Sinigang na hipon redux

19 04 2010

I DREAMED of sinigang na hipon (shrimps in a sour broth of tamarind pulp, with lots of fresh vegetables) often enough last week that I had to make it over the weekend.  For the second time in a row.

 

 

 

 

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

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Sinigang na sugpo

24 11 2014

OUR HABITS become our character.  The thought hits me first thing Saturday morning when, after hitting snooze on my alarm for the fifth time, I darted through the door and elbowed my way through fresh seafood at the weekend wet market.  I only mean to say that it’s fast becoming a habit.  The profundity of the opening line was purely unintentional.

One of my weekend market basket stuffers: Prawns (10/12 Count), fresh, wild–caught, 500 g (SGD 24.00/kg).

One of my weekend market basket stuffers: Prawns (10/12 Count), fresh, wild–caught, 500 g (SGD 24.00/kg).

 

This one told me she was ready for her close-up!  Haha.

This one told me she was ready for her close-up! Haha.

 

But if I would be so profound – however unintentional – then I would be better off if I’d cook not only for myself but for a couple of my closest friends as well.  We’ve been moving in very different circles since moving to Singapore.  But that didn’t mean we had to lose the friendship.

My resuscitated fascination for blue crabs seems to be something I shall enjoy in solitude.  Something about having to work really hard for one’s meal – all those legs, claws and shell one has to go through – makes people think twice.  So staring at the day’s catch, showcased no better way than spread on white tiles so pedestrian yet so fitting, I had a thought:  maximum pleasure for minimum effort.  Prawns win over crabs.

I made my way through the biggest, fattest fresh prawns, S$ 24.00 for a kilo, making sure that while I work out my ingredients list in my head, I wouldn’t be making my dearest blue crabs feel left out.  I snapped up a couple of those too.

I thought my friends would appreciate a taste of home.  So the prawns just had to be made into “sinigang” – meat or fish in a broth soured traditionally with tamarind pulp, to which are added lots of fresh vegetables.  My previous posts about it are here.

I realize I haven’t really put up a proper recipe of it here though.  Here is exactly how I make it.  This being the batch I brought to my friends, blanching the vegetables is a must to preserve their color and crunch as the dish travels.

 

KNORR® Sinigang sa Sampalok Mix Original (20 g), or “Sinigang na may SiliRecipe Mix (22 g)

Onions, one medium–sized, finely sliced

Tomatoes, two medium–sized, seeded, blanched, peeled, quartered

Prawns (10/12 Count), fresh, wild–caught, 500 g (SGD 24.00/kg)

String Beans (Long Beans), exactly 10, cut into 3” pieces

Daikon Radish, one medium–sized, cut into thin rounds

Swamp Cabbage (Water Spinach), one bunch, just the tops, cut from the stems and roots

Green Finger Chilies, four, stemmed, seeded, cut in half

MORTON® coarse Kosher salt, to taste

 

  1. In a stock pot, bring one liter of water, the onions and tomatoes to the boil. Simmer for about five minutes to break the onions and tomatoes into the broth.

 

  1. Add the KNORR® Sinigang sa Sampalok Mix Original (20 g), or “Sinigang na may SiliRecipe Mix (22 g).
As a kid and as my mother's kitchen apprentice, I used to prepare the sour broth using fresh tamarind that had to be boiled, mashed, and strained.    I call these the convenience of modern times:  KNORR® “Sinigang sa Sampalok” Mix Original (20 g), and “Sinigang na may Sili” Recipe Mix (22 g).

As a kid and as my mother’s kitchen apprentice, I used to prepare the sour broth using fresh tamarind that had to be boiled, mashed, and strained. I call these the convenience of modern times: KNORR® “Sinigang sa Sampalok” Mix Original (20 g), and “Sinigang na may Sili” Recipe Mix (22 g).

 

 

  1. Plunge the prawns in.

 

  1. When the prawns start to curl, add the blanched vegetables – string beans, daikon radish, swamp cabbage, and, the green finger chilies. Three minutes after the dish has come back to the boil, turn the heat off.

 

  1. Sinigang na sugpo” is ready to serve! Preferably, with heaps of freshly cooked, steaming hot Japanese pearl rice.
I packed the "sinigang" as beautifully as I could.  This batch was made for a VIP clientele and will have to travel from my flat to theirs.

I packed the “sinigang” as beautifully as I could. This batch was made for a VIP clientele and will have to travel from my flat to theirs.

 

I poured the broth and it's ready to be delivered!

I poured the broth and it’s ready to be delivered!

 

In this IKEA® bag are the "sinigang" and lots of steamed Japanese pearl rice.  Just a 10-minute train ride to the VIP client.

In this IKEA® bag are the “sinigang” and lots of steamed Japanese pearl rice. Just a 10-minute train ride to the VIP client.

 

One of the nice things about living in Singapore.  Even a homecooked lunch could be enjoyed with an awesome view.

One of the nice things about living in Singapore. Even a homecooked lunch could be enjoyed with an awesome view.

 

Copyright © 2014 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Sinigang na sugpo

10 03 2011

Sinigang na sugpo

A SMALL wicker basket full of freshly picked “kamias” (cucumber tree fruit) greeted me at the door the other night.  I knew instantly that one of our family friends had come earlier in the day for a visit.  “So, what do you plan to do with me?” the pile of kamias seemed to have foisted its question on me.  Yes, fresh produce and I carry conversations.  (But there’s no need to alert the mental institution.  Hahaha!)

