Fennel Salad with Green Apple and Parmesan

November 26, 2016 § Leave a comment

img_4216

This salad made me a fan of fennel. Crunchy and has a fresh, sweetly musky taste similar to liquorice and anise. Paired with apple, it masks the licorice flavor (perfect for those not keen on its taste) and adds to the freshness of this salad. Packed with many health benefits from relieving anemia to improving eye care, this salad was my intro to this herb.

fried-chickenGood as a side dish — I like it with fried or grilled meats.

In fact, it has opened the door to many more delicious Fennel recipes, which I will share with you eventually.

In the meantime, here’s the recipe adapted from Molly Wizenberg’s book, A Homemade Life.

img_4214

What you need:

  • 1 medium fennel bulb, about 10 ounces
  • 1 small Green Apple
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon
  • Sea Salt
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper

What you do:

Prepare the fennel:

  1. Cut off and discard the stalks and fronds.
  2. Using a vegetable peel or a small knife, trim away any bruises or brown spots on the bulb’s outermost layer of skin.
  3. Cut it in half from root to stalk, and trim the root end.
  4. Using a sharp knife or a mandolin and working with the one-half of the bulb at a time, slice the fennel very thinly, 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Set aside.

Prepare the Green Apple:

  1. Using an apple core, remove and discard core.
  2. Then cut the apple in half from top to bottom.
  3. Using a sharp knife or a mandolin, slice it very thinly, just like the fennel. Set aside.

Assembling the Salad:

  1. Make a layer of fennel slices. Drizzle lightly with olive oil.
  2. Then place a layer of apple on top of the fennel. Sprinkle lightly with lemon juice, and season with salt.
  3. Shave thin ribbons of cheese. Drizzle with oil.
  4. Repeat and finish with a good sprinkle of lemon juice, a generous splash of oil and a few shavings of cheese to garnish.
  5. Serve with salt and pepper to taste.

Where to Eat in HK: Under the Bridge Spicy Crab

April 12, 2016 § 1 Comment

Work will bring me to Hong Kong in a few weeks and I am reminded of the last dish I had a few years ago in Wan Chai. We walked from Gloucester to Lockhart Road to look for Hong Kong’s famous Under the Bridge Spicy Crab Restaurant. Known for their authentic and mouth-watering typhoon shelter crabs.

Back in the day before modern HK, there lived a community of fishermen living in typhoon shelters. Within this community rose a distinct culinary culture that centered on freshly caught seafood. As Hong Kong’s status as a fishing city decline, this community started moving to land, the younger generation trading up for better jobs.

Under-Bridge-Spicy-Crab

We found the modest restaurant with staff that hardly speaks English. With an atmosphere like this, it almost always promises an authentic meal. The star of the show is the bits of garlic, chili peppers, and spring onion stir-fried till crisp then tossed with the deep-fried mud crab—insanely addictive. I love this version because I prefer fried or just steamed crabs sans any sauce, which sometimes masks the sweetness of the crab.  The dry chill-garlic bits, albeit on the oily side, adds just the right flavour and heat to the crabs.  A must-try when in the area.

See you in a few weeks Hong Kong. I hope to devour your impressive crab dish once again. And hopefully, introduce you to the people traveling with me.

Shop 6-9, G/F, 423 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai

Phuket Eats

December 23, 2015 § 1 Comment

Not only once did work bring me to Phuket, not exactly a destination on my bucket list. Sorry to say that I don’t particularly find the beach appealing and I’m not one who really care for big resorts. But one thing I love above Thailand is its food. Thai flavors had appeal to me since my university days when I first discovered its cuisine.

In the few times that I have been to this island, I have yet to have a bad meal, a few quite memorable in fact. Here are three that I give my thumbs up.

Tunk-Ka Restaurant

tunka-atmosphere

While in Phuket with my staff a few years ago, I decided to treat them to a tour of the town.

Chaya

I contacted Chaya of Phuket Heritage Trails and as part of her tour, she brought us to this well-known restaurant perched on the side of Rang Hill with panoramic views of Chalong Bay and even the big Budda.

