Drinks

Sugar Cane Juice Kombucha

Sugar Cane Juice Kombucha

Kombucha, a naturally fizzy and tangy fermented tea, has been enjoyed for centuries in various parts of the world. In this recipe, we’ll combine ancient recipes from Ukraine together with a staple summertime drink from Cambodia and create a delightful green tea and sugar cane juice kombucha, which combines the health benefits of green tea with the natural sweetness of cane sugar. It’s a refreshing and probiotic-rich beverage that’s easy to make at home.

Ingredients (for 1 gallon):

  • 4-5 green tea bags or 2 tablespoons loose leaf green tea
  • 2 cups of sugar cane juice
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast)
  • 2 cups of starter liquid (previously brewed kombucha or store-bought unpasteurized kombucha)
  • 1-gallon glass jar
  • Clean cloth or paper towel
  • Rubber band

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Gather Your Ingredients: Ensure you have all the ingredients ready, including green tea, cane sugar juice, a SCOBY, starter liquid, and a clean glass jar.
  2. Boil Water: Heat 3 cups of water to just below boiling (around 190°F or 88°C). Remove it from the heat source and let it cool for a minute or two.
  3. Steep Green Tea: Add the green tea bags or loose leaf tea to a heatproof container. Pour the hot water over the tea and let it steep for about 5-7 minutes. Remove the tea bags or strain the loose leaf tea.
  4. Mix Sugar Cane Juice: While the tea is still hot, add the sugar cane juice and stir until completely dissolved. This will be the food for the SCOBY during fermentation.
  5. Cool the Sweet Tea: Allow the sweetened tea to cool to room temperature. This may take a few hours. Do not rush this step, as hot tea can harm the SCOBY.
  6. Prepare the Fermentation Jar: Cleanse a 1-gallon glass jar with hot water to ensure it’s free from contaminants. Let it cool down.
  7. Add Sweet Tea: Pour the completely cooled sweet tea juice into the glass jar.
  8. Add Starter Liquid: Pour in the 2 cups of starter liquid (previously brewed kombucha or store-bought unpasteurized kombucha). The starter liquid helps lower the pH, creating an environment suitable for the SCOBY to thrive.
  9. Add SCOBY: Carefully place the SCOBY on top of the liquid. It may float or sink; either way is fine.
  10. Cover with Cloth: Cover the mouth of the jar with a clean cloth or paper towel, securing it with a rubber band. This allows air circulation while keeping out debris and insects.
  11. Fermentation Time: Place the jar in a warm, dark location (ideally around 75-85°F or 24-29°C) for 5-12 days. The longer you ferment, the less sweet and more tart the kombucha will become. Taste it after 5 days to check for your preferred level of tartness.
  12. Bottle Kombucha: Once the kombucha has reached your desired level of fermentation, carefully remove the SCOBY using clean hands. Reserve some of the liquid for your next batch as starter liquid.
  13. Flavor (Optional): If desired, you can flavor your kombucha by adding fruit juice, herbs, or spices at this stage. Transfer the kombucha to airtight bottles, leaving some space at the top.
  14. Second Fermentation (Optional): Seal the bottles and leave them at room temperature for 2-5 days for a second fermentation. This will carbonate the kombucha. Be cautious as pressure will build up, so burp the bottles daily to release gas.
  15. Chill and Serve: After the second fermentation (or straight from the first fermentation), refrigerate your kombucha. This slows down the fermentation process and chills the beverage. Serve it cold, garnished with a slice of lime if desired.
  16. Enjoy: Sip on your homemade Sugar Cane Juice Kombucha and relish the fizzy, tangy, and slightly sweet flavors. It’s a nutritious and refreshing drink that you can enjoy anytime.



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Coconut Kefir 

Coconut Kefir

This Coconut Kefir recipe brings together the refreshing tropical flavors of coconut and zesty lime, all while incorporating the health benefits of kefir. Inspired by culinary staples in Cambodia, where coconut flavors abound, and the kitchen culture in Ukraine, where fermented foods are celebrated, this kefir combines the tropical richness of coconut with a zesty burst of lime. It’s an easy-to-make, budget-friendly, and nutritionally beneficial beverage that will elevate your daily routine. Whether you’re seeking a dairy-free alternative or simply love the idea of combining these vibrant ingredients, this kefir is both delicious and nutritious.

