Category: Food Blog & Review

Tuyo – [Genus Sardinella]

Tuyo, photo by PH Morton

Tuyo – [Genus Sardinella]

Tuyo and eggs, photo by Bess Mercado

Times had changed, it certainly had.

Once upon a time, tuyo is food for the poor.  And many a television dramas had been made of poor families often grumbling about having tuyo again for every breakfast.  Only the poor ate it, tuyo was very inexpensive then.

These dramas influenced me.  There was a time when I would have fainted if my mother had offered to feed me tuyo when I was in my teens.  🙂 🙂 🙂 LOL

She remembered that time too, because when I went back home after so many years living in London, I requested fried tuyo with sinagag (garlic fried rice) for breakfast.

“Since when do you eat tuyo?” my mother asked me.

“he he he … from now!”

And I made good of that statement.  For some reason, I missed tuyo whilst in London.

Almost everyday of a month-long stay in the Philippines, I had fried tuyo for breakfast.  I just love it.

Apparently tuyo had cross-over the social divide in the Philippines.  Even the elite had taken to dining on tuyo, perhaps better presented in a silver platter! 🙂

Tuyo has a very distinctive smell.  It is rather pungent.  If you are frying it, the whole neighourhood would know! If you were the cook, you would smell of it and if you had eaten it, well you have to brush your teeth thoroughly.

Tuyo are sardines which are salted and dried.

It is so easy to cook it.  Just fry both sides until crispy.

Best eaten with runny fried eggs and tonnes of fried rice.

Sarap.

Ginataang Kuhol (Escargot in Coconut Milk)

Escargot in Coconut Milk, Photo by Rosie Reyes-Barrera

Ginataang Kuhol (Escargot in Coconut Milk)

I love and miss eating snails!  That doesn’t sound right!  That sounded too full-on with too much yucky factor 🙂 .  I think I would call it with the more exotic French word for snail, escargot, instead.

When I was a young girl living in Marag, we used to eat a lot of escargots, which are called bisukol in Ilocano `(and kuhol in Tagalog).

My memories of bisukol (escargot) is deeply embedded into my happy family nostalgia.  Eating these little critters bring back memories of strong family bonding.

In our province of Marag in Kalinga-Apayao, Philippines, dining with bisukol involves both hand and arms actions.  To prepare the bisukol, prior to cooking, get a fairly heavy ladle or metal spoon and tap to break the bottom of each snail.  This will allow the snail flesh to come out easily.  And the most fun way of eating a bisukol is to pick one up with your right hand ensuring that the snail opening is facing down onto your plate, then banging your right wrist into your slightly extended left wrist a la Psy Gangnam Style (the horsey bit) until the snail meat comes out and drops on your plate.  It was very satisfying watching everyone doing the arm action at the dining table.  LOL

In the West, every paraphernalia seems to be available for most food, exotic or otherwise.  Like with escargot, when eaten in fine restaurant, you will get a snail tong (like the ones with Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman) and a two-prong snail fork.

Snail fork or arms action, escargot is exotically delicious!  Below is a very satisfying recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs escargot (kuhol)
  • 3 cups coconut milk
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoon ginger, cut into fine strips
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp shrimp paste (1½ tbsp fish sauce)
  • 2 green long chilli pepper
  • Kangkong leaves (Swamp cabbage/ water spinach), cut and trimmed into manageable size for comfortable dining 😉
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Cooking procedure:
  1. Tap each of the snails’ bottom to break, then wash the escargot thoroughly, removing all the grits.  Did you know if you live in the UK, those pesky snails in your garden are edible.  According to Gordon Ramsey,  intrepid gourmets can go to the garden to gather up the snails. As an added bonus, these wild garden snails taste far better than those which are farmed.  However you cannot just put garden snails directly to the pot and eat them.  There are steps to be taken first for health, taste and safety reasons.  First leave the snails watered but without food for two days to get rid of any toxin they might have ingested.  On the third day, give them carrots; watch their droppings.  If they start to poop orange substance, wash them again and put them in a sealed container into your fridge.  when they are soporific, they are ready to cook.  Thank goodness you can get snails, which have been purge and ready to cook.
  2. Heat up the cooking oil in a large pan or better yet a wok (kawali),
  3. Saute the garlic, onion  and ginger.
  4. Drop in the escargots followed by the coconut milk.
  5. Bring to a boil and then lower down the heat and continue to simmer until the coconut milk turns slightly creamy.
  6. Stir in the shrimp paste or fish sauce.
  7.  Add the Long chilli peppers and Kangkong ( water spinach) and simmer for 5 minutes.
  8. Check and adjust the seasoning by adding more fish sauce or salt and pepper if needed.
  9. Serve with freshly boiled or steamed rice.  Arm wrestle your way to a delicious escargot.  It is fun.

