I love cassava. As an Indonesian, I used to enjoy various treats made from cassava. It's truly and ultimate accompanies are coconut threads and palm sugar.
My late grandmother used to serve any kind of sweets made from cassava she could cook for us, along with the humble fragrant of jasmine tea, brewed in a clay pot, in the afternoon. Then we would take a stroll in her fruit garden which in season would be filled with rambutans of all sorts and colors (she got red and yellow hairy skin types), durians which were hanging (often at night when we were sleeping over, we were coken up by them falling down the trees, and early morning we found it was all ripen and was ready to be eaten--oh-so-fresh-from-the-tree), bananas (she also had red-skin bananas, I think she named it pisang udang which literally is translated to shrimp banana as the skin resembles red shrimp skin when it's boiled or cooked--well, not that red, but it was almost maroonish color), guavas, jackfruits, and mangoes of all sorts. Often our car was stuffed with the mixed of aromas in the air when we went back home. My late and beloved grandmother was a very good gardener and a classic cook.
In special occasions, like Ramadhan or Ied el Fitr, my grandmother always sent us her homemade fermented cassava or black rice, wrapped in banana leaves. I always love the smell of fermentation enclosed the cassava pieces and just couldn't help myself to unwrap the parcels and gobble down one by one.
I was still too little and way too ignorant--pity me-- to understand about fermentation at that time, but what I do remember that my grandmother used to use banana leaves to wrap the pieces and she often just ripped off the leaves straight from her gaden. I don't use banana leaves to cover the fermented cassavas as they are not available fresh from the garden. I often ask my friend who lives in Auckland to buy a package of frozen banana leaves for some occasions or when I'm missing my grandmother's homecooking and sweets, but they are not the same.
However, this is the second time I fermented cassava myself, in remembering how I miss my grandmother. The steps are very easy. Thaw the cassava (if you buy them frozen, like I do), then steam the until they are cooked. Leave them cold. Then scatter the ground starter (available at Asian groceries and market), cover, leave for more or less 5 days, then you'll see the nature takes over fermentation around the cassava pieces.
There are many recipes posted anywhere in the world using fermented cassava, but this time I'm making my own way. I am fond of desserts, and if I can make it myself, it's just like making the Eden comes down on Earth. Impossible? Well, at least it's worth trying.
So, yesterday, I tried to make creme brulee, made from fermented cassava but I'll leave it on to you to taste it.
Fermented Cassava Creme Brulee
by Arfi Binsted
150g fermented cassava, mashed
300ml coconut cream
200ml thickened cream
1/4 cup caster sugar
caster or brown sugar to sprinkle
Gently heat coconut cream and thickened cream together in a saucepan until they are well mixed and bring to boil. Meanwhile, whisk together eggs and sugar until pale, then mix in the mashed fermented cassava. Strain. Pour the coconut and cream mixture gradually and keep stirring. Put back to the heat, on top of a saucepan. Cook until the mixture thickens (the mixture will coat the back of the spoon). Remove from the heat and pour them into 6 small ramekins. Water bath for 20 minutes. Cool, then chill. Sprinkle with caster or brown sugar just before serving and caramelise them under a hot grill or use a blow torch. Serve warm.