Woon mamuang


DSC_0200 These symmetrically gorgeous yellow and white pieces of soft squares are the stuff of dreams most soothing and calm. As lovely and mysterious as these are to look at, they taste almost as tranquil and smooth.

‘Woon mamuang’ as these are called in Thai are really mango mousse made with agar-agar, a sort of vegan gelatine so to say, that’s made of seaweed and thus vegan, vegetarian friendly. I first had them in Thailand and couldn’t get over the almost enigmatic texture of these tender squares. They’re not too wobbly, as one would expect regular jellies made of gelatine, yet softly yielding with a fresh fruity taste that almost feels like eating mangoes in a different form. There’s a sort of gentleness to their aspect that works really well as a light dessert, for it doesn’t fill you up, not to mention that their primary ingredients or rather the only ingredients are pureed mangoes and coconut milk, both of which form a kind of ethereal bond of mellow pleasantness.

I made these for the first time and learnt after a few errors the exact workings of agar agar, and will explain them in this post so you don’t make the same mistakes.

 

DSC_0146 copythe ingredients are mangoes, sugar, lime, strawberries, coconut milk, water and agar agar.

 

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peel the mangoes

 

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and chop/cube them to be made into a puree.

 

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add in a squirt of lime juice to add just another dimension of flavours

 

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and blend to form a puree, making sure there are no lumps.

 

 

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water in a pot, don’t turn on the heat yet, because unlike gelatine agar agar will turn into something of a mess if dumped into hot water.

 

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add in agar agar and slowly start heating the water.

 

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stir water constantly or else the agar agar might settle at the bottom and clump together.

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keep stirring until agar agar is completely dissolved.

 

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once that is done, add in the sugar and let is dissolve

 

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add in mango puree

 

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and whisk until it’s mixed well and there are no lumps

 

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there are various ways to go about making woon mamuang. You can either make individual pieces in moulds or one big piece in a tray. I went with the latter option.

 

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Now the the thing with agar agar is that it begins to set soon after it starts cooling down and can set at room temperature as well, so we have to be a bit quick about things, but don’t get yourself in a frenzy as I did. Pour half the mango mixture to form the bottom layer.

 

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Add in chopped strawberries. you can even add mango cubes or coconut meat or nothing. I love the reds of strawberries with the yellows of mango.

 

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they look like rose petals.

 

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while that sets, we can get on with making the coconut milk layer. Start heating a pot of water with agar agar until it completely dissolves

 

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add sugar and coconut milk

 

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and pour the hot coconut milk mixture over the now set layer of mango layer and pop all the air bubbles or rather most of them using a toothpick.

Error: here’s the mistake I made. I checked the mango layer in corners of the pan and thought it to be set, whereas the middle part of the layer had not set at all, which is why some part of the coconut milk layer has floating strawberries on it. Therefore check that the bottom layer has almost completely set. It should be a little tacky, but shouldn’t stick to your fingers.

 

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once the coconut layer has set pour over the remaining mango mixture and let set completely and refrigerate for at least a few hours before serving.

Note: keep the remaining mango mixture warm while the coconut milk layer sets, because once it cools down it will begin to congeal.

 

DSC_0195cut into squares and serve chilled.


Ingredients

For the mango layer

Mangoes: 430g (about 2 cups)

Water: 350 mls (1.5 cups)

Sugar: 100g (1/2 cup)

Agar agar: 2tsp

Lime juice: 1tsp

Strawberries: 80g (1/2 cup)

For the coconut milk layer

Coconut milk: 200mls (1 cup)

Water: 200 mls (3/4 cup)

Sugar: 4-5 tbsp

Agar agar: 1 tsp



Recipe instructions: Puree mangoes with lime juice, chop strawberries and keep aside.

Add agar agar to a pot of cold water and gently bring up to heat, stirring constantly until agar agar dissolves. Add sugar and pureed mangoes and whisk until sugar has dissolved and no lumps remain.

Gently pour half the mixture into moulds, making sure that no air bubbles are formed. Strew in chopped strawberries and allow this layer to set, while keeping the remaining mango mixture warm.

Make the coconut milk mixture by adding agar agar to water and slowly bringing to heat, stirring constantly until agar agar is completely dissolved. Add in coconut milk and sugar and once sugar is dissolved as well, pour the coconut milk mixture very gently over the now set mango mixture. To ensure that no air bubbles are formed you can even spoon this mixture.

