Spontaneous Vacation/Pineapple Rice

We were at the grocery store the other day and I was perusing through the fresh produce when I noticed some delicious looking pineapples.

I’ve selected fresh pineapple before, but the truth is I didn’t know how to pick out a good one. As I stood there fondling the prickly fruit, my husband returned from the other side of the store with a gallon of milk in hand. He placed the milk in our cart and realized I was staring at pineapples.

“I love pineapples!” he said, seemingly reading my mind. “We should get one.”

He reached into the pineapple display and grabbed a more-yellow-than-green-or-brown pineapple, brought it close to his face and smelled it, and then gently tugged at the leaf at the fruit’s top center.

He explained – and I later googled his facts to verify – how to pick out a ripe pineapple.

You can tell a pineapple’s ripeness by its color, scent and by gently tugging on a leaf.

The closer to ripe the pineapple gets, the more robust the scent. An unripe pineapple’s scent is faint.

Also, the top center leaf will easily pull from the fruit when fully ripened.

So we brought home a good, ripe pineapple, and my excited husband cut it open as soon as we got home and began eating the sweet tropical delight.

But I had more in mind than simply eating the pineapple alone. I was thinking of my time in Southeast Asia, and a dish that quickly became a favorite – Pineapple Rice. Pineapple Rice is basically fried rice with pineapple and shrimp.

Pineapple Rice is known as a popular Thai dish, but something I found out firsthand is the fact that, though it’s popularity is not in question, it’s not actually a Thai dish; which really confused me because nearly every Thai restaurant I’ve ever been to serves the dish.

But during my travels, I spent time in Thailand, where locals told me that Pineapple Rice is not part of their diet, nor do they consider it an actual Thai dish. In fact, I only saw the dish in restaurants in touristic areas.

I first tried Pineapple Rice in Singapore, in Golden Mile Complex – the Thai market in the city. And I ate the dish often during my time in Asia.

When I think about the dish, I think of my dear friend Bere.

Several years ago, Bere and I traveled together to Indonesia on a whim for a several days, for a relaxing miniature birthday vacation.

I had just gotten back to Singapore from a long work trip and was at home when my friend, Bere, began texting me.

After our greetings, I told her I was back at home and asked what she was doing.

It was a random Monday for her, so it was strange that she was able to communicate with me during work hours.

“I took the week off work,” she told me.

I replied, saying, “We should go somewhere!”

She upped the ante with a suggestion: “We should go to the beach!”

It was the middle of December, and my birthday was only a couple of days away and I had been gone for work, so I was planning to take the rest of the week off, so I agreed.

And just like that, we decided to leave and go to the beach; Bere suggested Bintan Island in Indonesia, which was a two-hour ferry ride from Singapore.

Within an hour after texting, we met at the ferry terminal, bought tickets and headed to Indonesia.

On the way, Bere made hotel reservations, and we were set.

At the hotel where we stayed, there wasn’t much around, so most of our days were spent napping in the room or lying on the beach.

The beach was beautiful, with crystal clear waters and golden sands.

To this day, that trip remains one of the most relaxing times of my adult life.

We spent a couple of days resting and relaxing at one of the most beautiful beaches in that area. And I ate lots of Pineapple Rice.

Bere is a vegetarian, so she was able to eat the dish as well – she just picked the shrimp out.

I remember trying other foods during that trip, and wasn’t impressed; but the Pineapple Rice was a continual delight.

So now, when I think of Pineapple Rice, I think about Bere and our spontaneous trip to Indonesia and how she remains one of my best friends and favorite travel partners.


 

PINEAPPLE FRIED RICE

2 -3 People

(All the ingredients are approximation, add or change ingredients to taste)

 

1 Cup of cooked white rice (cold, or day old if possible) – Check how to make a better rice

10 Shrimp

1 egg

1/2 Yellow onion finely cut in small pieces

2 Green Onions chopped

1-2 Medium-sized Tomatoes, seeded and chopped in 1/2 inches pieces.

