December 24, 2004
My much-discussed grandmother used to make ukoy every Christmas, although I don't think they're otherwise associated with the holiday. I have a recipe for this in Reynaldo Alejandro's classic The Philippine Cookbook that uses only beansprouts, and there are a number of recipes on the internet for ukoy with sweet potato. But my grandmother used regular potatoes, and it's her ukoy I was trying to replicate today. You can substitute button mushrooms, tofu, scallops, or virtually anything you want for the shrimp.
5 medium potatoes
4 medium carrots
3 cups of mung bean sprouts
1 bunch of green onions
vegetable oil for deep frying
20 medium shrimp
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1. If you have a food processor, use it to shread the carrots and potatoes. Otherwise, grate them with the smallest gauged grater you can find that will give a stringy (ie non-disintegrating) result.
2. Finely shop the green onions. Mix the chopped onions, shredded potatoes and carrots, and mung bean sprouts.
3. Make a slurry of the cornstarch, the salt, and a cup of water. Combine with the vegetables and mix well.
4. Heat the oil over high heat in a large saucepan or wok (taller pans are safer here). Once the oil is hot enough (ie when you get a frenetic fizzle from a solitary shred), you're ready to begin frying.
5. Using a large serving spoon, nest a single shrimp in a small handful of the shredded vegetables. Use another spoon to slide it into the oil; cook until golden, then remove to a plate lined with paper towels. (You can cook several at once, depending on the size of your pan.)
6. Serve the ukoy as soon as they've cooled enough to touch, with a sauce of 1/2 cup cider vinegar, 3 minced garlic cloves, and plenty of black pepper. If you find this combination offensive, a sweet and sour sauce might work.
By the way, from my experience ukoy is both the singular and the plural form (I'd like some ukoy, or would you like the last ukoy?). And I just learned today that it refers to a tentacled water creature out of Philippine myth. Creepy...
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For me, the essential Christmas tradition (courtesy of mom).
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups sifted flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups pecans
2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
the juice of about 1 lemon
1. To make the pastry, cream together the relevant butter and sugar, then mix in the egg and vanilla. Finally, slowly add in the flour and mix until blended. Press the entire amount into the bottom of a buttered 9x12 pan. Be sure to spread evenly. Bake for about 15 min at 350F.
2. For the filling, mix all the ingredients together well. When the pastry is done, add the filling on top in an even layer. Bake for about 25 min at 350F.
3. Remove from the oven and let cool for an hour or two. For the icing, combine the confectioners sugar with enough lemon juice to give it a good spreading consistency (you may want to sift the confectioners sugar first). Use a spatula to spread the icing thinly over the cooled mass. Try to avoid breaking the surface of the pecan mixture.
4. Give the icing a few minutes, then cut into 1x2 oblongs.
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I am back in Indiana, which was surprised with two feet of snow just before my return, making both the landing and the ride home a little dicey. Despite heroic (successful) efforts at shoveling snow in the driveway, nobody was ready for the garage door to freeze shut this morning, but application of a hair-dryer, some salt, a screwdriver, a hoe, and a lot of force got it open.
Meanwhile, thanks to former guest-blogger Reihan Salam for linking to my musings on the whale. To collect the links, here is my post, Mark Liberman's, Paul's, Amber's, Sudeep's. The truly whale-hungry could also re-read these posts about whale-standing.[Meanwhile, in the comments to Amber's post folks muse about whether one is always lonelier than two. Answer, of course not. As Tom Stoppard would say, two is possible, but it is not a guarantee.]
Other thoughts and discoveries-- you can indeed make a manhattan with rye, and the result is intriguing. You get a sweeter, milder, concoction-- urban and urbane-- not the woody, muscular result of making it out of bourbon. I prefer the punchier Knob Creek manhattan myself, but there is room for civilized dispute.
I have a post in the works about the elimination of murder law, but first I have to do my part of a communal contracts outline and, of course, celebrate Christmas.
Go forth, and be merry.
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