March 27, 2011


Here's a common scene in the house that has probably been making our helpers cringe.

I welcome Totoy giddily from work, "Guess what's for dinner?"

He sniffs 3 times and guesses. It doesn't matter if he's right or wrong; I run to the kitchen to get the masterpiece of the night. This usually happens when I cook something he likes that I've never cooked before or when I cook something I know he's been craving for.

"Knock! Knock!", my voice from the kitchen.

"Who's there?" he'd say. My husband is always ready to answer my knock-knocks.

"Hopya." I start walking at this point.

"Hopya, who?"

"Here. HOPYA LIKE IT!" I say as I put down the dish on the table. I carefully watch the pacing of my walk to achieve that perfect timing.

Here's a dish that was once a part of that scene. I hopya like it too!

(inspired by Hap Chan's Chop Suey)

Prepare the following vegetables to blanch:
  • about 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 1/2 cups snow peas (chicharo)
  • 1 big chayote
  • 2 cups baby corn
  • 1 cup carrots
  • 1 1/2 cups green (Baguio) beans
  • half head cabbage
For the sauce, premix the ff to a slurry:
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 chicken cube, dissolved on 2 tbsp hot water
  • 1/2 cup rice wine
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. light soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. patis
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch
and these: 
  • 2 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. minced ginger
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 chopped big white onion
  • 2 chopped red bell peppers
  • 1 big can button mushrooms
 For garnish:
  • 2 doz. boiled quail eggs
  • sesame oil
  • cilantro
1. Boil salted water and blanch the vegetables. You can do it in batches according to which vegetables you want to make more tender. Limit the cooking time per batch to 1 to 5 minutes only to avoid overcooking. Drain and set aside.

2. Stir fry ginger, garlic, onion and bell pepper on sesame oil until aromatic. Add the mushrooms, then the slurry. Bring to a boil while stirring constantly until the sauce thickens.

3. Add the vegetables and stir until heated thourougly. Serve with quail eggs, top with few cilantro sprigs and drizzle with sesame oil.

  Hopya! :)

March 24, 2011

Fish Tempura


This fish recipe brings to mind my memories of a little boy who once lived with us. His name was RJ. His mother, Mercy, was our helper. No one could look after him if his mother were to continue working for us at that time, so we told Mercy she could bring him along. We thought it would benefit everyone if she did. Work and shelter for them, househelp for us and a play buddy for Choychoy.

Choychoy seemed to like RJ, but RJ didn't like him back. Mainly it had to do with him and Choychoy accidentally bumping against each other on their very first play session. RJ ended up being thrown a good 4 feet across the room. Imagine a small car colliding with something big, say, the planet Jupiter. No one's fault, really, just simple physics at work, but the incident traumatized RJ a great deal. He would react to Choychoy's every move as though it were life threatening. It didn’t help that RJ weighed only about as much as all of Choychoy's toes combined. My poor baby worked his way around RJ as gently as he could but RJ would run like hell for the nearest exit every time he found himself in the same room as my son.

Diyos ko, iligtas nyo po ako...
Choychoy was the biggest boy he had ever seen, RJ said, and he couldn't believe how a boy his age could be as strong as a bull. (Honestly, we couldn't believe it, either.) Needless to say, the play buddy plan didn't work out.

There was one thing that RJ couldn't stay away from, though. It was my Fish Tempura. He just couldn't get enough of them. Ate it like Chippy, actually.

The day RJ and his mom bid us goodbye, I served up a Fish Tempura that (along with his memories of a giant playmate) he will never forget.

..... Looking back now, I think the only logical way I could have gotten him to play with my boy was if Choychoy was wearing a string of Fish Tempura around his neck. :)


1. First, prepare your boneless fillet. I use Cream Dory (Pangasius) which you can easily get at any supermarket's frozen section. Slice them into strips and season with salt and pepper. Put in freezer first while you prepare the batter. You can also start heating a pot of vegetable oil at this point, for deeep frying.