In case any bubbles do get formed, pop them with a toothpick.

Once the coconut milk mixture had set gently pour the remaining mango puree over it and let it set completely and refrigerate before serving.


Few things to remember:  Do not let agar agar settle at the bottom of the pan while dissolving in water. Keep stirring constantly.

Check if the layers have set by gently tapping the middle area, it should be tacky to the touch but shouldn’t stick.

Do not let remainder mixture to cool down because it begins to set. Keep over low heat in case the temperatures are cool.


 

 

 

 

Coconut peanut noodles


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Coconut peanut noodles in a soup or rather soupy peanut noodles to be more precise. But what’s in a name, any noodle in this broth would taste as fabulous, which is the gorgeous alchemy of cooking. It’s really about how different ingredients marry each other to form something so deliciously splendid that you’re left licking the contents of the bowl to the last ceramic whiff.

There are Thai tones to this dish, what with the astringent uplifting bouquet of lemongrass that harmonizes ever so perfectly with the moody mellowness of coconut milk and peanut butter, it is strictly speaking not exactly Thai as globally Asian. It tends to borrow and makes something of its own and that’s really the beauty of home cooking.

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What’s really great about this noodle bowl is that it came into existence simply out of necessity to get rid of forgotten bits of vegetables and shrimps languishing about in the vegetable drawer and freezer. There are mushrooms, broccoli, peppers, spring onions, lemongrass, garlic, coconut milk, peanut butter, shrimps, dried red chillies (also the name of this blog), soy sauce and water. Phew. And really, you could omit or add anything to your liking. If I happened to have some other vegetables this lineup would look a bit different.

 

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also some noodles. Use whatever noodles you fancy. I’m using some sweet potato starch noodles.

 

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We begin rather ceremoniously with a bit of vegetable chopping.

 

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followed by lemongrass smashing, and this step is important because it starts releasing all the flavours that stay compacted in this stem of wonders.

 

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saute sliced green onions (mostly the white part) and garlic in oil.

 

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throw in the chillies

 

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once a wall of fragrance hits your face, throw in chopped mushrooms and keep sauteing

 

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and a bit of salt

 

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in the meanwhile start cooking your noodles in boiling water.

 

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throw in the smashed lemongrass and cook for about a minute

 

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after which we pour in some water. Let it come to a gentle simmer

 

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and add coconut milk.

 

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let the flavours mingle and come to a simmer

 

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add in peanut butter

 

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and soy sauce

 

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stir everything together and we are greeted with this gorgeous fawn coloured broth that smells of heaven. Cover and let it come to a bubble

 

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Like so

 

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Finally, add shrimps

 

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and vegetables. Cover and cook until it comes to a boil.

 

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Finally, turn off the heat and fish out whatever remains of lemongrass. It has done its job. By now your kitchen is exploding into aromatic pops.

 

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Place cooked noodles in a bowl and pour over the peanut coconut soup

 

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garnish with spring onion greens or coriander.

 

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and serve hot!


Ingredients

Noodles of your choice: 1 packet or 1 nest

Chopped vegetables: 60g (1 cup)

Assorted mushrooms: 150g (2 cups)

Shrimps (optional): 70g (1/2 cup)

Coconut milk: 200mls (3/4 cup)

Water: 200mls (3/4 cup)

Peanut butter : 2 heaped tbsps (1/4 cup)

Garlic: 2 cloves

Spring onions: 2-3

Dried red chillies (optional): 2-3

lemon grass: 1 stalk

soy sauce: 4 tbsps

Oil: 1 tbsp



Recipe instructions:

cook noodles and reserve cooked noodles into a bowl.

Chop vegetables, green onions and garlic into bite sized pieces.

Smash the lemongrass stalk to release its oils.

Heat oil in a wok and add white part of green onions and garlic and saute until fragrant. Add dried red chillies and saute for a few more seconds and add in the mushrooms, lemongrass and cook for a minute. Add in salt and water and let it come to a light simmer.

Add coconut milk and let it come to a slight simmer again, after which add in peanut butter and soya sauce. Stir to combine and make sure peanut butter doesn’t settle in a lump. Cover and let it bubble, finally adding in the shrimps and chopped vegetables. Cover  and let bubble again.

Once it’s come to a boil, turn off the gas and fish out lemongrass stalk.

Pour peanut coconut broth over cooked noodles. Garnish with greens of spring onion or coriander and  serve hot.