Dulce Tailandia, Dulce arroz con mango

Amo Tailandia!

 

Todo sobre ella: su gente, sus paisajes, la comida… Si… especialmente, la comida.

 

Hace unas semanas – a principios de Abril – cuando se acercaban las fechas en que se celebra el Año nuevo Tailandés, quise celebrar con uno de mis platillos tailandeses favorito: Mango Sticky Rice (Postre hecho a base de Arroz con mango y leche de coco)

 

En 2011, pase un poco mas de un mes en Tailandia. En aquel tiempo, acababa de llegar a Singapur, y tenia un contacto en Tailandia que estaba encargada de un orfanato, a quien decidí ir a ayudar, y también para explorar el país, con la intención de mudarme como misionera ahí.

 

Y déjame contarte que de verdad tuve la oportunidad de explorar.

 

Cuando llegue a Bangkok, llame desde el aeropuerto a mi único contacto en la ciudad, para confirmar en donde nos veríamos. Ella contesto, y me dijo que no estaba en la ciudad por el momento “regresa después”.

 

“Regresa después??” Como si se tratara de mi llegando después del horario de apertura de un supermercado. Esto era mas serio que llegar después de que cerraron la tienda – Yo estaba en un país completamente nuevo y mi único contacto me acababa de decir “regresa después”.

 

Sentí mucho miedo. Este era mi primer viaje a un lugar completamente desconocido.

 

Me sentí frustrada, y tiendo a culparme cuando las cosas no funcionan.

 

Enmudecí y me quede paralizada. Pensando “vete”, pero no tenia dinero para pagar un viaje de regreso. No sabia que hacer, a donde ir, a quien llamar.

 

Ni siquiera sabia como salir del aeropuerto.

 

Mi plan había fracasado.

 

Volví a la realidad – Necesitaba hacer algo. No podía solamente sentarme en el aeropuerto de Bangkok.

 

Todos mis miedos de pronto tornaron repentinamente en una nueva fuerza.

 

No se si tu que estas leyendo, crees en Dios, pero en ese momento, sentí una fuerza tan grande desde mis entrañas que la única palabra para explicarla es Dios.

El me dijo “Viniste hasta acá desde México. Saca el mejor provecho de esta oportunidad”. Sabia que Dios me había llevado a Tailandia con un propósito.

 

Los planes cambian, pero siempre hay un propósito, y normalmente, es bueno.

 

Y fue así como las cosas empezaron pasar.

 

Mis primeros días en Bangkok me aloje en una habitación en donde el único sonido que podía oír durante la noche, fueron las ratas corriendo por toda la habitación.

 

Pero sabia que de alguna manera, las cosas iban a mejorar.

 

Pocos días después de mi llegada, una muy buena amiga mía, vio una publicación que hice en Facebook y me contacto. Me dijo que se había mudado recientemente a Tailandia y vio que estábamos en la misma ciudad, así que me ofreció hospedaje, para que me quedara con ella y su bella familia.

 

En ese momento, pase de dormir en una habitación junto a ratas, a dormir en una casa junto al lago!

 

Los acontecimientos que tuvieron lugar en ese tiempo son lo que dieron forma al amor que siento por Tailandia.

 

Me di cuenta de que no necesitas pasar un tiempo muy largo con alguien para convertirte en alguien notable en su vida.

 

Pase varias semanas entre Bangkok – La mega ciudad, Chiang Mai – las áreas extremadamente turísticas, Mae Sot – la frontera con Myanmar, y Korat – la zona de campos del país.

 

Decidí que me mudaría a Tailandia.

 

Mi idea era volver a Singapur, recoger mis maletas y volver a Korat en dos semanas.

 

Ciertas circunstancias cambiaron mis planes y nunca volví. Hasta el día de hoy, me persigue esa idea… preguntándome que habría sido aquello que no sucedió.

 

Pero como dije antes, los planes cambian. Y siempre he sido del tipo de persona que sigue caminando a pesar de la tormenta.

 

Pensé en los altos y bajos de aquel viaje a Tailandia. Desde el temor aterrador que me paralizo al principio de mi viaje, hasta el primer día que salí a explorar la ciudad de Bangkok, comiendo Mango Sticky Rice (Dulce de Arroz y mango con leche de coco), ese viaje fue colorido con belleza total.

