SINGAPORE COOKS

Sweet and savoury salted egg yolk cookies

Teacher Yeo Szemin added the ingredient to her cookies before it was trendy to do so

When her peers are mulling over places to check out for dinner, primary school teacher Yeo Szemin heads straight home after work to cook for her family.

The 31-year-old says: "My colleagues tease me, calling me an auntie, as I always drop by the supermarket to buy groceries. I don't go out often. It's just school, supermarket and home."

She also heads to her grandparents' home to cook once a week.

Ms Yeo says that cooking brings the family together, adding that it also breaks the monotony of buying takeaway meals from hawker centres.

She specialises in homey Chinese cooking, from soups to stir-fries. Her favourite recipes include chicken, mushroom and wolfberry soup, salted vegetable and duck soup, baked beans with pork slices and steamed fish in light soya sauce.

  • MAKE IT YOURSELF: SALTED EGG YOLK COOKIES


  • INGREDIENTS

    2 salted egg yolks

    125g plain flour

    10g cornflour

    1/8 tsp baking powder

    1/2 tbsp milk powder

    1/4 tsp salt

    85g unsalted butter, left to cool at room temperature

    30g caster sugar

    10g icing sugar

    1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

    Flaxseeds to garnish


    METHOD

    1. Preheat oven to 160 deg C.

    2. Steam the salted egg yolks for three minutes, then mash with a fork to get coarse bits and set aside.

    3. In a mixing bowl, sift plain flour, cornflour, baking powder, milk powder and salt. Set aside.

    4. With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream unsalted butter, caster sugar and icing sugar until the mixture turns light and fluffy. Add mashed egg yolks and flour mixture. Mix to form clumps of dough (below). Gather the clumps to form a ball.

    5. Wrap the ball in cling wrap and refrigerate for about 20 minutes. Line baking tray with parchment paper.

    6. Roll the dough until it is 5mm thick (below). Cut out shapes using a cookie cutter and place on the baking tray.

    7. Gently brush the top of each cookie with the lightly beaten egg yolk and sprinkle some flaxseeds on each cookie.

    8. Bake for 10 minutes till they turn golden brown. Let cookies cool completely before storing them in an airtight container.

    Makes 60 cookies

Her love for cooking stems from her childhood days.

She says: "Unlike most of my friends, I went to my grandparents' home for dinner after school and watched my grandmother make bak zhang (meat dumpling)."

So inspired is she by her grandmother's cooking that she documents the recipes, including wontons, and squid rings with dark soya sauce and chillies, on her blog as a way of preserving her family's heritage.

Not surprisingly, she cooks up a storm during Chinese New Year. For the past seven years, she has been cooking for her family's open house. Up to 50 people visit her grandparents' home in Thomson Hills estate on the second day.

She fries 2kg of bee hoon with canned pig's trotters and makes platters of ngoh hiang and Nonya chap chye (vegetable stew).

"Being the only one from my generation who can cook, I feel honoured to take over some of the kitchen duties and my relatives always look forward to my fried bee hoon," she says.

These dishes complement her 82-year-old grandmother's classic dishes, such as braised oysters with black moss, fish maw soup and curry chicken.

Besides cooking, Ms Yeo, who is single, also bakes on a large scale.

An enormous vintage floral enamel platter filled with a mountain of pineapple tarts on the dining table is hard to miss during the interview. Calling it "serious business", she says her family bakes up to 1,000 tarts a week before Chinese New Year and distributes them to relatives and friends.

Three years ago, she added salted egg yolk cookies to her festive bakes "way before salted egg yolks became trendy".

Having fried pork ribs and chicken with the brined yolks, she wanted to know how they would taste in cookies.

"Salted egg has a savoury taste that makes you want to keep eating it," she says. "But I use just two salted egg yolks as they contain high levels of cholesterol."

She learnt how to make salted egg yolk cookies from an online recipe, which she tweaked, adding icing sugar and corn flour to get a melt-in-the-mouth texture. Instead of sesame seeds, she garnishes the cookies with flaxseeds.

While it appears to be a simple recipe, she says that handling the sticky dough, which is made with little flour, can be tricky.

Besides refrigerating the dough for 30 minutes, she also presses metal cutters into the rolled-out dough and drags them out to the side to remove the cut-out cookies.

Ms Yeo's two younger brothers aged 24 and 21, help to roll the dough or pineapple filling and bake some batches of tarts.

Her father, 60, is a regional sales manager and her mother, 58, is an airline ticketing clerk.

She says: "You know Chinese New Year has arrived when the house is filled with the aroma of baked goods."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 07, 2016, with the headline 'Singapore Cooks Sweet and savoury salted egg yolk cookies'. Print Edition | Subscribe