Ingredients (4 servings):

  • 4 cups of coconut water (fresh or canned)
  • 1/4 cup of water kefir grains
  • 1 tablespoon of cane sugar or regular powdered sugar
  • Zest and juice of 2 limes
  • A pinch of salt

Equipment:

  • A glass jar with a lid
  • A clean cloth or paper towel
  • A rubber band

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Gather Your Ingredients: Before you begin, make sure you have all the necessary ingredients ready. Fresh or canned coconut water, along with the zest and juice of two limes, will be the stars of this recipe.
  2. Prepare the Jar: Start by sterilizing a glass jar with boiling water or by running it through the dishwasher. A clean jar is essential to prevent unwanted bacteria during fermentation.
  3. Combine Coconut Water and Water Kefir Grains: In a mixing bowl, gently combine the coconut water and water kefir grains. Water kefir grains are a vegan alternative to milk kefir grains and facilitate a similar fermentation process.
  4. Add Sugar: To make the kefir slightly sweeter, add a tablespoon of cane sugar to the mixture. Stir thoroughly to ensure it dissolves.
  5. Lime Zest and Juice: Grate the zest of two limes and squeeze out their juice. Add both the zest and juice to the coconut water mixture. The lime will provide a refreshing zing to your kefir.
  6. Place in the Jar: Carefully pour the coconut water and kefir grain mixture, along with the lime zest and juice, into the clean glass jar.
  7. Cover with Cloth: Cover the jar’s mouth with a clean cloth or paper towel, securing it in place with a rubber band. This allows the mixture to breathe while keeping contaminants at bay.
  8. Fermentation Time: Position the jar in a warm, dark location for approximately 24 to 48 hours. Check it after 24 hours to determine if it has reached your desired level of tartness.
  9. Strain Kefir: Once the kefir has achieved your preferred level of fermentation, strain it into another container. Use a fine-mesh strainer to separate the kefir from the water kefir grains.
  10. Collect Water Kefir Grains: After straining, collect the water kefir grains that remain in the strainer. These grains can be used to initiate another batch of kefir or stored in a small container with some coconut water in the refrigerator.
  11. Chill and Serve: Refrigerate the strained kefir to cool it. It’s now ready to be served. You can enjoy it plain, add it to smoothies, or use it as a base for salad dressings.
  12. Serve and Savor: Sip on your Coconut and Lime Kefir and savor the tropical fusion of coconut’s sweetness and the lively kick of lime. It’s a refreshing and nutritious treat.

Variation – Weekend Kefir Cooler:

For a Ukrainian countryside-inspired variation, add a shot of Jungle Beer with a few fresh mint leaves to your glass before pouring in the kefir. This will create a slightly carbonated alcoholic Kefir Cooler with a touch of minty freshness reminiscent of summers in the villages of Ukraine.

Variation – Spiced Lime Kefir:

To introduce a Cambodian twist, consider adding a pinch of ground Kampot black pepper to your Lime Kefir. This will infuse your kefir with a gentle heat and earthy undertones, elevating the flavor profile.

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Kvas – Ukrainian Bread Soda Pop

Kvas - Ukrainian Bread Soda Pop

If you’re looking for an easy to make home made fizzy drink or have alot of left over bread that you don’t want to waste, Kvas is the perfect and easy drink to make at home. 

Kvas is an ancient drink created in the ancient Kingdom of Kievan Rus or modern day Ukraine that has become popular throughout Eastern Europe and many other places around the world. From the 9th century until now, Kvas is enjoyed as a refreshing, natural and delicious drink that is reminiscent of beer but usually with no alcohol, making it enjoyable for everyone. 

Making Kvas is very simple and traditionally it was even made without any yeast added, but to simplify and speed up the process, our recipe will use a tiny amount of yeast so that the drink can be ready in just a few days instead of weeks. 

To start, we will take a quarter of a loaf of dry rye bread and cut into smaller squares. The smaller pieces will be able to get toasted faster. It is of course possible to use other types of bread, but none will yield the same taste as rye bread. This is because rye bread will naturally add riboflavin, niacin and thiamin into the Kvas as well as increase the drinks antioxidant activity up to 60%. Other types of bread and especially white bread tend to make the taste more sour and less “bready” and thick. 

