Halo-Halo Cheesecake

Halo-Halo Cheesecake

Hello Everyone! Yes, I am aware that it has only been two days since my last post (I post a new recipe every Wednesday night), but today, the 16th of April 2021 is a very special day because:

AMCARMEN’S KITCHEN TURNS SEVEN!

I know I’ve told this story countless times, every year I think if I’m not mistaken, but this is really more for my new followers and new friends I’ve made in the past year, or even just those who happen to stumble upon this post while searching for recipes or inspiration.

Long before I started Amcarmen’s Kitchen, I was already posting my kitchen adventures on my personal Facebook page when I left for university back in 2011. I started it as a way to document the food that I was eating, you know, being a 19 year old girl who left home with zero experience in cooking. Honestly, the food I was making, super cringe-worthy, but nevertheless, I’m glad I did that because it’s always great to look back and compare yourself to where you are now, especially during times like this. If you want to read more about my journey leading up to when I first started this blog, you can read all about it here: My Kitchen Journey.

Fast forward from 2011 to 2014, I started Amcarmen’s Kitchen exactly seven years ago today, on April 16 of 2014; it was a fine Wednesday afternoon during my fourth year of university. It was the Easter holidays and I had zero willpower to tackle the mountain of assignments I had to complete before the holidays were over. Instead, I decided to explore the world of wordpress, and before I knew it, Amcarmen’s Kitchen (formerly known then as Kitchen Headquarters) was born.

Halo-Halo Cheesecake

To celebrate today’s occasion, as per tradition on my blog every year, I’ve baked a cheesecake inspired by a very popular dessert here in the Philippines known as Halo-Halo. The word, directly translated actually means ‘mix-mix’ in English, and is essentially a mixture of, but not limited to, crushed ice, evaporated milk or condensed milk, and various ingredients including, ube, sweetened beans, coconut strips, sago, gulaman (agar), pinipig rice, boiled taro or soft yams in cubes, fruit slices, flan, and topped with a scoop of ube ice cream. Though popular all year round, it’s most especially enjoyed during the hot summer days.

I came across the idea of translating this dessert into a cheesecake about a year and a half ago during a work event. A few colleagues of mine and myself took a short break from event rehearsals and stumbled upon a coffee and cakes corner in the lobby of the hotel we were at. While they were ordering coffee, I spotted a Halo-Halo Cheesecake on their cake shelf and was immediately wowed by such an ingenious idea! I unfortunately did not order a slice at that time, only because I was contemplating on whether I should, or shouldn’t (it was a bit pricey think), but when I finally made the decision to order a slice, on a different day, the day of the actual event, they didn’t have any left, or didn’t make a batch that day. So as Amcarmen’s Kitchen’s anniversary drew near, I knew that that was the cake that I was going to make for this special occasion!

Halo-Halo Cheesecake Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR 20 MINS | SERVES 8-10

INGREDIENTS

For the cheesecake mixture

  • 675g (3 packs) cream cheese, softened
  • 250ml all purpose cream, at room temperature
  • 3 large free-range eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp ube jam
  • 1 tsp ube extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the crumb base

  • 200g Lotus Biscoff biscuits, crushed
  • 75g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the toppings

  • Fresh coconut meat strips
  • Leche flan
  • Nata de coco, red and green
  • Pinipig, lightly toasted
  • Sweetened red beans
  • Sweetened saba bananas
  • Sweetened white beans

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 130C (250F or gas mark 1).
  2. Prepare your spring-form pan (about 8” in diameter) and line the bottom and inside with parchment paper, and the outer with aluminium foil. Lightly grease the bottom and sides with a touch of unsalted butter.
  3. Crumb Base: Add the crushed Lotus Biscoff biscuits, salt, and melted butter together in a small mixing bowl. Mix together until well combined.
  4. Press the crumb into the base of your prepared spring-form pan. Set aside in the fridge for about 15 minutes to set while you prepare your cheesecake mixture.
  5. Cheesecake Mixture: Using an electric mixer fitted with a beater attachment, beat, on medium speed, the cream cheese and sugar together in a large bowl until smooth.
  6. With the mixer running, add in the eggs, all purpose cream, and vanilla extract. Mix for a further 2 minutes.
  7. Separate one third of the mixture into another mixing bowl. Add the ube jam and ube extract to the cheesecake mixture and slowly beat until combined.
  8. Pour the ube cheesecake mixture into the prepared spring-form pan, evenly covering the biscuit base. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until just set.
  9. Once set, remove from the oven and then pour the remaining cheesecake mixture into the spring-form pan. Continue to bake in the oven for another 45 – 50 minutes, or until set.
  10. Remove from the oven and let it cool down completely in its pan before placing it into the refrigerator overnight.
  11. Assemble: Decorate as you wish and serve chilled. Enjoy!

