Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chicken Barbecue or Barbeque (Oven Cooked)

Barbeque, also spelled barbecue and usually abbreviated BBQ, Bar-B-Q and Bar-B-Que, is among the common food that I greatly missed here in Sri Lanka. Why? Well, if in the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations, barbeque is a very common any-meal food which you can find in almost every corner and junction of the roads in key cities, towns, municipalities, villages and neighborhood, urban centers and all other areas where there is a regular congregation of people, it is the exact opposite here.

That is right; I am yet to see a single barbeque stand or kiosk anywhere on the streets, parks, playground, tourist spots and any recreational areas for over 5 years of my stay here. While Sri Lankan’s also like barbeques, it is just not a common street food item, like “roti”, “kottu”, “appa” etc. :-)

The term barbeque can refer to the meat and cooking process as a food, to the cooking apparatus oftentimes called barbeque grill as an implement and to a party or outdoor activity where such food is the main table fare. Here, we will be talking about barbeque as a food.

Barbeque is a method of cooking meat, seafood and vegetables with the heat and hot smoke of a fire, smoking wood or hot coals of charcoal, cooking gas or even electricity. The meat or fish or vegetable is usually applied with marinade, spice rub, basting sauce or even simply seasoned with salt and spices or soaked in condiments with citrus extract prior to cooking. Barbecue is fun and exciting because it is usually cooked in an outdoor environment heated by the smoke or direct heat of wood or charcoal. Whew…….now I’m craving.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Adobong Batangas (Pork, Beef and Liver Adobo - Batangas Style)

The versatility of the Filipino adobo dish transcends many boundaries. From the use of different main ingredients to the incorporation of various condiments, flavorings, sauces and spices, adobo has evolved into becoming a major food tree that comprises many branches and sub-branches. In fact, it is still actively growing and many other variations and kinds are probably being created as we speak.

In addition to the several adobo recipes that I have already shared here like pork adobo version 1 and version 2, beef adobo, chicken adobo in turmeric, fish adobo in coconut milk and even mixed-meat adobo using ox tongue and chicken neck, there is another exciting type of the dish being prepared in the Batangas province of the Southern Luzon Region (Philippines) called “Adobong Batangas”.

Like the “adobong manok sa dilaw”, this variation is quite unique for it does not contain or use soy sauce, a now very basic ingredient in a typical everyday adobo. “Adobong Batangas” is likewise rather unusual for it utilizes a combination of meats; pork, beef and liver as its main ingredients and “atsuete” or annatto seed extract to provide a mild earthy flavor and darker color which the soy sauce usually provides.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Suam na Itlog (Egg Drop Soup with Chicken and Mushroom)

I woke up with a heavy head. I had a long and exhausting night before and my physical conditions aren’t quite tuned-in this morning. In such moment when I am not feeling good, I can only think of one breakfast dish to eat in order to perk-up my feelings and at the same time rejuvenate my downed strength. I am referring to the Filipino egg drop soup called “suam” or “suam na itlog” which, in its simplest form, is basically a quick-fix soup made of egg or eggs, beaten or whole, flavored with crushed garlic and seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper.

This is the same soup that is usually serve to the sick and the elderly who are either too weak to eat solid meal or has lost appetite for food. It is said to have some sort of healing properties and the ability to provide energy to the frail body. With such renewing effects, the same soup was a favorite breakfast dish of people who have drank one too many the previous night and have woken up with severe headache and dizzy feeling due to hang-over. No, this is not from experience. :-)

Generally, egg drop soup is a Chinese soup of wispy beaten eggs in boiled chicken broth. Condiments such as black pepper or white pepper and finely chopped scallions or spring onions, grated corn and tofu are typical additions. The soup is finished by adding a thin stream of beaten eggs to the boiling broth in the final moments of cooking, creating thin, silken strands or flakes of cooked egg that float in the soup. Due to its easy preparation and great taste, egg drop soup popularity has grown and many varieties using different recipes are now common in different European and Asian countries, like the Philippines.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Humba (Braised Pork with Black Beans and Palm Sugar)

I have already posted my southern Philippines style “humba” during the early stage of this blog. But since it is a personal favourite and a regular fare in my monthly menu, I decided to feature it once again. Basically using the same recipe as before, however I experimented and omitted the banana blossoms or “bulaklak ng saging” which some of our group mates want to avoid and the “shaoxing” wine (or red wine that I sometimes substitute) which I believe could have not been part of the old-fashioned “humba” our ancestors used to prepare.