I love kamias three ways.  Washed three times and then eaten fresh with a good sprinkling of salt with each bite.  Sautéed with fresh shrimp fry, then eaten with heaps of steaming hot white rice.  And the best of all, used as the souring agent in the Filipino sinigang na hipon o sugpo (shrimps or prawns in a soured broth with lots of fresh vegetables).

Sinigang is a hallmark of Filipino cuisine.  It could be of meat of fish.  Hot.  Warm.  Comforting.  Familiar.

The yummy fat from perfectly cooked meat – and all the cholesterol it sneaks in into our system – that rises to the surface of broth that goes crazy into a rolling boil, proves irresistible.  Doused over steamed rice, it drowns any of the human body’s silent protests and attempts to eat healthily, as it anchors in one spoon plump pristine white rice, tender meat, and crisp vegetables that give off a resounding snap when caught in between bites.  The sound reverberates as if giving a soundtrack to the melange of sour and salty that causes a party in the mouth.

But I’ll give up all that for a bowl of sinigang na sugpo.  Which was exactly what I did the following day.

But lest any of you interprets it to be an act of atonement in Briony Tallis proportions, well, think again.  Because the very reason I prefer shrimps or prawns over pork or beef is the deep orange fat these crustaceans promise.  The very same thing I put a premium on when it comes to crabs, the best of which I’ve had at my sister-in-law’s house in Pampanga.

Really fat, as in F-A-T, crabs!

I often end up eating with my bare hands when faced with a pile of shrimps, prawns, or crabs.  And while I do check myself from time to time if I would need to reach for Lipitor, I honestly don’t bother.  Those are times when the words control and restraint mean nothing to me.

Please excuse me while I sip this hot broth.

The fresh prawns

 

Check out that deep orange fat!

 

The root aromatic I add to the broth is onions, diced.

 

Before adding tomatoes to the broth, I first have them blanched separately. I remove the part where the stems attach, almost like "coring," then I score the whole length by running the tip of a sharp paring knife from the top, all the way around.

 

See how easily the skins get removed? These are now ready to be seeded, then chopped. Obviously, tomato skins and seeds in my broth are a pet peeve.

 

"Kang kong"... or, swamp cabbage (when I'm on social mountain climbing mode... hahaha!)

 

Happiness in a bowl!

 

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





Inception

30 01 2012

“WHAT IS it that you really like to do?”

“Eat.”

 

Just one of the many incarnations of my Shrimp Sinigang (shrimps in a tamarind-soured broth, with lots of fresh vegetables)

That was asked of the late Julia Child over a dinner of Sole Meunière.  I could be asked the same question, and I would’ve said that same thing – E–A–T.  It was exactly this same unbridled passion for food that fueled the inception of this blog.  I may be writing about so many mundane things but I never lose sight of what I really like to do – food and eating it.  Lots of it.

I’ve been going through my archives and I realized that I have snapped some rather nice photos of food which, apparently, are some of those that I’ve been missing too.

So I thought about putting them all together here.

I must love shrimps so much that I must have photographed every single dish of “sinigang” (meat, fish or shrimps in a broth soured with tamarind, with lots of fresh vegetables) that I have ever made with it in recent memory.  Sometimes I would cook shrimps “sarciado” style (a sauce of tomatoes with a hint of soy sauce) or just poached in a heady mixture of soda (Sprite or 7-Up) and beer (Corona is best, San Mig Light would do).

A good pot of sinigang starts with the freshest catch.

 

My family is well aware of my "shoot-first-eat-later" policy.

 

A different batch of my Shrimp Sinigang

 

These two were ready for their close-up. So I snapped a tight shot.

 

I told you, I would take photos of every single Shrimp Sinigang I would make. Haha!

 

I made this one here in Singapore. The shrimps are of the "white" variant, against the "black tiger prawns" I would usually get in the Philippines. The greens are garlic chives which I sort of re-discovered here in the Lion City. I love it and it goes with most anything.

 

This one is "sarciado" style.

 

Shrimps, this time steamed (or poached) in clear soda and beer. Yum!

 

Once I made them with oyster sauce and thought they would be perfect tumbled in a serving bowl full of fresh coriander leaves. They looked so rustic and so tasted so delicious!

I cannot love shrimps and totally forget about shellfish.  I’ve always loved Manila clams in a ginger broth.  And mussels that are just steamed with lots of finely minced onions.  As for fish, my Mama has this recipe of tilapia that is poached in lots of fresh tomatoes and calamansi juice that I just find to be truly and utterly divine in its simplicity.

Fresh Manila clams ("halaan" in Filipino)

 

Manila clams in a ginger broth. This is one of my all-time favorites!

 

I would have this dish with lots of steamed white rice that would soak up all the sweetness from the natural juices of these bivalves.

 

Mussels ("tahong" in Filipino). Here in Singapore, I learned that when referring to these I have to be very specific as to call them "green" mussels.

 

This is again one very simple dish but it is something I love love L-O-V-E to bits. Again, lots of steamed white rice completes this. And oh, the dipping sauce of pure calamansi juice should not be forgotten. I don't put fish sauce in the dip anymore because I want the natural saltiness of the mussels to shine through.

