Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tanigue Steak (Seer Fish Steak)

In my post about the “kinilaw na tanigue”, I mentioned that the fish called “tanigue” in the Philippines, belonging to the mackerel family and known as seer fish here in Sri Lanka and India is also excellent when grilled a la steak. Slices of the fish is lightly marinated with lemon, salt, ground pepper and other seasonings and cook either over live charcoal, gas grill, oven roast or even on hot griddle or thick pan on stove top. This is one of my favorite preparations for “tanigue” or seer fish which I usually enjoy eating with friends over some bottles of beer apart from the usual way of eating it with either steamed rice or better yet fried rice.

Along with yellow fin tuna and sail fish, seer fishes which also include the bigger variety called “wahoo” are among the highly sought after and relatively high priced fishes of Sri Lanka. In fact here, it is considered a more important fish than grouper or “lapu-lapu”, a direct contrast of the market situation back home in the Philippines where groupers are extra special and rather priced a little exorbitant particularly in the Manila Capital and other key cities, due to high demand. :-)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Halabos na Hipon o Sugpo (Steamed Shrimp or Prawn)

Like “alimasag” or swimming blue crab, shrimp and prawn are among the readily good-tasting food harvests from the sea, freshwater or even farms that require very little ingredients to transform into delicious and luscious culinary treats. It can be just grilled, dry-fried, baked or boiled with just a little amount of salt or sometimes even none when they are freshly harvested from the sea, which will come out really tasty provided cooked right. They are in fact excellent secondary and/or flavoring ingredients to make other dishes like vegetable, meat, noodle, pasta, soup, fried rice and a lot more cookery, attain extra level as far as taste is concerned.

If you want to impress guests who will be dining on your self-prepared meal, include shrimp or prawn in your entrees such as the easy “gambas al ajillo” or the easier “halabos na hipon o sugpo” which is basically a steamed shrimp or prawn then quickly dry-fried, and you will be assured of a dish that will be truly appreciated. The cooking methods involve are considered simple, fool-proof, straightforward and could work well to beginners or even first-timers that will just be following recipes from notes of cookbook.

As a backgrounder, shrimp and prawn are both swimming crustaceans with five pairs of legs and found widely around the world in both fresh and salt water. They can live in schools, swim rapidly backwards, search food while swimming and stay close to the floor of whatever body of water they inhabit. They also have similar flavors and come in a wide range of sizes from minuscule to quite big. Although they are both flavorful and high in calcium, iodine and protein, they are low in food energy and known to be a significant source of cholesterol.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Paksiw A La Lechon Paksiw (Pork Stewed in Vinegar and Lechon Sauce)

Don’t get confused with the title. This is the same method of cooking I used in preparing “paksiw na pata” or pork knuckle stewed in vinegar before. This time though, I will be using a leaner pork leg cut instead of “pata” or hock and double the quantity of “lechon sauce” to flavor the dish. As suggested by the name, this is more like "lechon paksiw”, only the pork is neither roasted (“lechon”) nor deep fried (“lechon kawali”).

Whilst I also like the simple type of “paksiw” that is soupy and cooked without sugar and soy sauce (sourly-salty type), I am now more biased with this version (sweet-salty-sourly type) with a rich, gravy-like sauce. But both will always generate cravings in me, which of which is depending on my mood for eating.

When your taste buds seem overwhelmed with the usual tomato-based pork or beef dishes, this is the right dish to perk up your appetite. Whilst this involves several hours of slow cooking to be assured of a tender meat, only a few very common ingredients, which most families Filipinos or otherwise, already have in their kitchen or pantry, are needed.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Papaya Shake (Smoothie)

The other day, I purchased two large papayas intended as fruit desserts for our group’s two successive dinners. The papayas which belong to the Mexican variety were quite enormous in size and had a weight of around 4 kilograms or slightly less than 9 lbs each. As expected, the flesh of the papaya had a striking yellow-orange color with a slight hint of pink-red hue. The sweet flavor was surprisingly as intense as that of the smaller Hawaiian variety. It was soft, juicy, sweetish, tasty and extremely refreshing. But even after seven members had been fully satisfied by the fruit after a meal, another slice remained. I stocked it inside the fridge and ate during breakfast the following morning.

But for the second fruit, I decided to make the excess slice into a stimulating shake or smoothie drink. After all, the particular papaya has great flavor and extra sweetness which I thought will work well in a smoothie. Previously, I already made a similar drink but using a combination of mango and papaya and posted it here. This time I want to try preparing another luscious beverage using papaya flesh only and some sugar syrup. Whilst I am not sure it can better the one with mango, I still believe the drink will come out good with its own distinct flavor.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Isda Adobo Sa Gata (Fish Adobo in Coconut Milk)

We have been cooking distinct variations of the known and well love Filipino dish “adobo” lately. Just last week I prepared the “adobong manok sa dilaw” which is basically a chicken adobo flavored with turmeric instead of soy sauce. Earlier before that, I cooked but failed to post here, another adobo dish using some duck and chicken giblets I collected over a month period and kept sitting in the freezer. More than a couple of months ago, I already featured “adobong lengua at leeg” which uses ox tongue and chicken neck to create a rich and tasty adobo variation.