“Humba” is a Filipino dish very similar in appearance with the famous “adobo”. Actually the ingredients are also very similar between the two except with the use of sugar or palm sugar or jaggery and banana blossom, a type of aromatic dried lily buds. Like the widely regarded Filipino national dish “adobo”, “humba” is also a traditional way of preserving or extending the shelf life of the meat during the times when refrigerators, and supply of electricity for that matter, are still not very common or readily available, especially in far-flung provinces and many rural areas.

While I have yet to post the “Capampangan” (Pampanga, Philippines) version of “humba” which I really love and long wanted to prepare but continuously being constrained by the unavailability (here in Sri Lanka) of some really important ingredients, let us first settle with this Visayan (Philippines) version which is also remarkably good, exquisite and tasty.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Filipino Fried Chicken - Whole (Pritong Manok)

Fried Chicken is among the easiest and probably the most popular chicken dishes of all-time. The worldwide proliferation of fast foods serving fried chicken as their principal meal or product is a firm testament to its continuously expanding appeal among the people of many nations and its phenomenal popularity all over the world.

Fried Chicken, also referred to as southern fried chicken in the US, is chicken pieces, usually from broiler chickens, which have been battered or even simply floured and then pan fried or deep fried until the outside is golden brown and crisp. The coating or breading adds a crunchy crust to the exterior while maintaining a tender and juicy interior.

Generally, in fried chicken, the meat is cut at the joints to come out with easily manageable serving sizes. However, there are some that prefer using bigger cuts like quarters, halves and sometimes, whole chicken. In any cut however, the bones and specially the skin are usually left intact. A crispy well seasoned skin, rendered of excess fat, is a true delight and a must feature of properly prepared fried chicken.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Kare-Kare (Meat and Vegetables Stewed in Peanut Sauce)

My mom does not like beef so much. I believe the preceding statement alone, pretty much settles why we are using pork in this well-loved Philippine stew dish called “kare-kare”. Just like most Filipinos, I also prefer the succulent meat from oxtail (“buntot ng baka”), or the delicate tripe (“tuwalya”) or even the gelatinous meat from the cow’s face (not for the uninitiated or squeamish, sorry) called “mascara” in the Philippines, but you see, my mom, along with my better half and the kids, are not fond of those exotic cuts of meat, hence, the pork.

"Kare-Kare" is a popular meat and vegetables stew made with ground roasted peanuts or peanut sauce or as most often use due to its wide and easy availability, peanut butter. It is usually prepared with a variety of vegetables, oxtail, beef, offal or tripe, beef tendon and occasionally pork, particularly hock & knuckle (“pata”) and belly (“liempo”). Other variants may include goat meat, sometimes chicken, full veggies and surprisingly mixed seafood, which includes fish, squid, shrimp, crab, clams and mussels, among others.

There are two stories as to the origin of the distinctly delicious “kare-kare”. One goes on saying it originated from the important and most evolved Kapampangan cuisine of Pampanga, Philippines where it is extremely popular, and another one crediting it to the regal dishes of the Moro elite who once settled in Manila prior to the arrival of the Spanish colonizers. Amazingly, it is still a common dish in the islands of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi in the southern Philippines.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Rebosado or Rebosadong Taba ng Baboy (Deep-Fried Battered Fatback)

Reminder: This is not for everyone. Definitely not for those who avoid animal fat due to medical condition or special dietary restrictions. Not for those who do not eat lard due to religious laws that forbid the consumption of pork especially its fatty tissues. This involves an ingredient with a nutritional value of 39g saturated fat, 45g monounsaturated fat and 11g polyunsaturated fat for every 100g. Finally, this is sinfully delicious and potently addictive. Consider that you’ve been warned. :-)

I am referring to “rebosado” or “rebosadong taba ng baboy”, a regional dish from the provinces of Batangas and Quezon (Philippines) which our clan has been preparing and serving in almost every major family gathering or event as one of the special family dishes. The dish is actually like the “camaron rebosado” except that we are using small pieces of pork fat, particularly fatback, in lieu of the shelled shrimp.

Fatback is a cut of meat which consists of the adipose tissue layer or the subcutaneous fat under the skin or rind of the back of the pig. While fatback is often rendered to make a high quality lard, it is also an important ingredient in traditional sausage making and accompaniment to many meat dishes and vegetable stews.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sweet and Spicy Swahe A La Allen (Sweet and Spicy Shrimp)

We over purchased “swahe’ or small shrimps which we used as live bait in the recent saltwater angling activity we had. Whilst one kilo should have been enough, I had a miscommunication with my cousin and we both ended up buying more than one kilogram each. But that was not really a problem. As we have been doing, we keep the excess bait inside the cooler and cook them later on as an appetizer or main meal upon our return home.