Halo-Halo Cheesecake

As always, before I end tonight’s post, I just want to say a special thank you to my Mom. She was the one who patiently taught me how to cook my favourite dishes when I was growing up. She was my #1 supporter. I lost her in September 2019 due to a fatal stroke which was caused by a sudden rupture of a vein in her brain, but before all that she had underlying illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and chronic kidney disease. One of the main reasons why I drastically cut out meat such as beef and pork from my diet and started eating healthier (as reflected in my blog for the past 2 years). Thank you Mama for passing down your knowledge and love for food on to me. I know you’re proudly watching from above. I love you.

Lastly, next to my Mom is of course, my very supportive boyfriend. Ever since the day we met, you’ve been proudly sharing my recipes for your family and friends to see. And for that, thank you for your continuous encouragement and for motivating me to continue doing what I love to do! I love you.

Stay tuned tomorrow as I have another special post to share with you all!

Halo-Halo Cheesecake

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Spicy Mushroom Adobo

Hello Everyone! The month is going by swiftly and we’re almost halfway through the fourth month of 2021! Before we dive right into the recipe, I just want to say that I have a special announcement which I have saved for the end of this post. Feel free to skip ahead if you want to know more about what’s happening on Amcarmen’s Kitchen this week!

Adobo is a very popular dish in the Philippines which involves marinating meat, seafood, or vegetables in a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, and black peppercorns, and then cooked in its own marinade. The most common choice of protein is chicken or pork, squid for seafood, and kang kong (water spinach) or yardlong beans for vegetables. I’m sure there are other choices of seafood and vegetables, but these are the ones that I am most familiar with.

Spicy Mushroom Adobo

To be very honest, before I even found out about the ‘marinating’ process involved in making adobo, I used to always just throw everything into a pot and let it simmer away for 20 minutes – well at least that’s how my Mom taught me how to make adobo; no marinating and no sautéing needed. Even without the marinating process, the way my Mom taught me how to cook adobo tastes just as good! I’ve tried a recipe where I marinated the protein before, and to be honest, I can’t spot the difference.

This is one of the main reasons why, when I used to live alone while I was studying for my degree in Australia, this would be my go-to weeknight dinner meal – quick and hassle free. The other best part of it is that the longer you keep it in the fridge, the more the flavours start to develop, and it doesn’t go off that easily! In fact, cooking with vinegar and salt helps keep food fresh for longer especially in the tropical climates of the Philippines.

Spicy Mushroom Adobo Ingredients

Since water spinach and yardlong beans are very common vegetables used when making a vegetarian/vegan adobo dish, I chose to work with my favourite ‘vegetable’ – mushrooms! I used vegetables in quotation marks because, although mushrooms are classified as vegetables, they are technically not plants, but are part of the kingdom called fungi. Stick around because I’m not just going to show you how to make Spicy Mushroom Adobo, I’m going to make it into a full meal for you guys!

If you want to check out my other adobo recipes on my blog, feel free to check them out! Disclaimer: these are all meat dishes from when I used to eat meat.

Spicy Mushroom Adobo Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 15-20 MINS | SERVES 3-4

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g assorted mushrooms*
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2-3 pcs dried bay leaves
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies, sliced
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • Crispy garlic, to garnish
  • Fresh red chillies, to garnish

*I used an array of swiss brown, shimeji, enoki, and oyster mushrooms. Feel free to use whatever is readily available and most importantly, fresh.

