Is it just me or is 2016 flying by so fast? I couldn’t believe that the holiday season is almost here -again! While the holidays may be a bit stressful at times, I do like the spirit of gift-giving. One thing I learned is that even though the host insists you don’t cook or bring anything to the party, you should still bring him/her a gift. It’s just the gracious thing to do. It’s a simple thank you for inviting you and welcoming you to his or her home, and for all the fuss the host has to worry about a party.
I’m a firm believer that the most thoughtful gifts are homemade and handmade. For the parties I’m attending, I’m planning to give homemade vegan food gifts like Kalamansi marmalade, Pili nut cheese, homemade tofu, vegan garlic butter, and Achuete oil.
But what is achuete oil? I used to always hear about achuete oil and never understood what it was for. I was familiar with just achuete itself, which is a natural food coloring derived from annatto seeds. I use it mainly to have a vibrant orange hue in dishes like Pancit Palabok and Kare-kare. I use the ground form and mix it with water before adding to the pot or pan. I love that it’s naturally vegan unlike other food coloring.
Not so long ago, I planned to veganize Inasal for a party and the recipe called for achuete oil. As I was cooking, I noticed that not only the oil became reddish orange, it also tasted a bit sweeter. When I smothered it in my mushroom Inasal and other grilled vegetables, my dishes became richer and tastier. Maybe it was just placebo, but then again I wasn’t even expecting it to taste like anything in the first place. My friends said they thoroughly enjoyed the food; seems like they noticed it too!
The kicker is that making achuete oil is not even that hard. Just heat the condiment in oil until it’s bubbly. That’s it. Nothing fancy or complicated. But to make this recipe extra special, I’m infusing it with garlic too. Just brush this oil in everything you cook and you’ll notice the difference. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as my friends and I did at the party. I have to admit, now that I’ve discovered achuete oil, there’s no going back. I will smother that thing in everything I cook!
- 3½ cups canola oil (or olive oil)
- 2 tablespoons achuete powder/seeds
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled
- Heat a small pot over low heat. Pour oil.
- Mix in achuete powder and garlic and cook for 5-7 minutes until bubbly.
- Turn off heat and cool down before transferring oil and garlic to a container. When transferring, don't include the achuete powder/seeds which should have settled on the bottom of the pot. If needed, use a strainer.
I hope my friends will enjoy my homemade achuete oil and find it useful as I did. Perhaps they will love it especially on grilled stuff. After all, time flies and before you know it, it’s barbecue season again. I could barely keep up!
Other vegan food gifts I’m making and giving to the party host: