For someone who did all of those elementary-and-high school cultural background projects (you know, the ones that were designed to somehow help you reconnect with your heritage in the 2 hours it took for you to throw together an acceptable family tree), I’m embarrassed to say that I’m fairly disconnected with my culture. That being said, I had some difficulty writing this post. The challenge wasn’t coming from a lack of pride or a pressing need to capture my heritage in a perfect, concise set of paragraphs; it came from an assimilation to American lifestyle.
I am a Filipino-American, but that’s about as far as that goes. I think the fact that I was never consistently in a Tagalog-speaking environment facilitated the rift between me and my Filipino culture. When I was growing up, my parents never spoke Tagalog to me (except the cursing), I never really insisted on learning the language (except the cursing) and never thought that I would ever want to speak it (except…you know). Their reasoning was valid: they were concerned that my older brother and I would get confused if we had to learn two languages at the same time (they still stand by this theory and haven’t taught my little brother a single lick). I’m sure we would’ve been fine. To be fair, they were young twenty-somethings who never had kids before and they didn’t realize that they were raising a valedictorian-now-CPA and an almost-salutatorian-now-food-service-professional. Totally capable. But I’m not bitter about it.
Which is why I’m taking steps to get back in touch with my roots. As I mentioned before, I’m trying to learn Tagalog. I feel like I would’ve learned it by now if wasn’t so focused perfecting my Turon recipe. Filipino food is strongest link I have with Filipino culture because it was ever-present in my childhood. My mom used to make these fried bundles of sweet plantain and tropical jackfruit to take to parties and I distinctly remember devouring at least a third of them before we added them to the potluck. In the name of creativity (and craving), I decided to include two ingredients that somehow always made it into the rest of my mom’s desserts: malagkit (glutinous rice) and sweetened condensed milk. The mellow malagkit balances out the sweetness while the dulce de leche made from the canned milk brings decadence like no other. Traditional? No. Masarap? Oo.
Turon Malagkit with Dulce de Leche
Makes 20 turon
- 1.5 cups glutinous rice
- 1 ¾ cups coconut milk
- ¾ cup water
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 20 sheets spring roll wrappers
- 3 plantains
- I can jackfruit packed in syrup
- 1 ¼ cup brown sugar
- 3-4 cups vegetable oil for frying
In a small pot, combine rice, coconut milk, water and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Stir, cover and set over medium-low heat until rice is fully cooked, about 18-25 minutes (or throw everything in your rice cooker and press the “cook” button and wait until you see the amber light that reads “warm”). When cooked, transfer to a tray lined with parchment or wax paper and form into rectangular shape that is roughly ½-inch thick. Allow to sit until cool enough to handle.
While rice is cooking, prepare the dulce de leche. In a small sauce pot over medium-low heat, bring sweetened condense milk to a simmer. Using a rubber spatula, stir until milk thickens and becomes caramel in color, about 20 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container and keep warm.
Skin your plantains and cut them in half and slice into ¼-inch-thick pieces. Remove jackfruit from syrup and cut until ¼-inch thick slivers. Reserve the syrup. In a pan with high sides, bring oil to 375°.
Lay out one wrapper with one corner facing you. Roll a slice of plantain in brown sugar and place it on top of wrapper near the corner closest to you. Cut off a piece of malagkit that is similar to the size of the plantain slice you just laid down and place it on top of the plantain. Top the rice off with 3-4 slivers of jackfruit. Take the corner of the wrapper closest to you and pull it up and around the filling. Roll the filing once and fold the left and right sides of the wrapper in. Roll once again. Brush the remaining wrapper with jackfruit syrup to create a seal and roll all the way. Repeat until you run out of things to wrap.
Place your turon, seam side down, in the frying oil and fry until that side is golden brown, about 1-2 minutes. Flip over and repeat. When both sides are golden brown, remove from oil and transfer to a rack or plate lined with paper towel. Immediately sprinkle with some of the leftover brown sugar from your plantains. Repeat until you run out of things to fry. Serve warm with dulce de leche as a dipping sauce. Mabuhay!