Friday, January 23, 2009

Waterchestnut Jelly/ Ma Ti Gao

Note: the recipe has been corrected on 30/1/09. I made a mistake with the cup measurement.

Waterchestnut jelly

I bet those of you celebrating Chinese New Year (CNY) are up busy running around shopping and cooking and getting stuck in the traffic. Would you believe me if I tell you I haven't started cooking yet because there's no space in my fridge to store whatever I cook. I'm very stressed at the thought of baking over the next few days.

On the first day of CNY (which falls on Monday 26th Jan this year), I go really traditional and breakfast is always nien gao (sticky cake), lo boh gao (Chinese radish cake) ma ti gao (waterchestnut jelly cake) and tang sui. I'd have the Chinese radio station on full blast, and for once I welcome the crazy irritating CNY songs for their merriment, gaiety and cacophony. I'd shout for the kids to get up (it's so different from my time when we respected and feared our dad and get up early on our own), get upset that every year I have to prod them into wishing me "Gong Xi Fa Cai" before giving them their angpows, a small red envelope with 'lucky' money inside, given to all the unmarried.

I make extra gaos for anyone who comes to bai nien (ushering the new year by visiting friends in their homes). This year, we've been having rain non-stop for the past 10 days and I couldn't make any prawn crackers. Also, I found out that those greyish thin-skinned prawns in the market are cultivated prawns and I've stayed away since. Besides the mandarin oranges and candies and melon seeds, I will have prune lapis cakes, pineapple tarts and honeycomb cakes for visitors to my house. I'm still deciding whether to make the seaweed crackers Nee posted recently. And if you are lucky, I may still have some ma ti gao leftover.

Ma ti gao is found in dim sum places, but are usually not tasty because there's so little waterchestnuts and too much flour. I love my MIL's best friend's ma ti gao. It has chunks and chunks of ma ti and the jelly is soft yet chewy. It tastes good when cold, good when fried and hot. It is easy to make so I usually make a large one and keep it in the fridge. Or my mom's fridge, because my fridges are just bursting with CNY food like chinese sausages and seafood and meat, bought early because the prices will go double and stores will be closed for about 2 days, some 4, to avoid opening on the unlucky fourth day (just because 'four' in Chinese--and Japanese, and Korean, btw--sounds the same as 'death') of CNY.

There's still time to go grab a bag of waterchestnuts (look for full, round shiny ones) and make this gao. As with nearly all Chinese 'cakes', no butter or eggs are used so you can chomp away without fear. Just remember to fear the koe rou, yuan ti, sausages, roasted ducks, fried prawns, boiled chickens, sweet sour fish, stuffed tofu balls and whatever your family dishes, for the 15 days of CNY.

Ma Ti Gao
300 g* waterchestnut flour
700ml water
--mix until smooth

2 packets (about 0.9 kg) waterchestnuts, unpeeled
--peel, wash, smash and dice

700ml water
300 g rock sugar

*A packet of w/chestnut flour is 250g you can decrease the amount of water and sugar accordingly. Apparently waterchestnut flour is available in loose form, packed in plastic bags.

1. Peel the waterchestnuts, smash lightly with a cleaver and dice into small chunks or finer bits if like. Boil the rock sugar and water until the sugar has melted, add the diced waterchestnuts and heat through i.e. until it starts to boil, switch off the heat, add the waterchestnut flour batter through a sieve and 1 T oil, stirring well. It is good to have an extra pair of hands in this step. The mixture will thicken and become slightly translucent, especially if mixture is very hot.

2. Grease a pan (size depending on the thickness you want), tip the batter in, level and steam at high heat for 30 to 40 minutes.

3. Let the gao cool before cutting. It's best to chill it first, preferably overnight.

The gao can be served chilled but usually it's cut into small pieces and pan-fried in a little oil and served hot or warm.


Johnathan Oh said...

Wow Terri, you really woke up early to do the post. I guess today will be a busy day aye? I remembered eating this in Hong Kong @ Cheung Chau, which is very good. Btw, although koe rou = stewed pork under belly, it can also sounds like ...errr... this will definitely burst your bubble... Dog meat! But of course, the proper pinyin would be gou rou hehehe... Anyway, wishing you an early Xin Nien Mong En [Wishing you grace (God's) in the New Year]

Lily Anette said...

