A Brief History of Mooncakes

10

SEPTEMBER, 2017

A Brief History of Mooncakes

 


For those who don’t celebrate Mid Autumn Festival, you’d probably know mooncakes as the tasty cake the nice neighbour Aunty gives your family during the ‘mooncake festival’.
Mooncakes and the festival behind it are actually steeped in history and tradition that’s really very interesting. Here are some facts for you to impress your peers (and that same Aunty) if the conversation steers toward the upcoming festivities.

If Tinder doesn’t work, have you tried the moon?
The Mid-Autumn Festival is always celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar a.k.a. ‘Full Moon Day’. In Chinese folklore, the roundness of the full moon symbolizes ‘togetherness’, influenced by the love story of local legend Hou Yi and his beautiful wife Chang Er. As the legend goes, Chang Er rose to the moon at her untimely death, and became a Goddess of Love to which the locals would worship to find their true love.

How mooncakes showed up in the picture has its roots in the late Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368 AD). Zhu Yuanzhang, founder of Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 AD) united the rebel forces of their time and planned for an uprising. Local counselor Liu Bowen came up with the great idea of hiding notes bearing “Uprise on the night of August 15th” in mooncakes to avoid the detection of their secret messages. The success of the uprising that followed made Zhu so delighted that he awarded his loyal subjects with mooncakes during the following Mid-Autumn Festival, and it has become a tradition to eat them ever since.

Handmade mooncakes are increasingly becoming a lost art, but the craft of mooncake-making is still upheld by advanced chefs around the world.


Ingredients are deftly weighed with a very simple set of scales and formed into a dough. This dough is patiently kneaded and folded around the ‘filling’, which consists of lotus seed paste wrapped around a salted egg yolk. The layered dough ball is then transferred to a traditional wooden mold which gives the surface its beautiful patterns. Finally, the mooncakes are then glazed with an egg wash and heated. It takes years of practice to get this seemingly simple process right, which is why increasingly fewer chefs have the patience for it.

Come fly with us to the mooncake festival to learn more about this rich tradition, and be sure to pick up some tasty treats from our wide range of products available. Happening at all B.I.G. stores from September 14th to October 4th – join us for our Mooncake Baking Class! More details at this link: https://big.com.my/masak-masak/

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Fun Breakfast Facts

4

SEPTEMBER, 2017

Fun Breakfast Facts

 


Ah breakfast, the most important meal of the day. Well, for most people anyway. Every chef has their own take on it, but the most well-known morning meal which is the traditional English Breakfast always involves the same old crowd some way or another. Gordon Ramsey’s idea of a perfect breakfast consists of scrambled eggs, sauteed mushrooms and tomatoes (check out his fantastic video on cooking the perfect breakfast here).

With our busy lives, breakfast on weekdays may be too much of a hassle as we have one leg out the door heading to work, but hooray for weekends! That’s when we Malaysians take our time and savour the smell of ‘yay no work today’ along with our nasi lemak, kaya & butter on toast, kopi, teh tarik or anything that you’ve chosen for that relaxed meal with family and friends. Some of us even travel relatively far distances just to enjoy a freshly-made breakfast specialty!

At B.I.G. we’ll be featuring some popular artisan vendors, product promos and lots of activities for kids and adults at our Breakfast Weekend Fair so join us at our stores from 7th – 10th September. Meanwhile, here are some fun facts for you to digest:

 

1. According to TIME Magazine, Nasi Lemak is one of the 10 most healthy international breakfasts.

2. Our classic Roti Canai supposedly got its name from the food of Indian labor immigrants from Chennai, where they make a similar bread served with lentil curry.

3. Dim Sum, another breakfast favourite in Malaysia, originates from the Cantonese region of Southern China and its name carries the meaning of “snack, refreshment or light pastry”. 

4. The world’s first breakfast cereal was created in 1863 by James Caleb Jackson, a staunch vegetarian who fashioned it from graham flour. It was so tough that it needed to be soaked in milk overnight in order to be edible – he named it granula.

