Tag Archives: sugar

Malaysian Style Sweet Pork Ribs

9 Aug

A few years ago I was watching a cooking show on TV when the host prepared a Malaysian style sweet pork. ribs I’m really sorry, but I just can’t remember neither the name of the show nor of the chef (all I do remember is that he was wearing a T-shirt that looked at least 2 sizes smaller). As a matter of fact, I’m not even sure if it was a Malaysian dish or from some other oriental country. Even the recipe, as I didn’t write it down, may now have somewhat evolved. I really don’t know. We at home call it “Malaysian ribs”.

A piece of advice: do it! It’s a question of “taste it and love it”. Up to now it has 100% approval among my friends (ok, give it a discount, after all friends are expected to support you).

Sauté onions, garlic, ginger, chili pepper and cinnamon sticks

Start by sautéing in a large wok, with vegetable oil, some diced onions, garlic, ginger, 1-2 sliced chili peppers and 1-2 cinnamon sticks. Add some pork ribs individually cut and seal them for a couple of minutes. After that add 1/2 cup of soy sauce and let simmer for a couple of minutes. Add around 1-1.5 cups of sugar.

Sealed pork ribs covered with 2 cups of sugar

Immediately after the sugar add 2 cups of a good quality white wine (or apple) vinegar and cover the ribs with cold water.

Pork ribs covered with cold water

Now let the low fire do its thing. Go read a book, watch TV, write a comment on my blog… Ah, the smell may be a bit awkward while the vinegar evaporates.  Don’t pay attention to that.

After around 1 hour this is how they should look like.

Pork ribs after around 1 hour

Hang on, keep leaving your comments on my blog, the ribs are not ready yet. You’ll need around another 30 min. But be careful now, you won’t want the sugar to burn and spoil the whole thing. No, not after all the prep and cooking time. So, watch out for the sauce consistency, specially around 1.5 hours.

Ok, they're ready after around 1.5 hours

If they look like the ones above, getting loose from the bone and with the sauce at the right point, prepare to lick your fingers.

Serve over white rice with some diced scallion.

Malaysian style sweet pork ribs

If you don’t fall in love with that I think you should start looking for a psychiatrist.

Pork Ribs
Malaysian Food

The Simpsons – Season 19 – Episode 5

17 Jun

Treehouse of Horror XVIII (19.5)

Marge: [holds up a large sword covered in blood] I just can’t get Russian gangster blood out! Must be something they eat.

(Marge opens oven)
Homer:
Cremebrulé, Crembrulé, or in English, burnt cream, burnt cream.

Homer is right, after all Crème Brülêe is nothing more than baked cream with burnt sugar topping.  Have you tried it?  If yes, than you know why Homer was so excited.  If not, don’t wait any further.  Just follow the recipe below.

As a matter of fact you can find literally thousands of different Crème Brülêe recipes on the Internet.  The one I use has one advantage, it never failed (100%  success from the first try).

Although the origins of Crème Brülêe are unknown, it seems to have been developed in France during the XVIIth century.  It has also been called “crème anglaise”, “trinity cream”, “cambridge cream”, “crema catalana”, all of them with small variations of the general recipe.

Enough of blah, blah, blah….Let’s cook.

Bring  to boil about 600 ml of heavy cream in a large pot to which a previously opened vanilla bean was added. Don’t forget to empty the insides of the bean with the tip of a knife and throw the removed seeds into the cream.

Removing the seeds of a vanilla bean

Removing the seeds of a vanilla bean

Vanilla, which means “little pod” is the product of an orchid of the genus Vanilla, originally found in Central America.

A Vanilla flower

A Vanilla flower

A Vanilla plant growing on a tree

A Vanilla plant growing on a tree

A Vanilla pod, still attached to the plant

A Vanilla pod, still attached to the plant

In Brazil, where cream presents large variations from one area to another, I usually employ about 500 ml of what we call “creme de leite fresco” (fresh milk cream) or “nata” mixed with 200 ml of milk.

While the cream is heating add 5 table spoons of white sugar to 10 egg yolks and whisk until pale (sometimes, if the eggs are really large ones, I employ only 08 egg yolks).

Egg yolks and sugar - whisk them while the cream is being heated

Egg yolks and sugar - whisk them while the cream is being heated

Whisked egg yolks

Whisked egg yolks - Observe the much lighter yellow color

When the cream is starting to boil remove it from the fire and slowly (very slowly, as we don’t want to end up with an omelet) add it to the egg yolks. Whisk gently and continuously. Don’t forget to remove the vanilla pod.

