Monday, May 31, 2010

Sausage Sandwich with Cheese and Orange Marmalade

I saw in a television food program how a specialty restaurant in the US prepares some really interesting hotdog sandwiches which were a bit unusual but I found quite innovative and daring. In particular, their hotdog was butterflied, grilled flat and topped with slices of cheese then laid on an also butterflied hotdog bun spread with strawberry jam instead of the usual mayonnaise or tomato sauce-base dressings.

Another version was the use of peanut butter instead of the jam. The idea is to combine the sweet taste of the jam spread and the slightly salty-creamy taste of cheese and blend with the taste of the hotdog to make a distinctly good tasting hotdog sandwich.

Yesterday, I decided to make my own version of the exciting hotdog sandwich. Since I am not a big fan of strawberry jam, or any other strawberry laden or flavored food for that matter, I decided to use sweet orange marmalade instead. Likewise, in lieu of the good hotdog which is rather difficult to come by in my area of residence, I used a special edition sausage infused with cheese and onion that I recently chanced upon and bought in the supermarket.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Pesang Lapu-Lapu (Grouper Stew in Ginger with Vegetables)

I can’t think of a better way to cook my “lapu-lapu” catch in my recent shore fishing adventure than by the popular Filipino stew dish called “pesa”. I first ate and since then has been heavily exposed to “pesa” in the “Capampangan” area of the provinces of Pampanga and Tarlac lying in the central part of the Luzon island of the Philippines. In the region, “pesa” is a regular table fare for the whole family, particularly for fishes such as the ferocious freshwater snakehead called mudfish or “dalag” or “bulig”, the bony but tasty milkfish or “bangus” and yes, the rather pricey but very delicious grouper or “lapu-lapu”.

Basically, “pesa” is boiled or stew fish infused with the strong flavor of ginger and added with some vegetables. The pungent flavor of ginger is required to counter the stench smell and taste of the fish and provide a tasty broth. In addition, fish are sometimes slightly fried first to further remove the stench prior to stewing. The soupy dish is served with an accompanying somewhat salty sauce made from either Chinese fermented soybean cake called “tahure/tauri” or fermented black beans called “tausi”, or sometimes using the Japanese fermented condiment called “miso”, mashed and then sauté in chopped onions and tomatoes.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tomato and Cheese Omelette

Cheese and egg are among my favorite foods. They are both delicious on their own. A slice of cheese, especially Cheddar or Edam, can transform a rather simple bread roll or even a Filipino “pandesal”, into a wonderful breakfast or snack meal for me. A soft boiled egg on the other hand, sprinkled with just a little sea salt, is already a complete definition of comfort food to me. So, combining the two, plus some select veggies like tomato, to create an omelette, is a regular fare for me. Aside from “tortang alimasag” and “tortang talong”, cheese omelette is a simple dish I always do.

Cheese refers to the diverse group of milk-based food produced by coagulating the milk protein casein. The milk is basically acidified and addition of the enzyme rennet causes coagulation. The solids are then separated and pressed into final form. Cheese consists of proteins and fat from milk, usually from cows, buffalo, goats or sheep. It is produced throughout the world in a wide range of flavors, textures and forms. Cheese is valued for its portability, long life and high content of fat, protein, calcium and phosphorus.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mango Shake or Smoothies

Since after preparing the stimulating “green mango shake” from the crunchy green mangoes harvested early on from the plant growing inside our backyard, the remaining abundant fruits have fully grown and matured. I picked some the other day with an intention to make them into the Filipino “burong manga” or pickled or fermented mango. Due to procrastination however, the fruits have inevitably ripen making them no longer suitable for pickling. Nonetheless, it did not make me sad or even a bit disappointed; after all, mangoes when ripe are even better.

As mentioned in my mango-papaya shake post, a ripe mango is sweet, peach like and juicy. Its flesh has a unique taste and texture which varies from soft, pulpy texture similar to an over-ripe plum to firmer flesh like a cantaloupe or avocado. The flavor is pleasant and rich and high in sugars and acid. The fruit is a favorite in many countries and one of the most commonly eaten fruits in tropical countries around the world. It is in fact considered as the apple of the tropics.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pangat na Sapsap sa Kamatis (Ponyfish Poached in Lemon Juice & Tomatoes)

In my first “pangat” recipe, where I used pampano and trevally, I mentioned that among the best fish to cook “pangat” or “pinangat” is ponyfish locally called “karalla” here in Sri Lanka and “sapsap” in the Philippines. Ponyfishes which are also known as slipmouths or slimys are small, deep-bodied, laterally compressed fishes with a bland silvery colouration.

They belong to the family of fishes called “Leiognathidae” in the order “Perciformes”, meaning perch-like. They inhabit marine and brackish waters in the Indian Ocean and West Pacific. They are distinguished by highly extensible mouths, slimy bodies with small scales and the presence of a mechanism for locking the spines in the dorsal and anal fins.