 

Recuerdo caminar por la ciudad, tomando tuk tuks, perdiéndome y encontrándome de nuevo una y otra vez. Me encontré un mercado en la calle (tianguis). Y me arriesgue a ordenar ese postre de arroz y mango.

 

Fue tan delicioso que cada que pude pedí el mismo postre en cada restaurante tailandés (probablemente si lo encuentro en el menú de algún restaurante local lo pido).

 

Todos estos pensamientos inundaron mi mente, supe que tenia que preparar este postre, solamente para satisfacer mi propio antojo.

 

No pude hacer el platillo inmediatamente. Porque se necesita equipo especial para prepararlo correctamente. Necesitaba comprar un Vaporizador de Bambú.

 

Encontré uno en oferta en un mercadito asiático local, pero se puede conseguir en línea por menos de 10 dólares.

 

Prueba esta receta y enamórate de Tailandia como yo lo hice. La preparación de este platillo requiere un poquito mas de dificultad que para otras recetas que he compartido (porque son varias cosas al mismo tiempo). Trata, valdrá la pena hacerlo.

 


 

DULCE DE ARROZ Y MANGO CON LECHE DE COCO – Mango Sticky Rice

(3 personas)

Ingredientes:

Salsa de coco dulce y Arroz:

1 Taza de arroz dulce glutinoso

2/3 Taza de leche de coco

1/4 Cucharadita de sal

1/2 Taza de azúcar

Salsa de coco salada:

1/2 Taza de leche de coco

1/4 Cucharadita de sal

1 Cucharadita de harina de arroz / Maicena

1 Cucharadas de agua

2 Cucharadas de Mung beans tostados/ Semillas de sésamo tostadas.

2 Mango fresco pelado y cortado cuidadosamente en rodajas gruesas.

INSTRUCCIONES:

[Arroz glutinoso y Salsa Dulce]

Enjuaga el arroz en un tazón y disipar el agua hasta que el agua sea clara.

Déjalo remojando en agua durante la noche (o por unas pocas horas antes de cocinar).

A la mañana siguiente, cuela y escurre muy bien el agua.

Pon el arroz a cocer en la vaporear de bambú. Coloca una tapa encima del arroz para guardar el vapor.
(Nota: Yo tenia un pedazo de gasa en la cocina y lo puse en la parte superior del arroz antes de poner la tapa, sólo para asegurarme de que mantenía el vapor.)

Cuece a vapor sobre el agua hirviendo durante unos 30 minutos.

Mientras se cuece el arroz, en una olla pequeña a parte, a fuego medio, mezcla la leche de coco, el azúcar y la sal. Revuelve hasta que el azúcar se disuelva y apaga el fuego.

(No quieres cocinarlo durante mucho tiempo, usa el calor sólo para mezclar los ingredientes. Una vez terminado, ponlo a un lado y mantenlo caliente con su tapa puesta).

Una vez que el arroz se ha cocido, vacíalo en un recipiente y vierte inmediatamente la mezcla del dulce de leche. Revuelve y tápalo muy bien.

Es importante trabajar tan rápido como sea posible para mantener el arroz caliente.

De esta manera, mientras descansa, el arroz absorberá todo el líquido del dulce de leche.

Deja reposar durante unos 20 minutos. Después de que el tiempo haya pasado, abre y revuelve cuidadosamente otra vez. Déjalo reposar por lo menos otros 20 minutos.

Si no tienes vaporera de bambú, utiliza una vaporera de metal con una gaza alrededor del arroz para evitar que caiga en el agua hirviendo al fondo de la olla. O puedes tratar en la estufa.

Yo nunca he tratado de hacerlo de esta manera, pero aquí es una sugerencia:

Por cada 1 taza de arroz añade 1 y 1/4 Taza de agua.

Deja hervir con la tapa hasta que haya absorbido el agua (No agitar). Una vez que ha absorbido toda el agua, retíralo del calor con la tapa puesta y dejarlo reposar durante 10 minutos.

Salsa de Coco Salada:

Mezcle la harina de arroz / Maicena en agua hasta que ese disuelva.