Oysters in Half Shell with Mignonette Sauce

 

Oysters, photo by JMorton

Oysters in Half Shell with Mignonette Sauce

Peter and I had a lovely time shopping and dining at Fortnum & Mason.  We can greatly recommend Fortnum & Mason’s The Wine Bar as a great venue for freshly shucked oysters.  See above photos.  It is fine dining at its best!

Ingredients:

6-12 oysters , 3-6 oysters each
lemon juice

For the Mignonette Sauce

  • ⅔ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced shallot
  • 2 teaspoons, freshly ground black pepper

Make up the sauce by combining the vinegar, shallot and black pepper together in a clear glass and refrigerate to chill for at least an hour.

The preparation of this delicious recipe was from Jamie Oliver’s Recipe blog. Jamie gave a detailed description on how to choose, clean and prepare oysters, which can apparently be difficult if proper tools are not used. 🙂

Method

Oysters are probably the best-known aphrodisiac and, although they aren’t everybody’s cup of tea, I love them! They’re available year-round, but the best time to eat them is in the depths of winter when the ocean is icy cold and they are plump and juicy. British oysters are fantastic and great value. There are two main types available – rock oysters and native oysters. Both of these would make a great starter to a romantic dinner.

When you buy them, make sure that they are tightly closed and heavy in the hand. Ideally, oysters should be straight out of the sea when you eat them. Give them a rinse in cold water before you start preparing them – this can be tricky so please be very careful!

To open them, you’ll need an oyster knife which is short, thick and quite blunt. Do not use a normal kitchen knife! It’s dangerous and you’ll probably snap the tip of the knife off. A screwdriver is probably a better bet if you don’t have an oyster knife.

Hold the oyster curved-side down on a chopping board with a folded kitchen cloth between the shell and your hand. This is to help you get a good grip and protect your hand.

Look for the hinge between the top shell and the bottom shell, and poke the knife tip into the crack. You need to push quite hard and work it in there but eventually you should be able to prise the top shell off. It’s not always that easy so it might be a good idea to try a few before dinner to get the hang of it. Wear an apron too in case you get a bit dirty.

When you get the oyster open, throw away the top shell. If there is any seawater in the bottom shell with the oyster, try and keep it in there. Pick out any fragments of shell and place the oyster on a plate with a mound of rock salt or crushed ice in the middle.

Season it however you like, then tip that lovely fresh oyster into your mouth!

Bonoo Indian Tapas Restaurant Review

Bonoo Indian Tapas Restaurant Review

We spent a very delicious if rather expensive Valentine’s Day at Bonoo Indian Tapas Restaurant, which is quite local to us.

The food were appetising, tasted really freshly made.  I particularly liked the various flavoured crispy naan and poppadoms presented in a nice dainty bamboo/wooden basket.  They came with four kinds of chutney/dips: mango, cucumber, plum and pineapple?!!!

The Aloo Pakora was enjoyed by all. The crisply deep-fried sweet potatoes shreds in butter was divine.

