Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bangus sa Tausi (Milkfish Braised in Tomato and Black Beans)

In continuation of my post regarding the bony but tasty milkfish, let me feature another way of cooking the fish using a special Chinese flavoring ingredient called “douchi” or Chinese fermented black beans. Obviously, “douchi” was introduced to the Philippines by the early Chinese immigrants or merchants. It is now widely used in the diverse foods of Filipino-Chinese communities. It is also well accepted by most Filipinos and later on became part of the amalgamated Filipino cuisine. It is called “tausi” in the local language; a name that closely resembles the way Japanese actually calls it which is “touchi”.

“Tausi” is made by fermenting and salting soybeans. The process turns the beans black, soft and mostly dry though it has some liquid when packed. The flavor is sharp and pungent and the smell is spicy. It has a taste that borders from salty to somewhat bitter and sweet. It is especially used to flavor fish or meat like in “humba”, or sautéed or stir-fried vegetables like bitter melon and other leaf vegetables. Unlike some other fermented soybean-based foods though, “tausi” is only used as a seasoning for foods and is not meant to be consumed in hefty quantities. Its oftentimes overly salty flavor is something many can not handle if directly eaten.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mixed Bag of Fish Caught Shore Fishing in Sri Lanka

To be able to have a good supply of fish that we can cook for posting here, I see to it that I visit the Playground for some shore fishing action whenever I have time during weekends. You see, freshly caught fish are among the most wonderful ingredients for a really delicious seafood culinary fares. Fish in particular are not just tasty but are really very healthy. It is rich in calcium, potassium, omega 3 fats and many more vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

Okay, okay I made the first sentence up. It is just my lame excuse for my fishing obsession. :-) The truth is, fishing, just like cooking is really something I have always wanted to do. For me, being with nature or outdoors during weekends, more especially when shore casting from a lush beach, can provide me with the much needed boost and invigoration, in order to alleviate my tired body and mind from what seem to be a very long weekdays working in a construction project.

Well, I think the above is a good enough reason for the spouse to grant me an absolute permission to regularly go fishing in this foreign land at least during weekends when I am not obliged to work. :-)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chinese Fried Rice or Yang Chow Fried Rice

When we are dining in a Chinese restaurant, there is a 90% chance that we will order Chinese fried rice along with my other preferred Chinese foods such as “Steamed Lapu-Lapu or Grouper”, “Sizzling Tofu”, “Chop Suey”, “Pata Tim or Pork Knuckle in Soya Sauce”, Spicy Cuttlefish, etc.. The delicious rice dish, also called Yang Chow Fried Rice, is just too good to be ignored even by the trying hard less-rice eater like me. :-)

Chinese Fried Rice originally called "Yeung Chow Fried Rice" or "Yang Zhou Chao Fan" is a popular Cantonese style wok fried rice dish served in most Chinese restaurants in North America, Australia, Hong Kong and the Philippines. Although the ingredients is highly varied, depending on the availability and local produce, the staple items are day old cooked rice (though hot cooked rice prepared with less water is also okay), Chinese sausage or “lap leong”, slightly beaten eggs, chopped scallions or leeks, diced vegetables such as carrots and cooked green peas.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Chicken Afritada in Fresh Tomatoes

I have been craving for the “pork afritada in fresh tomatoes” which I posted here sometime ago. However, since some of our members have been avoiding too much pork in their diets lately, due to medical conditions, I decided to use chicken wings instead of pork. Although this does not necessarily mean it will have a lesser bad cholesterol content knowing a lot of chicken skin will be present, at least I can be assured that all members will be eating the dish and would probably enjoy it for our dinner knowing chicken wing meat is so tasty and succulent which can be cooked in half the time needed to cook pork.

As most of us know, chicken wings are a section of the wings of the chicken composed of drummettes and flats used to make the popular dish called “buffalo wings” which is a deep fried chicken wings covered in sauce. The same part of chicken is also good to prepare fried, grilled, baked and stewed. In fact, chicken afritada in fresh tomatoes is actually a stew dish prepared using fresh tomatoes instead of tomato sauce and added with bell pepper, green peas, carrots and potatoes.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bistik na Bangus (Milkfish Braised in Soy Sauce, Lemon and Onion)

Milkfish, referred to as “Chanos chanos” in the scientific world is known in many parts of the world and called by many names such as “vaikkaya” in Sri Lanka, "bangus" or "bangos" in the Philippines, “sabalo” in Mexico and Spain, “bandeng” or “bandang” in other parts of Southeast Asia and giant herring, salmon herring, white mullet or boney salmon in the West, is the sturdy, symmetrical and streamlined fish with a rather big forked caudal fin that lives in the warm waters along the continental shelves and around islands in the Indo-Pacific.