Adding the boiled cream to the whisked egg yolks (my wife took the picture, as I have both hands busy)

Adding the boiled cream to the whisked egg yolks (my wife took the picture, as I have both hands busy)

Preheat the oven to around 180 oC (about 350 oF). Pour the mixture into ramekins (the size is up to you) and place them in bain-marie in the oven. The water of the bain-marie should reach around halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Ready to go to the oven

Ready to go to the oven

Cook for about 40-45 min (depends on the volume of the ramekins), or until the top is firm and starting to get a little brown color (I usually like to turn the heat up a bit by the end of the cooking time).

Ready to be taken out of the oven

Ready to be taken out of the oven

Remove the ramekins and let them cool down four a few minutes and then put them in the fridge. I prefer to eat them on the next day.

Now, the final touch.  As man is usually quite impressed by the vision of live fire, probably something imprinted in our brains from the most ancient times, you can amaze your friends by doing this next step at the table, right before serving your masterpiece (don’t forget to practice a little bit before trying to show off ;-0).

Evenly sprinkle about 1 tea spoon of sugar over the surface. Make sure you’ve got an even sugar layer. Light up a propane or butane culinary torch and caramelize the sugar.

Starting to caramelize the sugar with a torch

Starting to caramelize the sugar with a torch

Try to make it dark brown, and not black. So, be careful not to burn the sugar. It helps if you keep the torch still and turn the ramekins slowly around.  It may be a bit tricky in the beginning, but I’m sure you can do it perfectly after a couple of tries. As I said, its easier if the sugar layer is even and not too thick. As it cools down it should be brittle, producing a cracking sound when broken.

Bon appetit!!!

Bon appetit!!!

Taste it and tell me, was Homer right or not?

Creme Brulee on Foodista

“Fenadoce” in Pelotas, Southern Brazil – A Sweet Adventure

15 Jun

Until next June 21, the city of Pelotas, once a leading center in the production of a salt dried meat called “charque” (I will surely write a bit about that on another occasion), is holding its annual “Feira Nacional do Doce” – FENADOCE (something like a National Fair on Sweets) based specially on traditional Portuguese recipes.  Clearly, something not to be missed, if you enjoy sugar in its several forms and presentations.  Thus, last weekend I drove about 60 km with my family to taste some of the most delicious sweets they  have available for the near 300,000 people who visit the fair annually.

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Overview

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Overview

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Some traditional Portuguese sweets

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Some traditional Portuguese sweets

Among my favorite sweets are the crystallized (or candied) fruits, specially figs.  A small factory was set up inside the fair so that you could follow their industrial preparation, which in fact is not very different from what you can do at home.  The central ideia of the process is to make the fruit absorb sugar to saturation point preventing the growth of microorganisms.  The fruits can then be kept in dried places for quite a long time.

Fenadoce in Pelotas/Brazil - A small crystallized (candied) fruit factory

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - A small crystallized (candied) fruit factory

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Industrial preparation of crystallized (candied) fruit

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Industrial preparation of crystallized (candied) fruit, peaches in this case

You will need a large pan and about 5 kg of green figs, 4 kg of sugar, some baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and water.  Wash the figs, cover them with water, add 2-3 spoons of baking soda, and bring to boil for about 30 min.  Drain the water and wash the figs.  Prepare a syrup with the sugar and water just enough to cover the fruits, and then boil them for about 2-3 hours.  I usually add one small piece of cinnamon and a couple of cloves to the syrup. Let the fruits cool down in the syrup and reserve until the next day, so that they have plenty of time to absorb the sugar.  In the next day bring to boil again for another 2-3 hours. Let them cool once again in the syrup and then remove the fruits and put them to dry on a sieve for another day. After dried pass the fruits in crystal sugar and return them back the sieve for another couple of hours.  Repeat the last step once or twice until the fruits are fully dried and covered with the crystal sugar.

Crystallized (candied) figs

Crystallized (candied) figs

You can try the same basic recipe with other fruits, like peaches, bananas, etc (if the fruit is large cut it in small pieces).  I guarantee the final result is worth the effort.

Crystallized (candied) peaches

Crystallized (candied) peaches

If you happen to be in Brazil in June don’t miss the next FENADOCE, which, as I’ve already pointed, is an annual event.

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