Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Life Away From Home

Living outside one’s country much more away from the family is a formidable task. It is a peat one has to bear and overcome in exchange of (usually) a better source of living. You will really miss a lot of things you used to enjoy back home. Food is one of them and probably one of the most compelling.

Being in a country where there the food is totally different from how our mothers prepared them will really make us crave for that distinct taste of dishes that is truly Filipino. In our case, even our attempts to teach our local cook to prepare our dishes made very little progress and a lot of frustrations. In order to somehow relieve ourselves for the cravings, we tried to prepare some of our traditional foods using local ingredients here.

Amongst the Filipino foods we have attempted to prepare in this foreign land (which were luckily photographed) were empanada as shown above and the following:

Miki Bihon Guisado

Pansit Bihon (a favorite)


Leche Plan

Egg Pie

Devilled Egg
Fresh Lumpiang Ubod

Asado Bun

Pizza (though not so Pinoy)

On several occasions beef caldereta, tapa, balbacua, humba, ube haleya, siomai, fried lumpia, pandesal, lumpia shanghai, fish lumpia, kikiam, hamburger have also been prepared (but no photos taken) on top of the regular adobo, linaga, pork paksiw and sinigang.

We will once again prepare them one by one for detailed posting along with the recipes in days to come. For the moment let the photos speak for themselves.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Greetings from Reel and Grill

This is an important day for some of my love ones. Special occasions and reason to celebrate and be thankful. Since I'm far away, I thought this blog would be my best way to extend my greetings for them.

NAVEN - Congratulations Son for topping the ESEP Exam of TMS. Im so proud of you. I could never be more than happy. Mama and Ate CJ are also very happy for you.

DAD - Happy Birthday. Im wishing you good health and more happiness in the years to come.

MOMMY & DAD - Happy Anniversary. Hope the coming years would be even more better and prosperous.

CHA - Happy Birthday. Hope you will have more of the things you love......and virtues too.:-)

CHA & BOJO - Happy Anniversary. Let Charize fill the gap of distance.

Enjoy the day everyone. Make it grand. Cheers.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Crispy Fried Parrotfish

In our family parrotfish is not a regular table fare. As far as I can remember, I only ate this fish two times. The first time was when I was still a kid in our town in Padre Garcia, Batangas. My father prepared it while we watched in awe and amusement because of its color and beauty. The last time was when I’m already working on a road project in Batangas City when a colleague who has an appetite for this fish gave me some for lunch. Although I am so amazed by its vibrant color and beautiful appearance, I’m not particularly impressed by its bland taste and strong smell.

I learned that while its meat is rarely consumed in the US, in Hawaii, parrotfish is especially popular on the dinner table and are a prime target of net fishermen. It is also considered a delicacy in many other parts of the world.

I also once read that parrotfish are better fried, steamed or stewed. In southern Philippines they cook it “tinola” style (stew in ginger with vegetables) for as long it is still very fresh.

For the carolines parrotfish that we caught in our shore fishing adventure, I played safe and decided to just fry it whole. First I thoroughly gutted and cleaned the fish. I discovered that removal of its big scales in quite a tough job already.

After patting it dry with a table napkin, I marinated it with 2 tbsp minced garlic, 2 tbsp calamansi juice (you can substitute lemon), 1 tbsp sea salt and 1 tsp ground pepper for about an hour inside the fridge.

Then I fried it whole in a big pan until golden brown and crispy on the edge. Frying a big (about 5 lbs) whole fish is not easy. My fish even sticked to the pan making it very difficult to turn over. After splatting about 1/4 cup of vegetable oil all over the oven area, my fish is finally cooked.

I just mixed some juice of calamansi, soy sauce and chili for that favorite Filipino dipping sauce and served it for dinner with some friends.

I was surprised that the fish was good. Although I may have overcooked a bit due to its sticking on the pan but the taste isn’t bad. The crispy skin, belly and face were my most favorite part. On a scale of 10, this is 7.75, not bad for a fish not really known for its good taste.

Will I eat it again? By all means.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Shore Fishing Under the Rain (Part 2)

Though my find turned out to be a Navy reserve area, I’m not totally saddened. Just looking at such beautiful refuge of fish is a relief. At least with the ongoing conservation efforts by the Navy, the propagation of gamefish will flourish for us anglers to continue enjoying the sports we dearly love.

Not losing hope, we went to the other end of the shore. It is a rocky area but equally blessed with clean and deep water and most importantly, no longer within the Navy reservation. This is what I found:

A place full of promise…..full of hope. A perfect hole for anglers like me who easily succumb to seasickness whilst aboard a boat.

The place did not disappoint me. Just minutes after baiting shelled shrimp and started casting from the rock, fish started accepting my offerings. And I'm more than willing to catch them.

