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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.

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2012 in Random Cooking

 

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Lunch at home: Japanese!

Where have I been? There’s been an upgrade in my status at work recently, and I have been very busy with adjusting and keeping up with the tasks that naturally my hobbies are the first to go. Including cooking. I’ve been able to catch up though, and perhaps I can go back to this hobby which is dear to me.

What I’m excited about is my purchase of umeboshi. I’ve been looking for this for a long time, and I was finally able to eat some at a Japanese restaurant at Little Tokyo in Makati. Of course I immediately wanted to buy some, to make into onigiri. I was able to find it in a Japanese grocery also at Little Tokyo. At first I only saw the big jars, which costs Php560 each, but I doubted that I can finish such a huge amount even though I really like ume. Luckily, there were smaller jars which costs only Php140. Here’s my beloved jar, along with a bottle of soy sesame dressing (Php150?).

Today was my chance to make onigiri, and I decided to make a themed lunch out of it. I made ume onigiri for myself, spicy tuna onigiri for The Man, some takuan, and an egg drop soup with wakame seaweed.

Bits of the spicy tuna onigiri kinda fell apart a little at the plating. The spicy tuna is from a can of 555 Hot and Spicy tuna. There were quite a bit of it, and the left overs are in that small red square bowl at the bottom. Here’s a close up of the not-yet-wrapped-with-nori ume onigiri, which of course at this stage is not distinguishable from the spicy tuna onigiri.

The takuan came from a long solid piece that I bought from Landmark Supermarket. It costs about Php200+, but it’s a pretty big piece so this will last a long time. You only ever eat so many slices at a time anyway. Here I used three slices halved, served with a small dipping sauce of Kikkoman soy sauce.

Lastly, I made an egg drop soup made from this gem.

It’s really pretty easy to prepare. Just boil two cups of water, pour in the whole packet, and simmer for about a few minutes until all the powder has dissolved. Then I slowly poured in a lightly beaten egg while stirring the soup, to make the egg come out in strands. As a last minute inspiration, I decided to drop in about three pinches of dried wakame seaweed (bought from the Japanese grocery, Php 140 a small pack). It re-hydrated pretty well in the hot soup. After removing from heat, I put in a half teaspoon of sesame oil for added flavor.

Not bad for a homemade lunch!

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2012 in Blog

 

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Week 27 of 52: French Onion Soup

Oh yes, you read that right. I have finally achieved the craving I’ve been having for the longest time: French Onion Soup! I think I started craving for it around February or March, and I have been looking for restaurants that serve it but it has all been in vain. I didn’t really dare try it at home because of the length of time the onions will spend sweating and cooking, and that’d produce a lot of smoke. Finally today, I was able to try it at my mom’s place (which has better ventilation). The recipe comes from one of the funniest food bloggers I follow, SoupAddict.

I made a lot of changes to the recipe. I didn’t have any white wine, so I used sake instead. I also used cornstarch dissolved in a bit of water instead of flour; omitted the brandy; used mozzarella and toasted loaf bread sliced into squares; and used an oven toaster to melt the cheese, instead of a full oven. The glazing time of the onions was also reduced to about an hour because they were getting a bit burnt already.

To be brutally honest, I wasn’t expecting a lot from this experiment. Primarily because I felt I deviated too much from the original recipe, and that some of the onion bits were really dark and almost black. The taste of the sake was also a bit strong when it was on the simmering soup stage. I plunged on ahead and completed the recipe.

My mom and I bravely took our first spoonful. And we were floored! It was awesome! Creamy with cheese and the toasted bread soaked up the soup, it felt like we were eating a high class dish. I highly recommend trying this at least once in your life. Trust me, it’s worth all that trouble. Amazing.

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2011 in 52-Week Challenge 2011

 

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Sopas!

The Philippine term sopas refers to a soupy dish that usually has chicken or pork components, as well as some sort of macaroni or short pasta. When I was a kid, I’m usually served sopas whenever I’m sick.  It -is- some sort of chicken soup, and in general I am very fond of soup.

I’ve been meaning to share this recipe for sometime now, but it always seems to slip my mind. And it’s not because I’ve not been making this. Quite the opposite, in fact! This recipe is very versatile, easy to make, and relatively quick, and it makes a perfect baon too!

Just a bit of introduction: I got this recipe from my friend and coworker Seth, who has developed this over the years by trying out different variations and component brands. Now perfected, it became her trademark dish and is always in demand among her friends. I got permission to share it on my blog so you can try it out too.

