Monthly Archives: September 2005

Lasang Pinoy #2: cooking up a storm

this month’s Lasang Pinoy food event, for which i am unfashionably late, ehehem….is being hosted by one of my favorite chefs in the blog planet, celiaK of English Patis.
typhoons were a big part of my childhood–it moved and shook our family from one home to another. our family moved away from dad’s childhood home in the heart of Manila to a 4 door apartment row house they built in Mandaluyong. we thought we were going to stay there and continue going to our schools.
then the floods arrived. for us children it was fun to splash around in the water that seeped in, about waist deep for adults. we were totally oblivious to all the dire consequences of disease and destruction. imagine going down the stairs and wading into the water in your own living room. my parents immediately made plans to move to Diliman which they knew would be flood proof. we were ecstatic because there was much more space and fresh air, and happily settled in.
then typhoon Yoling changed it all. in 1970 the biggest baddest typhoon i ever encountered folded up the back portion of our galvanized iron roof into the front portion as we cowered in the hallway with a twin mattress atop our heads, praying as loudly as we could (i had a very loud asthma attack too). our dad was missing in action, stuck at his bank near Ongpin overnight. when he came home after the brunt of the storm, we were drenched and all shook up but mercifully physically unharmed.
we were then driven to our lola’s house in Kamuning, where our cousins had already encamped.
no power, no running water. no problem.
our parents and grandparents survived the firebombing of Manila during the Japanese-American battle for the Philippines so they were always ALWAYS prepared for any disaster, natural or othewise: they had “dirty kitchens” built into the back of their respective homes in case wood or charcoal stoves had to be used, gas powered stoves with an ever ready extra, full gasul tank, candles and lanterns in storage, several tubs full of water filled up with the first announcements of Typhoon Signals (Yoling was Signal #3 at the least!). eventually a generator and water tank were acquired…but always, cupboards full of canned and dry goods.


canned foods saved my parents from starvation during the Japanese Occupation of Manila, and until this day we all have a fondness for Spam, corned beef, Vienna sausage, canned peaches, and cream-style corn.
for my entry i made crab and corn soup in memory of those typhoon days when we were evacuated to lola’s house and she made us all sorts of soups paired with dried fish, and when it seemed like a feast because she had to cook all the the food that was thawing in the freezer, and when it seemed like a campsite adventure due to the darkness and candlelight and card games and story telling and lanterns and endless playtime with cousins….i used fresh corn since it is a-plenty these days, and homemade broth; in a pinch or in a typhoon, use bottled water and chicken cubes.

4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
6 cups of homemade broth (chicken torso rinsed, boiled, skimmed, and simmered with shallot, peppercorns, and salt)
4 ears of corn, 0r 1 can of whole kernel plus 1 can of cream-style corn
1 small can of crab meat (i used Byrd’s)
a handful of hot pepper leaves (dahon ng sili)

saute garlic in canola or other vegetable oil until golden brown, then add the shallots. stir fry until shallots are meltingly soft. add the fresh corn (or the canned kernels) and stir fry for about 5 minutes. add the cream style corn if using, then the broth.
if you want a stronger crab flavor you may add 3/4 of the can with the corn and stir fry together, then add the remaining 1/4 can with the pepper leaves near the end of cooking time, about 15 minutes at simmer, for topping the soup. for a milder flavor, add all the crab meat at the end and simmer 3 minutes.
serve at once! slurping allowed!
over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house we go…
over the muck and through East Avenue to lola’s house we go…
where we stayed until the roof was firmly secure again and the house was renovated to stricter standards.