Tunka-View

The Café has three separate terraces, foliage surrounds. I think she brought us not only for the view but for the food as well.

tunka-pak-liang

From the extensive menu, Chaya chose for us a superb lunch of Pak Liang with smoke-dried shrimp – a chili paste with dried shrimp, eaten with boiled vegetables,

Tunka-Pork-stir-fry

Pork stir-fry with butternut and minced shrimp, and

crabmeat-stir-fried

Crab meat stir-fried with turmeric and coconut milk.

Getting there:

There are two easily accessed ways to drive to the summit; one by Vachira Hospital on Yaowarat Road, the other around the corner on Mae Luang Road. Tung Ka is right on the top of the hill and has ample car parking space.

Suay Restaurant

Suay-facade

Top quality food at reasonable prices, Suay offers a range of creative Thai cuisine in a simple, modest house. Upon the recommendation of Chaya’s, we walked through the gate, through the garden setting to our reserved table.

Suay

The place exudes a pleasant ambience that promises a good meal.

We chose to go for a set meal, which includes: Spicy Fried Yellow Fin Tuna tartar Isan Style,

Suay-tuna-tartar

Grilled Sea Scallops with exotic fruit salad,

Suay-Green-Papaya-Salad-and-soft-shelled-crabs

Green Papaya Salad with Crispy Fried Soft Shelled Crabs,

Suay-Fresh-Prawn-Spring-Roll

Fresh Prawn Spring Roll with peanut sauce. These are just the appetizers. Main course had us feasting in Roasted Duck in red curry with lychee and pineapple, Grilled River Prawns with Lemongrass salad,

Suay-shanghai-noodles

Shanghai noodles with Squid and pesto sauce, green chili salsa;

Suay-Turmeric-Sea-Bass

Grilled Turmeric Sea Bass in Banana Leaf Wrap. A must be when in Phuket.

50/2 Takuapha Rd, Talad Nuea, Phuket Old Town

Raya Restaurant

Raya

Set in a beautiful Sino-Thai mansion that exudes old world charm. Not only does it boast of a well-preserved heritage of its colonial past, but it is also known as THE Thai restaurant in Phuket. Serves authentic local cuisine that do not disappoint.

Dishes such as Crab Meat Curry served with rice vermicelli,

Raya-Fish-with-Tamarind-SauceDeep Fried Sea Bass in a Tamarind-Lemongrass Sauce,

Raya-Pork-with-Kefir

Fried Pork with Kefir Leaves.

Locals flock to this restaurant in Dibuk Road, what better way to gauge authenticity then having locals as patrons? Yes?

48 New Dibuk Rd., Phuket Old Town

And with this, I leave you with this thought:

Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Hal Borland.

Merry Christmas and an Adventurous New Year to all!!

Vietnam Eats

September 3, 2015 § Leave a comment

If you’re thinking of visiting any part of Vietnam, the first thing you need to know about is that food is an integral part of their culture and livelihood. Anyone who has traveled to Vietnam will tell you that it is one of the major attractions. You can’t go to Vietnam and not have a taste of their cuisine.

food-cartsMore often than not, the street is its stage – street food stalls can be found anywhere from the main roads to the alleyways. Small plastic stools and a table taking up the sidewalk is a common scene.

small-tables-and-chairs

So what is Vietnamese food? It has a distinct flavor yet it is almost universally accepted palate-wise. The taste comes from fish sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce, and fresh herbs such as mint, cilantro, and lemongrass – think spicy, sour, bitter, salty and sweet when combined. Influenced much by the Chinese and French, Vietnamese love their noodles and bread. Theirs is a cuisine that is light and refreshing, which is probably why it is easy on the palate. Their taste for fresh ingredients and simple methods has actually placed their cuisine on the map of the foodies.

On my recent visit to Hanoi, I rediscovered favorites and got introduced to new staples. So without further ado, here are a few staples and must-haves when in Vietnam, in my opinion.

Pho – THE staple of Vietnam, available all day and night long.

phoThe national food is a steaming, fragrant broth of rice noodle with chicken or beef topped with bean sprouts, mint, and a few more herbs. Squeeze a wedge of lime into it and the freshness of this simple noodle soup raises the bar for all noodle soups. It’s impossible to walk a block without bumping into a hungry crowd slurping noodles in a makeshift pho stand on a sidewalk.

