Friday, May 29, 2009

Korean Beef Stew (Yukkae Jang Kuk)

Here in Manila, we do not usually stew beef in soy sauce (adobo). Pork adobo, yes. Chicken adobo, yes. Beef adobo? Very rarely. We always cook our beef as steaks, or in soups, or smothered with tomato sauce or peanut sauce (as in Kare-kare). But then, my knowledge of Filipino food is limited to the Tagalog and the National Capital region :)

The Koreans have this mildly spicy and sweet soy sauce braised/stew beef dish. The sauce is so delicious and flavorful with rice. The kids love it. The good news is, this is so easy to prepare at home. Just dump all the ingredients in a pot and simmer away. :) Or you can add all the ingredients in a slow cooker in the morning before you go to work, (or when you do your errands) and when you come back, you will have melt-in-the mouth beef stew that goes very well with fragrant jasmine rice. :)

1 and 1/2 kilo beef ribs or beef shank, chopped (I used beef shank)
1 C soy sauce
1/2 C sugar (or more - up to 1 cup, if you prefer sweeter sauce)
1 whole garlic, peeled, chopped coarsely
1 onion, chopped
1 large knob of ginger (about 2 inches), sliced
3 -4 pcs green peppers (siling haba) or jalapeno peppers (more or less according to taste)

2 pcs radish, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
2 stalks spring onions, chopped
2 T sesame seeds
dash of sesame oil, optional

1. In a deep pot, add in the beef, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, onion, ginger, and green peppers. Add enough water (around 1 to 2 cups) to cover the beef pieces. Bring to boil and simmer for 1 to 1 and a half hours until beef is soft. Alternatively, you can use slow cooker and simmer for 4 hours or longer.

2. Add in the radish and cook radish in beef for 15 minutes more. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Ladle up in a serving dish. Add in a dash or two of sesame oil. Sprinkle sesame seeds and spring onions. Serve hot with rice.

Other Korean dishes I have made:

Korean Bulgogi
Korean Chap Chae (Noodles with Beef)
Kimchi Fried Rice

Sharing this melt-in-the mouth beef stew with Regional Recipes, a food event created by Darlene of Blazing Hot Wok. This edition's host is Wandering Chopsticks. Please check out her blog after June 15 for the round-up of delicious Korean recipes.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Food Trip Singapore Part 3

One of my favorite things to do when I visit a country is to bring back the food and the food products unique to that country or those products that are not available here in Manila. Here are some of my food "loots" during this trip to Singapore several months back. (Click here to see Part 1 and Part 2 of our Singapore Food Trip :)

A pack of ginseng root. I use this for our tonic Chicken Ginseng Soup or our delicious Snow Fungus with Red Ginseng dessert. This pack costs around 16 Singapore dollars. That's roughly 500 Philippine pesos. But since I use this pack for several servings, each serving would be less than 100 pesos (less than US $ 2).

Flower teas. I tried the dried rose petals. Well, it smells like roses. But I still prefer the good ol' green tea :)

Finally, I got fennel seeds! The other pack (below) is coriander seeds, but we have that available here. I have been searching for fennel seeds for a long time here in Manila and could not find some. Now, I know what it looks like, what it smells like... I sound like a kid :) Anyway, I have baked bread with fennel seeds, this one waiting for its turn to be posted.

I have tasted this crab sauce and it is oh-so-flavorful, so I bought a bottle. I do not have to slather this on crabs. I think this would be perfect for stir-fry noodles! :)

Is this the Bak Kut Teh spice pack recommended by Noobcook? I think it is. This pack is more expensive than the other Bak Kut Teh spice packs but I think it is worth it because it contains real dried Chinese herbs. I have made soup with this and sure enough, it tasted better than the other brands of spice packs we've tried. Unfortunately, I did not take a photo of my soup! But not to worry, I have several more packs and I promise to take a photo and blog about this! :)

I do feel good when I can recreate here at home some of the foods I've enjoyed in other countries, don't you?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Whole Wheat Pizza with Shrimps, Olives and Tomato Pesto

It is pizza for dinner again! :)

After making my very first pizza, I found out that home-made pizza is not only delicious - it is better tasting than store-bought pizza. Plus, it is quite easy to do. Of course it will take some time for the dough to rise, so you have to plan and allot some time for that. But other than that, there should be no problem at all. And you will be able to save some money because store-bought ones are not exactly cheap!