It did not take long before I got an enormous pull from my rod. The reel immediately screamed and my adrenaline pumped in. The battle begun and my small rod was subjected to massive bending. The fish is heavy and very strong. Then I saw it, a trevalley about 3-4 kilos, giving me a real tough fight. The battle continued for quite a long time. I was able to reeled him close and lifted several inches from the water. But just before I was able to sway the rod to toss it on the rock platform, he gave his final wiggle of resistance and made his way back to freedom, taking along my rig mounted on a 12 lbs leader.

I felt the world has tumbled down. What could have been one of my most memorable catch was lost. I will have to settle with this video to reminisce the day.

I was beaten, but the moment I started thinking of the possibilities this place could offer, my smile reappeared in my face. Without further thinking I declared the place as my new “Playground”.

Day 3 (10th May)

While the original plan is to go back to the first hole/breakwater I visited on Day 1, the new “Playground” is just irresistible. Whilst the rain is still prevailing, I thought I might just get lucky and be able to cast several times. So I made an exciting return.

Having given a short period with no rain, I wasted no time and started casting with shelled shrimp and cut squid. This time I used a slightly bigger hook and leader (15 lbs). Several minutes passed by and still no takers. I noticed the dark clouds started to accumulate above me as the wind blew. Not a good sign I said. But I am still hopeful of that heavy bite before the rain commence its fury.

After around 30 minutes of casting re-baiting and casting, an enormous pull suddenly occurred, not to the rod I'm holding but to my companion's who is fishing for the first time. As the fish pulled even harder the rod was handed over to me. This could be it, I said. The reel started screaming that familiar sound and my heart was again pounding. The fight was not as furious as yesterday’s but also forceful.

I had a short glance of the fish still on the water trying hard to run away, its multicoloured and maybe less than 3 kilos. I took every care not to lose this battle. Not again I said. And then finally….. I was able to land the fish. It’s a beauty, wide and thick. Not really a biggie but massive and gorgeous.

I’m not quite familiar with this catch. My friend said it is known as “mulmol” in their place. It seems it is just a Carolines Parrotfish. Whatever it is, right now it is a priced catch to me.

I again baited my hook and continue fishing, hoping for a trevalley bite, but the weather became so unforgiving. I also tried popping several times. I saw big fish appearing blurry on the water before me but the waves grew mightier and rendered the “Playground” quite unsafe for the sports. I had to call it a day without a single strike to the popper.

That trevalley has to wait for some time. He has time to grow more. Right now, I have to find way to cook this “mulmol” and of course start planning the next trip. The “Playground” will be waiting.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Shore Fishing Under the Rain (Part 1)

It is Full Moon holiday here in Sri Lanka on 8th to 10th of May. I thought it would be perfect days for finding new fishing holes and doing some surf or shore fishing in the process. However, it didn’t take long for me to realize that what seemed to be perfect days will turn out to be not that ideal anyway.

Major constraint is the prevailing bad weather. It rained heavily on the 8th and 9th and slightly on the 10th. Scouting potential fishing spots and angling itself became really difficult and a feat to carry on. But the show must go on. The daily game plan is to leave the house by 5am and return by 11am.

Day 1 (8th May)

It isn’t really a good day. Heavy rain forced me to stay inside the vehicle most of the time. But after traversing 3 coastal towns (mostly beaches and rocky seas), I found a candidate for good fishing location at the end of a breakwater enclosing a local fishing port and boat marina extending towards the deepwater.

I saw school of fish swimming around on the surface indicating big predators a.k.a. gamefish, were roaming the sea bed. I tried to cast chunk of shelled shrimp to entice them.

But before I even get a bite, heavy rain prevailed and forced me to pack up with heavy heart. I promised to come back the day after tomorrow (10th).

Day 2 (9th May)

We decided to check the old port of Galle City. Even with a dark cloud, a magnificent scene of sunrise welcomed me on the old pier.

The site looks good at first, but after casting for around an hour under heavy rain, it proved to be not so promising after all. The heavy accumulation of sand underneath the pier made it a not so conducive habitat for gamefish.

We decided to check another location, this time, across a thickly vegetated forest. Some sort of a reserve location not frequented even by the local residents. We negotiated an old asphalt road going up and then down across a small mountain leading to a Temple. At the end of the road, we parked our vehicle and walked around 300 meters down the scrub to reach the shoreline.

The scene on the way is spectacular.

Some more hiking and some kind of ecology tour and this is what appeared before me.

It is an angler’s paradise of sort, untainted shoreline and unadulterated water. The apparent absence of residence in the vicinity somehow preserved the natural splendor of the place and the obvious wealth of the sea. The bluish/greenish water and lot of visible corals indicate an abundance of fish. Shore fishing at its best. I’m deeply enlivened.

Until I read this:

If appeared the area is a Navy Reservation. There were Navy boats and makeshift shelter which they use in patrolling the area and protecting the coral reef.

We will continue with Part 2 ...... with real fishing action.


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