Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Bangkuang Char - Yam Bean Lettuce Cups

I've been loving snack style food recently. Little two-bite morsels that are tasty from the first bite to the last.  Although, I'm not sure it's considered snack food if you eat like 7 or 8 of them? Hmm... anyway, this is where this bangkuang char comes into place - shredded delicious yam beans, wrapped lovingly in a fresh, crisp lettuce leaf.  I feel like this is the Malaysian equivalent to the San Choy Bao (lettuce cup).  When I was growing up, this dish was predominantly served during festive occasions such as Chinese New Year.  This would be eaten with rice, alongside other dishes such as curry chicken, braised pork belly (tau iu bak) and pork stomach soup (tu tor tn'g).  

I know I must say this often with every recipe (I think it just shows how much I like to eat haha), but my cousins and I love this dish.  Sadly, when we moved to Auckland, we couldn't get bangkuang (yam beans).  Thus, every time we would go back to Penang for a holiday, my mum would ask my Aunty to cook the yam beans and vacuum seal them in a bag so we could bring it back to Auckland.  This supply had to be rationed as we only went back to Penang once a year, and as such, it was a once in a blue moon treat. When my cousin came over though, we demolished a year's supply within a couple of months. Needless to say, my dearest mother wasn't overly impressed....

Anyhow, when we moved to Brisbane six years ago, imagine my excitement when I discovered we could find fresh bangkuang! I did a little song and dance, and then immediately rang my Aunt Lucy for her recipe for this little dish.  Ever since then, I've been cooking this delicious cups every Chinese New Year just like how we used to in Penang!

Over the Labour weekend just gone, we had friends over for a BBQ, and I decided instead of boring ol' salad, I would make these. It was such a hit, I'm pretty sure it caused some minor domestic arguments over the last one.  

Ingredients :

1 yam beans, shredded
2 carrots, shredded
4 shallots, thinly sliced
4 shitake mushrooms, soaked and thinly sliced
Quarter of a cabbage, shredded
10 dried shrimps, soaked and finely chopped
100g dried squid, shredded 
2 baby cos lettuce

2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
oil for frying

Steps :

In a wok, heat about 2 tablespoons of oil and fry the shitake mushrooms until brown, then add 1/4 teaspoon of the sugar. Give it a good toss, drain the oil and set aside.

With the remaining oil, fry the shallots until fragrant and caramelized. Then add in the dried shrimps. Continue to saute until fragrant then add in the dried squid. Give it a good toss. Add in the yambeans, carrots and cabbage. Cook the vegetables until soft then add in the remaining sugar, soy sauce and oyster sauce. 

In a low heat let it simmer till all vegetables are soft. 

Pile the cooked bangkuang mixture into the lettuce cups. You can either serve this hot or cold.

Now, you must all know by now how I like my food to be spicy, and this is no different. If you have fresh sambal, top these cups with the sambal. These are great cold for the next day so don't hesitate to make extras to keep in the fridge for those times when you are peckish!

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