En una olla pequeña, agrega la leche de coco, la sal y la mezcla de harina con agua. Cocina a fuego medio-bajo

Revuelve hasta que comience a hervir y a espesarse.

Apaga el fuego y déjalo enfriar.

(No lo cocines demasiado tiempo, sólo hasta que hierve la primera vez y comienza a engrosar, de lo contrario la leche de coco se disolverá y tendrás que empezar todo de nuevo!)

¡Si tus Mung beans (Moon beans) o las semillas del sésamo no están tostadas, tu puedes tostarlas!

Para los Mung beans: Hierve en una olla pequeña hasta que estén suaves.

Una vez suaves. Cuela el agua y colocarlos en toallas de papel, para que absorba el exceso de agua.

Tuéstalos en una sartén seco a fuego medio durante 3-5 minutos o hasta que estén ligeramente dorados, revolviendo de vez en cuando.

Semillas de sésamo: solo tuéstalos en el sartén hasta que doren.

Sirve una porción del dulce de arroz junto a algunas rebanadas de mango y añade un poco de la salsa de coco salado en la parte superior del arroz.

Espolvorea algunas de las semillas tostadas de Mung beans/ semillas de sésamo.

¡Disfruta!

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Tacos Dorados (Taquitos)

During the Easter season in most Latin American countries, many people refrain from eating meat. The month leading up to Easter is the Catholic season of Lent – and most Latin American countries have deep rooted Catholic backgrounds.

This is a time when lots of seafood is consumed.

Growing up, though, my family wasn’t Catholic. So during the Lent season, we were one of the only families around that was eating meat regularly. (Also, my mom didn’t like cooking seafood because of the lingering fishy scent.)

Last week, as I was thinking about Lent and seafood, and the fact that my family continued eating meats throughout the season, I was reminded of a time I was served some of the best fish soup I’ve ever eaten.

Before you get your hopes too high, I’ll tell you that this post is not about that delicious soup – though I am going to track down that recipe for a later date. Now, in Mexico we eat tacos dorados with soup, much like in many places soups are served with sandwiches or loaves of bread. Today’s post is about that delectable, crispy bite of comfort that’s often served with a soup and can stand alone just as well – Tacos Dorados.

It was a few weeks before Easter in the early 2000’s when a college classmate and friend looked over at me and said, “Hey, let’s get a group together and go to Acapulco.”

So, naturally, as I am full of spontaneity I said, “Yeah! That would be fun. Let’s do it!”

Within 24 hours, a group of five of us were on our way from Mexico City to Acapulco – about a 4-5 hour drive. In the group were my friend and his brother and sister, and my brother and me.

We had family friends that owned a house in Acapulco, and were away on a vacation of their own, who said we could use their house during our stay, so we were prepared for a non-expensive miniature beach vacation among friends.

The only expenses we would incur would be food and gasoline.

Then, on our way to Acapulco, I remembered that I had a friend who lived right outside of the city – in El Coloso. This friend, Eli (pronounced Eh-lee), would eventually become my best friend, traveling companion, and maid of honor. (In fact, we always talk about how, in that time, we never thought we’d be living in a Malaysian jungle together, or getting a free flight to Hawaii together, or getting lost together in different parts of the planet.)

I messaged her, and she replied telling me she would be in class on the day of our arrival.

Once we arrived in Acapulco and reached one of the most known beaches, we looked around and were all, frankly, quite disappointed. That’s when I decided to call Eli, who had just finished her college classes for the day.

Eli brought us away from the touristic areas and to the most beautiful local beaches with golden sands and crystal clear water nestled in between two mountain peaks. Needless to say, we were excited to find such a lovely area, and we decided that is where would continue our vacation the following morning.

That next day, Eli’s mother – Mama Berna – sent, with her daughter, some fish soup and tacos dorados for us to enjoy on the beach.

I grabbed a taco and poured some soup in a container and tasted both. As expected, the taco was perfection, but the soup surprised me with its delicate and intrinsic flavors.

Usually, fish soup is strong – it’s aftertaste and smell overpowers

This soup, however, was not that. The fish wasn’t soggy. It’s consistency was pure. The vegetables had a nice fish taste, but didn’t lose their vegetable essence.