let it go…come on.
it’s just something we eat.
i grew up eating balut. for the longest time i didn’t touch the duck but relished the yolk part of it until one day i tried it then…loved it. if i had detested it then i would have continued just having the yolk and sharing the duck with someone who loved it, just as we did when our parents and grandparents hailed the night vendors who hawked it.
i never heard of any monster/vampire/aswang stories associated with it.
i have always considered the cavepeople who first discovered that oysters, crabs, lobsters and mussels were edible my personal heroes. i consider cooking to be one of the best bits of evidence of the highest intelligence in the animal kingdom. who would have thought: snails could be stuffed, sheep’s skulls could be cracked and broiled or sauteed in butter, to sumptuous results? who nudged open the first sea urchin and found out the roe was the best part?
so it is that the development of the techniques that brought about the balut, and its enjoyment as a luscious, nutritious delicacy, should be understood in just that light. we eat it. it doesn’t take great valor to ingest it. it should never have been imbued with such fearsome factors or gruesome allusions, or as the sign of acceptance to a culture when one marries into it.
all it takes is civility when cultures collide or exist side by side. RESPECT. i won’t make you eat it if you say no thank you. i’ll say no thanks to your live monkey brains and donkey meat marinated in tiger urine and deep fried capybara and barbecued tree snake and frog sushi.
i won’t ask you to test your macho machismo and i will never apologize for what you think is “sorta gross.”
how i eat my balut… Continue reading

IMBB #19: i can’t believe i ate vegan!

bean sprouts, bean curd and chive flowers stir fry.

(ssshh! don’t tell the kids it’s vegan.)

Sam of Becks and Posh is our game host this time and the theme is vegan. all plant derived ingredients? no animal products? zip zilch zero nada wala?
it is possible i know. i used to let myself be coerced into a Buddhist study group when we were working at our remote job site in the Bataan mountains with the promise of a sumptuous all-vegetable feast. it was magnetic attraction (the study group was at a far away open-air temple and entailed enduring vicious mosquito bites) . ahhh….the food! tofu, bean sprouts, peanuts, carrots, green beans…
but i don’t think i could ever “convert” totally. omnivorous am i.
my entry is from the book shiok!. i’ve cooked a similar dish with loads of pork and shrimp and is one of the possible fillings for a deep-fried spring roll. however there is one ingredient that is new to me: chive flowers in lieu of scallions. they are stronger in flavor but they do provide the added oomph to this dish.

heat peanut oil in a wok and brown 2 cloves of finely minced garlic. add cubed firm tofu (10 oz., drained thoroughly) and stir gently until browned. add 6 ozs. of trimmed bean sprouts, 5 ozs. of chive flowers, cut in to 3-inch lengths (available to Chinese groceries), and season with salt and pepper, as desired.
simple and tasty… they didn’t say anything about the missing pork and shrimp, but my kids just picked out the tofu squares though.. :)

chive flowers
4 ings.

the weekend past…

it was a blur.
it kept me from blogging.
it was fun!
go #2son! lost again, but only in points. #2 son is having a wonderful time.

happy 77th birthday to maMa.
it was lavish! 14 courses and we were bursting at the seams…

my favorites (er…what i remembered to photograph) :

lobsters with ginger and scallions; deep fried tofu balls; steamed flounder, beef in oyster sauce, baby mustard greens with black mushrooms. Continue reading

our fast food

yesterday was on the verge of “overscheduling.”
daughter signed up for track, band, and piano lessons. so we had to make do with this bag of frozen dumplings, peking ravioli style but smaller: “Chinese Brand Pork and Leek Dumplings.”
i just made a sauce of shredded ginger, black sweet soy, light soy, Chinkiang or diluted red vinegar, and a drop of chili oil.
we like our dumplings this way: heat some oil in a pan with a tight fitting lid. spread out frozen dumplings in the pan and brown. pour 1/3 cup water then cover tightly and let steam until water evaporates and you hear sizzling again. serve immediately…

this morning, i caught murphy posing while i fixed breakfast for her human siblings… the New England sphinx who guards the house and wants to eat bonbon…
eat the bonbon

deep fried squid rings with garlic mayonnaise

calamares fritos con salsa alioli???
have i got my Espanyol right?
just thought i’d try yet another version of my favorite beer companion.

marinate 1 1/2 lbs. of fresh squid, cleaned, gutted, and sliced into 1/2 in rings, in 2 tsps. of fish sauce, 2 well-smashed garlic cloves, a small handful of Thai (holy, purple) basil, and great big lashings of freshly-ground black pepper.

