Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sunday Lunch

This is my new bestfriend. For me, nothing spells Sunday than gata something. Today, I cooked gata with string beans, okra and dried fish and squid. Mainly because langka apprently is not Allan's best vegetable, and because these vegetables are easier to find than sliced langka (which I have to go to SM for).

First, I dumped the string beans into my rice cooker with a little water to cook it. When it started to boil, I poured in two packs of Mama Sita ginisa mix and added the gata. Then, I added the dried fish and squid (soaked for 30 minutes). It is my mother's rule that when you cook with dried, salted food, put it before you season because they will contribute to the saltiness, and season the dish itself. When the sitaw is already half cooked, I added the okra and after simmering the okra for a few minutes, I seasoned it. It needed only a tiny pinch of salt. I allowed it to boil for 3-5 minutes and it's done!

And yes, that is an ice cream container. We eat ice cream at least once a week (and when you see us it shows) so we often have these containers. For me it's super sayang to throw it away, with the garbage problem and all. So we recycle the containers. We also use newspapers as place mats. After eating it's a matter of throwing the paper and the table is clean.

Have a happy Sunday lunch!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Baked Oysters

Let's think happy thoughts. To not dwell on drunk drivers, I bought a set of oysters from the groceries. These were steamed gently while my rice was cooking, topped with a pat of butter and some garlic.

It was great but if I were to remake this dish, I would certainly add some vegetables..maybe spinach and some cheese, to make it really special.


DUI. I cannot begin to tell you how much I hate people who drink and drive. It's irresponsible. It kills, and good if it only kills the driver. More often than not, other people get hurt as well.

This was in front of St. Peter's cathedral in Commonwealth Avenue, QC. Right smack where commuters wait for the bus. Notice how the car actually straddled the cement island.

The car had PNP license plates, good jobs our good cops are doing.

Death Meal

I sort of blitzed through all my backlogged pictures and I actually have a few more pictures that will merit a couple more posts, but it's getting late and I'm planning to be up and early tomorrow to register to vote, so I'll end tonight with a more or less apropos post. Considering it's almost Halloween and all.

^ is a photo of my paternal grandfather's death meal. He suffered a fatal heart attack after a dinner of fried dilis and eggplant with toyo-vinegar dip and rice. I was very young then, and I can remember that they, meaning the grown-ups, were sort of waiting for me to say something heartbreaking like "When will Papang wake up?" We were very close, you see, and I guess they expected me to miss him. Not that I didn't, but at the early age of six or seven, I was already aware that people die, and when they do, they never come back, so pray for their souls and get over it. Is that...odd?

In the years that followed, this food combo became the stuff jokes and family legends were made of. Dilis or pescao seco with fried eggplant has always been a cherished family meal (maternal side of the family I mean...paternal side was partial to fried chicken...easy game of analyze-the-difference, huh?). To me fried eggplant with fried dried fish taste really, really good. I swear that I'd take that over any fancy French Php2500-per-head-dinner. The rich sweetness of eggplant and the evil deliciousness of daing with the tart/umami-ness of the toyo-vinegar? Come on! Who can pass that up, right?

Just a quick note, whenever my grandmother, Mamang, would eat the daing-eggplant combo, she would always say, as if talking to Papang, "Pang, numa anay comigo saca para man uban contigo kay si Dimple (me) bata pa." (Pang, don't take me to accompany you yet, because Dimple is still so young.) And my titos would joke, "Pang, ta mira yu el ulam, sigurao yo yan dala ya tu come conese nu?" (Pang, can you see what's for dinner? I bet you already learned your lesson eating this stuff, huh?)

Sheesh. Remembering the jokes make me feel a touch eerie just about now.

Anyway, I still regularly eat this combo. In the office, I would just buy tuyo or dilis from the Jollijeep (and ask for toyo-vinegar) and a raw eggplant from a nearby mini-mart. We have an electric oven in the office so I butter or oil up the oven pan, place the sliced eggplants there and bake until brown, turning over once.

I haven't made up my mind yet what I want my death meal to be, if in case I can plan it. But if I end up like Papang, heck, what a good way to die.

What's your death or last meal?

Happy Halloween guys!


I couldn't think of anything to do with the dried fish anymore for I asked the Google of daing (aka my mom) for some ideas. Her reply?


I was trying to decipher the elusive three lettered answer to my dilemma when she replied again:

"Dbong o lngka."

