Vacaciones Espontáneas / Arroz con piña

File Jun 14, 12 15 10 AMEstábamos en el mercado el otro día y mientras buscaba entre las frutas y verduras frescas, noté un lote de piñas en uno de los estantes que lucían deliciosas.

 

He escogido piña fresca en el pasado, pero la verdad siempre me ha costado elegir una buena.

 

Mientras estaba allí tocando una de las espinosas frutas, mi esposo regresó del otro lado de la tienda con un galón de leche en la mano. Colocó la leche en nuestro carro y se dio cuenta de que yo estaba viendo fijamente las piñas.

 

“¡Me encanta la piña!” Dijo, como si estuviera leyendo mi mente. “Deberíamos comprar una.”

 

Se acercó al estante en donde estaban las piñas, y tomó una que se veía más amarilla, que verde o marrón, la acercó a su rostro y la olió, y luego jaló suavemente la hoja del centro de la cabeza de la fruta.

 

Explicó – y busqué más tarde en Google para verificar: Cómo elegir una piña madura.

 

Se puede determinar la madurez de una piña por su color, olor y, suavemente jalando una hoja.

 

Cuanto más madura este la piña, más fuerte es el olor. El olor de una piña inmadura es débil.

 

Además, la hoja central superior se extrae fácilmente cuando la fruta esta totalmente madura.

 

Así que trajimos a casa una buena piña madura, mi esposo emocionado la cortó tan pronto como llegamos y comenzó a comer la dulce delicia tropical.

 

Pero yo tenía más en mente que simplemente comer la piña sola. Yo estaba pensando en mi tiempo en el sudeste asiático, y en un plato que rápidamente se convirtió en un favorito – Arroz con piña.

 

El arroz con piña es básicamente arroz frito con piña y camarones.

 

Es conocido popularmente como un platillo tailandés. No obstante, algo que supe de primera mano, fue que aunque su popularidad no está en cuestión, no es realmente un platillo de Tailandia. Hecho que en su momento me confundió, porque casi cada restaurante tailandés en el que he estado sirven el platillo.

 

Durante mis viajes, pasé un tiempo en Tailandia, en donde mis amigos locales me dijeron que el famoso arroz con piña no es parte de su dieta, ni lo consideran un platillo tailandés real. De hecho, una vez teniendo esa información, observe con detenimiento y me di cuenta que sólo vi el plato en restaurantes de zonas turísticas.

 

La primera vez que probé el arroz con piña fue en Singapur, en “Golden Mile Complex” – el mercado tailandés en la ciudad. Y lo comí frecuentemente durante mi tiempo en Asia.

 

Cuando pienso en el platillo, pienso en mi querida amiga Bere.

 

Hace varios años, Bere y yo viajamos juntas a Indonesia, en unas espontaneas mini vacaciones/celebración de cumpleaños.

 

Yo acababa de volver a Singapur de un largo viaje de trabajo, y estaba en casa cuando mi amiga, Bere, me envió un mensaje de texto. Después de saludarnos, le dije que estaba en casa, y le pregunté qué estaba haciendo.

Era un lunes como cualquier otro, y me extraño que se comunicara conmigo en horas de trabajo.

 

“Me tomé esta semana de vacaciones”, me dijo. A lo que respondí:

 

“¡Deberíamos ir a algún lugar!”

 

Ella sugirió: “¡Vamos a la playa!”

 

Era mediados de diciembre, y mi cumpleaños seria sólo en un par de días, yo había trabajado exhaustivamente las semanas previas, y estaba planeando tomar el resto de la semana libre, por lo que su idea me cayo como anillo al dedo.

 

Y así, decidimos irnos a la playa; Bere sugirió la isla Bintan en Indonesia, que esta a dos horas en ferri de Singapur.

 

Una hora después de nuestra conversación nos encontramos en la terminal de ferri, compramos boletos, y nos dirigimos a Indonesia. En el camino, Bere hizo reservas de hotel, y estábamos listas.

 

En el lugar en donde nos alojamos, no había mucho alrededor, así que la mayor parte de nuestros días, la pasamos durmiendo en la habitación, leyendo, o a la orilla de la playa.

 

La playa era preciosa, con aguas cristalinas y arenas doradas.

 

Al día de hoy, ese viaje sigue siendo uno de los momentos más relajantes de mi vida adulta.

