How I got my culinary groove back

10 02 2011

Steamed mussels

MY INITIATION into the world of the local (farmers’) market (“palengke”) came very early in life.  Being able to whip up full meals at a very young age of 10 meant being able to buy the ingredients fresh yourself.  I swear I felt like an adult haggling for cheaper prices and soon establishing a “suki” (patron) relationship with a vendor each for meat, seafood, and fresh produce.  I would be given a budget to work on a full spread and I would always make it – under sometimes, but never over.  I’ve never seen cooking – and on that premise, marketing too – as a chore.  It’s one of the few things consistent in my life.

So even after I had begun my professional career, I would always look forward to the end of the day when I could willingly enslave myself over a hot stove and make dinner.  Sometimes I would make it fancy, complete with elaborate place settings, most times I wouldn’t.  But lately, especially this past year, I had been swamped with far too much stuff at work that the first thing I had to give up was cooking on weeknights.

I want to change that and get my culinary groove back.  I came to this resolve when I brought my three visiting nephews to the local market for some sort of “immersion” in their uncle’s version of “the good life.”  Which, in their uncle’s case, is a potent and heady arrest to the senses – crowded marketplace, mud on the soles of his shoes with the occasional splatter to the calves, and the undeniable stench of freshly slaughtered meat capable of drowning out whiffs of Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue.  Damn, I realized I miss the almost daily grind of cooking and the marketing it entailed.  So now I’ve been making a deliberate effort to make dinner at home a few nights a week.

An immersion of sorts – bringing the six-year-old to the market.

Last night – my second this week – I bought six of the largest tilapia I could find (most suitable for pan-frying), a large milk can’s worth of mussels (perfect just steamed with lots of finely chopped onions), and ingredients for a fresh seaweed salad (just seaweed, tomatoes, shallots, and calamansi).

But next time, I would have to text home first to check if dinner had already been made.  Lest everybody again finds themselves hesitantly giving in to my whimsical gastronomic musings.  Hahaha!

Fried tilapia, flaked.

 

My dressing for the seaweed salad calls for lots of fresh calamansi juice, into which I add a splash of white cane vinegar, a big pinch of salt, and a few grinds of the pepper mill. For the finishing touch, I spike it with a touch of Mitzukan rice wine.

 

Lots of shallots!

 

Fresh seaweed

 

I love how the deep green of the seaweed contrasts with the pristine white bowl!

 

The fresh seaweed salad is made!

 

Live mussels

 

No recipe could be simpler – live mussels and lots of finely chopped onions in a pan. All you'll need to finish this off is fire underneath!

 

The steam that will rise from the juices that the mussels will give off will turn the onions into pulp. Perfect for topping steamed white rice!

 

Done in a jiff, the mussels are ready!

 

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.

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One response

10 02 2011
Alexis

I’m so happy foodie you is back in the kitchen again!

I’m sure it was delish!

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