5. Women are more likely to prioritise their hair and choosing clothes for the day than eating breakfast. (As of 2017 we can confidently say most men, too).

6. The famous phrase “Breakfast of Champions” actually originated from the marketing slogan of a popular U.S. cereal called Wheaties, which was created by accident – a health clinician accidentally spilled wheat bran mixture onto a hot stove.

We could go on and on but it’ll soon be time for lunch, so do join us at our Breakfast Weekend Fair for more fun and games, sunny-side-up! Check out our event page at this link: http://bit.ly/TheBIGPicha

P.S. Notice we didn’t mention Cornflakes, because like us you’ve probably spent most of your childhood reading the fun facts behind the cereal box 😊

Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.

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Pumpkin Hummus

Pumpkin Hummus

Serves: 4 | Prep Time: 10 Minutes | Cooking Time: 25 Minutes

You Will Need

  • Pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into small cubes, 500g
  • Canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed , 1 can
  • Garlic , 2 cloves
  • Tahini, 1/4 cup
  • Lemon juice and zest , 1/2 no
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Extra virgin olive oil, 2 – 3 tablespoons
  • Flat bread, toasted
  • Directions

    1. Prepare a baking tray and place the pumpkin on a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 20 – 25 minutes until tender.


    2. Blend roast pumpkin with garlic and tahini until smooth. Add in lemon juice and zest. Give it a final blitz. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Serve pumpkin hummus with falafel and toasted flat bread on the side.

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    Exotic Fruits You Probably Have Never Heard Of

    24

    AUGUST, 2017

    Exotic Fruits You Probably Have Never Heard Of

     

    Fruits, if you take time to appreciate them, are the most perfect form of food our planet has to offer. Simply peel their skin (if needed) and you’re left holding a complete meal that’s not only tasty but filled with vitamins and minerals – how fruitastic is that!

    Below are some fruits you probably haven’t heard of before:

     

     

    Cherimoya
    The Cherimoya is a rare fruit that’s native to South America. It apparently tastes so good that it bears the honour of being branded “the most delicious fruit known to man” by Mark Twain himself! Looks like we Malaysians have been missing out. It has a soft, custard-like white flesh and is extremely sweet. The taste is a combination of banana, pineapple, and pear – some even compare the taste to Juicy Fruit chewing gum!

    Feijoa (Pineapple Guava)
    Ever seen a Guavasteen? That’s another name for Feijoa, an interesting pear-shaped fruit with a pleasant perfume-like aroma and roughly textured skin that’s slightly waxy to the touch. Also known as a Pineapple Guava, this exotic fruit is native to Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina. Ripe feijoas are eaten like a kiwi fruit. Simply scoop out the flesh and enjoy its unique flavour – best part is the seeds are not hard like a regular jambu (guava)!

    Tamarillo (Tree-tomato)
    Tamarillos come from South & Central America where it is commonly blended with sugar and water to be enjoyed as a refreshing juice. Health and refreshingly tasty, the fruit is an excellent source of vitamins A and C and minerals such as calcium, iron, and potassium. Today the largest producer of tamarillo is New Zealand where they will tell you to simply dig a spoon in and eat its juicy flesh raw!

    Loquat
    Originally native to China, Loquats were cultivated and naturalised in Japan from where it spread throughout Asia, the Middle East, North America, South America, and the Mediterranean. This versatile fruit is small and pear-shaped with large seeds. Great for a snack anytime of the day, it tastes like a combination of peach and, mango with a touch of apricot – yum!

    Mangosteen
    Specially for readers who have not grown up in Malaysia, meet our queen of fruits. Most Malaysians love and impatiently wait for the seasonal Mangosteen, also known as Manggis in Malay. An easy way to crack through the deep purple layer of its tough and thick outer skin is to squeeze it in between both palms. The succulent white flesh is not only delicious but contains anti-inflammatory properties and is high in antioxidants and vitamin C.

