Sunday, April 05, 2009

Making Orh Nee from scratch

the project 爱 committee members met up yesterday on our first practical trial to make 2010 CNY eve dishes. this meeting was to make 3 out of i think 10 dishes that we will be presenting to our family members come next year.

so we were to make salad (sup sup suay) sushi and orh nee.

i shall just talk about the orh nee coz it's no easy task!

before you embark on this rather ambitious project, you need to ensure you have the correct equipment and a good number of family members/friends to help. don't try to improvise from what you currently have. My advise is to just get what you need to make the orh nee.

you should have a good pot with handle. a wooden spoon of reasonable good length. gloves to protect your hands when cleaning, peeling and cutting the yam as some people maybe allergic to the sap or something and most importantly, lots of patience coz it's a long and tedious process!

we didnt know how to choose good yams, so i left it to my mum. 所为,姜还是老的辣! the yams my mum choose were excellent and very good!! i could still feel moisture from the freshly cut off leave stalks! i guess i need to ask my mum how she identified these yams. so good yam is definitely key. she bought 4 medium sized yams and i think that can serve at least 30 bowls of orh nee!!

so first of all, need to peel the skin off the yam. you need a good peeler which should be those long ones instead of the short types with restrictive peeling length coz if the yam is medium sized, definitely will have problem peeling it. make sure your peeler is sharp as well coz it makes the peeling process easier. like potatoes, yams have buds which grow randomly and the buds are bigger and thicker than those of their smaller root cousins.

after 'skinning' the yam, you need to cut it for steaming. cutting the yam is also key. you need to cut them to equal size so that the yam when in the steamer will steam properly. we concluded, cutting the yam into cubes would be the best size because thereafter, they needed to be mashed.

this is the salah way of cutting the yam

we steamed the yams for an hour to make sure they were soft enough to be mashed easily. mashing my friends, is a darn tedious process. since we did this in batches, we had major problems mashing our first batch because the yams were not cooked long enough, so we ended up having cubey yam for our first batch. learning from our lesson, we steamed the next few batches longer and we had an easier time.

not perfectly mashed up, but good enough for the first time

then came the 'Orh-mashing' process. since we were insistent on using the most traditional methods to make the orh nee, we used the primitive fork to mashed the yams. so our orh nee ended up with some bigger bits (which i thought was quite nice.) and did not end up like the smooth paste we eat in restaurants. mashing the yam with forks was not easy especially if you didnt cut the yam into cubes. depending on how smooth you want ur paste to be, you may want to consider using the food processor. the 'Orh-mashing process can take as long as 30 mins to 45 mins depending on how much yam you are mashing.

heating the sugar which never seem to melt!! that's why need to add in water!!

after adding water to the sugar and when it started boiling, we added in the yam to the sugar syrup

after mashing, we were ready to go into the final process of making orh nee. because it was our first time, having read books, gather data from restaurants' chef and then seeking advise from friends who have made this teochew dessert before, we were still at a loss. do we just heat the sugar and wait for it to melt? do we add water to melt the sugar? or are we supposed to add oil together with the sugar?

so for our first step, we decided to heat sugar without water. I was doubtful coz i didnt think the sugar will melt nicely just like that and was right, thus we added a little bit of water. in any case, batch one failed but tasted like orh nee. so we tried batch 2 with ah ma's advise. she said to add more water to the sugar and then stir in the yam.

batch two was more successful, but without the smooth paste like those in the restaurant. all in all, it tasted like orh nee, we just need to work on the texture. basically, you have to cook it over small fire, keep stirring the yam paste. it will look watery at first, but it becomes thicker and thicker as the water evaporates. so the curcial point is when it's at boiling point when the paste starts to bubble and may get burnt. stirring non stop is a must!

by the way, orh nee is but yam and sugar and a little bit of oil to make it smooth and glossy. so regardless how you cook it, it will taste like orh nee. it's just how you can make it into a smoothy paste with the right amount of sugar.

i made this today with the left over mashed yam from yesterday. not bad, except it had too much sugar!

it took us a good 4 hours for trying our hand at making the orh nee. together with the rest of the dishes it was much longer, i was so tired at the end of the day. i slept early even dozing off while i tried to keep awake and missed some parts of my current fave taiwanese drama serial 'to get her'.

anyway, making the orh nee went good for the first trial, we will definitely make it better next time!

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