Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ginger treats for wintry weather

Ginger is great. My mother swears by it. She did this thing once where she took ginger tea for a whole month to cure cold (I was shaking my head for it). She was on a crusade for all natural homeopathic medicine. That was the last time I heard of it though. Nowadays she took medicines like the rest of the world, although she still supplement it with ginger tea. I'm not arguing with her that ginger is great. Just that my life demands quick cure to cold. You can cure cold with ginger, but it'll take twice as long. 

Ginger is quite a versatile ingredient that you can use for both sweet and savory cooking. One of the memories from my childhood involves ginger. Remember how I told you about the highlands? Well, this treat is another ubiquitous treat to be found in the highlands. The street peddlers usually would start around evening time to walk around selling this treat. It's a great one, especially considering that it's cold in the mountains. 

The first treat is what's called "sekoteng" (no English word for this). It's different from the second treat just because it's using a clear ginger stock and milk rather than using brown sugar ginger stock. The second one is originally called "kembang tahu" (literally, "tofu flowers"). Why it's named that way, I never really know. It doesn't have anything to do with flowers. However, the peddlers selling this treat would have a big, chilled drum filled with silken tofu. He'd spoon the tofu using flat metal spatula (similar to scooping ice cream, but he'd take thin slices of the tofu). Then he'd pour the hot ginger soup onto the tofu. My guess is that it's a direct translation of the Chinese name for silken tofu (doufu hua).

Funnily, I used to hate these. But now... What I wouldn't give to sit on that porch again with my family, talking, joking around, while eating this...

Ginger treat (sekoteng)


For the ginger stock:
1 ginger
4 cups of water
Sweetened condensed milk

For the treat:
Cooked tapioca pearls
Bread, cubed
Cooked mung beans

1. Cut ginger to several pieces, bruise them.
2. Boil ginger in water, and then reduce to simmer for another 30 minutes
3. In a bowl, put 1 tbs cooked tapioca pearls, 1 tbs cubed bread, and 1 tbs cooked mung beans. Use the small tapioca pearls. Originally it calls for tapioca sticks.
4. Ladle the ginger water.
5. Adjust sweetness with sweetened condensed milk.

1. You can add about 1/2 cup of sugar into the ginger stock, this way you don't have to use sweetened condensed milk. 
2. The original recipe (the one I had when I was little) did have milk in it, but of course you can skip it without affecting the taste.
3. You can skip the treat altogether and just drink the ginger stock. The stock is pretty  much ginger tea. Or... how we make our ginger tea.
4. Reduce the amount of ginger if you don't like spicy.
5. Save the stock and freeze it if you have extra, you can make soup with it.

Tofu ginger treat (kembang tahu)

For the ginger stock:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 ginger
4 cups of water

1. As above, boil the ginger in water with sugar. Simmer for about 30 minutes.
2. Cube the tofu, or slice it with spoon. Just remember to rinse the tofu gently so no tofu liquid remains.
3. Place tofu in a bowl, and ladle the syrup while it's hot.

1. The syrup will cook the tofu. But if you really want to, you can boil the tofu briefly.
2. If you can, use the Indonesian brown sugar. If you do so, use 2 cylinders.
3. You can make this recipe at the same time as you make the above recipe. Just divide the stock and sweeten one with sweetened milk, and the other with brown sugar. Of course, the measurement will change.
4. Reduce the amount of sugar if you want. However, factor in the fact that the tofu isn't sweet and is quite bland. The last time I reduced the sugar, I ended up making a tofu "soup" with the stock. It's not supposed to be tofu "soup".

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