The (Eggplant) Salad In My Mind

IMG_4961.JPGWhen one sees eggplants in the market, usually the first thing that comes to mind is pinakbet, that Filipino vegetable dish that’s a trademark of the Philippines’ northern region. Or if you’re French, ratatouille.

Not me.

I immediately see a delicious salad in my mind: roasted with onions, tomatoes, vinegar and other spices.

There’s always a supply of eggplant in my fridge because at any given time, when I run out of ideas on what vegetable dish to partner with my fried or grilled meat, this eggplant salad comes in handy. Very handy.

INGREDIENTS

2 large Chinese eggplants

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 large red onion, peeled and chopped

Salt, pepper and vinegar to taste

1 tbsp roasted garlic chips

DIRECTIONS

Roast the whole eggplants on an outdoor grill. (Here’s a little secret.  If you don’t have access to an outdoor grill, you can use your electric bread toaster.  Roast the eggplants until their skin breaks).

Let the roasted eggplants cool before peeling the skin.

Slice the eggplants into bite-sized chunks.

In a mixing bowl, combine eggplant, tomatoes, onions, salt, pepper and vinegar.  Toss well.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

When ready to serve, garnish with garlic chips.

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Simply, Bokchoy With Bacon

IMG_4368Sometimes, we order food from the menu of restaurants and when it comes to our table we wonder what kind of complicated preparation or recipe brought it to its current state.

Like bokchoy.  While it is frequently added as an ingredient to some meat and noodle dishes, bokchoy is best consumed just quickly sautéed in fresh garlic.  The greener the leaves, the better!

But you can also enhance the simplicity of this dish by topping it with leftover crispy, crumbled bacon.  Or you could use your creativity using other enhancements.

Next time I’ll top my bokchoy with roasted garlic chips!

Got Green Mangoes? Will Have Pickle And Salad

IMG_1785I could eat sweet, ripe mangoes anytime. What is there not to like about them?  But I know that some folks are not as keen on earning unripe green mangoes, especially if they don’t have a clue on what to do with them.

Green mangoes are quite popular in the Philippines. They’re available almost everywhere, including from sidewalk vendors who well them peeled, sliced and partnered with baboon (fermented fish sauce).

In homes and specialty restaurants, green mangoes are served as appetizers or salad, especially as a companion to fried or barbecued fish and meat.

I recently received  about half a dozen green mangoes as a gift so I decided to make two things out of them: a pickled appetizer and a fresh salad.  As for the rest of the mangoes, maybe, just maybe, I’ll leave alone to ripen.

Pickled

INGREDIENTS

Two green, unripe mangoes, peeled and julienned

4 tsps brown sugar

1 1/2 tsps salt

1 Thai chilly

DIRECTIONS

In a medium bowl, combine mangoes, sugar and salt and toss.  Place them in a jar along with the Thai chilly.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (Liquid will form from sugar and mangoes.)

Salad

INGREDIENTS

Two green, unripe mangoes, grated (with liquid squeezed out and discarded)

1 large onion, sliced

1 large tomato, cubed

1 Thai chilly, chopped

1 tbsp bagoong (fermented fish sauce)

DIRECTIONS

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and toss well.  Cover and let chill in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, transfer to a small plate or saucer and top with the bagoong.

Fern Friday Salad

IMG_1683.JPGDon’t be misled. The only reason I named this recipe as such is because where I currently am in Baguio City, Philippines, Fiddlehead ferns are only available in the public market on Fridays.

But this is simply a fresh fiddlehead fern salad, known locally as pako.

This is not the same as just fiddlehead, the curly top of the fern plant which is a delicacy in countries like Canada.

This salad uses more of the leaves rather than the fiddleheads.

I’ve been craving for this salad since I first tasted it at a gourmet restaurant in Manila.  Since then, I promised myself to make it in my kitchen, if I could find a source for the fresh ingredient.

Well, I did find a source.  You can bet I’ll be having this every Friday!

INGREDIENTS

One bunch, Fiddlehead fern leaves

1 medium onion, sliced

2 tomatoes, sliced

1/2 cup white vinegar

1 tsp Olive oil

1 tbsp brown sugar

A dash of ground black pepper

1 red, salted egg, sliced in half

DIRECTIONS

Separate the fern leaves and fiddleheads from the stem.  Discard the stems. Thoroughly wash the fern leaves.  Blanch and drain.

In a small bowl, mix vinegar, sugar and black pepper and set aside.

In a serving bowl, combine fern leaves, onion, tomatoes and Olive oil. Toss.

Pour the vinegar dressing over the salad mixture.  Toss one more time.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

When ready to serve, top with the salted egg slices.

Rosemary Gizzards And Potatoes

IMG_1580.JPGIf you like chicken gizzards and are not bothered by their texture, there are several great ways to enjoy them. You can cook them — adobo-style — along with chicken liver.  You can also fry them breaded as done Southern style.

