Sunday, July 26, 2009

Boom Boom PauWOOW

A friend recently asked me for my pau recipe...instead of giving her one, I wrote this...

Dear XXX,

Rain greeted us this morning and instantly, hot steamed buns was on my mind. Thanks to Ida, who has diligently made 3 attempts to make them and had made this week a pauwau week :)

Feeling a bit under the weather as well, I needed a pick me up snack that was both soft and fulfilling.

Lucky I'm the type who has odd stuffs here and there. I buy them whenever I see them (usually after reading about them online or in a recipe) and find ways to incorporate them in my cooking. I guess that's why Chopped is my most favourite show on AFC (remembering how once the participants received wanton sheets and gummy bears!)

I didnt have any red beans or coconut for filling (hmmm that would have been heaven as well, just like Ida's mouthwatering goblins) but DH had just came back from Carefour with chicken meat and carrots (still down with sore throat, cough and flu I didn't feel like going out to buy groceries so DH made do with what he knew were essentials in our kitchen :P)

So I started dicing the chicken meat and my mind wondering what would be nice to simmer this with. Curry is out of the question, that would be committing suicide to my sore throat (very jars of amber meat and fish curry powder were sitting across the kitchen from where I was sitting. Nothing beats the smell of curry when you have an empty stomach).

I remembered buying barbecue beef pau from a vendor in Jalan Tengah when I was working with Amex. A bit costly but delicious. Cafe Mak Nik in SS14/1 also has barbecue paus but sorry to say, everytime I buy them, the Indonesian waitress would say I would have to reheat them at home. Not worth my RM1.80.

So I ran through the ingredients in my mind, just like Chef Emmanuel does on his sketch pad...

Chicken meat...diced as the main actors
Minced garlic for aroma (The smaller you cut it, the stronger the flavor. Chopping finely and/or pressing a clove exposes more surfaces to the air, causing a chemical reaction to produce that strong aroma and potent flavor)
Diced shallots charmalized for sweetness..
Soya sauce and osyter sauce for that oriental flair
Worcestershire sauce & sesame oil for boldness and to tenderize the meat
HP barbecue for an extra dash of wood smoky flavour
Gula Melaka to give the flavor some roundness

Of course black pepper to open the senses...

then I remembered mom whom would have happily added carrots because veges are good for you ;)

As I will be packing this in a soft fluffy bun, corn flour mix with a bit of water would do the trick of holding them together - magic powder as Chef Yan would say.

If only there were shitake, portabelo or button that would certainly be gourmet (I suddenly remembered my youngest brother's wedding. We had accidentally put all the prawns in the mix vege for the makan beradap and had left none for the bergedil. So I diced button mushrooms in a can instead and voila a new recipe ha ha ha)

I settled for some large size prawns and diced them as well (julian ginger to take off the smell but DH hates that so I opt for pepper would do the trick)

OF course my meat dishes are often accompanied with a bay leaf or two - again to open up the senses...Place a leaf in a simple meat stock and you'll be surprised.

My dark and mysterious filling finally comes to life as I sauted the onions in olive oil, charmalizing it to release its sweetness then followed by the ingredients that has been marinated. This is then simmered down and left to cool.

An after noon nap after, DH was already asking me when I would be making the buns. The weather was a bit warmer as I open the kitchen door to let the breeze in...this was a good sign. Although steamed buns are nice to eat on a cold day, to prove it would be difficult. Paus need a warm room to rise.

There was also another problem. I did not have Hong Kong flour or commonly known as Blue Key Pau Flour. But sometimes its not what you have but what you know that counts. Hong Kong flour is a specially bleached medium protein flour to give pure white colour in paus and Blue Key Pau Flour contains additives for tender and soft pau texture.

I can do and have a bit of yellowish pau and push aside the need for perfection although when it comes to food, unfortunately we are so used to first impressions :( - I remembered my first attempt at Char Keow Teow. I didnt have dark charmalized soy sauce so it was a bit pale. DH said "not attractive when you look at it but taste like heaven"

It's the taste that matters yes?

Took a deep breath and paused to think. What is it besides yeast that makes things fluffy in a dough...AIR!

So I sieved my flour at least 4 times (really high), thankful that my mom always had tricks up her sleeves when it comes to cooking.

A pinch of salt for good luck ;)

With careful fingers I rubbed the vegetable shortening into them so that no air escapes.

My dry yeast mixture for 300grams of flour is always one half of table spoon of sugar with 2 table spoon of dry yeast mixed with lux warm water. That's the thing with these babies...everything needs to be warm. Even the water to mix the dough must be warm as well. Let those babies mingle together in the warm liquid. You'll know they are ready when they start to foam until the brim of your bowl.

I added a teaspoon of baking powder and a teaspoon of bread improver to carry out the task, made a small well, added the yeast and liquid until it forms a nice looking dough and gave it a good knead for 20 minutes, left it to rise double the size in about 30 to 40 minutes. If you give your dough a good knead, chances are they will rise nicely.

Breaking sweat is as always. The only time I love to bake bread or pizzas or make pau is at my parents...only because my mom has a mixer back from the 70s that does the job well. I made 10 pieces of pizza for Aliya's birthday the last time I used this (its the "S" attachment that does the job)

Maybe I should consider buying one and stop hoping my mom would pass that down ha ha ha

So a good 30 minutes after, I kneaded the dough again for 10 minutes and left it to rest for another 10. Filled those babies up and left them to prove for another 20 minutes before steaming them in high heat for 10.

I managed to make around 18 which was worth the effort especially since by 9pm, the plate was officially clean..and I can see most of the paus on DH's extending exterior ha ha ha

So if you are wondering where is your pau and you will find the same recipes have been used again and again. The only difference is to understand how everything works together as a team and to put in a bit of tender loving care. should be an act of love and not a form of slavery.


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