2/3 Cup Fresh Pineapple, cut into 1/2 inches pieces. (*If you can’t find fresh pineapple, use canned pineapple drying with a napkin as much juice as you can.)

1/2 Cup of roasted unsalted cashews

1 tsp Soy sauce

1 tsp Fish sauce

1 tsp Curry powder

1 tsp Sugar

1 Sliced Cucumber for garnish

1 dash of White Pepper

1 dash of Salt

2 tsp Cooking oil (vegetable, olive or whatever you regularly use in your kitchen)

 

PREPARATION

Before starting, mix all the dry ingredients (curry, sugar, white pepper, salt) in a small cup. Mix wet ingredients (Soy sauce and Fish sauce) in a separate small cup. Set aside.

(You are free to skip this step and serve direct while cooking.)

In a big frying pan, heat on medium-high and sear the shrimp until pink and on all sides. Once it is ready, take it out of the pan, and drain the excess oil and set a side.

Using the remaining oil (and adding a little more if necessary), add the egg and scramble. When the egg starts changing color (half way cooked) add the rice and stir until it is mixed (around 2 minutes).

Add onions and mix for approximately 2 minutes.

Add dry ingredients (curry, sugar, white pepper, salt) and half of the wet ingredient mix (soy sauce and fish sauce), keep stirring until the rice grains are separated, and the seasoning has covered all the dish (about 3 minutes).

Add pineapple, shrimp, cashews and the other half of the wet ingredient mix. Stir approximately 3 minutes.

Once the pineapple is darkened and the rice is dry, turn off heat. Add tomatoes and the green onions.

Serve the rice garnishing with the whole shrimp on top and cucumber on the side as garnish.

 

Vegetarian version:

Omit the shrimp and egg (vegan)

Use coconut oil and add spice it up with some garlic and fresh ginger.

 

Try this recipe and share with us through #johastable

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!

Sweet Thailand, Sweet Sticky Rice

I love Thailand.

Everything about it, I love: the people, the scenery, the food. Oh, the food … I especially love the food.

So, a few weeks ago – toward the beginning of April – when the Thai New Year rang in, I wanted to celebrate with one of my favorite dishes from Thailand: Mango Sticky Rice.

In 2011, I spent a little more than a month in Thailand. I was living in Singapore at the time and had a contact in Thailand who ran an orphanage, so I decided to go help at the orphanage, but also to explore the country with the intention of moving there as a missionary.

And let me tell you – I really got the opportunity to explore.

When I landed in Bangkok, I called my sole Thailand connection from the airport to find where and when we could meet. She told me she had left. She wasn’t there. She told me to “come back later.”

Come back later?? As if I had just missed the open hours of a grocery store? But this was more serious than a store closing before you arrive – I was in an entirely new country and my only contact just told me to “come back later.”

I became afraid. This was my first trip alone to an unknown place.

I became frustrated. I tend to blame myself when things don’t work out.

I became numb. I thought – “go back,” but I didn’t have the money to go back. I just didn’t know what to do. Where to go. Who to call.

I didn’t even know how to get out of the airport.

My plan had failed.

Then I snapped back into reality – I needed to do something. I couldn’t just sit in the airport in Bangkok.

All my fears suddenly became a strength.

I don’t know if you who are reading this believe in God, but I felt an extreme courage come from within that can only be explained as a word from God. He said, “You came all the way here from Mexico. You better do something with the opportunity.” I knew God had brought me to Thailand for a purpose.

Plans change, but there’s always a purpose in it. And it’s usually good.

And just like that, things started happening.

The first few days in Bangkok I stayed in a room where all I could hear at night were rats scurrying around the room.

But I knew it was going to get better.

A couple of days after my arrival, a good friend saw a post I’d made on Facebook and contacted me. She said she had recently moved to Thailand and saw that I was near her and wanted me to come stay with her.

In a mere moment, I went from rats bedside to a house lakeside!

The events that took place in that time are what shaped my love for Thailand.

I realized that you don’t need to spend a long time with someone to be remarkable in their life.

I spent several weeks in Bangkok – the big city, Chiang Mai – the extremely touristic area, Mae Sot – bordering Myanmar, and Korat – the true Thailand countryside.

