I have been asked more than once what my favorite local ingredient is. And more than once I have found myself at a loss for words, my mind a complete and shameful blank. It’s not that I don’t have favorite local ingredients. On the contrary, I love my local ingredients! It could very well be that I have too many favorites, so that when asked to name one, or only a few, my mind just closes itself to the (impossible) task of choosing.
It could also be that I am, simply put, not very good at interviews.
Whatever the case, I have decided that this blog is the perfect place to celebrate and share all my favorite local ingredients --- as many as I want, at my own pace. They are an integral part of my cooking after all and deserve a little spotlight as recompense for the deplorable way I fail to give them their due when asked.
One such favorite ingredient is carabao’s (buffalo) milk. Carabao’s milk has a much higher fat content than regular cow’s milk making it one of the richest and creamiest milks you can find. As such, when you substitute it for regular cow’s milk, it makes whatever you use it for that much more decadent. Even something as innocent as oatmeal.
Carabao’s Milk Oatmeal with Dates & Nuts
- 1 1/2 cup carabao’s (buffalo) milk
- 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
- 1/4 cup dates, chopped
- 1/4 nuts of your choice (I used cashews but I’m sure they would be splendid with pecans), roughly chopped
- Optional: 2 tablespoons butter and 2 teaspoons dark muscovado sugar
- Heat the carabao’s milk in a saucepan over a medium flame just until it almost starts to simmer. Add the oats, dates, and nuts, stir, and lower the heat.
- Cook over a gentle flame, with your pot semi-covered, stirring occasionally, until oatmeal is done, about 10-15 minutes. Make sure to keep checking, especially towards the end, to prevent it from sticking. Served topped with extra chopped dates and nuts.
- If you want to make this even more decadent: Melt the optional butter in a pan. When the bubbles have subsided, add the muscovado and swirl the pan until the muscovado is dissolved. Add the extra chopped dates and nuts and toss. Top each serving of oatmeal with some of the caramelized dates and nuts and whatever butter remains.
- Serves 2-3
Never had I tasted oatmeal that was this luxurious. It is so creamy that with each soft spoonful you forget about oatmeal’s healthy and fibrous reputation. The nuts add an earthy crunch and the dates a mild smoky sweetness. If you are going to go all the way with the butter caramelized date & nut topping, as I did, you may actually feel, for the very first time, guilt over oatmeal. This isn’t for lightweights. I would go as far as to say that this could very well pass for a dessert – pressed into a dainty cup and served in smaller portions, sort of the oat version of a rice pudding.
Carabao’s milk is a wonderful ingredient to use. It is also fantastic for rice pudding and cuajada. I am sure it would be equally stellar in custards and flans.
Here are some other favorite local ingredients I have talked about before:
- Filipino mangoes
- Lato (seaweed)
- Talbos ng kamote (sweet potato greens)
- Bagoong (shrimp paste)
- Tinapang bangus (smoked milkfish)
- Muscovado sugar
- Aligue (crab fat)
- Monggo (mung beans)
- Kesong Puti (fresh white cheese)
I have also mentioned carabao’s milk here and here.