An intoxicating weekend…

This weekend has been great if not intoxicating so to speak. I used the word intoxicating but not meant on a negative way. Intoxicating in the sense that me and fellow Filipinos and some foreigner friends enjoyed good food, countless Karaoke songs, long and interesting stories and of course some hearty laugh.

It has been quite a long time that I joined some get-together in a friend’s house because many of us became quite busy and some of the people in our group either moved back home, went to other places or working in some provinces of Thailand.

We planned this party as a sort of house warming/despedida (Bon Voyage party) for one of our friends. Since they are a fan of my Kiko’s Kitchen food blog, they asked me to cook which I gladly obliged.

For the party, we decided to prepare favorite foods that we missed a lot. Later on, we realized all the foods that we selected are very complicated to prepare. We selected Pancit Palabok, Dinuguan and Lumpiang Shanghai. The easiest  dish in our menu is Kinilaw na Talaba (Oyster).

Me, the host and another friend troop to the local market to buy fresh ingredients. I am not a fan of the local markets here because I am worried that since I don’t speak really good Thai, I might find it hard to buy. But actually it’s not because you don’t need to talk much..just point at what you want to buy and ask how much is it (Tao rai krub?) Basically I already know the numbers in Thai so I can easily know the price of the item and also it helps that many of the products have their “price tags’ displayed.

We went to the market in the afternoon so naturally there was no pig’s blood available. We actually had our plan B menu just in case we are unable to buy the pig’s blood.

In the market, we saw fresh squids and since all of us love Adobong Pusit, we bought some extra (Squid is also part of the Pancit Palabok ingredients) for our dinner. We headed back home and eat dinner.

We started preparing the ingredients like cutting, marinading, boiling, etc around 9pm. There were only 2 stoves running and with lots of things to do, we finished our Mis en place at around 2:30 am and went to sleep.

The alarm clock rang around 7 am. We had to wake up early so we can buy the Pig’s blood in the market. Without having breakfast or coffee yet, we headed to our destination. Fortunately, we were able to find our “precious” ingredient– the pig’s blood.

As soon as we arrived home, the 3 of us busied ourselves in the preparation. I started cooking the Pancit Palabok sauce, while the other two are busy wrapping Lumpiang Shanghai. After cooking the Palabok sauce, I then prepared the Dinuguan.

I’ve never tried cooking this dish before though it is one of my favorite dish. I would see my mom cooking it and since I know how it tastes, I just copied her procedure and cooked it. Fortunately, it tastes like Dinuguan and not something else..  🙂

Since we advertised in Facebook that it was a lunch party, guests arrived on time. Luckily we had just finished cooking all the dishes and already starting to prepare the table when they arrived.

It was a small and intimate party among friends totaling to just 8 guests (including 3 foreigners). The foreigners were brave enough to try the Dinuguan even though many would find it quite disgusting from the color of the dish alone (looks like mud) and more so if they learned that it is made of Pig’s blood. Surprisingly however, they enjoyed Filipino foods.

It is very nice to hear your friends enjoying the food and giving praises on how delicious it is. Many of them had 2-3 servings which is actually a feast!

We plan to make our get-together cum pot luck  a regular habit (at least once a month). As early as now, we are looking forward to it and are already thinking what foods to prepare next time. Hope it is the easy ones. 😛

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My very first Thai Cooking

I have been living and working in Thailand for over a year now and while staying here, I learned to love Thai food. For one, it is tasty and flavourful cos they used many herbs and spices in their food. Of course the most common ingredient in Thai food is the Chili. This ubiquitous red or green vegetable has been a recognized staple in Thai cooking (27 herbs and spices in total) together with basil, mint, pepper, garlic, onions, spring onions, lemon grass, coriander, lime and many others. Another reason why I love Thai food is because it is very cheap. Cheap means a meal consisting of rice and a viand costs around 30-60 Baht if you are eating on local food court or road side restaurant. Actually, eating in a “real” restaurant is also not too expensive. A dish would normally cost around 90-150 Baht. A seafood dish is cheaper as well (if I compare to Philippines).  A dish made of Crab or prawns would cost around 200-400 Baht while in Manila, it may cost double. Of course the prices may vary depending on the category of the restaurant or if it is located in a Tourist area but I still find it cheaper. Moreover, Thai food is basically healthy cos there are a lot of vegetables and herbs in it and they tend not to overcook the vegetables so it remains crispy and the nutrients not lost. Thais can even eat String Beans, eggplant and some vegetables raw which is a first time for me to do as normally either we cook the vegetable or boil it in water.  One thing that I noticed though is that many foods are oily. Also, I realized sugar is added into most dishes so have to caution my cholesterol and sugar level. Good thing though, I regularly exercise nowadays which I tend to neglect back home and on my last check-up my cholesterol level and blood pressure is normal, thank God!

Near my place there are many food kiosks and local shops selling noodles, duck, chicken or barbecue however living here for a year, I get bored of the usual food I can buy along the street. Fortunately, I found a good restaurant just within my apartment complex. The food is good and cheap (price ranging from 30-90 Baht)  as well. What’s more important is that one of the waiter can speak English well so I don’t have any difficulty ordering or them serving the wrong food. My favorite in that shop is their Pad Thai (Thai noodle very similar to our own Pancit Palabok) as well as Chicken with Basil Leaves though sometimes it tends to be too spicy for me the waiter had to place the Electric Fan in front of my face to avoid sweating too much and give me an extra glass of water.