Banh Mi – The French has stamped its mark on Vietnam through its baguette and has since been given a Vietnamese spin.

banh-miThis Vietnamese sandwich (more commonly called Banh Mi) is a heavenly concoction of crusty baguette filled with pork, pâté, butter, and an array of local ingredients (cilantro, cucumber, jalapeño and pickled carrots and daikon). Indeed a product of cultural and culinary blend that managed to put Vietnamese cuisine on the map.

Bun Cha – If Pho is Vietnam’s most famous dish Bun Cha (ubiquitous in the North) is what everyone prefers over lunch in Hanoi.

bun-cha-up-closeIt’s charcoal grilled patties and sliced pork belly served with a basket of herbs, cold vermicelli noodles, a bowl of nuoc cham (fish sauce, sugar, and rice vinegar mixture).bun-cha

Nem Cua BeBun Cha lovers normally order a side dish of this spring roll filled with small amounts of crab meat, minced pork, garlic, herbs, mushrooms, and glass noodles, then deep-fried to juicy/crisp perfection.

nem-cua-beDipped in the same Bun Cha sauce, this spring roll has become a favorite. Ah, Nem Cua Be! I’m dreaming of you now.

Goi Cuon – Fresh spring rolls, light and healthier version of Vietnam’s many spring rolls.

Goi-Cuon-Spring-RollIt is definitely a wholesome choice especially if indulging too much on the fried ones. Dip it in peanut sauce and your taste buds will be jumping for joy.

Nem Nuong Xa – Grilled minced meat on lemongrass skewers.

Nem-Nuong-XaI’ve always loved these and have long been one of the familiar Vietnamese dishes on my side of the world. It’s meat patties wrapped around lemongrass stalks/skewers then grilled. Simple yet so satisfying.

Ngo Chien Bo – It’s sweet corn kernels fried in butter. Introduced to us by the locals we befriended at the beer corner.

ngo chiem bo buttery cornThe one served to us had salty dried fish added to it. Crunchy, buttery, sweet and salty goodness… so definitely addictive, this little kernel of heaven.

Bo Bia Ngot – a dessert so intriguing though it didn’t call out to us at first sight until some kids on a night out convinced us to buy some.

bo-bia-ngotIt’s a rolled up crêpe made up of shredded coconut, sesame seeds, and light sugary candy pieces (sometimes just sugar). Made to order at a food stall. Another simple concoction that delivered a sensation of complex textures and flavor.

And because I have caffeine running through my veins, all meals end with coffee,

coffeeVietnamese style of course.

Morocco On My Mind

April 26, 2014 § 2 Comments

morocco-on-my-mindCredits:  Jessica Sprague’s DIDer Lesson 5 supplies:  CarinaGardner, Crystal Wilkerson, ITM, Jessica Sprague, LivE

About a year ago in Fes, we were seating on hand carved settees overloaded with opulently bedecked cushions, in front of us was a heavy table set with ornate silverware and copperware.

lavish-interior

The lavishness of Moroccan taste is more palpable in the walls that are decorated with mosaic tiles and the rich color wool carpet covering the floors.

salads

Laid out was a melange of hot and cold salad to start our meal, followed by a lamb tagine, a chicken, lemon and olive dish,

chicken-lemon-and-olives

and some roasted mutton (mechoui).  This sumptuous meal was capped with honey drizzled fresh fruits and a cup of very sweet but refreshing mint tea.

fruit-dessert

Quite telling that Moroccans take their food seriously, yes?

olives-and-lemons

A stroll through the market stalls reveals glistening stacks of olives of all colors, mounds of preserved lemons,

spices

vibrant pyramids of spices, sacks of grains, colorful variety of fruits and vegetables. Morocco is as much about food as it is historic and scenic.

An extremely sophisticated cuisine, thanks to a diverse medley of Arab, Berber, Moorish, French, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, African, Iberian and Jewish influences. The interactions and exchanges with these cultures have been filtered and blended over time into flavors that have become distinctly Moroccan.

camel-meat

Common meals include beef, mutton, lamb, chicken, camel, rabbit and seafood. Its cooking made distinct by the subtle blend of spices not to mask but rather to enhance the flavor and aroma of its dishes.

