Monday, November 28, 2011

Javanese Nuts and Bolts

 

Nuts and bolts (AKA Party Mix) is a seasonal snack in my family, something that pops up around this time every year.  Although the recipe makes a generous amount, it disappears as fast as it is put out.  The combination of toasted cereals, pretzels, and nuts with butter and worcestershire sauce produces an incredibly addictive, not too salty snack (although I've always found the packaged versions to be overly salty and nowhere nearly as tasty).  As much as I love the original version (or at least the version that my mother makes), I decided to try giving it a little Javanese flavor.

Instead of butter, I substituted fresh pressed whole kernel virgin coconut oil.  To be honest, I was worried that the coconut oil would overpower the mix.  Fortunately, it proved to be a fairly subtle back note to the mix, not at all overwhelming or cloying.  In addition to the coconut oil, I added some crisp tempe, some fried kaffir lime leaves, and some fried, finely chopped lemongrass.  Instead of using worcestershire sauce, I used kecap manis, some fish sauce, and some panang curry paste.  Although not my mother's party mix, this proved to be just as addictive.  If you're looking to give a different twist on an old standby, I'd certainly recommend giving this a try.




Javanese Nuts and Bolts

2 stalks of lemongrass, inner lower third only, very finely chopped (easiest to do in a food processor)
14 kaffir lime leaves

2 cups bite-size wheat square cereal (such as Wheat Chex®)
2 cups bite-size corn square cereal (such as Corn Chex®)
2 cups bite-size rice square cereal (such as Rice Chex®)
2 cups toasted oat cereal rings (such as Cheerios®)
2 cups pretzels
1 1/2 cups lightly salted dry roasted cashews
1 1/2 cups tempe sliced into pieces 2" x 3/4" x 1/3" and deep fried until crisp

1 cup fresh pressed virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup kecap manis
1 TBS fish sauce
2 tsp panang curry paste

Preheat your oven to 225ยบ F.

In a pan over medium low heat, fry the lemongrass in several tablespoons of the coconut oil until browned and crisp, like when making tofu with lemongrass.

Fry the kaffir limes in hot oil until crisp.  Alternatively, crisp in a microwave.  You want to be able to crumble them easily.

Heat the remaining coconut oil in a small saucepan.  Stir in the curry paste until it is dissolved in the oil, and then stir in the kecap manis and fish sauce.

In a large bowl mix the cereals, pretzels, cashews, and fried tempe.  Pour in the coconut oil mixture. Mix well, tossing and stirring the cereals so all get coated.  Stir in the browned lemongrass and the crumbled kaffir lime leaves.  Mix well and pour into a large roasting pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for about an hour, stirring every fifteen minutes or so.  Cool before serving.

I've found the kaffir lime flavor to become more pronounced the longer the mix sits.  This is a flavor I think can be overbearing--as I find it is in Trader Joe's Thai-spiced cashew nuts.  You can taste the kaffir lime leaves in this mix, but they don't dominate it. 

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