Goreng Pisang on Toast

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There are too many things, upon my arrival in the homeland, this special little red dot, that I was much too eager to get into again (jet lag came, stole all my energy and enthusiasm. But now that that’s gone, each day seems a refreshing beam of light, a hopeful promise). But yes. Café hopping, family and friends aside, it’s all about food. Old flavours, fun memories, revisited. That’s what I missed. There’s always something to be aware of, to be curious and excited about. Right now I’m deeply appreciating, here in Singapore, access to good food at much cheaper prices, and the cool and quirky Asian/pan-Asian delights one can find anywhere, in the basement of any big mall (my favourite is the Takashimaya one, for the record).

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A recent tea party I had with my dear friend Charlie at an Airbnb café– how cool are these? They specially made vegan chocolate avocado mousse for me, and the accompanying chai tea was sublime. 
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My favourite place for good sourdough– The Bakery by Woodlands Sourdough at Bukit Timah. Thick almond butter and honey on thick, crusty toast. The sort of thing I actually will pay for once in a while, it’s that good.

It’s a time to revisit, guiltlessly, all the sweet flavours I missed. Black sesame, durian, matcha galore. Endless. Gorgeous! One of my favourite food thingys that I used to have on a regular basis, aside from durian puffs and dark chocolate taiyakis, was goring pisang (fried banana). My grandmother still occasionally buys them from the hawker centre, and are too, too perfect with a cold dollop of vanilla bean ice cream, or just on their own as they are.

It feels downright weird to be back. With no dissertation to complete, I am officially a graduate (ok not entirely, the graduation is in October, but still). Now, there’s a space in my head, one that need not necessarily be filled all the time. A space to feel, to think, to scroll through all the emotions that have been mashed together for too long in the days leading up to some exam, or assignment, or thesis. Because sometimes scrolling through emotions means putting rationality on the back-burner. This feels so free. This feels like a good, long, abdominal breath. And true enough, it is important to take time, intentionally, to do this daily, or at least weekly. But it’s also good to get away from it all entirely, take a break even from blogging, as I did the past two weeks. Routine, a good one, is a conscientious way of re-organizing one’s priorities. But sometimes a little break from routine allows for reflection on the meaning of the routine itself, instead of being on autopilot all the time. It’s sort of like atoms in a certain structure. The bits that make up the structure may be strong and sturdy, but breaking away and re-organizing them in a smarter and more efficient manner may leave you with a structure even stronger than before).

Now let’s go bananas. It’s all about the right banana and the right batter. The two must complement each other– too ripe a banana will leave you with mushy bits of nothing, while the batter should comprise ice-cold water, rice flour and corn starch for the perfect degree of crispiness. Then everything is fried, and I don’t think you can go wrong by either shallow or deep-frying, because it’s still a fried banana, and you can’t go wrong with that, can you?

Traditionally, these golden beauties are eaten with ice cream or with a custard, but that Monday I decided to bung it on some toast layered with fresh, thick coconut yoghurt, peanut butter and jam, and my taste buds were on absolute fire. The combination of the creamy yoghurt, tangy and sweet with peanut butter and jam, cradled the crisp, wispy outer layer of goring pisang batter. You think about it, and the whole thing seems or sounds a little silly. I mean, fried anything can’t really go wrong. Or just leave the poor banana alone, for goodness sake. Why coat it, why ruin it? But that’s the fun of experimentation, is it not? I’ll breathe down the back of the traditionalist for as long as I can, challenging the norm. If we can fry bananas, or mars bars, or friggin’ tea bags, then why not put them on something and call it a meal? Like your usual pb&j toast. The coconut yoghurt really is just for fun. The whole thing is just fun and delicious, so let’s just leave it at that.

