Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Last week, I posted a Graffiti Eggplant Salad recipe that goes well with Adobong Puti. This week, let me share with you this recipe I first tasted at a friend's house in Bicol where we were house guests. I made my version less vinegary and more creamy with the use of white beans.

Enjoy cooking this recipe!

- 1 kg. Pata (Pork hocks), sliced
- 200 g. white beans
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup sukang paombong (white vinegar) 
- 1 tbsp. sea salt
- 1 head garlic, peeled
- 1 tbsp. peppercorn, whole
- 1 tsp. ground oregano
- 3 pcs. bay leaf, crushed (or bayleaf powder)

Soak the beans overnight in lukewarm water. Make sure to  put in extra water as the beans will soak up the water and puff up. I use the Haricot Bean which is often branded simply as "White Beans" in the supermarket.

Before boiling the pork hocks, make sure it's properly thawed and washed.  

Boil the pork hocks. Put the water and pork in the pot, cover and let it boil in high heat.

Add the beans. Once boiling, drain the beans and rinse it once before adding into the pan. Lower the heat down to low and let it simmer for an hour. Remember to skim off the scrum from time to time; and, to add water when needed. The hocks should be submerged at all times. Otherwise the parts not underwater will end up drier.

Add flavor. After an hour of simmering in low heat, the pork hock should be tender. Add the vinegar, salt, garlic, peppercorn, oregano and bayleaf. Let it simmer for another 30 minutes. This time, you can remove  the lid to reduce the stew (and not to  make your adobo soupy). Adjust  the spices as you see fit. I usually add more salt, depending on who's eating.

Remove from heat and serve warm.

Sunday, September 25, 2016


My curiosity drives me to try weird stuff. Anything unusual, I will probably dare to put in my mouth. So, when I saw this drink with amoeba-like floaters in it,  I simply had to try it.
The juice itself tasted like a couple of spoonfuls of honey diluted in water but as you drink it the gelatinous Basil seeds slide into your mouth. The seeds are a bit tangy like the flesh of lanzones. It's the texture that  makes this a certified interesting experience. The basil seeds are gooey like gelatin but once you bite there's a small crunch from the black parts of the seeds.

Basil seeds comes from the pods of the basil plant, also known as  the "king of herbs."
Photo courtesy of: Castielli
After harvesting, the seeds are harvested in water to make the gelatinous firm surrounding it plumper.
Photo courtesy of:
The seeds are said to be beneficial for the urinary tract and kidneys; and, is used in Asia as a medicine to treat diarrhea, decrease stress and improve the respiratory system. I don't know how true that is. But what I do know is that I have happily satisfied my curiosity and will definitely pick up a bottle or two of this drink next time I'm in the supermarket.

Would you dare to try it?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Graffiti comes from the Italian word graffiato- meaning "scratched" which in turn finds its origin from the Greek word graphein, meaning "to write." Though it is now associated with defiance and rebellion, its earliest forms were inscriptions scratched on to the surface of basalt rocks in Syria. It has come a long way since then. In recent decades it has evolved from an iconic street symbol to a commercial fashion symbol.
The LV Graffiti Neverfull
The Graffiti eggplant, too, has also come a long way from its origins in Udumalaipettai in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu where they were said to be first cultivated. Its rich black soil and warm weather allows the Udumalapet eggplant to grow even when abandoned. Eventually, the variety was transported and grown in the Western world, mainly in Italy where it is known as Listada de Gandia. Its name has also evolved, making it  sound more like it belongs in a Victoria's Secret catalog: Purple Rain, Fairytale,  Shooting Stars and Pandora Striped Rose.
I'm too sexy for this plate
I found these adorable Graffiti Eggplant at the supermarket and couldn't help myself.  I decided to make a salad that would go with the adobong puti I was cooking for the weekend. If you'd like to make one yourself, try this recipe:

5 pcs. Graffiti Eggplant
3 pcs. tomatoes, diced
1 pc. onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 tbsps. patis (fish sauce)
pepper to taste

Let water boil. Place the eggplant and let it cook until the color changes. (In case you're wondering, I wasn't boiling the eggplant in muck, I put it on top of the pork I was stewing). 

Once cooked, remove the eggplant. Let it cool.  

Prepare the tomatoes, onion and garlic.

Once cool, chop the eggplant. 

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.

Chill for 30 minutes before serving.

Sunday, September 18, 2016


Earlier this year, I had the chance to work for a project in Dubai, the City of Gold. One of the places I made sure to visit were the traditional markets- the Gold Souk and the Spice Souk.
A friend who now lives there took me to Deira, where the souk is located, via an abra (water taxi) trip across the Dubai Creek. And as things are big in Dubai, the creek is a actually wide river that took us about 5 minutes to cross.

