Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tell-A-Tale (Part 29): The World According To Samsa

Imagine friends calling you up to say that they just lost their jobs. As much as you want to console them with the nicest things there are like "come, let's go for a good bak chor mee" or "drinks on me tonight", there's something damn intimidating about the whole situation. I guess millions of people out there feel the same way as more and more companies downsize to save what's left of the crumbling economy pie. There's nothing much that you can do really, but to persevere and well, seek options.

I chanced upon samsa while reading about streetfood in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Assuming"stan"ly, it should be pretty huge in Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan as well. Similar to the Indian samosa or the Portugese chamuça, this usually tetrahedral snack consists of a layer of pastry filled with a variety of ingredients including minced mutton and potatoes. Not fried, a samsa is usually baked as it sticks to the side of a kiln, much like how naan is cooked. The dough has a glutinous texture (think bread) thanks to the addition of yeast. I have also read of doughs made of just flour and oil.

Not so much about the therapeutic effect of cooking and well, mostly of wanting to try out something new, I've decided to make some. And then, came the next question. What kind of feeling, I mean filling, should I use?

Close enough.

Here's what I did:

Double-boiled 7 slices of processed cheddar cheese. As the cheese melted, I heated the wok, added 5 tablespoons of oil, threw in 4 large onions (sliced) and stirred until softened. The thin strips of 150 grams of smoked back bacon and some sugar followed. Just as the edges browned, in came about RM1.50 of coarsely chopped spinach. I continued stirring until the spinach was sufficiently reduced before pouring in the molten cheese to be mixed with the onions/bacon/spinach combination. Freshly ground black pepper was added just before storage.

Next, I mixed 400 grams of plain flour, 1/2 tablespoon of dry instant yeast, 1/2 tablespoon of sugar/salt each, 1/2 cup of canola oil and 1/2 cup of water. Kneaded the dough for about 15 minutes and left it to rest (covered) for 10 minutes. Preferences of shapes and sizes are very personal I think and feeling rather self-indulging that day, I attempted the tetrahedrons. After glazing the skin with beaten egg, the samsas baked in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for about 25 minutes.

The bread was alright but still far from perfection, of course. Best eaten while still hot as the cheese is in its gooey state.

The samsa, to me, is one versatile snack that comes in many shapes and fillings. Sardine sambal, bacon rolls, herbed garlic butter, sun-dried tomatoes, char siew, I can go on and on.

As I share this thought I had while making the snack with you, I am also reminding myself that like samsa, life should be of versatility and flavours. Come good or bad times, keep trying new things for you may just find another flavour that satisfies you even more. Some filling of green fibres will do you good after the endless days of minced mutton.

Be positive and with a sprinkling of faith, you'll be on your way to a fluffier and more delicious samsa.


Life for Beginners said...

And how exactly does a dumbbell figure in the making of your samsas? Though it was a hefty reminder of my waist-centred heft and of my urgent need to hit the gym again, soon.

But then I scrolled further and the sight of the cheese and bacon and onions and spinach combo just wiped that illusion away. Thank you. LOL

Now, off to my fav Sri Paandi for a samosa or two (since I'm short of time to make my own samsas ... unless you'd like to offer to make me some?)

One can hope... :)

Yin said...

sun-dried tomatoes! i forgot to give you some, wanted to on sunday but lupa :P will keep some for u the next time we meet :)

ck lam said...

Its been ages since I last had a piece of samsa.
The interesting part is adding in the spinach...wondering how it taste like?
Definitely a light snack suitable for any part of the day.

Selba said...

Ah... finance crisis... down sizing... laid off... unemployee... cost-efficiency... and many more... but, your Samsa looks like a sunshine on a cloudy day :)

Xiu Long Bao said...

Your samsa looks better than what I thought. Planning to try other funny recipes from morocco or mexico?

CUMI & CIKI said...

awww.. so true! a positive mindset is half the battle won.. u r a great friend to others in their times of need i am sure:D keep it up nic. (and wow.. i didn't know you r a great baker too.. alamak.. looks like ciki need to ketchup)

550ml jar of faith said...

