Red Tide Causes Shellfish Ban in Eastern Samar

I just read an article from the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s website about the imposition of Shellfish ban in Eastern Samar.

Apparently, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) prohibit gathering, eating, and selling shellfish from Matarinao Bay. It appears that toxic red tide organisms have been discovered in water samples collected from the bay. According to the news, the bay covers the following areas: Salcedo, Quinapondan, MacArthur and Hernani.

If you are living within or near these places, try to practice due diligence by not consuming or selling shellfish; the article did not say anything about the effects of the red tide in other marine life within the area but it will be safer to abstain from seafood until the ban is lifted.

BFAR also made clear that other than Matarinao Bay, all other water bodies in the region are free from red tide organisms.

Polvoron

Polvoron is a semi-sweet concoction made of toasted flour, powdered milk, sugar, and butter. This is considered as a dessert or snack in the Philippines wherein roasted rice puffs referred to locally as “pinipig” is added.There are several polvoron recipes available today. There are the cookies and cream polvoron, peanut polvoron, chocolate polvoron, and many more. The polvoron recipe that we have here is the classic and simplest.

I tend to associate this snack with town fiestas. When I was still a child, I always join contests during our town’s fiesta and one of them is some sort of a whistling contest wherein you are asked to consume a piece of polvoron or puto seco before whistling; the first one who can make a sound wins.

I haven’t made polvoron in years since I don’t have any available mold. Good thing one of my friends was able to get me one when she went for a vacation in the Philippines. By the way, I made more or less 60 pieces of polvoron out of the ingredients that we have.

Polvoron or Polvorones

Polvoron Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups powdered milk
  • 3/4 cup pinipig, crushed
  • 1 1/8 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar

Watch the cooking video:

Cooking Procedure

  1. Heat a frying pan or a wok then put-in the flour. Toast the flour until you smell the aroma and the color turns light brown. Make sure to stir while toasting to prevent the flour from being burnt.
  2. Once the flour is toasted, let it cool down for about 20 minutes then transfer to a mixing bowl.
  3. Add the powdered milk then stir using a balloon whisk.
  4. Put-in the granulated sugar then stir again.
  5. Add-in the crushed pinipig then stir until very ingredient is well distributed.
  6. Pour-in the softened butter and mix well. You may use your clean hands in doing the procedure. After mixing, let it stand for at least 10 minutes to allow the butter to cool. This will make the mixture more intact.
  7. Using a polvoron molder, scoop the mixture and put it on top of a pre-cut Japanese paper or cellophane then wrap.
  8. Serve. Share and enjoy!

Number of servings (yield): 8

How to Butcher a Chicken

Have you ever tried to butcher a whole dressed chicken? I remember the first time to butcher a whole chicken; it was confusing. Back then, I didn’t know where to start and I have no idea as to how many parts should I divide it into. I spent more than 30 minutes to complete the task and I created a mess. The chicken was torn apart; I can’t even recognize one part from the other.

After observing how my mom does it (not to mention several hours of watching several cooking shows on TV), I finally figured the steps and techniques to butcher a chicken appropriately. After that day, I practiced… and practiced… and practiced until I got it right.

This is a basic topic that most of you already know. For the benefit of those who want to learn the proper way, I listed some steps that you may use as a guide. Remember, knowledge is just the first part of learning. Once you know what to do, start to practice until you get it right. Also, take extra caution when handling sharp objects. Good luck!

butcher a chicken 1
1. Place the chicken on a chopping board (the back should be facing down). Using a sharp knife (preferably chef’s knife), slice between the leg and breast until you reach the bone. Stop right there; don’t attempt to cut the bone.

butcher a chicken 2
2. Loosen the hip joint by pulling the sliced leg away from the body while pressing the back of the hip joint. You’ll know that you are done when you see the leg bone pop-out from the joint.

butcher a chicken 3
3. Once the leg bone is disconnected, continue slicing through the joint until the leg and thigh are completely detached.

butcher a chicken 4
4. Separate the drumstick and thigh by putting the leg on a chopping board and cutting through the joint between the two parts.

butcher a chicken 5
5. Pull the wing out and cut it off at the joint then trim the wing tip. Perform step number 2,3, and this step to the other side of the chicken.

buther a chicken 6
6. Remove the breast by making a slit down the middle of the breastbone then continue slicing alongside the ribcage while pulling the meat.

butcher a chicken 7
7. Turn the remaining part around and perform step number 6 to remove the breast on the other side.