 

I didn't make this dish but I thought about putting this photo here, sort of to just underscore just how much I love seafood, shellfish in particular. This is seafood ramen, a "pasalubong" from one of my brothers.

 

This is my Mama's original, simple recipe. One of those five-ingredients-or-less thing that would turn out to be truly, utterly divine. It's called "Pangat na Tilapia sa Kamatis at Kalamansi" which I loosely translate as Poached Tilapia in Tomatoes and Calamansi.

While I may throw fancy names of salads made with delicate designer greens when I make orders at some posh restaurant, at heart I’m just really a simple boy who derives ultimate pleasure in simple greens tumbled with a generous squeeze of citrus, a splash of cheap vinegar and a sprinkling of coarse salt and sometimes, a couple of grinds of the pepper mill.  I wouldn’t even bother to put in extra virgin olive oil when I make my salads at home.  My staples have always been cucumbers, tomatoes, and obviously, lots of fresh coriander.  When I fancy having okra, I would have it steamed first.

Some of my Filipino salad essentials – spring onions, tomatoes and fresh coriander.

 

Fresh Coriander Salad. This one, I made to go along with my Adobo (pork or chicken braised in vinegar and soy sauce).

 

Fresh Salad of Cucumber, Tomatoes and Onions. I would usually have this with fried or grilled fish.

 

We eat with our eyes first. And isn't the contrast of red on pale green, against purplish hues so inviting?

 

Didn't I say I could make this everyday? Here, in this one, the shallots were sliced differently.

 

Sometimes, I would make this salad with fresh seaweed which is plentiful in the Philippines.

 

This salad literally bursts in your mouth that it can give even a simple meal a festive feel – even if just within the confines of one's palate.

 

Steamed okra would be nice in these salads too. I had this salad for about almost a month when I was going through one of my crash South Beach diets. Hahaha! (The two weeks of that diet actually prohibits tomatoes!)

I love making my pasta sauces from scratch.  And for that, I use the best Roma or plum tomatoes I could find.  Just a good coating of extra virgin olive oil at the bottom of the pan, lots of minced garlic, many dashes of cayenne pepper, a bunch of roughly torn fresh basil leaves, and a snow cap of the best parmesan cheese and I would have a supper that is as Italian as it could get wherever zip code I may be at.

I had this tomato pose for me before it had to serve its ultimate purpose – to be in my fresh pomodoro sauce!

 

The tomatoes have been "cored" and scored, ready to be blanched, the first step to making my fresh tomato sauce.

 

I may reach for a bottle of Prego or Ragu or Bertolli from time to time, but nothing beats making pasta sauce from scratch.

To me, the lowly instant noodle packs are not lowly at all, especially when prepared not according to package directions but to my exacting, idiosyncratic specifications, and topped with a heap of steamed fresh spinach.

Steamed fresh spinach, the perfect accompaniment to a couple of packs of instant noodles.

 

I love spinach so much that sometimes, they end up overwhelming the plate. They would be even so much more than the actual noodle dish.

 

When there wasn't fresh spinach in the market, I'd settle for onion leeks. Here, I had them cut on a bias, then steamed before being mixed with the noodles.

And this chance to go through my archives reminded me that I don’t mind making my chicken broth the old-fashioned way – which, I have to say, has been the same way Tyler Florence and Gordon Ramsay make theirs.  I use it for my “tinola” (chicken in a ginger broth with fresh green papaya and chili tops) and for my “mami” (Hong Kong style egg noodles in soup).

My broth always starts with the holy trinity, the mirepoix of onions, celery and carrots.

 

The mirepoix is added to a deep pot where the chicken is. I usually used a whole chicken.

 

When I don't have a whole chicken, bits and pieces will do. To the holy trinity of mirepoix, I would add a head of garlic, peel and all, and a palmful of dried thyme. I add water just enough to cover everything and then bring the pot to a boil for a good two hours – at least.

 

This noodle dish, which was simply "mami" but I decided to call "long-life noodle pot", was one of those that would make use of my chicken broth.

 

I think we have the best, most flavorful, most comforting Chicken Congee recipe at home!

 

I miss this a lot – "Tosilog" (TOcino, SInangag, itLOG). This is a Filipino combo plate of sweet cured pork, garlic fried rice, and a sunny side up.

 

I made this Cold Sesame Peanut Noodles. My recipe is an adaptation of Tyler Florence's.

I love food.  And sometimes, I feel like I could do something great with this passion when the right time comes.

I want my food, like life, to have a kick. Now that's taking the expression "spice of life" literally.

 

Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





Waxing lyrical about shrimps and tomatoes lasting for days

17 05 2011

Sinigang na Hipon (Swahe)

IT’S TRUE for adobo (pork or chicken or both, braised in vinegar and soy sauce).  It’s true for sopas (chicken macaroni soup).  Even the Martha Stewart herself says that there are some things – her scrumptious Applesauce Snack Cake being an excellent example – that are better the day after you make them.  She admonishes, resist eating it the day you baked it.

For me, it’s also true for sinigang na hipon (shrimps in a broth soured with tamarind or cucumber tree fruit, with lots of vegetables).  As I write, I’ve been subsisting on this dish for the past three days already!  To think that I just feasted on the same last week, only thing was that it had huge black tiger prawns.

