Friday, June 26, 2009

Mom and Dad's Paluto

There's a fresh way of eating here in the Philippines, and I mean literally. We have here what we call, "Paluto" restaurants. "Paluto" equally translates to: "let someone else do the cooking for you". Now, the fresh part is, those restaurants are only a stone-throw away from the market whereas seafood is guaranteed fresh! I personally love eating here. You could ask the chefs how would you like it cooked and additional ingredients are provided by them by request. Of course, they don't have everything so you have to buy some yourself. Last time, our family ate at Mom and Dad's and after buying still breathing sea critters, here's what the resto came up with:

(Left to right, starting at the top) Calamres, Shrimp Tempura, Fish in Miso Soup and Shellfish. Calamres is also Calamari, I just don't know why it's called such here but what the heck as long as it taste good. I love their Shrimp Tempura, too. The breading is crunchy like that of the Calamares' and the meat is soft. I find it very surprising. Almost all Tempuras and Calamares that I have eaten have a harder meat texture because it's deep-fried, but theirs is different. It looks like the meat was steamed, then deep fried. Fish in Miso Soup was also good. I can't recall what type of fish it was but I think it's tuna. Miso soup is widely known for its health benefits to regular consumers so every sip of the soup was revitalizing. I also loved the shellfish. I think it was first baked, then stir fried with the shell on.

And of course, a feast is not a feast without Sisig. As seen in the photo, I mixed the sisig with raw egg. Sisig is really delicious but this one had too much chili.

And there's the rice. Garlic and plain rice. I should've ask them to put more garlic.
I just love garlic. This one had enough garlic but I wanted more.

These are the hearty soups I tried. The first one is a Chicken and Broccoli soup. It had, well, chicken and broccoli, some minced carrots, a few noodle strands and other small vegetable bits that I couldn't identify. It was by far, the most flavorful soup that I ever had. I liked it so much that I had two servings of this one. The next is Miki Noodles. Miki is actually a large type of noodle. It is thick and delicious as well. And lastly...

This is "Lato". It is sea weed, eaten as it is when harvested. It's like a soft stem with many sacs attached to it filled with gooey stuff. It's not really a "fear factor" food. I actually enjoyed eating this. The slimy whatever that oozes out when bitten is actually like salt water but not really salty. Lato is best eaten with vinegar.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Carnitine (L-Carnitine)

According to this site...

Carnitine is a nutrient that helps the body turn fat into energy. It is produced by the body in the liver and kidneys and stored in the skeletal muscles, heart, brain, etc.

Usually, the body can make all the carnitine it needs. Some people, however, may be deficient in carnitine because their bodies cannot make enough carnitine or transport it into tissues so it can be used. Some other conditions, such as angina or intermittent claudication, can also cause insufficient carnitine in the body, as can some medications.

Here in the Philippines, L-Carnitine is widely marketed as a weight loss supplement. Check out the video. Bottled iced tea is as popular as canned soft soft drinks here, if not, maybe even more popular than those sodas. Iced Tea brands included L-Carnitine in their drinks and claim drinking their products regularly will help you slim down faster, with the help of proper diet and exercise. I've been drinking one of these for some time now and I was surprised one day at the office when my colleagues told me that I am losing weight! I was like - "What?!" Yeah maybe it's because of L-Carnitine. I still have a lot more weight to lose, let's see how good L-Carnitine is then.

Japanese Food for Lunch

Okay, I didn't eat all of this in one sitting, haha. We have Sakura nearby, it's a Japanese fast food chain. I usually buy something here every pay day. (Haha, I assume you already know why.) This one here is Katsudon.

Katsudon is a popular Japanese food - a bowl of rice topped with a deep-fried pork cutlet, egg and condiments. In my katsudon you see above I had worcestershire sauce and a small service of katsudon sauce in a separated small tub. Katsudon is very special to me because me and my close friends were eating this regularly for lunch back in my college days. Katsudon has a very interesting texture - crispy on the outside and soft and chewy in the inside. Combined with egg, a few caramelized onions and spring onions, it was heaven to me. Since then I have been trying other "don" meals.

Tonkatsu is invented in the late 19th century, is a popular dish in Japan. It consists of a breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet one to two centimeters thick and sliced into bite-sized pieces, generally served with shredded cabbage and/or garlic soup. It is like Katsudon in terms of texture and appearance minus the egg and worcestershire sauce. The Tonkatsu that I had was really crispy and the tonkatsu sauce was really delicious - even on its own! Together with the meal, instead of having miso soup, I had garlic soup!