Similar to my part of the world (Philippines), eating in Morocco is a social ritual, food is served in the middle of the table to be shared. Moroccans take great pride in their meal from purchasing the freshest ingredients to preparing these in lengths and showing these off in elaborate dishes. This sense of pride and fundamental way of life have led to eateries big and small that can really impress. From the slow cooked tagines to the kebabs and sandwiches favored in hole in the walls — a trip to Morocco will surely stir up the palate, a flavor adventure hard to forget.

In no particular order, here’s a list of staples and must tries.

Tagine

lamb-tagine

A stew braised and slow cooked in an earthenware dish with a cone shape top also called a tagine. Normally served in the tagine it was cooked in, and is more often a shared dish served in the center of the table.

dates

Adding dried fruits to meat tagines is very Moroccan – they love the combination of sweet and savory.

Although fish tagines are popular in coastal towns, Moroccans love their meats and lambs are favored in tagines.

Moroccan Mint Tea

mint-tea

Ubiquitous in Morocco is a drink they call Whiskey Morocco – a play in the fact that the consumption of alcohol is considered “Haraam” and is prohibited per Muslim dietary restrictions. Moroccans drink this sweet green tea and mint every day. And making it has become an art, the technique is as important as the quality of the tea itself. Often served in an engraved metal tray with small, ornate glasses boasting intricate designs, the tea is poured evenly into these glasses from a height using a typical Moroccan teapot with long, curved pouring spout.  So soothing, I look forward to it every meal time.  It actually is the perfect cap to a meal.

Preserves

olives

Morocco is known for its olives and preserves. Not only are olives a tasty way to start a meal, these are staple ingredients to flavor tagine dishes.

preserves

In an olive vendor, one will find olives of different shades from red to green to black. The red and green varieties go well in many tagine dishes while the black variety are stuffed with cheese and eaten as a snack or added in salads.

Preserved lemons are another key ingredient in tagines and salads. Preserved in a salt-lemon juice mixture, this brings a unique feature to many Moroccan chicken and pigeon dishes.

Breads or Khubz

bread

Moroccans eat with their fingers, using a small piece of bread, their thumb and first two fingers pick up food. They also use it to soak up the flavorful sauce of the tagines. And a meal is never complete without bread.

Most Moroccan households do not have an oven, but almost every neighborhood has a community oven where people take their bread dough to bake.

children-with-breads

Often you’ll see children pass by these communal ovens picking up a stack of freshly baked breads to bring home.

Harira

harira

The most important soup in Morocco as it serves as the break of the fast during Ramadan. Drank at dusk, this tomato-based soup with chickpeas, meat, lentils and small noodles is perfect to warm the tummy before a fast.

Pastilla

pastilla

A delicacy sometimes called bisteeya. Consistent with their fondness for combining sweet and savory, this pastry is made up of shredded chicken or, the more expensive and tastier, pigeon mixed with eggs and crushed almonds wrapped in phyllo pastry. It is then fried and topped with cinnamon and confectionary sugar. A dish you don’t want to miss.

Meats

meat

I will say it again – Moroccans love their meat. Lamb is favored and enjoyed in many ways – with couscous in tagines, skewered grilled over charcoal, braised, or slow roasted until tender.

lamb-chops

The more affordable beef and chicken are also popular meats that are served in a variety of ways.

kebab

The most common style of barbecuing in this part of the world is Kabab-style. It is found in most kinds of restaurants, be it the usual sit-down kind or the hole-in-the-wall grill shops.

hole-in-the-wall

The latter although unimpressive in appearance are guaranteed to satisfy the palate at very minimal cost.

chicken-rotisserie

Grilled rotisserie chicken, a favorite, and the best one I had was in a roadside eatery.

Barbecueing, Grilling, and Sandwiches

bocadios

Snack restaurants or sandwich shops can be found all over Mocorro, ranging again from hole-in-the-walls to larger, sit-down establishments.

sandwich-shop

One can find all kinds of food, from the usual sandwiches, fries and even pizzas to the more Middle Eastern fare of shawarma and brochettes –

shawarma

the Moroccan version of a sandwich that comes in either a baguette or a khubz, the filling usually involves choosing from a selection of meats, vegetables and sauce on display.

fish-stall

In coastal and port towns such as Essaouira, fresh catches of all sorts — St. Pierre (John Dory), sea bream, sardines, etc. are displayed in abundance in the fish market.

grilled-fish

There you get to pick your fish, find your table, order your beer and enjoy the outdoor while you wait for your fish to grill.

essaouira

A welcome respite after all the meat dishes eaten in lavish indoor restaurants in low light settings.

