Boiled Osmanthus With Gingko Nuts, Lotus Seeds & Foo Chuk In Milk

 

Boiled Osmanthus With Gingko Nuts, Lotus Seeds & Foo Chuk In Milk
1 pkt Fresh Gingko Nuts (100 g @)
1 pk Fresh Lotus Seeds (100 g @)
300 ml  Fresh Milk
1-2 tsps Preserved Osmanthus Paste
2 pcs Fresh Foo Chuk (Fresh Soya Milk Skins)
1-2 tsps Dried Osmanthus Flowers
Some Sugar (to boil Gingko Nuts)
1. In a small pot, put in the Gingko nuts and cover with some water (just enough to cook the nuts) When nuts cooked enough to your liking, add in some sugar to taste. Remove the nuts from the pot and set aside.
2. In a clean pot, pour in the fresh milk. Add in the fresh Lotus Seeds. Let the milk boils and add in the sweetened Gingko Nuts. 
3. Let the milk boils again for 1-2 minutes. Add in the preserved Osmanthus paste. Stir until the paste dissolves. If using the preserved Osmanthus paste, you don’t need to add in any sugar. The paste is sweet enough to sweetened this dessert. 
4. Add in the fresh foo chuk. Reduce the heat and simmered until mixture reduced slightly.
5. When the Lotus Seeds are cooked, add in 1 tsp of Dried Osmanthus. Stir the mixture. 
6. Turn off the heat and let it steep for awhile wild the dried Osmanthus infused with the milk.
7. Serve in individual bowls either hot or cold and sprinkle with some Osmanthus on top.
Reasons why I used 2 types of Osmanthus because the Osmanthus Fragrans in the preserved paste was actually a white variety and larger petals. Due to the preservation state with sugar, the paste looked dull but still with Osmanthus scent. So, for the color contrast to this dessert I also used the orange-flower variety; Osmanthus Fragrans Aurantiacus which can be use as well if you can’t find the preserved Osmanthus paste.
Note: If you feel that the lotus seeds is too bland you may pre-cook it with some sugar earlier. Beware that fresh Lotus Seeds cook faster than dried seeds. If you’re using Dried Lotus Seeds, please pre-soak the seeds with warm water until soften ( I leave it to soak for 24 hours) and then boil it until tender. You can decide later if you want to add sugar for sweetness if using in desserts. If you’re using it for savoury dishes, you don’t need to add anything prior to cooking because the Lotus Seeds will absorb the sauce/gravy after the dish cooked.

If you can’t find fresh foo chuk which is made from soya bean milk skins rolled up in small bundles you can use the dried version which you have to soak until soften and cut to smaller bite sizes pieces before cooking.

Nowadays, you can find ready cleaned & skinned Gingko nuts & Lotus seeds in small packets of 100 g. If you can only find Gingko nuts still in their shells, you have to crack the shells open and check for any spoilt nuts. Pour some hot boiling water over them and let it soak for few minutes or until the brown skins are loose. Drain, rinse under cold water and rub between kitchen towels to remove the skins off.

Variations: You can also add in some Lily Bulb petals, yam, sweet potatoes or chopped Waterchestnuts to have a crunchy dessert. 
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Banana-A Multi-Purpose Plant

What is abundant, biodegradable, versatile, economical, cheap (if you’re in living in the producing region), multi-purpose usage, important in cultures and beliefs, etc, etc ,etc???