They also possess a luminous organ in the throat which glow or projects light through the animal's underside due to the presence of luminescent bacteria cultured within an organ surrounding the esophagus.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Turon or Turron or Sagimis (Banana Fritters or Banana Spring Rolls)

The Philippine cuisine, in my opinion, is now an amalgamation of various international cuisines that were either introduced by early colonizers, liberators, traders and merchants, developed in response to the demand generated by tourism and international business undertakings, influenced by the influx of foreign migration and affected by the emergence of global market and free trades.

Hamburgers, pizza, spaghetti, “shawarma”, “dimsums”, “dumplings”, “sushi”, “sashimi”, are just a few of many foreign foods that are now considered part of the modern Filipino cuisine. You can buy them from kiosks and roadside stores or order them in most city eateries and restaurants. They even have variations and have developed characteristics unique to the Filipinos.

In spite of these invasions and introductions however, the original Philippine dishes, though some have become less popular over the years, especially in the case of native Philippine delicacy or traditional snacks or “merienda” locally called “kakanin”, managed to somehow continue serving and satisfying its niche.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Enter the Dragon Fruits

I have discovered several new fruits since I worked here in Sri Lanka. Among those which I have already featured are the juicy citrus “ambul dodang” and another variety of naturally sour citrus called “jama naran”, both of which make very refreshing lemonades. Here, I was also exposed to new varieties of banana such as the rather tiny but sweet “seeni kesel” which I cooked into “minatamis na saging” and the quite rare and heavy, in both weight and nutritional contents, called “nethrampalam” or “nendran” banana.

I also found here but have not yet posted the island-wide popular wood apple or elephant apple locally known as “divul” which they make into healthful drinks. We have tried this before but not quite impressed.

In addition, occasionally visiting the fruit sections of supermarkets provided us with opportunity to see some uncommon, sometimes unfamiliar but delightfully colorful and seemingly luscious exotic fruits. Among them is the interestingly pretty dragon fruit. I remember the first time I encountered the fruit; my eyes were immediately caught by its vibrant color and beautiful appearance. Later on, I discovered that the fruit has been commonly available as well in the Philippine markets. But it is only here that I fully enjoyed its thirst quenching flesh.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sinigang na Baka (Beef Stew in Tamarind)

As mentioned in my “sinigang na tuna” post where I discussed the popular Filipino soup dish collectively called ”sinigang”, beef is one of the other meats that can be cooked the same way. Whilst I have cooked beef in several Filipino dishes like beef “caldereta” or “kalderetang baka”, beef adobo or “adobong baka” and the meaty beef “asado”, I have yet to prepare and feature it in a soupy dish. Although my favorite soup dish for beef is “nilagang baka”, a variation of the popular “nilagang baboy” or pork stew with vegetables , I intend to first prepare it as “sinigang” or stew with souring agent which in this case is a pre-mix tamarind powder.

Generally, beef is the culinary name for meat from bovines, especially domestic cattle or cows. It is among the principal meats used in the cuisine of America, Australia, Argentina and Europe. It is also an important meat in Africa, East Asia and Southeast Asia like in the Philippines, where it is much pricier than pork and chicken.

Beef is divided into basic sections from which steaks and other subdivisions are cut. These are called primal cuts. Different countries have different cuts and names. Different cultures have their own distinct ways of dividing and cutting the meat. The French and English make 35 differentiations to the beef cuts. The “Bodi” tribe in East Africa has 51 cuts. Even more remarkably, the Koreans differentiate beef cuts into 120 different parts.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Pato Tim or Patuten or Humbang Itik (Marinated Duck Braised in Soy Sauce)

As a variation of the popular Filipino-Chinese dish “pata tim” or pork knuckle braised in soy sauce, “pato tim” was created. “Pato” is the Filipino language for duck so the dish is simply a marinated duck braised in soy sauce. The method of preparation as well as the ingredients is somewhat similar so expect the taste to also have resemblance with the individual distinct taste and texture of the meats providing the difference.

Duck is the common name for a number of species of birds in the “Anatidae” family. They are aquatic birds, usually smaller than the swans and geese and may be found in both fresh water and sea water. They are characterized by elongated and broad body, relatively long neck, short but strong wings and usually broad bill with serrated lamellae or thin layer of plate of tissue.

Ducks have many economic uses. They are widely farmed for their meat, eggs, feathers specially the down or the soft and fine feathers below the contour feathers which are used for cushion and quilts.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Homemade Chicken Sandwich Spread

Chicken sandwich spread is probably the most popular and fastest selling sandwich spreads in groceries and supermarkets. Unlike the slightly sweet-sourly plain sandwich spread and other expensive versions but rather poorly flavored with either ham, bacon, tuna, etc., it is widely available and has a good taste that appeals to most members of the family, young and old. It is oftentimes a mother’s reliable allies when in need of quick-fix sandwiches to satisfy the demanding but usually discriminating taste of kids.