drain from marinade and dredge in seasoned (salt and pepper) flour.
deep fry in very hot oil, 375F (this is crucial to the end result of crispy, non-oily calamares fritos.

now, you can dig out a cookbook or google alioli or aioli and make it from scratch. but i am usually ravenously hungry and in need of a quick hit so i just got Hellmann’s Mayonnaise, 2 finely crushed garlic cloves, a spritz of lemon juice and sprinkles of salt and fresh black pepper mixed well. adjust seasonings to your taste. serve with lemon slices.

this is my birthday offering to babyrambutan…it seems longer than a year, husband said. (was that a hint darling?) ahem!
i’ve been given such freewheeling rein to self-expression, and along the journey encountered so many beautiful people… who have generously given me support, sympathy, empathy, an ear, friendship. *sniff* thank you all.
i never expected that i’d meet so many new friends and “travel” all over the world.
happy 1st birthday baby!
*and happy birthday to my lolo A. who inspires and lifts up my spirit still…i want to be like you.

love potion?

if there were any such thing as a love potion i think it could be distilled into the flavor of white chocolate. subtle, secretive and seductive, you barely know it’s there and yet after a bite you’re swooning, unaware that something has been slipped into your drink, your coffee, your icing.

i’ve made this cake before, and will make this cake again and again because my kids have declared it their favorite. i surprised them by making the icing white chocolate ganache, from the Cake Bible of Rose Levy Beranbaum.

this is enough to frost 2 8-inch cake layers plus extra for “simot” –licking off the bowl, beaters and spatula, clean.

3 ounces white chocolate “the best you can afford”–quoth Martha Stewart–but i used cheap, that’s why it seemed not to hold very well…recommended: Tobler or Lindt
1 cup heavy cream

melt the white chocolate with 1/4 cup of the cream on the top of a double boiler set over simmering water until almost completely melted. remove from the heat and let it melt completely. cool.
whip the remaining cream until beater marks are visible. increase speed slightly and then add the melted chocolate, whipping until mixture holds soft peaks.
spread on cooled cake layers and serve immediately.
just because cake
when daddy asked, what’s the occasion? is it my birthday? i said it’s a just because cake…kittens #1 and #2 have been real troupers, ending their first full week of school, and kitten#3 finished the first 3 days of kindergarten. imissmykittenswhenthey’reaway…
cocoa fudge cake based on nigella lawson’s recipe is here. thanks again to emily’s baking beast where i first “discovered” it! . Continue reading

lettuce play…

beef lettuce roll ups
based on Mark Bittman’s column The Minimalist in the New York Times Dining Section September 14: a thin slice of beef rib roast served on lettuce leaf with a generous splash of Vietnamese “chimichurri”– the famous nuoc cham dressing whirred up in the blender to resemble the Argentinian garlic and parsley steak sauce.
first time my Vietnamese class presented me with a platter of spring rolls in green leaf lettuce cups and the tangy garlic, fish sauce and lime dressing nuoc cham i was instantly hooked.
you roll up the slice of beef or cha gio in the leaf tightly then dip away. very enticing with the sharp flavorful dressing and rice or rice sticks…

i was intrigued by Mark Bittman’s relating one cuisine to another and finding their common ground. he has this column and i have seen him in a cooking show “How to Cook Everything” based on his eponymous book.
he has also written a chicken adobo* column (which he grilled) and raved about how his teenager devoured it.

*while searching for a chicken, rice and broccoli casserole (sigh, husband’s request) i stumbled upon 4 chicken adobo recipes published in Bon Appetit and Gourmet magazines. the vehemence of the reviewers, mostly Filipino-Americans who either tried the recipe and strongly disapproved, or didn’t try the recipes but still strongly disapproved, was truly entertaining…how passionate we are about our adobo!

Recipe: Grilled Skirt Steak With Vietnamese ‘Chimichurri’ Continue reading