I’ve got a couple of interesting things for you this Malaysian Monday, and they combine to make a very simple, refreshing dessert.
First up is a Starfruit, also known as Carambola, or Belimbing (in Malay). This tropical fruit is a childhood favourite. It’s an oddly shaped fruit with a waxy skin, and is usually sold when it’s green. This is the under-ripe form, when kept at room temperature it becomes yellowish-green, and then yellow with a tinge of orange through – getting softer and sweeter as it ripens. The fruit can be eaten at any stage, depending on your taste preferences. I like to eat the starfruit while it’s still greeny yellow because I like the crispness and the tart flavour. The fruit bruises quite easily when it’s ripe, and if not handled carefully, will end up with brown nicks and marks on the skin. It’s still perfectly edible.
The flavour is very tricky to describe because it’s so unique. It’s a little bit cool and refreshing like a cucumber, sort of sweet-tart like a green apple, and has a little bit of citrus, kiwifruit and pineapple flavour in there as well.
To serve starfruit, it’s really simple, wash and dry well and slice horizontally to show off the star-shape. Before slicing, we also like to run a vegetable peeler along each star ridge to get rid of the thick skin there, leaving the rest of the skin intact.
While checking out what Wikipedia had to say about this fruit, I found out that it contains a lot of oxalic acid and people with kidney ailments have to be wary of eating it. Starfruit can also interfere with some medication.
Next up, we have some konnyaku jelly powder. I don’t remember seeing this when I was growing up, we ate a lot of agar-agar instead. However, on our recent visit to Malaysia, “konnyaku” was all the rage, there were sweet jelly(jell-o) versions, and savoury noodle versions. These noodles are the so called “miracle” zero-carb noodles you may have seen advertised on the interwebs. The sweet jelly has a really interesting texture, a little bit chewy and firm, while still being jellyish.
I was really intrigued by Konnyaku, and some quick research (aka Wikipedia) showed that Konnyaku is the japanese variation for Konjac, which is a plant of the genus Amorphophallus . And if you check out that stub, you’ll find that the word Amorpho is ancient greek for without form/misshapen and we all know what phallus means ;P. My, the things we learn without even trying!
I had a couple of different packets of konnyaku powder to try, one contained pre-mixed sugar and I used this packet first as I want to experiment further with the other ones. The ingredient list on the premixed packet read : sugar, jelly powder, malic acid, but I think it wasn’t complete.
When I checked the other packets, from a different brand, they read: Carrageenan, Vegetable Gum, Konnyaku Powder. More and more interesting! I knew that Carageenan is derived from red algae, and I always assumed it was similar to agar-agar. Apparently not. For the science geeks : “Its major differences from carrageenans are the presence of L-3,6-anhydro-α-galactopyranose rather than D-3,6-anhydro-α-galactopyranose units and the lack of sulfate groups.”
I peeled this off the side of the pan after I'd made the jelly. It's stretchy!
Anyhoo, I made some jelly, and popped some starfruit in. Very pretty, and I love the texture. Be careful though, it doesn’t dissolve on the tongue like gelatin and can be a choking hazard for kids.
To make konnyaku jelly, it’s pretty simple. Just follow the steps on the packet which involved boiling water and adding the contents of the packet, plus a drop or two of essence for flavour. I added some orange blossome water. I set them in a muffin tray, and unlike gelatin, they set at room temperature, and very, very quickly in the fridge. Best served chilled.
And guess what? We have a new host for Muhibbah Malaysian Monday #3. Nate and Annie from House of Annie have voluteerd to host for the month of September. To submit your entry, visit this link on their site, they’ve set up a simple form (how organised!) that you can use.
Sorry for the extremely lengthy post, have a great start to the week. Oh, and to my Malaysian friends who will be celebrating Hari Raya, "Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri!"