METHOD

  1. Add oil to a large pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the minced garlic and red chillies to the pan and sauté until the garlic is lightly golden and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Follow with the whole black peppercorns and dried bay leaves and continue to sauté to release their flavours.
  2. Turn the heat down to medium and add the mushrooms to the pan. Mix well and cook until the mushrooms have started to wilt and brown.
  3. Add the light and dark soy sauce, together with the white vinegar to the mushrooms. Do not mix. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cover. Allow the mushrooms to simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Give the mushrooms a good mix and adjust the taste to your liking, i.e. add more soy sauce if you want it a little saltier or more chillies for heat. Continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  5. Once done, remove from the pan and transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with crispy garlic and extra red chillies. Serve and enjoy with freshly steamed rice!

Spicy Mushroom Adobo

Now you can stop here, or you can take this dish further by making Mushroom Adobo Fried Rice and serve it with a simple mango salsa and top it off with a sunny side up egg, which is definitely what I did! To make the mushroom fried rice, make sure you have cold, day old rice on hand.

  1. In the same pot that you used to cook your mushroom adobo, add about another 2 tbsp of oil over medium high heat. Sauté about 3 cloves of finely minced garlic until golden brown and fragrant. Add your cold, day old rice to the pan, mix, and cook.
  2. Once the rice is heated through, season with a touch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the mushroom adobo sauce to the rice and mix well.
  3. Transfer the rice to individual serving plates and top with a sunny side up egg, and to freshen the dish up a bit, with some fresh mango salsa (or salsa of choice). Serve and enjoy!

Spicy Mushroom Adobo

Before I end tonight’s post, I just want to say that I will be posting another recipe this week on Friday evening and on Saturday morning or evening (depending when I can get the post done). Stay tuned for a very special occasion for Amcarmen’s Kitchen!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Crispy Tofu Kare-Kare

Hello Everyone! Yes, I am here again with another recipe for you guys this week! The dish that I will be sharing tonight is a build up on the Mushroom ‘Bagoong’ recipe that I shared yesterday, which I will further explain in tonight’s post.

The word kare actually means curry, so therefore kare-kare is a thick and creamy curry, or stew that is rich in peanut flavour, cooked with your protein of choice and various vegetables. The stew gets its rich flavour from my homemade vegetable broth, ground roasted peanuts and peanut butter, together with sautéed onions, and garlic. It is coloured with annatto and can be thickened with toasted or plain ground rice. It is said that kare-kare has a similar flavour to satay because of the peanuts in the sauce.

The main protein used in a traditional kare-kare is beef, oxtail being the preferred choice of cut and often paired with either beef tripe, beef hock, or beef meat. Various cuts of pork can also be used such as, but not limited to, pork belly, hocks, and/or trotters.

Crispy Tofu Kare-Kare

Kare-kare can also be made exclusively from vegetables, known as Kare-kareng Gulay, that may include, but not limited to, eggplant, Chinese chard (pechay/bok choy), yardlong beans, banana heart/blossoms, okra, daikon, other other various greens. Now while this already is a vegetarian/vegan version of the traditional kare-kare, the condiment on the side, usually shrimp bagoong, strips it of its vegetarian or vegan title. While you can leave the bagoong to the side, kare-kare is just not the same without it. Hence, in yesterday’s post, I made a vegan alternative to bagoong to complete this dish.

I think the last meat-based kare-kare that I had before I stopped eating meat was crispy pork belly kare-kare, and to mimic that, I added crispy fried tofu to my kare-kareng gulay of fried eggplant, blanched yardlong beans and Chinese chard, and boiled banana heart. I first came across Crispy Tofu Kare-kare from various posts I had seen on Instagram last year. Since then I’ve been looking for a reason to make the dish for a blog post and finally I can do so as it fits with the theme for the month!

