Early this month, I was extremely delighted to receive an email from Carmen who gardens in Puerto Rico. Carmen is a university professor with 2 lovely granddaughters. Like me, Carmen is also a fan of the torch ginger (Etlingera elatior) plant. She is not a blogger and she has sent me these beautiful photographs of her magnolia and torch ginger flowers, along with her warm 'Saludos' and 'Abrazos' which made me feel very nice.
I am very thankful to non-bloggers like Carmen who send me mails/messages and sharing with me their wealth of gardening experiences. This post (and your comments) is for Carmen.
“Carmen's Garden - Desde Puerto Rico con el amor”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ http://www.mynicegarden.com/ on July 29th, 2011.
The torch ginger flowers in Pic 1 are really lovely. They are of a darker pink and the flower petal patterns are also more rounded. They have a radiant, waxy appearance. My flowers look more like Pic 2.
Hey, the vegetation and landscape in Puerto Rico looks quite like that of my country Malaysia!
Oh, wow, her ginger plants have grown very tall. It is now above the roofs and almost as tall as a small tree.
At first, I thought that it looked like a pure white lotus flower!
Now, in the following pictures, I have 3 'gifts' from Malaysia for Carmen:
Carmen also grows orchids in her garden. Hence, I'd like to dedicated this first gift, a lovely orchid to Carmen. The designs on this purple orchid remind me of the lovely traditional Trajes dresses that Puerto Rican ladies wear.
Carmen, this is my 2nd gift to you - Asam Laksa from Penang Island, Malaysia. Torch ginger flower buds is an ingredient used here.
It was reported in my country's national newspapers that Penang Asam Laksa is now in CNN's list of top 10 most delicious food in the world. It is ranked 7th spot.
Flaked, poached mackerrel is used in making the broth. Dried 'asam gelugor' (Garcinia atroviridis) or tamarind paste is added to impart a sour taste to the broth. Birds eye chili and lemon grass makes it spicy and the broth is usually served with rice noodles. The blackish gravy you see on top is actually made from prawn paste. I personally think that it is the finely sliced raw ginger flower buds that gives it the unique flavour and aroma. Other ingredients used as garnishing include mint leaves, 'daun kesum' (polygonum leaves), lettuce, chilli, shallots, cucumber and pineapple, all raw.
If you'd like to cook it, the recipe is here.
Using torch ginger flower buds for cooking is unique to Malaysian and Indonesian cooking, perhaps even Singapore. In Malaysia, we use it in Peranakan (Straits Chinese) and Malay cuisine.
Here's my 3rd gift to Carmen - also using the torch ginger buds.
'Nasi Kerabu Biru' is a Malay rice dish from Kelantan state in Malaysia. The blue coloured rice is made from natural dye of the Butterfly Pea (Clitoria ternatea) flowers.
To make this flavoured rice, the leaves of the tumeric ginger, torch ginger, lemon grass, polygonum, cekur, dam, kudu, curry leaf and kaffir lime are boiled and the juice is extracted. This is called ulam juice. The ulam juice is added to the rice to be cooked. Pandan leaves are added to further enhance the aroma of the rice.
For garnishing, the ingredients which are finely sliced and raw include cucumber, shallots, polygonum leaves, long beans and torch ginger buds. It is belived that torch ginger buds are anti-aeging and they also improve appetite.
Can you see the chilli stuffed with grated coconut flesh? The coconut flesh has been fried with sliced ginger, shallots and palm sugar (Gula Melaka). Usually people eat this rice dish with 'Sambal Belacan', a very spicy and hot accompaniment but this time, I have a bowl of curry nearby. I'm also serving you a cup of coffee.
The recipe is here.
Now I also have some good news. The torch ginger seeds sent by K to me has sprouted! I had almost given up on them because it took more than a month for this to happen. I thought my experiment had failed and I almost replaced the pot with other plants. Thanks to Anne, another non blogger who commented on my post. She gave me some very useful information, hence I didn't give up. Now, we know we can grow torch ginger plants from seeds sent by mail but the seeds have a short expiry date.
My post is here- Torch Ginger Flower Seeds Germination.
This week I am joining:
Fertilizer Friday, thanks to Glenda at Tootsie Time.
Garden to Table Challenge, thanks to Wendy at Greenish Thumb, the link is here.
Today's Flowers, thanks to TF team Santilli - Denise - Pupo - Sandy Carlson, the link is here.
Finally, I hope that after reading this post about Carmen and me, you too will be encourged by the 'silent or hidden' readers of our blogs to continue blogging about our hobbies and sharing our life's experiences.
Until then, Adios and wishing you a happy weekend!