The Spice Souk was a kaleidoscope for the senses. Everywhere you turn, there's something to see, smell and taste.  For every every spice you had on your list, the stall owners had two to three variants. Ask for pepper and they'll ask back- "Black, green red or white?" There's also a  container for everything- from palm-sized tin cans to sacks of whatever dried herb or fruit you want to bring home. On the side walk, you see Europeans haggling with frankincense vendors.

All I wanted was to buy dates for pasalubong but I ended up buying tea, of all kinds, saffron and even masala, a flavorfoul mix of dry-roasted spices, which I had never used for cooking before. Haggling is a key skill when buying anything. Good thing I used to do my Christmas shopping in Divisoria.

The Gold souk entrance, just a stone's throw away from the Spice Souk, was abuzz with vendors and tourists from all over the world. I swear, we could have held a Mr. and Ms. United nations contest right there and then.

It actually has a Divisoria feel to it except that, here, everything that glitters is gold, real gold. As an iconic destination, the quality of the goods in the Souk is strictly controlled by the government. Established in the 1900s, the Gold Souk boomed in the 40's and 50's after traders from India and Iran set up shop and took advanatge of  Dubai’s free trade policies.  
After walking around the whole day, lugging all the goodies, I had to energize myself to walk back to the quay. This is where I stumbled upon this non-descript stall selling gelato made with camel's milk.
This is a camel.
 This is the desert where it lives.
If you notice, there isn't much water.  So, how can the camel produce enough milk to make gelato?

The answer is they only have enough milk for a few gelato stands and some bottled milk manufacturers.  Camel milk remains a growing industry as there aren't as many camels as there are cows. These dromedaries have been domesticated around 3,000 B.C. and somewhere along the way, someone must have gotten curious and wanted to know what camel's milk tastes like.

Well, it tastes like cow's milk infused with butter. It's creamy with a sweet-salty flavor but it is the sweetness that lingers in the palate.  I like it but some people might find it too rich for their taste. I had pistachio and saffron flavored gelato and it tasted the same like ice cream made with cow's milk. A tad richer but nothing that changes the basic taste of ice cream. In gelato, the the richness of the milk simply works. I loved the pistachio ice cream because it had real nutty bits that were still crunchy. But it's the saffron ice cream that remains unforgettable. The richness of the camel's milk enhances the aromatic flavor of saffron. Every spoonful just tickles the palate like a soft ray of sunshine on your cheeks early in the morning.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


Fish out of water
In the last few decades, tuna has been touted as a health food being a good source for protein and Omega 3 fatty acid, the good fat you need to normalise your body's metabolism. I love tuna when it's served fresh as sashimi or when it's grilled and served hot. But since grilling is not something you can do in a small kitchen without making the whole house smell like, well, grilled fish, I tried my hand at baking tuna.
Here's a quick and easy recipe using a simple Japanese marinade that you might want to try.

  • 2 cuts of Tuna  (steak cut, approx. 150 g. each)
  • 3 tbsp. mirin (rice wine)
  • 1 tbsp. Japanese soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
Mix the soy sauce, honey and mirin and marinate the tuna for at least 15 minutes or a maximum of 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to  450 degrees Farenheit. Grease the baking pan. Place the tuna and bake.

Bake the tuna for 12- 15 minutes. Make sure you don't leave it in the oven too long or it will dry up and turn flaky.
Serve hot with a slice of lemon.
How did your baked tuna turn out?

Sunday, September 11, 2016


Rarely do you come across a restaurant with a heart. The kind that truly serves its community and not just providing lip service to sell the food. That's why when I found myself eating at Crossings Cafe in Singapore, it was such a fulfilling experience.
The restaurant is described in its website as "a social enterprise that serves delicious comfort food at affordable prices. Nourishing connections in the community is at the heart of our business. Thus, we channel all our profits to charitable and social causes." And like I said, it's not all lip service. The restaurant employs disadvantaged persons as servers, cooks and baristas, giving them opportunities to be productive, earn for themselves and get respect they deserve.
That and some kick-ass food.

For starters, I had the Crisp Green & Honey Tangerine Salad made with  rocket arugula, baby spinach, honey tangerine, cherry tomatoes, candied walnuts & crispy bacon bits drizzled in citrus vinaigrette. The sweet and tangy mix of the fruits vinaigrette balanced the slightly herbaceous and peppery crunch of the greens.

For some seafood, I had their Signature Chilli Crab Pasta, fettucine in chilli crab claw meat sauce, topped with deep fried soft shell crab and fresh rocket arugula. The combination was very simple layer of tastes and very filling. Which is why I don't know how I finished the Honey Berry Ribs. The tender roasted porkloin ribs were smothered with wild honey berry sauce and served with  sweet potato fries.

The place is quote out of the way if you're in Singapore for some shopping. But if you do have time, this is one honest-to-goodness restaurant you might want to try.

Crossing's Cafe
Address: 55 Waterloo Street, Singapore 187954
Telephone: (+65) 6336 6203