Crispy Tofu Kare-Kare Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS

For the kare-kare

  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (plus additional, if needed)
  • 1/2 cup + 1/2 tbsp creamy smooth peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup white rice flour
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts, crushed
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • Salt, to taste

For the annatto mixture

  • 1 & 1/2 tsp annatto seeds
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • Banana heart, boiled
  • Chinese chard (pechay), blanched
  • Eggplant, fried
  • Firm tofu, fried
  • Yardlong beans, blanched
  • Mushroom ‘bagoong’
  • Roasted peanuts, crushed

METHOD

  1. Annatto Mixture: Combine the annatto seeds and hot water in a cup. Leave to soak for the seeds to release their colour.
  2. Kare-Kare: Add oil in a medium-sized stockpot over medium-high heat. Once hot, sauté the garlic until golden brown and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Follow with the onions and cook for a further 30 seconds before adding the crushed peanuts. Continue to cook for a further minute.
  3. Add the peanut butter and mix well until melted before adding 1 cup on the vegetable broth. Mix and season with a pinch of salt, then turn the heat down to medium-low. Leave to simmer for about 10 minutes for the flavours to infuse.
  4. Take about a third cup of extra vegetable broth and add the white rice flour to it. Mix until the flour is incorporated into the broth.
  5. Stir the rice flour mixture into the peanut butter stew. Leave to cook until the sauce thickens, a further 10 minutes and mix every 2 to 3 minutes to make sure the sauce doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
  6. Strain the annatto seeds from the water and add the annatto liquid into the stew. Mix well to incorporate its colour, and if needed, add more vegetable broth to thin out the stew. You may also need to adjust the seasoning to your liking.

At this point, you may choose to add your prepared tofu and vegetables to the stew or separate them for plating up.

  1. Serve and enjoy with steamed rice and mushroom ‘bagoong’ to complete this vegan dish!

Crispy Tofu Kare-Kare

Crispy Tofu Kare-Kare

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Mushroom ‘Bagoong’

Mushroom ‘Bagoong’

Hello Everyone! We’re taking a little detour on our Flavours of Southeast Asia. My initial plan for the year is to go down the list of Southeast Asian countries alphabetically, but since April is a special month for Amcarmen’s Kitchen, I thought it would be fitting to travel through my home country, the Philippines.

Yes I am aware that it’s only Tuesday, those who have been following me for a long time now know that my regular posting schedule is every Wednesday night (GMT+8), but I decided that I would make a separate post for this recipe, leading up the the main recipe I have originally planned for tomorrow. The reason is because the recipe that I will be sharing tonight can be used as a base for many other Filipino dishes, or as a condiment to other savoury dishes.

Mushroom ‘Bagoong’

I don’t think the word ‘bagoong’ even has a direct English translation to it. Rather, the term refers to a condiment local to the Philippines that is partially or completely made of either fermented fish (bagoong isda), krill, or shrimp paste (bagoong alamang) with salt.

The recipe that I will be sharing tonight uses neither fish nor shrimp, instead mushrooms for a vegan-friendly alternative. I first came across mushroom ‘bagoong’ when I was browsing around in an artisanal market about a year ago. I didn’t buy a jar of it though at that time only because I had no idea what I would make/do with it, but I did think that it was an interesting alternative to the bagoong we’re used to here in the Philippines. It wasn’t until I decided to make the dish that I will be sharing tomorrow night, that I also decided to attempt making mushroom ‘bagoong’ as an accompaniment to that dish.

Mushroom ‘Bagoong’ Ingredients

PREP TIME 5-10 MINS | COOKING TIME 15-20 MINS | MAKES 1 CUP

INGREDIENTS

  • 100g fresh oyster mushrooms, minced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies, finely minced (optional)
  • 1 small red onion, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup white miso paste
  • 2 & 1/2 tbsp white granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger

METHOD

  1. Add cooking oil in a medium-sized pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, sauté the garlic until golden brown and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Follow with the onions and cook for a further 30 seconds before adding the grated ginger and chillies, total 1 and a half to 2 minutes.
  2. Add the minced mushrooms and continue to cook for about 3 to 4 minutes before adding the sugar and then miso paste into the mushroom mixture. Mix until well combined and continue to cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Taste and adjust according to your liking.

Add more sugar if you want it a little sweeter, or more chillies if you want a spicier kick. At this point, I added both dark and light soy sauce a tablespoon at a time for added umami flavours and for colour as well.

  1. Cook further, a total of 15 to 20 minutes, until the mushrooms are completely cooked through. Turn the heat off and set aside to cool down before storing in a jar and keeping it tightly sealed.
  2. Refrigerate until ready to use, and can be stored for up to 3 months!

