Friday, June 19, 2009

Fresh Clam Soup with Tofu and Mustard Greens

This is a popular clear soup in Chinese restaurants and "paluto" restaurants here in Manila. It is not surprising, really, since this a flavorful, yet refreshing hot soup. It cleanses the palette in between eating dishes and viands of different flavors. It is healthy and nutritious and virtually non-fat.

This is definitely Hubby's favorite. The secret is getting fresh, live and clean clams. I try to prepare this every chance I get fresh clams from the market. I was just wondering myself why I have not blogged about this before :)

In this nutritious soup, the clams provide the flavor, the tofu provides the protein and I think the ingredient that makes this soup stand out in flavor is the mustard greens. Contrary to what you might suspect, these greens will not make the soup bitter. The leaves made the soup lighter and more refreshing.

1 Kilo fresh clams, clean very well
1 block soft tofu, sliced
100 gms mustard greens, cleaned, chopped
5 slices fresh ginger
1 onion, chopped
3 T canola oil
5 T minced garlic ( we prefer garlicky flavor, lessen if you prefer)
4 T Chinese cooking wine
5 C water
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a cooking pan or wok, saute ginger slices in oil until fragrant. Add in the onions and garlic. Saute until fragrant but not burnt.

2. Add in the clams. Cover for a minute. Then add in the Chinese cooking wine. Cover for another minute.

3. Add in the water. Cover and let boil.

4. When the shells of the clams are fully opened, then the soup is ready. Drop in the soft tofu and mustard greens. Let boil, and cook for a while, add salt and pepper according to taste. Ladle up and serve as soon as possible. The clam meat will shrink if cooked for a long time. Discard shells that did not open.

If you are cooking soup with strong flavor like clams, or beef, consider adding a few mustard greens. Mustard greens not only adds to the clear taste, but gives a lot of nutrition as well. This food is very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Protein, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Iron and Magnesium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. (source: I am surprised to learn that this is one of the few greens that contain protein because it is rich in amino acids. This means this is an ideal food for vegetarians.

Sharing this healthy and nutritious soup with the Weekend Herb Blogging community, headed by Haalo of Cook (Almost) Anything At Least Once. This edition is hosted by Astrid at Paulchen's Foodblog.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Red Cooked Pork (Adobo) and Mushrooms with Beer

Here in Asia, we simply call this dish Adobo. Anything stewed in soy sauce is Adobo. But I have heard that in the West, this is called red cooked pork. :) Of course my kids insist that the color of adobo is brown, not red. I explain that red-cooked pork sounds nicer than brown-cooked pork :)

By whatever name this dish is called, this dish is still the ultimate comfort dish for many Filipinos. Have you heard of the saying that if you do not know what dish to cook, simply prepare adobo?

This is a simple Pork Stew, easy to prepare and yet, the taste is made sublime by the addition of beer. The fragrance is more complicated as well. :) By the way, this dish is certified kid-friendly because by the time the pork is cooked, the alcoholic content of beer had already been evaporated. You cannot detect the taste of beer in the finished dish.

I confess I did the same cooking style as I did with our regular Adobo, except that instead of adding water, I added beer.

1 kilo pork belly, cut into serving sized cubes

4 T cooking oil

8 T garlic, minced (or more, if preferred)

4 T sugar

4 T cracked peppercorn

1 and 1/2 C soy sauce

2 cans Beer

1 C water, optional (my kids prefer lots of sauce)

200 gms golden mushrooms

200 gms straw mushrooms, sliced

4 pcs large dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water, then chopped

Salt and sugar to taste

cilantro for garnish, optional

1. Heat the oil in a wok or a cooking pan. Add in the sugar, cook at low heat. Wait for the sugar to caramelize.

2. Add in the meat cubes and stir the meat, so that the cubes will be evenly coated and browned with the caramelized sugar. Add in the soy sauce, peppercorns, garlic. Stir to mix evenly.