 

Pasamos un par de días descansando y relajándonos en una de las playas más hermosas en esa área. Recuerdo haber comido mucho arroz con piña.

 

Bere es vegetariana, así que ella comió este platillo – solo quitando el camarón. Recuerdo que probamos otros platillos durante ese viaje, y no fueron nada impresionantes; Pero el arroz frito con piña fue una delicia continua.

 

Así que ahora, cuando pienso en Arroz con piña (y arroz frito), pienso en Bere, la diversión de nuestro viaje espontáneo a Indonesia, y cómo ella sigue siendo una de mis mejores amigas y compañeras de viaje favoritas.


 

ARROZ FRITO CON PIÑA

2 -3 Personas

(Todos los ingredientes son aproximaciones, añade o cambia los ingredientes a tu gusto)

 

1 Taza de arroz blanco cocido (frío de preferencia y es perfecto si es un par de días viejo)   (Checa cómo hacer un mejor arroz)

10 Camarones

1 Huevo

1/2 Cebolla amarilla finamente cortada en trozos pequeños

2 Cebollas verdes picadas (Cebollines)

1-2 Tomates medianos, sin semilla y picados en trozos de aprox. 2 centímetros.

2/3 Taza de piña fresca, cortada en trozos de 2 centímetros

(* Si no puede encontrar la piña fresca, usa piña al almíbar asegurándote de secar el almíbar lo mejor que puedas)

1/2 Taza de nueces de la india tostadas sin sal

1 Cucharada de salsa de soya

1 Cucharada de salsa de pescado

1 Cucharadita de curry en polvo

1 Cucharadita de azúcar

1 Pepino en rodajas para adornar

1 Pizca de pimienta blanca

1 Pizca de sal

2 Cucharaditas de aceite de cocina (vegetal, de oliva o lo que sea que usas regularmente en tu cocina)

 

PREPARACIÓN

 

Antes de comenzar, mezcla todos los ingredientes secos (curry, azúcar, pimienta blanca, sal) en una taza pequeña. Mezcla los ingredientes húmedos (salsa de soya y salsa de pescado) en una taza pequeña separada. Déjalos a un lado.

(Con libertad puedes saltar este paso y servir directamente mientras cocinas.)

En un sartén grande, calienta a fuego medio-alto y saltea los camarones hasta que estén rosados ​por todos lados.

Una vez que están listos, sácalos del sartén, y escurre el exceso de aceite, ponlos a un lado.

Usando el aceite restante (y agregando un poco más si es necesario), agrega el huevo y bátelo ligeramente. Cuando el huevo empiece a cambiar de color y este medio cocido, agrega el arroz y revuelve con la cuchara hasta que este bien mezclado (alrededor de 2 minutos).

Agrega los trozos de cebollas y mezcla durante aproximadamente 2 minutos. Agregue los ingredientes secos (curry, azúcar, pimienta blanca, sal) y la mitad de la mezcla de ingredientes húmedos (salsa de soya y salsa de pescado), continua removiendo hasta que los granos de arroz se separen y los condimentos cubran todo el plato (unos 3 minutos) .

Agrega la piña, camarones, las nueces de la india y la otra mitad de la mezcla de ingredientes húmedos. Revuelve aproximadamente por 3 minutos.

Una vez que la piña se oscurezca y el arroz este seco, apaga el fuego. Añade los trozos de tomates y cebollín.

Sirve el arroz en un plato colocando con los camarones completos sobre el arroz, y las rebanadas de pepino a un lado como decoración.

 

Versión vegetariana:

Omite el camarón

(y el huevo en el caso de los veganos)

Usa aceite de coco y agrega un poco de ajo y jengibre fresco para acentuar los sabores!

 

Prueba esta receta y comparte con nosotros tu experiencia a través de #johastable

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

Asia-inspired Chicken Soup

Sometimes you know exactly what you want to cook and you get the right ingredients for that meal. Other times, the contents of your refrigerator dictate what your next meal will be.

That’s been happening to me quite a bit lately.

Today, I opened up my refrigerator door and browsed up and down the shelves wondering what would be our next dinner, and I took notice of something on the bottom shelf that I had nearly forgotten I had purchased a week earlier – a head of Bok Choy.