To continue this wonderful adobo exploration, let me do a rather exotic version using the unusual but quite meaty type of porcupine box fishes called “burrfish” and referred to as “tugatungan” in the southern Philippines. If you will remember, this is the same type of strange looking spines laden fish we featured last time following our series of shore fishing adventures just before the southwest monsoon hit the fishing site with huge waves and heavy rains forcing a halt to my fishing activities. :-)

Apart from using an uncommon fish, which probably will not appeal to many North American and European nations, another obvious difference of this adobo dish is that it also uses “luyang dilaw” or “dilaw” or turmeric along with some thick coconut milk to make a fragrant, creamy, tasty, light yellow colored saucy seafood adobo dish.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Carrot Cake, Healthy and Tasty

I am not so much into sweets. I only enjoy several types of cake. In particular, I only like those moderately sweetened and not covered with overly sweet icing. You will notice this by the types of cake that I bake and feature here like the banana cake and chocolate cake I posted earlier. However, I am open and don’t really have a problem to preparing even those not suited to my taste, provided I will be serving them to family and friends. After all, fulfillment in cooking, or baking for that matter, is a factor of sharing to your love ones. And besides, personal satisfaction is only as good as the satisfaction of those whom the food was shared with.

Another cake that works well with me is the healthy and tasty carrot cake. Like banana cake, it is fruit and/or vegetable base and not excessively sweet. Carrot cake is a cake which consists of finely grated carrot mixed with cake batter. The carrot softens during the baking process and the resulting cake usually has softer but denser texture and coarser crumb than the traditional cake. The carrot itself enhances the flavor, quality and appearance of the cake. Usual recipes include optional ingredients such as nuts, raisins, coconut or pineapple. The last one is my favorite addition to the cake.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Adobong Manok sa Dilaw (Chicken Adobo in Turmeric)

Fact is majority of Filipinos love adobo so much. It is the foundation why the dish is widely regarded and unofficially accepted by everyone as the Philippine national dish. For such a dish that is overly popular, expect variations to be rampant both in the cooking process and in the use of ingredients. Of course, some may come out as just ordinary but there are variations which proved to be really exciting for me. Among them is the “adobo sa dilaw”. It is basically an adobo infused with the earthy and peppery flavor of turmeric called "luyang dilaw" or simply “dilaw” in the Philippine language.

In the dish, the deep flavor of turmeric creates a distinct adobo taste that is both satisfying and truly stimulating. It may not easily appeal to children and those unwilling to explore new dimension in taste but for the adventurous and daring, it will be a surprisingly wonderful food experience. If you are sometimes heavily overwhelmed with the usual version of adobo, due to constant or over exposure to the dish, then this “adobo sa dilaw” is a very refreshing alternative.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Onion Ring

The other day, our group was having some grand time watching the FIFA World Cup games on TV while sipping our favorite drinks. As the fun, thrill, enjoyment and anticipation continue and so was the drinking. With the excitement soaring high but occasionally cut short by disappointing turnover, a mix feeling of joy, sadness and hope, unique to the sporting world, prevailed over our dormitory.

With such a highly charged atmosphere, expect drinking and bites or morsel eating to get extra exciting and pretty frequent as well. As a result, our store-bought cheese flavored chips and roasted peanuts could hardly cope up with the quick hands of the fast starving seven group members having some real good time watching the games.

To provide with a continuous supply of appetizer or bite or “pulutan”, as we call it in the Philippines, I decided to prepare some homemade onion rings. We usually cook French fries and “chicharon” or pork skin chitterlings during such times but since the World Cup is quite important and only happens every four years, bites to be served should be at least new or not commonly enjoyed and could be considered rather exceptional.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Bagoong Fried Rice (Sinangag sa Bagoong)

We just attended a Sri Lankan wedding reception of an officemate and friend where we were served and have really consumed rather large quantities of spicy and tasty Sri Lankan dishes. Having a typical Filipino taste though, that is not quite exposed or accustomed to such heavily curried and spiced dishes; we immediately crave for some light Filipino dishes the following morning. Not only to fill the belly or satisfy the want, but to refresh our taste buds which suffered quite a beating from lots of chilies, curry and many other spices pretty normal for Sri Lankan and Indian dishes but alien to Filipino cuisine.

