Simply consistent
13 January 2010, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Family, Food

The family does not suffer from kainophobia, the fear of anything new or of change. When dining out at D Wharf Precinct, an area with its cool sea breezes and a wide range of alfresco eateries featuring many national and international dishes, we continually order the same dishes.

Fish and chips, special fried rice, spaghetti bolognaise, and fried calamari dishes are tested, tasted, and guaranteed to fill us up.


Soups, soups, and more soups
13 January 2010, 9:51 pm
Filed under: Family, General, Soups

Weather conditions have been consistent over the past weeks, unlike how my children have been behaving over the school holidays. Monsoonal showers, storms and heavy rain at times overnight — the weather warning advises.

Pressure due to boredom developing and is expected to deepen over the next few days. Isolated drama and teenage depression in the coming weeks might occur – my tip-off.  While the two little ones are looking forward to their swimming lessons every afternoon, the teen-ager is bored to tears.

Two more weeks to go and things will hopefully return to normality.

Mongo soup, Chicken sopas, and Beef soup

Humba with Chinese Sausage and Nokus (dried squid)
8 January 2010, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Food, General, Pork

A Filipino author and professional cook described humba as “a dish simmered in a pot for several hours to bring out its melt-in-the-mouth texture.” Need I say more? Traditionally, or I should say my family’s style of the dish consists of pork, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, and bay leaves. My constant visit to the Internet as a self-confessed food blog browser has taken me to what I would call Filipillions (as in million and gazillion) of Filipino recipes, another indication that like me, many Filipinos are consistent in their quest to perfect the amalgamation of Malay, Spanish and Chinese influences which is Filipino.

So why are Filipino dishes not as popular as Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, when it comes to international cooking shows and cookbooks? My initial query here.

This recipe is pieced together from other pork stew recipes.

1 kilo pork rashers – cut into serving-style pieces
2 Chinese sausages – sliced
3 medium-sized fried nokus – cut in half
½ cup water
½ cup rice wine vinegar
½ cup dark brown sugar
50 ml soy sauce
4-5 garlic cloves, crushed
3 whole cloves
1 star anise
1 tsp whole black peppercorn
1 bay leaf
a handful of dried lily flowers – soak in warm water before cooking
salt to taste
1 chicken stock cube

Place all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to the boil.
Simmer until the pork is tender.

Chicken Sotanghon Soup with Miso
8 January 2010, 12:00 am
Filed under: Chicken, Noodles

The cyclone warning was cancelled last Tuesday by the Bureau of Meteorology.  The weather forecast for today is a “Few showers and a storm about. Moderate northwest winds.”  Chicken soup has always been the regular choice on rainy days.  Several variations include chicken tinola, chicken sopas, chicken and corn, chicken malunggay soup etc.

My pantry offered the vermicelli noodles and the fridge stored the rest of the ingredients.  Thursday’s supper is chicken sotanghon soup with miso.

1 cup chopped chicken breast
½ medium onion – sliced
1 punnet fresh shiitake mushrooms
½ cup dried black fungus
50 gms vermicelli (sotanghon) noodles
1 chicken stock cube
5-6 cups water or chicken stock
18 gms of instant miso soup (optional)
1 medium carrot – julienned
1 celery stick – diced
spring onions – thinly chopped
ginger (thumb sized)
salt and white pepper to taste

Soak dried black fungus in hot water for about 10 minutes.
Boil water, chicken, onions, ginger, and chicken cube for 10-15 minutes
Add carrots, celery, shiitake mushrooms, dried black fungus (squeeze out water before adding) and bring to boil
Drop the vermicelli noodles into the soup and simmer for 2-3 minutes or until noodles are tender
Scoop out some soup stock and dissolve miso in it and slowly add the miso mixture back in the soup (optional)
Stir gently and season to taste
Serve hot and garnish with chopped spring onions

Note: added only 50 gms of the sotanghon noodles as I don’t want it drying up the soup.

Biko (sticky rice with sweet coconut sauce)
7 January 2010, 11:52 pm
Filed under: Family, Food, Sweets

My late father was a quiet man and only talked when spoken to.  On rare occasions he showed his sharp, amusing side which was often taken for rudeness by some who did not know him.  He was at ease on his own, seated in his favourite chair, and was contented monitoring the ins and outs of his household.  He amused himself by listening to CDs of Frank Sinatra, Handumanan 1 and 2 (A Piano Anthology of Immortal Cebuano Songs), Beethoven Piano concertos, or playing his favourite songs which includes Sentimental Over You, Stardust, Tenderly, Laura, It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie, The Nearness of You, Sunshine of Your Smile etc. on his piano or singing the same songs in his head and tapping his fingers to follow the beat.

I have neither seen him cook nor seen him spend even 30 minutes in the kitchen, except when he turned on the water kettle for his morning coffee.  Surprisingly, he often provided suggestions on proportions or techniques for some dishes.

When I started experimenting with biko, he directed that I should base it on 1:1 ratio.  After several trial-and-error attempts, I am sure that my late father‘s response if asked about my version of the biko would be ‘lami’ (tasty).

1 ½ cup coconut milk (400 ml)
1 can coconut cream (270 ml)
1 ½  cups glutinous rice
1 ½  dark brown sugar
a pinch of salt

Cook glutinous rice like how rice is cooked (1:1 ratio).  Allow this to cool once cooked
Boil coconut milk, coconut cream, sugar and salt over a medium fire
Stir constantly until the mixture becomes sticky and thickened
Add the cooked sticky rice and mix thoroughly
Turn off the fire and let it stand for about 5 minutes

Note: The biko is watery at first but dries up when the finished product cools down.The custard topping recipe I found on the Internet did not work out well with my biko (second photo).

What are we doing on New Year’s Eve?
1 January 2010, 11:32 pm
Filed under: Family, Food

No rest for the wicked.  My body still aches from the number of hours spent in the kitchen getting ready for Christmas celebration.  I sensed my digestive system had not been able to make up its mind as to which food group I digested should be sorted out first.

Then a family member asked, ‘What are we doing on New Year’s Eve?’  Duh! I am still full and I’ll think of something later.  New Year’s food was mainly impromptu fare. We all arrived at my sister’s place with a plate or two to welcome the year 2010.

Fried chicken, fish escabeche, humba, seafood noodles, roast pork and pork sinigang.

Sweets consist of 2 types of biko — one with custard on top and the other one plain, custard cake, fruits, nuts and fruit punch.