I sent for a kilo of the freshest, juiciest white shrimps the local fishmongers call “swahe”.  What came back was a batch so huge and so fresh that I felt a simple “halabos” wouldn’t do justice to.  I wanted the sweetness of the shrimps to infuse a broth soured with the goodness of some more of the Amadeo tomatoes I had purchased a couple of days prior.  It was an all-natural dish spiked only so little with a hint of Knorr® original sinigang flavor mix.  That hint turned out to be a heaping tablespoon, nothing more.

The Amadeo tomatoes made for a really deep red broth. This was so delicious and hearty!

The secret to cooking shrimps in a broth is to take the dish off of the fire the very moment the shrimps turn a bright orange after the first boil.  The secret to making them last a number of meals – still sweet, with the flesh not turning stringy at all and clinging to the shells – is to get the pot out of the refrigerator about half an hour from serving, removing the shrimps from the broth and allowing only the latter to be reheated.  The reheated still boiling broth is then poured over the shrimps for instant resurrection.  Delicious many many…  many times over.

Right after curling and turning bright orange, these shrimps were good to go!

 

A tight shot of the shrimps

 

With just five of these really sweet swahe, I was able to finish one rice cooker's batch of piping hot steamed white rice!

 

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





Counterstrike by way of food

9 05 2011

Sinigang na Sugpo sa Kamias

FICKLE WEATHER is such a bitch.  After smarting under the lash of 30-plus-degree temperatures last week, we now find ourselves reaching for a warm blanket.  Now that’s like having our bodies go through temperature cycling.  Good, another bitch.

@Rambuc, who I follow on twitter, couldn’t have put it any better: “Thanks to this bi-polar weather, my nose is so red, I could definitely guide Santa’s sleigh! *sniff sniff*”

Clearly, these atmospheric conditions deserve a counterstrike – by way of food.  And I couldn’t think of anything better than the warmth of sinigangSinigang na Sugpo sa Kamias!  With all due respect to sinigang mixes, sinigang soured with the goodness of fresh fruit – tamarind, guava, calamansi, or in this case, kamias (cucumber tree fruit) – soothes like no other.

Best had steaming hot, the tang never fails to tingle from the inside, radiating warmth to the outside.  Perfect for when your favorite blanket is at the cleaners, sinigang can give all the comfort you need.  Just couldn’t wait to make one tonight!

Kamias

 

A medium onion and lots of tomatoes go to my sinigang broth!

 

This tomato is so cute!

 

Fresh prawns!

 

The sinigang's ready!

 

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





A feast that pleased the eyes and the belly

9 08 2010

Kanin Club Turon a la mode

OUR VISITORS had ribs at Racks the night before.  So when they go home to Singapore, it would be quite hard to claim that they have had authentic Filipino cuisine.  Definitely, they couldn’t put a check mark yet by “eat local food” on their to-do list.

Our renowned Filipino hospitality would be all for naught if we were not to solve this seeming conundrum for our first-time visitors.

Fortunately, they were billeted at the best hotel south of Manila – also the house of my favorite ube ensaymada – that it was quite easy to decide where we’d host them for dinner.  And it didn’t hurt that our restaurant choice made it to the first ever edition of the Miele Guide, launched in Singapore in the 2008/2009 season – Kanin Club at Westgate in Alabang.  (Now on its third year, the Miele Guide has established itself, in its creator’s own words, to be the most credible, independent and respected system through which restaurants are evaluated across Asia.  Before a restaurant makes it to the list, it goes through four rounds of gruelling evaluation and voting.  More details are available at www.mieleguide.com.)

I didn’t have my trusty Canon IXUS 860IS with me that evening.  That explains the lack of food photos on this post.  My colleague Lester did have his Nikon D3000, but I didn’t want to impose my shoot-first-eat-later policy (hahaha!).  But by dessert time, I was able to oblige him to snap a couple of shots of the fabulous KC Turon a la Mode.  I found myself having to describe it on-the-spot to one of our guests.  I called it a dessert of banana slices stuffed with a strip of ripe jackfruit, purple yam jam, sweetened young coconut strips and red mung beans, dusted with dark brown sugar, rolled in rice paper and deep-fried.  The caramelization on the wrapper was achieved by adding more brown sugar while frying.  Kanin Club added a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds as a finishing touch.

Yet another Kanin Club Turon a la mode!

Kanin Club, while unmistakably a casual dining place, boasts interiors replete with the upper class, almost elitist air of Filipino houses during Spain’s 333-year occupation of the Philippines.  The walls intersperse modern glass and old stained glass windows.  The dining table has the shadow box treatment as the top glass protects underneath wood-and-capiz-shells window panels that appear to have actually been taken from old houses.  And save for the booth cushions and some of the chairs, there are a lot of the wrought iron chairs that my grandmother had at home when I was a kid.  A couple of those have survived to this day – one actually “sits” by my brother’s bed, doubling as the night table.

After the interiors had provided the initial feast for the eyes – and opening conversational pieces – it was the food that eventually had our guests and ourselves talking.  As we explained to our three guests, while there still remains very distinguishable and characteristic Filipino dishes, Filipino food has also evolved, imbibing the best influences of Chinese, Indian, American, and Spanish cuisine, among others.

