Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Winter Melon Filling for Lao Por Bing

Here, I’m preparing winter melon filling, or known locally as dong gua. First I cut 200g dried candied winter melon strips into small pieces, then I grind/blend with 1 tablespoon water and 2 tablespoons cooking oil. Then I cook the mixture for a minute, before adding ½ cup glutinous rice flour. (Glutinous rice flour adds texture and it blends well with the winter melon mixture. Plain flour will not work here; it’ll make the filling taste floury and unappetizing.) Cook for a minute till the mixture becomes a paste, then chill it in the fridge for a few hours (or overnight) to firm it up.

Taste test: I didn’t add sugar to the winter melon filling because it tasted sweet enough on its own. It’s important to do a taste test because not all batches of winter melon taste the same. Some batches aren’t sweet enough. If you happen to buy one that’s a little bland-tasting, sweeten it up by adding some sugar to the filling while cooking it.

Water: A little water is added to the filling to bind the ingredients together.

Cooking oil: This ingredient is not absolutely essential. If you are trying to cut down on the amount of fats in your food, omit it. However, most of the time, I do add a little oil to my winter melon filling to give it a 'smooth' feel and texture.

Non-stick pot: Use a non-stick pot to cook the filling; it helps make cleaning up easier.

wife biscuit (lao por bing)

Wife Biscuit: I enjoy making lao por bing (translated ‘wife’ biscuit). It’s a flaky pastry with winter melon (dong gua) filling. The ones sold commercially are usually very chewy and can sometimes taste a little bland. I prefer them a little sweeter and less chewy.

dried candied winter melon strips

Above is the Sunflower brand candied winter melon strips (dong gua). It's sold at Phoon Huat stores. These taste so good they can be eaten on their own. And that’s one way I can tell if a brand of winter melon strips will make a good filling for lao por bing. If you eat it straight from the pack and it tastes sweet and soft, you know that they will make a great winter melon filling. Another way to tell if the winter melon strips are sweet and tasty is their colour. If the strips are slightly greenish, it means they aren’t as sweet. The delicious tasting ones are usually white in colour.

Transfat-free Nutella: My children love this chocolaty spread, but I’ve always spread it sparingly on bread for them. That’s because it used to contain transfat. So I was pleasantly surprised when the recent bottle I bought was transfat free! The fat in this delicious spread is now made from vegetable oil, not hydrogenated oil. Transfat is the unhealthy stuff found in hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil/margarine. Not only does it increase your bad cholesterol, it REDUCES your good cholesterol too.

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Anonymous said...

hello, I am looking for candied winter melon. Is there any website online that it can be purchased? Also, if my asian food market has it, would it be in the "sweets" isle? Thanks, Nikki

Oi Lin said...

I do not know of any websites that sell dried winter melon. If you were to look for it in your Asian supermarket, it would probably be under 'dried goods'. but it could also be under 'sweets' together with the dried mangoes.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if you can use real melon in this recipe instead? I would like to use it as a filling for Vietnamese steamed buns.

Oi Lin said...

I don't think you can use real melon for this recipe because the texture and moisture content in the preserved melon and fresh melon is very different. The pastry skin may not be able to 'hold' a wet melon filling.