Paella Negra

While mine was delicious, it did not look like the ones served in restaurants.  Those were really black while mine were, well, a bit brownish greyish…

And I used real squid ink too.  From about 700 grams of squid, I was able to get more than 1/2 cup of squid ink.  Perhaps I could get better results if I use commercial squid ink paste?  Then again, I don’t know where to get it!

The recipe –

1/4 cup olive oil, or more as may be needed
350g shrimps
700g squid, cleaned, sliced, black ink reserved

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion medium, finely diced
1 medium pimiento, sliced or diced
3 small tomatoes, diced
2 cups, approx 500g raw rice, rinsed
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup squid ink
1 1/2 cups fish or shrimp stock
1/4 cup hot water with a pinch of saffron

2 boiled eggs, sliced into wedges

lemon slices for serving

(In a paella pan) heat half the olive oil. Stir fry the shrimps and squid for a couple of minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add remaining oil in the pan and saute the garlic and onion until soft and translucent. Add the diced tomatoes and pimientos.

Add the rice and stir fry a couple of minutes. Add the white wine, squid ink, stock and hot water with saffron. Stir lightly then cover. Cook on low, low-medium for 20 minutes approximately, stirring occasionally. Check once in a while if more liquid is needed. Likewise, check the seasonings, if needed.

Mix in the shrimp and squid (top decoratively with a few, if desired) and cook another 5 minutes. Garnish with boiled egg slices. Serve with lemon wedges.

Advertisements

Sabaw Itim

When my brothers and I were kids, we called this dish “Sabaw Itim”, literally Black Soup.  To our very young minds, we called it as we saw it – soup because it was so liquid-y and black because it was so dark in color.

sabaw_itim_02

It’s actually chicken braised in soy sauce with mushrooms and boiled eggs.

It was a real favorite and we had it at least once a month!  In those days, the dish was so much more soupier (after all we all wanted the soup/sauce on our rice!) and the chicken pieces were various cuts from 1 whole chicken.  These days, chicken is available by specific parts, and boneless, no less!  My favorite part?  boneless, skinless chicken thigh!

The recipe:

about 600 to 700 grams of boneless chicken thighs (about 8 to 10 pieces)

Marinade:

2 to 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/2 bulb garlic, smashed
a small thumb of ginger, sliced into matchsticks
2 to 3 pieces large bay leaves, crumbled
1 tablespoon mixed peppercorns
1/4 cup light soy sauce
dash of shao xing wine
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil

150 grams small fresh shitake, about 15 to 18 small pieces
(or 60 grams dried shitake, about 15 to 18 small pieces)
4 to 6 pieces boiled eggs

1/2 to 1 cup water (or mushroom soaking liquid, chicken stock)

Mix marinade ingredients together; set aside for a while.

Clean the chicken pieces and slice each piece into 2 or 3 pieces, depending on the size desired (remember that meat shrinks upon cooking so adjust accordingly).

Pour marinade over chicken and let stand for about 30 minutes.

sabaw_itim_03

Meanwhile, if using dried mushrooms, soak in warm water until softened; drain but keep the soaking liquid.  Cut the stems off the mushrooms (fresh or dried ones). Rinse lightly to remove dirt and grime, if there is any.

sabaw_itim_04

When we were younger, this dish was cooked on the stove-top in a clay pot; it was soupier too. The way I make this dish now is with the magic cooker and with a lot less liquid.

The traditional way:

Smash some more garlic and saute them over low fire until lightly browned and deliciously fragrant! Then dump the chicken pieces and all marinade into the pot. Throw the rehydrated mushrooms in too (IF using fresh mushrooms, add them after 15 minutes of simmering.) Add enough liquid to barely cover the chicken pieces; mix to combine everything. Cook on medium or medium low and simmer until done, about 30 minutes or so, depending on the size of chicken pieces (smaller pieces cook faster). Top up with more liquid if the sauce is reduced too much OR if a soupier dish is desired. About 5 minutes before putting off the stove fire, add the boiled eggs. Adjust seasonings to desired taste. Off fire, add a few more drops of sesame oil. Top with chopped leeks. Serve while hot!