Once we’ve cut enough bread, we can put into an oven and toast it until it is golden brown color. While the bread is toasting, we will pour 1 liter of water into a pot, add in our raisins for taste and mix in our sugar until it dissolves. Then we can begin to boil the water mixture. This doesnt need to be too long and once the water mixture has started to boil, we can move it off the stove and set it to cool down to room temperature. 

While the water mixture is cooling, we will put all our toasted bread into our brewing bottle or container. We can also add any additional herbs like basil as well as berries and fruit. For this recipe, we will just add a bit of basil and a few cherries for taste. Traditionally, kvas was made using cherries but raspberries are also commonly used. Both will add a nice sweet and tangy flavor to the kvas, but if cherries and raspberries are difficult to find, any other berry or even fruit for that matter will work. The fruits that would not be recommended for this are ones that are from the citrus family or any other sour fruit. There is no problem in trying to use them, but keep in mind that the fruit we add should add sweetness and just a bit of tang. It should not overpower the taste of the drink. Because of this, the amount should also be fairly small, we will only need about 5-8 cherries. 

Once the water mixture has cooled to room temperature, we can pour it into our bottle and over the toasted bread, herbs and fruit. Now we will add the ingredients that will help this drink ferment and pull the flavour out of the bread and the other ingredients. Pour half a tablespoon of sourdough starter into the bottle and then add half a teaspoon of bread yeast into the bottle as well. Stir the contents of the bottle well and then cover with a cheese cloth and cap it lightly. 

Store the bottle in a cool dark place for about one to three days and wait for it to ferment. The amount of time will really depend on the outside air temperature. Colder weather would mean that more time is required for fermentation while hot or very humid temperature would mean that the brew can be ready fairly quickly. If the weather has been extremely humid, kvas can sometimes be ready in just 12 hours. The easiest way to tell if the drink is ready is by looking in the bottle to see whether many bubbles have formed at the top and if the contents of the drink are starting to rise to the top of the bottle. We can pour out small amounts on day one or day two to taste the kvas and whether enough natural carbonation has occurred. Once the drink is fizzy but still sweet, it is a sign that it is ready for bottling.

Once the drink has sufficiently fermented, we will use a cheese cloth or a strainer to strain the contents of the drink into individual smaller sized bottles. Sometimes you may wish to strain the drink twice in order to get rid of any big pieces of bread or fruit that may have remained. Once strained and poured into smaller bottles, cap them tightly. Kvas is now ready to drink so enjoy it with your next meal. Kvas can be kept for about 5 to 7 days and up to 10 days if stored in the refrigerator so drink up fast!

Ingredients:

1 liter of water

1.5 cups of sugar

A quarter loaf of dried rye bread

10+ raisins

0.5 tablespoon of sourdough starter

Herbs, basil and berries

0.5 teaspoon of yeast

Recipe:

  1. Cut bread into small square pieces
  2. Toast bread in oven until all pieces of bread are golden brown color
  3. In a pot, pour in 1 liter of water, 10 raisins and 1.5 cups of sugar
  4. Boil the water and mix it all well so that the sugar dissolves 
  5. Once the water mixture is boiling, move it off the stove and set it to cool to room temperature
  6. In a separate bottle, add in the toasted bread pieces and any additional herbs, basil and berries for taste
  7. Once the water mixture has cooled to room temperature, pour it into the bottle and over our bread and other ingredients
  8. Pour 0.5 tablespoon of sourdough starter into the bottle and add 0.5 teaspoon of yeast into the bottle
  9. Stir content of bottle well
  10. Cover bottle with cheese cloth and cap it lightly
  11. Store bottle in a cool, dark place for 1 to 3 days for the fermentation to take place
  12. On day 2, check the bottle to see whether bubbles have formed and the fermentation is underway
  13. Once the brew is ready, strain the drink into separate bottles and cap them tightly
  14. Refrigerate and enjoy the home made Kvas

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Steamed Pumpkin with Custard

Steamed Pumpkin with Custard (soy or coconut)
Khmer Dessert - Cambodian Sonkya Lepov

An easy to make and common dessert enjoyed by Cambodians but not yet well known to foreigners is Sonkya Lepov or Steamed Pumpkin with Custard. This vegan dessert is one of the oldest and more traditional dishes in Khmer cuisine that has similar commonalities with other desserts across other Southeast Asian countries. The great thing about this vegan dessert is that it is quick and easy to make, doesn’t require a lot of time and can feed 4-8 people…depending on the size of the pumpkin or people’s appetites.

