to go. They really should have Male Indian Idol and Female Indian Idol, I feel.. it's so unfair to compare vocals, and it's so easy to be sexist, too. Just hope Emon intends to start recording soon!

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

Glad to see you back, girl! And wow, your CTK looks yummy! No need to come back to fulfill your cravings lor, like this!

SJ said...

Hi Shilpa, I regularly read your blog, but have never left a comment before. Hope you and your som are doing fine... would love to email talk with you once things are more settled at your end.


Hi Shilpa
Nice to see you with your new post...wont talk much about the food as am a vegetarian...but compliments on the presentation.
I am so glad that you too had been watching Indian Idol...I did'nt miss a single episode and it was heartbreaking to see Emon leave the contest....
Will wait to hear more from u.


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