Another big plus factor is that I got the kids to help me with the pizza making. Since pizza is something they love to eat, they are quite excited to help out in the kitchen. Daughter did the kneading this time. And being not used to exerting her muscles, :) she said that she realized it was not easy, but that it was good exercise!

I was ready and excited to experiment with different toppings and different types of flour for the dough. Here is my first experiment using whole wheat flour for the pizza dough and shrimp tomato pesto for the toppings - all the ingredients that my family loves!

For the dough:

3 and 1/2 C whole wheat flour
1 t salt
1 t caster sugar
1 and 1/2 t instant dried yeast
3 T olive oil
1 C warm water

For the topping:

1 C tomato pesto
1/3 C sliced pitted black olives
1 C cooked, boiled (peeled) shrimps
5 T minced garlic
4 T chopped basil leaves
salt and pepper
4 T olive oil

1. In a big bowl, mix together the flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Add the oil and gradually mix in enough warm water to make a soft dough.

2. Knead well on a lightly floured surface for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Put the dough back into the bowl, cover loosely with oiled clingfilm and leave in a warm place to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

3. Grease the pizza pan (I also used olive oil). Tip the dough over to the pizza pan, and use hands to spread and shape the dough to cover the pan. I have read somewhere that using a rolling pin would alter the texture of the pizza crust. It should look like this:

4. Spread some tomato pesto (I used store-bought this time), then add boiled, peeled shrimps, chopped raw garlic, sliced pitted, black olives, chopped sweet basil. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. I wrote down n estimated amount that we used. But the amount of topping actually depends on how much you prefer. I also drizzled the top with additional olive oil so that it will not dry out. It looks like this:

5. Let rest for 30 minutes, to let the dough rise again. Bake in a preheated oven at 425 F for 8 to 10 minutes.

Because I used quick-melt mozzarella, I had to add in the grated mozarella cheese at the 8 minute mark, returned the pizza to the oven and baked the pizza for 2 minutes more until cheese are all bubbly and melted.

6. Slice and serve immediately.

Please note the difference in oven temperature and baking time between my first pizza and this second pizza. In the first pizza, I used 375F with a longer baking time. This time, I used 425F with a shorter baking time. With this slightly higher temperature, I was able to get a nice crust - which is crunchy on the outside and soft in the inside.

Sharing another delicious pizza with the Bake Your Own Bread community, headed by Sandy at the Baker's Bench. Check out what the BYOB gang have been baking at the Sandy's site by the end of the month.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Salad Greens with Orange Balsamic Dressing

My mother-in-law says that her son - my Hubby can "sleep on a bed of vegetables." (That's my translation from Chinese.) She meant this figuratively, of course. I found this to be true early in our marriage. Hubby can eat a meal without meat (you know, the usual viand or ulam of chicken or beef or pork or fish...) Hubby can eat a meal even without rice (that is, if I serve him pasta, or noodles, or bread). Hubby can eat a meal without soup. But he will complain if I serve him a meal without vegetables. He just has to see greens on his table during meals.

I am happy our kids learned to eat veggies at an early age. And we didn't have to force them to learn. I think this came naturally as we have veggies on our table everyday.

Salad greens is a common veggie we have. We eat them raw, of course, drizzled with homemade dressings. Our current favorite green is lollo rosso lettuce. But sometimes, we have romaine. Depends on what's available fresh... Sometimes we add cucumber, onions, tomatoes. Sometimes we add fruits such as apples, or oranges or mangoes or grapes. The possibilities are endless. What is important is that I create a variety of flavors at every meal.

150 gms lettuce greens
a handful of grapes
a handful of cherry tomatoes
an orange, peeled, segmented
1 white onion, sliced

Wash all of these very well, and drain all the water. Arrange on serving plates. Meanwhile, prepare the dressing.

Orange Balamic Dressing

1/8 t salt
1/4 c orange juice (I use freshly squeezed orange juice)
2 T Balsamic vinegar
1 T Dijon mustard
1 1/2 t olive oil
1/4 t pepper

Mix all the dressing ingredients well. Either by using a fork, or a hand mixer, or shake them in a clean bottle, etc. Drizzle over the salad greens or serve on the side.

This is a delicious, both sweet and tart dressing that is becoming our favorite. All natural and homemade with nutritious ingredients.