    We hope this was a fruitful read, although we must say there’s nothing like getting to know these natural delights in the flesh. Join us at B.I.G. for our Fruit & Vegetable Fair happening from 24th August to 3rd September and pick them up yourself!

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    Roasted Cauliflower Falafel

    ROASTED CAULIFLOWER FALAFEL

    Serves: 6 | Prep Time: 15 Minutes | Cooking Time : 20 Minutes 

    Healthy and easy homemade falafel recipe with a twist.

    You Will Need

  • Cauliflower, trimmed 2 cups
  • Onion, chopped 1 no 
  • Olive oil, 1/4 cup
  • Cilantro leaves, chopped, 1 small bunch
  • Flat leaf parsley, chopped, 1 small bunch
  • All-purpose flour, 1/2 cup
  • Cumin seed, toasted and finely ground, 1 tablespoon
  • Coriander seed, toasted  and finely ground, 1 tablespoon
  • Turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon
  • Smoked paprika powder, 1 teaspoon
  •  Salt, as needed 
  • Pepper, as needed
  • Oil, for frying, as needed
  • Directions

    1. Place cauliflower on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to combine and roast for 10 – 15 minutes at 190°C.

    2. Let the cauliflower col for a while before transfer into food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients and give it a few pulse until you have a finely chopped mixture.

    3. Scoop 2 tablespoon of the falafel and shape into a ball 

    4. Heat a few cups of oil in a sauce pot and bring it to medium heat. Gently lower a few falafel at a time into the hot oil and fry until golden-brown, flipping them halfway through. Remove the cooked falafel to a paper towel-lined baking sheet.

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    Teochew Mooncake

    Teochew Mooncake

    Serves: 8 | Prep Time: 30 Minutes | Cooking Time: 35 Minutes

    Spruce up the festive mood with this flaky mooncake crust with delicious yam filling.

    You Will Need

    Dough A

  • All-purpose flour, 200g
  • Icing sugar , 30g
  • Vegetable shortening , 50g
  • Water, 100ml
  • Vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon

  • Dough B

  • All-purpose flour, 300g
  • Vegetable shortening,100g

  • Filling

  • Yam, peeled and cut into small cubes, 250g
  • Castor sugar, 100g
  • Wheat starch, 30g
  • Vegetable oil, 3 tablesppons
  • Oil, for frying
  • Directions

    1. FILLING: Steam yam on high heat for 20 minutes. Mash with potato masher or fork and mix well with sugar and wheat starch.


    2. Heat up a few tablespoons of oil in a non-stick pot and cook the yam until it becomes a firm ball. Leave to cool. Weigh 20g of the paste and roll into a ball. Cover with tea towel to avoid the paste from drying.


    3. DOUGH A: Combine all-purpose flour, icing sugar and shortening in a bowl and mix until incorporated. Add in water and vinegar and knead until it form a smooth dough. Wrap the dough with a cling wrap and leave it to rest for 20 minutes.


    4. DOUGH B: Knead all-purpose flour with shortening until it formed a smooth ball. Cover and let it rest.


    5. Divide both dough into 4 portions equally and wrap dough B into dough A.


    6. Using rolling pin, roll the dough into rectangle shape and roll dough from the shorter end to the other end like Swiss roll.


    7. Again, flatten the roll dough by pressing it with the rolling pin then roll to form a flat prolong rectangle shape. Next, roll the shorter end to the other end to form a Swiss roll.


    8. Divide each roll into 4 portions.


    9. Roll each dough into a round shape and place 1 yam ball in the center. Enclose the end by slowly push pastry dough to the end of the meeting point and press to seal.


    10. Prepare a pot of oil and deep fry the mooncake until golden brown.

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    Vegan ‘Nasi’ Ulam

    Vegan ‘Nasi’ Ulam

    Serves: 4 | Prep Time: 15 Minutes 

    Step up your game by adding fresh local herbs & flavors to your dish.