I remember thinking a hot soup would not be good for a day at the beach, but it was actually light and refreshing and perfect for a beach day.

Seriously, I will get that recipe and make it for this blog one day.

Maybe the reason I thought the food was so good that day was because Mama Berna did not know us – we were just friends of her daughter – and she went out of her way to show us such love and hospitality.

Mama Berna really became someone very special to me that day – even without knowing her until later. She made that food with love and gave it to us without asking for anything in return.

That day changed all my thoughts on fish. It made me more open to seafood – as my mother didn’t cook seafood and we didn’t live in an area where seafood was fresh and readily available.

My little brother, Jorge, on the other hand, was not as open to anything seafood. He refused to taste the soup and missed out on a real delight. He didn’t care about the soup. So we didn’t care about him.

“Whatever,” I said. “Just eat sand.”

So we ate. We finished the soup and turned toward that heaping plate of about 50 Tacos Dorados, which I had already enjoyed eating one earlier, with my soup.

They were gone.

Jorge had eaten the entire plate of Tacos Dorados.

Still, to this day, when I think of Tacos Dorados, I think of what they probably would have tasted like after that delicious fish soup. And in my dear brother, this is one of his favorite dishes.

All that said, this is a great Mexican dish to enjoy with friends and family, especially with little ones who like to eat with their hands!

 

Enjoy!


 

TACOS DORADOS

The biggest issue of Tacos Dorados is that you must have access to corn tortillas, or at least MASECA corn flour.

Either purchase corn tortillas from your local grocer, or follow the instructions to make tortillas on the package of MaSeCa. I like to make my own tortillas, which is pretty easy.

 

— To make corn tortillas, add water to MASECA corn flour (use amount directed on package) and salt; then knead. Roll into balls and flatten to thin-ness of a tortilla. Place on dry skillet on medium heat and cook both sides. —

 

The tacos, traditionally, are filled with cooked shredded chicken, beef, or boiled and seasoned potatoes.

DIRECTIONS:

  • Heat tortilla in microwave or stovetop, remove from heat, and place line of meat/potatoes in the middle of the tortilla.
  • Take one edge of the tortilla and reach toward the protein, and pull it toward the edge as you roll the tortilla tightly – Be careful not to spill out any of the meat/potatoes.
  • Once rolled, seal the end with a toothpick. The toothpick keeps the taco closed once placed in the hot oil. Use more than one toothpick if necessary.
  • Place oil (vegetable oil, canola oil, etc.) in a pan and bring to medium-high heat.
  • Place tacos into hot oil and fry until golden and crispy on all sides. If you have a fryer, this process is much easier.
  • Put the tacos on a platter with napkins or paper towels underneath to allow excess oil to drain.

At this point, once cooled, remove toothpicks and the Tacos Dorados are ready to be consumed. You can eat them alone as a snack, with a soup, or as a meal topped with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream, avocados, salsa and whatever else your heart desires.

10 Tips to make your rice better

“You are what you eat.”

I guess it’s true, in a sense.

Many times, you can tell the personality of someone by his/her favorite foods.

What is your favorite food? What does it say about you?

I, for one, am a chameleon of sorts.

I am strong when I need to be; tender when the time calls for it; vibrant and colorful, yet neutral. I’m passionate and determined, but have insecurities and fears. Sometimes I feel underestimated, and others have the potential to bring out the best (and worst) in me. I dare myself to do crazy things, conquer my fears, and understand that details usually tell a larger story.

One of the first things I ever learned to cook, and still one of my favorite things to eat, says a lot about who I am. It is something small, something often considered a complement instead of the “main dish,” something widely overlook, but has the potential to standalone and be incredible all by itself – rice.

We always ate rice. In Venezuela it’s basically part of the daily diet –

rice, beans and plantains. You find that in every country in the Caribbean.

During my first year in Mexico after moving from Venezuela, I decided to make rice.

I had seen my mother and grandmother making it, so I thought it would be a fairly simple task. All I needed was rice, water and salt. I thought that would be easy enough.

So I grabbed a pot and added water and rice and brought it to a boil. Then I grabbed what I thought was salt and added that while the water was boiling.

I made several terrible errors in that first culinary attempt.

