Quality chocolate is hard to find in Cambodia and my sugarfree sweet tooth is screaming.
I took a Cambodian cooking class today. Chocolate be damned. It ended with a dessert that is near and dear to my heart.
Mango sticky rice.
Typically thought of as a Thai dessert, I much prefer the Cambodian take. The sticky rice is simmered in coconut milk made fresh at the morning market.
After 15 minutes the rice is more akin to a gooey custard. This is the layered over fresh yellow mango slices and (if you are in Thailand) finished with a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk.
White rice occupies the realm of occassional indulgence in my own day to day. A little more so this past month as I have been traveling in Thailand and Cambodia.
Sweetened condensed milk on the other hand… cheap dairy, refined sugar, I alway shy away.
Hence my of love of Cambodia’s extra sticky rendition of this tropic classic, which is finished with a palm sugar coconut milk caramel reduction.
Here is the low down on this 5 minute caramel.
+ 4 Tb palm sugar or coconut sugar (sub honey or maple if it is all you got)
+ 1/2 cup coconut milk (fresh from a Cambodian market is ideal but canned will do)
+ A pinch of salt
+ 1 Tb butter or coconut oil
+ A little water as needed
In a sauce pan simmer coconut milk in until boiling gently. Add palm sugar, a pinch of salt, and stir often for about 5 minutes. Add butter, turn off burner, and whisk until smooth. If the sauce is too thick to drizzle add a little water.
A simple and delicious addition to any dessert and a mango sticky must.
“A good broth will resurrect the dead.”
– South American proverb
It seems like every other person in the city of Oakland is sick. One thing about a clean diet, I just don’t get sick. I have not been since I kicked gluten and white sugar 2 years ago, no colds, no flus, no sinus troubles.
Aww yeah, another flu free holiday season… wait what is this scratch in my throat. O gawd no.
It’s no pneumonia but I am definitely on the verge, the cusp, the precipice of a flu bug, time to boost the immune system with every grandma’s stand by.
This is an 8 hour recipe. But fear not, the prep was 5 minutes.
The (not so) secret.
I felt the tell tale throat tickle and jumped into action. No shopping trip necessary.
- One large white onion roughly chopped
- Three large carrots roughly chopped
- Five sticks celery roughly chopped
- 8 twists ground pepper
- Tablespoon garlic powder
- Teaspoon salt
- dash of rosemary and thyme
- One small bird (2.5 lb chicken for me, the whole thing bones and all, just shove her in there as respectfully possible. If the tail end is poking out no worries)
- H2O or stock (fill to about one inch below top rim)
Whole chicken? Really?
O hell yeah. Collagen baby, gelatin and collagen.
This ain’t no Campbells. You just made bone broth a time tested wellness bomb.
All the nutrition from those bones, joints and skin, I felt it from the first bite. I felt pouring though my whole tired ailing body. If my system was a stadium, my immune cells were out of their seats hysterically cheering this soup on… wearing foam chicken hats and wavin’ broth banners.
Soup Bowl Full Sunday Champions.
Three work filled days, three 10 hour sleep nights, and my throat never even got a chance to push past mild puffiness. My only medicine, three jars of this
It is the day before the day I cook the most meat I have ever cooked in one day.
A ten pound meleagris gallopavo, aka the domesticated turkey. I valued customer and friend from the farmers market gave me her time tested recipe.
But first the brine phase begins, ensuring a bird as moist and rich as Bill Gates in a bath house.
For my Brine:
- Coarse salt rub
- Green onion
- Pickle Juice, So much pickle juice.
This bird was to buxom to brine in one bout.
Pickle juice, liquid gold, umami bomb, flavor fury, and holyer than wine.
I do solemnly vow to respect the bird.
Happy T Day Ya’ll
- 4 head tiny bok choy
- 1/4 bunch fresh dill
- some twice pickle garlic cloves and ginger chunks left over from my last pickle batch
- Just a teaspoon peppercorn
- One gallon water
- 4 TB coarse sea salt
It is colder now so i expect a little longer wait for the taste supremo. I am gonna say 18 days.
I have completed and internship at a restaurant know for dabbling in the culinarily odd. I saw that my learning flourishes in unfamiliar territory.
Time to fail in fresh ways.
Have you heard of durian, the fruit with a taste that the centuries have loathed with sound logic
or loved with nose pinned passion.
It is the smell. It is pungent and reminiscent of a young foot baller’s neglected clothes hamper.
Naturally, I had to ferment this funkiness into a vegan cheese cake.
Tempoyak = salt fermented durian, usually served with curry over rice in Malaysian cooking (not in cake).
Pure tempoyak, fermented one month with sea salt, topped my cheese cake. The flavor was intriguing and new. Less pungent and offensive in odor, but still sparky with hints of tang. It hovered in a the confusing limbo between sweet and savory.
Layer two suffered the most experimentation. A pickled cashew cheese infused with fermented durian, clove, agar agar seaweed, and a little coconut sugar.
