Happy Chinese New Year!
Although I have dearly missed spending Chinese New Year with my parents and extended family these past 2 years, I've been lucky enough to have a host family who are of Chinese heritage. Both years, we celebrated in a way that reminded me of how my paternal grandmother would celebrate the coming of the new year--incenses, prayers, offerings to ancestors past and a vegetarian meal on new years eve. My host mother even gave me 10,000 riel (2.50 USD) sans red envelope. It meant a lot to be able to spend this holiday with my host family.
Every year, the day prior to chinese new year's eve, my host family spends an entire day making khmer 'pastries' to sell for the festivities. So, I wanted to focus this entry on the process of the making of the pastries and share some photos.
OH! OH! I'm in my final stretch of service with approximately 6 months to go!!! I'll start the official countdown when the days remaining are in the double digits!
One of the girls who lives with us, Pheaup, is preparing the banana leaves for cutting. She is laying them out in the sun so they get some heat on them and kill germs?
Host mom cutting and wiping down the leaves for stuffing.
Some sort of bean. In Khmer its called 'sundike bai'. Maybe lentil, but I have a feeling its something other type.
The main ingredient: sticky rice.
The layers of the pastry.
My host mom spent the whole morning making these!
Looks so perfect. Oh, you see the string holding the leaves together? Well, that is just part of the giant banana leaf. Biodegradable wrappers! Ingredients are all organic!
The final product: Nom Ansom. This is a savory pastry made with pig fat. Its pretty good, but heavy. Once these are wrapped, the pastries are steamed in giant pots. These sold for 3000riel each. So, 75cents per piece.
My host sister Mite. She is the best Khmer cook ever! She knows how to make me Mac and cheese from the box and spaghetti after only one lesson. Her food always comes out great. But, she cooks like any other asian lady--doesn't use measurements. Adds ingredients based on smell, taste and experience. I haven't learned any khmer dishes. I should get crackin on that.
This is a home made tool. Its made from a top of a bottle cap with a hole punched through it. Then, its screwed onto a metal handle. The ridges of the bottle cap scrape the coconut meat easily and perfectly.
The results of scrapping the coconut.
Coco and sugar filling for the sweet pastry.
I helped last year too with the wrapping of the leaves. Its good that I enjoy baking. I like to feel involved.
My host niece, Lekena, reaping the rewards of the labor intensive cake making session. This khmer pastry is made with rice flour. The outer layer is slightly sweet and chewy! The inside filling is made only with fresh shredded coconut and sugar. That is it!!!
SO EARLY! I took this photo around 6:40ish am, but my host sister and nephew started selling at sunrise! Markets are open very early and people normally do their shopping early n the morning.
My sister, Rothmony, on the main stretch of the road, in front of the market, selling cakes.
The banana leaf wrapped cakes sold for 200 riel each. That is approximately 3 cents a piece.
Coconut milk sticky muffins. Pretty tasty. These sold for 500riel or 12 cents each.
My host nephew, Reaksmey, sold cakes in another makeshift stall at the market that morning too.
I hope you enjoyed these photos as much as I enjoyed eating the cakes! diana
Sorry if there are typos and grammatical errors