Ikan Sabuko (Grilled Tamarind Fish)

Ikan Sabuko (Grilled Tamarind Fish)

Hello Everyone! It’s the last day of the month and also my last East Timorese recipe! I’m not going to lie, I did have a difficult time researching the country’s most popular dishes, but despite that, I enjoyed the dishes that I came across – easy, humble, yet delicious meals that you can add to your weekly meal plan!

As we all know, East Timor’s cuisine is heavily influenced by the countries that they were once colonized by. The dish that I will be sharing tonight, known as Ikan Sabuko, or in English, Grilled Tamarind Fish, draws on the flavours of Portugal. Along with other fish species, mackerel is a very common fish to eat in Portugal, sometimes on toast, for special occasions, or even a staple weeknight meal.

Ikan Sabuko (Grilled Tamarind Fish)

Ikan Sabuko is a specialty dish made of Spanish mackerel that is marinated in tamarind paste, grilled with basil and chillies for a kick of heat, and then optionally served with a budu sauce to tie all the flavours together. Budu is essentially a fermented anchovy sauce mixed with a squeeze of calamansi juice, red and green chillies, and some sliced red onions. You can add other ingredients as well such as mint leaves and cherry tomatoes for extra flavour.

This dish really only needs a few ingredients, but it’s packed with lots of strong and bold flavours. You don’t have to use mackerel fish in particular, use whatever fish is readily available at your local fish market. Add this to your list of dishes to try and I promise you, it won’t disappoint!

Ikan Sabuko (Grilled Tamarind Fish) Ingredie

PREP TIME 45 MINS | COOKING TIME 10-15 MINS | SERVES 3

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 mackerel fish filets
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • Juice of 3 small-sized calamansi
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Turmeric leaves
  • Basil leaves
  • Red & green Thai chillies

METHOD

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, add the fish filets together with the salt, pepper, calamansi juice, and tamarind paste. Give it a good mix and set it aside to marinate for about 45 minutes.
  2. Line a grill pan with aluminium foil (about twice the length of your grill pan) and the turmeric leaves. Place the fish filets on top of the leaves, skin side up, and fold the aluminium foil over the top of the fish to enclose it.
  3. Cook over medium-high heat for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until done to your liking.
  4. Once done, plate up and garnish with some freshly chopped basil leaves and some red and green chillies too (optional).
  5. Serve with freshly cooked rice and a simple budu sauce on the side. Enjoy!

Ikan Sabuko (Grilled Tamarind Fish)

Ikan Sabuko (Grilled Tamarind Fish)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Balado with Ai Manas (Fried Boiled Egg with Chilli Sauce)

Balado with Ai Manas (Fried Boiled Egg with Chilli Sauce)

Hello Everyone! Who here doesn’t love eggs? Eggs are probably one the the reasons why I don’t think I’d ever be able to go on a fully vegan diet. It’s amazing how many varieties of dishes we can make using the eggs as a side or main ingredient. So put your hands up if you love eggs!

To be perfectly honest, boiled eggs are my least favourite from all of the basic ways to cook eggs. Since I like a runny yolk, my absolute go-to would be sunny-side up eggs (with browned, crispy edge that gives a certain nutty flavour to the white) and/or poached eggs. I guess it’s now safe to say that the recipe that I will be sharing tonight has changed the way I see boiled eggs. Now, if you’re like me and this recipe doesn’t convert you, then I don’t know what will!

Balado with Ai Manas (Fried Boiled Egg with Chilli Sauce)

Here’s a great way to turn boring and plain-old boiled eggs into a spectacular appetizer or side dish at home. The East Timorese version of Balado is an adaptation of the original Indonesian Spicy Eggs, known as Telur Balado. Balado is a popular snack that you can find being sold, usually by children, all over the streets of East Timor. If you want a flavourful egg dish where the sauce penetrates all the way into the inside, then you really want to develop a fried and crispy skin to your eggs. Likewise, you can serve this dish with a fried egg or sunny-side up, but tradition calls for boiled eggs.