Lightbulb moment. Ahhh. GATA.

She is so right! I heart gata but I was clueless where to get grated coconut. Then, the cosmos led me to it, though in a different form. I was buying the week's rice supply when I saw canned coconut milk! Perfect. I got one 400mL of coconut milk and a tetrapack (250mL) of coconut cream. Then, as an added push by fate, SM also offers pre-sliced unripe langka. How perfect is that?!

Again, with my handy dandy rice cooker, I boiled the langka for 10-15 minutes until they're tender. By the way, if you're going to use pre-sliced langka, it's bound to smell sour/acidic since it's been sitting there all day. That's perfectly fine, and to take the smell away, wash it well and boil it with a couple of bay leaves.

Set the boiled langka aside and start the gata by boiling the coconut MILK with ginger and onions. When the flavors have infused, add the langka and a finger chili and the daing (soaked in water to take out the saltiness) and boil for 5-10 minutes. After that, add salt and again, if you use it, some vetsin. Finally, add the coconut CREAM. The richest part is always added last, to maintain its richness. Season again if you like.

Allan is not a big gata fan, but I managed to shove this down his throat after threatening him with dagger looks. I think by the end of the meal, he was convinced.

Sarciadong Daing/Sweet and Sour Dried Fish

My mother recently sent me a package of dried stuff---squid and blue marlin. Gloriousness! While Allan cannot care less for the daing blue marlin and went for the squid instead, I was thinking of the different dishes that I can use the fish with. First I just sauteed it with some sitaw, but I next I tried to replicate my mom's sweet and sour daing which I think she got from her mother who wanted to make things a bit more upscale than the simple fry-grill-broth that my grandfather (you remember him?) preferred.

So start with soaking the fish in a lot of water and change it, oh, maybe a couple of times, to get the salt out. To make it uber simple, I dumped lots of chopped ginger and sliced onions into my rice cooker and poured some oil into it, popped the cook button and covered it up. After five minutes, the aromatics were well, aromatic. After tossing it around a few times, I put julienned bell peppers into the pot and dumped twelve small, roughly chopped, tomatoes (they were nice and ripe and cheap) and tossed it around some more until the tomatoes became tender and the pulp mushed into a thick sauce. Add 1/2 cup of water to thin it out, add vinegar, salt and if you use it, vetsin. Don't add the usual amount of salt, it has to be a little on the sour side because the daing is VERY salty. Add sugar and stir. Add the soaked daing and allow it to boil/simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with a LOT of rice and pandan iced tea.

Pandan Iced Tea

One of my recent successes in the food and beverage department is Pandan Iced Tea. I admit, that I never thought that I would have to buy Pandan leaves since it's practically a weed in Zamboanga. When we were still living in Lustre, we had our own pandan bush and when we moved to Tugbungan, there was a whole colony of pandan by the river, free for all. In Manila, people don't know what exactly a pandan looks like in the wild and I have to shell out some cash to get a decent bundle.

So like the picture up there ^ wash the leaves and tie them into a little chignon. Then boil it up, until the water changes should be greenish-brown. Maybe 3-5 minutes after the water starts to boil furiously will be sufficient to get the flavor out.

Next, allow a couple of teabags to steep. It is, after all, essentially iced tea. I used Lipton and left it in the pot for around 3 minutes. Lipton is pretty astringent, so it can easily overpower the pandan essence. After steeping the tea, add sugar, preferably brown or muscovado, because it tastes better and has more character than white sugar. But anything is ok, basta dulce.

Add ice and enjoy!

Traditional Champorado

Champorado is something that I consider as comfort food. I remember my mother, even in our sort of cash-short state, buying even 1/4 kilo of sticky rice or malagkit to turn into champorado for a nice Sunday breakfast, or just whenever she feels that I need some boost, like before an exam or competition.

