Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sinigang na Lapu-lapu (Grouper Stewed in Tamarind) - Kulinarya Challenge for July

It’s rainy season in the Philippines. Although this would mean bad news to many Filipinos and tourists alike, due to the flooding, thunderstorm and typhoon (name of cyclone in the pacific) that it brings, it is also a season for some good things. The sky will be cloudy, shielding everyone from the burning heat of the sun and the surrounding temperature will be cool and comfortable with a fine soft breeze. The rains will drench the drying lands and farms and will trigger the start of the rice (the Philippines’ staple food) planting season. An abundance of healthy and freshly harvested native vegetables, freshwater fish and other exotic catches will soon be seen lined-up at the local market. It is such an awesome scene for me.

Most importantly wild mushrooms like our family’s favorite “mamarang” will start sprouting in the farms, forest, woods and sometimes even on gardens, backyards and lawns in the rural areas and countryside. And this too will soon end up in the market or better yet directly in front of our gate courtesy of our friendly farmer neighbors who have particular knowledge of our huge …… okay make that very enormous and incessant ……… appetite for the truly delicious but extremely rare vegetables. :-)

In line with the cool weather that is now prevailing in the country (with occasional “uncool” typhoons of course) the even cooler group called Kulinarya ruled its theme dish for the wet month of July to be soupy, soothing and goodie ……… and what Filipino dish could better represent those than the mighty “sinigang”. Aside from “adobo”, “sinigang” is probably (just probably) the most featured Filipino dish by any Kulinarya member or any Filipino food blogger for that matter. I for one have already four (4) different posts of the sourly dish and yet I am not even a fan.

Among my “sinigang na tuna”, “sinigang na baboy”, “sinigang na baka” and not so long ago “sinigang sa buko”, I am deeply biased with the latter. Not only because it was fun, excitingly unique and adventurous but because it had a sweetish hint that really delighted my taste buds. If only I made the dish last year, I would re-do it for this month’s Kulinarya challenge. :-)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ginataang Palaka o Gatang Palaka A La Lalaine (Froglegs Cooked in Coconut Milk)

Frog tastes like chicken. You heard that before, right? Of course when I state that phrase (or sentence), it is more of a personal account rather than a generally accepted fact or knowledge. Many would of course offer disagreements in various forms. We are bound to respect that. But for me and the many people that I knew or talked to and who have tasted and enjoyed the rather exotic meat, this will remain the case. The tender white flesh with fine texture of the uncommon meat called frog and sometimes marketed as “froglegs” have taste and flavors very similar to that of the chicken.

This is the main reason why most Filipino techniques of cooking chicken like, “prito” (fried), “tinola” (stewed with ginger and papaya), simple “adobo” (braised/stewed in vinegar and soy sauce) or “adobo sa dilaw” (braised in vinegar and turmeric) and “ginataan” (cooked in coconut milk), to name a few, all works well with frog meat. In fact, I have already featured here a “tinola” version of frogs called “tinolang palaka”. As a follow-up to that post, I would like to feature another chicken-like cooking preparation that is called “ginataang palaka” (froglegs cooked in coconut milk). Since this is a variant of the popular “ginataang manok” earlier shared by our friend Lalaine, there is no better person to do the dish other than Lalaine herself. Clap … clap … clap!

As mentioned before, the tasty and nutritious edible frogs, even though not generally considered or accepted as major food item worldwide, are consumed in thousands of tons annually in several countries like France in Europe and China, Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and of course my beloved Philippines in Asia. Although not really popular as table fare throughout the Philippines, it is widely caught during its season and especially served as viand in Central Luzon areas and “pulutan” or bites or appetizer over a bottle of favorite beer, wine or hard liquor elsewhere in other provinces.

Simply fried and “adobo-style” are probably the most preferred method of cooking frog when it is intended (as it usually is) to be served with alcoholic beverages among “barkada” or male friends. It is even tastier when using personally caught frogs by the group, usually the night before. But with the Internet taking much of our night time, this is now difficult to do except probably in the far-flung provinces. :-))

Friday, July 15, 2011

Daing na Flying Fish o Bolador (Fried Vinegar & Garlic-Marinated Flying Fish)

This is good. If you like “daing na bangus” (fried vinegar & garlic-cured milkfish), this is a fine alternative. If you have not yet eaten a flying fish your entire life but keenly considering tasting one, I believe this is the proper dish to sample the sleek fish ……… to somehow ensure a memorable dining experience and establish a deep connection with the fish ……… and probably ……… just probably …… it will transform you into a permanent flying fish eater or consumer, like me and my friends here in our project. :-)

Flying fish or “bolador” (which literally means kite) as referred to in the Philippines or “piyamassa” as called here in Sri Lanka is a shiny, elongated, silver-blue marine fish that lives in all of the tropical and warm subtropical oceans. Their most remarkable feature is their strangely large pectoral fins that resemble dragonfly wings which during gliding it spreads and tilts slightly upward to provide lift and folds clear to reenter the sea surface smoothly at the end of a glide.

