Koi or carp is an auspicious animal in Chinese traditional beliefs. It is common appeared in Chinese New Year goodies as it denotes progression in career 。 There is a Chinese (鲤鱼跃龙门) sayings that when carps in the Yellow River of China leap over the gate of dragon, the carp can become a dragon. In essence, such proverb is used to bless one to progress in the coming new year and have a brighter future after tackling the hurdles last year . In addition, Chinese believed that fish denotes abundance (年年有余)
“Carp (traditional Chinese: 鯉; simplified Chinese: 鲤; pinyin: lǐ) can be transformations of dragons, or carp can sometimes change into dragons. According to tradition, a carp that could leap the falls of the Yellow River at Dragon Gate (near Longmen, Zhejiang), would be transformed into a dragon: this motif symbolizes success in the civil service examinations.(Eberhard, 1983:57-58) Dragon Gate, at the border of Shanxi and Shaanxi, is where the river flows through a cleft in the Longmen mountains, supposedly made by Yu the Great. According to one account, all the carp competed at a yearly competition to leap the Longmen falls, those who succeeded were immediately transformed into dragons, and flew off into the sky. (Christie, 1968: 65 and 74) Pictures of Carp attempting to leap the Longmen falls have been enduringly popular in China. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fish_in_Chinese_mythology)
This batch of carp agar agar is not a satisfactory batch. It is an easy assignment and what I thought is not what I got.. It can be as simple as some red patches in the white carp to become an elegant agar agar. I thought too much and believed that a few colour tones from dark red to pink may look better. The result was totally not desirable, the pink patches looked as if there is a discoloration in the fish. Well, everything has the first time.. In my next batch, I will definitely not so “kaypoh” , using syringes etc. to design the agar agar.. I believed a simple approach will yield an much elegant koi agar agar.
Agar agar is one of the desserts being served to guest during Chinese New Year. Unsure in Singapore, definitely in Malaysia when I was young. Even during my last Chinese New Year trip back to Kuching, it is still a very popular snack served. The reasons are simple, some guest do not like sweet cookies, concern about calories overload and they opt for lighter and simpler snack.
For this batch, I have used the traditional agar agar stripes. I have decided to use this because I found that the agar agar powder have some “ artificial aroma” that I do not really like. I still prefer this type of traditional agar agar stripes that I grow up with. Of course, you can also used the trendy agar agar powder. The preparation is the same. As for the water used, you will need to adjust follow the packaging instructions.
As for the plastic mould, I got it at Haig road and it cost me only about 3 S$ if I did not remember wrongly. No syringe is required if you just want a big red batch. A teaspoon or a straw will suffice. If you really need one, I believed you can get it in a pharmacy easily. But it must one that do not have a needle . I can’t provide you the exact measurement for the recipe as that depend on the size of the koi mould. Any agar agar left can be transferred to your desired mould.
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Servings: Prepare 9 small koi jelly and a small box of agar agar
- 35 grams of agar agar stripes
- 2 litres of plain water
- 200 grams of coconut milk
- 180 grams of white sugar
- 3 pieces of Pandan leaves
- A koi jelly mould
- Few drops of red colouring
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- Wash the agar agar strips and set aside.
- In a bowl, put the water, pandan leaves, sugar and agar agar strips and bring to boil. Once it boils, turn to medium heat and let it simmer until all the agar agar dissolved which will take about 15 minutes. Add the coconut milk and let it simmer for another 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat to the smallest available. Note that the purpose is to keep the agar agar warm .
- In a small bowl, put some red colouring. Add 2-3 tablespoon of hot agar agar to the bowl and stir well. Either scope out some red colour agar agar with a spoon, or suck some agar agar using a straw, or use a syringe to draw some red agar agar. Put the red agar agar patches in the koi mould in the design that your prefer. Once it hardens (only 1-2 minutes), put one tablespoon of white agar agar on top of the red patches. Rotate the same for all the other moulds. Once done, put another one tablespoon of white agar agar on the first mould. The main purpose is to set the agar agar as soon as possible. If it set, it will not discolour the white agar agar. If you fill up the mould all at once, the white agar agar will become too hot and dissolve the red agar agar and hence decolourization will happen. Perform the same procedures until the moulds are fully filled. Chill in the freezer, once firmed, use a tooth pick to prick the side to dislodge the agar agar. Put some black sesame seeds to make the eyes.
- All agar agar need to be stored in the refrigerator. Since this is made from coconut milk, it is advise to consume as soon as possible. If you do not like coconut milk, you can substituted with milk or milk powder or condensed milk. However, the sweetness will have to be readjusted.
This is not a difficult assignment. I have seen these moulds all over the bakeries in Singapore. So I think it is pretty common. Those that can be steamed will be priced higher but those for making agar agar, it is very cheap. Not forgetting asked around the neighbourhood shop selling blooms, cutlery etc.. These are gems and I found a lot of common bake ware in this type of small shops.. Prices is very competitive too. At time, I can get it in this type of shop yet I can’t get it in bakeries supplies shop..
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