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!

Tinolang Tahong (Ginger-based Mussel Soup)

IMG_2288For the rare times that I’d prepare mussel soup while I was in California, my limited options would include buying pre-packaged mussels from the frozen section of Costco and the supermarkets.  Even those I bought directly from the “fresh food section” could have been — in all likelihood — previously frozen.

So it always delights me to be able to prepare this popular Filipino dish using fresh mussels from Baguio City’s (Phlippines) public market.  Sure, they may have been brought up from the coastal waters of nearby La Union, but still I know that they’re fresher than the ones I buy in California.

Tinola is basically an onion and ginger-based soup and is often prepared with chicken (Tinolang manok).

INGREDIENTS

1 lb. mussels (tahong), thoroughly cleaned

2cups spinach (or kangkong)

2 thumbs ginger, peeled and julienned

1 medium yellow onion, sliced

4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

3 cups water

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsps, Olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Heat Olive oil in a large pot.  Add garlic and saute until golden brown.  Add onions and cook for one minute. Add ginger and mussels and saute for another minute.  Pour in water and let boil.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Continue cooking for about 10 minutes. Turn off heat and add the spinach or kangkong. (The remaining heat will cook the spinach).  Serve warm.

 

Curry Chicken

IMG_1856.PNGNothing beats the aroma and after taste of curry, but it’s also the flavor penetrating the meat and other ingredients that makes this dish so delightful and mouth-watering. Combined with potatoes, carrots and coconut milk, curried chicken is to die for.  What a difference this spice makes!

INGREDIENTS

1 lb chicken drumsticks and breasts

1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into bite-sized pieces

8-10 baby potatoes, peeled

1 large white onion, sliced

2 medium tomatoes, quartered

1 1/2 cups coconut milk

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tsps curry powder

1/2 cup chopped green onions (optional)

2 tbsps Olive oil

DIRECTIONS

In a large pan, heat Olive oil.  Add onions and tomatoes and Coke for about two minutes. Add curry powder and mix well.  Add chicken pieces, making sure they’re well coated in the curry mix. Add carrots and potatoes.  Stir for about two minutes.  Add in coconut milk and let boil.  Reduce to a simmer and continue cooking until the chicken pieces are cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat and transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with green onions.

 

Callos a la Madrileña

IMG_1748.JPGCallos is a stew common across Spain, and is considered traditional to Madrid where it is referred to as Callos a la Madrileña. It contains ox tripe and chickpeas, blood sausage and bell peppers. Chorizo sausage may also be used.

It is one of the Spanish dishes that have been adopted widely in the Philippines.

For my version of this recipe, I skipped the chickpeas because it is on the list of prohibited food for someone in our household.  Instead, I used unsalted peanuts.  Works as well for me!  I also added raisins to add a little sweetness to the dish.

INGREDIENTS

1 lb ox tripe, cleaned

1 cup unsalted peanuts

1 1/2 cups tomato sauce

1 pc chorizo de Bilbao, sliced

1 large bell pepper, sliced into bite-sized squares

1 medium onion, sliced

1 small carrot, cubed

1/2 tsp whole peppercorn

2 cups water

Salt and pepper to taste

3 pcs dried basil leaves

1/2 cup raisins

2 tbsps Olive oil

DIRECTIONS

In a casserole, bring water to a boil.  Add onion, whole peppercorn, basil leaves and tripe.  Simmer until the tripe is tender.

Remove tripe from casserole and let it cool for a few minutes before slicing it into bite-sized strips.  Reserve stock.

In a large wok, heat Olive oil.  Add chorizos and cook for about 6-8 minutes.  Add tomato sauce and bring to a boil.  Add the tripe and 1 1/2 cups of the reserved stock.  Add salt and pepper to taste.Let simmer for 15 minutes.

Add carrots and bell pepper.  Simmer for 10 minutes. Add raisins and peanuts.

Remove from heat and serve warm.

 

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.

A Soupy, Spicy Spinach Laing

IMG_1389

When one thinks of laing, what immediately comes to mind is that spicy, coconutty delicacy from the Philippines’ Bicol region. It’s basically a stew of gabi (taro) leaves cooked in coconut milk, shrimp paste and other spices.  It usually includes pork slices.

But when taro is not available, one can always use similar leaves like kangkong (water spinach) or alugbati (Malabar spinach) which is what I did for this recipe.

Because I love coconut milk, I made my spinach laing soupy which is a departure from the usually drier recipe.

INGREDIENTS

3 cups kangkong leaves, washed

3 cups alugbati, washed

1 can, coconut milk

1/2 cup, cubed pork belly

3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

1 small red onion, peeled and sliced

1 thumb, ginger, peeled and chopped

3 pcs. Thai chillies, thinly sliced

1 tbsp shrimp paste

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tbsp Olive oil

DIRECTIONS

In a large pan, heat Olive oil. Add garlic, ginger and onion and cook for two minutes. Add pork belly and stir-fry until nicely browned. Add coconut milk and bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat and add shrimp paste and Thai chillies. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add kangkong and alugbati leaves and cook until wilted.  Remove from heat and serve warm with steamed rice.