Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Vietnam! The Start of OITP…

Vietnam! The Start of OITP…

Yesterday, I officially started the first day of my Overseas Industrial Training Programme here at Duc Phat Vina Bread Company in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Well, basically now I am typing this bake journal entry using Microsoft Words on my laptop in the hotel room. Later, I will post it on the bake journal when I am out and am able to find an internet café nearby.

Here are some of the interesting finds and happenings of yesterday… Enjoy!

“Vietnamese Subway” – Bahn Mi… (The famous Vietnamese Baguette filled with pickled vegetables, some cold meat and… chilli that will numb your tongue. Mr Kao, the CEO of the company, told us that the incorporation of the chilli was to give the Bahn Mi different taste sensation which would leave you wanting to take yet another and another and another bite.

Being part of the company for the next 7 weeks, we had to make a trip to their warehouse to collect our 3 sets of uniform. Here is a picture of us in the uniform.

Here is a picture of the Vietnamese sweet bun filled with Chocolate. See the difference! In Singapore, we would complain about the miserable amount of filling…

This is the most interesting find for yesterday. What do you think this is…

Pork Flosses! You may ask… why is in white in colour? Haha. We had a taste of it and boy is it very salty. I guess the white colour is due to the high amount of salt used and the chloride from the salt bleach the pork floss white! The pictures below shows the where the pork floss is used. As Mr Ut (prononunced as “Oat”), our supervisor, told us about the Vietnamese taste preference… “The Vietnamese like their food to be Sweet enough, Salty enough”.

Here is one of the company’s famous products. Puff pastry with sugar sprinkled on the top. These are being cooled and will be packed. According to Mr Ut, these can be kept up to 8 months.

How can we forget their ever lovely cream decorations! Here is a picture of a big 3-Dimensional cream Dog specially posted for our friend in Singapore (you know who you are… Haha)

Right, as for today, we were given a day off to familiarize ourselves with our surroundings, getting some daily necessities, finding where the internet café and laundry services are. Work starts for us again on Wednesday. More adventures here in Vietnam await us.

Monday, February 26, 2007

7 Weeks in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on Singapore Polytechnic Overseas Industrial Training Programme (OITP)

7 Weeks in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on Singapore Polytechnic Overseas Industrial Training Programme (OITP)

26 February to 14 April 2007

From tomorrow onwards, over the next 7 weeks, I will be doing me Overseas Industrial Training Programme at Duc Phat Vina Bread Company in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I will try to update some of my everyday happenings there whenever I have time.

Here are some pictures taken when I was there in September 2006...

Left: Bahn Mi (Vietnamese Baguette), Right: Pey Nie & Linnet (My Food Technology Seniors), Me and Zhou Lou (Master Baker of the Cake Decoration Department)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Advanced Birthday Celebrations For The March Babies Friends...

Advanced Birthday Celebrations For My March Babies Friends...

Left: Blue Forest Cake, Right: Personalised Wine Labels from Sevenoaks Wines.

Today, in the midst of the Chinese New Year festive mood, I gathered my group of polytechnic friends to have an advanced birthday celebration for two of our friends (Cedric and Pin Da) who will be turning 19 years old soon (the last time they will see the "1" in front... Haha). Since the two of them are Pisces, I have decided to take up the challenge of drawing 2 fishes onto my ever famous Blue Forest Cake (Vanilla sponge cake sandwiched with blueberry jam and cream).

On top of that personalised cake baked by me, we decided to get them a personalised wine each. Special thanks to Desmond from Sevenoaks Wines for promptly processing my rather late request in the midst of the Chinese New Year period.

This bake journal entry is dedicated to the two birthday boys and since we silently sang "Happy Birthday" to them, here is a Blog Version (Haha!)