Anyway, she would often make the chocolate from scratch, from cacao seeds from the fruits of the Madre de Cacao in our backyard after I've sucked them pulpless. Haha. She would wash the seeds and dry them for a couple of days (or more, I forget this part of the process) and when it's completely dry, she would toast it over a wood stove on a common kitchen frying pan. Then the roasted seeds would be sent to a guy in the market who grinds coffee beans. The guy would also press them into tablea. Voila! Tablea for hot choco or champorado. The tablea would taste a little, well...homemade. None of the richness of commercial ones, but it was nice and bittersweet and tasted of, shall I say

So last weekend, I made champorado, but I used store bought tablea instead. Boil around 1/4-1/2 cup of malagkit and to maybe five cups of water, until the rice is nice and soft and the remaining water sticky. Take the tablea and crumble it and add some of the hot boiling water from the pot and form into some sort of paste. It has to be the consistency of gravy before you pour the chocolate into the pot. Chocolate tastes better when it cooks a little more so stir it a bit before taking it off the fire. Add sugar and milk if you like it creamier. But I prefer it this way, rich and bittersweet.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Banoffee Pie

I love Banoffee Pie. It's bananas and caramel and Nutella and whipped cream and cookies. Ahhhh. Love it.

This one is just from Starbucks. I'm hoping to make my own Banoffee Pie soon. Just can't get around to it.

This pie is only Php105 and I was really satisfied after. Fro-yo is Php120. I'd rather get Banoffee Pie next time.

Why is Healthy Expensive?

I feel bad for eating Fro-Yo because this small cup with the toppings made me Php120 poorer. But I feel better, I guess, because we ate so much meat and so much fatty stuff earlier.

This is my favorite Fro-Yo brand though. I think it's called Frogurt. It's creamy and not Yakult-tasting like California Berry. It's also nice because it tastes of vanilla, instead of just...yogurt.

Meat and Bread

Allan and I LOVE burgers. Although I really am a rice person, I can maybe trade one meal for a burger and I'll be fine. So yesterday we went out to Shangrila Mall and ate at Wham! simple because we're craving or burger.

This is the Wham! burger. No cheese, but the meat is juicy and medium rare, just like I want it. You can ask for well done too. There's no cheese or mayo, only a little mustard and ketchup, tomato and lettuce. But the meat really is what takes it. It's smoky and flavorful and it's huge! for Php98 bucks, you get 1/3 pound of meat that's about 5-6 inches in diameter.

We had onion rings, too. And they weren't the type where the onions was chopped, battered and fried. Instead, they were diced very fine and battered so that when you bite into it, it's really very crunchy and onion-y, but none of the strong smell or taste.

We also got Sabrett hotdogs. Apparently, "the original Manhattan hotdog." Syempre, I don't know if it really tastes like the real thing, but it was good. With the spicy and juicy dog, we had pickles, mustard, ketchup, mayo and the special Sabrett caramelized onions. Soooooo good!

We had Fro-Yo after, just to make ourselves feel better since we ate so much meat and preservatives. Up next.


I made chili the other day, using a recipe I got from a friend (actually he used to work in The Soup Kitchen) and it was THE BOMB! I added a few of my own spices, but is was hot, hot, hot!

So we ate some of it for dinner, with some nachos. The leftovers I brought to work and it only tasted better the next day, since the flavors already seeped into the soup even more.


1/2 kilo ground beef
chili powder
coriander seeds
2 cups beans (white or red kidney or pinto)
1 large can crushed tomato
1 large can tomato sauce
2 medium yellow and green bell peppers, diced
2 medium onions,diced
3 cloves garlic, minced

cheese and nachos for garnish and side

1.Pour oil, saute onions, garlic and add beef. Cook till the beef is not pink.
2. Pour crushed tomato and tomato sauce.
3. Season at this point, add the spices. Add a little water, maybe a cup, depending on how runny you want it to be.
4. Simmer and add the peppers after around 20-30 minutes.
5. Add beans and allow to cook. Once the beans are soft, it's ready!

Now, chili is really a flexible thing. You can add more spices or lessen it. You can use beans or no beans. You can add potatoes and peas. It's really up to you. But this is how I like it!

Traffic and Lines

Let's take a break from my usual food stuff and let me tell you some things I hate about living here. One is the long line in the MRT. I prefer to take the MRT, not only because it's fast and efficient, but because it's much cheaper compared to taking a cab or a bus. Apparently a lot of people think the same way.

Second, the traffic. In this picture, you can see that it's a little bit loose, but actually, I was in that street for like 30 minutes already. It doesn't seem to matter whether or not I leave early or late. It's always traffic. Always too many people. Always annoying.

Organic Apples

You must understand that I am not a food snob. I do not have to buy the expensive organic "healthy" stuff just to feel full and satisfied. But these apples were so nice and soooo crisp, that I'm rethinking about my earlier food philosophy.

They were also quite small, and very sweet. They were priced only at Php100 for ten pieces in the weekend market in Salcedo Village. What do you think of organic food?