Gyung Dan – Korean Sweet Rice Balls

Gyung Dan - Korean Sweet Rice Balls

This light Korean snack highlights the chewiness and natural sweetness of sweet rice flour. Boiled until floating, sweet rice balls are really easy to prepare and has endless variations. Dry coatings such as sesame seeds, roasted soybean powder, and cinnamon sugar cling readily to its surface. Gyung dan can also be stuffed with sweet fillings such as red bean paste, as demonstrated in this excellent video by Maangchi.

Plain uncoated rice balls are also extensively used in several sweet and savory applications from all over Asia. My preference by way of heritage is a warm bowl of Filipino ginataan, rice balls and fruits cooked in sweetened coconut milk.

View Gyung Dan Recipe - Korean Sweet Rice Balls »

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Pane Francese – Northern Italian French Bread

Pan Francese - Italian French Bread

Pane Francese is the bastard lovechild of the baguette and the ciabatta, melding the best qualities of each iconic bread into rustic loaves. Shaped into long sticks like its French archetype, the crust-to-crumb ratio is maximized, making it a great accompaniment to rich soups and stews. The high hydration characteristic of the ciabatta, at 76% for all you bread nerds, gives pane Francese an airy crumb and irregular holes even with the addition of whole wheat flour.

While the pane Francese procedure of cutting dough into strips and stretching is less fussy than shaping traditional baguettes, the wet dough presents its own set of problems with handling and gluten development. Dough strength is achieved through a long fermentation time interspersed with stretching and folding, arguably the best technique to use for developing slack dough. Use small amounts of flour when stretching the dough on a counter, or better yet, watch Susan of Wild Yeast Blog do the same thing with less mess in a rectangular container.

View Pane Francese Recipe - The Italian take on French Bread »

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Nasi Uduk – Lemongrass-Scented Coconut Rice

Nasi Uduk - Indonesian Lemongrass-Scented Coconut Rice

My attempt at the Indonesian spice cake called spekkoek was a complete disaster, so weaseling my way into the this month’s edition of WTSIM means that I have to go with Plan B.

There is no Plan B, so let’s see what’s in the fridge:

  • Sriracha – Not much use in Indonesian cookery as far as I know.
  • Sourdough starters – Can’t remember the last time I fed these. Must feed self first.
  • Curdled white goo – A closer look reveals that it’s just yogurt.
  • Tempeh – Quintessentially Indonesian, but I don’t feel like frying anything at the moment.
  • Lemongrass – We may be on to something here…

Since being Filipino means that I hoard coconut milk cans like squirrels do acorns, I humbly serve a side dish of fragrant nasi uduk, rice steamed with lemongrass and coconut milk. This barebones version suggests an optional parboiling step before steaming, if you ever feel like trying it with brown rice.

View Nasi Uduk - Lemongrass-Scented Coconut Rice recipe »

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Lavash (Armenian Flatbread) aka “Spice Rack Velcro”

Lavash - Armenian Flatbread with Spices

I affectionately call lavash “spice rack velcro,” or a quick and easy way to make a small dent in my growing stockpile of spices. My habit of getting carried away and buying ridiculous amounts of spices in bulk has gotten worse. I don’t even know what I have in my kitchen anymore, but whenever I make this yeasted Armenian flatbread, I have an excuse to dig into The Stash and pick out something. Anything.

I prefer my lavash a bit softer, brushed lightly with olive oil, and topped with at most 2 types of seeds and spices. Anything is fair game. Forgive me for using the most overused food-related cliché, but lavash is as close to a blank culinary canvas as it gets, both literally and figuratively.

View Lavash - Armenian Flatbread Recipe »

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Baby-Back Pork Ribs Adobo

Filipino Pork Baby-Back Ribs Adobo with sauce

The pork adobo of choice in our quaint little household in Quezon City was made with liempo, the cut also known as pork belly, source of wonderful things such as bacon and high blood pressure. Unabashedly lardy from slowly simmering pork in soy sauce and vinegar, pork adobo requires ungodly amounts of steamed rice, lest my menacing older brothers pilfer my share and make me wait for the next batch.

Adobo is always served with rice and it’s unimaginable to have it any other way. We get nervous when our rice supply dwindles so we always kept several 50-kilogram sacks in the kitchen. Having all of those rice sacks on hand seemed to serve a dual purpose — sustenance, first and foremost, and breakwater for typhoons, in case of emergency.

Countless meals of thick-cut pork belly with a meat-to-fat ratio of 1:1 defined my childhood but it doesn’t sound as good an idea now as it was back then. Baby-back ribs adobo is not diet food by any means, but this recipe improves the ratio to, oh I don’t know, 3:1. Braising collagen-rich ribs produces a lip-smacking sauce like no other cut and it goes great with, you guessed it, steamed white rice.

View Baby-Back Pork Ribs Adobo Recipe »

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