Saturday, November 24, 2007

Gula Melaka Ak Bahling

I dont know if you've yet noticed, but yep, I'm kinda obsessed with cooking. In particular, I only want to attempt dishes that sound interesting or those that I haven't done before, which actually encompasses almost everything. Like the soft, chewy, tender, melt-in-your mouth figs braised in red wine vinegar and red wine I made last night. Served with chilled mascarpone cheese and walnuts, it was unbelievable. In fact, it was so good I went for a 2nd serving against my better judgement. I had to contend with a distended belly for the rest of the night. lol

Sometimes my culinary exploits are also borne out of necessity. Like this morning's brekkie of glutinous rice balls (ak bahling) soaked in warm coconut milk. Realising we were out of milk and the stores were not open yet, I had to make do with whatever was in the kitchen. Since there were 3-quarts of a can of coconut milk left in the fridge from the nasi lemak last night, I thought I'll make an improvised version of ak-bahling.

Now the plain ones are easy peasy to make, but stuffed ones? The first ball I made looked like a herd of elephants had just played Twister on it. Oh and did I mention that gula melaka melts VERY quickly? Put two and two together plus clumsy fingers and you end up with a stickey mess. Not very pretty. The second and third ones turned out much better though, and before long, I was churning out stuffed ak bahlings so deftly that anyone watching would have thought I worked in a rice ball factory all my life. The secret to this is simple - the less time the ball spends in your hand, the better. You gotta work FAST. The dough tends to deform easily and the heat from your hands melts the sugar in the dough. I'm so proud of my little babies -see how pretty they look in the picture above? ;p

For the recipe, if you like you can add one tsp of vanilla extract to the dough like I did. One bite into the ball releases a swirl of thick gooey gula melaka into the coconut milk and with the slightly softned but nonetheless crunchy peanuts, it creates a beautiful melange of textures and flavours.

Comfort food for a rainy Saturday morning. :)

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