The magic cooker way:

sabaw_itim_05

Just dump the chicken pieces and marinade into the inner pot. Throw in mushrooms and boiled eggs, too. Add 1/2 cup of liquid; mix gently to combine everything (and not mutilate the eggs). Adjust seasonings. Cook on medium or medium low and simmer for 10 minutes (start counting when liquid starts bubbling). Place inner pot inside the outer chamber of the magic cooker. Leave for 30 to 45 minutes. Just before serving, add a few more drops of sesame oil. Top with chopped leeks. Serve while hot!

DISH VARIATIONS – Use firm tofu instead of mushrooms, or use a variety of fresh mushrooms – shitake, button, Korean king oyster, straw, etc.

Or, use pork cubes or ribs instead of chicken.

00_sabaw itim

PERSONAL NOTES –

The soaking liquid of the dried mushrooms is very flavorful, but some find it too strong, in which case use only 1/4 of the soaking liquid and 1/4 cup or more of water or stock. Or omit the soaking liquid altogether.

If using dried mushrooms and their soaking liquid, the sauce of the dish will have a stronger, more pronounced flavor. If using fresh mushrooms, the dish has a more subtle, delicate flavor. It’s delicious either way. Using different kinds of fresh mushrooms gives more dimension to the dish.

The original recipe (from my mom’s files) has 1/2 tablespoon sugar as an ingredient in the marinade but I’ve always skipped it. Also, dark (and salty) soy sauce was traditionally used but I’m happy with my light soya sauce (and hubby is ok with it as well) which is less salty and does not impart a dark brown (almost black) color.

 

Cashew Chicken

A dear friend gave me some cashews.  Now, I could sit and eat the whole bag but my body would not appreciate it so hello Cashew Chicken!!!

I didn’t follow a recipe from a book for this dish.  Instead I tried to recall how my mother made it a lo-o–ong time ago.

As I remembered it, it started with boneless, skinless chicken cubes which were marinated with a bit of light soy and cornstarch.  The sliced ginger was sauteed in the wok, after which the chicken was dumped in to be stir fried.  (I added some leftover baby corn whilie I was at it.)  When the chicken is just about done, in goes the cashews for a bit more stir-frying.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Then IT IS DONE!!!  After garnishing with sliced chives or leeks, it was good and ready to eat!

Yummyyyyy!

Chilli Crab

Whenever we are lucky to have fresh, live crabs, my favorite dish to cook is crab sotanghon. But this time around, I asked hubby his preference and (I shouldn’t have asked since I know) he wants crabs very spicy, Singaporean style.

For this particular dish, I used the recipe in this book…

found on page 19

As usual, I personalize the recipe so here is what I did –

1.2 kilograms of crab, about 3 pieces
oil, for stir-frying
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 thumb fresh ginger, minced
1 small onion, minced
1 to 2 siling labuyo, minced (small chilis)
1 to 2 cups stock (chicken, shrimp or fish)
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
1/4 cup tomato ketchup
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons cornstarch slurry
1 egg, beaten
handful of wansoy
spring onions

To prepare the crab, heat some water with ginger slices and parboil the crabs until they are no longer moving.  Scrub the shells clean then chop into serving pieces.  Set aside.

Saute the garlic, ginger, onion and chilis.  Add the crab pieces and the stock, sweet chili sauce, ketchup and rice wine.  Simmer about 10 minutes, or until the crabs are cooked.  Do not over-cook!  Season with salt and pepper, as per individual taste.  Thicken the dish with cornstarch slurry.  Drizzle in the beaten egg and sir gently until egg is set.

Serve hot.  Garnish with wansoy and spring onions.

It was really spicy but delicious!  Perfect with hot steaming rice!