Sharing these healthy salad greens with FIC: Food in Color with your personal favorite color as this month's theme. Actually, this is the family's favorite food color - Green! FIC food event is launched by Sunshine Mom of Tongue Ticklers and hosted this month at Tasty Curry Leaf. Check out her blog first week of June for tasty and colorful dishes.

Also sharing these healthy salad greens with SWC - Cooking with Greens, hosted by Sowmya of Creative Saga. Check out her blog after June 6 for the round-up of healthy and delicious green dishes. As Sowmya had said, it is very important that we have our cup of greens daily. I know this dish is not exactly cooked. But greens are better served raw! Then you will be able to get the full benefits of the nutrients present in green food.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pan-Seared Fish with Capers and Lemon Cream Sauce

This is one of those dishes that sound sophisticated but is actually very easy to prepare. And I promise it tastes great, too! The recipe is also quite versatile as you can use any kind of white fish,whether filleted or not : halibut, dory, tilapia, snapper etc. And you can even substitute filleted chicken breasts or chicken tenders. This is so delicious with rice, and you can even serve this with pasta. A recipe so versatile and delicious such as this is definitely a keeper.

600 gms fish fillets, both sides sprinkled with
salt, to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste
garlic powder, to taste
flour, enough to slightly cover both sides of fillets

juice from 1 lemon (save a slice or two for garnish)
1/2 C dry white wine
1/4 C heavy cream (or sour cream or plain yogurt, whatever you have on hand)
3 T capers (drained)
3 T olive oil
3 T butter
4 T minced garlic
1/2 onion, minced

1. In a wok or skillet, heat up the olive oil and butter until butter melts. Turn up the heat and brown or sear the fish fillet on one side. Turn the fish over to sear the other side.

2. Add in the garlic and onions. The pour in the white wine and the juice of one lemon. (You can add 1/4 C water if you prefer more sauce). When the sauce boils, let simmer in low fire for 2 to 3 minutes. Then add in the capers and cream. Mix the sauce well. Let boil, lower heat until fish is cooked (This will take only a minute or two.) Serve immediately.

All these effort took less than 30 minutes of preparation and cooking. The result? A very tasty and flavorful dish we ate with fragrant jasmine rice. This is so delicious the kids had second helping of rice. :) Daughter said she thought the fish was baked because of the melt-in-the mouth texture.

Sharing this dish with the Weekend Wokking community, headed and hosted this month by Wandering Chopsticks. The featured ingredient for the month is Lemon! Check out her blog first week of June for the round-up of delicious sweet and savory lemon dishes. To see the previous round-ups of different ways to cook an ingredient, please click here.

Monday, May 11, 2009

What Do You Think About My New Header?

The title should be : What do you think about my new header, again?

Last year, my daughter made a header for me. If you remember it was made from pink and green motif. Quite girly, but what do you expect from an 11-year-old? I am quite proud that she can even make something like that, so this site proudly wore that banner until today...

Today, my daughter presented me with a new header. Wow! Isn't this a great Mother's Day gift?

When I was 12, I did not know anything about computers. (But then, up to now, I do not know much about computers, either... ha ha ha!) Hey! I am not that old. It was just that, I do not think computers were common in ordinary homes at that time. I was out, playing hopscotch or Chinese garter on the streets. I was also a junior girl scout in school. We were not allowed to direct traffic and help other kids cross the street like what kids in more modern countries do. But I remember we were supposed to watch and guard over the playground - to keep kids safe, to keep them from fighting and to report any injuries. I do not remember if I did my job well or not, the memories are fuzzy as the movements on the playground... but I did receive a medal at the end of the year... so maybe I did do something good :)

Nowadays, kids are not allowed to play on the streets anymore. For safety and health reasons. And the kids' school removed their playground equipments because of the number of injuries and fighting (are kids more violent these days? or the parents more prone to complain?) There are no physical education subject up to grade 3! And so, what is a mom to do? I enrolled them in sports classes like swimming to keep their bodies fit.

But swimming does not occupy a whole lot of time, so the children became computer literate early. By the way, television viewing as well as computer time for kids is limited in this household. :) And we say no to violent computer games :)

I admit my kids are more computer literate than I am. My 12-year-old designed this new header. This site will be proudly wearing this banner until the time, when she makes a new banner again or maybe when my 8-year-old will be able to make his own design as well. I thank God for my kids. Soli Deo Gloria!!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tarragon Green Tea

Let's take a break from our Singapore food trip (You may want to read Part 1 and Part 2 here and here) and enjoy this refreshing drink.