It’s Banana – just saying its’ name conjures up many finger licking thoughts… Fried, grill, raw, steam, flambé, bake, sauce, chips, curry, salads, you name it… it’s possible with this multi-purpose plant, we all love since our childhood years! Banana has fancy names too; Manzano, Baby/Nino Banana, Burro, Plantain, Cavendish (well known in US and as Chiquita in EU countries.) This fruit is so famous that even we, humans are named after it as well. Example:Banana Joe and movies or shows were made about it like Banana in Pyjamas that has kids all over the world going bananas!
I’m going bananas as well with so many species and hybrids of bananas available today… 😀 If you’re interested to know more infos go to Bananas.org. Believe me, you will go crazy as well! I guessed I just stick to those I knew locally in Malay archipelago (depends on which is the country) like Rastali, Emas, Embun, Lidah Buaya, Raja, Nangka, Tanduk, Berangan, Awak, Nipah, etc,etc etc. 😉
Besides all that, banana plant has many usage as well… Do you know that Banana plant is NOT a tree but a giant herb in the genus Musa? Due to its tall size and structure, a Banana plant is commonly referred to as Banana tree. Sometimes, a Banana plant bears 2 times the fruit instead of only once. To some cultures this is considered as unique and lucky for the owner of the plant. I guessed it’s due to commercial bred bananas that caused such mutation? Most species of bananas we ate today are seedless or have only the vestige of seeds for easy consumption… I ate ‘wild’ bananas before and the seeds are about 0.50 cm in dark brown/black colour! It’s difficult to find such wild fruits now due to heavy development of concrete jungle 😦
 
Banana Leaves are so famous as food wrapper and as ‘plate’ in Indian cuisine of Banana Leaf Rice… I’m a huge fan of Banana Leaf Rice! The strong, flexible and waterproof leaves are used in many different ways in regions where the tree is common. Another good example is Central American tamales are often steamed in banana leaves and Hawaiian Kalua cooking has the ‘imu’ (undrground oven) lined with banana leaves. The leaves imparts a wonderful fragrance in the cooked dishes.
My mom used it to ease the movement of her old charcoal iron on our family clothes (our clothes smell sooooooo good, crispy and fresh!) without using any easy-iron on spray 😀 You can do it with our modern day iron too. If you’re using a steam iron, turn off the steam; glide your hot iron across the banana leaves (it will sizzles) and strike across your clothes. 
Here are some pictures of the Banana Blossom/Banana Heart. I peeled off some petals apart to show the little florets…
Heart Of Banana Plant

Heart Of Banana Plant

Close up of Banana flowers

Close up of Banana flowers

Anyway, that aside… in this entry I want to share a recipe using the Banana blossom/Banana Heart as salad for side dish. It’s simple but what’s taking the time is the peeling of each of the florets, remove the hard stamens and boiling/steaming part… But the end results, definitely worth it!
Banana Salad

Banana Blossom Salad Served on Banana Flower Petals

Banana Blossom Salad
1 Whole Banana Blossom
To be chopped finely:
1 cup Fully packed Thai Basil
1 cup Fully packed Mint
1 cup Fully packed Coriander leaves
2-3 nos Limes – for juice only (or more if you like sourness)
4 nos Fresh Red Chillies (or 1-2 Tablespoons of Sambal/Chilli paste)
15 nos Shallots or Small Red Onions-slice thinly
50 g Bean Sprouts – blanched
50 g Roasted Pine Nuts/ Peanuts – roughly crushed (I prefer to use Pine Nuts)
Fish Sauce to taste
Sugar to taste
Method:
1. Prepare a deep bowl of water; you may add some lemon/lime juice or salt for soaking the banana blossom to avoid discolouration. Meanwhile, boil some water in a deep pot just enough to cover the banana florets and the ‘heart’.
2. Peel off the hard outer layers of the banana blossom but reserve the florets until you reach the ‘white’ part of the blossom. You can keep the petals as serving bowls or ‘boats’. For the florets, remove any hard stamens from inside the centre of each florets. Towards the end of that task, I normally didn’t remove the softer stamens; it’s soft enough to chew… 😛 
Soak all the florets and ‘white’ part of blossoms in the water.
Note: Some people would throw away the florets. I don’t know why but I used them (not wanting to waste the precious plant.) It’s edible as well.
3. In the boiled hot water, put in the ‘heart’ and florets. Boil them until just soft but still maintain the crunchy texture (that’s my preference but you can cook them until fully soft.) That would take 20 – 30 minutes or more depends the size of the ‘heart’ of banana. The little florets are faster to soften. Normally, I would remove the florets first, soak them in cold tap water to stop the cooking process then continue cooking the ‘heart’.
You can use pressure cooker to cook them. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and cook them for 15-20 minutes depends on the quantity and hardness of the banana ‘heart’.
4. In another small pot; blanch the beansprouts quickly in hot boiling water for few seconds; Remove and cool it in cold water to stop further the cooking process. Set aside.
5. When the florets and ‘heart’ are cooked, slice them thinly or roughly chop to bite-size if you like. 
6. Now, comes the easy part; In a separate/mixing bowl, mix nicely all the herbs, blanched beansprouts, chopped nuts, sliced chillies or paste, lime juice, sugar and fish sauce to taste. If you are using the reserved larger petals of the banana blossom for serving; spoon the salad mixture into individual petals, decorate and serve in plate or on a large banana leaf (you can cut into shapes you like or cut into several rectangle pieces according to how many guests you’re serving.) You can serve in a bowl (like in the picture below) to accompany your other main dishes… 
Banana Blossom Salad