This was how our check looked like (all descriptions, mine).  For our appetizers – Squid in Salt & Pepper (fresh tender squid dredged in a light batter and deep-fried, served with a sweet spicy sauce), Kinilaw na Blue Marlin (chunks of fresh blue marlin “cooked” in vinegar and citrus juices, with minced shallots, ginger and chilies), Tokwa’t Baboy (cubes of deep-fried tofu with slivers of tender pork in a dressing of vinegar, soy sauce and chopped onions), and Gambas con Kabute (fresh jumbo shrimps and mushrooms sautéed in a spicy sauce).

For our salad – Ensaladang Talong (grilled eggplant, peeled and chopped, served with tomatoes and onions in a vinegar sauce).  For our main dishes – Tapa ni Ana (cured and air-dried stips of beef, deep-fried), Chicken Curry, Sinigang na Hipon (fresh jumbo shrimps in a tamarind-soured broth with lots of vegetables), Binukadkad na Tilapia (a whole tilapia, filleted, and deep-fried to a crisp), and Pinakbet (a stew of local vegetables, flavored with fermented shrimp paste, and served with crispy-fried pork).  We enjoyed all these together with Tinapa Rice (garlic fried rice flavored with smoked fish).  Drinks were either the Iced Lemon Tea or Iced Green Tea.

Only the best restaurant's in Asia make it to the Miele Guide! (From the Sunday Inquirer Magazine, 16 November 2008. This is from my personal collection of newspaper clippings.)

 

Kanin Club makes it to the first edition of the Miele Guide.

 

Filipino culinary icon, and my favorite, Margarita Araneta Fores said, "At least we have one restaurant in the Top 20!" I say, not bad at all!

 

What I wore to dinner

 

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





Slaving over a hot stove makes a master

12 04 2010

THIS PAST weekend was the second long weekend in a row.  On Thursday, before I had the papers completely put away, the drawers locked, and the laptops shut down, I must’ve been asked at least three times what my plans were.  While most people were stuffing swimming gear in bursting luggages, I was calmly on my way home.  I couldn’t wait to hit the kitchen and just cook away!

While I would almost always find myself cooking for someone, I felt particularly inspired these past few days.  I guess Art Smith’s line on Top Chef Masters resonated with me so much that I couldn’t stay literally sitting down: “The best way to show your love is cooking for people.”

So, even in this scorching summer heat, I decided to slave over a hot stove and dish out food for the body and soul.

We have our own recipe for mechado that we use not only for beef but also for chicken and pork.  I remember my grandmother telling me when I was a kid how the name “mechado” came to be.  She said that the dish used to require for the meat (beef) to be sliced thinly and rolled around a strip of fat.  Cut across, the image brings to mind a candle, with the strip of fat as wick.  Wick in Filipino is “mitsa,” hence the name “mitsado” which is now easily spelled out as “mechado.”  Whenever we have the luxury of time, we use fresh plum tomatoes that are blanched and peeled.  The sauce has lots of finely minced white onion and soy sauce.  Quartered potatoes add more energy-giving carbohydrates to this dish.

Pork Mechado

Notice how tender the meat looks! "Mechado" is a Filipino meat stew.

As it is one of my brothers’ favorite, I made sinigang na hipon (shrimps in a sour broth of tamarind pulp, with lots of fresh vegetables).  I’m partial to black tiger prawns but since the market was out, I settled for the large white freshwater shrimps.  Each was bursting with lots of roe that made for a really flavorful broth!

Sinigang na Hipon (Shrimps in a sour broth of tamarind pulp, with lots of fresh vegetables). I took this shot the very moment the dish came back to a boil after the leafy vegetables were added.

A portion I served myself.

I made the simplest garlic fried rice.  I use lots of finely minced garlic, leftover rice, and just a pinch of salt in my recipe.  I rarely stain it with soy sauce.  Unless the color renders the whole meal more appetizing.  To go perfectly with this fried rice, I made a vegetable omelet – two ways, in the manner the actual omelet is made.  One is made with the vegetable filling mixed into the scrambled egg.  The other is made with the egg added first to the pan, and then the filling spooned onto just one side.  The other side is then folded over the filling.

I use one whole head of garlic for my fried rice!

I cut off the ends of each clove before I give them a good whack with the palm of my hand on the blunt side of the knife.

I always mince my garlic very finely!

I saute the garlic in a heavy bottom skillet, coated with just a smidge of vegetable oil. The fire is set to as low as it could go.

I don't want the garlic to really brown so the sauteing takes time. This way, the garlic becomes sweeter, infusing the pan with its essential oils.

Once the garlic takes on this light brown color, that's when I add the rice!

 

Perfect garlic fried rice! I use just a little salt which I make sure is evenly distributed throughout.

 

My camera battery died so the only vegetable I got to photograph was the green beans.

 

I do all the prep work myself. Working on the beans though is always challenging!

 

Two beautiful whole eggs go to each omelet.

 

One version of the omelet has the filling scrambled into the eggs.

 

A tight shot of the omelet bubbling away in the pan!

 

Half of the first omelet was gone before I could take a photo of it!

 

The other version of the omelet has the filling on one side with the other side flipped onto it.

The "free" side gets folded onto the filling.

The whole thing is turned over once.

