Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lumpia or Lumpiang Prito A La Sally (Vegetables Spring Roll)

Every mom (or everyone for that matter), who is truly passionate with foods or cooking, has her own specialty dishes. Select entrees which can be prepared by heart, without the aid of any notes, and almost always a sure delight for diners. These would involve tightly-guarded recipes or food preparation techniques which would come in the form of a secretly passed-on cooking knowledge (usually by parents or love ones) or learned through kitchen experiences or experimentations (intended or accidental) leading to process development and perfection and eventual acquisition of mastery through continued or repeated preparations.

These recipes, if we can only collect from our grandparents, parents, other family members, relatives and friends would represent the pinnacle of tried and tested cooking methods and information available within our reach. It can be considered as the best recipes there are, at least within our clan, extended family and circle of friends. For these reasons, I am deeply thankful and really treasure all the specialty recipes unselfishly shared in this website by families and friends for the noble purpose of spreading culinary knowledge for the benefit of others.

In the same tradition of shared personal recipes such as the widely visited “pork adobo a la Dong”, “cuchinta a la Lalaine”, “siomai a la Jhala”, “kinilaw na tanigue a la Rene”, “igado a la Nanay Consuelo”, “binagoongan a la Lalaine”, “espasol a la Luz” and quite recently the “embutido a la Lalaine”, we are ecstatic to welcome here another golden recipe contribution by a friend whom we call Sally with her signature dish “lumpia” or “pritong lumpia”. While I have already posted here my recipe for the same “lumpiang gulay” dish, this version of Sally is just so good to pass on and really worth every minute of our time checking. That’s a promise Sally’s friend assures me!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Pork Bistek Tagalog (Pork Steak - Filipino Style)

I know I am still yet to feature here the popular beef dish called “bistek”, a type of beef steak prepared the Filipino-style, but I have already shared a fish variation of the entree in my post “bistik na bangus”. While I remained unable to post the real thing, allow me to first share the equally tasty version prepared using pork. Like its mother dish, pork “bistek” is also delicious and a highly preferred all-time viand of most children ……… like our kids ……… most especially when it is my better half who cooks it. :)

Prepared using just a few basic ingredients which you normally have in your pantry, “bistek” is an example of a relatively easy and yet very tasty meat dish. Provided you used the right quality of meat as to tenderness (sirloin, tenderloin or any cut of steak like chuck, flank or skirt for beef and pork loin, tenderloin, pork chop or even the shoulder cut called “kasim” in the Philippines for pork) then a fine “bistek” is half way assured.

Among the various pork types suggested above, my preferred cut is pork loin. It is a cut of meat created from the tissue along the top of the rib cage of a pig. It is usually grilled or baked in the United States where it is very popular. While I usually find pork loins sold fresh in either thin slices or roast cut (called joints or legs in the UK although not really from the leg), they are also sometimes sold soaking in marinade for ready cooking back home. To prepare this version of “bistek” or pork braised in onions, soy sauce and “calamansi” or lemon juice, we settled for these really nice pork loin slices.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sisig or Kilawing Puso ng Saging (Sauteed Banana Bud/Blossom with Vinegar)

For the month of March, the challenge of Kulinarya Cooking Club (KCC) is centered on the mighty food group called vegetables. While most members including me, a perennial vegetable eater (converted by force :-)), were all deeply pleased and thrilled of the theme, probably my daughter’s and surely most kids’ immediate reaction (upon learning that “gulay” will be the basic ingredients) would be a very long “yaaaaks”. Probably, they would even continue by asking “Won’t you guys ever consider using jumbo hotdogs in your theme?” ……… and they will utter that with matching voice tone and facial expression suggestive of true seriousness. :-)

Those clueless kids! If only they knew the benefits. But then, from the inner faculties of my brain came tiny electrical signals which translate to “just like you when you were their age”. I kept silent for a moment. Not really thinking but then wondering. :) Well, probably that usual scenario (I believe most parents already experienced) could be taken as a compelling reason for the KCC members, and all parents at that, to work hard on the ideals of this challenge. That this is not only our way of somehow showcasing the unique Filipino vegetable dishes to the world through “blog sphere” and internet but effectively stirring interest to the healthy food for the children within the family, our circle of friends and hopefully, the whole community.

So that the proliferation of unusual (also funny) Filipino variations of popular international foods involving the (hold your breath) removal of vegetables in them such as in the case of all-meat “shawarma” (without cucumber, onion or tomato); likewise with the all-meat pizza (almost with neither tomato, bell peppers, onions, mushroom, olives, etc.); also with the plain burger with just the bun and a thin patty (with neither lettuce, tomato, pickles nor onion); and many more food versions which could quite aptly fall into the category of (though I really hate this cliché) “only in the Philippines”. Prompting me to worry that one day we might see a unique Filipino variant of “all-meat Ratatouille”. :-)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ube Halaya or Halayang Ube (Purple Yam Pudding)

Violet was apparently the “in” color in the Philippines at the time I had my annual vacation last December 2010 to January 2011. Lots of mall rats (shoppers and roamers alike) were seen prominently sporting something in purple like shirts, blouses, bags, shoes, belts, sandals, ties, sleepers, purses and even cell phones and smart phones pouches and cases. I and my lovely better half even received a matching polo shirt-blouse presents from family members in a flashy lavender color which admittedly, I particularly like. It’s been my favorite shirt for the last 3 months. :-)

It is so funny for it was just not too long ago that wearing anything in such a striking color is somewhat untrendy and a no-no in popular culture get-ups. It only shows how fashion trends are evolving ……… that what could be considered as not cool today might eventually resurrect and rule the trend-in-style the next day.

