Saturday, July 31, 2010

Braised Spareribs

Sometime late last year, I already shared an easy spare ribs recipe which to me is really good and utterly tasty. Today, let me share another simple, fool proof but also a delicious way of preparing that wonderful variety of pork ribs called spareribs (also spelled spare ribs). Since the meat cut is basically more meaty and succulent than baby back ribs, though the two can be used interchangeably in most cases, the dish is sure to please anyone with its soft, juicy and luscious meat that will easily fall off from the bones as you eat them along with its rich sauce.

Since the process involves braising, the resulting dish will be similar to a typical Chinese method of preparing spareribs rather than like in the Philippines where it is usually stewed with vegetables like in “nilaga/linaga” or “sinigang” and in the US where it is commonly barbecued or baked.

Though spareribs are among the popular and fast selling cut of pork and the first one to sell out, purchasing a good quality meat is necessary to ensure a really wonderful dish. I usually select freshly butchered meat that is still colored pink and with a layer of fat that is still colored white and not yellowish. By all means avoid thawed or previously-frozen spareribs when buying. You can’t be sure of its quality and more importantly of its taste.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pritong Labahita (Fried Surgeonfish Fillet)

In addition to grouper or “lapu-lapu”, snapper or “maya-maya”, trevally or “talakitok”, emperor or “katambak” and rabbitfish or “kitong”, which are among the tastiest fishes that I usually catch shore fishing in my Playground along the coast of Bonnavista, Unawatuna, Galle in southern Sri Lanka, surgeonfish known as “labahita” in the Philippines, is also a prized catch in terms of taste and culinary importance.

It may not provide an adrenaline-pumping fight that most anglers dream to experience before landing the catch but is sure to give a pretty wonderful dining experience afterwards. With the succulence and distinct good taste of its flesh or meat, even a simple grilling or frying could easily transform the fish into a truly satisfying meal.

“Labahita” is actually a fish that belongs to the “Acanthuridae” or "thorn tail" family which includes about 80 species in six genera of surgeonfishes, tangs and unicornfishes which all lives around coral reefs in tropical seas. Surgeonfishes sometimes feed on algae as solitary individuals, but they also often travel and feed in schools. It is considered that feeding in schools is an effective way for them to overcome the highly aggressive defense responses of small territorial damselfishes that vigorously guard the patches of algae that they particularly like to feed on.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pesang Dalag (Mudfish Stew in Ginger)

This is another version of the popular Filipino stew dish called “pesa”. In my first post about the dish, I used grouper or “lapu-lapu”, this time around however, I will be using the ferocious freshwater snakehead called mudfish or “dalag” or “bulig”. This is the same kind of fish I used in the “ginataang dalag at hipon” which I featured last year. Among the several “pesa” variations, this is probably the most common, particularly in the Luzon Island of the Philippines where the predatory fish is widely consumed as a regular table fare.

“Pesa” is basically boiled or stew fish infused with the pungent but earthy flavor of ginger. While there are other vegetables in the dish, it is the ginger that plays a major role in the over-all taste of the stew. The strong earthy flavor of ginger does not only provide a tasty broth but also counters the somewhat stench smell of the fish who spend most of its lifetime close or submerge to the muddy bed of its natural habitat.

Like in the “pesang lapu-lapu”, the dish should be served accompanied by the same 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”. Since I already posted this sauce before, I will not be showing it anymore.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ginisang Tahong (Sauteed Asian Green Mussels)

In my more than 5 years of continuous stay in Sri Lanka, “tahong” or the Asian green mussel, also known as Philippine green mussel, is among the food I really missed a lot. While Sri Lanka is a tropical island country with vast marine waters, I have not seen anybody harvesting or selling “tahong” or any variety of mussels during that 5 long years. While at one time, I was able to eat some wild mussels which our driver gathered from the rocky shoreline of the fishing spot we regularly fish and which I excitedly sautéed and prepared into the familiar Filipino soup dish, I have been constantly craving for the tasty bivalve seafood.

Now that I am back in the Philippines for a short vacation, “tahong” is among the first wet market goods that occupied my basket. With its still inexpensive price, “tahong” remains a handy source of tasty dish that is so easy on the budget making it an all-time popular food for the masses.

