Category Archives: Random Cooking

Easy Garlic Fried Rice


One of our current staples in home cooking is fried rice. Garlic fried rice, to be specific. It’s The Man’s favorite kind of fried rice, and it’s so easy that I never really tire of making it. Here is how I do it.

  1. Prep your old rice by taking it out of the fridge and having it go to almost room temperature. Cooking cold rice will just make the process much longer.
  2. Take a whole bulb of garlic (yes that’s how we roll!). Peel the cloves, wash the cloves briefly, then dice them. It’s your choice if you like finely diced garlic or just roughly diced.
  3. Heat about a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in your nonstick pan.
  4. Fry the garlic in the olive oil until it starts turning brown.
  5. Put in your old rice. For this much garlic I can use about two to three cups of old cooked rice.
  6. Use a spatula (or two, I like to double-wield) to break down the rice until the grains separate and gets coated by oil and garlic. Be generous with your tossing around of the rice and garlic, to make an even mix. If you are using cold rice this can take a while.
  7. Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper according to taste. I like to put only a shake or two of each, just to get a bit of flavor in. I don’t want to overwhelm the taste of the garlic.
  8. It’s hard to say when it’s done as I just eyeball it. Basically once the rice grains are separated and looks like it had a turn at the bottom of the pan, I stop cooking.

The whole process shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes, unless you take a long time peeling and dicing the garlic. Take it off the heat and serve immediately. We usually serve this with smoked bangus or tocino, maybe a side of fried egg, and a tomato-and-patis salad.

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Posted by on August 17, 2013 in Random Cooking


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Maggi Magic Meals Chicken Pastel

One of my staple baon viands recently is Chicken Pastel, made so easy because of Maggi Magic Meals. I discovered this when Maggi was giving out samples at my work place. The idea of the Magic Meals is simple: put the required ingredients in the provided plastic bag, tie it shut, place it in the rice cooker along with your prepared rice and water, and cook it for 45 minutes. Let me show you how I did this Chicken Pastel.

This is what the Magic Meal pack looks like. As you can see, I bought it at Hi-Top for Php32.85.


It has two sections. The top section contains the special food-grade plastic that will hold the ingredients. The bottom section contains the flavoring powder that will transform those ingredients into chicken pastel. At the back you will see very detailed instructions. (Click the images for a larger version.)

magicmeals2 magicmeals3

I’ll now show you the steps I took to create my latest batch of chicken pastel.

1. Prepare your ingredients. Here I took a largish carrot and a medium potato, which I peeled and diced. I also have half a kilo of chicken thigh fillets, which I cut into small parts and scored the meat sections three times each to let the flavor in. I chose thigh fillets because it’s boneless (making it easier to eat when I take it to work) and more flavorful than say, breast fillets. This batch is extra fatty, which contributed to a creamier pastel later on.


2. Open up the provided plastic bag. It has a red sticker that keeps it folded. I take the effort to remove all traces of this sticker to make sure I won’t have sticker bits or glue in my rice. Put all the ingredients in the bag, then add the flavoring powder (bottom section) and 1/4 cup of water.


3. Seal the bag, making sure that the bag will lie flat and there isn’t much air inside.


4. Place the bag inside the rice cooker, making sure that most of the bag is submerged in the water. I usually cook two cups of rice here, so there will be enough water to accommodate the magic meal bag. Turn on the rice cooker. Usually the rice will finish cooking faster than the 45 minutes required for the magic meal. What I do is to just set the rice cooker to warm (so as not to burn the rice) to keep the cooking of the magic meal going. I turn off the rice cooker at exactly 45 minutes.


5. The chicken pastel is ready to serve! Cut open the bag and slide out the cooked pastel. Be careful here because the bag is probably very hot.


This batch will probably give me about two to three sets of baon. I just spoon it over the rice and seal my bento, and it reheats pretty nicely in the microwave. I will probably keep on using this kind of chicken, because it really made the pastel creamy and decadent.

Maggi has three other kinds of Magic Meals: Lechon Paksiw, Bicol Express, and Afritada. I’ve tried the first two, and Chicken Pastel remains my favorite.

Have you tried Magic Meals? Which one did you like best?

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Posted by on August 14, 2013 in Random Cooking


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Couple of chicken fillet experiments

So I got some time to cook last week, and I’ve been hankering to try some baked/roast chicken recipes. Unfortunately I only had skinless chicken thigh fillets at the moment, so I decided on these two.