Happy Birthday to You,
Happy Birthday to You,
Happy Birthday to Cedric and Pin Da,
Happy Birthday to You!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Brownies... By Sam

Brownies... By Sam
Well, enough of writing about Chinese New Year dishes. Today, I shall dwell into one of the cakes that top the list of favourites of my friends and relatives. Brownies! My brownies are so well received by my friends and relatives for its moist rich dark chocolate fudgy cake texture topped with a smooth semi-sweet chocolate ganache. Often, those store bought ones are either too sweet or dry and crumbly. That aside, my brownies are filled with roughly chopped roasted walnuts that gives that extra fragrant in every bite. Special mention goes to my chocolate friend, Julius, who helped me with some of my cakes photography. He is also a web graphic designer cum chocolatier. Sam's Bake Journal dwells into the science of baking, Julius Truffles Diary depicts the chocolatier's chocolate journey.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Chinese New Year... Fish of Fortune

Chinese New Year... Fish of Fortune
Fish of Fortune "Fish" or yu has the same sound as the word "excess" while sheng means "life". Raw fish or yu sheng is thus mandatory especially for the New Year Eve's Reunion dinner.

It has to be served whole, the head and tail representing a completeness with a beginning and an end. Fish is often the last dish served, thus symbolic of the host wishing her guests abundance continually ahead of them.

Yusheng is served on the seventh day also known as Everyman's Birthday in the hope of having a longer life or added material wealth. The fish is thinly sliced and tossed together with a mixture of shredded vegetables in a sweet, piquant sauce.

The Chaozhou (Teochew) Chinese consider the Rabbit Fish (Siganus canalicalatus) or bai du yu or in Chaozhou dialect, pek thor her, highly auspicious as it signifies good luck and prosperity. The fish breeds only once a year during the seasonal celebrations of January or February. Thus during Chinese New Year, the silver-grey female fish are a delicacy, heavy with delicious roe.

So much information for the eve of Chinese New Year. Well, I wanted to share with you all something that I have been exposed to every Chinese New Year since young as I am half Teochew (because my mother is Teochew). During the Chinese New Year, the Rabbit Fish (otherwise known as Pek Thor Her) is something that the whole family will eat. What is so special about this fish? Other than all the auspicious reasons which have been already mentioned, I shall dwell into the biological aspects of this fish.

The Rabbit Fish from this particular area near Batam, Indonesia possess some kind of intuitive thinking. Coincidence you may say, but it is only during Chinese New Year that their stomachs are filled with roe. This makes the fish during the Chinese New Year even more expensive. Although, countries like Taiwan have tried to cultivate this fish, they are only successful in being able to cultivate them to grow quite big, but is still unable to get the fishes to have their stomachs to be filled with roe. Apparently, the place where these fishes come from is at the river mouth and only the rabbit fish from this area have their stomachs filled with roe during Chinese New Year.

As to how to savour this delicacy and the taste profile of this fish... This fish is often steamed or cooked with leek (another auspicious vegetable eaten during Chinese New Year). The meat is usually dipped in a chilli-leek-sugar-dark soya sauce-vinegar sauce. Generally, this fish is slightly more fishy as compared to other fishes. As to the roe, I personally prefer the male roe as it is soft like tofu (beancurd), the female roe on the other hand is harder and rougher in texture.

Note: Photos of the whole fish and Yu Sheng were taken at my Chinese New Year Eve's reunion dinner this evening. Photo of the Rabbit Fish (Pek Thor Her) was taken this morning which was for my brunch.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Eggs... White? Brown?

Eggs... White? Brown?
I have been busy baking for the past 3 days in preparations for the coming Chinese New Year, which explains my absence from posting any new bake journal entry. Whilst I was baking, I had this sudden inspiration to do a bake journal entry on Eggs (something that I use all the time - be it for cakes, breads, cookies, pastries, etc...).

The eggs that I use for baking are the brown ones. However, if you watch those food programmes that is produced in America, England and even Australia, you cannot help but noticed that the eggs the chef / baker uses are white. Well, in our supermarkets here in Singapore, there are white eggs available and they are comparatively more expensive than the brown ones. So, as a food technologist, I decided to do some research on these two eggs. Haha! Guess what. They may be different on the outside, but are the same on the inside (as shown in the picture above).