Mushroom ‘Bagoong’

Use for dishes such as pinakbet for a completely vegan alternative to using shrimp bagoong, or as a condiment for other dishes. Enjoy!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

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

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

Num Ansom Chek (Rolled Banana Rice Cake)

Num Ansom Chek (Rolled Banana Rice Cake)

Hello Everyone! February flew by in just the blink of an eye, and before we know it, in a couple of days it’ll be March already! This also means that this will be the last Cambodian recipe that I will be sharing on my blog, for now. There are still so many wonderful recipes that the country has to offer, and maybe one day I’ll revisit the cuisine and discover more dishes that’ll take a liking to my tastebuds.

For our last Cambodian cuisine, I’ll be sharing a popular street snack that is sold across the country, known as Num Ansom Chek, or in English, Rolled Banana Rice Cake. It is a traditional Cambodian snack that is low fat, healthy, and easy to make as it only requires a few ingredients to put together. In many Cambodian snacks, banana is used because of its abundance in the tropical region, and its ritual value. Of course, it is also delicious and sweet!

Num Ansom Chek (Rolled Banana Rice Cake)

Other than bananas, this snack also includes sticky rice and grated coconut. Sometimes, jackfruit is also added, but since I’m not a huge fan of jackfruit, I’ve replaced them with strips of mango instead. You may also add red mung beans or black beans and it can also be sweetened with palm sugar if desired. All of this is then carefully rolled and enclosed in a banana leaf. The resulting cylindrical-shaped snack is then steamed until tender and fragrant.

In Cambodia, this sweet delicacy is traditionally prepared for important celebrations such as Cambodian New Year and the religious festival Pchum Ben (Festival of Souls). With a culture that is heavily influenced by Hinduism and Buddhism, during a festival, it is common practice to offer food to the monks at the temple, and the ghosts of our ancestors, relatives, and friends. One of the foods that they offer is Num Ansom Chek because of their ability to be kept for days without being spoiled. This is due to them being wrapped and steamed in banana leaves.

Before we dive into tonight’s recipe, please take the time to check out the original where I drew my inspiration from over on Vanier Culinary by Thun-Carl Sieu.

Num Ansom Chek (Rolled Banana Rice Cake) Ingredients

PREP TIME 30 MINS* | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR | MAKES 6 ROLLS

*Allow for 6 hours to overnight to soak the glutinous rice.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 ripe mango (optional)
  • 1 & 1/2 cups sweet glutinous rice, soaked for at least 6 hours or overnight
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated coconut
  • Salt, to taste
  • Banana leaves, 6 of about 15cm x 20cm pieces

METHOD

  1. Drain the water from the soaked rice and mix the grated coconut in with the rice.
  2. Peel and cut the bananas in half and sprinkle a touch of salt over them.
  3. Take a piece of banana leaf and place a small portion of the rice and coconut mixture in a horizontal line along the longer side of the banana leaf. Place a banana half in the centre of the rice and strips of ripe mango if you wish. Top the fruits with more rice, there should be enough to fully surround them.

Num Ansom Chek (Rolled Banana Rice Cake)

  1. Roll the banana leaf tightly around the rice to form a log and fold both edges in to seal. Make sure that the leaf is not loose so that the mixture can use it as a mold. Use string to secure the banana leaf wrapping if needed. Repeat until all of the bananas have been wrapped.
  2. Stack the rolls in a steamer and steam over boiling water for about 60 minutes.
  3. Once done, allow to cool slightly before unwrapping and serving. Enjoy!

Num Ansom Chek (Rolled Banana Rice Cake)

Num Ansom Chek (Rolled Banana Rice Cake)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Num Banh Chok (Fish Noodle Soup)

Num Banh Chok (Fish Noodle Soup)

Hello Everyone! February is flying by so fast and I can’t believe that we’re already on our second last Cambodian recipe for the month! Tonight I will be sharing a Cambodian breakfast staple known as Num Banh Chok, or in English, Fish Noodle Soup. It’s a traditional breakfast dish that consists of rice noodles served with a fish gravy and freshly foraged wild grown Cambodian vegetables (some of which does not have an English name), and eaten with a few chilli peppers on the side.

