Thursday, March 25, 2010
Mee Ku, 面龟 is a Hokkien word for Tortoise Bun. It is basically a mantou, or plain steamed bun. This recipe is given by my mother’s neighbor cum church friend. I first tasted these when this neighbor, Mr Teh made them for a church fund raising programme. It was so delicious, and my mom said, it was the first thing sold out during the fund raising sale.
These buns were made using toddy. Toddy， 椰花酒 is liquor made from coconut flower sap. The sap is collected via chopped off coconut flower stems. The sap ferments with natural yeast and don’t think that this is mild…. It can make u drunk!!! Toddy taste sweet, but I don’t like to drink it. Some people nickname this as barley drink, just as beer is chrysanthemum tea. :)
Original recipe calls for margarine, but I’m using butter. Mr Teh didn’t give me a precise amount for toddy, but all that I know is, knead it with pure toddy, no water. And this toddy amount is from my experiment.
450gm all purpose flour
350gm toddy (It’s not 350ml, alcohol is lighter than water, better weigh it, as there might be air bubbles in it, thus making volume measurement inaccurate)
Mix everything together and knead until dough is soft and smooth. Shape into 10 peanut shaped buns and leave to proof* until double in size. Steam on high heat for 20 minutes.
*Warning::: Proofing time was 8 hours!!!!! I shaped them before I slept, steamed them when I woke up. The oven is a safe place to multilayer proof buns. I tried using hot water in the oven to make a warm environment for proofing, but it killed the natural yeasts!!!! So better be patient and wait. This white fluffy buns are from my 2nd attempt.
You can speed up the proofing by sunning them, cover with a cheesecloth and lay them out under the hot sun. I was told with sunning them, the proofing is 2-4 hours. But I was also told, since toddy is a homemade liquor, the amount of natural yeast in them differs, therefore, nothing is 100% accurate. U have to watch out for your own.
The buns expand further when steamed, just like buns that has double acting baking powder added in. So, don't be fooled by them looking small. Steam them when they look doubled, and when they are steamed, they'll be triple of the "before proofing" size. Give them space to expand in your steamer
You can buy toddy and keep it in the fridge until time to use. Shake the bottle before pouring out as the yeasts tend to settle at the bottom. If u cannot find toddy, but can find "air nira nipah", u can use that too. Air Nira Nipah is the flower sap from another palm and it also ferments the same way as toddy. Once I bought that from a road side stall on the way from Kelantan to Terengganu. I thought that it is a sweet drink, one sip and I puked it all out. It tasted like toddy, alcoholic. U can know that it's really fermenting when u open up the bottle, bubbles rush up and sometimes, out.
Updated few hours later : From the comments, I got to know that "toddy" seems inaccessible to many, I will experiment with fresh coconut juice and wine yeast to make this again. Let's see whether I can get the same fine texture and smell with coconut juice. Regular baking yeast can't this result.
Updated 26/3/10 :
Read these to see where to get your toddy
Brickfields behind Palm Court condominium
Klang-Teluk Gong Coconut Flower Seafood Restaurant 03-31341167.
Butterworth Ong Cheng Huat Seafood 04 3314782
Georgetown Stewart Lane
Johor Bahru, Somewhere on the way from JB to Sungai Tiram, and lots in Kluang
Ipoh, somewhere, behind Hume St. or try Buntong area :)
Where ever Gula Melaka is produced, u can get toddy there. Just get the raw sap, that will be toddy in a few hours time.
Where to get Air Nira Nipah (Usually sold by Malay vendors. If it's bubbly the time u open the bottle, it's fermenting and good for meeku, but if it's chilled and there seems to be no activity, leave it at room temperature in a mineral bottle/ coke PET bottle for a few hours. The bottle will get hard with the pressure building from within from the fermentation process and when u open up the cap, whoooozzzz.... bubbles and gases will erupt!!)
Coastal trunks roadsides
-Kelantan to Terengganu
-Teluk Intan to Sitiawan
-Kuala Selangor coastal road all along Sekinchan upwards
Readers, if you happen to know where else, do notify me. Thanks.