Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Turon - Sweet. Crunchy. Goodness.

We have an annual block party around this time of year. We have 10 different nationalities represented just on our little cul-de-sac and the variety of food is just amazing. I struggle to think of what to bring that's not your typical Filipino dish like pancit, lumpia, or chicken adobo. Since most people bring savory dishes, I thought I'd go the dessert route this year.

Turon has got to be one of my all-time favorite Filipino desserts. It's basically a banana egg roll. The banana used is a saba/plantain banana so it's a bit more firm and mild. Some people put jackfruit (langka) and coconut. But I like to stick to jackfruit since it complements the texture of the banana. The flavor is... hmm, how would I describe it...

Crunchy and sweet at first bite because of the lumpia wrapper and caramelized sugar
Tender and mildly sweet on the inside because of the saba banana
Fruity and almost sweet perfume-like when you bite into the jackfruit

I had to research how to to make this. I didn't quite know the technique when it came to caramelizing the outer wrapper. So I found the most common method of rolling it in brown sugar then frying and stuck to it.

So here it is...

5 Saba Banana (I bought it at Seafood City but it can be found in Mexican produce stands as well)
1 can of Jackfruit (can be found in any Asian market)
20-25 pack of Egg Roll or Lumpia Wrappers (I go for the extra route just in case they tear)
Golden Brown Sugar
1 Egg, beaten
Vegetable oil for deep frying (a light-flavored oil works best)

You can use a "regular" banana but I'd stick to a more firm one since it would get mushy when you fry it.

Separate the egg roll wrappers (this was my job as a kid when cooking with dad). Keep the wrappers covered with a damp towel to keep it from drying out. Peel and quarter the banana lengthwise. You may have to use a knife to help you peel the banana. Slice the jackfruit across the grain.

Lay 1 piece of banana, 2 pieces of jackfruit at the corner end of the wrapper. Top with about 1-1/2 tsp of brown sugar.

Roll it by pulling the corner over your ingredients, then the top and bottom corners and then rolling towards the other end. Seal the end with a light coat of the beaten egg.

Make a whole bunch of them and keep them covered with a damp towel until your ready to fry them. Right before frying, slightly wet the uncooked turon and roll it in brown sugar.

Deep fry in 350°F oil. I know it's tempting to get a lot done at once, but don't over-crowd the fryer/pan. You'll bring the cooking temperature down and end up with soggy turon (ick!).

Drain on a cooling rack. Do not drain on a paper towel because the sugar on the outside of the wrapper will make it stick.

Allow to cool enough to not burn your mouth and enjoy!!

I'm sure there's a better technique for making it more sticky and caramelized on the outside. It seemed that a lot of the sugar fell to the bottom of the fryer and didn't stick to the wrapper. But it still added to the flavor and texture. If you look at the picture above, there's only 19. I tried one of them without the sugar on the outside and it was acceptable, but did not have the sweetness texture I wanted.

It was good... not as good as the street vendors on the Philippines or from Tita's Kitchenette. But the neighbors seemed to enjoy it.

Friday, August 7, 2009

What's in a Box?

So many things!!

I'm jumping the gun with this post as this project is for a future gift for someone. But I couldn't wait. Since my life has been quite hectic I would probably forget to take photos and give the gift away without one last memory except for the scraps that came out of it.

I apologize for the grainy/fuzzy pics. I was losing natural light and my ISO was a wee bit high.

So on with the show…

Sushi anyone?

How about some noodles with beef?

Perhaps a snack of sugar snap peas, gyoza, strawberries or a cookie would be your speed?

Felt food is so much fun. I started making felt food when I was pregnant with Solana - I wanted to make cookies to go with Mya's tea set and surprise her with them as a gift after Solana's birth. Then I started doing felt food searches on Etsy and boy, did my head get filled with ideas!

So why Japanese food? First off, I like eating it (real food, not felt). But really...when Mya started eating lunch at school I went to Daiso and picked up a bento box ($1.69 - can't beat that!) so that she didn't have to deal with bulky tupperware in her lunchbox. Me being me and having to research everything, I looked up what usually goes in a bento box and found Lunch in a Box and was intrigued. I didn't realize that bento boxes are usually stuffed. Well, I would never stuff Mya's bento that much - she probably couldn't eat all of it (unless it was full of egg-salad sandwich). So I figured that the next best thing to making a full bento is to do it with felt food.

All the food was hand-sewn (no glue). I didn't even use a sewing machine. It probably would be hard to use with such intricate work. I mostly did a blanket stitch around the seams with the exception of the strawberries. The noodles were the easiest thing - they're just 1/4 inch strips of felt.

This is a dual-purpose gift - you can play with the felt food or set it aside and fill up the bento with real food. It's great for trips to the zoo, amusement park, or anywhere where you wouldn't want to buy expensive amusement park food. I'd probably fill mine with what the Filipinos call baon (pronounced Bah-ohn) which is usually rice with some kind of mixed vegetables and meat in a sauce. Then on the bottom (smaller portion) I'd put some cookies, crackers or cut veggies.

So here it is all together... in a bento:

I'm working on more food—A cake as a matter of fact. It's quite cathartic sewing this all by hand. It's like sewing the binding on a quilt... except this travels better. I can sew these little things while having tea or coffee with my friends.