Tuesday, 27 August 2013
Sourdough Coconut Rice Pancakes
Sometimes it is good to stick your neck out. Not in an ugly or untoward way. More like an adventure.
I rather like adventures. They bring you to the end of your comfort zone. And then, perchance, take you across those borders. Stretching your limits, extending your experience and abilities. And next time it is not so fearsome to go there any more. I am told by my psychology friends that you tend to compare present situations to your past experiences before making decisions. Mostly in unconscious ways.
Adventure, on the other hand, takes you into the unknown in a fully conscious way. You make a deliberate decision and then just carry on regardless.
It can get quite exciting, after a fashion.
Well, I did exactly this as part of my sourdough experimentation. The internet group Sourdough Surprises has a monthly challenge for dishes using sourdough. I thought this could turn into some culinary adventure, why not try it.
The challenge on hand is to make sourdough pancakes. Perhaps with the accent on the filling or sauce, rather than the pancakes themselves.
I reasoned that putting most of the accent on the filling, one would end up with a challenge on the sauce. Not overly sourdough, methinks.
So I surfed the net and got to appam. A sourdough pancake made from rice. A very popular dish in some southern Indian states. And very easy, given that it can be made without fancy equipment and processes.
I have a batch of apples fermenting merrily as part of my greater effort in catching more wild yeasts. These were picked from the tree, no additives, preservatives or wax to kill the natural yeast on the skin.
I have made appam before, also as an experiment. The full story can be read in a previous blog post. At that time I decided to take a short cut and use baking powder as the leavening agent. It worked a treat and cut the time from start to plate by a huge margin. This time I went the traditional way.
I soaked the rice (¾ cup) for eight hours before blitzing it in the blender to a fine pulp. Enough for a dinner for two. The blended soak was then inoculated with some fermenting apple water. This lot was left overnight as per the traditional method. I digressed from the traditional recipe (there is a plethora of these recipes on the net) which calls for a self-fermenting process. As it is still winter here in the Cape of Storms, I decided that it would be prudent to help nature a bit and force a start to the fermentation using my known ferment. ( Well, at least I know it is an active yeast!)
Twelve hours later I added three dessert spoons of dessicated coconut, a pinch of salt and one egg, beaten.
This lot was bubbling away merrily before I added the additional ingredients. The full mix batter was then left for three hours to ferment a little more. By this time there was a lot of bubbles, but the batter seemed to separate a bit.
Adventure, no less!
I ignored that part, reasoning that I shall stir the batter up each time before scooping a ladle full into the frying pan. The batter needs to be about the same consistency as for normal pancake. This batter is a bit more coarse than normal flour and it has no gluten. Therefore the pancake will be brittle, not elastic as one would expect from wheat flour. I added the egg to help bind the batter.
These pancakes came out brilliantly. You pour a little batter into a hot frying pan, then swirl the batter around to make nice patterns. I use a non-stick pan, so there is no fat involved. The pancake is left on its own to cook until it comes loose from the pan by itself. You shake the pan a bit when you think the time is right. By this time the bottom of the pancake will have turned a beautiful shade of brown caramel. A quick flip to cook the top will take the pancake to perfection. These do not really stick to the pan as there is no additional sugar in the mix. And the coconut helps to give a beautiful caramelised colour and taste.
I served these with a fast chicken curry called balti chicken. Compliments of the good offices of a fellow food blogger from Pakistan by the name of Maria Nasir. This dish is also very easy to prepare and it would be remiss of me not to point you directly to the recipe.
The chicken dish goes extremely well with the appam. There is a very yeasty sourness in the pancakes, delicious on its own. The curry complements the flavours and you end up with a sensual dish which is easy to prepare.
And so ends my culinary adventure. This time I gained a lot of confidence in the wild yeasts I am using in my culinary experiments. The flavours are exquisite and I am getting some idea of how the yeast flavours go with food.
And in spite of all my misgivings about the batter, the yeast performed as expected. The pancakes come out a bit chewy as a result of using dessicated coconut. The previous batch was made with coconut powder, which gives a finer texture. It is up to the cook to decide on which way to go, yeast or baking powder.
But the yeast version has the better taste...
Authored by Johan Zietsman.
Last updated on 2013-08-27.
This blog post also linked to Yeastspotting!