3. When the mixture boils, add in the 2 cans of beer. Do not stir until the mixture boils again. Accordingly, if you stir, the sauce will have a bitter aftertaste. But I have always followed this instruction so I cannot confirm if this is true or not. :)

4. When the mixture boils, add in shiitake mushrooms and the cup of water. Let boil again and simmer for an hour and a half to two hours. Check in once in a while to see if the sauce is drying up. My kids like their adobo saucy, so I add in lots of water. (Alternately, start in the morning and just drop the contents of this pot in the slow cooker and you will have a wonderful smelling dish come dinner time).

5. Add in the straw mushrooms and golden mushroms before serving, and let cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Adjust taste with saklt and sugar, depending o your preference. Isn't this dish versatile?

6. Garnish with spring onions or cilantro before serving. Serve hot with rice.

Make that lots of rice. You will not be able to resist the aroma and the taste.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Spiked Minty Green Tea

During parties in my high school days, the naughty boys would spike our fruit juices with rum or brandy. These delicious, lightly intoxicating, fruit punches made us feel all grown-up indeed... :) Of course, we smart girls, would never touch any of the boys' concoction. At least, I remember being happy (and safe) with a can of soda instead. I would never risk being found out by my parents, nor risk being grounded, or worse, never to be allowed to attend parties anymore!

Of course, now that we are adults, we are allowed to add alcohol to our party drinks! Only, if we drink in moderation... :) This lightly spiked drink is reminiscent of our younger days. Try this! It healthy - it does not contain sugars from fruit juices. It is refreshing; cool for the palette and warm for the tummy. :) Of course, if you prefer a drink with no alcohol, feel free to omit the sake (rice wine). This drink will still taste good and refreshing!

3 pcs green tea bags
a handful of fresh mint, washed, dried
3 C hot, boiling water
1/2 C sake (Japanese rice wine)

1. In a large, heat-proof pitcher, steep the green tea bags and mint leaves in hot boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool before chilling in the refrigerator.

2. When ready to serve, mix in the sake. Pour into individual cocktail glasses. Garnish with mint leaves, if desired.

Sending this simple, refreshing drink with Ria's birthday celebration over at Ria's Collection. Check out her blog after June 21 for the delicious treats of cookies, cakes and cocktails.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Japanese-Style Potato Noodle Soup with Crabsticks and Nori

Don't be deceived by the long title of this dish. (I just do not know what to call this noodle dish I came up with.) This is actually a very easy dish to prepare. This is more like putting all the ingredients together.

Let's start with the noodles. This is another kind of potato noodle I bought. It is flat and took a few minutes longer in cooking. We first discovered potato noodle here. It was deliciously chewy and better tasting than ramen. So, I would always be on the look-out for potato noodles in the market. Simply boil the noodles in water according to package directions and set aside.

I normally would have homemade broth - either pork or chicken - on hand. Homemade broth are so versatile. And especially useful for those busy weeknights when you only have a little time to prepare for dinner. But this time, I had none! And I so wanted to make a quick noodle dinner!

This is what I made:

1 sachet (15 gms) bonito flakes (Japanese dried fish flakes)
1 C dashi
1/2 C Japanese soy sauce
1/2 C mirin
2 C water
salt and pepper to taste

12 pieces kani or Japanese crabsticks
1 sheet nori (Japanese seaweed), cut up
sesame oil with chili, optional

3 packs (350 gms) potato noodle, cooked according to package direction

1. Boil water, dashi, bonito flakes, soy sauce, mirin together to form your broth. When the soup boils, add in the kani or crabsticks. Turn off heat.

2. In individual serving bowls, portion off each serving of noodles. Top with nori. Pour in the soup with the crabsticks. Drizzle with sesame oil with chili, if preferred. You can also add chopped green onions. But I didn't have any on hand :)

A very easy, fast noodle dish to prepare, if you have the Japanese ingredients available in your pantry. We are fans of Japanese dishes because they are simple to prepare, very tasty and very healthy. So, these ingredients are regular items of my pantry. I would recommend you to start having these Japanese staple in your pantry as well.

