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!

 

Advertisements

Three Crabs and Rice

The good news is I have more of my mom’s recipes that I thought.  The “bad” news?  I am becoming more compulsive in finding more…  And worse…  The more I find, the more I want to make, cook, and bake everything!

The first dish that I wanted to make was her Crab Rice… but as always, I want to do things my way!  So, while her dish is steamed for an hour in a steamer, mine is cooked in my rice cooker!!! I like the convenience of a dump-everything recipe.

I also varied the recipe somewhat… because I could not find live mud crabs, but I had crab meat from blue crabs, talangka (Asian shore crab) and soft shell crab!  Why, you may ask, do I have those???  Well… it seems that I bought them at one time or another and they kinda got stuck in freezer.  By “stuck” I mean it got relegated to the bottom and it only surfaced when the freezer broke and we had take everything out!

So, this dish is based on my mom’s recipe but it is uniquely mine too!

(Note – using 3 kinds of crabs is a bit complicated. The easier way to do it is to simply use 3 to 4 pieces of crab, live mud crabs to be specific.)

1-1/2 cup rice (I use “young” denorado variety)

100 to 150 grams liempo (pork belly strip), sliced into matchsticks, optional
6 pieces (small) soft-shell crabs, rinsed and patted dry
200 grams talangka, cleaned
1/4 to 1/2 cup crab meat
8 pieces dried black mushrooms, rehydrated, reserve soaking liquid

several slices of ginger
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 small violet/red onion, minced

1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 to 2 tablespoons reserved mushroom soaking liquid
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

3 cups cold water, more or less depending on the variety of rice used

flour for dredging soft shell crabs

leeks or spring onions for garnish

Place the cold water in the rice cooker pot.  Set aside for the meantime.

Saute half the ginger, garlic and onions.  Add the crab meat; stir lightly to break up the meat but not so much – leave the mix chunky.  Add the rice grains and stir lightly, just so the rice grains are coated in oil.  Pour this mixture in the rice cooker.  Put the rehydrated mushrooms in the rice cooker pot as well.

Saute the remaining ginger, garlic and onions.  Add the sliced pork belly and stir fry a couple of minutes.  Add the talangka and seasonings.  Cook a couple of minutes then dump the mixture in the rice cooker.  Give a quick gentle stir to mix everything.  Switch on the rice cooker and cook.

Meanwhile, dredge the soft shell crabs in flour.  Then, fry it until it is cooked.  Drain on paper towels.  Set aside until the rice cooker finishes cooking.

When the rice is done, put the fried soft shell crabs on top.  Garnish with leeks then serve!

If using a single variety of crab,  get about 3 to 4 pieces of crab.  Parboil the already clean crabs until partially cooked.  Lift the crabs out, reserve the liquid left behind.  Leave one crab whole, and chop the rest into smaller pieces.  There will be more liquid coming from the crabs, save it as well.

Put everything in the rice cooker except the whole crab.  Don’t forget to put in the crab liquids.  Give a quick stir to mix everything up.  Switch on the rice cooker.

Halfway through, put the whole crab in.  Cover and continue cooking until done.

Garnish with leeks or spring onions and serve!

Note about the pork – go ahead and skip it.  I find that it interferes with the overall dish!

Final note – my mom’s recipe specifies glutinous rice but I had none and used our usual denorado instead.

Seafood Pasta Paella

Sometime ago I was given a largish packet of saffron. I knew it was expensive so I used it sparingly. Until the other day when I saw that its expiration date was drawing near. It would have been more wasteful if I just left it to expire, so I set about to cook with it!

My first project? Paella of course!!! But not with rice, with pasta!

I planned to serve this to “the boys” – hubby’s friends who come to the house twice a month or so.  They were polite enough to rave and gush at my cooking!

*smile*

400 grams spaghetti

2 tablespoons hot water
large pinch of saffron

1/4 cup olive oil
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 head of garlic, smashed and minced
4 large tomatoes, sliced into large dice

4 pieces small crab
6 pieces large shrimp
4 pieces large mussels

1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
chili flakes, to taste

5 to 6 cups of fish stock or water

Get 2 pots ready on the stove – one for the spaghetti (with salted water) and the other for the paella (I took out my paella pan!!!)  Start the water boiling for the spaghetti and heat the paella pan.  Meanwhile, steep the saffron in the hot water.

When the paella pan is hot, quick fry the bell pepper; remove when it is almost done.  Toss in the garlic, onion and tomatoes.  Stir-fry several minutes.  Add the saffron and the infused water.

(At this point, check the other pot, the water should be boiling, in which case, throw the spaghetti in and cook until halfway done, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.)

Add the crab, then remove when almost done.  Add the shrimp and the spices (paprika, bay leaves, salt and pepper and chili flakes, to taste.  Add about 4 cups of fish stock.  When the mixture simmers, add the half-cooked spaghetti and cook until almost done.  Towards the end of cooking, add the mussels and crab.  Add stock or water as necessary.  Season to taste.  Do not over-cook!

Before serving, arrange the seafood decoratively on top of the pasta.

Scallops and Peppers

This is fast and easy dish, and it IS delicious!

Just how easy is it?  Well, it’s as simple as throwing sliced bell peppers (and some sliced onions) in the hot wok and then throwing in the scallops.  All that’s left is splashing in some rice wine, salt and pepper.  That’s it!

It is ready in… 15? 20? minutes!