Of course, there will always be pasta!  I fancy calling this as angel hair in a tomato basil sauce.  This is just my usual extra virgin olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, basil and parmesan cheese sauce.  I find that shaving the parmesan cheese is more elegant than grating it.  I put so much parmesan cheese on my plate that when viewed from the top, it looked like a pizza with a really cheesy crust!

Angel Hair in Tomato Basil Sauce

 

Notice how paper thing the parmesan cheese shavings are!

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





Keeping up with facebook

22 05 2009

Facebook Screenshot 00 

THINGS HAVE a way of coming back and biting you in the a**.  (Can I really say that three-letter word here?)

When I got up the nerve to brandish here my list of 25 things about me – that I called “eNTeNG’s 25” – I went to great lengths in saying that I was doing it here because… (drumrolls please – a bold declaration up ahead)…  I just couldn’t keep up with facebook!  I guess it was there that people first got “poked” or “tagged” to accomplish this list.

A good month-and-a-half later, here I am, and with my right hand proudly raised, and with my head nodding to my virtual audience, as I pan across from left to right with eye contact firmly established, I declare – I’m hooked on Facebook!

Seriously.

And it all started just a couple of days back when I got sick and had to stay home.  It’s been eons since I last logged in on my Facebook account.  I was definitely surprised to see a lot of activity on my contacts’ “walls” but since nothing really “involved” me, I almost instantaneously hit the “Logout” button.  It was then that I noticed the numerical indicator – a “1” – that was right beside the button that said “Inbox.”

Oh, I’ve got mail!” I said to myself.  I clicked on the Inbox and it was then that my fascination with Facebook began.  Responding to the mail – and surprisingly getting a real-time response back – showed me just how much Facebook could keep me in touch with people in my life.  REALLY keep me in touch.  And in the case of the sender of the lone unread mail in my inbox, establish more meaningful friendships with people than when we were still sharing the same country code.

Though well within the comfort of my room, I felt just how much technology could make me go beyond the confines of four imposing walls and really touch base with people I care about – no matter where they could be on the face of this planet.

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Through Facebook, I didn’t feel alone savoring my steaming hot “sinigang na bangus” (milkfish in steaming hot sour broth with fresh vegetables) as the torrential rains ravaged the outdoors (climate change sucks!).  As I devoured my dinner, I learned that one good friend – way down under in Adelaide – just cooked her own “sinigang na hipon” (shrimps in steaming hot sour broth with fresh vegetables).  Posting about it, she earned raved comments from people who praised her cooking prowess and those who wanted to partake of the very Filipino dish.  Yet another friend, quite coincidentally, quipped that he just had the exact same dinner as mine – and went further by relishing the thought of how much the fish belly fat made him so happy!

Somewhere on my wall, another one of my best friends first ranted that she was “hungry!”  And then much later on proudly declared that she just had chili crabs and didn’t get any allergies at all!  Quite obviously, her dinner choice could only mean that she is right now, in the Garden City, where yet another one of my “bestest” friends is.  Through wall-to-wall comments, I couldn’t help but smile when these two important “girl friends” of mine decided to meet up and hang out.  And knowing these two, meeting up could only mean great dinner, animated conversation, and lots of retail therapy. How I wish I could find myself in the middle of their shop-‘til-you-drop adventures and good-humored people-bashing.  Hahaha!

Before I knew it, I had been online – “facebooking” – for about six hours!  Very much just like right now.  I found someone with whom I could share my thoughts about the two-hour Season 5 finale episode of the hit ABC series Grey’s Anatomy. And in the same person discovered a “geek” who also watches Chuck, 24 and The Big Bang Theory, as well as a wide range of movie and book genre.

And there’s this one person whose work in Korea can’t help but fascinate me to no end.  Through his comments, I realized how boring my office existence could be sometimes (Hahaha!).  But more importantly, he made me chalk up the Gulf of Mexico, the Santos Basin in Brazil, and Africa as dream destinations.  Not to mention that he just promised to send me songs I love! You know who you are – Harry Stamper or A.J. Frost!

I’m loving Facebook.  With it, as the Kara DioGuardi-co-written American Idol Season 8 coronation song says, “there are no boundaries.”  It helps keeps communication lines open.  It allows people to share sides of their personalities and lives that you wouldn’t see from 9 to 5.  It can make a better friend out of you.  It can make a more caring person of you. And with a comment like “…is disappointed – FALSE ALARM!”… Facebook can stop you dead on your tracks.  Hahaha!!!

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Figaro Coffee Company – rediscovering a long-lost love at La Posada

7 12 2008
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Perched on top - Figaro Coffee Company.

ONLY ONE word best describes most of my Saturdays – lazy!  I stay in bed well beyond 12:00NN.  My family just lets me be because I guess they realize that this is the only day I could really recharge from all the energy loss I sustain on the other five days of the week.  On the downside, because of this ‘staying-in-bed-well-beyond-lunch-time-on-Saturdays’, I had failed to make it to Greenbelt lunches with Friendship, especially a while back when she was taking up French language classes (wow!).  I also couldn’t really commit to showing up for anything that has a call time suffixed with the time stamp adverb ‘ante meridiem.’  So, everytime I had to meet up with Batman at The Podium, I would negotiate for a friendlier noon-to-evening time slot.  Those and the fact that with my oversleeping, I wouldn’t be able to name any of the gyrating scantily clad dancers on the noontime show ‘Wowowee.’

