Friday, March 23, 2012

Mamma Jamma Pancakes

My sister M is the only one in my family that can make traditional Samoan pancakes like my mother. She's mastered the art of those simple, tasty treats, an art which involves measuring by eye, mixing to perfection and frying to a crisp crunchy finish. And it is an art, because not everyone can make them. 

Especially moi.

Unfortunately M has also inherited my mother's Samoan abilities at explaining a recipe, because when I asked her how to make them she said over the phone, "It's easy, it's just flour, sugar, water..."
"How about eggs?" I asked.
"If we have them, I put them in," she replied.
"Do you use milk?" I asked.
"Sometimes," she said.
"Anything else?" I pressed.
"No, that's it I think," she answered.
So I faithfully tried a dozen different batters of all different proportions of flour, sugar and water and none came out like my childhood pancake memories. 

Tired and dejected, I fried the last of my unsuccessful batter into a pancake in the shape of M's head, and smooshed it with my spatula. 

That's what happens when there's only one person in your family that can make something and you leave it to them to always make it. 

It's not that I never tried to make them, because I have, but my efforts have always been hit and miss. 

So this recipe has be filed under 'inspired'. It's my own take on traditional Samoan pancakes because I honestly could not get the flour/sugar/water thing to work. And because according to my sister M, the expert, there is no baking powder in traditional Samoan pancakes. In fact, when I told her about the baking powder, she wrote: 'Are you making pagi keke mafolafola (flat pancakes) or pagi keke mamma jamma?'.

Looks like it is the mamma jamma kind. 

M, sorry about that pancake I made in the shape of your head. But you can't imagine how frustrating it is to not be able to make something that only requires three ingredients. If it's any consolation, the pancake had a nice shape, a golden brown complexion and was tough - kinda like you, Mamma Jamma.

Mamma Jamma Pancakes
(makes 12)
2 cups (250 g) flour
4 teaspoons (15 g) baking powder
3 Tablespoons (40 g) sugar
1⅓ cup (160 ml) water
oil for frying

Measure everything into a bowl and stir quickly but lightly to combine all the ingredients. Do not overmix, or try to get the batter smooth. The batter will be slightly lumpy but you shouldn't see any big lumps of flour.

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a frypan. The oil should be generous enough to coat the bottom of the pan and then some. When you see the oil start to shimmer when you swirl it around the pan then it's hot enough for frying the pancakes. If the oil is smoking, it's too hot.

Scoop heaped tablespoonfuls of batter into the frypan. The batter should sizzle when it hits the oil. Fry each side until golden. 

The first side will be done when bubbles poke through the batter. The second side will take less time than the first. 

Add oil each time you start a new batch of pancakes.

Serve with butter and jam, or a classic Samoan mixture of the two. We used to make this when we had fa'alavelave, and had to cater for scores of people. The all-in-one spread made it easier to churn out plates of crackers, pancakes or thickly sliced white bread.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Filled Rolls

This is not just a bun.

Look inside:

It's pagi popo turned inside out! Fluffy white rolls with luscious coconut cream filling.

Use your favourite bread roll (or my pagi popo recipe) and while the dough is rising the first time, make a filling and allow it to cool.

Coconut Milk Filling
(makes enough for 12 rolls)
2/3 cup (130 g) sugar 
1/4 cup (30 g)flour
1 can (14 oz/400 ml) coconut milk 

Whisk everything together in a saucepan until smooth, then cook over low/medium heat until thickened and floury taste is gone.

Coconut Caramel Filling
(makes enough for 12 rolls)
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1 can (14 oz/400 ml) coconut milk
4 Tablespoons (30 g) flour
1/2 cup water
1 cup (70 g) grated coconut

Caramelise the sugar over medium heat until deep golden brown. Add coconut milk and stir until combined. Mix the flour with the water until smooth and add this to the sugar mixture. Simmer over low heat for 30 seconds until thick. Remove from heat and add grated coconut. Mix well.

* Move quickly but carefully when making the coconut caramel filling because the sugar will continue to caramelise as long as it's on the heat and may become bitter if overcooked.

Both the fillings above will thicken upon standing. They should be at room temperature by the time you wish to use them. 

Once your bun dough is ready, divide it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and then use a rolling pin to flatten into a circle. Scoop a generous tablespoon of filling in the centre of each circle. Gather the edges up and press together to seal. Make sure the filling is completely sealed in because it will ooze out of any holes it can find while baking. 

Place seam side down in a baking pan (12x8x2"/30x20x5 cm) and leave to rise for a second time until doubled in volume. Bake for 35 minutes at 375°F (190°C).

Cool for at least half an hour before serving.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Hot Samoan Boys

I'm driving through some random place in Samoa and see a young man alongside the road. Perhaps he's balancing a load of coconuts over his shoulder and heading home. Maybe he's playing volleyball or soccer. Perhaps he's just sitting around, laughing with friends, shooting the breeze. He casually throws my car a look of mild curiousity. and I glance at him with nonchalance, at first. That look soon turns to one of open appreciation, as I realise I'm looking at one of the finest specimens of male on God's green earth: A Hot Samoan Boy.

A thrill courses through me as I take in his sleek physique, his even, white smile and his confident, carefree swagger. My pulse starts racing and I'm slightly breathless. I find myself self-consciously smoothing down my hair and cranking up the air-conditioner because it's suddenly gotten hot. As his figure becomes a receding dot in my rear-view mirror, I'm thinking three things.

If you could take that electric thrill, that fiery excitement, that tingly rushing sensation, catch it in a bottle and slap a label on it, what would you call it?

Stella Muller found the perfect name: Hot Samoan Boys Chilli Sauce.

Stella and her husband are responsible for branding and marketing this hot new product from Samoa. She came up with the catchy, saucy name, which by the way, is meant to be completely non-sexual (the driving fantasy above belongs to my own lecherous imagination). 

Stella has graciously taken a bit of time to tell us a bit about this fantastic homegrown sauce.

What makes Hot Samoan Boys Chilli Sauce different from other chilli sauces? Hot Samoan Boys Chilli sauce is different from other sauces because it is:

*         An unblended sauce - HSBC is made from 100% Birds eye chilli,
unlike others that will use a mix of different chillis in their sauce

*         Created from birds eye chilli, planted and hand-picked from
villages across Samoa

*         The only chilli sauce made out of Samoa, the cradle of the Pacific

What's the best way to eat your chilli sauce? (ie. best food combinations)
HSBC is a great accompaniment to any meal, however some favourites include:

*         Raw fish - a few dashes of HSBC give any raw fish a nice kick

*         Pork - specifically pig on a spit or roast pork -  if apple
sauce is getting a bit tired, try some HSBC and you will notice the

*         Pacific Bloody Mary - Same recipe as a Bloody Mary, however
instead of using Tobasco sauce , use HSBC.

Basically you can use HSBC any way you like as it gives a nice kick, but
unlike sauces with Habanero or hotter chillis, you can still enjoy and
taste what you are eating.

How can international buyers get some?
International customers can find out how to order by visiting our website or Facebook page.

I can already think of a million and one ways to use Samoa's very own Chilli Sauce. And if you need just a tiny bit more incentive to try it, here it is:

Go get your Hot! Samoan Boys Chilli Sauce today!