On the streets for just 25 cents, you get a fried, hard-boiled accompanied by a bold sour and spicy chilli sauce, called Ai Manas. Ai Manas is the heart of every East Timorese food. It’s very famous all over the country and comes with many regional varieties that vary according to taste. Green or red chillies often make up the bulk of the ingredients of the paste. The chilies are grounded along with lime or lemon rind and juice, ginger, onions, and several other local spices. Even a teaspoon of this sauce is enough to fire up any meal. Thai chillies are usually used for this sauce, which can be significantly hot for some. Use what you like and can tolerate.

Balado with Ai Manas (Fried Boiled Egg with Chilli Sauce) Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 10 MINS | SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 large free-range eggs

For the spicy chilli sauce

  • 8-10 pc red bird’s eye chillies, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1-2 tsp white granulated sugar (optional)
  • Handful of Thai basil, roughly chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • Small thumb-sized ginger, grated
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon

METHOD

  1. Ai Manas: Using a mortar and pestle, pound the chillies, garlic, and red onion into a rough paste.
  2. Follow with the grated ginger, lemon zest, and a pinch of the basil leaves. Continue to pound and season with a touch of salt. Add in the lemon juice and give it a good mix. Taste and adjust to your liking.

I had to add about a teaspoon or two of white granulated sugar to balance the spice and tang of the sauce. You don’t have to add it if you’re alright with the level of sour and spice.

  1. Once done, add the rest of the chopped basil leaves to the sauce, mix, and then set aside.

Balado with Ai Manas (Fried Boiled Egg with Chilli Sauce)

  1. Balado: To boil the eggs, heat a medium-sized pot of water (enough to cover all the eggs) over high heat until boiling. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and carefully place the eggs in the pot using a ladle to prevent them from cracking.
  2. Depending on your preference, boil for 5 minutes for soft-boiled eggs, 7 minutes for medium eggs, or 10 minutes for hard-boiled eggs. Take note that you’ll be cooking the eggs again, so I would recommend you go for soft or medium eggs if you don’t like over-cooked boiled eggs as a result.
  3. While the eggs are cooking, prepare an ice bath* by combining ice and tap water in a large bowl. Once the eggs are cooked, immediately transfer them to the ice bath to cool for 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Peel the eggs and make sure to pat them dry if you don’t want them to explode while frying.
  5. Heat oil, enough to submerge an egg for deep frying, in a medium-sized pot over medium high. Carefully lower the eggs into the oil and fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Carefully remove from the oil using a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb any excess grease.
  7. Serve the fried boiled egg with the spicy chilli sauce and enjoy while hot!

Balado with Ai Manas (Fried Boiled Egg with Chilli Sauce)

*The ice bath will cool the eggs quickly and stop the cooking process. The ice water will also cause the egg to contract and pull away from the shell, which will make it easier to peel.

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Pastéis de Nata (Portuguese Egg Tarts)

Pastéis de Nata (Portuguese Egg Tarts)

Hello Everyone! As I mentioned in my post last week, East Timor was colonised by Portugal from the 16th century up until 1975, hence why East Timorese food even up to this day is heavily influenced by Portuguese cuisine. A favourite East Timor dessert snack that stuck around is Pastéis de Nata, or in English, Portuguese Egg Tarts. These egg tarts were originally created and made by Catholic nuns in Lisbon over 200 years ago. In East Timor, these tarts are a standard dessert found in fancy hotels, usually paired with a flavourful, aromatic, and organically grown East Timorese coffee.

If you’ve ever had one of these egg tarts, you’ll know that they are one of the greatest pastries to binge-eat! It has a crisp, flaky crust that holds a rich and creamy custard center that is blistered on top from the high heat of an oven. It tastes like home, even if you aren’t from Portugal. They’re just as enchanting as a trip to Lisbon.

