Tag Archives: kumara

If I only knew what that ‘something’ was

God has all the time in the world.
~ Antoni Gaudí

Medley ingredients:
Roasted kumara with cinnamon and nutmeg.
Leek rings sautéed with butter.
A handful of fresh pomegranate seeds.
Feta cubes.
Baby spinach, gently wilted.
Fresh mint, chopped.
Squeeze of lemon.
Black pepper.

Something was still missing. Or something that shouldn’t have been there was. Anyone know what? Penny for your thoughts…

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A sort of “tong sui”

It’s nice to eat a good hunk of beef but you want a light dessert, too.
~ Arthur Fiedler

Long before I fully awoke to the pleasures of raspberry brownies, crème brûlée and affogatos, I ate a variety of tong sui for dessert. Tong sui, literally translated as “sugar water”, is an inclusive term for sweet, warm soups or custards served as dessert in Cantonese cuisine. I still think Hong Kong is the best place to go for this, though I noticed many places selling this in Singapore on my last visit there too.

Supposedly, they are meant to help moderate your body temperature, cooling your body in summer and warding off chills in winter.

You can google “tong sui” for more comprehensive photos and descriptions of it, but common tong sui include a deep, rich black sesame paste, dou-hua (a satin-smooth tofu pudding), red bean soup, steamed milk custard, gui-ling-gao (I really don’t know what this is, but it’s a black jelly with a unique taste – probably not the thing to launch your tong sui experience)… all of these, I feel, are perfect when you don’t want something too sweet, heavy or rich (as decadent desserts in the Western world often are).

This morning, I awoke to the sound of heavy rain and decided to try making a simplified, impromptu version of something akin to a sweet potato and ginger variation of “tong sui” (hopefully not too far off from the real thing!)

    Ingredients:
    3 pandan leaves*
    1 small kumara/sweet potato
    Small knob of ginger
    2 tbsp light brown sugar**
    * or dried red dates, unsure of quantity
    ** or brown sugar slabs or rock sugar, unsure of quantity
    Method to my madness:
    In a small saucepan, bring water to the boil.
    Meanwhile, peel the ginger knob and kumara. Slice ginger, and chop kumara into bite-sized pieces. Wash and tie the pandan leaves into a knot.
    Add the ginger, kumara and pandan to the boiling water – leaving enough water to just cover the surface of the ingredients (approximately 1 cup?). Add in the sugar. Stir gently.
    Cook for 10-15 minutes, until kumara is soft. Discard pandan knot, and pour enough of the soup into a small bowl. This can be consumed hot or cold, I am having mine hot today as it is a cold rainy morning!
    Yields 1 serving.

Cathy came for lunch

The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I was a privileged guest at my friends’ fun wedding yesterday where we celebrated with them in speeches, feasting, dancing… and awoke this morning to a most glorious day which melted away any resulting sleepiness. Breakfasted with Ian in the Botanic Gardens in the midst of raging roses, and then it was time for a quick shop and some even quicker attempts to have lunch prepared for my guest Cathy.

Cathy is one of the sharpest, kindest, funniest people I know – and it was a real pleasure cooking for her… this time I decided to pick from “Falling Cloudberries”:

#9 Oven-Baked Fish with Tomato & Parsley – Page 105
#10 Allan’s Mum’s Sweet Potatoes with Sugar, Cinnamon & Orange Juice – Page 244

The fish took less than 2 minutes to prepare and put into the oven. Snap, done. Fresh parsley is pretty darn different to dried parsley too, so good.

The sweet potatoes took a little more effort, but the bubbly sweetness was pretty rewarding in due time… this particular recipe called for sugar, cinnamon, orange peel, orange juice – things like that. Mutually complementary sweetness.

Sweet potatoes are one of my Grandad’s favourite foods in the world – he adds them into everything, barbeques, Chinese rice porridge, dessert… anyway, today I thought about him as we ate them soft and spiced and sweet and comforting…

I’d asked the fish man at the supermarket which white fish to use for baking. I really love how his eyes lit up as he pointed to the monkfish right away, chattering about how the flesh held together perfectly for baking, etc… and I really LOVE how the fish smelled so FRESH and perfect when I came home, I nearly forgot it had to be cooked!

Much of the rest of today was spent with nature!