I remember when Madrid Fusion first came to our shores last year. It was certainly an exciting prospect for anyone interested in food. It was also a proud moment for us Filipinos who have long watched as our cuisine sat meekly on the sidelines. Yes, for some time now, Filipino food has been gaining momentum, becoming the unsung darling of foodies-in-the-know all over the world, garnering space in food magazines as the next big thing. But when Madrid Fusion came over…it was like a visit from the cool kids. And we were officially hanging out with them.
I watched with pride and excitement as foreign super-chefs donned shorts and slippers, rode tricycles, and sampled our local produce…and what’s more, enjoyed it! Even more exciting was seeing them taking our produce and local ingredients, excitedly returning to the kitchen, and turning out spectacular dishes using them. And, just as exciting, for me at least, was seeing local chefs cook side by side with these foreign greats…showing the world our fantastic homegrown talent (which I have long believed in!).
I already know Filipino food is awesome. That our collective love and passion for food and eating is immense. That Filipino chefs are talented, and Filipino cooks are creating magic in kitchens all over the world (even if their names never hit the marquee). That our cuisine and local ingredients hold delicious secrets for those that would seek them out.
That I already know.
But it’s still a thrill to have the cool kids come over and see for themselves.
Like many, I watched Madrid Fusion 2015 unfold from the sidelines (i.e. through social media). Mama duties called and some of the prices for attendance where over the household budget. Not that I minded. I was content to watch the action from afar. I’m just a home cook after all…figuring out how to get dinner on the table with minimal fuss after a day of work. It was a great learning opportunity though for our local restaurateurs and culinary students, and I hope they took a good number of the seats. This didn’t stop me, however, from being inspired by all that I saw and read about surrounding the event. There was much inspiration and discoveries to be had…even for those sitting at home with their iPhones.
One such discovery was adlai. I saw it being used in the regional meals and as part of our local grains on display at the Department of Agriculture’s booth. I was at once intrigued because it’s actually been around for a while and I had never even heard of it before then. Also because I love grains and I’m always drawn to new ones, carbohydrates be damned. I finally got my hands on them and the rest, as they say, is history…
Red Curry Munggo on Adlai
- 1 cup adlai
- 2 cups water
- 150 grams munggo beans (mung beans), I get the “labo” variety
- Canola oil
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 10 grams ginger, peeled and sliced
- 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
- 50-80 grams peeled small shrimp (the type you would use for “pang-gisa”)
- 1 kaffir lime leaf
- 100-150 ml coconut cream
- 2 teaspoons + 2 teaspoons patis (fish sauce)
- 2 teaspoons calamansi juice
Garnishes (As important as the main ingredients! Use any combination of the below or pile them all on!):
- 1 kaffir lime leaf, rib removed and leaf part cut into thin slivers
- A small handful of cilantro, leaves picked
- 3-4 stalks spring onions, sliced
- A small handful of fried chicken skin or chicharon, chopped roughly
- Fried garlic or fried shallots (or both)
– Rinse monggo and get rid of any small stones. Place the munggo in a pot with enough water to cover it by an inch or two. Cook until the beans have fully softened. This can take 30 minutes or more depending on your beans. Set aside when done.
– While the munggo is cooking, place the adlai and the 2 cups water in a pot. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the grains have softened. Fluff gently and set aside.
– Place the shrimp and the 2 teaspoons patis in a bowl and mix well to coat. Set aside.
– Heat a wok over medium high heat. When the wok is hot add a couple of swirls of oil. When the oil is hot add the onions and sauté until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to sauté.
– Add the red curry paste to the wok and fry, stirring constantly, until fragrant and mixed well with the onions, about 1-2 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook until then are just colored, less than a minute. Add the cooked munggo, without its liquid (reserve this for later), and mix well with the curry paste mixture. Add the kaffir lime leaf. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavors meld a bit, about 5-10 minutes.
– Add the coconut cream to the wok and stir well. You can add as much or as little to get your desired consistency (some like their monggo soupy and others like it thick…I like it thick). You can also use the reserved munggo cooking liquid to adjust consistency, although I prefer to use just the coconut cream as this makes for a richer dish. Add the remaining two teaspoons of patis and calamansi juice, stir well, and cook for about 5 minutes more.
– Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. If it needs more salt add patis, if it needs more tang add calamansi, and if you feel the flavor needs to be more muted then add more coconut cream. Take off the heat.
– To serve, place a mound of adlai in a bowl, top with some munggo, and top that with your choice of the garnishes above.
I have labeled the toppings as garnishes above but they are super important to the dish’s overall gustatory experience so do not skip it! And, I highly recommend the chicken skin to be part of your mix. What you use should ideally be a combination of something fresh and green and something crunchy. Serve this with extra patis and calamansi (and maybe some chili even) on the side for those who want to adjust the taste of their monggo further. No two palates are alike after all and Asian cuisine, in particular Filipino cuisine, fully acknowledges that (very obvious) fact. You can see this perfectly illustrated in the amount of condiments any one typical Filipino will keep at his or her home. Come over to our little flat, we have tons!
Adlai comes from the same family as rice and can be used similarly. Its mild taste and nubby texture makes it the perfect counterpoint for the heart and spicy munggo. I am really liking it and cannot wait to experiment some more. With the leftover adlai and coconut cream I had from this dish I made a wonderful breakfast porridge. No specific measurements yet but if I cobble together a recipe you can be sure I’ll share it here!
I’d also like to report that our humble munggo is absolutely fabulous with the spicy kick of Thai red curry. I loved this version so much that I had it for three consecutive meals! Just another testament to how far we can take our native ingredients with a little thoughtfulness and imagination.
Madrid Fusion is on again this year and I am eagerly looking forward to what this one will bring. I’ve got my pen and notebook ready and I am all set to be inspired!