Sharing this simple Japanese noodle soup with the Presto Pasta Nights community, headed by Ruth of Once Upon A Feast. This edition is hosted by Daphne of More Than Words.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Basil and Cheddar Bread

I think I have discovered the best bread ever. At least for my little family's taste :) To veer away from our regular whole wheat bread, I added chopped fresh basil leaves and grated cheddar to our bread and the result was delicious!

This adventure all started when our German missionary friend, A, gave me a bottle of homemade salsa. (see the picture above?) She said this salsa would be delicious as dips or spread over tortillas or bread. I got her recipe, by the way, for the delicious spicy salsa, but have yet to make it :)

Anyway, I thought bread with basil would go well with the tomato salsa. And it does! I just thought of adding cheese because I have some left-over from the fridge. :)

Here's what I did:

2 and 1/2 C whole wheat flour
2 C all-purpose flour
1/3 C grated cheddar cheese
2 T chopped fresh basil leaves
1 and 1/2 t salt
1 and 1/2 t instant dried yeast
3 T olive oil
1 T honey
1 and 1/4 C warm water
grated parmesan cheese, for dusting

1. Put all the flours in a large bowl. Add in the cheese, basil, salt and yeast. Add the oil and honey. Gradually mix in enough water to make a smooth, soft, dough.

2. Knead well on a floured surface for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. For some techniques on kneading bread, please click here.

3. Put the dough back into the bowl. Cover with oiled clingfilm or a clean towel and leave in a warm place to rise for one to one and a half hour, until doubled in size.

4. Tip the dough out onto a floured surface, knead well then cut into 3 pieces. Roll each piece into a 12 inch length and transfer to a large greased baking sheet (I used olive oil in greasing the baking sheet.) Leave some space in between the dough rolls, to allow them to rise.

5. Make diagonal cuts along the top of each loaf, at intervals. Cover again with the oiled clingfilm and allow to rise for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

6. Sprinkle the loaves with parmesan cheese and bake in a preheated oven at 400 F. Bake for 15 minutes until golden and the bread sounds hollow when tapped with fingertips. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

These are the loaves fresh out of the oven. They smell really heavenly. I could not resist a bite. :)

This is a whole loaf, ready to be wrapped in foil. Sent this to A, whose delicious salsa was the inspiration for this bread. Guess what? She said their family liked this bread so much. (Maybe you think she is just being polite. No, ma'am. Our friendship is quite close enough to tell each other whether we like our food or not; and we do criticize each other's cooking and baking.) Even her little girl, who is a picky eater, loved it. And she asked me for the recipe. Here's the recipe, A. Enjoy! :)

Sharing this deliciously fragrant bread with the BYOB Bake Your Own Bread community, headed by Sandy at the Baker's Bench.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Siniguelas or Spanish Plums

Say hello to Sir Lancelot - our pet lion cub! Hey! He's an authentic lion imported from South Africa! Even if he was looking intently at the siniguelas, he will not bite :) All he does is sit around the sofa the whole day!

Ok, back to Siniguelas or Spanish plums :) This is a fruit which I don't think South Africans lions are familiar with. Since it is summer here, lots of summer fruits come out and Siniguelas is one of them. It is purplish green when unripe (like the photos shown here). It tastes a bit tart and sweetish at this state, the skin is taut and crunchy when you bite into it. This is sooo yummy eaten with a few grains of salt! It makes my mouth water just writing about this. I have heard before that this is the favorite fruit of singer Gary Valenciano.

The fruit turns either yellow or deep red when ripe. Then, it becomes sweet. Still yummy and oozing with juice with every bite. Beware the large seeds however. :)

The siniguelas is a small fruit, approximately one inch to one a half inches in length. It looks like this:

Why write about this fruit? Because this fruit is a part of my childhood summer memories of playing in the streets with the neighbors. Remember jackstone, hopscotch, and Chinese garter? And of course, munching on these Siniguelas (aren't they the perfect size for small kiddie hands?) dipped in salt...
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