Monday, February 8, 2010
Love takes time. Love letters too.
With less than a week to Chinese New Year, I am truly getting into the spirit of the season. No, I don't technically celebrate Chinese New Year. But what I do every year is join some friends who so celebrate the New Year and gamble the night away. (Girls, we're on for the 15th eh?). But more than just gambling, I love all our celebrations because these are times when people forget about potty politics and silly scandals. It's all about family, food and fun and that's what life should be about.
Now Chinese New Year would not be Chinese New Year without kuih kapit or love letters. This year especially, since the first day of New Year falls on Valentines day. Now, I'm not a soppy person. I think I have actually only written an actual love letter once in my life - a silly adolescent crush and a mopey letter I wish I had never written. Anyway, I decided to take my good friend Melody's suggestion and be corny and make some love letters.
I found a recipe for Kuih Kapit in an old recipe book of my aunt's - The Malaysian Cookbook (Preston). I also decided to go online and counter check the recipe with some others. There were slight variations but they were all the same for the most part.
So, first things first. I bought my mould from my trusty neighbourhood sundry shop: Peng Soon.
Got all my ingredients: Rice Flour, plain flour, eggs, vanilaa essence, oil (for greasing the mould) and a tall glass of water (standing over the fire is exhausting).
Sift the flours together (70 g rice flour, 15g plain flour) and whisk in the sugar (75 g castor sugar). Slowly stir in the coconut milk (3/4 cup) and mix until you get a smooth batter. Break in the eggs (2 eggs) one at a time and mix it in. Add a drop of vanilla essence.
Grease the mould with some oil. Traditionally, the love letters are made over a charcoal fire. But I didn't have charcoal and I don't have a barbeque grill so I just heated it over my gas stove fire. It still works.
Pour the batter onto one side of the mould (about 1/2 cup), make sure it's not too thin a layer but not too thick either or it won't be too crispy.
Close the mould and press tight till extra batter flows out. Place mould on fire for a few minutes, until batter is light brown. You will have to test it out a few times to get the hang of it.
Remove from fire and with a thin knife, peel of the cooked kuih kapit from the mold and fold in half and then again in half. Press down hard and store in an air tight container.
Repeat. You'll get about 35 pieces per batch of batter. Unless of course you spoil more than the 5 I did.
My first few love letters were either not cooked enough or burnt; I had to get the timing right. It just takes a few minutes for the batter to cook and crisp but even an extra minute may burn the batter so be vigilant.
If I were to rate my love letters, I'd give them an A for taste and C for appearance. The edges of my kuih lapis were singed (kinda like the love letters of yore -- yellowed paper with singed edges or maybe a pirates treasure map ... nevermind) and some of them were a tad pale. I need more practice but I will get there.