Sweets

sweets

One of the legacies left by the French is in the form of Moroccan pastries. Various types exist, but many are the rich, dense confection of cinnamon, almonds and the ubiquitous orange water rolled in phyllo dough and soaked in honey.

pastries

Fresh fruits, not pastries, are typically what caps Moroccan meal. Cookies and pastries often go with afternoon tea or coffee.

pastry-stall

While many households keep a supply of homemade sweets, these are easily purchased in pastry shops and carts on the street.

Fresh Orange Juice

orange-juice-stalls

Take advantage and enjoy a glass of freshly squeezed sweet orange juice everyday from one of the stalls ever present in most of Morocco. You will not regret it.

grapefruit

Even the grapefruits are sweetly tart – you know what I mean.   😉

Delightful Davao

February 4, 2014 § Leave a comment

Davao-DelightsCredits: Paper from the “Chronicling Life” kit of Haynay Designs

Davao.  Home to some of the country’s pride— the world’s largest bird, the monkey-eating Philippine Eagle and a rare orchid of exceptional beauty, the waling-waling— both found in Mt. Apo, Philippine’s highest peak.  But there is more to Davao than these.  Let’s not forget the “king of fruits”, durian.  The area is known to be the center of durian production, thanks to its rich fertile volcanic soil and until recently, typhoon-free area.  But more than durian, Davao is favored with other fresh, quality produce and fruits that are available all year round— pomelo, banana, mangosteen, lanzones, rambutan, mongo, peanuts, cabbage eggplant… among others.

The city is a fascinating mix of small town allure and modern metropolis refinement.  A metropolis inhabited by 1.4M people of different ethnic groups, culture and faiths.  The city teems with good food and on my not so very recent trip there, I discovered a few worth mentioning.

Swiss Deli

Along JP Laurel Ave., in Lanang is a deli and restaurant offering fine sausages, cured meats like bacon and hams, a selection of cheese, US and Australian steak cuts and even ostrich meats.  Owned by a butcher and a baker, Swiss Deli has been around since 2005 catering at first to expats and Davao’s upper crust.  Today, they supply some of the bigger supermarkets nationwide.  On my visit, the restaurant was packed for lunch.

Swiss-DeliMy superb lunch of Chicken Cordon Blue and a shared sausage platter.

Claude’s Le Café de Ville

Claude's-facade

We drove into a driveway of a well-lit ancestral house.  The garden well polished, the interior emulates the facade with old photos gracing the walls and well-appointed antique pieces scattered around.

Claude-interior

My favorite part of the house would be the porch— what a wonderful way to be greeted.

claude's-porch

This house epitomizes old world elegance through and through.  An ancestral home of the Oboza family (also called the Oboza Heritage House) now dwells the only full-service French restaurant in Davao, Claude’s Le Café de Ville.

Complementing its charming home are wonderful dishes served from its kitchen headed by husband and wife team Claude and Tess Le Niendre.  I had the Crab Cocktail to start and the specialty of the house, the Fillet of Beef Tenderloin with Pepper Sauce.

crab-cocktail

The crab appetizer was excellent, and my main, albeit a bit overcooked for my taste (it was more medium well than my preferred medium), was tasty and still juicy.

A pretty authentic French restaurant in Davao was definitely a pleasant surprise.