Banana Blossom Salad

Enjoy!

Delicious Mango Salad… My Way

 

Once my class was given a question by our English teacher. In the midst of her teachings she asked us, to correct this – ” There are man goes (man-goes) on the tree”. It’s her way to jolt us from our ‘dreamland’ or she must had noticed someone or some of us nearly dozed off…:-D Her class is not boring at all, really… but after good lunch and windy fan spinning above our heads, the time for siesta in us sets in… 😀 

Mentioned the word m-a-n-g-o would make anyone swooned and salivating! Everyone will have their favourites… I love Black Gold, Chukanan, Waterlily to name a few. The mango fruit can be use in several ways; as desserts like well known Thailand’s  Khao Neow Mamuang (Sticky Rice with Mango), use unripe in savoury salad or as pickle sold by road side vendors, dipped in sour plum powder in Southeast Asian countries. Trust me, it’s so…soooo (drooling) deliciously fresh and when you dip the crunchy slices into the sour plum powder… mmmm…. then put into mouth … crunch… mmm….mmm… IT’s better than chomping chips & crackers minus the calorie!
Mango Salad

Mango Salad

My Way Mango Salad
Serves 2-4
2 nos Half Ripe Mangoes 
1 cup Basil Leaves- firmly packed and roughly chopped (Any basil will do. In this recipe I used Thai Sweet basil from my pot.)
2-3 Fresh Red Chillies
4-8 Small Red Shallots-remove skin and slice thinly
1/4 cup of Thai Fish Sauce (Nam Pla) or more to your taste
2 nos Limes- juice only
Lime zests (optional)
Raw Cane Sugar to taste (you can use white sugar too)
Method:
1. Remove the skin of mangoes. Slice the mangoes about 0.50 cm thin slices along the fruit until your knife touches the seed. Do the same for the other side of the mango. (Reserve the seed to eat what’s left later :-D). Roughly cut the mangoes into matchstick sizes. 
Note: Any type of half ripe mangoes can be use. Just beware that although Black Gold mangoes (Tong Dum in Thai) has dark green outer skin but inside is actually ripe with sweet orangy succulent flesh. Only way to tell if it’s ripe is the yellow tinge at the stem part and to lightly touch/press the fruit to feel if is soft for ripeness.
2. In a bowl: Slice chillies in halves and remove the seeds from chillies if you don’t want that hot. Thinly sliced the chillies. You can also roughly chop the chillies without removing the seeds but then you will end up eating seeds as well.
3. Add in the fish sauce, basil leaves, chilli and some sugar. Mix well and taste if you need to add in more sugar or fish sauce…
4. Pour in Lime juice little bit at first. Taste accordingly to your preference ( I used all 2 Limes plus the zest as well.) Add in more if you like more sourness. Add in the cut mangoes and stir well until well coated with the sauce.
Serve as side dish to rice, grill meat, seafood… even as toppings for steam fish to give it extra zing!
Note: You can prepare the sauce and the fruits in advance but don’t mix them too early because mangoes will wilt and losing it’s crunchiness. You will end up with soggy salad instead. 

You can also add in fried dried shrimp into this salad but I didn’t use it because some people dislike dried shrimps and said it made the salad kinda oily & cloudy