We had the tandoori mix, which was quite good but I prepared the Masala Lamb chops as it was really tasty that I had to prised every bit of meat from the bone, yummy.

The Jalfrezi, Masala, matar and pulao rice were cut above the take-out from other restaurants.

We also had the Rogan Josh, though very expensively tasty, the lamb was rather chewy with bits of bones that you have to delicately spit out. 🙂

The service was very good, very attentive and friendly staff.

The restaurant was packed compared to other restaurants in the area.  Childshill boasts a number of excellent eateries, perfect for meal dates.

Though the final bill was on the high side, it did not contain a service charge.  It is up to you how much tip to leave.  I think that was nice, instead of having 10-15% presumptuously added to your bill when service was below par.

Tocilog – Filipino Breakfast

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Tocilog, iphone photo by JMorton

Tocilog – Filipino Breakfast

 

Breakfast in the Philippines is an important meal.  It is really a necessary meal to keep you fully functioning during the day. 🙂

Filipinos love to dine.   It is a raison d’etre.  Three major meals a day, plus merienda (snacks in between meals)  There are also days when midnight snacks are called for.

The breakfast meals can be one of the following where a new word had been especially created to make diner order their breakfast quickly and precisely.

Tocilog is a combination of the starting letters from the main ingredients from the menu. Tocilog is of course tocino and itlog (egg) and fried rice

Longsilog is from longganisa – a Filipino sausage,  itlog and rice.

Tapsilog is from beef tapa, egg and rice.

Spamsilog is of course from spam, egg and rice.

Charcoal Grilled Tilapia

Tilapia, photo by PH Morton

Tilapia, photo by PH Morton

Charcoal Grilled Tilapia

I really find it very sad that tilapias have been having a bad press lately when in natural fact, they are one of the best tasting fish there is.

They are also very versatile, they can be cooked with just a bit of ginger and a few tablespoons of vinegar or can be fried, and be made into fish balls, etc.

Whilst growing up in Marag, where we had a farm,  tilapias used to grow naturally along the dykes that run in between our rice-field.

At lunch time we would go and catch them by hand or with the help of a rattan woven like a net.  After cleanign and de-scaling the fish, the would then be pushed into a bamboo skewer and set over an open fire to grill.

We then have a delicious lunch with boiled rice.  We also have a home-made sauce made from small amount of water, a dash of salt and a few siling labuyo (bird’s eye chili).

 

Apples In Vinegar

Apples in vinegar, Photo by JMorton

Apples in vinegar, Photo by JMorton

Apples In Vinegar

30 years in London has not taken the Filipino out of me, especially when it comes to food.  Despite a diversity of food collection and selection widely available in the UK, I remain having a taste for fruits soaked or dipped in the most sour vinegar, mansanas sa suka. 🙂  It is probably my Ilocano blood or Tagalog as well. 😉

While I love it so much, when I asked Peter to taste it, he said it was ok, unusual combination of vinegar and fruits (sweet and sour) but not really his cup of tea.  He is more of a custard or cream man.  I supposed it is really an acquired taste.

Nevermind 🙂 more for me, I say! LOL

However, when our dear seven year old grandson visited this week, he declared that he wanted sour tasting apple slices and was happy to tuck in when I made him some. He is showing his inherited Filipino taste buds. 🙂

Anyway, I have been eating our apples from our garden.  For me, this is the perfect time, just before the apples are ready for the picking.  Apples in September are still halfway to being really sweet, they have that little sour taste to them and they are rock-hard, which is perfect for ultimate crispness.

To prepare my apple in vinegar, I chop two apples and drizzle them generously with cider or red wine vinegar (malt vinegar is good as well).  Sprinkle them with a bit of salt (mind the blood pressure!).  Give it a good stir, ensuring that the vinegar gets into all the apple pieces.  Leave to soak of a few minutes while turning on the telly for another dose of Korean drama.

Heaven is here on earth! 🙂