Either “halabos na hipon” or “gambas al ajillo” are proven to be easy sumptuous dishes where such fresh shrimps are just the perfect ingredient. With the addition of few select basic ingredients and a quick pan-frying process, the dish should be ready in no-time.

For several portions of the excess shrimp bait however, my cousin Allen wanted to show off his skill in cooking his version of a sweet and spicy “swahe” to be served as an appetizer or “pulutan” for the boys over a bottle of our favorite drinks. He immediately took over the kitchen to prepare his proven quick-fry recipe which was taught to him by his in-laws in Bulacan (Philippines) where there is an abundance of shrimps, crabs and other delectable seafood supplies from operated/farmed ponds, catering to high market demands of Manila and the environs.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Saltwater Angling in the Philippines (Trolling and Bottom Fishing)

Angling or Sport Fishing is always a part of my itinerary whenever I am on vacation or holiday back home in the Philippines. This was also true during my short emergency leave last month. My younger brother Bogs and a cousin Allen, both of which are active members of the Tarlac Anglers, immediately arranged a saltwater angling adventure in our favorite fishing hole in Bane, Pangasinan. We have been fishing the same water for quite a long time, the latest of which was during the family-exclusive tournament last December 2009 which I posted here.

Since we only caught small reef fishes during that mini-tournament, the game plan this time is fundamentally to try trolling for the big and strong fighter fishes like giant trevally (GT) or “talakitok”, seerfish or wahoo or “taningue”, yellow fin tuna or “tambakol”, bullet tuna or “bonito”, great barracuda or “barakuda” and dolphin fish or “dorado”.

As a fall back however, we also set up and readied our medium-heavy gears for the reliable bottom fishing in the event that trolling will prove to be unproductive due to the cloudy and windy weather condition. At least with this method, we will be able to catch good tasting groupers or “lapu lapu”, coastal trevally or “talakitok”, snapper or “maya-maya”, emperor or “bugsi” and other colorful reef fishes.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Kinilaw na Pugita (Octopus Ceviche)

During the FIFA World Cup, Paul the Oracle Octopus was the biggest winner. After establishing a perfect, 8 out of 8, prognostication record, Paul became an instant international celebrity and a world sensation. Long after Paul is gone; its feat will continue to live in the memory of all football fans and players. After all, making a stir in the biggest sporting events of the world will leave a permanent mark in the mind and heart of all sports aficionados.

As a result of Paul’s rose to stardom, people now have higher regards to octopus as a magnificent animal, as an extra-ordinary pet, as an important part of the marine ecology and just hopefully, as a significant food item for the bulging world population and continuously depleting food supply, particularly from the bounty of the sea.

Belonging to the “cephalopod” class in the mollusk family, the octopus is related to squid and cuttlefish. Its rich diet of clams and scallops gives it a highly flavorful meat that although quite rubbery, is distinctly tasty and in fact, very popular in Japan and the Mediterranean countries. The Japanese way of eating them raw has amazed many people all over the world.

It can be eaten in several ways such as grilled, braised as “adobo”, boiled and pickled, sautéed, deep-fried, simmered or boiled for several hours and as usually done, marinated in vinegar or citrus juice and spices in the dish called “kinilaw”, a food preparation which is very similar to the “ceviche” of Latin America.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Kabuteng Mamarang (Tasty Wild Mushroom Soup)

With the coming of the storm or rainy season in the Philippines, the brief period of wild mushroom germination also arrives. The severe lightning that usually occurs during the rainy season causes high accumulation of nitrate compound in the atmosphere which then triggers the sprouting of wild mushrooms along farms and forests particularly on the decaying anthills, termite hills and other natural areas where there are disintegrating organic matters such as leaves, wood and animal manure.

Whilst the wild mushroom that grows on our lawn and backyard in Sri Lanka which I have featured here before tastes good already, the Philippine variety called “kabuteng mamarang” that sprouts during the rainy season is way better in both taste and texture. This is a family favorite vegetables and mushroom hunters and farmers in our community and nearby villages regularly bring their harvests on our doorstep knowing that my parents will buy them all, no matter how plenty they may be.

“Mamarang” is the wild mushroom that is scientifically called “Termitomyces cartilaginous”. This is a popular vegetable ingredient widely used in the Japanese, Chinese and of course Philippine cuisines. It is considered as among the tastiest wild mushrooms which only sprout during the rainy months of late July to late September in the Philippines. Studies show that the “mamarang” variety is very difficult to cultivate thus supply is quite limited and available only during its natural sprouting season.


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