Tuesday 17 January 2023

Rabbit Sugar-Free Tau Sar Piah

 One activity that people do around Chinese New Year is to declutter and clear out the old stuff. For bakers, that includes freezer as well. I had some frozen mung bean puree to clear from my Mooncaron class last year so I thought hy not bless my family with sugar-free Tau Sar Piah! 

It's the Year of the Rabbit so of course I had to cutesify it to match the Zodiac 🤭

A closer look at the cut cross-section...

For those of you who are not familiar with tau sar piah (豆沙饼) or mung bean biscuit, it originated from Penang (known as Tambun biscuits over there). It's a sweet and savoury pastry with thin flaky crust and mung bean filling bursting with fried shallot flavour. What I made is different from the original as I was working with a rather moist and extremely finely sieved mung bean puree, rather than from dried split mung beans. As a result, my paste is very smooth instead of grainy, and took longer to cook off the moisture, causing most of the fried shallots to disintegrate and dissolve into the paste at the end of cooking time. BUT the flavour is still very good and spot-on, according to hubby who was a Malaysian.

I didn't want to compromise the taste and wanted it to taste as authentic as possible despite using sugar replacements and frozen puree. Upon doing research, bakers suggest using butter for best taste but it doesn't hold the shape well, doesn't give you the best flaky texture and the dough is difficult to handle. While buttery pastry tastes and smells great, personally I feel it isn't authentic tasting as traditional Chinese pastries generally don't use butter as fat. 

Before I share the recipe and steps, let me give credit to my references and discuss the ingredients used. I based my recipe on this recipe and followed the filling and dough proportions from here. I also found interesting information from here and here.

Traditionally, pork lard is used as the fat for the pastry and vegetable oil is used for frying the shallots. But due to religious reasons or dietary preferences, other forms of fat such as vegetable shortening or ghee are common replacements for lard as they still produce the nice flaky texture. Coconut oil or butter can be used as well but as mentioned earlier, butter is difficult to handle so you may want to substitute only part of lard/shortening/ghee with butter. Oil is generally not recommended except for coconut oil which has a higher melting point than other oils. I rendered my own pork fat to get the lard. I used it for the pastry and mixed with some peanut oil for cooking the mung bean paste. Neutral tasting vegetable oil is usually the default oil for frying shallots but I wanted to use up the lard I made just for this bake 😆.

Homemade lard!

I used this recipe as my reference but used only about 400g of pork fat.

Use more oil if you prefer a moister filling, and less oil if you prefer a drier filling that crumbles upon bite.

Generally, fine white sugar is used for the filling and powdered sugar is used for the pastry. You may use brown sugar if you like. I used a mix of Erythritol and Allulose for the filling, and Sukrin (powdered form of Erythritol) for the pastry as the sugar replacements. You can't detect any artificial taste from them at all because the flavour of the other ingredients is strong! As with all alcohol sugars, consume in moderation as some people may have digestive sensitivities to them. But having said that, both Erythritol and Allulose are zero calories and does not raise the blood sugar levels at all.

Plain flour with moderate protein content is usually used as you want the pastry to hold the shape well. If you prefer a more tender bite, you may replace some of the plain flour with a low protein flour like cake flour.

Dried split mung beans are used. The beans should be thoroughly washed and drained before steaming. You may choose to add water to the beans before steaming or omit it. Which ever the case, steam until the beans are soft and you can mush the beans easily between your fingers. The steamed mung beans are then blended before mixing with the other ingredients. There is no need to sieve the blended beans like I did. I was just using up old freezer stock meant for another bake.

Rabbit Sugar-Free Tau Sar Piah
(Makes about 24-25 rabbit pastries)
Mung Bean Filling
200g dried split mung beans rinsed & drained*
300g water*
80-90g oil of choice (I used 30g peanut oil, 60g lard)
60-70g chopped shallots
135g sugar (I used 75g Erythritol, 60g Allulose)
1/2 heaping tsp salt
1/4-1/2 tsp white pepper

*I used 540g mung bean puree from my frozen stock.

1. Steam mung beans in water for 20min or until soft enough to mush the beans between your fingers. Blend the steamed mung bean to make puree.

2. Fry shallots in oil until browned.

3. Place mung bean puree, fried shallots with the oil, salt, pepper and sugar into a saucepan or frying pan and cook on low heat until a dough forms. Enough moisture needs to be cooked off such that you are able to form a ball of dough that is able to hold its shape. Set aside to cool before dividing into balls of 20g each. You may prepare this a day ahead of time and store in airtight condition at cool room temperature.

This recipe yields about 500g filling.

Mung bean filling portioned into 20g balls

Water dough
180g plain flour
70g icing sugar (I used Sukrin)
1 tsp salt
54g lard (cold from the fridge)
63g ice water

1. Sift together flour, sugar & salt. 

2. Rub in lard until mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. 

3. Add ice water & mix until ball of dough forms.

4. Knead for 5 min, cover with cling wrap & let it rest for 30min. In the mean time, work on the oil dough.

5. Divide into 12g portions & cover with cling wrap until ready to combine with oil dough.

There may be a little excess dough. You may add more flour if the dough is very sticky. Different brands of flour have different absorption properties.

Oil dough
128g plain flour, sifted
56g lard (cold from the fridge)

1. Combine the ingredients until a ball of dough forms. 

2. Keep in fridge until water dough has rested fully.

There may be a little excess dough.

1. Mung bean filling in 20g portions
2. Water dough in 12g portions
3. Oil dough in 7g portions
4. 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
5. 1 tsp water
6. Black sesame seeds
7. Almond slices
8. Pine nuts (optional)

1. Divide oil dough into 7g portions.

2. Flatten a portion of water dough to form a disc. Wrap a ball of oil dough with it. 

3. Roll the dough flat with rolling pin. Roll the flattened dough up like a Swiss roll. Rotate by 90° and roll the dough flat again. Roll it up like a Swiss roll the second time and set aside. Let the dough rest for 20min.

4. Preheat oven to 180C fan/190C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper/Teflon sheet/baking mat.

5. Lightly dust a portion of dough and the work surface with plain flour, or just light dust the work surface and cover a portion of dough with cling wrap (shown in video). Roll the dough into a disc about 10-12cm in diameter. Wrap a ball of filling. Pinch seal the base tightly. Dab with a little water to help with the seal if necessary. Gently roll one side of the ball of wrapped filling to make a slight taper for the rabbit body shape if you wish. Place on lined baking tray.

6. Mix egg yolk and 1 tsp of water. Sieve the mixture to make the egg wash. Brush the egg wash on the pastry tops with a brush.

7. Add on the pine nut tail (optional), almond slice ears and black sesame seed eyes. You may outline the almond ears with egg wash but that's optional.

8. Bake for 20 min or until golden and lightly browned. Cool completely before storing in airtight container at cool room temperature.

The amazing thing about this design is you can apply to other types of cookies and pastries like pineapple tarts, butter cookies, peanut cookies etc for the Year of the Rabbit!

You may find it helpful to watch my Instagram reel for the whole process:

Happy Chinese New Year everyone! 

with lots of love, 
Phay Shing

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