Pastéis de Nata (Portuguese Egg Tarts)

Before we dive into tonight’s recipe, please take the time to check out the original where I drew my inspiration from over on the Tasting Table. Now in the original recipe, they make their own puff pastry dough, which you can also do. If you want to save time and energy (like me), you can always use store-bought puff pastry. The results are pretty much the same for a quick, easy, and hassle-free Portuguese Egg Tart.

Now you may notice that the tops may not brown quite as much as the authentic pastéis when baking at home. In fact my oven only goes to a maximum of 250C (482F or gas mark 9) and commercial pastry shops that sell these tarts have oven temperatures that blast up to 430C (800F)!

Pastéis de Nata (Portuguese Egg Tarts) Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | MAKES 32 TARTS

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup & 6 tbsp whole milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 free-range egg yolks
  • Puff pastry sheets
  • Ground cinnamon, to garnish (optional)

Pastéis de Nata (Portuguese Egg Tarts)

METHOD

  1. Cinnamon Sugar Syrup: Combine the sugar, water, and cinnamon stick in a small saucepan. Over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil and cook for about a minute or until all the sugar granules have dissolved. Remove from the heat and let it sit aside until ready to use.
  2. Egg Filling: Add one cup plus one tablespoon of the whole milk into a separate saucepan over medium heat, until bubbles begin to form around the edges, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. While the milk is heating up, whisk the flour and remaining five tablespoons of milk in a large mixing bowl. Continue to whisk while adding the hot milk in a slow and steady stream.
  4. Discard the cinnamon stick from the sugar syrup and slowly whisk it into the milk mixture in a steady steam.
  5. Return the milk and sugar mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat, whisking constantly until thickened, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  6. Turn the heat off and add in the yolks to the mixture. Whisk until well combined, and then strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a mixing bowl. Set aside to cool down slightly.
  7. Egg Tarts: Preheat oven to 260C (500F or gas mark 10).
  8. Prepare you muffin tins by lightly greasing them with a little butter.
  9. Roll out your store-bought puff pastry sheets and cut them depending on the size of your muffin tins. Ideally you’ll want them about 3/4 up the sides of each muffin mold. Evenly flatten the dough against the bottom and sides by pressing down on it.
  10. Pour about 1 & 1/2 tablespoons of the warm egg filling into each pastry shell.
  11. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the shells are golden brown and crisp, the custards are set, and the tops are blackened in spots.
  12. Let cool in the pans on wire racks for 5 minutes, and then remove them from the tin and onto the wire rack. Sprinkle with cinnamon, serve warm, and enjoy!

Pastéis de Nata (Portuguese Egg Tarts)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Batar Da’an (Pumpkin, Corn, and Mung Bean Stew)

Batar Da’an (Pumpkin, Corn, and Mung Bean Stew)

Hello Everyone! With only 28 calendar days, February flew by so quickly and it’s already the 3rd day of the 3rd month of 2021! In 13 days it’ll be a year since we (the Philippines) went into Enhanced Community Quarantine because of the global pandemic. Last week we shared our last recipe for local Cambodian delicacies; our second stop on our road to discover the Flavours of Southeast Asia for Amcarmen’s Kitchen. Our next stop for this month is a small Southeast Asian nation that is rarely heard of, a country that only gained its full independence in 2002 – East Timor! After centuries of Portuguese colonization, the state became independent in 1975 before being invaded by Indonesia. The country was finally able to restore its sovereignty in 2002.

This is why East Timorese Cuisine is heavily influenced by other Southeast Asian foods, Indonesian cuisine to be specific, and Portuguese cuisine. Since agriculture is one of the most important sectors in the country, the cuisine uses mainly rice (since its largely homegrown), sweet potatoes, corn, cassava, and taro. To add up to the base of every dish there is usually a vegetable component, also with homegrown products such as black-eyed peas, onions, spinach, and cabbage. Meat such as pork, chicken, goat, and fish are also common in East Timorese dishes.