 

But today was different.  Right around 10:00A.M., I had to drag myself out of bed – picture pulling one’s self against so much resistance – to pick up a persistent call on my personal mobile phone.  It was my youngest brother.  Familial duties required me to meet him up at his office in the Greenbelt area in Makati City.

 

But halfway thru the trip from way down south of the city, he called me up for a change in plans and asked me to go to somewhere in Sucat – ‘La PosadaOh, that commercial complex with the impressive castle-like façade with glass-walled establishments offering an unobstructed view of the high-end residential development behind it.  I hadn’t been there so I was kinda excited in spite of the traffic situation at the Sucat interchange that had turned the place to a huge parking lot that could put EDSA (Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue) to shame.

 

So, after what seemed like a tense moment pulled from right out of the ‘Amazing Race’ – the original, not the ‘Asia’ clone – we made it to ‘La Posada.’  Standing there on the sloping driveway, I instantly developed a better appreciation of the place now that I had set foot on it.  So much better than when I would just pass by it while traversing through SLEX (South Luzon EXpressway).  Truth be told, I had never thought about paying a visit to this place because the establishments there are well-represented in the malls.  So I thought, ‘nothing special’ – save for, again (this time with drum rolls please), the ‘castle-like’ façade.  But this Saturday I needed to be there, I’m quite glad I did!  And I’m not about to rave about all the takeout food we got from ‘Dencio’s.’

 

The one place I felt ‘with-a-hint-of-nostalgia’ excited about was ‘Figaro Coffee Company.’  Hence, the post’s cover photo above (taken with my Nokia XpressMusic 5310).  And while in a previous post I had declared that the Bunny Huggers Carrot Cake Cupcake from ‘Cupcakes By Sonja’ has trumped the carrot cake I have been getting from Figaro all these years, the latter still occupies a special place in my heart (awwww).  So, I flung the store’s door open, and with a playfulness in my steps, approached the well-lit counter, ready to aim my finger at my ‘other’ favorite carrot cake.  Much to my temporal disappointment (were you expecting me to say chagrin?!), they’d run out that day, way early in the day.  Not all is lost,’ I said to myself as I asked for their Figaro House Blend Iced Tea (Php 95.00, 16oz.) – arguably the best house blend iced tea there is.  Quite unfortunately, they had run out of it too, as the previous night’s carousing Christmas party people had drained their supply dry.  I don’t know if this situation would now benefit a ‘much-to-my-chagrin’ sigh.

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Figaro always has a good display. La Posada's is no exception. Just gotta snap this shot!

For the second time, after heaving a sigh, I turned the situation into a ‘not-all-is-lost’ moment.  I started off by asking for the Pudding with Vanilla Sauce (Php59.00) – warmed up in the microwave for a few seconds with vanilla sauce served on the side.  I like it that way because when I first ordered this in their Tagaytay City branch, I didn’t know that it would be served doused with the vanilla sauce.  I love this pudding because it is nothing short of genuine comfort.  It ranks way up there, together with the pudding that my mother taught me to make, and the pudding I learned from TV and made to rousing reception – Oprah’s personal chef Art Smith’s ‘Cinnamon Raisin Bread Pudding with Orange Butterscotch Sauce.’  I had my Figaro pudding wrapped to-go.  But even when in the car already much later, the moment I broke it in half, it was still warm, letting out a steam of faint vanilla.  It was moist, with soft, fluffy specks of chunks of bread.  It was a small rectangle but it was substantial.  As I proceeded with savoring it, I’d dip every bite in the luscious vanilla sauce.  I would just stain each piece and not bathe them with the sauce as anything beyond a stain was overwhelmingly sweet for me.  I finished it with my eyes closed, feeling a warmth that went beyond a fulfilled tummy, to a heart hugged with a warm, loving embrace.  The remaining vanilla sauce was just too divine to throw away.  So what I did was finish it off with my fingers!  I let its perfect creamy consistency stick to my fingers, tease me for a while, until I licked it off.  It was so damn good.  I felt like a kid!

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Figaro Coffee Company's Pudding with Vanilla Sauce. One of the best pudding's ever!

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Ready to be warmed up - my to-go pudding with vanilla sauce (served on the side).

My Figaro trip didn’t end with the pudding though.

With my own Figaro Frost (Mocha, Php 125.00) in tow as I was about to leave the store, I noticed all the beautifully tempting muffins on display.  I felt my heart would sink if I was not to try out even just one of each.  Looking at all the food I had hauled from the next-door ‘Dencio’s,’ I just thought that perhaps, I would have the will power to reserve stomach space for dessert – for a change!  If there was one store display that runs away with a visuals award, it would be Cupcakes By Sonja.  But standing in front of Figaro’s at the moment, I conceded that there was another one, though maybe on a different level.  For one, the muffins I was looking at had bare tops, none of the delicious, colorful frostings whatsoever.  Not that muffins need any frosting.  It was jus that the items on display weren’t embellished.  That’s my point.  Which actually brings me to another point.  How different is a muffin from a cupcake?  I’m more of a cook than a baker so my attempt to answer this will be purely based on what I think, guided by personal observation and a little past reading.

