Maja Kalabasa

Maja kalabasa. Cool!

maja kalabasa

Maja Blanca has many fans. Kalabasa has too but it is nothing compared to first. Who wants kalabasa for meryenda? Most children reject it even if cooked as veggie. I hated it too before. However, if we transform it to other food items such maja, pastillas and candy. Why not? It maybe squash but it is still a maja. A semi sweet food love by many.

This particular, is good. Maybe better with less squash. The basis for making maja is cornstarch. Roughly ground corn also do well. In fact I like it better because the natural corn taste is still there. I think the one made with natural corn is “duldol”. It has yellow complexion like this and slanted rectangle in shape. Still popular in public market settings.

I experimented with maja making before. About ideal amount of cornstarch. Lesser amount resulted in saggy texture while more had firmer and better appearance and feel. If anyone modified an original tested maja recipe by adding kalabasa. The additional ingredient will dilute the cornstarch network. Extra starch maybe necessary. It cannot be provided by squash. Add cornstarch or lessen the kalabasa. Sounds simple but it may take several trials to achieve the ideal blend.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Natural Looking Potato Chips

This is the most natural looking potato chips, in commercial packaging, I’ve ever seen. Unlike the others. Triangle shape and curly. Octagon and curly. Circle with uniform curvature. It is engineered so it can be stacked fit in a tube. Every item that never met shape, size and color specifications are thrown away, repurposed or sent back for reprocessing. You know which product I am talking to! It is very popular because of its trade mark shape and stacking manner. Including its packaging gorgeous look, it is eating potatoes in style.

natural potato chips

Instead of basic slicing and frying method, potatoes goes to grinding, mixing with other ingredients and then shaping to desired shape and sizes. Why there is a need for that? Because the industry is constantly evolving. Everything must be uniform and fit into place. Potatoes come in different sizes and shape. Something must be done about this err. Too small and damage may go to waste. Variety, growing location and harvest season may cause flavor changes. There are times of scarcity and steep pricing. Processing is like a magic trick that remedy all these problems.

Chips in this pack came in different sizes and the curls have no sense of direction. I immediately know that it was made using the basic slice and fry technique. A relative method of banana chips. Every part is taken to fryer and packed for sale. I cooked several times for ourselves. It looked similar to this. Mine were pale though. This was attractive golden yellow.

Potatoes are expensive. I am not in the luxury to do it often.

I was disappointed when I turned around the packaged. There was a long list of hard to read ingredients. I was pretty sure the potato slices were natural cut. Then, it must be the concoction of flavorings.  Plain, garlic and a little salty are fine choices.  Modified atmosphere with a good sealed packaging is a good combination to prolong shelf life. If done properly, other doubtful additives maybe omitted.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Looking For Kabuteng Mamarang

From my previous post. Kabuteng Mamarang (Termitomyces cartilagineus).

When I was a kid. I often mistaken the kabuteng saging ( banana mushroom ) with this kabuteng mamarang. They look similar to me except for one obvious thing. The first grow in rotting banana corm. After cutting off the trunk for harvest. The trunk will rot in downward passion, until it reaches the corm. When conditions are favorable. It is rainy days, I think. I do not see any during summer months. Mushroom will grow on it. Father said it was not what I thought. It is poisonous but can be remedied with right cooking trick. The rough idea of boiling in several changes of water before adding other desired ingredients. He never demonstrated it to us. I bet he never had first hand experience.

This reminds me of nami and pungapong. It has to be harvested right and do the cooking right or your screwed. The same is true for the popular cassava. You can get cyanide poisoning if you do something wrong of buy from the wrong vendor. Staple potato may also bring harm if not stored correctly. All mishandled food items may bring harm anyway. No need to think too hard about it.

Month of August on our way home. A friend who happened to be driving for us asked about the kabuteng mamarang. He loves the ordinary wild mushroom (kabuteng parang). His friend who used to give him bunches is now selling it to him, every piece. That is right. Sample first then the rest are for sale. He is buying all of it with no question because he like it.

The mamarang exceptional flavor is just a rumor to him. He is willing to go in our place in haste in case we find one selling. A guy willing to travel for taste adventures.

Both wild mushroom can be hunted in the wild during August to September. Time may vary from place to place due to changes in weather conditions. The usual spots are pusngo, a hard and sticky solid mound built by termites. It may also sprout on flat grounds. Hunters know numerous spot. They go on hunt very early in the morning. Like bird hunting. Whoever catches is the rightful owner.

I have plenty of experience in wild mushroom hunting. Those with unopened caps taste better than…. Soft and wormy are usually left to rot. The little worms are sort of harmless but have an “ew” factor. Soft become soggy and tasteless after cooking.

The common mushroom has dirty white cap, sometimes yellowish brown. It can be gathered from one spot for several days. The cap has skin that is peeled off before cooking. Maybe it is also edible. I have not eaten one yet. I automatically peel them off. They peel it, so I also do it.

