Do you remember my King?

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Sorry, I’m not posting about the next king of England. Or even MJ the king of pop.

Nope, not about them.

I’m talking about Durian (again). During my fasting hours, when I supposed to boost my pray activities, somehow it took my mind back to the time when I was at Medan.

Durian Medan, is one of Indonesia’s premium quality of Durian. It has deep and sharp sweetness, without over powering acidity. It has slightly thinner flesh than Monthong from Thailand or Malaysians, but the flavor conquer them all.

Especially the original and organic Durian, fresh from the forest. Nothing, I repeat, nothing will ever taste better than wild Durian straight from the tree.

If you ever get a chance to go North Sumatera, please ask for wild Durian from the forest. You won’t regret it.

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Me and the King, happy moments. (featuring my mother in law picking more Durian for me)

Two different type of wild Durian we tasted, both of them spectacularly delicious.

My left overs after eating five heads of Durian by my self, I can’t finish the rest. We took them home and ate it after refrigerated.

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Less successful attempt, remaking old school beverages: Kolak Pisang

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Does your family has an old school beverages? One dish that we would make it exactly in the same way every time?

Well during Ramadhan, one typical beverages that every house hold will make at least ones on this month is Kolak.

Kolak is a coconut milk based beverages, sweetened with palm sugar as the “broth”. You can add steamed banana, boiled sweet potatoes, boiled cassavas even steamed corn.

I prefer eat it as a cold beverages, but it taste addictive served warm. The sweet and deep taste from palm sugar, married with creamy coconut milk will blow your taste buds away.

Well, I don’t quite like it. I mean, one cup is enough for a month.

Since I stumble into funny taste of ice cream, I’m thinking about making a deconstructed Kolak Pisang. My take on it was, turning the coconut milk into jelly, then caramelized the banana with palm sugar and add Coconut (or purple sticky rice) flavored ice cream.

It didn’t look too bad, isn’t it? But I miss the luscious and deep flavor from the regular Kolak. The banana became too dry after a while. Well, at least it still eatable.

Another day in cooking with no recipes, sometimes wing it takes a toll.

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a deconstructed Kolak Pisang (jelly coconut milk, caramelized banana and purple sticky rice ice cream)

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the ice cream saves the day. its creaminess, sourness cuts the flat flavor of the rest.

Es Tape Ketan dan Kelapa Muda

the heroes, a purple sticky rice flavored ice cream and young coconut ice cream.

Look what I found! Japanese summer snacks (2)

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I found the sweet ones on the same shops. A rather large shops (compare to the others) at Ameyoko market. One thing I could say about this shop, it’s adorable but quite busy. I don’t catch the name, but it near the cherry vendors. The front part of the store are piles of crunchy snacks, followed with spreads of sweet treats. All kind of mochi cakes; in square, round, rectangle, character shaped; translucent or colorful type; regular red bean paste filling or chocolate, almond, strawberry, pineapple and a whole lot more. The spongy cakey snack like Kastella, Dorayaki and others with red bean paste fillings. The assorted packed, contain the salty crackers and sweet treats. The next shelf is my target, all things chocolate.

They have so many varieties of chocolates truffles with different fillings in different brands. I’ve tried some of them at my previous visit, quite soapy and not very good. I’m sticking to my plan, buying as much as Kit Kat in different flavor I could find. Unfortunately, there were only two flavors available: Green tea and Dark Chocolate. I grab a bunch of those  and put it to my cart. Since then, every time I can find snack shops or Konbini, I always look for different Kit Kat flavor. Unfortunately, can’t find the summer special flavor or package yet.

Ooops, I forgot. I found a few of funky flavor at one of the corner of the Tokyo central stations. It’s a Cantaloupe,  chocolate orange dan strawberry. But the price they tagged on it, Oh my God! unreasonable. The smaller package size with the one I bought from Ameyoko for 215 Yen, they charged 800 – 1200 Yen. I think, for a tiny chocolate wafer with uncommon flavor, It’s not worth the money.

Moons stone on ceramic jewel box

Moons stone on ceramic jewel box

I’ve seen this at Singapore before. Looked a colorful tiny bevel for aquarium, they called it Moon stones. It really is a milk chocolate in candied colorful shell, carved like stones. It quite tasty and cheap too, I bought it in a huge plastic package to share with my niece and nephew back home. By the way, the ceramic case is actually a jewel box given by  a friend of a friend as memento from Japan.

There are a whole lot more snacks, food and spices at stores and stall in Ameyoko market. If I could, I want to bring a sample of every one of them, but that will cross my budget limit. At least I have my personal mementos from Japan, salty and sweet eatable nick nacks.

What’s your most interesting food/beverages mementos from traveling?

Pretty little liars ….

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Frozen juice drops; gives new attitude in (synthetic) juice drinking

Frozen juice drops; gives new attitude in (synthetic) juice drinking

You could never found food  with sloppy presentation in Japan. Most of them are very neatly shaped, packed and arranged so beautifully that burning the flame of desire to buy and tried it. But, here’s the fact:

The more beautiful and complicated wrapping the food has, it most likely have the most unpleasant flavor. Either too sweet, too salty or too fragrantly and too ‘chemically’-taste.

Let me show you some of them.