They occur in the Indian Ocean and across the Pacific Ocean, tending to school around coasts and islands with reefs. The young fry live at sea for two to three weeks and then migrate to mangrove swamps, estuaries and sometimes lakes and return to sea to mature sexually and reproduce. In the wild, they are strong swimmer and they can grow up to about 1.7 meters but are most often about 1 meter in length. They have no teeth and generally feed on algae and invertebrates.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Fish Shanghai (Fish Spring Roll)

We can gauge the level of popularity or success of a particular food by looking at the number of variations concocted or created from it. In the case of Filipino cuisine, perhaps “adobo”, “sinigang”, “caldereta”, “paksiw”, “kinilaw” and “pancit” with their many variations and styles of cooking developed, are amongst the most prepared Filipino foods using different types of ingredients and thus, can be considered as also the most successful ones. I believe the Filipino-Chinese meat spring rolls or “lumpiang shanghai”, which I prepared and posted earlier, is also one of them.

While the original recipe primarily uses pork, many other type of meats have been successfully substituted and accepted, like chicken, beef, shrimps and combination thereof. Since I have been regularly shore fishing lately and have accumulated a lot of freshly caught game fish in our freezer, I thought of preparing a “fish shanghai” or the fish version of the known meat spring roll called “lumpiang shanghai” would be a very sensible and economical idea.

So for today, let me do my version of the well-loved spring roll using a fish from one of our recent catches from angling or sportsfishing at our favorite shore fishing spot along the highly diverse Rumassala reef in Galle City, Sri Lanka, namely, the gorgeous but not very good smelling parrotfish. :-)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Shore Fishing at the Playground in Sri Lanka Continues

As the monsoon season is now fast approaching, the productive fishing spot in Bonnavista, Galle City in southern Sri Lanka which I considered as my Playground will inevitably be unfishable soon. The rainy season is expected to bring lots of water and gusty winds which will create raging sea waves which will continuously pound the said Playground all throughout the monsoon period. As a result, my ultimate passion of shore fishing will simply be not possible due to safety consideration. While there will still be days of moderately favorable fishing condition, constraints on my schedule might not provide the opportunity.

The monsoon season, which usually last for about 4 months, would be quite a long wait for an avid angler that I am. Whilst there are other inland bodies of water that could provide an alternative freshwater fishing adventures, the Playground is always my preferred place due to its still unexplored possibilities. The abundance of big game fish and other delectable schooling fish, just within reach from the shoreline provides shore casting opportunities unparalleled elsewhere. This has been mentioned in my previous adventures in the area here and here.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Kasoy - Cashew Juice and Nuts

There are three important things to remember about the fascinating work of nature called cashew or what is known as “kasoy” or “casuy” in the Philippines, "marañón" in Brazil and Spain, “cajou” or “caju” in Portugal, “acajaiba” or “acajé” in Tupi and “kadju” here in Sri Lanka, to mention just a few of its many names. First is the real fruit, second is the nut and third is the accessory fruit. Is that very clear? I know it’s not. :-)

The accessory fruit, sometimes called the false fruit or pseudo fruit, is the oval or pear or bell-shaped structure that develops from the receptacle of the cashew flower which ripens into an attractive yellow and/or red but delicately soft body called cashew apple. This is what most of us believed is the fruit. It’s not.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Refrigerated Cake - No Bake Cake

Baking is truly fun and rewarding. No doubt about that. But sometimes you just don’t have the energy and/or time to attend to its complex requirements. Given such a condition, you can still prepare a certain type of cake that will satisfy your wants and/or your love ones cravings. Make a refrigerated cake. It’s simple and easy. It is a no-bake cake that can be prepared over a short period of time and using just a few easy to find ingredients. A treat for those always on the go and could only spend a limited time in the kitchen but still prefer homemade goodies for the family.