In rural Cambodia, the rice vermicelli noodles used in this dish are all done and made by hand with a stone mill. They are then sold at the local markets where vendors would come early in the morning to purchase it, and then sold to the local residents. Rice is first boiled until soft and then grounded into a wet dough with a heavy stone mill. Once all the rice is ground, the wet dough is placed into a large cloth bag. Heavy mill parts are placed on top to squeeze out excess water. This is the beginning of the fermentation process. Once done, the result is a firm, dry but still sticky flour. To see just how labour intensive the noodle making process is, read this article here. Of course, ain’t nobody got time for that, so I just used store-bought rice vermicelli noodles from my local grocer.

Num Banh Chok (Fish Noodle Soup)

Like many other Cambodian food recipes, Num Banh Chok’s main ingredient, besides mudfish, is the yellow kroeung paste. I covered this in my blog two weeks ago when I made Amok Trei (Steamed Fish Curry). Instead of mudfish though, again I used tilapia fish because that is what I am familiar with. The other main ingredient that is definitely not optional and irreplaceable – rhizome or finger-roots in English, khchiey in Cambodia. Unlike ginger, turmeric, and galangal which are commonly used throughout the world, khchiey is relatively obscure and is mostly used for medical purposes in some Asian countries. When fresh, khchiey has an earthy, peppery, and much milder flavour than ginger and galangal. However, since I could not source any here in the Philippines, I used ginger instead for this my ‘not so authentic’ version of Num Banh Chok.

Before we dive into tonight’s recipe, please take the time to check out the original where I drew my inspiration from over on A Wandering Foodie.

Num Banh Chok (Fish Noodle Soup) Ingredients

PREP TIME 25 MINS | COOKING TIME 45 MINS | SERVES 4-6

INGREDIENTS

For the soup base

  • 4L water
  • Heads and bones from the reserved tilapia fish filets
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2-3 large dried bay leaves
  • 1 small red onion, quartered
  • 1 small thumb-sized piece of ginger, sliced
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, white ends crushed
  • 1 tbsp shrimp paste
  • 2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp salt

For the kroeung paste mixture

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup kroeung paste
  • 2 tbsp peanuts, roasted
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies, chopped
  • 2 small turmeric, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 small thumb-sized piece of ginger, sliced
  • 6 tilapia filets, or any other firm white fish
  • 1 pack rice vermicelli noodles
  • Assortment of greens (I used mustard leaves, water spinach, and mint leaves)
  • Banana blossoms

METHOD

  1. Soup Base: In a large stockpot, bring the 4 litres of water to a boil, over high heat, together with all the other ingredients for the soup base, except for the shrimp paste. Once the stock comes to a rapid boil, turn the heat down to bring it to a slow simmer. Simmer for about 30 minutes.
  2. Kroeung Mixture: Meanwhile, prepare the kroeung mixture. In a mortar and pestle, pound the kroeung paste together with the roasted peanuts, birds eye chillies, ginger, turmeric, and garlic. If you have a small-sized mortar, you can pound the mixture in batches and then combine them into a bowl.
  3. Add the fish sauce, sugar, and coconut milk into the bowl with the kroeung paste mixture, and mix thoroughly. Let it stand for at least 10 minutes to let all the flavour infuse together.
  4. Rice Vermicelli Noodles: Bring water to a boil in a separate pot. Add in the pack of rice vermicelli noodles and let it cook for about 4-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. While the noodles are cooking, prepare a large bowl filled with ice-cold water.
  6. Once the noodles are cooked and the texture is to your liking, strain and place the cooked noodles into the cold bowl of water to stop its cooking process. Start taking out equal handfuls of noodle and portion them into individual serving bowls and set aside.
  7. Num Bahn Chok: Once the soup base is done, strain and return the broth to the stockpot. Add the shrimp paste to the broth and let it come back to a boil over medium-high heat. It is important to add the paste first before any other flavouring ingredients in order to lessen its strong scent. Adjust the broth to taste with salt and sugar to your liking, if needed.
  8. Once boiled, turn the heat down and add the fish filets into the broth and cook for about 10 minutes. Once cooked through, remove from the broth and set aside.
  9. Cook the vegetables (mustard greens, water spinach, and banana blossoms) in the broth for a few minutes, then remove and set aside.
  10. Turn the heat back up and add the kroeung mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5-8 minutes.
  11. Carefully ladle the hot soup into the prepared bowls with noodles. Top with the cooked fish filets, vegetables, mint leaves, and more sliced chillies if you wish.
  12. Serve immediately while hot and enjoy!

