Monday, March 08, 2004

I woke up earlier than usual

probably in anticipation of a glorious day at work. I'm trying to pass the time by doing research for the book I'm working on. Yesterday, my mother brought over a dessert from my childhood called Pa-li-tau (actually I'm not too sure how to spell it). The version that she brought over was made by a local Vietnamese bakery, but it was still pretty similar to what I remember eating. Shamelessly I had the last two pieces with tea for breakfast. Though on the health scale they probably ranked higher than your average Pop Tart.

I'm not sure if the proportions, I'll look these up later. But this is a simple dessert eaten in the Philippines and Southeast Asia. They actually are not very sweet.

Rice flour
1 c. sesame seeds
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. light brown sugar
2. c fresh coconut, shredded

Toast the sesame seeds until they are golden brown. Mash with a clean mortar and pestle (don't use the one you used to mash the garlic for last night's pad thai). You can also grind the sesame seeds in the blender, but take care not to blend them so much that you end up with tahini paste. In a small bowl mix together the ground sesame and sugars. Place both the sugar/sesame mixture and the coconut on separate plates. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Mix the salt, riceflour and water together until you have a malleable dough. You want the dough to be able to hold well on its own without being super sticky. Grease your fingers well and separate out tablespoon sized portions of dough. Shape each one like an flat oval. Pinch the ends so that you have a sort of rounded looking diamond shape. Make an indentation in the midde of each piece of dough with your thumb. Roll your thumb from side to side to increase size of the indentation. It helps if you have one person making the little cakes while another person watches them boiling and takes them out when they're done and roll. Bring a large pot of water to boil with a little salt. Through a few of the rice cakes in at a time. They're done when they float to the top. Remove with a slotted spoon that will drain the liquid away well. After removing each cake roll it immediately in coconut until it's covered. Place on the serving dish and let sit until cool. When cool sprinkle an amount of the sesame and sugar into the indentation. Serve with hot tea as a snack or dessert.


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