I have been reading and researching on how to cook Thai Food which actually is almost the same as cooking Filipino food. I even planned to enroll in a short Thai Cooking course for the basic fact that I still dream becoming a chef someday (still possible I think).

Yesterday, I researched for a simple Thai recipe (Spicy Salad and a simple pork dish first). I went to the supermarket and bought the ingredients afterwards.

This morning when I woke up, I tried preparing the 2 dishes for my brunch. First, I prepared Phat Phet Thua Fak Yao Mu Sab or Ground Pork with String Beans. It is very easy to cook, just stir fry the ground pork in garlic, onion, chili then add the seasoning (soya sauce or fish sauce, oyster sauce and some sugar). Once the pork is tender, just add the String Beans until it’s a little bit soft.  After I finished cooking the dish, I placed in a bowl and whoa, it looked like the actual recipe I saw in the website. 🙂

The next recipe is a Spicy Salad made of Chinese Sausage and Cucumber. Actually, Thai food has some influences of Chinese cooking like the method of stir frying or deep frying. So if you noticed, even their salad have Chinese Sausage. To prepare this dish, you have to fry the Chinese Sausage then cut into small diagonal strips. Then slice the cucumber in small portions as well as Onions. On a separate bowl, prepare the dressing made of Soya Sauce, Fresh Chili, sugar. I added some vinegar to balance the taste since vinegar is also very good dressing for cucumber and onions. Then pour the dressing to the Chinese Sausage and cucumber.

The recipe is so easy isn’t it? But why am I sharing these to all of you considering it’s actually not a major feat? For me it’s a personal achievement actually…

It was really a shame that when I went back home last May, I didn’t even had a chance to prepare some Thai Food for my family so they can taste some “authentic” Thai recipe which is totally different than the food being sold in Thai Restaurants in Manila which tends to be too commercialized. My cousin Rona when she had a training in Japan can cook some Japanese food when she returned home. Pity me!

Another thing is that I have been cooking Filipino foods since I learned to cook (growing up in a family wherein all family members and most of our relatives can cook) and being able to cook a foreign dish adds up to my so-called “qualification”.

So much for that long story..I would like to share with you through pictures the 2 dishes I prepared this morning which I have been eating for Brunch and now Dinner (while I am writing this blog post and Facebook-ing). If you noticed, the chili is not as much as those being served in Thai Restaurants. Of course I had to suit it to my spice level so at the moment I just put about 3 pcs of chili for each dish. Maybe soon, I can put 1 chili garden in my dish. Ha ha ha! Next time, I will attempt to prepare another personal favorite, Tom Yum Goong (similar to Sinigang) and Som Tam (Papaya Pok pok salad as what they call locally). Sounds funny and naughty isn’t it? I am not too sure why they call it Pok Pok as well but the salad is actually prepared by pounding all the ingredients in a mortar and pestle so the same in Tagalog which pounding means “pukpok”. I dunno but I think maybe some Filipinos travelling to Thailand during the early days actually gave a tag for the Som Tam to be called Pok Pok salad. How naughty can the food be sounding right?

Happy eating!

Phat Phet Thua Fak Yao Mu Sab

Spicy Chinese Sausage with Cucumber Salad

leaving home soon…

today i started packing some of my things as I may not have time to properly pack the things I need to bring out after my very short holiday back home..seems time is moving so fast. surely there are some friends whom i may not have visited or set appointments to meet up because of the very tight schedule wherein I had to juggle some personal appointments with official business affairs. Talk about working during a supposed holiday. No regret though cos it really is part of the job. You need to stay connected to know what’s going on otherwise, it will be like being on your first day of work again once the holiday is over…

Anyway, to all my friends and relatives whom I am unable to see and catch up during my trip back home, I am really sorry. I hope to make it up with all of you next time or if you have the opportunity to fly and visit me, I will be very pleased to be your guide. Just don’t forget to bring all those Pinoy stuffs when you visit huh?

Talking about the Pinoy stuffs, I need to be loaded with a year’s supply of these items as they tend to either be unavailable overseas or the cost is double if not triple than the cost here in Manila. I made a run down of all the items I will be bringing–here it goes…

1.) Barrio Fiesta Bagoong/Alamang
2.) Sinigang Mix
3.) Kare-Kare Mix
4.) Pancit Palabok Mix
5.) Ginisa Mix
6.) Pancit Canton
7.) Liver Spread
8.) Purefoods Corned Beef
9.) Boy Bawang
10.) Corn Bits
11.) Daing na Bangus
12.) Silver Swan Soy Sauce
13.) various spices and Herbs
14.) Sky Flakes
15.) Chippy
16.) Mr. Chips
17.) Biogesic and other medicines

and many many more items. I am actually worried cos the customs might think I will be selling all these items abroad. hahaha! Just kidding. Well, actually not a bad idea considering the demnd is high for these products overseas. However, the things I will be bringing is not for public consumption but just for me and my friends to share. 🙂

In a few day’s time I will be leaving home soon for another journey to a foreign land I tagged as my 2nd home…surely I will miss my family, loved ones and friends but I know I will be fine..besides I will be back a year from now or maybe shorter if God permits..