Malagos Farmhouse Artisan Cheeses

malagos-board

Davao surprises me, I tell ya.  After an evening of wonderful French feasting, we were on our way, the next day, to buy artisan cheese.  This wasn’t the first time I had tried cheeses from Malagos and so impressed I was, I had to find them and see what else they had to offer.

menu-board

Olive Puentespina, the woman behind Malagos Artisan Cheeses, has been producing cheeses since 2006.  All made from hybrid cows and goats from their dairy farm.

cheese-stock

A cheese spread was laid out for us to try over at the farmhouse—from quesong puti, to flavored chevres, to manchego blue—an unbelievable spread, all proudly made in Davao.

cheese-platter

Personal favorites are:  Queso Rustico (semi-soft cow’s milk similar to a manchego), Blush (Queso Rustico with a tint of blue), La Maria (similar to a camembert), Feta tricolor (feta with chili and rosemary, infused fresh), and the Chevre with mango (a blend of creamy French style goat cheese with sweet mango bits).

cheese-stashMy Take-Home Stash

Spirale Ristorante

pizza

For wonderful pasta and pizza, Spirale Ristorante will not disappoint.  Thumbs up for the Vongole ai Chorizo (a wonderful combination, don’t you think?) and the pizza, which is cooked in a wood-fire oven.  Crust was doughy yet crispy.

Chicco di Caffe

durian-brazo-de-mercedes

For their Durian Brazo di Mercedes.  Yum!!!  Anything durian is possible in Davao.  I had my first taste of durian in an ice cream in Davao some 20 years ago and I’ve never looked back.  I. Adore. Durian.

Swiss Deli
JP Laurel Ave., Lanang, Davo City
+6382 234 0271
 
Claude’s Cafe de Ville
29 Rizal St., Paseo de Habana, Davao City
+6382 305 2635 / +6382 222 4287
 
Malagos Farmhouse
Bolcan St., Agdao, Davao City
+6382 226 4446
 
Spirale Ristorante
Damaso Complex
Angliongto Road, Lanang, Davao City
+6382 234 6298
 
Chicco di Caffe
Gen. Douglas MacArthur Hwy, Davao City
+6382 305 3534
 
Faura St., Davao City

Avocado and Feta

August 1, 2012 § 1 Comment

I am obsessed with avocados at the moment.  Partly because it is in season and I see them everywhere but mostly because I am loving its über creaminess on almost everything.  It makes for a wonderful dessert when combined with condensed milk and have been greatly enjoying it for decades now.  Some experimenting led me to a new discovery.  Buttery avocado, sharp Feta cheese and peppery Arugula mingle well together.  Finish off with some sliced fresh button mushrooms and honey-mustard dressing and they end up very good friends.

I’ve been occupied lately and I’m afraid I’ve neglected this blog a bit.  But I’ve been working up a storm in my kitchen despite my absence here.  In between work and travelling, I’ve been entertaining on the side so may this whet your appetite, as salads always do, for what’s to come.

Arugula, Avocado and Feta Salad

What You Need:

For the Vinaigrette:

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil

For the Salad

  • Baby arugula
  • 1 medium avocado, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • ½ cup crumbled Greek feta cheese marinated in oil
  • 4-5 pieces fresh button mushrooms, sliced

What You Do:

In a small bowl, combine mustard, vinegar, honey and salt.  Whisk to blend well.  Add olive oil and whisk vigorously to emulsify.  Adjust according to your taste.

Mix salad ingredients together and toss with vinaigrette.  Makes 3-4 serving.

Note: I like using baby arugula but if this is hard to find, the regular ones are good too.  Feta cheese can be substituted with goat cheese.  Left over roast chicken torn into bite-sized pieces goes well with the salad, as is tuna from the can.

Only in the Philippines

June 27, 2012 § 6 Comments

Or is it?  This is about a dish I recently made and instantly fell in love with.

When I saw mustard greens (mustasa in my part of the world) in my favorite Saturday market last week, I dropped everything, went for it  and got myself a bundle.  I love that peppery tasting vegetable to pieces.  Excited, I stormed my little library of ideas on what I can do with it… then I stumbled on Mr. MM’s recipe.

I first tasted this vegetable when I was a teenager.  My grandmother used to make a Chinese version of the pickled mustasa, the name of which I loosely translate as “salty vegetable” – not exactly love at first bite but more of an acquired taste.  I have yet to get my hands on that recipe, for now let me share this with you.

This month’s Kulinarya challenge (hosted by Cherrie and Tina) was a daunting “Only in the Philippines” theme, featuring uniquely Filipino dishes.  I wasn’t planning on joining this month until this beautiful recipe came along.  Why do I think it daunting?  Because the dish that came to mind was Kare-Kare and that to me is a major production and can’t consider making in the near future with my busy schedule.  Anywhow, I am posting albeit late, a dish for this challenge.  I figured that this could be uniquely Filipino because the ingredients used are “very” Filipino.  I call it Esaladang Mustasa at Lechon sa Bagoong.  Stay with me here because this is one heck of a side salad.  Ingredients and flavors scream Pinoy through and through.