    You Will Need

  • Quinoa, pre-cooked, 1 ½ cup
  • Lentils, pre-cooked, 1 cup
  • Barley, pre-cooked , 1 cup
  • Firm tofu/ ‘Tau Kwa’, 100g
  • Tempeh, cubed, 50g
  • Ginger torch flower, finely sliced, 1 bulb
  • Lemongrass, finely sliced , 3 stalks
  • Mint leaves, finely sliced, a small bunch
  • Wild betel leaves, finely sliced , 10 nos
  • Fresh desiccated coconut , 1 cup
  • Kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced, 4 nos
  • Vietnamese coriander/ ‘Daun Kesom’, julienned , 50g
  • Four angled bean/ ‘Kacang Botol’, finely sliced, 50g
  • Thai shallot, sliced, 2 nos
  • Fresh turmeric, peeled and chopped finely, 1 inch
  • Bird’s eye chili, sliced, optional, 2 nos
  • Miso paste, 1 tablespoon
  • Calamansi lime, 2 nos
  • Liquid sweetener, 1 tablespoon
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Directions

    1. Place miso paste in a bowl. Squeeze in calamansi lime and mix it together.


    2. Toast fresh desiccated coconut under medium heat until golden brown and dry. Remove from the pan and lightly pound it using pestle and mortar.


    3. Using the same pan, drizzle a few tablespoon of olive oil and bring it to medium heat. Cut tofu into small cubes and fry until golden brown. Remove tofu and drain on a plate lined with several kitchen towels. Using the same pan and oil, fry tempeh until it turns golden brown color.


    4. Transfer desiccated coconut to a big bowl and add pre-cooked quinoa, lentils, barley, tofu, tempeh, ginger torch flower, lemongrass, mint and wild betel leaves, Thai shallot, fresh turmeric and bird’s eye chili. Pour miso paste mixture over and toss to combine.


    5. Serve immediately to avoid the greens from turning black.

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    Lychee Jelly Mooncake

    Lychee Jelly Mooncake

    Serves: 4 | Prep Time: 50 Minutes | Cooking Time: 6 Minutes

    Best serve chilled, this is a refreshing dessert you definitely want to make your own.

    You Will Need

    Top Layer

  • Edible flower, 10g
  • Canned lychee, diced, 200g
  • Konnyaku jelly powder, 120g
  • Lychee water, 500ml
  • Sugar, 3 tablespoons
  • Bottom Layer

  • Konnyaku jelly powder, 60g
  • Sugar, 1 tablespoon
  • Soy milk, 250ml
  • Directions

    1. TOP LAYER: In a pot, combine lychee water with konnyaku powder and sugar. Stir until the sugar and konnyaku powder has melted but do not bring it to boil. Add in diced lychee.


    2. BOTTOM LAYER: Mix konnyaku jelly powder with soy milk and sugar in a saucepan and bring it to simmer. Whisk until konnyaku powder has melted.


    3. Lightly wet jelly mooncake mould with water and arrange edible flower in the mould with petals facing down.


    4. Pour konnyaku lychee mixture into the mould, leaving 1 cm for soy milk konnyaku mixture. Let the top to be slightly set before pouring in soy milk konnyaku mixture and leave to set completely. Keep the jelly chilled until ready to serve.

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    The Unsung Food Heroes Behind Home-Cooked Malaysian Food

    24

    AUGUST, 2017


    The Unsung Food Heroes Behind Home-Cooked Malaysian Food

     


    Do you remember running to the kitchen to greet the intoxicating smell of spices being grinded in the mortar, or the hiss of soy sauce being splashed into a hot wok? There’s nothing quite like these memories we hold from childhood as our elders prepared our favourite dishes. With Merdeka just around the corner, we’re celebrating the age-old ‘heroes’ that have nourished our appetites and kept home-cooked Malaysian food the best in the world – to us Malaysians anyway.

