Sukiyaki!

It is undeniable that sukiyaki is one of the most famous Japanese foods.  The usual is beef sukiyaki but since hubby doesn’t eat beef anymore, the one I made is with pork.

I keep thinking that sukiyaki is a complicated dish, because it looks that way when we order it at the Japanese restaurant.  It is definitely impressive, so when 2 of my best buds were coming over to have dinner, I wanted to impress!!!

Not that I haven’t tried to make sukiyaki before but it has not been 100% successful… but this time I think I’ve got the right mix.  I based my sukiyaki on the recipe in this book –

While I did follow the recipe to the letter, especially with regard to the ingredient list, I did think that the most important part of the recipe was the soup base – the sukiyaki sauce.

The difficulty I encountered with the previous recipes was that they all required dashi stock… from scratch.  While it is a good idea to make stuff from scratch, I really did not know where to get the ingredients!!!  What I looooove about this recipe is that it used “instant” dashi, which was available at the nearby Japanese specialty grocery!

As for the other ingredients, I used Chinese tofu, enoki, shitake mushrooms, button mushrooms, fish cake slices, Baguio pechay, sotanghon (vermicelli), pork sliced in sukuyaki-style,

As for the sukiyaki sauce, my perfect proportion is 1 part mirin, 2 parts Japanese soy sauce, and 3 to 4 parts water, with sugar to taste (I was actually ok with skipping it) and a couple of pinches of instant dashi granules (although truthfully I’ve also make it without and it was still ok!)

Now, I wanted a prettier presentation but my guests came earlier than expected so I did not manage to arrange the ingredients in organized areas… in the end everything got mish-mashed together… but what counts is that it is delicious, right?

RIGHT!!!

 

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Tortang Alimango

This is a simple dish, IF the crab meat has already been removed from the crabs!!!!

BTW, as opposed to the English language where the term crab encompasses everything, in our local language there are specific terms for crab – alimasag for the salt water blue crab, alimango for mud crabs, talangka for salt water shore crabs, katang for fresh water crabs.  We also have coconut crabs (dunno the local term for this one), and recently I’ve come across what was labelled “ocean crabs” whose shells are thick, and whose flavor in dishes is very pronounced but the crab itself has very little meat!  (got a couple of dishes made of these in future posts)

Anyway, the recipe for Tortang Alimango or Crabmeat Omelette is one that was given to me through oral instruction.  Any crab meat may be used and I have, on occasion, bought canned crab meat and frozen flaked crab meat to use.  Traditionally though, we collect the meat found in the “legs” because those tend to be discarded at the dinner table and it seemed a waste!

For every 3 pieces of egg, use about 1/2 cup crab meat.  For a family of 6, we use 6 eggs, which meant we had to collect 1 cup of crab meat – which is definitely NOT easy so if we were short on the crab meat we augmented with diced potatoes.  These days though, I use kani, or Japanese crab sticks (cut into smaller pieces of course) to augment…

Back to the recipe – sauté diced onions and tomatoes (should be proportionate to the size of the omelette) and add the crab meat, stir fry for several seconds.  Remove from the pan and let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Stir in the slightly cooled sautéed crab meat.  Pour into a heated, non-stick pan.  Cook until done (both sides).

Serve hot with ketchup!

 

Parmesan-crusted Sole

There were nice sole fillets in the market and I could not resist buying some. We usually just sauté fish fillets but I thought of using oven this particular time…

I don’t remember exactly which book I found the recipe from but it is definitely one of the ones in our library.  I copied it hurriedly in my small notebook but forgot to write the source…

about 500 grams sole fillets, cleaned and patted dry

1-1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1-3/4 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 tablespoons mayonnaise
fresh juice from 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
parsley flakes

Preheat oven to 375F.

Arrange the fillets in a baking dish; set aside.  Mix together – breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, butter, mayonnaise, lemon juice and seasonings.  Lightly spread over arranged fillets.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes then switch to broil; broil 3 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.

Serve immediately.

 

Pork Sinigang sa Batwan

Sinigang is a popular sour soup made with pork, beef, fish or seafood (mostly shrimp).  The usual souring agent is sampalok (tamarind), but other souring agents, such as kamias (bilimbi?), calamansi, even green (unripe) mango, can be used.  I’ve even heard of sinigang using bayabas (guava).

But in my mom’s hometown province, they use batwan!  What is batwan???? Mmmm, there’s a few articles of it online – just type batwan or batuan in Google.

I got lucky when A-te J brought some with her when she came back.

Even luckier when she cooked sinigang with it!!!

How is it used as a souring agent in sinigang?  Well, according to A-te J, just throw 5 to 10 pieces of batwan into the pot with all the other ingredients (half kilo pork, water, tomatoes, etc.) and let it boil until the batwan is soft, then lightly mash the batwan to bring out even more sourness…

We usually start by sautéing ginger and tomatoes then stirfrying (cleaned, rinsed) pork rib pieces.  Broth or water is added, as well as the batwan and gabi (taro) if using.  Let the pot boil and add the veggies as desired (sitaw, kangkong, puso ng saging, labanos, etc.).  When the batwan is soft, mash lightly and stir.  The soup will thicken slightly.  Adjust seasonings as desired.  Serve hot!

Seafood Congee

I actually made this dish twice, this week!!!

The first time was on Monday.  Hubby announced, at around 5pm, that a couple of his friends were coming over IN AN HOUR (!) and asked me to prepare something…

But there was nothing!!! there were frozen meat in the freezer but it would not even thaw in time!!!