The frozen juice drops are hitting Konbini hard during the summer. It was one of the few purchases at Kobini that ends well. Although the juice alone has that artificial taste, but if you enjoying it cold  and frozen, it almost unpalatable. The genius concept of this product is, the capability to provide multi flavor fruits in small amount. It has the right element of surprise. When my teeth biting the frozen ball, inside the hard shell- the granita juice are oozing out. Literally burst of flavor.

The snacks also infiltrate formal seminar, one of my colleague attend. To company their coffee (or tea) break, sweet treats are provided. They all are looking gorgeously colorful, even humorously cute. Unfortunately it didn’t taste great. At least not to our palate. The rainbow squares are Konyaku. It has firm jelly consistency with sweet flavor. The problem is not about the consistency. I like gelatinous food like tendons, cartilage, agar and jelly. It’s the bland sweet that bugs me the most. It felt cheap, synthetic (again) and annoying. No matter what color you have, its all taste the same. Cold flat bland chemically taste -squishy sweetened food.

Konyaku flare

Konyaku flare

The other cakes, although have different textures and shape, have similar flavor. Its the red been paste. The thin and round one has crunchy crepes sandwich with the paste in the middle. The puffy and square one is like dry sponge cake filled with the red bean paste. Usually, I like red beans. I’m addicted to red bean and shaved ice desserts from Palembang, Indonesia. But God, there are just too many sweet snacks with different names, shape, color and textures using same red bean paste.

Enough is enough. I feel violated, betrayed and cheated on. We do have certain expectation when we saw cute packaging, beautiful colors and creative arrangements. When the taste not meet the expectation, we are dealing with liars. Those cute snacks are just Pretty little liars.

sweet and tea

sweet and tea

Steamed Cupcake, the step cousin from villages

steamed cupcake
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Yesterday, my mother feel restless due to her recent retirement. She was the busy mom type of woman. So she can’t feel happier when she’s not working or doing something.

Currently in her late 50s she still cooking for all of her children, her mother also her domestic helper. She is and always be the cooking goddess in our family. I, whom not too keen on cooking complex dishes, more than ecstatic to oblige.

One of her outlet when she’s restless of course through cooking. And she can cook just about anything.
Steamed cupcake is just one of her modification recipe from the generic ones. It’s just like snapping fingers for her to make it.

These babies were made yesterday after noon. I post the yesterday pictures at Foodography segment. Since we have so many leftovers of the cupcakes, we ate it as breakfast too with hot coffee or tea. My Opung (Bataknese way to call Grandma) liked it very much. She dipped it to her coffee milk.

steamed cupcake for Opung's breakfast

steamed cupcake for Opung's breakfast

If I compare the steamed cupcakes and the american version one, I feel a bit sad. I don’t know why. The steamed cupcakes that we, Indonesian, familiar with from ages are a twisted version from chinese influence. They make these rice flour based steamed deserts that can rise, have fluffy texture but still slightly sticky that makes them yummy.
If I eat the basic original recipe from Oma (Indo-Chinese way to call your Nana), It taste like a very very moist velvety cupcake but without grease taste left behind your tongue.

Steamed cupcake plays important role during my childhood. Growing as a daughter of a very popular midwives, my mom always busy with her patients and delivering babies. So she will adjust everything due to her endless activities. Including my lunch boxes.

Me and my brother very seldom brought rice and side dish to school. Usually my mom bought cakes, breads or other type of heavy and filling traditional snacks.
Steamed cupcakes was one of them. The original rice flour based ones though.

Like I said before, there was this one Oma near my house that sell traditional Indo-Chinese cakes. Most of them were made from rice flour, some of them sweet and some of them savory.
My mom always said, I can’t pick the savory ones. She was afraid that we will accidentally eat pork substance, that weren’t allowed for us.
My mom also forbid us picking the cupcakes in different color than green or chocolate. Why?
Because she didn’t want us to digest too much food color additives.

The green cupcakes were used pandanus leave juice, so it’s organic and fragrant too. While the chocolate ones didn’t use any chocolate, it’s too expensive back than. Oma use palm sugar or Javanese brown sugar that gives the cupcakes light chocolate color and amazing sweet-coconutty aroma, also a hint of savory behind the sweetness.

Oh by the way, we didn’t call them “Kue Mangkok” (a Bahasa translation for cupcake-with chinese slang). When we want the green cupcake we ask Oma “May we have the Apem Pandan?”and for the chocolate one, “Öma, we want Apem Gula Merah please!”

Yes, back than it was called APEM. But Apem cake have so many variety through out Indonesia’s traditional heritage. Javanese style apem, didn’t had the cleft peak and made without cup mold.

Nowadays the term of Kue Mangkok or Kue Mangkuk much more popular than Apem. When regular flour become more accessible, our Kue Mangkok begins to evolve like the one my mom’s made.
A bitter-sweet memories for me from fluffy sweet breakfast.

steamed cupcake

steamed cupcake

When I compare these steamed cupcakes with the American ones, it almost make me feel guilty. The steamed cupcake I’m sure much healthier since didn’t use any butter at all and the amount of sugar are less because there weren’t any icing or chocolate chips or sprinkles, etc. But they seemed like a step cousin from village came up to the city and meet this vibrant-bold personality.

The step cousin is the steamed cupcakes, while the vibrant and bold personality is the American cupcakes. I fond those step cousin, with their honest appearance and light-sweet no fuss taste. But I can’t help to fall in love with the bold personality. Heavy fruit or chocolate or vanilla or coconut flavors, vibrant color. The bling-bling condiments on top of the icing and good smooth buttery cake.

My heart torn in two!