“Tahong” or Asian green mussel is an economically important mussel belonging to the family “Mytilidae”. It is native in the Asia-Pacific region and was introduced as invasive species via boat hulls and water ballasts in the waters of Australia, the Caribbean, Japan, North America, and South America. In 1999 it was found in the waters off Tampa Bay in Florida. It is harvested for food due to its good taste and fast growth but is also known to harbor toxins called “Saxitoxin” produced by the dinoflagellates (red tides) that it feeds upon.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pritong Pork Chop (Filipino Fried Pork Chop)

A pork chop is a cut of meat where the cutting is done perpendicular to the spine of the pig and usually containing a rib or part of the backbone or vertebra and served as an individual portion. It is the most popular cut from the strip of meat that runs from the pig’s hip to shoulder called the pork loin. Depending on where they originate, pork chops can be found under a variety of names, including loin, rib, sirloin, top loin and blade chops.

However, when in the Philippines, pork chop generally refers to rib chops which originate in the center of the loin in the rib area and include some back and rib bone as well as the fat section which may or may not include the skin. It comes from the rib portion of the loin and is similar to rib eye steak. It could be simply seasoned with salt and pepper or elaborately marinated with several seasonings and spices and then either grilled as barbeque or as most commonly prepared, fried.

Basically pork chop cut in the Philippines market comes from the pork rib roast or rack of pork or center-cut pork loin cuts of the US. Instead of roasting or cooking it whole however, it is further cut to several portions in between the ribs and cooked and served individually.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sinigang (Pork Stew in Tamarind)

I may not like “sinigang” as much as my friends and colleagues do but since it is among the favorite foods of the majority in our group and part of the every day meal being served to us, I have already developed a moderate liking to the popular Filipino soupy dish. Probably, my constant exposure to the dish, transmit a radiation-like effect, which over prolonged time, has caused my taste buds to mutate and caused positive genetic alteration which eventually led to adapting itself to the sourly-salty taste of the vegetable laden stew dish.

Okay, okay, it simply means I have underestimated the culinary significance of the dish which appealed to almost all members of our group except me and one from the Visayan (Philippines) region where “tola or tinola” dishes are the ones cool and not “sinigang”.

Though I am not overwhelmingly enjoying the dish, I, on several occasions have also prepared it for the pleasure of our group like in “sinigang na baka” and “sinigang na tuna” posts. When one mention only the generic term “sinigang”, it basically refers to pork “sinigang” or “sinigang na baboy”. It is probably the most common variation which wide range covers meat, poultry, fish, shrimps, sea shells, etc. While I am biased to seafood “sinigang” especially shrimp, I have cooked pork the most number of times.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Lumpia or Lumpiang Prito or Lumpiang Gulay (Vegetable Spring Roll)

If you are thinking that “lumpia”, as most Filipinos have known it, is only popular in the Philippines, you are mistaken. It is also widely available and called by the same name in Indonesia. In fact, “lumpia” generally, are pastries similar to spring rolls that originated in China. The term “lumpia” was actually derived from a Hokkien language “lunpia”. The recipes for both fried and fresh versions were brought by the Chinese immigrants from the Fujian province of China to Southeast Asia and became well-liked where they settled in Indonesia and the Philippines.

You can also find the dish in the Netherlands and Flanders where it is called “loempia” which is the old Indonesian spelling for “lumpia”. There, it has also become the generic name for spring rolls. Another popular variant is the Vietnamese “lumpia; which is wrapped in a thinner piece of pastry or wrapper. It is prepared in the same size of a spring roll though the wrapping closes the ends off completely like in a typical lumpia.

The Filipinos have strong fascination to the dish. It is greatly appreciated that there are several varieties of “lumpia” in the Philippines all widely prepared and consumed. Among them are: “lumpiang shanghai” that uses minced meat in the filling and which I have already featured here for pork and here for fish meat; “lumpiang sariwa” or fresh “lumpia” or fresh spring rolls that consist of minced “ubod” (heart of palm), flaked chicken, crushed peanuts and turnips in a double wrapping of lettuce leaf and a soft yellowish egg crepe or wrapper. It is sometimes called “lumpiang ubod” when heart of palm is the major ingredient.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Baked Wild Mushroom and Cheese Omelette

Thunderstorms and lightning bring both concern and joy to me. I’m worried that strong thunder will cause, as it usually does, our circuit breakers to shut off and of course, without electricity there will be no computer access and internet connections, at least in our dwelling. On the other hand, they excite me because for reasons I am not quite sure, when there are thunderstorms and lightning, there is a good chance that wild mushrooms will be sprouting, as it always happens as well, in our lawn and garden the following morning,

The other morning, I found several wild mushrooms in our backyard. I realized it has been raining with occasional lightning and thunderstorms the previous night, hence the mushrooming. I eagerly harvested the wild vegetable and stock them inside the fridge before going to work. I usually cook wild mushrooms into tasty vegetable soup like the one I posted here. That day however, I contemplated on preparing a different dish using some of the surprise exotic harvest. In that afternoon, I ended up baking wild mushroom and cheese omellette.