The mamarang on the other hand, only grows on one spot once. Let’s say the harvest today is absolute. None can be found tomorrow. The cap surface has dark brown shade. Peeling is not necessary. I tried once before. It was not easy and not worth. Our ancestors might have felt the same way.

The best recipe for both is the simplest. Boiled with ginger and a dash of salt. Fried kabute taste like chicken, especially the stalk part. Burger patties and siomai are nice too, but they are commonly done for commercial oyster mushroom.

niluyahang-kabute-mamarang

Fresh harvest can be stored for later in refrigerator. Freezer compartment can do it for longer periods.

If you want and never know where to get. Hunt sellers instead. Go to public market early in the morning or look along road sides. Farm owners have the habit of displaying their produce near road in hope of someone buying it sooner for higher price. Scout for them. He drove slowly and we were lucky enough to found one seller along baranggay road. Our friend immediately bought the only 1/4 kilo left.

As of date, I never know anyone who successfully cultured this inside the lab. The variety commonly sold locally is oyster mushroom, the same species in mushroom burgers.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Fine Crushed Ice

Can’t remember what it was. But…it was something similar to mais con yelo or halo-halo. The small block on top was leche flan. It was gone in a blink of an eye. It could be halo-halo. I couldn’t see if there were any fruit cubes underneath because the crushed ice was cloudy. Chance was, the flavoring was mixed prior to ice preparation. It was safe to assume they used flavored ice. Then it became a flavored crushed ice used for making this delicious dessert.

fine crushed ice

I saved pictures for posting because of its striking feature. It has fine crushed ice which brings a smoother taste experience. I felt it like a lighter version of ice cream. Minus the cream and lesser sweetness.

How can we achieved the same?

I suggest crushing ice in a chilled chamber. The grinding process increases surface area that makes it more susceptible to melting. The heat generated by equipment make the situation worst. Cold environment can arrest it, allowing more time to achieve finer ice particles.

What could be the grinding equipment candidate? I have no idea at this point in time. Sure there is one or two. I will update as soon as possible. It could be spraying water mist below freezing point. The result is soft fluffy ice, a snow.

Adding flavor prior to freezing and crushing. Warm ingredients to ice mix will quicken melt. Lesser water content also affects the final texture significantly toward the better. If the ice candy or halo-halo has little natural flavoring. Then it doesn’t matter if we crushed it in a chilled chamber, add the flavor prior or quick freeze it.

Quick freezing. Normal vs quick… The very good example of this is our everyday cheap ice candy. Notice we are commonly biting large chunks of tasteless ice. It has something to do with slow freezing. We stir the mixture well during preparation, but, when we freeze it slowly, the water molecules have enough time to come together again. A usual scenario in home refrigerators. We are lowering the thermostat setting to lowest possible and throwing in as much food as we can. Aging equipment and loose door seal are also contributing factors. Quick freezing on the other hand keeps the ice particles smaller.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Plant Based Cracker/Chips Making

Clients request was making mushroom chips. Prior to this, several persons were asking me if they can make crackling or chips out of vegetables. Teach them the trick in case.

First we analyze. Starting with the meat and fish. Every time mom ask us to fry some fresh fish, we set aside some to fry it to brittleness. Basically, after the fish is done and the cooking is continued, more and more water is driven out until it turn brown and brittle. Fish and meat seem to be more enjoyable when it crack in between teeth. The fatty meat portion, the popular pork back-fat, tends to bubble that gives chicharon its characteristic looks.

Now we go on plant-based. The popular for this are corn, rice, potato, banana and cassava. Potato, banana and cassava can be sliced thinly and fried to achieved the desired crisp. The same commodities together with the rest can be ground, reformed and mixed with flavors to create variants. Veggies and fish crackers are made by grinding, mixing with powder (the previous I’ve mentioned) drying, then frying. It may imitate the appearance of pork chicharon depending on trick employed.

The first requirement is obvious. It must be dry. All moisture must be driven out. The covering of chicken leg and nugget can be made crispy but it won’t last long because the inside moisture will sip out and the outside air moisture will come in. The reason why french fries only last for few minutes and one must consume a bag of potato chips immediately after opening. Refrigeration keeps the crisp longer because the equipment sucks away moisture.

The second requirement is starch. All the popular chips have this in common. They are all rich in starch. Rolling chicken leg and shrimp in cornstarch or all purpose flour make them crispy on the outside while maintaining inside juiciness. For just money sake, one can make very cheap cracker by mixing flour, cornstarch, rice powder and flavorings.

There might be other things to consider in meat fatty tissues. However, we are focus on plant-based products at the moment. We will forget about the meat thing.

I observed the mushroom chips in supermarket and grocery stores. All of them are covered with cornstarch. The basic is this. First, the mushroom is dried, then dipped in beaten egg, rolled on cornstarch (or maybe tapioca), then lastly, fried. It might be the only way. But, the roasted peanut seller can make the garlic crispy without adding anything.

I tried series of trial and error and came up with few acceptable results. In the end, they choose the trial covered with egg and starch.

mushroom chicharon

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.