First up, garlic-and-sugar roasted chicken fillets from I like how easy it sounded, and it didn’t seem very odd to substitute thigh fillets for the breast fillets. I used about half the recipe, so 2 tbs of brown sugar and 2 garlic cloves, for about 4 thigh fillets (I thought 2 thigh fillets is equivalent to 1 breast fillet). Here’s what came out:

It came out surprisingly juicy, and one can clearly taste the sugar in it. Unfortunately, there may have been too much sugar. Chicken should probably not be that sweet. I will try variations of this recipe until I get the right mix.

The second dish is bacon-wrapped chicken rolls, from Allrecipes this time. I had a pack of Earle’s bacon to try out, and this seemed like a perfect dish. I used three of the largest thigh fillets I had. Unfortunately I didn’t have a meat mallet, so I made do with a flat cheese grater! Of course it didn’t really do too much and the fillets didn’t really become any flatter. I also didn’t have any fresh herbs, so I just used my dried herbs (sage, thyme, and basil). I rolled the herbs and chopped garlic into the fillets, wrapped a bacon slice around each, and secured with a toothpick. Here’s how it looked:

As there were only three rolls, and the other baking dish I had was much too big, I decided to roast some vegetables along with the bacon-chicken rolls. I chopped up some potatoes, carrots, and an onion, sprinkled a generous amount of olive oil on them, and topped with salt, pepper, and a bit of dried rosemary. Here’s a picture of the roast veggies along with the bacon-chicken rolls.

All I can say is, damn it was good! The chicken was juicy and the bacon went really well with it. Perhaps the two things I would change for the next time is a bit less herbs (since after all, I was using dried!) and maybe a longer baking time (I baked it for only 45 minutes).

I love cooking. 😀

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Posted by on November 25, 2012 in Random Cooking


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Salmon Teriyaki

After a long hiatus, finally I was able to find the time to cook! I wanted to surprise The Man with a special dinner, and what a great timing to have found this interesting teriyaki salmon recipe from Budget Bytes! I especially liked this recipe because it had a sriracha-mayo sauce. I adore sriracha!

I didn’t really change anything with the recipe, so go ahead and check out the original recipe. Perhaps the only thing worth mentioning is that I used two 250g packs of Norwegian Salmon (bought from SM Hypermarket at North) and I marinaded it for about an hour. The slabs weren’t very thick, so when I was cooking the sides they kept tipping over. Here’s a picture of the finished product, with the sauce.

As you can see, the top two slabs were kind of burnt, but in actuality they’re pretty good. It didn’t taste at all burnt, but rather the teriyaki sauce caramelized on the salmon so it was pretty sweet. These were the first two slabs I cooked, the bottom ones were the last and ended up slightly rare. Here’s a close up of the salmon.

There were some leftover marinade left, so I decided to throw them in a pan to reduce a bit more into a sauce. I also cooked a batch of Seth’s sopas as a side dish, which I thought went pretty well with the teriyaki.

Overall I think this is a pretty nice and easy dish to prepare. The only drawback is that the salmon is not really cheap, around Php200 ($4.80) for each 250g pack, so this cannot be prepared on a regular basis if one is saving money. On the other hand, we had a whole slab left over (from the four slabs prepared), so theoretically this dish can feed maybe four adults and a child more than sufficiently.

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Posted by on September 21, 2012 in Random Cooking


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Vegetable curry

It’s my first time making curry, and I decided it shall be a vegetable curry. I made it using Golden curry mix (Japanese brand), since in my opinion Japanese curry is the best one to try for a first timer.

I had a bit of vegetables that are nearing the end of their edible lifespan: a big carrot, three small potatoes, and a very large onion. I chopped them into bite size pieces. The instructions on the packet of curry mix said to saute the vegetables for a bit, then add enough water to cover. I did so, sauteing first the onion, then added the potatoes and carrot. I put in a tallish glass of water, then left it to stew. It seemed like there weren’t enough of the vegetables, so I added a large can of whole tomatoes. It took about 15-20 minutes of stewing before the carrots were soft enough.