The soup was okay, it's not too "garlicy". It had a few spring onions, minced sauted garlic and a few onion sheets at the bottom of the cup. By the way, I eat while I work most of the time that's why you could see my keyboard. ^^

I also had this one - Tensildon!

Okay, I am not really sure if this is what it's called. I tried searching it up on Google and wikipedia but I got zero results. Anyway, if this is what the menu says then so be it. Tensildon is like an omelet. It has squid, sting beans, bean sprouts and other vegetables in it fried altogether with some worcestershire or soy sauce. It was good, but not as good as katsudon and tonkatsu but it was really filling. A serving of this could be enough for 2 people but I managed to finish everything, haha. And of course, Japanese food wouldn't be Japanese food if there were no sushis involved. So here they are - California Maki and Mixed Sashimi.

California Maki is a kind of sushi roll, usually made inside-out, containing cucumber, crab meat or imitation crab stick, and mango rolled in caviar. Unlike the traditional sushi, the seaweed wrap is inside. It has a very appealing color. The yellow-orange hue is so pleasing to look at. The sushi chef prepared infront of me and I could say making sushi is an art! I had mine with a little spread on top, I don't know what it is but it makes everything really great! The taste of mango plus the sauce made it even better! The sashimi is also great. In the picture you can see crab stick, tuna, the white stuff is squid, egg, sliced cucumber and shredded carrots. One thing that is good about these raw seefood is that there's absolutely no hint of mercury, and if a sushi is mercuryless, it means it's fresh! How about you? Have you tried Japanese food?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My Siomai Addiction

Shaomai (also spelled shui mai, shu mai, sui mai, sui maai, shui mei, siu mai, shao mai, siew mai, or siomai) is a traditional Chinese dumpling. It is very popular here in East and South East Asia. Through the years, siomai (I'll use this kind of spelling since this is how it is spelled here in the Philippines) varieties have evolved. From the standard Cantonese filling of ground pork and mushroom - to the exquisite and sophisticated mixture of other kinds of meat (like beef, sea food and chicken) and vegetables.

I personally love them. Here in the Philippines a lot of vendors selling these on the streets like in the picture...

It's a mobile steamer! With either a bamboo or aluminum container, they sell siomai by the bunch! For only 10 pesos you could have 5 pieces, unlimited supply of toothpick and your choice of a dipping sauce. Ususally a combination of soy sauce and calamansi (local lemon) with or without chili.

We have Ministop at my workplace and they sell siomai. I frequently buy a bunch and eat it with rice.

I switch between steamed and fried. I have already tried mushroom, sharksfin, pork and shrimp. They are really good when drenched in soymansi (play with words - a combination of soy sauce and calamansi). I don't use the chili though. See that small packet of orange liquid? That is the chili with a few hot pepper seeds and it's really hot! A drop of it stings!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Random Cooking: Fried Chicken and Tofu

The first food I learned to cook was an omelet. Very easy huh? Since then my fascination in cooking grew! Here in the Philippines there are a lot of foods that are cooked the traditional way using native and indigenous ingredients. Although I am really interested in cooking, believe it or not, I don't know a single Filipino dish. My approach to cooking is different, I like it unplanned, unmeasured, unexpected and unknown. I cook with my instincts. So last weekend I was assigned to prepare lunch. My mother defrosted portions of chicken the night before and I began the operation. I call this "Operation Randomness". Cook with whatever I see.

First off - boil the chicken in a mixture of lots of cane vinegar, ground pepper, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce.

then drain it

Before frying, I gathered anything useful in sight for the breading. In a bowl, I mixed flour, a little baking powder, a few or rather lots of turmeric powder and cinnamon powder! Haha! What a mix!

As for the rice, good thing I found this Clara Ole's instant java mix. So I just chopped up some onions, mushrooms and lots of garlic.. I just love the taste of garlic in fried rice!

When the rice is halfway cooked, add them all to the pot.

I still have a few breading mix left and it would be a waste to throw it away. Good thing I saw a pack of tofu at the fridge. Like what I did to the chicken, after slicing them into thin parts, I dipped them in egg, rolled them in the batter and in to the oil.

Lunch is served! The chicken had the aroma of cinnamon and the tangy flavor of turmeric. It was crisp and well done. The rice was a bit lacking in flavor. Maybe I should've put more java rice flavoring. I love how the tofu turned out. I increased the heat and fried it in less than 3 minutes. It was perfectly crunchy on the outside and really soft inside! Let's eat!