While mushroom is actually the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus, some varieties can be very delicious. But proper care and familiarity should be considered in harvesting the wild vegetable as some kinds can be potently toxic and highly poisonous. I won’t advise anyone to just pick wild mushrooms from their gardens and backyard and cook into meals. Basic knowledge on the edible varieties should be acquired first before even thinking of gathering them for food.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bael or Beli Fruit and Smoothie

It is pretty exciting to find bael fruit here in Sri Lanka where it is popularly known as “beli” fruit. It is new to me and considered promising due to its perceived health and medicinal benefits. Bael is actually the fruit of a gum-bearing middle sized slender aromatic subtropical tree indigenous to the dry forests of central and southern India, southern Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. It is currently cultivated all throughout India, in Sri Lanka, northern Malay Peninsula, Java, Fiji Islands and surprisingly, the Philippines.

I cannot recall having encountered the exotic fruit anywhere back home in the Philippines where I have been to about less than 20 of its magnificent 7,107 islands. :-) It is reported to have first fruited in the northern region of the island of Luzon. While I came from the same island, only from the central region, the fruit seems very elusive and probably marketed only to small areas close to where they were produced and may have not yet reached our areas and key cities.

The tree and also the fruit are called by many other names, among them are “bilva”, “bel”, Bengal quince, stone apple, Indian quince, golden apple, holy fruit, “matum”, “phneou”, “bau nau”, “bilak”, “maja pahit”, “modjo”, “oranger du Malabar” and “marmelos”. Sometimes it is called elephant apple and wood apple although there is another popular wood apple in Sri Lanka which refers to a different tree or fruit. The tree grows up to 15 meters tall, with short trunk, thick, soft, flaking bark and spreading sometimes spiny branches with the lower ones drooping. It has a trifoliate leaves and bears fragrant flowers.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Asadong Dila or Lengua (Pork or Ox Tongue Asado Version 2)

I have already featured here a recipe for “asadong dila or lengua” but to satisfy a reader’s request, particularly asking an even simpler way to cook the sweetish-salty Chinese influenced-Filipino dish using just basic and ordinary ingredients, I am posting this second version of preparing the dish. Whilst this is easy, simple and requires just a few common Filipino ingredients be surprised not that this still tastes great. With enough patience in slowly simmering the meat, tongue or “lengua”, until it is already succulent but still with the correct amount of sauce, you can’t go wrong doing the dish.

I usually prepare this dish in large quantity. Not only because I really love it but because there are many other uses of the already cooked “asado”, be it a straight beef asado or like in this case, using the tongue meat. It can be used as filling for “siopao” or Filipino-Chinese steamed bun; bread rolls or baked buns or empanada; and wrapped up foods like burrito, soft taco, tortilla and probably even like in a la “shawarma”. It also remains good tasting over a long period of time kept in the fridge and a handy source of quick food when in a hurry. During an unannounced visit of guests and relatives, it could well save you from stress thinking of what food to urgently serve. :-)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bopis Garlic Fried Rice (Sinangag)

In the same passion of cooking adobo garlic fried rice, I have experimented with many other variations using different leftover meat; basically whatever is available in our kitchen. My latest trial is using some excess “bopis” and it came out quite fine hence my posting here. As also featured here before, “bopis” or “bopiz” is a spicy Filipino dish made from finely diced pork or beef lights (lungs) and heart sautéed in garlic, onions, tomatoes, chilies and vinegar. It is a very tasty and sometimes really spicy dish which can be eaten with rice as a main meal or side dish and often times as bites or “pulutan” while drinking alcoholic beverages.

We have some leftover “bopis” and it so happened that we want to eat fried rice, so I thought of preparing garlic fried rice flavored with “bopis” or in other words, a “bopis-garlic fried rice”. With my firm belief in the delicious “bopis” and the aromatic garlic, I never had doubt about the resulting fried rice dish. And I was right; the concocted dish was wonderful and something worth blogging. It’s distinctly tasty and yummy. It is now among my favorite fried rice recipes and repeat preparation is already booked.


Related Posts with Thumbnails