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Candied root vegetables and fruits in the Tudor fashion

In dessert, fruits, vegetables on March 22, 2015 at 12:44 am

candied root vegetables in the Tudor fashion

The Tudor period of England and Wales stretched from the reign of Henry VII in 1485 until the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. I had to Google that because I have no interest in anything Tudor, not even the TV series The Tudors.

I’m not curious about eating a partridge from a pear tree or three blackbirds baked in a pie either. Thankfully, the recipes from A Recipe Book in the Tudor Fashion comes with modern interpretations. It was a gift from a former boss, a souvenir from her visit to the UK.

As there were no refrigerators to store food back then, preserving food with sugar was one of the ways to keep it longer. This recipe was part of a banquet serving.

Making it is fairly simple. Just cut the vegetables and fruits to a thickness of about 3mm. If you are diligent, you could go the extra mile and use pastry cutters to fashion them into fancy shapes. I was more concerned about finishing up fast so I could eat, hence the plain-looking result.

Heat 225g of sugar with 300ml of rose water in a saucepan. When the sugar dissolves, add the fruits and vegetables. Bring to a boil and cook for about 15 minutes until the sugar syrup caramelizes to a light brown. Then move the slices to a rack to drain and dry.

Shopping list: root vegetables and fruit such as apples, pears, carrots, sweet potatoes and parsnips; rose water

From the pantry: granulated sugar

Can I do it?: Yes, if you have the patience not to leave sugar to burn over a stove

Hardware: saucepan and wire rack

Credit: A Recipe Book in the Tudor Fashion for the Entertainment of Visitors and Pupils to The Queen’s Great Standing in  the Forest of Epping near London (yes, that’s the full title)

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Why pay so much when you can make your own meang kam?

In appetiser, eastern, Thai on January 11, 2015 at 7:26 pm

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Have you ever gone to a Thai restaurant and ate that leaf-wrapped thing? That appetiser is called meang kam and that leaf is daun kadok, a common wild plant that can be planted in your garden. You can find it at some wet markets – look for stalls that sell kampung vegetables – but nothing beats a ready supply from your garden.

The daun that grows in a pot in my condo garden.

The daun kadok that grows in a pot in my condo garden.

Even though I am familiar with meang kam which my mother used to sometimes make at home, my first encounter with the plant was during a nature walk in Langkawi. I asked the guide if I could uproot it and take it home to plant. Later on, I found the plant growing out from under the hoardings of a construction site near my home and uprooted some too. I have also spotted the leaves growing under some shrubs near the sheltered bus stop across the road from Bangsar Shopping Centre.

Keep your eyes peeled for this plant. When I served this at a gathering at my home recently, a few friends noted that they have seen this plant in their garden but did not know the leaves could be eaten. My mother also uses the daun kadok to line the bowl when steaming otak-otak.

I’ve also discovered that the taste of daun kadok goes well with burger patties and fried onions marinated in fish sauce or Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce – I use the daun kadok in place of lettuce and tomato when I make a burger at home. Other ways to use it is to cut into thin shreds and fry with canned sardines or add to fried rice.

For a few years there were just a few leaves but since last year my plant has really flourished, probably helped by the almost daily rainfall. It grows well in damp and shady areas. When I go on my long holidays, I would often return home to shriveled leaves. My daun kadok is planted in pots placed in the front yard of my condo. It would often creep away to seek water from the pond next to my yard. When it looks like it is about to go on an adventure of its own, I would bring it back and twirl it round and round in the pots.

Making meang kam is a matter of assembly. But first, you need to make the sauce. I got the recipe from my mother and it’s agak-agak, so I can’t give you exact measurements. Melt some dark brown sugar (not the light-coloured granulated brown sugar) with some tamarind water over a slow fire. Adjust between adding water or brown sugar until the sauce has the thick consistency of honey.

The five ingredients that go into the wrap are as follows:
Grated coconut – panfry
Lime – cut into little pieces
Ginger – cut into little pieces
Peanuts – panfry, remove skin
Dried prawns – give them a short soak in hot water to clean, then panfry

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To assemble the meang kam, first put a dollop of sauce onto the leaf. Then put a little of the other ingredients. Wrap and eat. The good thing about having your own plant is you can go out and pluck them as needed, which I did numerous times when I made meang kam for my friends. Once you get the hang of making this simple appetiser, you’ll never want to pay a huge sum for just a few leaves that leaves you wanting more.

Hunting list: daun kadok

Shopping list: dark brown sugar, dried tamarind, dried prawns, peanuts, lime, ginger

Can I do it?: It’s easier than assembling IKEA furniture

Tip: As indicated, sauce first, then ingredients – this helps the ingredients ‘stick’ together.

Credit: Mummy

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