Kong Hei Fatt Choi.

Anonymous said...

Hi Terri
Thanks again for another simple but nice recipe. I have tried making it twice before but failed miserably. Hopefully I can get it right with your recipe measurement. I agree this jelly is so much nicer with a bit more waterchestnut. Must say this is simpler than the rolled pork knuckle :) However, just wondering if you have any preference for which brand of waterchesnut powder. Maybe it makes a difference to the outcome.

Looking forward to more of your delightful posts. Happy cooking and posting!


daomingsi said...

Hai Terri,

How does waterchestnut powder look like? Thanks.

terri@adailyobsession said...

joh: no, 2morrow will be a busy day! i'm stressed! gong xi fa cai to u & wife too!

lilyanette: yes, n nien nien you yue

nick: i use the only brand available, Pan Tang Brand with a blue globe logo. it's available in merdeka supermarket n that seng. i'm sure u'll do fine n love the gao

daomingsi: i will post a pic of the powder 2morrow,k?

Big Boys Oven said...

Hey! Terri, Gong Xi Fatt Cai!

Anonymous said...

thanks for everything aunty!

i'm back in sydney now. back to work in a couple of days :S

ekeng said...

Hi Terri, Gong Xi Fa Chai..Wish you have a Happy Chinese New Year.

Agnes aka Ric3y said...

Have a blessed and prosperous Chinese New Year!!!!

ChopSuey said...

Happy CNY! Hope you eat great foods over the next two weeks!

su said...

hi, am a regular reader of your interesting blog. tried your waterchestnut jelly but failed :-(

1. there was way too much waterchestnut pieces. i bought 1 kg as per recipe.

2. the bottom of the jelly was hardish but the top still watery. is it because i didn't stir long enough before steaming? i steamed for 50 mins cos of the watery top.

3. after addition of 1 T oil, you said mixture should be thick and translucent. didn't achieve that. where did i go wrong? should i have stirred for a longer time?

hope you can help me out. thank you.

terri@adailyobsession said...

bbo, ekeng,agnes,chopsuey: gong xi fa cai to u n all too!

danny: welcome:)

su: i made perfect w/c gao last year (the pic) but misplaced the recipe. this year, i did ask the aunty again but i think something's not right.we were at a dinner party, she prob got the ingredients amt muddled.

1. u r right about the amount of w/c. i just checked it at the supermarket n pack pack (in a netting kind of bag) was only about 459g, n after peeling i think it'd be about 300g. so for this recipe, 600g peeled w/c shd be the correct amount.

2.i have never experienced tt. could it be tt u did not stir well? the mixture must be well-stirred.

3. If the heat is high when u add the w/c batter, it will turn slightly translucent. Never mind if it doesn't, it will after u steam it.

it is important to stir very well and quickly bc the mixture can get lumpy. i'm sorry about the poor recipe, really i didn't know it could be wrong. i will try it again n update the post.

been to ur website su, n u have a lovely happy family. u both look so young to celebrate ur 20th anni!

terri@adailyobsession said...

su: ok, i've just talked to cin aunty. it seems like i made a mistake in the measuremt, "goong gen" and "gen", kg n kati i think. also cup is a drinking glass n it measures 350ml, not 250ml like the regular measuring cup. n i was also surprised to learn tt w/c flour comes in loose plastic packing of 600g, just nice for this recipe.
i think if u use the packet w/c flour of 250g, the water amt of 250 ml is just right. pls try n tell me how it turned out.

chumpman said...

Your ma ti gao looks really yummy. I like it a lot but I don't buy it nor make it on my own. A friend of mine makes really good ma ti gao and I always get from her. Another friend makes super good taro/yam cake. I used to make nian gao so we exchange from each other and each of us get all 3 during CNY to pamper our stomach as much as we can

terri@adailyobsession said...

chumpman: lucky u!

Steve said...

Hi Terri, thank you for posting this entry! Ma Tee Gao is my favorite dim sum desert it's kinda hard to find in SF chinatown. I guess I'll have to try making it myself.

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