Scallops and Mushrooms on Yellow and Red Peppers

This dish is a hubby-wifey compromise.  Hubby loves bell peppers and I love scallops and mushrooms.  The bonus is that it cooks up in a few minutes!

300 grams shelled Chinese scallops

1 large yellow bell pepper
1 large red bell pepper

200 grams white Shimenji mushrooms

1 large thumb-sized ginger, smashed and chopped (skin off)
sea salt
oyster sauce
shao xing wine

Clean the Chinese scallops with some sea salt and rinse; drain fully.  Marinate in 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce.  (personally I use the lower limit and adjust later.  this is because various brands have slight nuances in saltiness etc.)

Clean and dry the bell peppers.  Remove the top and seeds, then slice into squarish or diamond-shaped pieces.  (meanwhile, start heating the wok with about 1 tablespoon of peanut oil (or canola oil).

Cut the ends of the mushrooms; rinse and dry them.

When the wok and oil is (very) hot, put in the bell peppers and stir fry a few seconds.  Sprinkle in a large pinch of sea salt.  Stir the peppers around, and remove from the pan using a slotted spoon to a serving dish.

In the same pan, sauté half the ginger then add the mushrooms.  Add 1 teaspoon of oyster sauce and stir fry several seconds.  After a couple of minutes add the rest of the ginger and the Chinese scallops.  Splash some shao xing wine (about 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoon/s) and stir fry until the scallops are just about done (about a minute or two, depending on the size of the scallops, bigger ones take a bit longer to cook).  Adjust seasonings as desired.  Do not overcook the scallops otherwise they will be tough.

Using a slotted spoon, place the scallops and mushrooms over the bell peppers.

Reduce the liquid in the wok to about half (as preferred) then pour over the dish.  Serve immediately.

 

Abalone and Scallop Nest

For special occasions, I break out the special stuff.

The occasion I’m talking about this time was hubby’s birthday… not a special numbered birthday, but for me any birthday of his a special day!

For this dish, because the ingredients are stars by themselves, no special recipe is required.  What is crucial, however, is a good (and I do mean a REALLY GOOD) can of abalone!  Of course, fresh scallops and properly prepared bamboo shoots are important too, but these 2 ingredients can be substituted with any other seafood and vegetable.  The abalone (and its sauce) is the true star of the dish.

Drain and reserve the sauce from the canned abalone.  Sauté the bamboo shoots (cleaned, sliced, boiled and drained).  Pour in a little of the abalone sauce.  Stir-fry until the shoots and coated.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bamboo shoots to a serving dish.

In the same pan, sauté the scallops with a little more of the abalone sauce until the scallops are almost done.  Again with a slotted spoon, transfer the scallops to the serving dish, mounding the scallops in the middle of the dish.

In the same pan, pour in all of the abalone sauce and heat until it boils gently.  Add the abalone and heat through (do not over-do it or the scallops will become tough).  Using a pair of tongs, transfer the abalone to the serving plate, arranging them decoratively in a circle.

Pour the heated abalone sauce all over the dish and splash with a few drops of black sesame oil.

Enjoy while it is hot!

 

Chili Tahong Scrambled Eggs

Leftovers are inevitable.  Most of the time we just eat it the next meal. Once in a while though, a remake is a good idea!  The easiest, and fastest, by far is an omelette (or scrambled eggs).  Besides, it is hubby’s favorite for breakfast!

Tahong Omelette 2

The recipe –

2 eggs
2 tablespoons mussel broth
salt and pepper, to taste
chili flakes and/chili oil
12 to 18 pieces of mussel meat

Mix together eggs and broth (or plain water) until combined.  Season with salt and pepper, as preferred.

Heat oil in a small, non-stick pan.  Sauté the chili flakes (or oil) the pour in the egg mixture.  Push cooked edges of the egg into the center, letting the uncooked center slide out to the sides.  Keep pushing the cooked portions into the center until almost cooked (still wet though).

Add the mussel meat and swirl lightly.  Serve immediately.

 

 

Halabos na Tahong

To be honest, I am not fully certain what halabos is as a cooking technique.  But what I’ve been taught by our kusinera (home cook) a good 25 to 30 years ago is that it is a “cross” between steaming and boiling.  How is this so?  Well, a very small amount of water or stock is used to cook the dish (usually seafood, especially shrimps).  The dish would be cooked largely by the steam generated by the water or stock.  (I hope that made sense because I don’t really know how to explain it…)

But to demonstrate it, here is halabos na tahong (mussels).

The recipe –

1 kilo tahong (mussels)
4 to 5 thin slices of ginger
4 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 small onion, sliced
1 medium tomato, sliced thinly
1 to 2 cups water
salt to taste
1 to 2 pieces finger chili
handful of dahon ng sili (pepper leaves)

Wash the tahong well and remove any dirt and “hair”.  Drain.

Sauté the ginger, garlic and onions.  Add the tomatoes.  Stir fry a couple of minutes then add in the mussels.  Pour in the water and cover the pan.  When the water starts to boil, throw in the finger chili and sili leaves.  Season with salt, to taste.  Stir occasionally.  When the mussels open, turn off the flame.  Do not over-cook.  If the water fully evaporates, add hot water in half cup increments.

The broth (what little of it is left, that is) is very tasty and I always exercise (what I call) cook’s privilege which means no one else gets the broth but me!  (hwa-hwa-hwa.)

*I like using a wok for this dish.  I find it easier to stir the mussels around so that they cook evenly.