Batar Da’an (Pumpkin, Corn, and Mung Bean Stew)

The first dish that we’re going to tackle for this month is known as Batar Da’an, or in English, Pumpkin, Corn, and Mung Bean Stew. Mung beans are very popular in Asia, particularly in Southeast Asia. Though having said that East Timorese cuisine is heavily influenced by other cultures, Batar Da’an is actually one of the few dishes that are authentic to the country. It is a simple, yet hearty and humble vegan dish (gluten-free too!) that is prepared with a combination of diced pumpkin, corn, and mung beans that are sautéed in garlic and onions, seasoned with just salt and pepper. There are also other variations of this dish, where squash is used instead of pumpkin, and kidney beans are used as an alternative to mung beans.

Before we dive into tonight’s recipe, please take the time to check out the original where I drew my inspiration from over on 196 Flavors by Vera and Mike. The original recipe uses water as the base for this stew. I replaced the water with my own homemade vegetable stock to really amplify the flavour of this dish. You may also use store-bought broth if you wish. Also, at the very last minute, I asked my maid to harvest some moringa (malunggay) leaves from our neighbour’s tree to not only add colour to the dish, but also an extra added nutrition!

Batar Da’an (Pumpkin, Corn, and Mung Bean Stew) Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS* | COOKING TIME 20 MINS | SERVES 6

*Allow for 6 hours to overnight to soak the mung beans.

INGREDIENTS

For the vegetable broth

  • 6 cups water
  • Carrot
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Celery
  • Leek
  • Long Green Chilli
  • Dried Rosemary
  • Dried Bay Leaves
  • Salt
  • Whole Black Peppercorns

Note: When making a basic vegetable broth, you want vegetables with neutral, but savoury flavours. Onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms are the ideal starter vegetables for stock, but feel free to swap any of these for leeks, tomatoes or parsnips. Avoid starchy vegetables like potatoes and turnips will make for a gummy, cloudy vegetable stock. Beets overpower their aromatic counterparts. Zucchini and green beans become bitter when slowly simmered for as long it takes to make this stock.

For the batar da’an

  • 600g pumpkin, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 4 & 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 3/4 cup dried mung beans, soaked for at least 6 hours to overnight
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Moringa (malunggay) leaves, optional

METHOD

You can choose to make your vegetable broth the day before to save time when actually cooking the Batar Da’an.

  1. Vegetable Broth: Combine all the ingredients in a large stock pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, turn the heat down low and leave to slowly simmer for an hour.

If you’re using your broth right away, skip ahead to step 3a.

  1. When done, turn the heat off and leave to cool down slightly for about half an hour.
  2. Strain the vegetables and spices from the broth, into a bowl and then:
    a) set aside until ready to use, or
    b) set aside to cool down completely before transferring into a jar/container to store in the fridge.
  3. Batar Da’an: Add the coconut oil to a large stockpot over medium-high heat and sauté the minced garlic until golden brown in colour and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Next, add the diced onions and cook until soft, a further 30 to 45 seconds.
  4. Add the pumpkin chunks and give it a good mix for about a minute and then add in the drained mun beans. Season with a touch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper and cook for about a minute to get some caramelisation happening.
  5. Pour in the vegetable broth, mix, and then turn the heat down to medium-low. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes.
  6. In the last 5 minutes, stir in the thawed corn and give it a good mix. At this point, you may taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Turn the heat off after 5 minutes and then serve immediately while hot and enjoy!

Optional: Once the heat is turned off, you may stir in some moringa (malunggay) leaves, or other choice of leafy greens, and let the residual heat cook them.

This dish is traditionally enjoyed as a main course, usually accompanied by rice, but it can also serve as an excellent side dish when paired with other meat or fish dishes.

Batar Da’an (Pumpkin, Corn, and Mung Bean Stew)

Batar Da’an (Pumpkin, Corn, and Mung Bean Stew)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com