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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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!

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!

 

Szechuan-style Hot and Sour Soup

My mother made a decent hot and sour soup – and despite my not liking spicy food, it was an exception.  It is unfortunate that I cannot find her recipe, nor can she remember enough to pass it on to me.

The next best thing? experiment and approximate!  But so far that has not worked for me.  Sigh.

What to do then?  Scour the cookbook library!

And, this recipe is good!  (although, as usual and always, I “personalize” the recipe – )

1.5 liters chicken stock
100 grams chicken breast fillet, julienned
8 pieces fresh shitake
handful of fresh shimenji
cloud ears, reconstituted
1 pack (50 grams) enoki mushrooms
2 blocks tofu, drained, cubed

Seasonings:
1/2 tablespoon salt
pinch of sugar, optional
1 tablespoon each light and dark soy sauce
3 to 4 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 t0 1-1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
(chopped labuyo)

2 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 1/4 cup water

2 eggs, lightly beaten
wansoy

I like to simplify things (read as- I am lazy) so I boil the chicken stock and dump the chicken, mushrooms and tofu.  Season with salt and soy sauces (I skipped the sugar) and the rice vinegar and black pepper (I substituted part of it with chopped chili-labuyo).

Thicken with cornstarch slurry.  Slowly pour the beaten eggs into the soup, stirring at the same time to break the eggs.  Garnish with wansoy.

(Adjust and modify as you like!)

Patola Misua Soup

This soup, sponge gourd and thin wheat noodle soup, is one of my favorites, as well as a comfort food for me.  It is usually cooked with ground pork, but chicken strips are used as well, and, if a more decadent version is desired, with shrimps.

In my household, we always use a combination of ground pork and shrimps.  But depending on the state of the local treasury, the amount of pork and shrimp used vary!

00_misua patola

My recipe:

1 large patola (sponge gourd)
2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small onion, minced
50 to 100 grams ground pork
12 pieces shrimp, trimmed and cleaned
40 to 60 grams misua, or thin wheat noodles, or as desired
3 to 6 cups shrimp stock, or water
salt and pepper, to taste
toasted garlic bits or chips, optional

Begin by preparing the sponge guard.  Peel the skin off and slice the gourd into thin rounds.  Rinse and dry.

If desired, the shrimps can be shelled and diced.  The shells and head can be used to make shrimp stock, which can be added to the soup for more flavor in lieu of water.  Otherwise, use chicken or vegetable stock.

Saute the garlic and onion.  Add the ground meat and shrimps.  Stir fry several seconds.  When the ground meat and shrimp are cooked, add the stock, or water.

Let the mixture boil.  Add the wheat noodles, simmer a couple of seconds until the misua is softened and cooked.  Season with salt and pepper, as preferred.

Garnish with toasted garlic bits or chips, if desired.

 

Pork Spareribs and Cogon Grass Soup

Once in a while we go to Chinatown.  In our last trip there, we found some fresh cogon grass.  When A-te J saw them, she asked what they were for and I replied it was for a medicinal soup that’s common in Chinese cuisine, particularly Cantonese cuisine.  She held back a laugh saying that where she comes from, the cogon grass was used for burning not for eating.  I laughed along, commenting the weirdness of things – one man’s trash is (quite literally) another man’s treasure!

cogon grass

Anyway, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, this grass (Rhizoma Imperatae, 茅根 ) has cooling properties, aiding to dispel heat and helping bladder function.  It has a sweetish taste.

I was told that the cogon grass can be simmered with water to produce herbal tea but this I haven’t tried.  I am more familiar (and comfortable) with the soup version of it

The recipe:

1 bundle of fresh cogon grass (about 30 to 60 grams)
or 15-30 grams dried cogon grass
6 to 8 cups of water
400 to 500 grams of pork spare ribs
1 small onion

Clean the spare ribs, remove the fat.  Blanch.

Wash the cogon grass and blanch.

Boil the water.  Add the onion, cogon grass and pork.  Simmer for 3 hours (or use the magic cooker).

This recipe has alternate and/or additional ingredients:

1 chinese pear, sliced into large cubes and 4 honey dates, soaked in lukewarm water for 30 minutes.   Add the pear cubes and soaked dates together with all other ingredients.  This results in a sweeter tasting soup.

The pork spare ribs can be substituted with 1/2 chicken or 1 whole native chicken or even black chicken.  In which case, a thumb of smashed ginger should be added to the soup too.