Monday, 6 November 2006

LP 15: Ampaw Flapjacks

LP 15Waste not want not - the recycling mantra. When you don't have much resources (aka money) you think of lots of ways to save. That includes recycling clothes, everyday things, and most of all food. Recycling is more or less a way of life in the Philippines. You just don't throw things away. Things have to be re-used until they've broken down to pieces or if it's of no use to anyone. As for food, you don't let it spoil either by eating it all or recycling it. It takes some imagination and skill to successfully do the latter while making the food remain edible and tasty. The current edition 15th edition of Lasang Pinoy (hosted by Mike of Lafang) hopefully will showcase all the wonderful ways of recycling food.

My mother has been doing homemade rice crispies (ampaw) for as long as I can remember. Before cleaning out our rice pot with soap and water she always saved the water soaked rice remains - you know those little bits of rice left when you've more or less scraped the bottom - instead of just throwing them away. She would put it in a bilao - a wide shallow winnowing basket - and dry it in the hot midday sun. The dried rice would then be collected in a jar. She would do this more or less everyday. Once we have enough then she would fry it to make the ampaw then sweeten it with a mixture of evaporated milk and sugar. It was comfort food for us kids especially during rainy days when we were bored to death of not doing anything (this was the time before computers and Nintendo games!). She would pile the sweetened ampaw in a bowl which we unceremoniously attack armed only with a spoon each. :)

This recipe is exactly how my mother made them except I patted it down in a baking pan and cut them into bars. But you really don't have to do it that way you can always start eating it as soon as it got off from the wok - just like we did. We somehow prefer it warm with that sweet caramelly flavour of the reduced evaporated milk and sugar. My mother emphasised that I put in a pinch of salt to blend in with the toffee-like flavour. So don't forget that if you're ever going to make this.

My first try after about 20 years has not been a complete success. I had too much sauce and too little ampaw which explains the wet appearance in the picture. I'll make sure to dry more rice before doing this!

Ampaw Flapjacks
(Rice Crispies Flapjacks)
  • To dry the rice:
    1. You need the rice pot where you've just cooked rice and had some left overs or tutong (crust of rice at the bottom). Fill up the pot with water *do not put soap!* and soak until all the rice is soft and separated.
    2. Drain the rice from the pot and spread on a bilao (Filipino winnowing basket) or any similar container. Leave it out in direct sunlight to dry until the grains are hard and brittle.
      Spread the drained rice on a baking sheet and put in a 150C/fan 130C/300F preheated oven. Let it dry there for about 30 minutes or until completely dry and brittle.

  • For the flapjacks:

    4 cups dried rice
    oil for frying
    1 x 400 g  can of evaporated milk
    1 cup sugar
    large pinch of salt

    1. Heat oil in a wok or saucepan until quite hot. Drop a piece of dried rice to test it - it should puff up right away.
    2. Fry the dried rice about a fistful at a time and be prepared to scoop it out after only a few seconds. It burns easily so don't let it hang around floating there in the hot oil. One thing I do is once it all puffs up I take the wok off the heat so that the heat would be reduced while I'm busy scooping it out and prevent it from burning. Repeat until all the rice is puffed.
    3. In another wok, tip in the evaporated milk, sugar and pinch of salt. Bring to boil then turn down heat and simmer while constantly stirring until slightly thick.
    4. Turn off heat and put in all the ampaw in the wok and stir until sauce and ampaw are well mixed.
    5. Put in a non-stick or greased baking pan and pat it down level. Cool slightly and then cut into bars or squares. Cool completely.

Lasang Pinoy 15

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