As for the trimmings and remaining parts, you can always use them to make chicken stock so nothing goes to waste.

Food Review: Panda Express Beijing Beef

I felt that I needed a quick bite as I drove home from work. Luckily, I was about to pass-by a Panda Express location and decided to grab a box for dinner. I got a 2 entrée plate consisting of Orange Chicken, Beijing Beef, and Chow Mein for sides.

Panda Express Food Review
Panda Express Food Review

Let’s not talk about Orange chicken and Chow Mein for now because my attention is focused solely on Beijing Beef. However, you might want to check our Orange Chicken recipe post if you want to know more about it. As for the Chow Mein, the closest recipe that we have is the Pancit Canton– which I think is a better alternative.

There isn’t really anything extra-ordinary about the Beijing Beef – but I still like to have it once in a while. The flavor is probably the main reason why I like it. I am a fan of sweet and sour pork and this dish is pretty much similar – that is if you raise it to the next level. You’ll understand what I’m trying to say once you try one. After the first bite, the tangy taste immediately permeates in your mouth leaving you speechless – looking forward to the next bite. Since the flavor is so rich, it is advisable to balance it by having some sides (such as rice or noodles) while munching. The texture is unique compared to the other Chinese beef dishes that I had, so far. It also has the consistency of a fried flank steak but tender when chewed.

I guess what drove me to try this the first time was their massive advertising campaign. I got curious and eager to try this dish (which was a new addition during that time) to check the validity of their claim: Crispy, Tangy Tasty. Well…it is.

The next reason is probably the fact that I associate Panda Express with Chowking. My family enjoys the foods served in Chowking and we usually try to dine-in at least twice a month when we were still back home. Even though there are a lot of differences between the two, there isn’t any Chinese fast food resto in Chicago that I can compare Chowking with in terms of commercialization and accessibility (good thing our kababayans in California and Las Vegas can check-out the real deal. I’m not sure as to where the other international locations are, care to share some info? ).

I enjoy eating Beijing Beef and this is definitely something that you must try.

Tuyo: Smelly but Lovely

It has been more than a week since I last posted an article for our What’s Cooking section so I decided to write something about what I had for breakfast this morning. After taking a shower and brushing my teeth twice, I’m now inspired to write something about one of my favorite breakfast foods: Tuyo.

Tuyo refers to salted dried fish (usually herring); this is also known as stockfish in some countries. In the Philippines, tuyo is considered as a poor mans food because of its cheap price – however, this connotation has been expunged over the years since people of different social status learned to love and enjoy it. This can be justified by the different recipes involving tuyo; these ranges from fried tuyo to gourmet pasta with tuyo.

Since I’m not in the Philippines, I always try to cook tuyo discreetly. Although most of us might agree that this food really taste good, the aroma is quite offending to some – especially to non-Filipinos. After reading a news article last year about a Filipino couple that was sued in New York for cooking this fish, I tried my best to resist the temptation of having it on a regular basis.

Tuyo

One effective way to cook tuyo without exposing the smell is to bake it- sounds weird but it works for me. Most ovens have openings directly installed below the exhaust vent, this helps suck the foul smell leaving you with a little less fishy odor.

Since I woke-up early, I had the chance to cook Garlic Fried Rice to go along with my tuyo. I also made some over easy eggs to boost my appetite – sarap! Are you familiar with sinamak? This is what my dad used to call vinegar with lots of chillies, garlic, and peppercorn. Well, I used it as a dip (if you also define dipping as soaking the fish in vinegar for 5 minutes); there is nothing more that I can ask except for more rice. It was fantastic.