Hubby’s picture posted on his FB page –

He knows that flattery (ehem, compliment daw) will get him everything!!!

*smile*

Pizza Night!!!

The kid can be a picky eater, but when it’s pizza time… all she wants is CHEESE!

She will (and does!) pick all other ingredients and put them aside!

Soooo….

Because I was feeling a bit lazy and because the kid kept asking for it, we had pizza night.  For her… cheese pizza.  For me… Hawaiian!

The best pizza crust recipe (for me) is the Olive Oil Dough from Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in 5 minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.  But I halve the recipe since I don’t have a container that’s big enough.

1-3/4 cups lukewarm water
1/8 cup olive oil
1/2 tablespoon instant yeast
1/2 tablespoon Himalayan pink salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3-3/4 cups bread flour

Just stir everything together and then leave it at room temperature for a couple of hours.  Then stick it in the fridge overnight.  The next day, pinch off some dough and roll out as thin (or thick) as you like.  We like ours super-thin, about 9-1/2 inches in diameter.  (Then again, an off-the-shelf frozen pizza crust works just as well, too.)

Put some fresh diced tomatoes (or by all means use the ones from a can, just remember to drain them… or go ahead and spread on some ready made pizza sauce, that’s fine too!) then pile on the cheese!  In our case we already had cheddar, parmesan, and toast cheese so we just had to get some mozzarella (I saw an all-in-one pack of shredded pizza cheese and was so tempted to buy it; and I’m sure I would have if we didn’t already have other cheeses at home!)

Anyway, bake the pizza at the highest setting (as possible – ours was about 475*F) of the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes… then enjoy!!!

(for the Hawaiian just put sliced ham and pineapple chunks!)

 

 

 

Japanese-style Chicken Curry

Curry is no stranger to our table, but we usually have the Thai kind, and our usual local variety… but this time I wanted to try Japanese-style – a thick, sweet-ish curry.

I decided to follow the recipe for the curry base here, from scratch with only 5 ingredients!!!

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

First make a roux – melt the butter then add the flour.  Stir and cook over low heat until the roux is browned.  add the other ingredients.  Set aside while the curry dish is cooked.

400 grams boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into serving pieces (cleaned and patted dry)
4 ginger slices
2 cloves garlic
1 small onion, sliced
2 potatoes, cubed
3 to 4 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup curry roux
2 tablespoons sweetened applesauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 small red bell pepper, cubed

Saute the ginger, garlic and onions until soft.  Add the chicken and stir fry a couple of minutes.  Add the cubed potatoes. Add about 1 cup of the chicken stock; set the heat on low.

Add about a cup of chicken stock to the curry roux, to loosen it a bit and then put it into the pot. Stir to dissolve and mix everything; add remaining stock and applesauce. Let simmer until the chicken and vegetables are cooked through. Add the cubed bell peppers last (to keep them crunchy) Season with salt and pepper.

Serve hot over rice!!!

 

Bola Bola Soup

Bola is our word for “ball”, so literally, bola bola is 2 balls.  But what it really means is any kind of “meat” balls… so it could refer to meat, fish, chicken, beef, squid, mushroom, etc.

The bola bola that I knew consisted of 2 kinds – the fried one and the processed one that was usually floating in chicken soup!  It was a bowl of comfort!

The simplest kind is the one with fish or chicken stock and fish balls, with chopped spring onions as garnish.  The more elaborate ones have shredded chicken, noodles, pechay, sometimes even mushrooms, and several kinds of balls.

The first thing I always do is boil chicken breast with onions, salt and ginger ti make the stock.  The stock is strained of impurities and the chicken is shredded and put back into the stock.  The stock then is reboiled and the balls are added.  When the balls float to the top, it is time to put in the pechay (wombok).  The soup is ready!

To take it one step further, the soup can be ladled into a bowl with parboiled egg noodles to make noodle soup!

