Sunday, September 20, 2009

Gising gising

To be honest, I don't know the roots of this dish. I assume it's from Bicol (South of Luzon, about 9 hours from Manila), because of the chili and coconut cream. It seems to be related to the "Bicol Express" but a much milder version.
The transliteration of gising-gising is "wake-up! wake-up!". And I suppose it's because the strong flavors wake your taste buds up.
It is a viand by itself, but it's always a great partner to grilled or fried fish and hot steaming rice: pinoy staples. Plus, it is economical as the main ingredients are inexpensive. I cook a big batch and it finds its way as a side dish for lunch or dinner.

Again, it's easy to do. Helpful for beginners and young housewives. Here goes!

- 2 big bunches of kangkong (also known as water cabbage)Remove the tough stalk at the bottom end of the kangkong. Separate the leaves from the stems and sliced into small pieces. Wash and drain.
- coconut cream from 2 small coconuts (about 2 cups yield)
-1 onion or shallot, sliced. (shallot is to the pinoy's pulang sibuyas)
-About 1/2 cup shrimps, shelled and deveined.
-About 1 cup of lean ground pork
-3 green chilies (siling pang-sigang) slice diagonally in half.
-fish sauce (patis) to taste or salt
-pepper to taste

Heat your pan (not too hot, otherwise you'll burn your onions in seconds!). Add a little oil and saute the onion/shallot until clear. Add the ground meat and stir fry for a couple of minutes so as to cook the meat evenly. Add the shrimp till light pink.
Proceed to add the small pieces of kangkong stalks and continue to stir for about 3 minutes.
Add the coconut cream, add the leaves and cover the pan till the mixture begins to boil.
Veggies appear plenty when they are raw, but when you begin to cook them, you realize it isn't as much as you thought!
Add the chillies. (Some people prefer the biting heat of the small red chillies, also called "siling labuyo".) Use whatever suits you.
Lower the heat to get a gentle boil. Let it simmer till the coco cream thickens a bit.
Add fish sauce or salt, and pepper to taste.

Gising gising is also a vegetarian's delight. Simply skip the meat and it can be just as good.
This is because the coco cream has a distinct flavor which for me caressess the ingredients just so.
I happen to like freshly squeezed coco cream with grilled eggplant and chopped onions...but THAT is another recipe, for another day.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tortang Giniling...Meat Frittata...

If you check Wikipedia, torta is a mexican sandwich or spanish for round cake. By the looks of this particular torta, it is more like meat frittata (an italian omelet).

The Pinoy version of torta is wonderful anytime of the day. And parents like me can "hide" the veggies which some kids shun. My family loves it with rice. Although an extra helping in the fridge makes it a hefty filling for pandesal, soft roll or wheat bread for snack on school days.

It doesn't take much skill to cook torta, however, creating the perfectly round torta can be a challenge. So it is always good to look back at tradition and do it the way our parents did it back when there where no teflon, non-stick pans. The secret is using banana leaf. Not only will you get a perfect torta all the time, it also smells good and has a slight hint of smokey taste that the banana leaf gives.

This is what my husband grew up with-- a cooking tradition I find worth passing on.
1 onion, coarsely chopped
300 to 350 grams of ground meat. I use either all pork or half pork/half beef
Make sure it's lean.
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced into small cubes
small to medium potato, cut into small cubes
small to medium carrot, cut into small cubes
(tiny cubes about the size of crumbled ground meat is advisable when you want to add veggies to your child's diet)
1 T soy sauce
1-2 T ketchup
salt and pepper to taste
3 eggs

Heat pan through, preferably non-stick pan. Add 1 T of oil and saute the onions till transparent. Add the red bell pepper, then the ground meat and stir till the pink meat color is gone.

Add the veggies and cover for about 10 minutes. Add the rest of the seasoning until mixture is relatively dry, (not watery). Should your meat be fatty, drain the oil. Set aside to cool.

In the meantime, beat 3 eggs till frothy. Once the meat mixture is cool, add to the eggs and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Get a banana leaf and remove the mid rib. Cut into 2 pieces, which should be 2-3 inches bigger all around than the pan. Heat the banana leaf over stove flame quickly. This is to wilt the leaf to make it easy to handle.

Heat your pan through and line it with banana leaf. Pour the meat and egg mixture. And cover.

Keep heat low to ensure even cooking and prevent the banana leaf from scorching. Cover the pan for about 10 minutes. Check to see if the mixture has set. At the edges, the egg will begin to cook. If it is still runny, give it another 5 minutes.

Here's the challenging part: put the second banana leaf on top of the pan, get a plate bigger than the pan and use this to cover the leaf. Keep the plate firm with one hand and with some serious wrist action, flip the pan. This would have turned the torta, revealing the cooked side. Simply slide the banana leaf on the pan to cook the eggs completely.

Let it cool a bit before serving. Because by then, the torta is firm and easy to slice into wedges. Keep in its leaf lining so your family or guests will appreciate the aroma of the warm banana leaf.


Chinese Steamed or Braised Chicken

Sometimes I joke around that if I were to base my past life on food preference, I couldn't decide if I were italian... thai... or chinese.

I have a favorite dish that to my knowledge is chinese given it has garlic...ginger and chinese chorizo (referred to by my parents as chorizo macau.) This is also the dried, cured sausage bits I see in yang chow rice. Sometimes the cooking method I do is steam, like you would with dimsum or braise in a clay pot. And eat it with steaming hot rice. Yum.

It's been raining non-stop in Manila and this lists as one of my comfort food. I like the tender chicken bits...chewy, sweet mushrooms and the salty bite of the chorizo. For me, this should go with steamed or blanched bokchoy, which they also call at the supermarket as chinese pechay. (Not to be mistaken with pechay baguio).

1 thumb size ginger, sliced
3 segments of garlic, sliced
1-2 pcs chorizo macao, sliced
1 c mushrooms (buttons, shitake, or dried mushrooms soaked in warm water and sliced)
1 spring chicken cut into pieces
1 T oyster sauce
2-3 tsp soy sauce
pepper to taste
2 t chives, chopped

Marinade chicken in oyster sauce and soy sauce. Set aside.
Heat pan thoroughly, add 1 T oil and add chorizo macau until you render the fat a bit. Add ginger and garlic and stir fry. Keep the heat at medium so as not to burn the garlic. Burnt garlic is bitter.
Add chicken pieces and stir fry till the meat turns from pink to opaque white. Sprinkle with pepper.

Option 1: Transfer to a container and steam like dimsum. About 30 minutes until chicken is tender.
Option 2 is to put in a clay pot, put the cover and cook over low heat. (Chinese clay pots can be cooked over fire.) Add a little water to add moisture and prevent chicken from drying out.
Sprinkle with chop chives before serving.

This is also great served as rice topping and let the sauce and juices drizzle down the rice to soak up all the flavors!
I find that the chorizo macau, mushrooms already pack a lot of flavor so if at all, have soy sauce ready on the side. Chili paste or dried chili flakes for chili heads give it a nice kick,too.

It's oriental night--so bring out the chopsticks!
(A friend reminded me that a dash of sesame oil to top it off--gives that aroma, that is distinctly oriental. I agree!)