30 01 2012

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



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

Pancit Shanghai

11 08 2009

I WENT to Shanghai but didn’t find lumpiang Shanghai.  I doubt if I’d find there “Pancit Shanghai” too.  But probably, something similar in a different incarnation or much different name.

Payless Pancit Shanghai 00

Payless Pancit Shanghai! Gotta love those flat noodles.

I couldn’t sleep Sunday night, well into the wee hours of Monday morning.  So I got up and checked what I could have for midnight snack.  Usually, it would be steamed tofu that I would snack on.  I’d reach out to the back of the refrigerator for the jar of Hoisin sauce (Chinese sweet fermented soybean paste) to stain the sliced white blocks.  In the dead of the night, I’d sometimes find this act of spreading the sauce thinly on top of the steaming hot wiggly surface, therapeutic.  But unfortunately, I wasn’t lusting after tofu this one time.

I went to the cupboard and rifled through the pile of every imaginable instant ramen.  If you know me well enough, you’d know I love noodles to bits!  And right when I was about to give up after seeing every imaginable – usual – variant, there it was – Payless Pancit Shanghai.

Yes, the one Kim Chiu is hawking on national TV!

I had seen it days before at the supermarket, picked it up…  and then returned it to the shelf before I made my way to the checkout.  Something about it being endorsed by the said actress didn’t appeal to me.  I’m just not fond of personalities – save for those I honestly believe in (#18 here).  But truth be told, my mom loves Kim Chiu (sort of discovered her in “Tayong Dalawa”), and my brother just adores her.  Which – at that ungodly hour of the night – explained to me why packs of this Pancit Shanghai had made their way to our home.

I ripped open one foil pack and cooked it to package directions, except for the fact that I’d always cut down my cooking time for the noodles by at least 30 seconds.  I just couldn’t stand soggy noodles.  I noticed how convenient it was that aside from the separate packaging for the dehydrated vegetables and soy protein (meat substitute), all the flavorings had been mixed and put together in an oil-sauce pack!  Before serving, I just had to throw in lots of slivered onion leeks, blanched quickly to just temper the sharp onion taste.

The verdict?  I LOVED it!  I think what I had was the other flavor that’s not “Pata Tim” (Chinese Pork Leg Barbecue Stew).  The flat noodles turned out perfectly done – the 30-second trick always works! – and were a departure from the usual type of “curly” instant noodles.

I savored my hot bowl of noodles, leisurely eating with my deep brown chopsticks.  Before I knew it, it was way past 2:00am already.  And since I’m the most paranoid person there is on not hitting the sack right after eating lots of noodles, I flipped through year 2009 back issues of GQ before calling it a night.  A most filling one!

Payless Pancit Shanghai 01

The sauce is very oriental and robust with the oil, soy sauce, hints of sesame, and something else... hmmm...