Mustard Salads are not as popular in Manila as it is in the province, often eaten with fried dishes.  If you like strong flavors then this dish is definitely worth a try.

Ensaladang Mustasa at Lechon sa Bagoong

(adapted from Market Manila’s Mustasa Salad with Bagoong and Kalamansi Dressing)

What You’ll Need:

  • Mustard Greens
  • Lechon, shredded and fried till crisp

For the Dressing:

  • 10-15 Calamansi (in this recipe, I used 4-5 pieces of dayap)
  • A dallop of Bagoong Alamang or Fine Shrimp Paste
  • Chili flakes
  • Patis or Fish sauce
  • Freshly ground pepper

What You Do:

  1. Wash mustard greens carefully; wrap in paper-towel to dry and store in the ref for 2-3 hours to keep crispness and freshness.
  2. Chop them about 1/3 of an inch and put in a salad bowl.
  3. Make the dressing by squeezing the calamansi; strain out seeds.
  4. Add bagoong, siling labuyo, a dew dash of patis.
  5. Top with shredded lechon meat and season with freshly ground pepper.

For more inspiring recipes, visit other KCC members listed below:

Palitaw  from Day of Chef by Day 

Avocado Shake from Malou of Skip To Malou

Pinais na Isda from Iska of Iskandals.com

Grilled Panga ng Lapu-Lapu from Erwin of Iskandals.com

Tapsilog from Cherrie of Sweet Cherrie Pie

Kutsinta  from Tina of Pinay In Texas Cooking Corner 

Kare-kare from Adora of Adora’s Box

Kulawong Talong from Elizabeth of Asian In America

Kalamay na Pinipig from Jun of Jun-blog

Party Favorite

May 21, 2012 § 6 Comments

This is not about fancy food fare.  This salad accompanies almost any ‘inihaw” (grilled) dish that might be served during a fiesta or in my case, any gatherings at home.  Easy to put together and never fails to liven up a table of food fare.  I think this dish paved the way to my loving eggplants.

This month’s KCC challenge (hosted by Elizabeth and Dudut) was to feature a regional “Fiesta” specialty of one’s province.  I grew up in Quezon City and fiestas I only came to know (and sometimes attend) when I am a grown up already.  But this refreshing ensalada (salad) is almost always present during parties thrown at home so I think it should count as the family specialty.

Ensaladang Talong

The roasted flavor of the eggplant is the key that gives this dish a hint of the “ihaw” or charred flavor while the sili (chili) gives it a nice kick.

What you need:

  • 2 tbsps. shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 salad tomato, diced
  • 1 small green or red bell pepper
  • 1 green finger chili (siling pangsigang), seed, deveined and chopped
  • 3 eggplants (about 150g. / pc)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground pepper

What you do:

  1. Roast the eggplants directly over an open fire until charred or in the oven.  Allow to cool.  Peel the eggplants and discard stems.
  2. Cut the peeled eggplants into small chunks.  Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Mix all other ingredients together and drizzle with Coconut Vinaigrette.
  4. Garnish with the remaining portions of the bell peppers and green finger chili.

Coconut Vinaigrette

What you need:

  • 1/8 cup coconut cream
  • 1 gm. ginger, peeled and minced.
  • ½ green finger chili, seed, deveined and chopped
  • 1 tbsp vinegar (I used sukang niyog)
  • salt and pepper to taste

What you do:

  1. Combine coconut cream, ginger, green finger, chili and vinegar in a bowl.  Stir well.
  2. Season with salt and pepper.  Stir well.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Stir again.