Immediately, my thoughts were transported to Asia, where I first tasted Bok Choy; and Malaysia in particular, where I would often eat the leafy-green in soups.

About seven years ago, I was living in Singapore and was out late one night at a Hawker Centre – or food court. I was hungry and, because it was late, there was only one restaurant opened at the food court. And they served only soup.

At this particular facility, patrons would choose their vegetables and meat, and a soup would be created to their taste (for those in the West, this premise is much like a sandwich shop, but with soup).

I looked down at the array of vegetables on display – the beautiful bright colors and fragrances – and saw a lot of items with which I was very unfamiliar. Uncomfortably unfamiliar.

So I did what I had learned to do in my few years as a world traveler – It’s a little trick I will still do from time-to-time, when I find myself in unfamiliar surroundings – I simply ordered the same thing as the person ahead of me. J

I wasn’t sure at the time, and I’m still unsure, of the names of each of the ingredients, but I can remember the soup I ordered was brightly colored with green, white, pink, yellow, purple and red contents.

And though I cannot recall everything my first soup had in it, I do remember that it was about 90 percent delicious.

It was months later that one of my dearest friends in Singapore, Anne, taught me what each of the vegetables and others items on display were. She showed me how to successfully order a great soup. And my soup orders grew tastier.

For several years I traveled throughout Southeast Asia. During a visit to Malaysia, I was visiting a friend who decided to cook a meal for me.

I was slightly dumbfounded to discover that the soup she made was extremely similar in flavors I remembered from my first soup experience in Singapore. It had Bean Sprouts, Spinach, Bok Choy, boiled eggs, sausage, noodles, fish balls, tofu, and a lot of other items that escape my memory at the moment.

And for some reason, in my friend’s soup, the flavor that stood out to me the most was the Bok Choy.

Even though I first tried it in Singapore, Bok Choy is a flavor I relate to Malaysia.

So when I opened my refrigerator today and found the Bok Choy, I got an overwhelming feeling of love and goodness that reminded me of the Malaysian people that I so often encountered during my time there.

Malaysia is an extremely welcoming country that I fell in love with almost right away. The people are friendly, the food is delightful, and the Malay language has pronunciations that are very similar to Spanish, my native tongue.

Albeit to say, I ended up spending lots of time, gaining lots of friends, and eating lots of food, in Malaysia. Actually, the friends I have there have become like family to me over the years.

As my eyes shifted from the Bok Choy, I spotted carrots, ginger root, shredded chicken – and I knew that the fridge’s ingredients and my flashing memories had just decided for me what was for dinner.


 

Asia-inspired chicken noodle soup

(2 People)

3 cups water

2 Tbsp finely chopped Fresh Ginger Root

2 Stalks chopped Green Onion

4 Leaves chopped (about ½ inch) Bok Choy

2 Cloves Garlic (whole)

1 tsp Tahini (optional)

½ chicken breast

1 Carrot, peeled and cut into fine strips

Egg Noodles

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

Optional: Soy sauce and/or Sriracha (add in individual bowl). I personally like Sriracha, but not soy sauce. I thought soy sauce was overpowering to the dish.

 

  • Boil chicken in 3 cups of water (or until chicken is covered)
  • Remove chicken to cool after it is cooked through, and then shred chicken.
  • In remaining water (which is now chicken stock), add garlic, green onion, ginger and tahini and bring to boil.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot, and allow to cook for 10 minutes.
  • In separate pot, boil egg noodles in water
  • Uncover soup after 10 minutes has passed and add salt and pepper.
  • Taste. (Add more salt and pepper if needed)
  • Remove soup from heat and carefully strain to remove ginger, garlic and onion. This step will reduce your soup to a stock. If you like chunks of ginger, garlic and green onion, feel free to skip the straining step.
  • After straining, add carrots and Bok Choy.
  • Transfer cooked egg noodles from its pot to the pot of soup and allow to simmer 5 minutes.

You want to cook it, but not too long. If it’s cooked too long, the Bok Choy will lose its vibrant green color, flavor and crisp.

  • Taste. If salt and pepper is needed, add.
  • Ladle soup into bowl and add shredded chicken.

Add Sriracha to bowl of soup for added deliciousness.

Note: if you desire to use tofu, sauté the tofu until golden brown and add to broth after straining and cook 5 minutes, before adding Bok Choy and simmer 5 more minutes.