Seth’s Sopas

serves 3-4

  • 1 cup ground chicken (or any ground meat), or chopped hotdogs, or corned beef, or any combination thereof
  • 1-1.5 cups uncooked macaroni
  • 1 470-ml can (large) evaporated milk, preferrably Angel’s brand
  • 1 large white onion, diced finely
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 2 pcs bouillon cubes, preferrably pork
  • 1 medium carrot, diced (optional)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cabbage (optional)
  • 1-2 cups chicken broth (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

This batch has: (big plate) onions, carrots, potatoes, enoki mushrooms; (small plate) chicken hotdogs, garlic, sliced chicken thigh fillet

1. Saute garlic in a little oil until golden brown. Immediately add the onions. Saute until onions are a little limp.

2. Add the meat, uncooked macaroni, and any optional vegetables. Melt one bouillon cube in the oil, and toss to coat everything with the melted cube.

3. Add the chicken broth if using, otherwise just add enough water to cover everything. Bring to boil and simmer until the macaroni and meat are cooked and the liquid is mostly evaporated.

4. Slowly pour in the evaporated milk. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly and turn off heat.

Here I used homemade vegetable stock and a pack of cute colorful vegetable bowtie pasta.

Recipe notes:

– The original recipe actually called for boiling chicken parts until the flesh is soft enough to pull off the bones. The chicken flesh is shredded before being added to the pot, and the water used to boil becomes the broth to be used in the sopas. I almost never did this except the first time I tried the recipe because it uses up so much time. I find that pre-ground supermarket chicken is a good substitute, and I use any broth I have on hand.

– Leftover sopas keeps well in the fridge for around a week. I haven’t tried freezing this.

– I usually cook up a batch on my rest day, pack in 1 serving-sized containers, and throw them all in the fridge. I just grab a container for baon for the day (I usually have separate containers for rice or side dishes). It’s great as baon food, especially if there’s microwave at work.

– There is a lot of room for variety here. As you can see, I threw in some enoki mushrooms I had lurking in the fridge and it was a great addition! You can add almost any vegetables, a combination of diced/ground meat, fresh or reconstituted dried mushrooms, probably even tofu (I haven’t tried this). You can even go as minimal as you want! I once tried a pure-veggie sopas, and it was still as satisfying.

– Why Angel’s brand? I have been told to use that, and it does taste better than if I use other brands. Perhaps it’s sweeter? Try it and find out for yourself!

I managed to eat three small bowlfuls of this batch of sopas I made.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Week 4 of 52: Mediterranean Vegetable Soup

I wanted to take a break from desserts for a while. I decided I wanted to go back to food that would go well in a bento. In my default bento reference site, JustBento, I found an intriguing recipe for Mediterranean veggie soup concentrate. I said, why not? It seemed like a good idea because 1) I like soup! 2) it promises to store well when frozen and 3) it’s on JustBento.

The first thing that hit me was that it’s going to be using things that I don’t normally use: parsley, celery, tomato paste.. It even listed fennel, but I didn’t even bother looking for that. The second thing was that most of the effort on this dish was going to be in the chopping of the vegetables. I suppose if one had a food processor of some sort it’d be much easier. I had to rely only on my good old knife. The third thing was that this isn’t a fast dish at all. The reduction of the mixture would take some time, and it did. This is a dish that needs to be prepared way ahead of time.

It took me most of the morning to finish the soup. I tried a serving for lunch that same day. A serving, according to the recipe, would consist of 2 tablespoons of the veggie mixture plus a mug of hot water. Here’s the 2 tbs of mixture in a bowl:

Adding a mug of hot water give me this:

Very watery soup, tbh. I think a mug of soup is too much for just 2 tbs of veggie mixture. I added a tablespoon more mixture to balance it out a bit. What about the taste, you ask? It’s very interesting! I haven’t had this kind of taste before. The flavor of the parsley (or was it the celery?) is strong throughout the soup, but you can taste the rest of the vegetables. It’s certainly very healthy, and will conveniently give me a dose of veggies AND soup whenever I have baon. I’ll put in less water though, since I do want to keep the serving size to just 2 tbs.

To store the soup mix, there are two recommended ways. One is to freeze 2-tbs servings in a cling wrap, then put those in a freezer-safe zip lock bag. Here’s how it looks like when packed in cling wrap (not yet frozen):

Kind of weird, actually. But hey, it works. I took one for baon yesterday, put it in a small deep container, and by lunch it was already defrosted. I just added some hot water (I didn’t fill the entire container) and it was delicious! The other packing suggestion is to freeze cubes of it using an ice-cube tray. Unfortunately, my biggest ice-cube tray could only fit 1 tbs of the mixture, so I’ll have to remember to bring two cubes for my baon. Here’s how it looks like, already frozen and out of the tray:

Now that’s more like it! It’s definitely more attractive than a shapeless blob in cling wrap. Not to mention, it’s also environment-friendly since you don’t have to use all that plastic. I’ll be on the hunt for a larger tray so I can put in 2 tbs per cube.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2011 in 52-Week Challenge 2011

 

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