I suppose, since I’m traveling less at the moment, I’m cooking more – and snow days always make me want to experiment in the kitchen. Today I felt like making something different, satisfying and reminiscent of one of my favorite foodie destinations, Vietnam. The obvious choice, on a snowy afternoon, was soup.
I started out with a Tamarind Fish Stew recipe, which turned out nicely. The broth was sour and spicy and I was happy with it overall, but it was not spectacular, so I won’t be adding it to my recipe files. If you feel like experimenting with your own version, I used soy sauce, fish sauce, tamarind paste, garlic, basil, bok choy and shrimp. I also added Asian Black Tree Fungus
(auricularia, also called wood ear fungus or cloud ear), which is supposed to be really good for you. Near the end, I added some coconut butter, some quartered tomatoes and some chili paste, just to ooomph it up. My husband found it quite strong, but generally tasty. (He’s the first to tell me if a recipe works or not.) If I tried it again, I’d probably leave out the cloud ear, and I’d chop the baby bok choy, rather than serving it floating along the side of the bowl. (That looked good, but was kind of a pain to eat.)
The cloud ear comes compressed in little “bricks”, and expands into a whole bowl full of black mushroom-y petals, which is kind of fun in a science project way.
The real joy of the day came with dessert. I made Vietnamese Banana Budding using Royal Rose’s Rose syrup – and it was awesome!
Here’s the recipe (serves 2):
Vietnamese Banana Pudding or Bananas in Coconut Creme
2 ripe bananas
1/2 can of coconut milk (I used the light version just to save calories)
1/4 cup of Royal Rose syrup
pinch of salt
toasted sesame seeds or chopped peanuts
You simply heat the coconut milk, rose syrup and salt in a sauce pan, stirring as you go. Then slice in the bananas and heat for another 5 minutes, or until the bananas are as soft as you’d like. Serve warm, sprinkled with the sesame seeds (black ones look nicer) or the peanuts.
This was seriously good, and since it was warm, it seemed even more satisfying as I watched the snow falling out the kitchen window.
Finally, since I was on a Royal Rose roll, I decided to make Tamarind Soda using their syrup and the Sodastream. (Just add as much syrup as you like to your carbonated water – and a twist of lemon, if you like.)