An Adult Take on a Childhood Favorite

March 23, 2012 § 12 Comments

We used to live in a compound.  It has four houses, the main house was my lola’s (grandmother’s), one was our house and the two others were my father’s siblings’.  We lived there most of my life until we moved house after college.  There were so many memories in that compound but summers (as a child) were especially memorable as the days were spent playing with cousins in that compound – patintero, touch-taya, Chinese garter… there even was a baseball phase.  I remember catching tadpoles at the canal outside our house. Yeah those were carefree times.  I can’t imagine any parent allowing their kids to play in a canal today.   😯  We’d climb and pick santol and indian mangoes from the tree in my lola’s garden, devouring it with salt or toyo (soysauce).  I’d always look forward to my uncle’s treats to Sunshine Market, our neighborhood grocery.  I’d go straight to the snack section and pick-up Carol-Ann’s potato chips.  Oh how I love that greasy but crispy, thin chips seasoned only with salt.  To this day, nothing beats Carol-Ann’s and you don’t find them anymore.  I love Choco vim — I’d shake it till the chocolate at the bottom dissolves, such a thrill .   And there was Magnolia’s Twin Popsies, I like both the chocolate and the orange variant.  A perfect heat quencher.  Childhood memories… always make me smile.

The Kulinarya Cooking Club is a club that showcases Filipino dishes by way of a monthly challenge among the members.  And this is my first attempt on a fairly easy but so much fun challenge this month, thanks to Arnold of Inuyaki and Jun of Jun-blog.

The theme is “ice candy” or popsicle treats, which aptly signals the start of summer.  In spite of the heat, summer is always a favorite time of the year.  It means I get to soak up the sun in some remote island with some frozen delights on hand.  I usually go for fresh shakes nowadays but ice candy brought back so many memories that I feel like having twin popsies right now.

My take on the theme is an adult version of a childhood favorite.   I made 2 versions in honor of the 2 Magnolia Twin Popsies variants.  One is a delightful orange and mango flavor with a hint of ginger while the other is a chocolate popsicle made of native cacao balls and since I love a hint of orange in my chocolate, I added some orange zest to give it a twist.

Mango-Orange-Ginger Popsies

What you need:

  • 3-4 pcs.  Navel oranges
  • 2-3 pcs. Ripe Philippine mangoes
  • 3-4 slices of ginger
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • A dash of Cinnamon powder or stick

What you do:

  1. To make the ginger syrup:  In a pot, dissolve sugar with ½ cup water.  Add ginger slices and cinnamon stick.  Bring to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile make into juice all the oranges and 1 mango*.  Combine orange/mango juice and the ginger syrup in a pitcher (for ease in pouring).
  3. Slice the rest of the mangoes into bite-sized pieces distribute in popsicle molds**.
  4. Pour the juice mixture.  Place popsicle sticks over the mold and freeze.

Notes: 

* You may use ready to drink juices too if desired.  About 2 cups of orange juice to 1 cup of mango.

** The frozen mango makes a lot of different so fill it to the bream and then pour the juice.

Orange-flavored Choco Frozen Delight

What you need:

  • 10 balls or more of native chocolate*
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • A dash of cinnamon powder or stick

What you do:

  1. Dissolve choco balls in water, adding more depending on desired thickness.**
  2. Add a dash of cinnamon or place the stick of cinnamon while cooking the chocolate.
  3. When chocolate is ready, add the zest before turning off heat.
  4. Strain into a pitcher and let cool.
  5. Pour into popsicle molds, place popsicle sticks and freeze.

Notes:

* Native chocolates are made differently; it is best that you know what kind you’re using or follow instructions if it they have it.

** The thicker the chocolate, the richer the popsicle.  If you make it thick enough, it is like biting into a frozen chocolate bar.

Both were delightfully refreshing.  At the last-minute I decided to add the mango on the orange version and did a happy dance when I bit into the finish product.  It really made a lot of difference biting into frozen mangoes.  The ginger is a great twist to a familiar flavor.  Makes sure though not to overdo the ginger or it will overpower the light fruity flavor.

The chocolate version, on the hand is less sweet and much richer than that of Magnolia’s.  The orange zest added a fruity dimension to dark chocolate.  I intentionally didn’t add milk or cream, as I wanted it dark.  If milk chocolate is the preference, go ahead and add a bit of cream.

If you don’t have a popsicle mold, you may use disposable cups.  To hold the sticks in place, tape over a plastic wrap and bore a hole in the middle where the stick will go.  This will make the stick stay in the middle.

Stay cool everyone!

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