First, I didn’t measure anything … and I actually ended up making all of the rice. All of the rice! An entire kilogram.

For reference, 1 kg of rice was about a week’s worth of rice for our family of 5.

It started cooking, and the rice almost grew out of the pot because there was so much and the pot wasn’t large enough for an entire kilogram of rice.

Grandma never measured. I had watched her. But now I know it was just practice; she had been cooking so many years, she had it down to an art. Rice was easy for her.

And I didn’t add enough water, so in the end I found some of the rice was overcooked while a lot of it was severely undercooked. The bottom was also all burned because I didn’t know how high or low the heat should be.

And the worst thing I did was that I did not use salt to season the rice. I accidentally sprinkled in Baking Soda.

It was a truly embarrassing effort on my part.

My dad and older brother – Julio – ate it out of respect (and hunger, I think), but my mom and younger brother – Jorge – wouldn’t eat it out of wisdom. Or fear. Or maybe both.

I’ll never forget their faces. Julio actually added mayonnaise to try to mask the nasty rice taste.

After that day, my mom decided to teach me how to cook rice. She started with an easy method to make it.

A 1:2 ratio of rice to water with added onion, garlic and salt.

Then, years later, when I was about 24, I moved to Asia.

One of the first times I encountered many types of rice all in one place, I was overwhelmed by the variety, styles and colors of rice down a couple of aisles in a grocery store in India.

I had never realized there were so many types of rice – hundreds of varieties.

Long-grain, medium-grain, short-grain, yellow, white, brown, Jasmine, aromatic, Chinese black, Basmati … that’s just off the top of my head.

My friend and I walked into the grocery store after having the idea to bring rice to an orphanage where we were working at the time, and asked an employee to point us toward the rice. He asked what kind of rice we desired and we answered, “just regular rice.”

“What kind of regular rice?” he asked as he pointed toward the two aisles completely filled with different types of rice.

That’s when I learned about rice. It’s many styles, flavors, and eccentricities.

Now, I’m in America. And have more than a decade of experience with cooking rice, and though I have never claimed to be the best at it, it’s something I truly enjoy.

Most people already know how to cook rice, so I won’t be sharing a recipe in this post, but I have compiled a list of tips to cooking rice, as it can take years to perfect the art.

I do not own a rice cooker – I’d rather cook my rice in a pot on the stovetop. While living in Singapore, someone gifted me with a rice cooker, but to be honest, I simply prefer the stovetop.

 

Here are 10 easy tips to making great rice:

  1. Respect the rice – Let the rice take the time that it needs in order to cook. They’re not mashed potatoes. Put the rice in the pot and let it cook.
  2. Exact double portion of water – rice should be cooked on a 1:2 ratio with water.
  3. Cook on low heat – be patient. If you try to rush the cook of the rice you will end up burning it and undercooking it.
  4. “No lo batas” – My mother and grandmother constantly told me this, which just means don’t stir it. You don’t want to end up making sticky, smashed rice. Once it’s in the pot, put on the lid and leave it alone until it’s ready.
  5. Don’t open the lid – The secret for a fluffy, perfect rice, is to allow it to steam. The steam inside the closed-lidded pot, while the heat is on low, is what actually cooks the rice. It’s not about the water boiling, it’s about the rice cooking correctly.
  6. Sauté or rinse the rice – rice has lots of starch. When you sauté with oil, it basically coats each grain, allowing the rice to be cooked and get fluffy without sticking to the other grains. It’s a beautiful chemical reaction. Make sure not to leave it in the pan too long (you don’t want to burn the rice before you start cooking it!). When you rinse the rice, the same happens because you’re cleaning the starch off, but you must rinse it several times, and very well, to assure the starch is rinsed off fully. Also, after washing, the grain is very sensitive, so you must be careful when you put it in the pot so as to not break the grains.
  1. Use chicken stock or beef stock – To make rice more flavorful, add a stock instead of water. Flavor your rice according to your meal instead of always merely having simple white rice.
  2. Add garlic, onion and salt – I always add these ingredients before I begin boiling the rice. I like to sauté the rice (see tip 6) with onion, garlic cloves and salt. I love the slightly more intense flavors I get from this practice.
  3. Use a good pot – Make sure the bottom of the pot is not too thin, and use a pot that’s size is proportionate to the meal. A thin pot will cause the rice grains to burn more quickly.
  4. Practice – “la practica hace al maestro,” or “practice makes perfect.” Keep going! And try adding your own special flavors to make the rice your own. Also, check out recipes for more advanced types of rice, like aromatic rice and risotto. In the future, I’ll post recipes of risotto, so keep an eye out for that!
  5. Have fun and enjoy!