2. Mix the following dry ingredients in a bowl:
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. baking soda 
3. In another bowl, beat an egg and an extra egg white slightly, then add a cup of ice water. Again, that's:
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup ice water
4. Put the egg mixture in the bowl of dry ingredients. Stir very slightly, even leaving some portions unmixed. Mixing it will produce gluten and will fail you to achieve that lacy, bubbly texture on your tempura.

5. Put the bowl of batter in a bigger bowl of ice cubes. This is to ensure the fish batter is very, very cold when you drop them in a pot of very, vey hot oil.

6. Put all the cold fish in the lumpy batter. Fold to cover the fish just before dropping it on the very hot oil. Watch it sizzle into a light and lacy Tempura. Fry for about 6 minutes and serve with Tentsuyu.

Dipping Sauce (Tentsuyu):

Put the following ingredients in a pan and cook under low heat until sugar is melted. The original recipe calls for dashi soup stock instead of water but this surprisingly turned out delicious.
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1/4 cup Kikkoman soy sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp sugar

March 19, 2011

March 10, 2011

Looong Weekend

I looove long weekends! I really, really do. The sun shines.... parang brighter. The air smells.... parang fresher. For some reason, even when you lack sleep, you wake up early; long drives look more appealing than lounging around the house all day watching Barney. Parang... ang kati sa paa!

Luckily, Totoy often feels the same, and such was the case this weekend. We found ourselves all packed and seated in the car before we even knew where we were heading.  

Then off we went, in a dazzling place we never knew; where there was no one to tell us no or where to go. The gasoline boy told us though, "Wala hong Jolibee rine"....... Say we're only dreaming!

It turned out we weren't. San Guillermo didn't have Jolibee and we were hungry. And then we saw it, shining, shimmering, splendid!
Angel Hamburger. Ok na din, 'buy one, take one' pa.

Yes, it did feel like a Whole New World out there, (umn, in case you still don't get it?) and the trip was turning out exactly how we wanted it. We did get an itty-bitty more of what we were asking for though, when finally the road signs were leading us to a finally familiar town, Tagaytay. This back door to the city turned out to offer the most doglegs and the steepest trails you can imagine.

But we survived. Needless to say, among the countless trips to this nearest yet coolest of getaways, that route gave us the most fun, memorable and thrilling Tagaytay journey, ever.

The day continued to favor us with perfect weather. Our little boy got to see several things for the first time.

Every minute spelled FUN.

Then it was time to head back home. In keeping with the day's theme of unplanned adventure, dear husband chose to take the untried route, Imus.  

No more sharp bends or scary slopes. Somewhere near Bacoor, however, a magnificent sight had the domestic diva in me commanding the vehicle to a screeching halt:  heaps of fresh Tahong  on a sidewalk table glistening beautifully under a lamp.

Perfect, I thought to myself, this long weekend has just begun.


Here are the ingredients you need to make this luscious dish:
  • 3 kg. tahong (mahirap na, baka mabitin)
  • 1 1/2 cup melted salted butter (3 sticks or 1 1/2 brick dito satin)
  • 1/3 cup finely pounded garlic
  • 1 to 2 cups grated quick-melt processed cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped parseley
  • lemon, for serving
1. Clean the mussels in running water. Remove the "beard" by pulling it towards the hinge side of the tahong. You can sometimes buy them still with those nasty barnacles attached; remove them with a knife.

2. Boil a pot of water and put in the tahong. Ready your tongs or ladle because you just want to open the shells and not really cook them. Remove each tahong as soon as they open. The toughest to open could take about 15 minutes.

3. Let cool and remove the top shell.

4. Lay them out in baking trays.

5. Melt the butter. Pound the garlic to a paste and mix in the butter. Put at least half a teaspoon of the mixture on each tahong.

6. Top with grated cheese and parseley.

7. Put in the oven, preheated to 375° F or 190 ° C. Bake for about 10 minutes. Note that an overcooked tahong shrinks and gets tough. Asteeeg, hehehe.. (RPG hangover)

8. Serve with lemon.

The long weekend did not end here, of course; but this blog post has to - with a promise that Part II or even Part III will follow in the days to come.
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