I know the situation's far from funny but I gotta hand it to you... equating the rah-rah from novelty samsa-making to dealing with the doom and gloom of the times...gold, man, GOLD!

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

a toast to more home cooked food and less eating out?

evan 이벤젤린 said...

omg i didn't know you bake! these samsas look delicious :D so you didn't add in any mutton but used smoked bacon instead?

mimid3vils said...

Good bake friend!!!

Live2Talk said...

a guy who can cook and bake is damn sexy to me :P well done Sweetie, the shots looks delicious enough!

chuishia said...

Exactly what I've been thinking. Instead of sitting back lamenting about the economy, we should be looking for new things to do (preferably something that doesn't cost so much..:p)

Hey, when do we get to sample your cooking?

thenomadGourmand said...

Matcha shortbread..then this..macaroons nx? ;p
I'm sure u felt it more since u are in Sg..me got friends retrenched here in KL too..didnt know wat to say in comfort.. so yeah..i baked them some durians cookies..LOL..food is comforting right?

Jason said...

Waaaa... That's a pretty good job.

Simon Seow said...

Nic, a man that can cook can get the girl he loves.

Nic (KHKL) said...

kenny, oh, the dumbbell thingy. Well, iron mah, so I thought of spinach lor..haha! talking about the waist, am gonna do something about mine too!

You are welcome! Lol! I think I will skip all the bacon/onions drama next time and just put a slice of lean bacon and a dash of black pepper. That’ll work, me thinks.

Of course can offer you some when I make ‘em lah. I just hope that they are edible cos I am afterall, still testing with the bread and fillings. Hehehe….

yin, oh yeah! I remember you told me you had a bag of dried tomatoes. Cool! Thanks ya! will try to see what I can do with it. I have another jar from a friend as well. Belum bukak lagi..hehe (greedy hor?)

ck lam, I added spinach because I thought it’ll be lighter and partially cos not all my friends/family enjoy the gamey taste of mutton. It goes well with cheese and I think perhaps cream as well. :)

selba, awww, so sweet of you lah!!! Thanks. Yeah, food has this therapeutic effect on ppl. And that’s a problem as well cos sometimes we (me..hehe) tend to overstuff ourself. Then, it’s time for the gym…it’s a vicious cycle! Haha!

xiu long bao, haha, I bet u thought the samsas look like some objects from x-files when I told you about ‘em. Thanks for the ‘idea’ and the reading material (hehehehe) and I shall attempt other stuffs too. Hmmm, how about cheese-stuffed green peppers? :)

cumi & ciki, I’m even better at irritating friends! Hahaha! But awww, thanks for the compliment. As for the great baker, omg, I’m definitely not lar…am just trying out the other side of life and have fun with it. :) a great baker is someone like fbb cos I think his recipes work and pretty inspirational as well. hey, u bake too? I wanna try! :)

550ml jar of faith, thanks so much for the compliment! *keeping the gold in the safety box in case the economy worsens..haha!* I was making the samsa when the thought hit me. I guess life and food are two inseparable things. Finding the link between them is where the real fun is. ;)

Nic (KHKL) said...

joe, aiyoh, cannot lar..haha! cos we’ll be too tired to cook after work.. then again, you are right. home-cooked food is cheaper (provided more than 4 ppl are eating) and healthier. Hmmm, maybe 4 days out and 3 days in. that’ll be a plan. :)

evan 이벤젤린, haha! I bake for fun, actually. And thanks for the compliment. That’s an honour coming from a great baker herself. :) nope, I didn’t use mutton cos the friends/family dislike the smell of it. So, I thought spinach would be a more universal choice.