Here is a basic explaination on the where the colour (or a more scientific term: pigmentation) of the eggs come from. Brown chicken eggs comes from brown chickens. White chicken eggs comes from white chicken. Then there is this very interesting question that you may ask me... so black chicken produces black chicken eggs? Haha. NO! From my knowledge, black chicken produces white eggs. Don't ask me why...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Designer Tang Yuan on Straits Times (Home Section, Page 7)

Designer Tang Yuan on Straits Times (Home Section, Page 7)

Tang yuan twist wins food design prize by Melissa Tan

A TWIST to the recipe for conventional glutinous rice balls has won four boys the top prize of $500 in a food design competition. Known to the Chinese as tang yuan, these appear no different from the original version at first glance. But while the traditional version is usually filled with ground peanuts or sesame and eaten with a warm, sweet syrup on the 15th day of the Chinese New Year, these students have filled their version with lychee and longan. And theirs is served with a chilled syrup. The second-year Singapore Polytechnic students who tweaked tradition hatched their idea in a laboratory. But, in a nod to tradition, they still used the customary method of kneading the dough and cooking the tang yuan, said Mr Samuel Chan, 21, who started baking when he was five. He intends to open his own bakery in the future. Mr Cedric Tay, 18, has similar aspirations. 'My family runs a Thai restaurant in Purvis Street. With the experience I've gained, I hope to help make my mother's Thai olive rice even better.' The designer tang yuan will hit the market in a year, and they are hoping it will sell like hot cakes. 'Cold food will appeal to today's youth,' explained Mr Marcus Lim, 19, and Mr Tho Pin Da, 18, who are both gunning for degrees in food technology. 'We aim to reinvent tradition.'

Monday, February 12, 2007

Designer Tang Yuan (aka Fruitee Moochi Ball)

Designer Tang Yuan (aka Fruitee Moochi Ball)

Yes and here you have it! Tang Yuan (Glutinous Rice Balls) filled with Hosen canned fruits (in particular, Lychee and Longan).

The creation of this product started off as a module "Introduction to Food Product Development" which I took as a Year 2 Food Technology Student at Singapore Polytechnic. Hosen Group Ltd sponsored canned fruits as the product development theme. In a class of 40 students, 10 teams were formed. My team consisting of Cedric, Marcus, Pin Da and me. Spending approximately 10 weeks, many kitchen trials and sensory evaluations were conducted to ensure that the product is widely accepted by the consumers. All our hard work paid off when our product (Designer Tang Yuan) was selected as the top winning entry for this module.

So... What is so special about our Tang Yuans? We have reinvented the concept of eating tang yuan hot. These Designer Tang Yuans are filled with fruits and served chilled.

You could have caught a glimpse of these Tang Yuans featured today on MediaCorp Channel 5 News, Channel 8 News and once again I am on MediaCorp Radio Capital 95.8 FM.

Just in case you are wondering if there is a runner up team. Yes! The runner up team consisting of Sherman, Sharon, Nancy and Sara created Fruit Blue Potato Croquette.

Friday, February 09, 2007

HOSEN Canned Fruits???

HOSEN Canned Fruits???

Haha! HOSEN Canned Fruits??? What kind of Sam's Bake Journal entry title is this. Stay tuned to find out! Never underestimate what you can do with Canned Fruits...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Easy to Make Valentine's Day Desserts

Easy to Make Valentine's Day Desserts

Left: Panna Cotta (Lovey Dovey), Right: Apple Surprise (Apple Of My Heart)

Since Valentine's Day is just 1 week from today, I have decided to post an easy to make Valentine's Day Dessert. The two desserts shown were featured in the "LIVE" TV Interview at Ngee Ann Polytechnic (January 26, 2007). The "LIVE" programme was "Sweet Time" which was suppose to "air" a Valentine's Day Special Programme. Well, since Valentine's Day is often a day where couples do something special for each other, I have decided to share with you all a simple recipe that you can make for your other half. Apple Surprise (which was later renamed to Apple Of My Heart). A very simple idea, but you can let your ideas run wild and modify on this recipe. In short, this recipe shows how desserts need not need to be so complicated. The ingredients in the recipe are easily available at home, all you need to do is to follow the instructions and you end up with a nice delicious looking apple bowl that can be served with a scoop of ice cream if you do not want to use the canned fruit cocktail.