 

One of my best friends was actually the first one to ask me that.  I was telling him about the blueberry muffins being made on a show I was watching, and how I was getting so hungry just at the sight of the dry and wet ingredients being dumped together into a mixing bowl.  He retorted with a question asking how different a muffin is from a cupcake, if they are different at all.  He posted the question while sharing his memories as a kid growing up and watching his older sister whip up muffins in the kitchen, telling me that one thing he remembered (aside of course from his sister’s muffins being so good!) was how oily they were.  Hmmm..  I didn’t expect a question to come out from my sharing of gluttonous thoughts over blueberry muffins.  But the foodie in me, offered a response.  You see, a muffin is a bread while a cupcake is a cake.  A muffin is actually a type of sweet quick bread baked in a muffin tin pan or baking pan with ‘cups.’  And yes, they are usually oily.  There are the healthier oils anyway – think canola.  A cupcake, on the other hand, is actually cake baked in a muffin tin pan.  So there you go!

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Blueberry Muffin

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Cheese Muffin! The first one I sank my teeth into... much to my happiness!

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Chocolate Muffin. Don't the chocolate chips just say: "Bite me!"

Going back to the beckoning muffins on display, I have to tell you that I was so helpless, I ended up asking for one of each – Blueberry (Php 55.00), Cheese (Php 55.00), and Chocolate (Php 55.00).  For some reason, I clutched tightly my bag of Figaro goodies the whole drive back home.  Maybe it was because it was only then that I got to go back to one of my all-time favorite places and I couldn’t wait to get home and pleasurably ravage my buys with unbridled passion.

After cleaning up a pile of Grilled Squid; Beef Kare-Kare (Beef Stewed in Peanut Sauce with Fresh Vegetables and Fermented Shrimp Paste on the side); Asparagus Sauteed in Garlic; and Roasted Eggplant, Tomato and Onion Salad on my favorite Corelle plate in the ‘Provincial Blue‘ motif; accompanied by a hot bowl of Sinigang na Hipon (Shrimps in Tamarind Broth with Fresh Vegetables); I stared at my trio of muffins and decided to start with the cheese.  From the sound of what I had for a very late lunch, an overripe banana sounded more appropriate.  But hey, I’ve got to have my muffins, this time, already sitting on my ‘Salty Dog‘ plate from the ‘Bar Lingo‘ series of the Pottery Barn!  Normally, I would pop a pastry – doughnut or muffin – in to the microwave oven on high, and wait 8 seconds before I savor it.  I got this BKM (‘best known method’) from the side of a Krispy Kreme doughnut box, the very first one I got from their downtown store in Sacramento, California, near where the Sunrise Mall is.  But I was a bit tired and ‘8 seconds’ felt like a long wait so I passed up on the microwave reheating step and peeled off one side of the muffin paper liner and tore off a piece.  The excitement of the first bite (what’s with me and all the ‘bite’ reference – could it be ‘Twilight?’  Hahaha!).

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Blueberry Muffin, beautifully sitting on my 'Salty Dog' plate from the 'Bar Lingo' series of the 'Pottery Barn.'

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Cheese Muffin... seconds before being devoured!

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Chocolate Muffin. Yum yum!

The muffin top had a sheen to it – almost like beautifully aged wood sealed by a primer.  That analogy was meant to whet your appetite!  Hahaha!  I meant, the muffin tops looked so good I felt they rendered the pastries a finish that can be likened more to display items meant to entice buyers, not really something to pop into your mouth.  From the first bite, I got the cheese right away – both in flavor and in texture – as cheese bits were so generously mixed into the batter.  From the top to the bottom, almost piercing through the paper liner, there were cheese bits.  The actual muffin was dense, and had consistent flavor, almost like that of a pancake batter’s, but in a better way.  It also had a very consistent crumb, and didn’t leave any bitter aftertaste in the mouth.  So off the bat, I know they didn’t excessively leaven my muffin.  I surprised myself because I finished the huge cheese muffin in one sitting!  And before I put the rest in the fridge for, probably, a good midnight snack, I shamelessly cleaned off the top of the chocolate muffin.  Sorry, I couldn’t help it.  The chocolate chips that dotted the muffins were irrisistable.  The muffin was ‘bittersweet’, ‘semisweet’ at best.  So I liked it too.

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A trio of delectable treats! Three lovely muffins. Blueberry! Cheese! Chocolate!

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It was only this time that I tried Figaro’s muffins, getting them there, from their La Posada branch.  I will be chalking them up my board as the new things I love about this coffee company.  Up to now, I have a vivid recollection of what food item I sort of (first) discovered and loved at Figaro and where – their house blend iced tea at their The Podium branch; pudding with vanilla sauce and mocha frost at their Tagaytay City branch; Pasta a la Carlo (Php 199.00) at their Alabang Town Center branch; and of course, their miniature, individual carrot cake with cream cheese frosting at their Glorietta branch (right across Cibo).

It also helps when people associated with a brand or store, have innate style.  I’m no authority on this.  But when I saw the accompanying picture on a magazine feature on the lovely lady who owns the Figaro branches at The Powerplant Mall and the Joya Residential Towers, I loved the (Figaro) brand all the more.  She was put up rather simply, but the bold Panerai Luminor on her wrist spoke volumes about her taste and success.  I love wristwatches too (check out the tagline of this blog).  I can’t help it.