 

Ingredients

2-3 ripe (but not too ripe!) bananas, sliced in half (along the breadth, not down the long centre)

40g plain flour

2 tbsp each of rice flour and cornflour

¼ tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

5 tbsp ice-cold water

vegetable oil for deep frying, of which a tablespoon you will mix into the batter

*optional accompaniments: bread slices (use whatever bread you like but whole-wheat or sourdough is preferable), coconut/soy yoghurt, peanut butter, jam

 

Directions

Mix all batter ingredients (everything listed above except for the bananas) in a shallow bowl. The batter should be smooth, without any lumps. This can be done by adding the water slowly, in thirds, and whisking well in between. The batter should not be all that thick– if it is, add a little more water to thin it out.

Add your cut bananas to the batter and coat them well with the help of a fork or spoon. Meanwhile, heat 1.5-2 inches of vegetable oil in a wok/frying pan. Add enough so that the bananas will be just covered. You can also save some oil by using less oil and turning the bananas halfway through. Once the oil temperature has reached 180C (320F), and you can do this with any candy thermometer, add the coated bananas and fry until they are visibly golden-yellow. 2-3 bananas are perfect for this recipe because too many will make the temperature of the oil drop a little. Once visibly golden and crispy, take the bananas out with a pair of tongs and place them on a paper towel to drain the excess oil. Be careful this whole time, the oil may spit and hurt you. These are best eaten immediately or at least the same day they are made. For this twist, toast your bread slices, then add a tablespoon each of coconut yoghurt, peanut butter, and finally the jam. I like strawberry jam, but that bit’s up to you. Then cut your fried bananas in half lengthwise, then put them on the piece (or pieces) of toast. Take a bite. Savour that. Love that.

Avocado Yin Yang Mousse

Black and white. OK, green and white. It’s balance, it’s harmony, it’s almost meant to be.

I’m all for avocado and all the variations it can take on. This will be a short one, because I’m aching to get the directions out; it’s ridiculously easy and delicious. Plop everything into your blender or food processor and you’re in the groove. Chocolate avocado mousse has been done before, aka the wholesome take on a classic chocolate pudding. Look, I love the green stuff, but I still think a good chocolate pudding deserves to be just that– sinfully chocolatey, donned in cream and your normal sugar. But wait! Let’s think thick, rich, glorious breakfast toast spreads here. Maybe a snack, or something along those lines. With dark chocolate done, why not experiment with white? This one here incorporates both dark and white chocolate, with a few different ingredients thrown in here and there to enhance the chocolate theme, simultaneously complementing the natural richness and creaminess of avocado.

I was pleasantly surprised by the texture of the white chocolate variant in particular. The incorporation of the special ingredient –tahini– is what made it lush, thick and deliciously spreadable. No graininess, nothing. Just ease. Smoothness, a slight hint of salt, the childlike sweetness from melted white chocolate. That’s what I love about white chocolate. It appears to lack dimension and sophistication, but it’s the perfect medium for so many other things.

Avocado Yin Yang Mousse

Ingredients

For the dark chocolate take:

half an avocado

2 tbsp cocoa/cacao powder

1 tbsp honey/ maple syrup

1 tsp milk of choice

pinch salt

For the white chocolate take:

half an avocado

30g white chocolate, melted in the microwave

2 tbsp milk of choice

1 tbsp tahini (optional, but highly, highly recommended)

pinch salt

Directions

Blend the ingredients for the respective versions together in a food processor or blender. If you wish to make both (of course!), start with the white chocolate take first so that you won’t have to wash out your blender or processor after dealing with the cocoa/cacao powder. Spread on toast or eat on its own, maybe with a couple of dark chocolate truffles, mmm. This will keep for a week in the fridge.

Try This Toast Combination Now

When the going gets tough, it’s easy to give up on a lot. But fret not, for you’ll have a slice of toast that will get you over that hump.

It’s the perfect little snack, or breakfast if you have a birdy appetite, like me on some days. I can attest to its pre-yoga workout effectiveness. Energy boosting, almost wholesome. Here is a slice of whole wheat toast, half slathered in tahini, maple syrup and salt, half with a generous coat of butter and marmalade. 