I also love eating tuyo with sinigang. Although, most of my friends choose to pair champorado with it. They say that a delightful unique taste is formed when the sweet taste of the porridge mixes with the salty taste of the fish.

Do you also like tuyo? In your opinion, what’s the best food to pair it with?

5 Things to Consider in Making the Best Fried Rice

Fried Rice is the result when steamed or boiled rice are fried in oil or animal fat. For practical reasons, the Chinese first used this method to preserve and recycle leftover steamed rice for consumption. Nowadays, several varieties of fried rice are enjoyed throughout the world.

How to Make Best Fried Rice

Making fried rice seems simple and easy. When asked as to how this is done, you might say “heat some oil and fry the steamed rice then add the other ingredients that you have”. While this statement is true, there are more things to consider that may help you make the best possible outcome out of what you have.

A friend approached me a week ago asking for some advice on how to make fried rice similar to the ones bought from Chinese take-outs. He tried making one the night before but the outcome was not satisfactory; the rice was clumped and it had a soft and sticky texture. So, I gave him some pointers which I learned from my past mistakes (sometimes we need to commit mistakes to be able to understand the right thing; it’s okay as long as we learned something from it). Here is what I told him:

1. Choose the appropriate rice variety

The variety of rice that you will use can make or break your expectations. Can you still recall how the fried rice that you ordered in the Chinese restaurant looks like? Notice how loose each grain was? Determining the texture of each rice grain is one way to examine the quality of your fried rice. Based on my experience, sushi or calrose rice, Jasmine rice, and other rice with soft and sticky texture when cooked do not make good fried rice. Using rice varieties with firm texture will likely give you good results. The two varieties that worked well for me are Mexican rice (the one used to make burrito) and Sinandomeng. You may want to check my post on Garlic Fried Rice recipe wherein I used day-old Jasmine rice. The recipe was superb though the rice was sticky (even if I followed the next pointer #2). This mistake lead me to experiment more and come-up with this article.

2. Prepare the rice before frying

Making the rice ready before frying is a smart move. The ideal rice that we need to use should have a firm outside texture. Using day-old rice is a good idea but it will be better if the rice is placed in a Ziploc or similar plastic container and refrigerated. You may also put the rice in the freezer and thaw it before frying. Since making fried rice involves cooking oil and other liquid seasonings (depending on the recipe), having a firm textured rice means less liquid is absorbed. This avoids the possibility for the rice to soften and become sticky. If in case you want to make fried rice from newly steamed rice, you don’t need to wait a day pass by. One proven technique is the use of baking sheet or aluminum foil. Simply place the hot rice on a baking sheet or aluminum foil and set aside until room temperature is achieved then refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Also, make sure to loosen the rice before frying. This can be done by lightly pressing the plastic container until clumped is loose.

3. Ensure that your wok or frying pan is hot enough

It is important that heat is well distributed in the wok or frying pan that you are using. Since frying rice requires the maximum heat available, having enough heat on the pan makes the grains equally cooked.

4.Perform the proper stirring/tossing technique

Frying rice requires the proper stirring technique (or tossing) to preserve the shape and texture of the grain; this also prevents the rice from sticking. The proper way of stirring the rice is to push the spatula downwards (45 degree angle) until the bottom of the pan is reached. You need to scrape the rice that is stuck on the bottom of the pan and toss so to evenly mix all the ingredients. Do not press the rice with the spatula.