    1. Lingham’s Chilli Sauce
    Just uttering the name of this classic sweet and spicy sauce is enough to make us hungry! The best friend of any type of fried chicken or Ayamas nuggets (or anything you fancy), it’s a true testament to its quality and taste that Lingham’s chilli sauce has remained a household favourite for many years.

    2. Liza’s Paste
    For most Malaysians, homemade Laksa or Ayam Masak Merah wouldn’t be the same without their trusty old Liza’s Paste! This popular paste or ‘perencah’ as it’s known locally has had us licking our plates clean and wondering aloud when the next bowl of curry is to be served. The assorted cooking pastes lend a sophisticated flavour to your meals even if you’re cooking as a beginner, so pick some up and surprise your friends!

    3. Lee Kum Kee Oyster Sauce
    Another familiar face in the kitchen larder, this Chinese product from the Guangdong province of China has spread worldwide since its inception. The brand name has become known for its universal quality of adding amazing taste to homemade Chinese style dishes such as stir-fried rice, noodles, and vegetables just to mention a few. Established in 1888, the entire company grew around the popularity of its oyster sauce which we Malaysians are very thankful for.

    4.Galangal + Serai

    Galangal is a close relative of ginger and is probably quite tired of hearing how much it bears resemblance to ginger. However, they are easily distinguishable by taste – galangal has a tart, citrusy flavour while ginger is much spicier and stronger in taste. Serai is the ever-fragrant lemongrass stalk that goes hand-in-hand with galangal and other spices to make our favourite dishes such as Rendang and Thai-style curries. Apart from their unique taste, these spices pack a variety of medicinal benefits that include anti-fungal & anti-microbial properties.

    5. Baba’s Curry Powder
    If you’re a child of the 90’s and before, you can probably recite the entire Baba’s jingle that used to play on TV (we can). This ubiquitous cooking powder has flavoured many a curry and is responsible for most of the tastes and smells that we associate with a Malaysian kitchen. Founded in 1977, their curry powders and spice mixes have continually grown in popularity across all cultures in Malaysia and around the world.

    Find these and more unsung food heroes among our cooking sauces and Malaya Kitchen sections which carry essential spices needed to cook your way into the heart of any Malaysian.
    Selamat Hari Merdeka from B.I.G.

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    Grill Negimaki Beef Rolls

    Grill Negimaki Beef Rolls

    Serves: 4 | Prep Time: 10 Minutes | Cooking Time: 10 Minutes

    Negimaki is a Japanese food consist of thin broiled strips of beef, rolled with scallions (negi).

    You Will Need

  • Beef flank steak, trimmed 500g
  • Scallions, cut into 3 inch 30g
  • Mizuna leaves 100g
  • Salt as needed
  • Pepper as needed
  • Canola oil 2 – 3 tablespoons
  • Scallions, green part only, blanched for tying 15 pieces
  • SAUCE

  • Teriyaki sauce 1 cup
  • Rice vinegar 2 tablespoons
  • Sesame oil 1 tablespoon
  • Sesame seed, toasted 1 tablespoon
  • Directions

    1. Combine teriyaki sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and seed in a bowl. Divide into 2 bowls. Reserve 1 bowl for dipping.

    2. To prepare the beef, slice beef flank steak thinly into strips with a sharp knife. Arrange beef slices on a plastic wrap, then cover with another plastic wrap and pound with meat pounder until 3mm thick.

    3. Toss scallion and mizuna leaves with canola oil, salt and pepper. Leave aside to cool.

    4. Place the vegetables across at 1 end of the beef. Roll the beef and tie with blanched scallion.

    5. Heat a grill pan on high heat and brush with oil lightly.

    6. Grill the rolls for about 5 minutes. Pour one bowl of sauce into the pan and coat the beef rolls evenly.

     

     

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