After a gentle simmer the agar activated creating gelatin style bind agent that imparts no flavor.
Pickle water soaked cashews, fermented fruit, and a seaweed binder. Invovative? maybe. Dessert… that is a stretch
The pale yellow top was a bit of a bore. A quick cinnamon stencil of the Coracao Chocolate double heart logo dressed it up.
O Yeah. I should mention at this point this cakes was to be served to the bay areas premier raw confectioners at a dinner party. A cake comprised of a fruit that, in its unfermented state, is banned from most Asian hotels, restaurants, and taxies.
I should also mention that I was also hopping they would consider me for an opening as an assistant chocolateer.
At this point, some how, I was still feeling confident.
Flash forward 3 hours, after a sumptuous dinner of all things pastured and local, and it was time for dessert.
“Ooooo’s” and “Aaaaa’s” filled the kitchen, but love soon ceased at first bite.
Reactions ranged from laughter to outright offence. My bosses partner was afraid she might be having an allergic reaction. Needlessly said, I was embarrassed. This was clearly a plant based face plant.
Out right failure. I need some inspiration really quick.
- “A thinker sees his own actions as experiments and questions, as attempts to find out something. Success and failure are for him answers above all.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
- “The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” – Julia Child
- The cinnamon stencil was a nice and easy touch to use in the future
- The agar agar held. The cake sat confidently at room temperature.
- Tempoyak would be a great ferment for its Malaysian intention… savory dishes
- No one was hospitalized
- Cashews soaked and dehydrated in pickle juice are a nice snack by themselves
Failure is a matter of perspective. I will take these successes into my next ferment free cashew cream endeavour. Recipe to come next week.
He could be trying to save that durian or trying to rid himself of it. Either way he would be right.
As I continue to explore my grandparent’s recipe repertoire Gratefulness is growing.
They really did nourished me.
Dinner was never out of a package, bread a minimal garnish, and veggies always prominent on the plate. Still, the classics that have stuck in my mind stick to the bones. Animal protein was my grandmother’s favourite evening indulgence.
Grandpa’s was bourbon and soda, but he never went past two.
Grandma called it the, “One, two poof.”
Like a meatball itself, this recipe is a mash up. Julia Child’s classic cocktail meatball provides a template, Nom Nom Paleo’s add a fish sauce twist, and in the tradition of my Grandmother’s glorious Porcupine Balls a little bit of cooked rice rolls this ball home.
Two Tip interlude: I have been balling a lot of meat lately, playing with ratios and fillers, this batch marries two of the things that really turned my meatballs into a moist flavor bomb.
- Starchy addition = I understand the low carb benefits very well. Still, a purely meat ball is a dense affair, all that mighty umami needs to soak into something otherwise it leaks out all over the baking sheet. That is why breadcrumbs and oats are the classic add in. I about 3/4 cup starch mash (roasted taters, sweet taters, cooked rice) per pound of protein seems to be the magic number. Other wise you are just rolling up tiny burgers, in which case just make a slider.
- Food processor = A food processor emulsifies the fat and breaks down the connective tissue in the meat. This creates a springy well-formed ball with a rich and moist interior. Also, you don’t have to mince the herb and onion additions, just toss them in the processor after a quick rough chop. Hand mixing is fine if a food processor is not available, but really mince the heck out of any additions.
OK, that’s settled, here we go.
- 1 cup cooked rice (cook it in stock for bonus points)
- 1 lb ground beef (grass fed, Great! grass finished, Awesome!)
- 4 oz ground pork (no pork? just add more beef, if it is lean add an egg)
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaf or 2 tbsp dry
- 1 tb Tamari sauce or fish sauce
- 8 grinds black pepper
- 3 finger pinch cayenne
- 3 finger pinch ground ginger
- Optional: Shallot, red onion, sweet onion, garlic roughly chopped
- Toss everything except the rice into your food processor (or a big bowl for a hand mix). Pulse the processor in 5 second intervals until everything is well integrated. The reason for pulsing vs. just letting the processor run is to avoid heating the mix to a point where the fats melt.
Not fun for the rolling phase.
It also lends you the baller more control, after 4-5 pulse rounds you start to cross into pate’ territory.
Also, not fun for the rolling phase.
The mix should still be a little chunky and pinkish in color, as the white fat and the red meat integrate.
- Toss in the rice and pulse 2-3 more times until it is well integrated.
- Roll gobs into balls 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter and arrange in one layer on a lightly oiled baking dish or cast iron. I made a tiny one for taste testing.
- Bake in a preheated 450º F oven for 7 to 8 minutes (for larger balls you will need longer cook time). Turn balls once or twice otherwise the bottoms will burn. Like I did below.
I opted for mashed sweet potato and a quick avocado coleslaw. Tasty all around.
I hope that there are some good take away from this recipe, I really did do a good deal of ball research no kidding. Play with add in, different herbs, spices, and veggies. and give some info on you results.
Anyone tried adding mashed plantains…. I hope so.