To begin preparing this dish, we need to mix all our dry ingredients first. In a mixing bowl we will add one cup of rice flour, half a cup of sugar and a quarter of a cup of tapioca starch. Potato starch will also work, but if you want to follow the traditional recipe, then stick to tapioca starch. Mix all the dry ingredients in the bowl to make sure everything is mixed well together. Now pour in one cup of water and one small bottle of soy milk or approximately three hundred milliliters. If you want to use a bigger amount of soy milk, go ahead but just be sure to add less water. Traditionally this dish is actually made with coconut milk and the measurements and amounts would apply the same if you prefer to use coconut milk. For our recipe, however, we will use soy milk because it is more available for people around the world but even more importantly, soy milk is a bit more FODmap friendly compared to coconut milk and so creates less problems for people suffering from different digestive and stomach problems. Once the water and soy milk or coconut milk is added into the mixing bowl, stir and mix the dry ingredients with the water and soy milk until the mixture turns smooth without any large lumps. Make sure there are no lumps. Stir like crazy if you have to.

Once the custard mixture is ready, let’s tackle the pumpkin. What we want to do is to fill the inside of the pumpkin with our custard mixture while retaining the unpierced shape of the pumpkin the best we can. To be able to do this, we will have to cut a hole at the top of the pumpkin where the stem is. If you are able to, cut a round hole or otherwise a square shaped hole at the top. The hole should be big enough for you to fit a table spoon inside the pumpkin but not much bigger. Keep the whole stem part of the pumpkin that you cut out as well as this will in effect function as a lid. Once you’ve successfully cut your hole, remove the stem ‘lid’ part and set it aside. With a tablespoon, go on to scoop out any seeds or other soft a fleshy parts of the pumpkin and throw them out. When you’re finished, you can pour in the custard mixture inside the pumpkin and close the stem ‘lid’ on the top.

Now it is time to steam our pumpkin and to complete our dessert. If you have a food steamer or a rice cooker with a steam container at the top, these will produce the best results but you can also use a large cooking pot. For the purpose of this recipe, we will outline how to steam the pumpkin with a rice cooker, but if you need to use a large cooking pot, you can fill it with 2-3 cups of water so the pumpkin is only a quarter of the way submerged and set it to boil. Put the pumpkin inside your cooking pot and let it boil for 20-30 minutes. With a rice cooker this is much easier. Pour in about 300ml of water, place the pumpkin in the upper steaming chamber, close the lid and set the rice cooker to cook for about 20 minutes. Ideally, you will not have to open your cooking pot or rice cooker for the duration of the 20 minutes. This is in order to preserve the steam and heat inside to make sure it makes the pumpkin nice and soft. After 20 minutes, open the rice cooker and open the pumpkin stem ‘lid’ to check whether the custard inside has become for solid or similar consistency to a fried egg, also with a fork, gently poke somewhere at the top of the pumpkin to make sure its soft. If the pumpkin still appears a bit hard, you can steam it for another 10 minutes or so, but if the pumpkin appears soft, then the steaming process is complete. 

Take the pumpkin carefully out of the steamer by holding it underneath, remember that after it has steamed, it is not hard and strong as before. Place it gently on a table or cutting board and cut it into 4-6 slices. As you cut it, the hardened custard filling should stick to each slice as you separate them. Your Sonkya Lepov or Steamed Pumpkin with Custard is now ready to be enjoyed. 

Ingredients:

0.5 cups of sugar

1 Pumpkin

300 – 500 ml of soymilk or coconut milk

0.25 cups of tapioca starch

1 cup of rice flour

1 cup of water

Recipe:

  1. In a mixing bowl, mix in your tapioca starch, rice flour and sugar
  2. Pour in the soy milk and water into the mixing bowl and mix well with all the ingredients making sure that the flour and tapioca starch aren’t forming any lumps
  3. Cut a round or square hole at the top of the pumpkin where the stem is. Try doing this in a way where the piece you cut out can be reused as a sort ‘lid’ for the pumpkin, just like with a jack-o-lantern carving typically used for halloween in USA.
  4. With a spoon, clean out the inside of the pumpkin to remove all seeds 
  5. Once the pumpkin has been cleaned out well inside, pour in the soymilk mixture inside the pumpkin and cover it with the ‘lid’ like top piece that was cut out
  6. Place the pumpkin in a steamer and let it steam for 20-40 minutes, you can remove the ‘lid’ of the pumpkin and check whether the soymilk mixture has hardened and become more custard like
  7. Once the pumpkin is finished being steamed, remove it from the steamer, cut it into slices and enjoy