5. Prepare other ingredients beforehand

The ingredients that you will use depends on the fried rice recipe that you are doing. Here are the rules that I practice:

  • Meat – This pertains to pork, chicken, beef, shrimp, scallops, and even tofu (if required). When using raw meat, make sure to first cook the meat before putting-in the rice. Through this method, the rice won’t get overcooked and excess liquid from the meat (that may soften the rice) will evaporate before the rice can absorb it.
  • Vegetables– Raw vegetables also need to be cooked beforehand for the same reason as raw meat. If you are using packed frozen vegetables, you need to thaw them first and drain excess water.
  • Eggs – There are different ways to prepare the eggs. You may cook the eggs separately then dice or shred it before adding to the rice. The best time to add this is when the rice is almost done. Another way is to use the egg as binder. Beaten eggs are cooked while the rice is fried; eggs are usually placed in the middle of the cooking process.
  • Seasonings – There are some fried rice recipe that require the use of liquid seasonings such as soy sauce. I usually pour the liquid seasoning on the side of the hot wok so that it will be enough when then bottom of the pan is reached. This also helps loosen stuck rice on the bottom of the pan.

Do you have other pointers to add? Please let me know.

Chocolate Rice Puff

Chocolate Rice puff or popped rice are grains of rice that are popped and dehydrated. This is often mixed with sweeteners such as sugar or corn syrup and eaten as breakfast cereals. There is a popular snack in the Philippines called “ampaw” which is made from sweetened popped rice.I’m not planning to post a recipe using rice puffs until I noticed several open boxes of puffed rice cereals that my kids eat during breakfast. You know the kids – they want to try every cereal that they see on TV. One box is due to expire in 3 days and I don’t want it to go to waste – so I thought of an idea on how to let my kids consume the rice puff cereal before it becomes stale.

Chocolate Rice Puff

“Ampaw” was the first thing that came into my mind – but how can I make ampaw out of puffed rice cereals? I started thinking on possible sweet binders that I may use to hold the rice puffs together. I also did some research and found out that it was not as complicated as I was expecting. Since puffed rice cereals are already sweetened, I thought of using a liquid binder that is not too sweet. Light corn syrup was the best ingredient that I came-up along with some brown sugar to balance the sweetness.

If you want just the right amount of sweetness, I suggest that you try using unsweetened popped rice instead of the boxed rice puff cereals. I tried using this recipe using Kellogg’s cocoa krispies and rice krispies– both turned out perfect.

Let me know your thoughts. I will greatly appreciate your comments and suggestions.

Perfect Rice Puff Dessert
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 4
  • Serving size: 4
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 3 cups rice puffs
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Instructions
  1. Heat a large sauce pan then put-in the butter and allow it to melt.
  2. Once the butter melts, add the light corn syrup and brown sugar then stir to distribute the ingredients.
  3. When the mixture starts to boil, add the rice puffs then mix well until the rice puffs are completely coated with the liquid mixture.
  4. Turn off the heat then allow the rice puffs to cool down.
  5. Wet your hands then scoop about ¼ cup of rice puff mixture then mold into a ball shape figure.
  6. Place in a serving plate then serve. Share and enjoy!

 

Another World Record for the Biggest Mango

Would you believe that a single piece of mango can weight up to 2 kilos (4.4 lbs)? I thought that this was a hoax at first until I read a post published by the Department of Agriculture – Cagayan de Oro, Philippines last September 2009.

Mr. and Mrs. Sergio Bodiongan of Iligan City were able to produce the largest mango that the world has ever seen. Each piece of mango produced from their tree weighs an average of 2 kilos – extraordinary. This is not the amazing part yet; what’s astounding is that they were able to harvest the largest and heaviest mango ever. Weighing 3.5 kilos (7.7 lbs), they entered their priceless entry in the “Pinaka” (the most) contest during Sundayag 2009 (A showcase of the Best of Northern Mindanao featuring Agriculture, Trade, & Tourism destinations). This also prompted them to register their mango in the Guinness Book of World Records.

biggestMango
Photo Credit: Dept. of Agriculture Cagayan de Oro

This morning, I was able to read an article from the Weird and Wonderful section of the GMA News website entitled RP Mango Certified as the Worlds Biggest. This article announces the certification Mr. and Mrs Badiongan’s entry and official inclusion of the Largest Mango in the Guinness Book of World Records.