Num Banh Chok (Fish Noodle Soup)

Num Banh Chok (Fish Noodle Soup)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Num Treap (Sticky Rice with Sesame Seeds)

Num Treap (Sticky Rice with Sesame Seeds)

Hello Everyone! Forget about brownie sundaes, forget about éclairs and chocolate cake; the real desserts, the sinfully sweet and decadent treats, can be found in one region: Southeast Asia. Ingredients in Southeast Asian treats are less traditional than the sweet flavours you typically see in Western desserts. Ingredients like cassava, mung beans, and lotus seeds paired with sticky sweet syrups like coconut cream, palm syrup, and condensed milk are common and no strangers to Cambodian treats. Beyond these ingredients you can also always expect to have at least one fresh fruit added to the mix. Look for favourites like mangoes, rambutan, durian and of course, bananas.

Just as Southeast Asian desserts, Cambodian treats are most frequently enjoyed mid-morning. Instead of being served to cap off a delicious meal, the treats are bought and enjoyed in markets as you are doing your shopping around town. Many of the most popular Khmer treats are sold from mobile street stands. Look out for the crowds of students outside universities and schools, flocked around a stand.

Traditional Cambodian treats, also known as Khmer sweets, also come in the form of custards and puddings; egg-based dishes that are spiced up with a variety of flavours (vanilla and cinnamon are typical favourites). Since rice remains a main staple in current day cuisine, being eaten as often as three times a day, rice-based cakes are also very popular.

Num Treap (Sticky Rice with Sesame Seeds)

Tonight, I will be sharing a Cambodian favoured treat that is simple and super easy to make at home. The best part? You’ll most likely have everything readily available to whip this up in your pantry. Num Treap, or in English, Sticky Rice with Sesame Seeds, is a treat that is basically as the name states, steamed sticky rice mixed in a warm coconut sauce. The mixture is then spread into a baking dish or pan, topped with sesame seeds, and then set aside to cool before cutting into squares and then served. You may serve it as it is, or with fruits on the side. Num in Cambodian means pastry, so it is essentially a sticky rice (bai damnaeb) pastry treat.

This dessert is very much similar to a sweet rice cake that we have here in the Philippines known as Biko. It is also made of coconut milk, brown sugar, and glutinous rice, that is topped with latik (coconut curds) instead of sesame seeds.

Num Treap (Sticky Rice with Sesame Seeds) Ingredients

PREP TIME 60 MINS* | COOKING TIME 45-60 MINS | MAKES 9 SLICES

*Allow for an additional 6 hours (or more) to soak the glutinous rice before cooking.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup sweet glutinous rice, soaked for at least 6 hours or overnight
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt

METHOD

  1. Rice: Drain the water (no need to shake off the excess water), and evenly arrange the soaked sticky rice in a steamer lined with a greased banana leaf.
  2. Cover and steam for 30-45 minutes. You can check the rice and increase the steaming time if need be. Once done, keep the rice in the steamer or covered to prevent it from drying out until you need to use it.
  3. Coconut Sauce: While the rice is cooking, add the coconut milk, coconut sugar, salt, and vanilla extract in a large saucepan and cook over medium-high heat. Stir frequently until it thickens, about 5 minutes.
  4. Num Treap: Fluff the cooked rice with a fork to separate the grains. With the heat off, add the rice to the saucepan with the coconut sauce and mix well.
  5. Spread the rice mixture into a shallow dish or baking pan, pressing them down with a spatula. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and cover with plastic wrap. Leave to set and cool for about an hour.
  6. Cut into squares, then serve and enjoy!

Num Treap (Sticky Rice with Sesame Seeds)

Num Treap (Sticky Rice with Sesame Seeds)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com