2 Nos Red Apples
1 No Lemon
1 Can HOSEN Canned Tropical Fruit Cocktail

Decoration: Mint Leaves

Method: Makes 2 Apple Surprises

1. Squeeze the lemon juice out of the lemon into a bowl.
2. Using a sharp knife, slice the top of the apple. Place this into the bowl of lemon juice.
3. Using the tip of the knife, go around the apple, leaving 2mm spacing from the skin.
4. Carefully use a spoon to scoop out the apple, leaving behind an apple bowl. Quickly fill the apple bowl with lemon juice to prevent it from browning. Drain off the lemon juice.
5. Open a can of HOSEN Canned Tropical Fruit Cocktail and drain the syrup.
6. Spoon the canned fruits into the apple bowl
7. Chill the apple surprise for 4 hours and serve with mint leaves as decorations.

Recipe By Samuel Chan
For Ngee Ann Polytechnic (Film Media & Studies)
January 2007

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

All About Carrots

All About Carrots

Left: Carrot Cake, Right: Carrot Piccosams

β-carotene, a dimer of Vitamin A, is abundant in carrots and gives this vegetable its characteristic orange color. Furthermore, carrots are rich in dietary fiber, antioxidants, and minerals. Thanks to wikipedia for the above information.

So much for the nutritional aspects of carrots. Cakes are usually perceived as unhealthy, high in sugars, fats and full of calories and absolutely a "No No" for weight watchers. However, there are ways to make healthier cakes such as incorporating vegetables such as carrots.

Wait a minute, you must be thinking after scanning through the two pictures above...... 1. Carrot Cake? How come it is so different from those I get from the hawker centre. 2. What is so special about Carrot Piccosams? Looks like a cupcake / muffin.

The first picture shows a Carrot Cake. Not your local carrot cake available at your nearby hawker centre, fried to perfection, usually with loads of eggs, chilli and dark sweet sauce. This is what I would call the "Ang Moh" version of our "Chai Tow Kueh". But I must say, to some it requires an acquired taste to be able appreciate this carrot cake. It does not have that soft and spongy mouthfeel of your usual cake. On the contrary, it is heavy, densely packed with carrots, with roasted chopped walnuts and juicy raisins in every bite, topped with a cream cheese topping with the acceptable sweetness level.

The second picture...... NO it is not a cupcake or a muffin. It is PICCOSAMS. Piccosams is a range of small cakes that I have created for my family and friends. They are usually great for family and friends gatherings or parties. The Carrot Piccosam will be the first of many to be featured in this bake journal (I will update as I create the subsequent piccosams). The Carrot Piccosam taste profile is totally different from the Carrot Cake. It is light, soft and spongy. Whenever I bake them for my friends and relatives, they would not hestitate to finish one by themselves...... Only to discover that it is all gone when they want to go for a second helping.

As a baker, I am constantly in search of continuously creating and formulating healthier baked products. If you have any burning questions on certain food ingredients or recipe, feel free to drop me an email and I will be more than happy to answer you. Do note that your questions may be posted on this bake journal to benefit those who shares the same passion as me.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Sam's On MediaCorp Radio Capital 95.8 FM

Sam's On MediaCorp Radio Capital 95.8 FM

For those of you who tuned in to MediaCorp Radio Capital 95.8 FM today, Sam was on the news. The Piggy Butter Cookie (above) was featured in a short news broadcast on unique Chinese New Year items found online especially on blog. Special thanks goes to Suet Ying, the reporter from MediaCorp Capital 95.8 FM, who did a phone interview with me. Well, on my thoughts about being contacted by the media, I am very happy to know that with perserverance and strong believe in what I create, people will eventually find and appreciate it.