Lately, I’ve been enjoying fried or baked Rosemary chicken, so I thought I’d try cooking the gizzards in a similar way.  And while at it, why not add some baby potatoes?

INGREDIENTS

1 lb chicken gizzards, cleaned and thoroughly washed

1 cup baby potatoes, scrubbed and thoroughly washed

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1 tbsp dried Rosemary

2 tbsps fish sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup sliced green onions

1/4 cup cheese melt

3 pcs dried basil leaves

Water for boiling

DIRECTIONS

Place chicken gizzards in a pot and pour water up to fully submerge them. Add basil leaves and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil and continue cooking until the gizzards are tender (about 60 minutes.)  Add fish sauce during the last 15 minutes of cooking.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In the same pot, boil the baby potatoes until half-cooked.  Remove from heat, and slice them in half.

In large pan, heat butter or margarine. Add boiled gizzards and dried Rosemary.  Stir-fry until the gizzards turn light brown. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add in the potatoes and fry until nicely browned and tender. Remove from heat.

To serve, place the gizzards and potatoes over a bed of blanched spinach or your favorite greens. Top with green onions and cheese melt while still warm.

Sisig Potatoes

 

IMG_1442Sisig is a very popular appetizer in the Philippines, usually consisting of chopped pig ears, snout and tongue, pork belly and liver, grilled then cooked in vinegar, soy sauce and spices and enhanced with either pig’s brain or mayonnaise. It is best served sizzling.

This dish is a two-step process, unless you already have some leftover sisig.  First you have to cook the sisig, then complete the process by cooking the potatoes before mixing them together. It is similar to sisig (French) fries sold at many fastfood restaurants, or the Canadian poutine.

I chose to use halved baby potatoes instead of the usual French fries.

SISIG

INGREDIENTS

1/2 lb. pig ears

1/2 lb. pig snout

1/2 lb. pork belly

1 large onion, minced

1 thumb fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

3 pcs. Thai chillies, chopped

3 pcs. dried basil

3 tbps soy sauce

2 tbsps vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

6 cups water

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

1/2 cup butter or margarine

DIRECTIONS

Boil the water in a large pan, adding salt, pepper and dried basil.  Add pig’s ears, snout and pork belly and simmer for an hour or until the meat is tender. Remove the boiled ingredients from the pan and drain. Grill the boiled pig ears, snout and pork belly until done.

Chop the meat into tiny squares.

In a wide pan, melt the butter . Add onions and cook until soft. the onions. Add ginger and cook for about a minute. Add the chopped meat and cook for 15 minutes. Add soy sauce, vinegar and chillies.  Mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add mayonnaise and mix well.

Remove from heat and set aside.

POTATOES

INGREDIENTS

10-15 baby potatoes (skin on) scrubbed and washed thoroughly, cut into halves

1 cup fresh basil, sliced into thin ribbons

1 tsp. , dried rosemary

Olive oil for frying

Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil and add potatoes.  Add half the basil. Add rosemary. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Continue to cook until the potatoes are tender.  When potatoes are done, add the remaining basil.  Turn off heat.

FINAL PREP

In a serving bowl or platter, place the cooked potatoes.  Top the potatoes with sisig and garnish with green onions.

The (Almost) Perfect Kilaweng Kambing: Boil, Grill, Marinate

IMG_1210

Goat  is said to be the healthier of meats — healthier than pork or beef. It is rich in Vitamin B with less saturated fat. So if you’re a meat eater and are on a diet,  consider goat as an option.

Kilaweng Kambing is one of the more popular ways of preparing goat meat. “Kilawen” basically means “raw,” but not to worry, you’ll not be eating raw goat meat.

It’s like ceviche, but with some additional process.  First, you boil the goat meat to make it tender.  Then you grill it before cutting it up and marinating it in vinegar (or lime juice) mixed with onions, ginger, chillies and other spices.

Being from Baguio City where it’s easy to find prepared Kilaweng Kambing, I could just head out to Slaughter House or other restaurants and food stalls that sell it.  But nothing gives me the excitement and pleasure of making my own, home-made, almost perfect, Kilaweng Kambing!

INGREDIENTS

1 kilo (2.2 lbs) goat meat and liver, thoroughly washed

1 large onion, peeled and chopped

1 thumb ginger, peeled and minced

1 green or red chilli pepper, thinly sliced

3 tbsps vinegar

4 pcs. dried basil leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

6 cups water

DIRECTIONS

Boil water.  Add basil leaves and goat meat and cook for 60 minutes or until meat is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add goat liver during the last 10 minutes of boiling. Remove from heat, drain and slice meat and liver into thin strips (reserve liquid for soup).

In a mixing bowl, add sliced goat meat and liver, onions, ginger and chilli pepper. Add vinegar and more salt and pepper as needed.

Serve in room temperature or chilled.