Saturday, April 23, 2011

Rebound Fish Dishes- Diced Tilapia and Fried Asuhos Fillet

After being disheartened by my ugly sole dish, I wanted redemption in the kitchen. So I turned to making the fried fish with the Asian Dipping Sauce.

You can use fish with white meat that would turn golden brown when fried.  Here are two versions of the dish with Tilapia and Asuhos Fillet.

Diced Tilapia with Asian Dipping Sauce
2 pieces of Tilapia Fillet, diced into 1 inch cubes
salt and pepper to taste
flour, as needed
1 egg, beaten lightly
1/4 cup cooking oil

Drain the fish and season with salt and pepper.  Place the diced tilapia onto the bowl of lightly beaten egg and then roll in a bowl of flour until the diced pieces are fully coated. Fry in hot oil. Once it turns lightly golden, take the fish out and drain excess oil by placing the diced fish in a paper towel- covered plate. Serve with the Asian Dipping sauce.

Fried Asuhos Fillet
12 pcs. asuhos fillet
salt and pepper to taste
flour, as needed
1 egg, beaten lightly

1/4 cup cooking oil

Drain the fish and season with salt and pepper.  Dip each asuhos fillet in the bowl of lightly beaten egg and then roll in a bed of flour until the fillet pieces are fully coated. Fry in hot oil. Once it turns lightly golden, take the fish out and drain excess oil by placing the diced fish in a paper towel- covered plate. Serve with the Asian Dipping sauce.

 Asian Dipping Sauce

1 Ginger, about2 fingers long, finely diced
1 bunch fresh coriander leaves, finely sliced
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp Sesame Oil
1 fresh lemon, optional

Heat the oil and when it starts to smoke, place the ginger and fry it until it darkens. Add in the soy sauce. It will froth a little. Add the sesame oil and stir to decrease the bubbling. Add the coriander and let its aroma and flavor mix into the dip by heating it for about 30 seconds. Take the pan out of the heat. Serve with fried fish and fresh lemon.

Confessions of an Ugly Sole

He is, in our home, the master chef. He is the voice inside my head whenever I am in the kitchen.  A perfectionist, he is particular about how vegetables are cleaned, chopped, sliced or diced. Come to think of it, he's particular about everything- from the cut of the meat or poultry, to the ripeness of vegetables and the freshness of the seafood which he buys in the wet market. He is a fan of slow-cooked food but likes fastfood burger (yes, McDonald got it right in their commercial, I guess, except Papa is old school and likes Tropical Hut better). Watching him cook is like watching celebrity chefs live in the studio. In a way, he's my first kitchen superstar.
A few nights ago,  I tried my hand at making steamed sole based on the memory of the dinner Papa made once. I remeber him steaming the fish to perfection, the skin all buttery and the fish flesh  succulent. He made a soy-based dipping sauce that was distinctly asian with ginger and coriander.

And so based on a memory, I made my own version. Sole or dapa is a tricky fish to cook as the it is flat and hard to clean without breaking any major bones. I was cooking it Asian style with the head on and nearly broke the jaw of the poor dead fish.

I had forgotten to ask the fish monger to scale the fish so I had to scale the fish by scraping the knife on its skin.
What I missed was cutting the spiky fins. And after steaming the fish... it had turned into one scared mother F.
The dipping sauce was great but no matter how I tried to plate it... A still refused to eat it because it looked like some Jurassic sea creature.
And so, I ate the fish on my own. And having overcooked it, the skin was rubbery and the flesh, though firm, was a bit dry.  Eating my mistake is always a humbling lesson in kitchen.

I guess, I have to try again and probably ask papa how I can make this dish right.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Poaching Eggs and Puto Breakfast Stack

The egg is one oft-abused poultry product when it comes to dirty Pinoy jokes and in the Pinoy kitchen, it is commonly cooked in the fried form- boiled, scrambled, sunny side up omelette- or as part of the all-time favorite dessert- the Leche flan.

The poached egg  is a rarity and served only to sick or old family members. But if you mix it with ingredients you usually have with sunny side up eggs- it is the healthier dish. The Puto Breakfast Stack though leans more toward the tasty than the healthy.


- 1 White puto (steamed rice cake)
- 1 slice cheddar cheese
- 1 poached egg
- 1/2  tsp. salted butter

To make, simply stack the cheese, poached egg and salted butter on the puto. Slice into the egg as you serve.
Now that was relatively easy. Let's get on to the hard part- poaching an egg.

I did a bit of research and found several ways to do it- by using a saran wrap, by using a ladle and the the traditional way of simply dropping an egg into a boiling pot of water and mixing furiously. I tried all of these. I ended up poaching several dozens of eggs and found myself an easy way.