Let me share with you a fool-proof recipe of a sumptuous refrigerated cake as shared to me by a colleague who was taught by her sister. Honestly, I never thought a no-bake cake especially this one could taste this good. After eating a rather big piece of this yummy refrigerated cake though, I am immediately transformed. I will never look at no-bake cake the same way again. Try this and you too, might find it a welcome alternative to baking when time is not at your disposal. :-)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Dinner at Urban Kitchen In Colombo, Sri Lanka

In our quest for good international foods in the Colombo Capital of Sri Lanka, we would often try new restaurants, cafés, bistros, eateries and even food courts offering varieties of international cuisines every time we have opportunity. Last Saturday, after having our monthly shopping for food and grocery provisions, we decided to have our dinner at a chic and cozy restaurant called Urban Kitchen.

The place, located within the same compound of the supermarket we are frequenting, is especially interesting to us because the head chef there is a fellow Filipino whom we once met during the party of the Association of Filipinos in Sri Lanka (AFSRIL). The party was in fact held in the same restaurant but at that time, special Filipino foods not part of their regular menus were served.

The restaurant has near full-capacity customers when we arrived. At least an indication that good food is being served in what appeared to us as a modern and well maintained food establishment. From the seats, everyone has a view of the wide kitchen where chefs and crews are busy preparing the foods.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Green Mango Shake (Smoothies)

The mango trees we have in our backyard are now in abundance with fruits. The enticing green fruits are still on an early stage but already driving us all into an uncontrollable state of salivation. Its alluring crunchiness that regularly greet us every morning as we leave for work, serves as a silent bombardment reminding us that we still have some “Ginisang Alamang” in the fridge waiting to be devoured alongside with its sourly-tasty flesh. Okay, I am drooling now. :-)

But since the fruits are quite a lot, we have options to use them in some other ways or preparations. While Sri Lankan and Indian usually use their green mangoes as vegetable cooking them with curry and other spices, the Filipino’s alternative way of enjoying the bounty harvest at its unripe stage is to make a refreshing and invigorating green mango shake or smoothies. With the summer season fast approaching, the sight of green mangoes hanging from the branches is simply awesome.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Loming Lipa - Pancit Lomi (Fresh Egg Noodles in Thick Soup)

This is the real thing. OK..OK…..let me rephrase it....this is the closer you can get to the real “loming lipa” and to some extent to the famous “loming Ma Mun Luk” where it has a big resemblance. The said two styles of cooking “pancit lomi” are probably the best I have tasted. After regularly being exposed to and had actually eaten bowls and bowls of “loming lipa”, in Lipa City, Batangas (Philippines) and neighboring cities and municipalities, I developed a fascination with the rather simple and ordinary noodle dish particularly the way it is prepared a la “loming lipa”. Since then, it has been my long term objective to learn cooking the sticky and yummy noodle soup right in the comfort of my own little kitchen which I successfully achieved some years back.

As a backgrounder, “pancit lomi” or simply “lomi” is a Chinese-Filipino noodle dish made with a thick variety of fresh egg noodles of about 5 mm or half a centimeter in diameter (probably the biggest fresh egg noodles available in the Philippine market) sautéed with small pieces of pork or chicken meat, liver and select vegetables, added with tasty broth and then thickened by cassava flour and beaten eggs. Several toppings are added prior to serving such as fried “kikiam” (que kiam), as I mentioned in my previous post, meat balls, pork liver and slices of hard boil eggs.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Laing (Taro Leaves Cooked in Coconut Milk)

Among the well-known spicy yet very yummy dishes of the Bicol Region of the Southern Philippines which elicit my appetite are “Bicol Express” and “Laing”. The two dishes are both basically vegetable entrees with some pork meat and/or select dried fish or shrimp paste and cooked in coconut milk. For this post, let me prepare the “laing” dish which is made from dried taro leaves, some pork and dried fish meats, chilies and coconut milk. Both the thin coconut milk (2nd and 3rd extractions) and thick coconut milk, sometimes reffered to as coconut cream (1st extraction), which I explained in my “Ginataang Alimasag” post, will be used in this tasty dish.

Taro, which is widely cultivated in many parts of the world, is called by numerous names amongst them are “gabi” in the Philippines, “inhame” in Brazil, “yùtou” or “yùnǎi” in China, “dasheen” in Jamaica and other Caribbean islands, “satoimo” in Japan, “toran” in South Korea, “ghandyali” or “chamaggada” or “chaama dumpa” or “saru” in India and “kiriala” here in Sri Lanka. It is a tropical plant grown primarily as a root vegetable for its delicate and tasty corm and secondarily as a nutritious leaf vegetable. It is considered a staple in many cultures and believed to have been one of the earliest cultivated plants.


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