I discovered this delicious drink when we were dining in a restaurant with our pastor. He ordered the tarragon tea. Maybe you already know about tarragon tea, but this is our first time to encounter this concoction. I found it to be refreshing and delicious! It was slightly sweet, with a flavor not far from rootbeer. In fact, my son was asking me if the rootbeer is made from tarragon or not! Since we love rootbeer, we of course, fell in love with tarragon tea - a healthier alternative to rootbeer!

I know about tarragon, the herb and its usage in food and in cooking. I know it is a popular herb used in French cooking. I rarely use this herb in our home cooking though, because, well, for a time, it was not available here. Maybe it does not grow well in tropical weather. But lately though, this herb can be found sold fresh (not dried), in upscale supermarkets, supplied by specialty farms from Tagaytay ( a cool, mountain city south of Manila).

And so, I bought a pack of fresh tarragon leaves and made this tea. A 100 gm pack gave a lot of cups of tea! This is very simple to make. Simply steep 4 or 5 stalks of tarragon (per cup) and green tea in boiling water for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the tea leaves and the tarragon leaves. Enjoy! You can drink it hot or cold. I also prefer our tea unsweetened.

By the way, this is my own concoction. I think the restaurant simply used purely tarragon leaves and nothing else, for the tea they served was very light colored- almost like water. While my version with green tea turned amber. And by the way, I used China green tea, which turns amber when steeped. This is different from the Japanese green tea, which turns green when steeped.

Try this refreshing drink this summer. Or after eating a bowl-ful of spicy food :)

Sharing this refreshing drink with the Weekend Herb Blogging community, launched by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen, now headed and managed by Haalo of Cook Almost Anything At Least Once. This edition's (#185) host is Susan from the Well-Seasoned Cook.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Food Trip Singapore Part 2

Part 2 of our Singapore Food Fair brings you some of the food we were able to taste. Not much, for we have eaten with our friends before we visited the fair :) We chose the food that we have not tried before (except for the noodles), that we do not usually find here in Manila...

These grilled sausages were so tasty and juicy. They come in different flavors - if I remember right, they have three flavors, selling at S$1 each. The peppered sausages stood out for they were really full of peppers. You cannot taste the meat anymore :) Daughter loved it, nevertheless. Another one was cheese sausage, and it was super cheesy, one bite and the hot cheese spurted out. The other was plain meat sausage. These two were very tasty. We went back for seconds :)

I simply call these omelets. But they have a fancy name for these omelet (which I forgot... he he...) They also come in three flavors, but we chose the salmon omelet (the ones on the left where the seller/vendor was cracking an egg.) The base is made mostly of cabbages. These were cooked right on the spot, so they come piping hot.

This is the salmon omelet, served in the ever-convenient, but definitely not earth-friendly styrofoam... all chopped up into bite-size pieces. Actually, it was nothing fantastic. It tastes like... well... egg, fish and veggies... plus a dash of mayonnaise... It was a bit disappointing actually. I was expecting a different exotic flavor, like a special herb used or something... :(

Ahhh... the Laksa. When you come to Asia, specially Singapore and Malaysia, you really have to taste their laksa. This is a spicy noodle soup dish made with coconut milk and various spices. This stall sells the laksa with different toppings - chicken, prawns and I think one with no meat topping at all. But the noodles used are the same, and the soup base is the same. The vendor simply laddles the same soup to different bowls.

We chose the prawn laksa. For the price, he only included one piece of prawn per bowl. :) The vendor was thoughtful not to include the chilli directly into the noodle soup so that we can have the choice to put in the amount of heat that we can take. This one is soo yummy, it is making me hungry just to remember and type about it... :)

Hubby bought this "Mee Goreng" (fried noodles) from another stall that I was not able to take a good picture. (Sorry, it was really crowded. It was kind of hard to jostle for a space to take picture when many people are queing and waiting for their food...) This looks like our regular pancit canton (stir fry noodles) But it is not. It has a different flavor, and quite spicy but very yummy. I detected a little curry, a little chilli, soy sauce, of course...

Up next are the food we bought to take back home... :)
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