Mama Juanita’s Tostadas de Tinga

My husband and I are on a pretty tight budget. We are actually living off of about $80 a week on groceries – that’s like $12 a day for two people; which is like $2 a meal per person, if my math is correct.

One way we’ve found that saves a lot of money on chicken is to purchase a whole frozen chicken and break it down ourselves, instead of buying packs of chicken breasts or wings or some other part already butchered.

I usually take the ribs, neck and other unused bones and boil them to make a stock, and then pick the meat off those bones to use in dishes.

Today, as I started separating good meat from bone and cartilage, I remembered family members doing the same as I was growing up.

I started thinking about my grandma.

Mama Juanita.

Mama Juanita was one of the most loving and caring women I’ve ever known. When my family moved to Mexico from Venezuela, we moved in with her and my grandpa for a few months, and I learned so much from her, and about her, in that time.

I learned that when she got married to my grandpa – whose mother died years prior to their marriage – she took on the responsibility of her husband’s young brothers, who were orphaned. She adopted them, becoming a mother of four immediately upon marriage.

She and Grandpa then went on to have six daughters and a son, and Mama Juanita’s job for most of her life was to be a mother and wife.

She showed love through actions … and through food.

I began thinking of one of the first foods she taught me how to make – Tostadas de Tinga, which is a common dish in Mexico made of shredded chicken and a tomato-based sauce on top of a fried tortilla.

I was a 14-year-old junior high student and had just gotten home from school. I looked around and realized that my mother had already bought groceries and uncooked food was in the kitchen, and I was home alone.

But I was hungry. I didn’t want to wait for mom to come home and cook.

I already knew how to cook rice, so I was pretty sure I could handle any other culinary challenge. So I decided, after seeing the ingredients at my avail, to make Tostadas de Tinga.

But the problem was that I didn’t know how to make the staple dish.

So I called Grandma, then walked about a block to her house, grocery bags in hand, knowing that she would teach me how to prepare the dish. Honestly, I was hoping that she would just cook the meal for me and I’d learn as she cooked.

So I brought the groceries to her kitchen and prepared to help Mama Juanita with the meal she would surely make for me.

Something she always said (and now my mom says) is that “Somebody that helps is always welcome,” and I was sure that I was going to be a good helper.

But Grandma had different plans.

She sat down and explained each step to me as I completed each task, from peeling and cutting onions to placing the meat on the tostada shell.

So that day, I learned how to make Tostadas de Tinga, and I’ve never forgotten.

Mama Juanita passed away in 2012, but she left plenty of great memories and great food. And it’s amazing how those foods can bring back those memories!

I loved my grandma; and she loved me. My name – Johana – actually derived from “Juana,” which I take pride in because I know I will always have a piece of her with me.


 

TINGA

[Tinga can be eaten several ways – in tacos, on tostadas (my preferred way, with sour cream and queso fresco), with rice and beans, or a myriad of different ways.]

 

1 Large chick breast, shredded

3 Tomatoes

½ White Onion

2 Cloves of Garlic

Small bunch of fresh Cilantro (not enough to make the sauce green, just try to use your common cooking sense)

1 Cup Chicken Stock

1 Chipotle Pepper in adobo sauce (canned chipotle or fresh)

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

1 tsp Cumin

 

Cut onion in thin slices and sauté on medium heat

While onions are cooking, blend tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, chipotle and about ½ cup of chicken stock

When onions turn translucent, add blended mix.

Add cumin to sauce and stir.

After about 5 min on medium heat, add chicken to sauce and continue stirring.

Add salt and pepper.

Let cook 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 

*You will have about ½ cup of Chicken stock left over. This is so if/when the Tinga begins to dry out, add more chicken stock to keep saturated.

**If you want the Tinga spicier, blend more chipotle with some chicken stock and add to mix.