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3-Day Fermented Tofu & Mushroom – Meat Substitute

 

3-Day Fermented Tofu & Mushroom – Meat Substitute 

If you’re looking for an easy to make and cheap yet tasty and healthy meat alternative for your next dish, the 3-Day Fermented Tofu & Mushroom recipe works well with almost any meal. Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian or just want to save on funds by substituting meat, add this to your next dish for a tangy flavour that will fill your craving.

This condiment or meat substitute was originally inspired after eating Ukrainian pickled mushrooms. The taste and flavour was such a nice addition to a meal, we wanted to recreate the taste but with a shorter wait time and a bit more bulky taste. After several experiments in the kitchen with different ingredients, we created a recipe that is ready in just 3 days while still carrying hints of the original recipe taste. 

In this recipe we will use dried Shitake mushroom stems, but any kind of mushroom stem or cap will work. We do recommend to use dried mushrooms and preferably the stems instead of fresh or boiled mushrooms. The reason is that dried mushrooms when pulled apart, will resemble the texture and taste of meat much more and will soak in all the fermentation juices much more. 

To Start, we will cut our tofu and mushrooms into smaller pieces that we can fit and push down into the bottom of the jar. If you’re using dried mushrooms, we recommend pulling them apart by hand to expose more of the small inner fibers and enable them to soak in more of the fermentation juices.

We will then sprinkle in 1 teaspoon of white pepper and 1 tablespoon of sugar on top of our tofu and mushrooms at the bottom of the jar.

Set some water to boil and while you wait, prepare the other ingredients that need to go into the jar right before the boiling water. Pour three table spoons of soy sauce, four tablespoons of vinegar and half a tablespoon of lime juice into the jar with our tofu and mushrooms. 

We find that adding a bit of cooking oil and a fermented beverage helps to add more flavour that will help the fermentation process and boost a bit more of the meaty flavour. We will add half a tablespoon of coconut oil into the jar but if you do not have coconut oil around, olive oil works just as well.
Next, lets add a bit of one of your favourite fermented beverages. You can rice wine, light beer, kombucha or even our brand’s kvassnae drink. For the purpose of this recipe, we added two tablespoons of kombucha which we happened to bottle fresh earlier on the day of making this recipe. Once all the ingredients are in the jar, stir everything gently for about 30 seconds.
Finally, quickly pour in the boiling water, stir for a few seconds and close the jar tightly.
The preparation process is now complete and we can put our jar in a cool and dark place for three days. You can extend this to 5 days if you want a bit more of a funky and zesty flavour. After the first day of fermentation, open the jar for just a few seconds every day to allow some gasses to escape. You don’t need to leave it open for long, in fact just three to five seconds should be sufficient, then quickly close the jar again and leave it to ferment. 

On the final day( day 3 or day 5), you can open the jar and add your tofu and mushrooms to any soup, curry or fried dish as you like. Do not pour out the fermentation juice from the jar and use it to keep the remaining mushrooms and tofu. If you store it in the refrigerator, you can continue enjoying this treat for another two weeks. Without refrigeration, the mushrooms and tofu will keep fermenting and we recommend to finish it within two to three days after the initial fermentation process completed. 

Eat fresh and live forever.

Ingredients(3 Servings):

Firm Tofu
Shitake mushroom stems or caps
3 table spoons of Soy sauce
4 table spoons of Vinegar
Half table spoon of Coconut oil or olive oil
2 tablespoons of either beer, rice wine, kombucha or kvassnae beverage
Half table spoon of Lime juice
1 teaspoon of White pepper
2.5 cups of Water
1 tablespoon of Sugar

Recipe:

  1. Cut Tofu or mushroom stems/caps into smaller pieces and put them at bottom of jar
  2. Put white pepper and sugar on top of the tofu and mushrooms
  3. Boil water
  4. Put soy sauce, vinegar, oil, alcohol, lime juice into jar with tofu and mushrooms and stir gently with spoon
  5. Quickly pour in the boiling water and stir gently
  6. Close the jar tightly and put in a cool dark place for 3-5 days
  7. Everyday open jar for a few seconds to let gas out but close immediately after

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