Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Salads and Sidings

I am not a vegetarian but I am a veggie-fanatic. Cooked the right way, slathered with the right sauce or dressing, it is definitely yummy! I figured, many people tire of veggies easily because it appears that there is not enough variety.

Ahhh but there is a wide array of options! It just takes taste-bud adventure and research.

Take for example my new discovery--Clara Ole Vinairgrette series, wittily called the "Salad Squad". They are delicious with salad greens and the customary tomatoes, cucumber, carrots and jicama (singkamas to true blue pinoys). My favorites undoubtedly are My My Parmesan, Pesto and Sesame Mucho (like the Japanese Salad Dressing in small bottles).

What I do, after a weekend of family-centered meals, I detox on a Monday and Tuesday with fruits and salad. I buy a bottle and leave it in the office. I just cross the street to Hypermart; buy about 45 pesos worth of assorted lettuce and drizzle away!

But, it shouldn't stop there. With a little imagination, the same Clara Ole has given me my veggie fix in new ways. Drawn from inspiration, I brought out my 2 favorites and whipped up a siding and a veggie meal without breaking a sweat!

Warm Potato Salad

  • 1/2 k potatoes, boiled in their skin
  • 1 small carrot, boiled in its skin
  • 4 rashers of bacon, fried to a crisp and sliced into bits. OR 4 slices of ham cut into cubes
  • 1-2 T of coaresly chopped flat-leaf italian parsley
  • 2 T of grated cheese (cheddar or parmesan)
  • 1/2 c of Clara Ole My My Parmesa Vinaigrette
  • 1 boiled egg, sliced or quartered for topping

Remove potato skin while warm and cut into medium size cubes. Same with the carrot. In a big bowl, put potato, carrots, bacon,flat-leaf parsley, grated cheese and toss with the vinaigrette.Top with slices of egg. As an option, you may add about 1/2 c frozen green peas that have been blanched and drained. EASY!

Serve while warm and as siding to grilled sausages like kielbasa, hungarian, bratwourst or shublig. You may drizzle a little bit of the dressing as a last touch, if you like more oomph. We enjoyed this with fish fillet.

Gado gado-inspired sesame and peanut dressing
  • 1 bunch blanched baguio beans
  • 2 carrots, sliced into sticks or batons, blanched
  • Other veggies can be potatoes, jicama (singkamas), cucumber)
  • Small block of tofu, fried and sliced into strips
  • 2 eggs, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 c Clara Ole ,Sesame Mucho vinaigrette
  • 1/4 c creamy peanut butter
  • Optional: chili flakes or cayenne pepper

Blanch veggies and drain. Shock them in cold water to stop the cooking to keep it crunchy. This also keeps the color vibrant. Veggies such as jicama and cucumber of course, should not be cooked. Arrange on a platter.

In a bowl, whisk the sesame vinaigrette and peanut butter until smooth. If you want more tanginess, add about 2-3 more tablespoons of the dressing. I could not wait and soon as I put the whisk down, I got a veggie stick and dunked it!

This is a good idea for a dip with veggie crudites especially if you're planning an Asian-theme dinner. Or serve as a hearty main dish for an Indonesian-inspired meal. (This is my going to be in my lunch pack tomorrow.)

Be a veggie-fanatic!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Soooo Pinoy, Soooo Sarap!

I attended the Sooo Pinoy Event spearheaded by Unilever Food Solutions together with the DOT and Philippine Daily Inquirer.

The doors opened by about 7:30, I think. And when it did, we were greeted with dancers garbed in typical fiesta-hala-bira-outfits. When you get past them, it was like a Pinoy Food- Lover who had died and gone to heaven: Before you, well across the huge function hall of the SMX are rows and rows and rows of food laid out according to "ulam".

Here, the participating restuarants presented their best pinoy offerings, shortlisted for voting.

So, if you like adobo, there is an entire row of adobo... If you like kare-kare, there is an ENTIRE row of kare-kare... There are the heart-stopping specialties like bualo...sisig and crispy pata.
There is sinigang...pancit canton...bangus...and chicken inasal...

There was so much tasting and trying to be done, I don't think it was possible to try them all! Even for a person with a hefty appetite such as mine. But I did leave room for halo-halo by Razon's. Talk about sweet endings!

I must say, it was an evening that allows you to debate with fellow foodies and even with yourself, which indeed is THE soooooo pinoy dish.
Do you look at it from a comfort food standpoint?
Do you look at it as a dish that can sit side by side with others on the global table?

From what I've read, the public has spoken and that Singiang takes the crown. True, it can be global like the Tom Yum of Thailand. For me, the beauty of sinigang is it hits the core of what is local, depending on the souring agent and ingredient that is abundant in that particular place.

Sinigang is an easy dish to make, now made easier with a pack of sinigang mix. The best tip I got is to simmer it lovingly over low heat and for a long time, till the meat literally falls-off-the-bone. And to combine beef and pork for Sinigang na Karne:

  • 1/2 k pork sinigang cut
  • 1/2 k beef neck, sliced into chunks
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 packet sampaloc sinigang mix
  • patis and ground pepper to taste

Assorted Fresh Veggies:

  • kangkong leaves (Swamp cabbage)
  • sitaw (string beans)
  • gabi (native taro)
  • labanos (white radish)
  • 2 siling haba (finger green chilies)

Boil the meat separately, each with onions and tomatoes. Reason being is pork cooks faster than beef. When you combine the broth later, the taste is such comfort, because the subtle flavor of the pork balances the overwhelming flavor and smell of beef.

When tender to perfection, combine the meats in a pot, add enough broth from both as prescribed by the packet. Now, if you like "sabaw" like my first born does, simply add another flavor packet and more broth!
When it comes to a simmering boil, add the labanos and gabi first. Cover pot for 5-8 minutes. Slit the siling haba, if you want subtle heat into the dish.
Finally add the sitaw and kangkong. Cover the pot and turn off the heat. Let the steam and heat cook the veggies. That way, when you serve it, it retains its appetizingly bright green color and its wonderful crunch.

Hot, steaming sinigang is a joy in itself. Double the enjoyment with fried tilapia or inihaw na isda (fish grilled over hot coals).

Make sure you serve extra rice, ok?