And before I used to wonder why it is called that way

3 07 2010

Every shabu-shabu dinner comes with a platter of these – tofu, fish cake, squid balls, beef balls, a crabstick, a piece of corn on the cob, a shiitake mushroom cap, a carrot florette, a wedge of tomato, thick egg noodles, glass noodles, napa cabbage, baby bok choy (a.k.a. Taiwan pechay), and a piece of taro root. I eat everything... except the taro root!

I’VE BEEN having Healthy Shabu-Shabu for dinner lately more often than I would be comfortable to admit.  I guess that is the case with addiction – you tell yourself that the last hit would be the last, or would at least last quite a while before you realize you need another one.  You know that the more you tell yourself this, the harder it is to resist the temptation.

It goes without saying that I’m wearing out my Healthy Shabu-Shabu discount card fast.

Last night’s dinner was shared with The Italian and Brother.  We savored what I can truly call a dinner at a leisurely pace – especially with about three hours we needed to burn before the last screening of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse in one of the three cinemas that was alloted to this international blockbuster.

(For previous posts on Healthy Shabu-Shabu, please go here, here, and here.)

A shabu-shabu meal starts with the broth. Healthy Shabu-Shabu's is easily for me, the cleanest tasting shabu-shabu broth.

 

Healthy Shabu-Shabu makes their own dipping sauce which diners can customize to their taste, by adding Korean sate sauce, chopped garlic, chopped bird's eye chillies, and chopped spring onions.

 

The only thing I add to my dipping sauce is the Korean sate sauce.

 

I ordered the fish fillet set. Soon enough, nine really fresh, plump, and juicy white fish fillet came to the table.

 

The only extra order I asked for was "Tagalog Pechay", which is a kin of the more internationally known baby bok choy (or baby bok choy som).

 

Healthy Shabu-Shabu lost some points in my book a couple of times in the (distant) past because they began serving low quality rice. Now, they're back to serving high quality "almost-Japanese" rice!

 

Shabu-shabu is not the time to hurry. When I eat, I cook the food only when I'm about to eat them. The only ones I leave in the broth for a long time are the shiitake mushroom, carrot, tomato, tofu, and corn. The leafy vegetables get only 10 seconds in the rolling rolling boil.

 

I finished my rice! Though after reviewing the photo on my camera, I realized that I inadvertently left behind five grains of rice. Exactly five, my auspicious number! Suffice it to say, I finished each of these grains... one by one using my chopsticks.

 

Copyright © 2010 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Darla darling

3 07 2010

Yellow Cab Co.'s "Dear Darla" Pizza

THEN TAKE it with a banana!”  That was how Grace Adler was supposed to take the prescription drugs her assistant, Karen Walker, was passing off to her as vitamins.  Just so she could be at peace that indeed, as Karen claimed, the stuff was good for her.  I couldn’t help but play this Will&Grace scene in my head when I first came across Yellow Cab Pizza Co.’s “Dear Darla Pizza.”

I am not a pizza person and I most likely won’t ask for it from a menu.  But I have nothing against pizzas.  So when I saw that Yellow Cab was offering thin crust pizza slices rolled around alfalfa sprouts and arugula leaves, I turned from “I don’t want to have it,” to “I’ve got to have it!”

I know that Yellow Cab pizza has been a lot of people’s favorite for quite some time.  To roll strips of it around crunchy alfalfa sprouts and peppery good arugula just gives a surprisingly pleasant twist to a classic.  As their poster said – in what seemed to be a letter being written by The Little Rascals’ Alfalfa to the object of his affection, Darla – this pizza possesses a feisty soul (somehow it takes courage for some people to munch on greens) and can make you happy (who, besides me, hasn’t fallen head over heels over pizza?).

The order I got – the 10” one – was to go, so the rolls settled with the travel and the handling.  But you can also ask for it to be packed with the pizza and the vegetables separate.

My to-go pizza came in a brown bag with that signature Yellow Cab Pizza Co.'s sticker.

 

I asked for the 10" pizza, good to make four rolls of the "Dear Darla" pizza.

 

The crunch from the alfalfa sprouts and the peppery goodness of the arugula leaves elevate the pizza experience to new heights. For one, they make you feel like you're getting away with something really good for you!

 

Copyright © 2010 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Austere celebrations

3 07 2010

I STAYED glued to the TV during the whole inaugural rites for President Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III to wait for one thing – the mention of the food.

I mean, yes, a part of me was on the lookout for a sighting of the most talked-about better (or is it “bitter”?) half, but seriously, I was waiting for a walk-through of the gastronomic fare.  Though it couldn’t be helped that I ended up carrying pocket discussions with Friendship, Mother, and The Corporate Teener on other matters of national importance.  All in 116 text messages I sent out.

Thanks to Ces Oreña-Drilon, I learned that Via Mare catered the reception.  And that among the food served at different stations in the hall were pritchon (fried “lechon” – roasted suckling pig – wrapped in pita wedges and served with a special sauce, usually hoisin), and kesong puti on pan de sal (local cottage cheese on Filipino breakfast rolls).  A couple of “fancier” sounding munchies were eggplant caviar, which was grilled eggplant stuffed in cherry tomatoes, and what I’d call as squash blossom fritters (I didn’t get how it was exactly called).

So in keeping with such austerity on a day when the 15th President should have been celebrating lavishly the most, I had to forego the very tempting roasted chicken dinner for “suam na halaan“ (Manila clams in a gingery broth with chili leaves).  I made it myself and it was perfect.

A beautiful, shelled Manila clam on perfectly steamed long grain white rice.

The key to making the best clam soup is making sure that the clams are clean.  And not just about scrubbing the shells clean.  But allowing the clams to give off all of its grit in a basin of lightly salted water.  This part of the preparation is non-negotiable with me.

No matter where I am and no matter the origin of the clams I use – whether they be from Maine (remember those Friendship?) or from the waters of home – the freshness of the ingredients and the cooking always ensure a most satisfying meal.

The TV was still on while I was having dinner and I fancied offering this dish to some head of state.  But it could be a bit tricky because they didn’t put up tables in the cocktail reception hall.

A batch of really fresh Manila clams from the market!

 

These clams were unusually large that when I saw them, I thought that I really had to get them.

 

The soup is ready! I call this batch, my "inaugural rites" soup!

 

As expected, the clams were really fat, and undeniably fresh!

 

Copyright © 2010 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.