Having this product at home has a lot of advantages and benefits. There is no need to rush in the morning to cook some dish because even plain chicken sandwich makes an interesting and yummy breakfast dish. It could well serve as an easy snack or “merienda” during break time or tea time. It could be your best source of treat for unannounced friends and visitors dropping by your place. It is perfect for the popular Filipino bread rolls called “pandesal” anytime of the day.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Bhut Jolokia Chili Garlic Sauce - The Hottest Chili

You might have known it already from the news, but let me once again present “bhut jolokia”, the 2007 Guinness World Record certified Hottest Chili of the World. Why am I excited? Well, I have tasted this chili some 3 years ago when an old tea woman of our office gave me some harvested from her backyard. I could vividly remember that ignorantly tasting it was one tragic incident which immediately resulted to profusely watering eyes and running nose. The bad experience prompted me to throw away the rest of the chilies and never to consider the vegetable in any of my kitchen adventures.

But after having read many informative articles about the regarded “king of chilies” with more than a million Scoville units (SHU), the scientific measurement of a chili's spiciness or pungency, and its perceived tremendous potentials not only as a culinary item but in other fields as well like in medicine, food manufacturing and self-defense and military weaponry, I decided to make a second scrutiny of the thumb-sized but very lethal vegetable.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Arroz Caldo or Lugaw (Chicken Congee)

Rice congee is a type of rice porridge that is eaten in many Asian countries. The word congee is possibly derived from the Tamil word “kanji”. The dish is widely popular in Asia and even in some part of Europe. It is called by many names such as “kanda” in Sri Lanka, “canja” in Portugal, “pinjin” and “zhōu” in China, “bubur” in Indonesia, “ukayo” in Japan, “juk” in Korea, “chok” in Thailand, “chao” in Vietnam, “babaw” in Cambodia and “lugaw” or “lugao/lugau” in the Philippines. Rice congee is an ideal comfort food for the sick and elderly as it has a soothing effect. Apart from the fact that it can be easily consumed and digested, it is believed to have therapeutic or healing properties for the ill.

While there are many varieties of toppings and flavoring ingredients added to make different variations, chicken is probably the most common addition. In the Philippines the dish with chicken is called “Arroz Caldo”, obviously from the Spanish word “arroz” that means rice and “caldo” that refers to broth. However, please note that it is not a Spanish dish. The name was only adopted by the Spanish colonial settlers who patronized Chinese restaurants in the Philippines for easy reference.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Calamansi Juice & other Uses of Calamondin or Philippine Lemon

It there is one citrus fruit that was used in cookery and mentioned with the most number of times in this blog; it is the internationally underrated fruit and cooking ingredients called “calamansi” or “calamondin” and sometimes “lemoncito” in the Philippines. It is usually referred to by many Filipinos living abroad as Philippine lemon, probably since a lemon is its next best substitute in preparing Filipino dishes that particularly requires the juice of the said citrus.

“Calamansi” is a small, about 3-4 cm diameter, round fruit with a striking greenish to orange color peel which although quite popular in Southeast Asia is less known and under utilized in many parts of the world. In the west it is variously known as acid orange, “calamondin” orange or Panama orange.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sinunggaok or Dinuguan sa Kamatis (Pork Blood Stew in Tomato)

“Sinunggaok” is a variation of the popular Filipino dish called “dinuguan” or pork blood stew. This is a Southern Tagalog (Philippines) regional dish usually being prepared and served in the Batangas area and other neighboring provinces. It is just like “dinuguan” with several obvious differences such as: 1) it uses pork meat instead of offal and entrails, 2) it uses tomatoes instead of vinegar for the souring agent and 3) it has green papaya as additional veggies.

Since the dish calls for the use of fresh pork blood, so as usual, you are reminded that this is not for the squeamish or faint of heart. If this subject will affect your sensitivities, you might as well discontinue reading it. But if you are open and excited in unraveling exotic culinary creations that would seem unusual or a little bit disturbing to some, then enjoy the ride. You are in for a wonderful discovery.

I have enjoyed this dish when I was a kid in Batangas. But when the family migrated to Central Luzon (Philippines) where it is not known, I rarely had the chance to eat it, only when my mom or dad will occasionally cook it. :-)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Tortang Talong (Eggplant Omelet or Fritata)

Like the “tortang alimasag”, another simple yet satisfying Filipino dish using egg and eggplant is “tortang talong” or eggplant omelet or more appropriate, eggplant frittata. It is a very common course, usually for breakfast but goes very well as side dish for main meal, prepared in most household, eateries and even small restaurants in the Philippines. There may be several varieties in the preparation such as the addition of minced meat and use of flour but the combine flavor of egg and eggplant is always the prevailing taste.

Eggplant, also known as “aubergine”, “melongene” or “brinjal” is a plant of the family known as nightshades or belonging to a diverse group of foods, herbs, shrubs and trees with low amount of substances called alkaloids which can impact nerve-muscle function and digestive function in animals and humans and may also compromise joint function. But before you worry, let me inform you that potato and tomato also belong to this group.

Eggplant bears a fruit of the same name, commonly used as a vegetable in cooking. It is native to South Asia particularly Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The name eggplant is used in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the Philippines, whilst “aubergine” is used in British English and “brinjal” is used in Indian, South African, Malaysian and Sri Lankan English. “Melongene” on the other hand, is a less common British English word.
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