The second bit is a classic, the sort of thing you might fall back on at an endless breakfast buffet (or if you’re a plain old novice). I love love love butter and jam on most days, and some days it’s good old almond/peanut butter, honey and a pinch of maldon salt. Today demanded a switch in routine, and so this was born.

Directions (because the ‘Ingredients’ bit isn’t necessary, right?)

Take one slice of any sort of bread you like (preferable whole wheat, sourdough or a dark rye), and toast in your toaster. Cut in half any which way, then top half with butter and marmalade (or jam, if you don’t have any marmalade, but marmalade is still the best option!), and the other half with tahini, maple syrup, and  apinch of coarse salt (Maldon). Eat the halves separately or, for optimal pleasure, sandwich together and bite. Savour that crunch, then the nuttiness mixing with the sweet jammy middle. A tick of salt at the end. Savour, swallow, maybe repeat.

Tuna mash and poached egg on toast

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I threw some random things together that day. I was extremely skeptical about the flavour combination, but this worked perfectly and served to annihilate some grogginess, pre-coffee works, of course. I needed an egg, a sharp crunch of bread to be the bed of a multitude of flavours, something a little thick- a more savoury spread of sorts. This is so simple.

Ingredients

  • one thick slice of good sourdough or raisin bread (this was plain rye sourdough)
  • 1 fresh egg
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • For the side salad: simple salad mix of whatever you may, washed and tossed in reduced balsamic lemon vinaigrette made with balsamic, lemon juice and olive oil. Amount of salad mix you wish to use is completely up to you. I used about a half cup.
  • For tuna mash: 1 can tuna packed in water, quarter cup canned corn, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon greek yoghurt, half tablespoon Dijon mustard and lashings of pepper.
  • small handful cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 2 baby radishes
  • pinch of chilli flakes

Directions

  1. Toast bread of choice.  A little burnt is okay. Medium burnt will pass. Me? I practically go for carcinogenic. Kill me whenever.
  2. Poach your egg: Crack fresh egg into a small bowl. Fill a deep saucepan 3/4 full of water and let come to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, add vinegar and make small whirlpool. Slowly add your egg and continue swirling with slotted spoon. I just used a normal spoon because the slotted spoon I had on hand didn’t look clean enough to use and I was merely too lazy to go ALL the way to the sink and do more washing. Actual problems of a lazy teenage breakfast aficionado. It’s quite tragic. Anyways, wait for around 3 minutes before taking out your beautiful poached baby.
  3. In the meantime, toss tuna and corn mash ingredients together in a small bowl. Take two tablespoons of mixture and liberally coat toast, or however much you want, really. Reserve the rest in the fridge for future use. Lick the spoons each time.
  4. Remove egg from water- test it first by poking its belly with your finger. There should be a slight wobble, neither too floppy or firm.
  5. Thinly slice baby radishes and add to the salad. Place poached egg on toast and whip out your pepper cracker and chilli flakes. Do what you’re meant to do.
  6. Marvel at how pretty it looks.
  7. Slice, eat, pore over the papers and pour some coffee.
  8. Enjoy that sort of morning while it lasts.

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Breakfast Adventures

Consecrated, shy Saturday rays.

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There’s just something about stuff on toast. Sometimes, it’s not just about the smushing together of peanut butter and jam. Oftentimes, a more savoury and nourishing hat rattles the old engines and breathes life into mornings. So easy you feel guilty. But guilty at pleasure’s stake.

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roasted grapes with ricotta on grilled sourdough

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baked eggs in baked beans

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A fork affair. Moist avocado ‘crumbs’ and the warm tang of fresh, halfway-there compote.

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smashed avocado and raspberry compote on dark rye

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chia infused banana bread

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I’m excited.

For what?

For the possibilities this world holds when it come to breakfast. The sacred routine of waking up, pondering a little, hovering a little, before either following a set recipe, or perhaps just mixing unexpected ingredients together, just for the sake of amateur experimentation, laden with a golden hope.

Ready to learn.