Long story short, I took out one of the two frozen ocean crabs in the freezer and made congee with it, adding squid balls and some frozen shrimp to the mix, as well as century eggs and hard boiled eggs!

It was a hit!

So much so that I made another batch and sent it to my mom and to my father-in-law!

The recipe (using my magic cooker) –

Rinse about 1/2 cup of rice then place it in the inner pot.  Add about 4 to 5 cups of broth or water.  Place 1 medium to large-sized crab (cleaned and chopped) inside, as well as ginger slices and a whole onion (peeled).  Boil for 15 minutes then put the pot in the magic cooker chamber.

After 90 minutes or so, take out the inner pot and bring to a soft boil on the stove.  Add shrimps, chopped squid/octopus or whatever seafood you like to add.  Season to taste.  Stir until all ingredients are cooked and congee is thick and creamy.  Garnish with chopped green onions or leeks.  Serve with hard-boiled eggs.

(The second batch of congee for my mom and F-I-L were made with crab, shrimps, octopus, squid balls and abalone mushrooms.)

 

 

Crab Sotanghon

The usual crab sotanghon (mung bean noodle) that I cook (and that hubby likes) is a creamy, saucy concoction. This time, however, circumstances forced me to stray from the usual. The culprit? The absence of a crucial ingredient.

The result? A different, but still delicious, dish!

The recipe:

300 to 400 grams sotanghon, softened
1 kilo crabs, cut up (cleaned)
4 to 5 thin slices of ginger
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, sliced
350 grams ground pork
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1 liter chicken stock
2 egg whites, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon sesame oil
salt, pepper and chili flakes, to taste

Saute the ginger in hot oil.  Add onions and garlic.  Stir fry a few seconds and add the pork.  Stir fry until almost cooked.   Add the crabs and mix around a few seconds and season with oyster sauce and soy sauce.  Add the chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper (and chili flakes, if desired).  When the stock boils, add the sotanghon.  Swirl in the beaten egg whites.  Let simmer until the sauce is fully absorbed by the sotanghon. Toss with sesame oil (adjust seasonings, as needed). Serve hot.

Pork, Liver, Peppers and Onions

This is a dish that is especially for hubby.  Why?  Because he really likes liver, bell peppers, and onions!  The pork part is for me, because I don’t eat liver at all, bell peppers scarcely, and onions?  Only when they are “invisible” in the dish!!!

The dish is cooked in the the sequence of its name…

Saute thin slices of pork (usually kasim or shoulder part) until it is almost done.  The liver slices go next (sliced thicker than the pork).  Stirfry several seconds then add the bell pepper pieces.  Swirl the pieces in the pan then add the sliced onions.  It is important that the onion slices stay crisp, and the bell peppers not mushy.  Most important of all, the liver should not be overcooked.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Stewed Pork Leg

My mom has always been “revolutionary”… while all other parents encouraged their kids to eat fatty food (at least as far as my contemporaries have told me) my mom “trained” us by cutting out the fat in pork chops and adobo, trimming the fat from spare ribs and liempo, removing the fat from barbecue… even going as far as having no-skin fried chicken!  Needless to say, we were utterly ignorant of bacon, chicharon, crispy pata (pork leg) and similar stuff!  Our only exposure to “fat” was the yearly lechon at the office party at Christmas!

But my late father had 3 favorite foods – the pancit (noodles) from his hometown (the ones his mom made from scratch), adobo, and stewed pork leg… stewed pork leg which was usually swimming in fat, and hidden from my mom’s sights!

Well then, imagine my surprise when I found a recipe for stewed pork leg in my mom’s recipe files!!!!

Of course I had to make it!!!!  And, of course I bought pork leg slices which were the least fatty that I could find!!!!

Sorry, though, since I do not have my mom’s permission to share her recipes. But, the good news is that this dish is a winner!!! Everyone said so!!!

 

XO Shrimp and Mushroom Sotanghon

I’ve always said that the secret to a good XO dish is a good XO sauce!  Even if nothing else is added to the dish, it will be fantastic!

One of my mom’s favorites among the food I cook for her is this XO Sotanghon dish.  At its simplest, it is just 2 ingredients!  Saute the XO sauce (don’t skimp!), add broth (or even water) then the softened vermicelli noodles. When the noodles absorb the water/broth, it is done!!!

Of course it is made better with other ingredients such as shitake and shrimp or prawns.  Simply saute the mushrooms and the shrimp with the XO sauce and follow with water/broth and noodles… that’s it!!!

 

Chicken Chili and Tomato Rice Ring

This dish was inspired by a friend who, sadly, is no longer with us.  We were at her house, hanging out, and for dinner, she served this interesting fried rice ring with ground meat chilli, topped with fried bananas.  It was my first time to see such beautifully plated dish and it was delicious to boot!

My dish is a bit different in the sense that I did not want fried rice, then again, I did not want plain rice either.  Solution?  Rice cooked in the rice cooker but flavored with chopped tomatoes and using chicken stock instead of water to cook the rice.  After the rice is cooked, I placed it in a round silicone pan (with a hole in the middle like a bundt pan) and inverted it on a plate of chicken chilli.  Then lemon slices were placed on top as garnish.

This was served to hubby’s friends when they dropped by and they loved it!  They couldn’t believe that the rice was cooked in a rice cooker!!!