I decided I would move to Thailand.

The idea was for me to go back to Singapore, pick up my bags and return to Korat in two weeks.

But through certain circumstances, I never went back. To this day, that idea haunts me … wondering what could have been and what never was.

But like I said earlier, plans change. And I’ve always been the type of person who rolls with the punches.

I thought about all the highs and lows of that trip to Thailand. From the rigid fear that stunned me at the trip’s beginning to the first day exploring Bangkok and eating Mango Sticky Rice, the trip was full of beauty.

I remember walking around, taking “tuk tuk” rides, getting lost and finding myself over and over again, I stumbled upon a wet market. I took a chance and ordered the sticky rice dessert with mango.

It was so delicious that I ordered Mango Sticky Rice at every Thai restaurant (and I would probably buy it if I find it on a menu locally too).

So as these thoughts flooded my mind, I knew that I had to make this sweet treat, if for nothing else than to quench my own craving.

I wasn’t able to make the dish right away. It takes special equipment to do it properly. I needed to purchase a Bamboo Steamer.

I found one for sale locally at an Asian Market, but you can easily purchase one online for less than $10.

So try this recipe and fall in love with Thailand as I did. This one has a higher difficulty level than most other recipes I post. But push through … it’s worth it.


 

MANGO STICKY RICE

(feeds 3 people)

[Sweet coconut sticky rice:]

1 cup glutinous sweet rice

2/3 cup coconut milk

1/4 tsp Salt

1/2 cup sugar

[Salted coconut sauce:]

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/4 tsp Salt

1 tsp rice flour / corn starch

1Tbsp water

2 Tbsp roasted split Mung beans / Sesame seeds

2 Fresh mango peeled and carefully cut in thick slices.

[Sweet sticky rice]

Rinse rice in a bowl and dispel water until water is no longer foggy.

Allow to soak in water over night (or for a few hours before cooking).

Drain the water very well and put rice in the bamboo steamer.  Put a lid on top of the rice. (Note: I had a piece of cheesecloth, and put it on top of the rice before putting the lid, just to make sure it kept the vapor.)

Steam over boiling water for about 30 minutes.

In a separate small pot, on medium heat, mix the coconut milk, sugar and salt. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and turn off heat. (You don’t want to cook it for a long time. Use the heat only to mix the ingredients and set a side and keep it warm.)

Once the rice is done cooking, put it in a container and immediately pour the sweet milky mix.

Stir and cover very well.

It is important to work as fast as possible in order to keep the rice warm. This way, while it rests, the rice will absorb all the liquid.

Let sit for about 20 minutes.

After that time has passed, open and carefully stir again and let it sit for at least another 20 minutes.

If you don’t have a bamboo steamer, use a steamer with a cheese cloth to prevent the rice from falling to the bottom of the pot into the water.

Or you can try on the stove. I have never tried to make it this way, but here it is a suggestion:

1 Cup of rice: 1 1/4 Cup of water. Letting it boil with the lid on until it has absorbs all the water (Do not stir). Once it has absorbed all the water, take it out of the heat with the lid on and let it rest for more 10 minutes.

[Salted coconut sauce:]

Mix the rice flour/corn starch in water until it is smooth.

In a small pot, add the coconut milk, salt and flour mix and cook over medium-low heat

Stir until it starts boiling and thickening.

Turn off heat and let it cool.

(You don’t want to cook it too long, only until it boils the first time and starts thickening, otherwise the coconut milk will break down and you will have to start all over again!)

If your Mung beans or Sesame seeds are not roasted you can roast them!

To roast split Mung beans:

In a small pot, boil the split Mung beans until soft.

Once soft. Strain the water and place them on paper towels, the excess water can be absorbed. Roast beans in a dry skillet over medium heat for 3-5 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.

Plate a portion of sweet sticky rice next to slices of mango and add some of the salted coconut sauce on top of the rice.

Sprinkle some of the roasted Split Mung beans/Sesame seeds.

 

Enjoy!