The astonishing fins, with the aid of its strong lopsided tail fin, enable the fish to leap out of the water and take short gliding flights through air just above the water's surface for the purpose of hiding and escaping pursuing predators which include some of my favorite (in my dreams) game fishes such as tuna, swordfish, sailfish and marlin. For anglers like me, the sight of leaping flying fish is not only scenic but also indicative that our target fish is roaming around. :-)

While we in the Tarlac Anglers, only use the glossy flying fish as bait to catch bigger and more exciting pelagic fishes via trolling, it is now among my target species. :) If landing it with hook, line and rod proved difficult, I may either try gillnetting as it is commonly harvested in Japan or dipnetting as it is usually catch in Indonesia. Either way, some adult ones (not juvenile please) should end up in my skillet, sizzling away in hot oil. :)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pata Hamonado (Pork Knuckle Cooked in Pineapple Juice, Sugar and Soy Sauce)

Here I go again playing with “pata”. As I have mentioned many times in this blog, I really like the versatile “pata”. The popular Philippine cut of pork that consists of the whole hand or arm in the front and the lower part of the leg below the round (“pigi”) in the rear of the swine. Collectively, it includes the ham hock or knuckle as well as the trotter. While I also like trotter, especially in “crispy pata” where it is very tasty and crunchy, for some reasons it is not sold (and probably discarded as waste) here in Sri Lanka so the cut that I will use for this special dish is basically the meaty knuckle or ham hock section only.

But it’s a good thing because the intended dish is “pork hamonado” (also called “pork pina hamonado” or just “pina hamonado”) where the trotter, composed mainly of rind, bones and tendons, will not particularly work well, unlike the hock or knuckle which is so damn good for the dish. Pardon the use of word please. :-)

“Hamonado” is a Filipino dish prepared by slow cooking a thick slab of pork (can be belly/“liempo” or shoulder/”kasim” or like in this case, hock/“pata”) in pineapple juice, sugar and soy sauce. The ending dish is a somewhat cured and sweetened meat that is so rich, flavorful and succulent. It is of course oily with fat and rind covering the lean meat but that’s actually the best part of it ……… seriously, it’s so wonderful ……… could be a little unhealthy but really awesome ……… at least for me ……… and to many people I know. :-)

I have one problem though doing this dish here in southern Sri Lanka. I have no or very little access to good quality canned pineapple juice (like Del Monte or Dole brands from the Philippines). So, like when I prepared the “estopado” (braised in pineapple juice), I will also use fresh pineapple instead.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Alimango Con Sotanghon (Mud Crab with Glass Noodles)

It has been a while since I last chanced upon mud crabs or “alimango” in the Philippine language, from the roadside kiosks we are regularly visiting along the coastal towns of southern Sri Lanka to obtain our group’s weekly supply of fish and other seafood. It seems the nearby vast mangrove forest that has always been lush and green (how I wish this could happen in the Philippines) was quite generous that day that it provided the local fisherman with a truly fine catch; a mixed bag composed of the tasty decapods crustaceans along with some pretty large prawns, pan-sized mangrove snapper, delectable eels and other exciting brackish water fishes.

Being a passionate outdoorsman and a perennial angler, the sight of the catch was simply awesome to me. It represents an abundance of nature and existence of a very healthy mangrove environment. From the looks of the catch, I could assume that it was harvested from a sustainable level of stock in a well flourishing ecosystem where marine water and freshwater collide. While I am also excited about the other fishes, the mud crabs instantaneously transported me into the realm of dish concoction moments. :-)

Mud crab or mangrove crab and sometimes called black crab is an economically important crab species found in the estuaries and mangroves of Asia, Australia and Africa. In the key cities of the Philippines, most Southeast Asian countries, and Northern states of Australia, it is generally priced above other seafood within the general public. Lucky for us Filipinos living here in southern Sri Lanka for it is reasonably priced around here although not widely available.

Commonly, the shell colour of mud crabs varies from a deep, mottled green to very dark brown to almost black. They are generally cooked with their hard shells on, usually steamed, stewed, fried and in soups. However, when they moult their shells, they can be served as soft shell crab seafood delicacy. Many Asian people, including myself, consider them to be among the tastiest of all crab species. The Philippines and other South Asian countries have a huge appetite and thus a very high demand of the said crab species.


Related Posts with Thumbnails