 

Tofu and Mushrooms with XO Sauce

As I’ve said before, the secret to any good XO dish is the XO sauce!  If you have a good XO sauce (traditionally a scallop-based sauce, but other variants such as abalone has been available in the market), you can virtually mix and match any combination of ingredients!

Take this combination of tofu and mushrooms.  It is a standard in our kitchen since I always, always have mushrooms, and tofu is one of hubby’s and the kid’s favorites!

This is one of those recipes that really does not have specific measurements…

Always begin with a hot pan and the golden “trio” of garlic, ginger, and onion.  Saute until soft and fragrant.  Toss a heaping spoon of the XO sauce (use as little or as much as you like!) into the pass and stir fry until fragrant (trust me, the fragrance is divine!)  While optional, diced red bell peppers may also be added (it adds color as well as texture and flavor).

Throw in the mushrooms (use whichever ones you like – my personal favorites are shitake, enoki, and the Korean king oyster) and stir fry several minutes until the mushrooms are cooked.  De-glaze the pan with some rice wine and a splash of oyster sauce and sweet soya sauce.  Add a little water if you like a saucy dish.  Then add the sliced tofu (my favorite shape is the cube).  Adjust the seasonings according to personal taste.  Cook until the tofu is heated through and then thicken the dish with cornstarch slurry.  Garnish with sliced leeks.

It’s super delicious on top of steamed rice!

 

Super Easy Lobster Rice

Truth be told, this is a super cheat recipe…

Why?

Well, first of all, I couldn’t afford lobster!!!!  So the cheat part of the recipe is that I used the “doggy bag” that hubby brought home the other day (he had a business dinner at a [very very] posh restaurant).  One of the guests requested lobster and there were leftovers…

The super easy part is using the rice cooker!  Place 2 (rice cooker) cups, rinsed clear beforehad, in the rice cooker.  Mix the leftover lobster dish (which was cooked in garlic) with the appropriate amount of water and pour into the rice cooker, then switch on the rice cooker.

When the cooking is done, fluff up the rice with lobster pieces and serve!

How easy is that?????

Best part is how yummy it was!  The rice was infused with lobster goodness!

 

Mommy’s Marinara

My mother is a recipe hoarder.  Me?  I definitely got it from her… I also hoard recipes, cookbooks, etc. etc.  These days my cooking/baking list grows even longer since I’ve added her recipes to mine!

There is one recipe, however, that is NOT written anywhere.

A long time ago (when I was just past my teenage years, in fact), I went through a stage where I abhorred meat sauce for pasta.  I was lamenting about it that particular day when she said (paraphrasing here) “what’s your problem? it is so easy to make simple spaghetti sauce!”

She then goes on and dictates “the recipe” (again, paraphrasing here)-

Sauté 4 cloves garlic (smashed) and 1 small onion (minced).  Add a pinch of chili flakes, then pour a (big) can of stewed whole tomatoes in the pot.  Add a fistful of Italian seasoning and season to taste (large pinches of sugar, salt and pepper).  Lightly crush the tomatoes.  Simmer 15 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Use the time to cook the pasta, 1 medium pack (which later I found out to be 500grams spaghetti, more or less).  In the last few minutes of simmering the sauce, throw a fistful of grated parmesan in the pot.  Mix.  Done.

Then she continues to say that it is easy to vary and add flavor – add whatever it is before the tomatoes…

for meat sauce, stir fry ground meat (anywhere from 250 grams to 500 grams), add the tomatoes when the meat is browned

for veggie sauce, add diced peppers or pimientos, sliced mushrooms, diced zucchini, carrots, asparagus, eggplant, etc.  (if you want the veggies to stay crunchy, add in the last 10 minutes of simmering)

for seafood, add 1 small of anchovies and seafood as desired (just don’t over-do it!)

Later on, someone told me that this was basic marinara sauce.

I’ve used this formula for years!  And hubby loves it!  Any which way I make it! And I’ve made it with shrimps, meat, veggies, clams, mussels, crab, even with canned sardines!!!

But my absolute favorite is this mixed seafood!