Finding some day-old leftover rice, we immediately thought of making Filipino fried rice or “sinangag” for our breakfast. Thinking with some fried eggs and dried fish from Cebu City, Philippines as viands, we are sure of having a wonderful morning meal to fuel us for the days work. Whilst simple garlic fried rice could well fulfill the requirement, we considered of making it more special and elaborate by preparing “bagoong” fried rice instead. With the authentic Filipino condiment “bagoong” or fish paste as the major flavoring ingredient, I thought what could be more Filipino food at the moment than this breakfast dish?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Baked Fish

I was asked by one angler who read my posts on shore fishing what I did with a certain type of fish that I caught. Well, all of our catch that we take home ends up in our stomach. If the type of fish is unfamiliar or something new to me, I ask my friends who grew up in a fishing community and very familiar to all types of tropical fishes to either teach me cooking them or by themselves, to directly prepare them for me.

The bottom line is that no catch is ever wasted. For a true angler, the catch, no matter how small or insignificant, is too precious not to be eaten or be wasted. Whilst I cannot post all the cooking adventures we are doing to the catch, some have been proudly featured here like in pesang “lapu-lapu” or stewed grouper, fish shanghai or fried spring roll, “paksiw na isda” or “tilapia” stewed in vinegar and crispy fried parrot fish.

Still most often, fish caught are either grilled or fried. It is among the simple, fast and easy ways to cook and enjoy them. If the fish are quite small for grilling, they are stewed or poached like in “paksiw”, “pangat” and “tinola” dishes where in spite of the small size of the fish, they served and satisfied really big appetite.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sopas (Filipino Chicken and Pasta Soup)

We had a cool weather prevailing over the last several days. No heavy rain but then the sun is always covered by thick clouds causing the atmospheric temperature to plunk down much lower than normal. Given with such a moderately chilly condition, what could be better than being home sipping a piping hot, rich and tasty soup and at the same time munching on some delighting buttered toast? The two rather simple foods make a true comforting meal perfect to be eaten amidst an equally comforting and calming state of the surrounding.

This is exactly what I was thinking when I decided to make “sopas”, a popular Filipino pasta soup dish flavored with milk. “Sopas” is a quite thick soup made from boiling some chicken meat and sometimes pork bones, to make a tasty broth then added with elbow macaroni or shell pasta and finished off with some vegetables like carrots, green onions or leeks and cabbage and of course, some milk to create the rich and creamy consistency of the dish. For me, addition of lots of freshly ground pepper provides the kick which makes this dish even more interesting.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Tinowa or Tola - Tinolang Talakitok (Trevally Stew in Lemon Grass, Tomatoes & Chilies)

Here is another crack on the popular southern Philippine “tinowa” or “tola” dish using “talakitok” or trevally head. This is basically “tinolang ulo ng talakitok” or fish head stew in lemon grass, tomatoes and chilies. In direct contrast to the first “tinowa” version I posted earlier, where I used a combination of small and juvenile fishes, this time it is prepared using just the head of a huge trevally fish weighing more than 15 kilograms. The fish is rather a big game by any angling standard and catching one is a dream to most sportfishing enthusiasts like me.

With this size of fish, expect the head, about 1.5 kilograms, to have an entirely different texture of its succulent and tasty flesh that can be found around its huge head bones. The soft and slimy but utterly delicious meat provides a wonderful eating experience for the initiated. The juicy eye and jaw sections in particular, are top favorites by most of us. While the use of fish head in the dish could be considered unusual and most likely not so appreciated in the West, in most Asian cuisines, this is, in fact special and usually served to the most important member or guest.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Beef Salpicao (Beef Stir Fried in Garlic and Oyster Sauce)

"Beef Salpicao" is a Filipino dish made from tenderloin cubes that are quick-fried with garlic, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and/or oyster sauce. It is like steak “a la pobre” only the beef is cut into small bite sizes and rapidly stir fried in a steel wok over very high heat. The idea is to sear the tender meat, lock the juice inside and infuse it with garlic flavor and the combined taste of several liquid seasonings. Stir frying only takes several minutes so the meat is basically cooked rare to medium rare for it to remain juicy and succulent. Over cooking will unnecessarily result to a dry and tough meat even when using the loin cuts of beef such as tenderloin or sirloin.

Surprisingly, there are so many variations of the dish. I have first tasted it in one restaurant in the Ilocos Region of northern Philippines and instantly bitten by its wonderful taste. I never had the chance to return to the same restaurant again nor encounter any restaurant that could at least equal the type of “salpicao” being served there. I keep on trying the dish offered in many other restaurants in Manila and elsewhere but could not really find the kind that caught my taste buds in Ilocos. Other versions are either not as tasty or not as juicy.


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