Actually, this post has nothing to do with the above. Neither that I am a fashion guru of sort. That’s remote. I was just reminded of the flamboyant purple-attires of many teens I saw in the mall and other popular hang-out places in Manila when I was preparing this dish. Why? Because this involves an ingredient naturally synonymous with the color violet ……… the yam called “ube” in the Philippines also known as purple yam in English.

By the mere mention of the root crop “ube”, I know that, even without reading the blog title above (which I’m sure you did), you and most Filipinos will almost always think of only one food. The dessert and snack food called “ube halaya” or "halayang ube". I don’t know, but I believe it is but natural that when one sees “ube”, he will instantaneously imagine the luscious pudding made from grated boiled purple yam and cooked with milk (or coconut milk), butter and sugar.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Adobong Pusit (Sauteed Squid or Squid Adobo)

As I have already stated here, Filipino “adobo” with its countless variants and derivatives encompassing major meat commodities such as beef, pork and goat or mutton; poultry such as chicken, duck, geese and turkey; vegetables such as “kangkong” or water spinach or river cabbage and short and long beans; animal entrails such as liver, gizzard, heart and intestines; exotic and other game meat such as frog, rabbit, venison, wild doves and wild boar; and seafood such as fish, crabs, clams and octopus, provides us with numerous options to truly enjoy the regarded Filipino national dish with our family and friends.

In active support of the “adobo” phenomenon, which we can proudly consider as a vibrant and continuously expanding cuisine on its own, allow me to constantly feature here a different version of “adobo”, probably once in a month. While this exercise will be a good learning experience for me and you (if I may say so), it will also serve as our simple way of effectively showcasing the Filipino ingenuity in the field of food preparation ……… utilizing distinct food groups ……… through a potential internationally-acceptable cooking method or technique.

The above is my genuine thought and not a made-up excuse for posting another “adobo” dish. :-) And if you are somewhat overwhelmed with the many types of meat “adobo” posted here (although I personally believe that Filipinos are capable of consuming a version of the dish every week without getting really tired of it), let me share an “adobo” prepared using seafood; the marine predatory mollusk called squid in particular. The savory dish is locally known as “adobong pusit” or squid “adobo” in the Philippines. It is basically squid sautéed in ginger and tomato and then lightly stewed in soy sauce and vinegar.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Embutido A La Lalaine (Filipino Meat Loaf)

Special occasions call for special food preparations. The birthday celebration of a friend Zenaida whom her close pals in London call Dido (pronounced Daydu for some “naughty” reasons not yet disclosed to me :-)) is one of such occasions that’s why lots of sumptuous dishes were prepared and served when she reached the ripe age of 39. (I wrote that while giggling). Among the many exceptional Filipino foods feasted on by her numerous friends and guests were of course the always hit “cuchinta a la Lalaine” and the very special dish called “embutido” which astonishingly is called “morcon” (a relatively different rolled meat dish in reality) in our towns in Batangas and Quezon provinces in the southern Luzon Philippines.

Quite kindly (probably made helpless by my persuasive power :)), Lalaine agreed to share her secret “embutido” recipe (which she learned from a former admirer (lol)) and feature a step by step process here for the many Filipinos who love the dish and would like to do it for their next family occasion. So while Lalaine treated Dido and their friends with her delicious “embutido” during the blissful birthday bash, I and you, dear readers and net-friends of this humble blog, will be treated with the knowhow of preparing the dish “a la Lalaine” not only for a day but for eternity.

As a disambiguation though, Filipino “embutido” is a type of steamed meatloaf made from minced pork, minced or grated vegetables and lots of spices. In the Spanish, Brazilian and Portuguese contexts however, an “embutido” is a generic term for sausages found in Spain, Portugal and Central and South America which contains hashed meat (usually pork), infused with the flavors of aromatic herbs and spices (such as black pepper, red pepper, paprika, garlic, rosemary, thyme, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, etc.) and served wrapped in the skin of pig's intestines. True, it is more like the Filipino native sausage called “longanisa”.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tinolang Palaka (Frog Stewed with Ginger and Chili Leaves)

Edible frog and other eating-varieties of the tailless amphibians are still not a universally acceptable table fare in spite of its whitish or yellowish and relatively fine looking meat (maybe debatable), good taste and high nutrients contents. Even if French are eating about 4,000 tonnes annually, the Chinese and other East Asians such as Koreans, Indonesians, Vietnamese, Thais and Filipinos, to name just a few, contributing the larger share of the world consumption with several tens of thousands tonnes eaten yearly, frog will somehow still cause many to shiver (or faint if really squeamish) if served in a meal.

Probably, no amount of gourmet preparation would totally erase the culturally-inflicted impression that the moist, smooth-skinned and master-jumper animal, with its most important meat found in its powerful legs, is not an appealing culinary item, in general context that is. Perhaps, the thought that some of the most lethal poisons known to man are found in some varieties adds up to the culture of rejection of frog as a major food commodity. That while Indonesians are exporting several thousands tonnes annually and farm-raised frogs are now available in many countries, we are yet to see frog establishes a wide niche in the world food market.

As a backgrounder, frogs are amphibians in the order “Anura” meaning without tail. Most frogs are distinguished by a short squat body, webbed fingers or toes, popped out or protruding eyes and long and strong legs making them exceptional leapers. With permeable skin, frogs are often semi-aquatic or inhabit humid areas, but can move easily on land. They typically lay their eggs in puddles, ponds or lakes and their larvae, called tadpoles, have gills and develop in water. Frogs are most noticeable by their call, which can be widely heard during the night or day, mainly during the mating season.


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