Crack an egg on a ladle
In a 6-inch frying pan, let water boil to a roll. once it boils, gently place the egg in the pan.
Swirl the water, as done traditionally. once the egg white hardens, lift the egg with a slotted spoon
Here's how the poached egg should look like
In a bowl, place a square piece of saran wrap.  Crack an egg into the wrap.
Tie the wrap up. In a pan, let water boil to a roll and place the saran-wrapped egg.
Once the egg white hardens, take it out of the water.
Cut the plastic off

And this is what the poached egg will look like.

Crack an egg into a ladle
In a pan, let water boil. Before it comes to a rolling boil, put the ladled into the pan.
Once the egg white hardens, lift it out of the water and scrape it off the ladle.

This is how it should look like
1. If the eggs are not very fresh, you  may mix 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon vinegar for every quart of water used. This is not to enahce the taste of the egg but rather to help the the egg whites coagulate better.

2. Simmering time- 3-5 minutes, Make sure the water is hot and bubbling slightly.

3. Always drain the water, before serving the egg.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Binungey- Rice meal-to-go Pangasinan style

Aside from bangus (milkfish), I am not so familiar with Pangasinan cuisine. And I absolutely love it  when I am introduced to traditional cooking.  So in a recent work trip, when  I was brought to the house of one old couple who was one of the few remaining people who knew how to cook Binungey, it was a moment I tried to  record in my mind... in case I needed some winning cooking skills when I get trapped in an island (which nearly happened the next day, by the way-- see my entry entitled "The Kindness Of Strangers 2"). 

My inner culinary geek just took over as I started to record the cooking process. So here it is...

Saw off an 8-inch piece of bamboo with the node in the middle. 

Wash the sticky rice, mix in some rock salt and fill the bamboo with it.

Make sure to leave some space for the coconut cream
Pour in coconut cream (kakang gata)

Cover with banana cut up banana leaf
Make sure to overlap the leaves
Place the bamboo pieces in an open oven
Make sure to be wearing your slipper when putting in the bamboo filled with rice
Heat up the oven with more firewood and the extra pieces of bamboo you're not using
Make sure the bamboo pieces remain standing
Tap down the leaves that are cracking up because of the bubbling coconut cream
When the bamboo turns brown that means it's ready for eating!
Take the Binungey out
Let it settle for a while
Scrape off the burnt bits off the bamboo
Cut in half with a machete
And here is what you'll get
The Binungey is not a dessert as I had thought at first. It's more like rice-to-go but cooked inside a  bamboo stalk. Eating it on its own is not such a joy but i am guessing it will go well with fried dried fish or steamed vegetables or pork- deep fried or grilled.

Food Find- Adobong Bangus sa Dilaw na Luya

Bangus or milkfish is the most common fish in the Philippines. It's usually cooked fried (prito), in sour soup with a tamarind or guava base (sinigang) or grilled (inihaw). One way to cook it is to cook it in vinegar and spices (paksiw). I find that  mostly people who grew up in the provinces or people in the 35  and above demographic are more familiar with this way of cooking. 

Finding the Adobong Bangus sa Dilaw na Luya  at the Bangus restaurant in Galleria was such a pleasant surprise for me. I am thinking that they called it adobo because it's also cooked in vinegar.  
 What is great about the dish is that the acidity of the vinegar is just on the outer layer of the fish. The meat retains the natural sweetness of the fish . The sauce, flavored by the pungent yellow ginger  and the acidity of the vinegar,  enhances the sweetness of the fish meat which remains intact and succulent,  especially the fatty stomach (tiyan) part.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Uncle Cheffy's at Eastwood

Had dinner with Augie at Uncle Cheffy's at the New Eastwood Mall.
The restaurant prides itself for its  brick-oven and slow-cooked cuisine, Interiros were cozy and as in most restaurants at the second floor of the mall, it provided seating in the veranda area where you have a view of the mall park pedestrians below and the wide outdoor video screen. We decided to dine in the outdoor area and cool down with drinks.
Soda and Banana Shake
For starters, we had the Grilled Prawns and Pomelo Salad with Asian dressing..
It was a well-plated salad with well-cooked prawns, pinkish pomelos and crunchy fresh greens. The dressing used light soy and was subtle, allwing you to taste the freshness of the veggies. We ordered the small plate and it was good enough to share.
Grilled Prawn and Pomelo Salad
A. decided to get the Pork Ribs with Hawaiian rice which was good to be shared by 4 people! The meat was tender and slid right off the bone but most of the flavor was just on the outside. Thankfully, it came with a dip that saved the dish. I wonder though if the dip is made by the restaurant or just bought off supermarket shelves.

Barbecue Pork Ribs and Hawaiian Rice
 I got the Garlic Studded Pork Belly Lechon which was served with liver sauce, tomato salsa and marble potatoes. The skin was crispy but the meat was just bland. if you dip it in either the sauce or the salsa, all you would get is the taste of the sauce and the salsa. I only had two bites and said goodbye to the dish.
Garlic Studded Pork Belly Lechon
We weren't very happy with dinner and decided to leave without having dessert. Maybe next time, if there is a next time, we'll just have their signature specialty- brick oven panizza.