There have been so many mouth watering Chinese New Year cookies in my friends’ blogs during the last few weeks and guess what? I wanted to make them all, but other demands of the season interfered, and suddenly, I realized end, I had made none! LOL!
Then finally, two days before Chinese New Year, I decided to try making the famous “Chicken biscuits” from Bidor, a little town in the north of Peninsula Malaysia. I was jolted out of my procrastination by two events. A friend dropped by and passed us a small box of a batch she made in her kitchen. They were good, and my husband said he wished we had more. That was a suprise because my Quay Lo is not always fond of our version of what Americans call "cookies". Here in Malaysia we more closely follow traditional Chinese bisquit favorites that reflect our love for Coffee shop society as welll as the English tea bisquits. I got this recipe from my friend and was surprised to find it was so simple. So I set about making a batch but I was skeptical that it would not taste the same as those I bought from the famous shop “Pun Chun”. Usually, simple recipes harbor a little hidden secret and I thought that for sure, a biscuit with as much fame as a biscuit can get, might have just such a secret. So when the biscuits were baked, I could not wait till they cooled to try one. The moment I bit into it, I could feel the right texture and the flavor tasted even better than what I remembered. I am guessing that it was more of a nostalgic moment than anything that made me think so. Here in Malaysia we hold a special place in our hearts and bellys for our favorite "biscuit" (read "cookie" if you are an American). We are a coffee shop society, after all, and nothing pleases us more than our favorite bite with a cup of our favorite brew, especially around that time in the afternoon which we learned from the British colonialist, was properly called "tea time" (even if your brew is a coffee). In fact, I think our view is that coffee or tea is not an issue, the issue is the biscuit. That is a subject that causes no end of debate among various defenders of their "fave". So now, since I I could make these biscuits at home, there is no need to buy any if I go back to Ipoh in the future. Here is the recipe I used if you are interested to try. I did make these with slightly less oil than the original, both as a nod to our modern concerns about fats, and to eliminate that slightly cloying of oil to the palate that I find unpleasant in some of our more rich biscuits and crisps.
300gm self raising flour
115gm icing sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground white pepper
½ tsp Chinese five spices powder
80gm white sesame seeds
115gm dry winter melon
½ tsp minced garlic
2 pcs lam yee (fermented soy bean curd)
1 tbs molasses
1 large egg
2 drops of dark soy sauce
Combined (A) and (B). Mix well and set for 10mins. Roll the dough out on a floured surface to about 3mm thick and punch out rounds with a cookie cutter. Bake for 8 mins at 160 degrees C.