At this point, the next instruction was to drop in the curry roux. There were two packets of roux in the box of curry mix I bought. I put in the contents of one of the packets, and almost immediately I thought that there were too much roux. I let the roux dissolve a bit into the water, and it did turn out to be too thick. Another glass of water went into the pot, and it gave me my desired curry consistency. I didn’t add any herbs or even salt and pepper, since the box said that the roux already has all required herbs and spices.

A taste during lunch, and I knew I found the curry I was looking for. It tasted pretty much like the curry I once ordered in Yamazaki in Little Tokyo. The bonus from this whole experiment is that I get to eat the entire pot as none in my household would eat curry. Did you know that curry is a great baon as well? Check it out:

Pardon me, I just wanted to share a picture of my favorite bento box.


Posted by on May 26, 2012 in Random Cooking


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My first foray into cooking fish

First, a little back story. My parents recently received a bunch of seafood from an old family friend who is based in Palawan. One of the things they received was a huge whole fish, which my dad thinks is probably deepsea fish because it had little or no scales. It was about 1.5-2 feet in length, and about 3 kg in weight. Now my mom is currently out on vacation, and would not be able to cook this fish for my dad. Naturally she assigned me the task of making this fish edible.

Since it would be mostly my dad who will be eating this fish, frying it would be out of question since he cannot eat very oily food. Baking would have been an option, except that their house does not have a working oven. The only methods left are steaming or stewing, and for whole fish it is probably better to go the way of the steam. I have never cooked fish prior to this since I’ve never learned the proper way to buy fish. It’s off to the internet for resources.

I found two recipes from Casa Veneracion that seemed interesting: Steamed Fish with Oyster Sauce and Spicy Steamed Fish (which incidentally also had oyster sauce). Since I had a huge fish, I figured I could do both if I cut the fish in half. That’s what I proceeded to do. With the help from my dad, who gutted the fish (it’s his first time gutting a fish too!) and sawed it in half, and my brother, who sliced up some of the vegetables, I proceeded to cook two versions of steamed fish using my mom’s shiny new steamer. I had to adjust since the recipes instructed to steam using the oven. Essentially, I steamed the two halves of the fish at the same time since there are two levels to the steamer. I put the spicy one at the bottom and the non spicy one at the top so that the non spicy one will remain not spicy. I also lined the two levels with aluminum foil to prevent the juices from spilling. I started counting the minutes once I saw steam coming out of the exhaust hole in the lid, and I let the fish steam for about 20 minutes.

Here’s the non-spicy half (tail part):

And here’s the spicy half (head part):

Not bad, if I say so myself. The only thing I wanted to improve on was the spicy half, since it wasn’t really spicy enough to be noticed. We ended up just slathering more chili garlic sauce on our fish as we ate it. On the whole, I was just very relieved that it came out edible and not a disaster.

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Posted by on May 7, 2012 in Blog, Random Cooking


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Peppercrab Stew!

One of the recipe sites I follow is Inn at the Crossroads. Not only does it have a great recipe listing, it also discusses medieval recipes. And as a huge bonus, it’s a site dedicated to the dishes in George R.R. Martin’s  A Song of Ice and Fire series. How awesome is that??

I had been eyeing one of their recipes for some time, the Peppercrab Stew. I love spicy stuff, and I love crabs! Unfortunately, I have a fatal allergy with crabs (yes, fatal). Fortunately, the recipe allows substitution using crabsticks, which I can safely eat. Once I had gathered all the necessary ingredients, I tried out the recipe. I used up an entire 250g pack of crabstick, 3 cups of dashi stock, and a huge chopped up finger chili. I kept to the prescribed 1/4 cup dried wakame and 1 small chopped onion. I used preground black pepper to season the crabsticks. When I was in the simmering stage, I felt like I did not have enough liquid, so I put in another cup of water (I ran out of stock).

How did it turn out? Pretty awesome! I can clearly taste the finger chili, and the black pepper was infused into the crabstick strands. I did feel like there were still too much crabstick compared to the rest of the ingredients. My husband liked the dish too (and he’s not really a huge fan of soup) and suggested adding thin japanese noodles to the soup (probably soumen) which I will be trying the next time I make this.

I even tried it as baon (see photo above)  just to see how it can stand the test of reheating. It performed pretty well, and tasted as if it was freshly cooked. It went really well with rice, and I felt myself craving more of the stew. Here’s a close up of the stew.


Posted by on April 4, 2012 in Random Cooking


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