Pulut Hitam

(Black Glutinous Rice Dessert)

September: National Rice Month

Islander’s college study buddy, AAW, from Singapore, introduced her to an exotic dish from Southeast Asia: pulut hitam. This black glutinous rice dessert is simple, easy and affordable to make, especially for hungry out-of-state and international students like them who pay more than in-state tuition. Its dark hue (which is actually a deep purple) looks so dramatic when served with sliced colorful tropical fruits. Pulut hitam also makes for a curious conversation starter with those who are unfamiliar with this dessert. Offer them to taste it, just like AAW did to Islander during a study break, and they will feel like they have experienced something sweetly unique. Pulut hitam is an especially good recipe to make during National Rice Month.

Recipe
(Adapted from AAW)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup black glutinous rice
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/3 – ½ cup sugar or to taste (white, turbinado, rock or palm sugar)
  • Canned coconut milk
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes

Directions

Rinse the rice several times until the water becomes lighter. In a covered metal or glass container, soak the rice in water overnight. Drain the water and rinse several times again. Boil 5 cups of water in a large pot. Carefully add the rice. Cover the pot and lower the heat to simmer, stirring occasionally. 

Half an hour later, stir in sugar. Cover and simmer for 15 more minutes. Stir and check that the rice has not stuck to the bottom of the pot or becomes burned. Cover and cook 15 more minutes. Most of the water will be evaporated but the rice will still be soupy. May be served warm or cold. To serve, ladle rice in dessert bowls. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of coconut over the rice and stir lightly. Garnish with unsweetened coconut flakes.

Notes

  • Pulut hitam is of Malaysian origin but the dessert is popular in the region. It is known as bubur ketan in Indonesian and bee ko moy in Hokkien.
  • Search our blog for more rice recipes.

Pan-Fried Zucchini Chips

August 8: National Zucchini Day

We usually eat at an Italian restaurant close by our house to catch up with fellow marriage sponsors, Jim and Marie P. While sharing experiences about how we are preparing our engaged couples at church for an important sacrament, we always order pan-fried zucchini chips to tide us over until our entrees arrive at the table. 

Zucchini has been cultivated in Northern Italy for three centuries; Italian immigrants brought the long green veggie to the United States. Fried zucchini originated in Pittsburgh, although the Italians also eat it fried/sauteed, fresh, baked or boiled. Actually, it was Pennsylvanians Jim and Marie who introduced the pan-fried zucchini chips at our first “double date” meeting and the crunchy appetizers have become our tasty tradition.

In pandemic times, our double dates have become rare, special outings. So when we crave those appetizers, we make pan-fried zucchini chips in our home kitchen. We would enjoy eating them with our friends at the restaurant, though. But for now, as we try to be careful from COVID cases, we can cook them on occasion and on National Zucchini Day.    

Recipe
(Adapted from Eating Well)

Ingredients

  • 2 medium zucchinis, sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 1/3 cup flour, all purpose
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup plain breadcrumbs or panko
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/3 – ½ cup olive or avocado oil
  • Salt to taste

Directions

Wash and slice zucchini. Pat dry with paper towel. Set aside. Prepare three shallow bowls: one for the flour, another for the beaten eggs and the third for the lemon zest-breadcrumbs/panko-cheese mixture. Zest the lemon. 

Mix zest with the breadcrumbs/panko and Parmesan cheese. Dredge the zucchini slices in flour and shake off any excess. Dip in eggs. 

Press zucchini into the lemon zest-breadcrumbs/panko-cheese mixture. Heat oil in a skillet till hot. Reduce heat to medium high. Fry the zucchini till browned on both sides, around 1-2 minutes each, and crispy. Drain on paper towels. Season with salt. Serve hot.

Notes

  • Zucchini is also known as courgette in other countries (Britain, Holland, New Zealand, Malaysia and South Africa).
  • Search our blog for other zucchini recipes.

Scotch and Soda

July 27: National Scotch Whisky Day

We do not know much about whisky except from what we hear from Highlander’s Scottish clan members. While they can easily drink whisky straight, the hard liquor is a bit too harsh for Highlander’s personal tastes. So mixing whisky with club soda is more palatable when he participates in a “toast to the haggis” and at other clan gatherings. 

Scotch and soda is a simple cocktail where the whisky can be diluted with fizzy club soda and ice cubes. Highlander started drinking the mix in a tall glass until he was able to tolerate the taste and then he slowly moved on to an old-fashioned smaller glass. He is still not able to shoot whisky with the more “experienced” connoisseurs in his clan. Fortunately, there is no pressure from them for him to partake in the rounds but can still join them in the Scottish celebrations and on National Scotch Whisky Day! Sip sip hooray!

Recipe
(Adapted from The Spruce Eats)

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces Scotch
  • 1-6 ounces club soda
  • Ice cubes

Directions

Fill a highball/Collins glass or old-fashioned glass with ice. Pour in the Scotch. Fill to the top (or to taste) with club soda. Stir slightly and serve immediately.

Notes

  • The old-fashioned glass rim is designed with a strip of Highlander’s clan tartan, which is also the background using Islander’s sash.
  • Search our blog for more Scotch and whisky-based cocktails.