mmi, thank kew, thank kew!!! :) it’s really fun to try out new things! Hey, do give it a try! :)

live2talk, oooh, sounds hot! Yupe, I guess good food is indeed orgasmic. I climax when I think of kl style fried hokkien mee sometimes..ok, glutinous rice dumplings as well. And pork noodles. And…arrrggghhh! Lol! Thank you so much for the compliment, sweetie. :)

chuishia, yupe, yupe! I definitely agree! Like what the Chinese say, when the eastern house is closed, beat the western house lah..haha! cooking is one of the ways to go, really. It’s only at breaking points like these that we see a sliver lining through the cracks. :)

sample my cooking? Omg! You are a very brave woman! my food is sometimes inedible one leh. Hmmm, ok, when I have the confidence to cook for a crowd, you and zenboy are definitely invited! :)

thenomadGourmand, oh no, macaroons take lotsa skills. I’ll leave that to the experts like bbo and evan. I can only make simple secondary school science projects la..:) omg, so sorry to hear about your friends’ retrenchments. And so nice of you to bake them cookies! Durian at that!!! :) yupe, food is the next best thing after alcohol. Ok ,that is so wrong! Haha!

jason, thanks for the compliment dude! I gave it a shot and just prayed for the best..haha! it’s fun to try out new stuff! ;)

simon, how I wish that is true. But apparently not in my case leh. Hahaha! I guess when they say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, it works the other way round as well. *flipping more books to improve cooking to win girls’ hearts* lol!

fatboybakes said...

lemme guess, the weights means HEAVY?
ooh, i have to say, them samsas look good....how bout brunging some for brunch....

Tummythoz said...

Samsa? What's that. Pictures very blur. Hmm maybe u do need to pass me some to clarify my curious state.

J2Kfm said...

and I tot HAHA, u left the O out of Samosa. *_*

ok, retrenching staff IS cruel, but it's inevitable at times like these.

I'm counting my blessings as of now. your samsas looks healthier than the samosas those ....

Shell (貝殼) said...

A lots of negative news recently~~
Hope everything will goes back to normal soon.

Another big boy oven??
Your Samsa looks nice, Good Job Nic^^

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

Aargghh. *smacking myself for not making time for you that day* Looking forward to sampling some soon, sweetie!!!! ^_^ (with or without pink underwear)

backStreetGluttons said...

we feel the crowning horizon cliff-hanging just at the edge of your yellowy orangy pulsating pumping black 29th edition... soon of which we hope then from the coming global ashes to reveal the orgggasmikkk golden finale leading towards the trail of the lasting ultimate, whether Uncle Sam collapse clasping down one & all or not

Precious Pea said...

Wahhh....good looking samsa! Long time since we met, when coming back?

Nic (KHKL) said...

fatboybakes, oh, i thought spinach is iron...hence the weights..hehehe....thanks for the compliment! errrr, i malu lar...in front of so many excellent bakers..hehe...i see what i can do lar, ok? :)

tummythoz, hahaha! notti notti lar, you! am still fine-tuning my samsa. i malu lar..haha! talking about that, i havent met you yet leh. hmmmm...

j2kfm, ya lor, at first, i thought i read wrongly as well. haha! sigh, it seems like the decade cycle is back again...yeah, counting the blessings here as well. and yupe, baked, not fried. so i guess it's healthier lar. but got cheese leh..haha!

Shell (貝殼), yeah, let us all hope that things will be better soon. not just the economy but other aspects as well. :)

oh no! bigboysoven are master bakers. i am nowhere near their standard la. i'm just doing it out of curiosity and fun. :) thanks for you compliment though. :)

lyrical lemongrass, chinese new year over already lar. so, no pink underwear...haha! or are we referring to the other stowry ar? hahaha! no worries, babe. will let ya know when i've made some improvements on the samsas. soon, i hope! :)

backstreetgluttons, how we wish that food is gold and that uncle sam is just an uncle who needs food for it will really be different in the case of the cliffhanger that has left many hanging and blinded by the global ashes of the future or not. yes, at times like these, we need real gold. food. gold.

precious pea, thank kew, thank kew!!! :) ya lor, long time no meet already. karaoke?? :) i come back almost every weekend but am busy this weekend lar. when you free? :)