Monday, September 24, 2007

Chicken and Pork Adobo ala Drip

pork, cubed, preferrably with a some fat
chicken, chopped
soy sauce...

Better yet, just watch the vid:

Nice dish. And the adobo's good too. ;)

Credit to dr.sbdink for suggesting this post.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Of Chorizos and Terry Selection

Almost all cultures have their own style of cured meats-- Italians have their pancetta, Germans have their Wursts, we have our longganizas-- but, for me, nothing beats the Spanish cured meats. They have that particular texture, aroma, and taste that other cured meats can't replicate. Jamon, chorizos, morcilla, salchichon-- I can't get enough. In the mid-90's Campofrio offered vacuum-packed chorizo and jamon slices in supermarkets, which my older sister and I quickly consumed. Unfortunately, they were pulled off the shelves after the merger with San Miguel and replaced with regular hotdogs (I never bought those in protest). A form of the Campofrio chorizos made an appearance around 2002-- these were raw chorizos ideal for cooking-- but they also quickly disappeared. The last time I came across those Campofrio packed chorizos was last year on the Beta Stores shelves in Bishkek (of all places).

Terry Selection (named after the owner, Juan Carlos de Terry) is a delicatessen and restaurant specialising in European gourmet food with a bent towards Spanish cuisine. I heard from Chef Anne that they have a good selection of chorizos and jamon, so I visited it yesterday. I've actually been working right beside it for more than a year now, but I just never saw it (never visited the basement of Podium). They do have a very good selection of chorizos, jamon, cheeses, olives, and many other European delicacies that are hard to find this side of the globe. They also sell paelleris and other utensils, although I was disappointed that they ran out of cazuelas (I've been looking for them for years now). They're not limited to European food, though, as they also carry Filipino-made products like sardines, tawilis, free-range chicken, and even Dagupena bangus (which is cheaper in Terry than in SM or Shopwise). Since I still had a some chorizos and olives at home, I decided to try the restaurant. Here's what I got:

Castellana al Ajo (P195)-- their version of the classic Sopa de Ajo (garlic soup). Like the classic soup, it's a garlic-infused broth with some fried garlic bread (for texture) and a poached egg, but they add jamon serrano. The jamon does make a significant difference, and its flavour is infused in the broth.

Chori-queso (P325)-- a sandwich of chorizo de Salamanca and Tomme de Savoie (Tomme is a kind of French cheese) with lettuce, tomatoes, and dressing on a baguette. You have a choice of bread when you get a sandwich-- focaccia, ciabatta, baguette, sliced loaf-- but for this one I chose the baguette for its texture and so it won't interfere with the flavour of the chorizo.

Bottomline, Terry Selection offers great food, but it ain't cheap. Surely, there are lots of very good and less expensive places out there, but if you love Spanish food and Spanish cured meats this place is worth a visit.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Grams Diner

I tried Grams Diner last Sunday. Yes, it's not exactly a hole-in-the-wall type of place but I've never tried it before, mainly because it's very rare that I crave American food when I'm here in the Philippines. I heard good reviews about it and I was in the mood for Red Robin-type burgers, so I tried it last Sunday. I went to the branch at The Loop.

The decor was nice-- typical 50's diner. I got the Cuban Burger (P175) with a side of fries (P45) to go. The burger comes with a small side of salad which, frankly, I can do without. They boast of a half-pound patty so I was expecting it to be big and hefty; to my disappointment, I found that they flatten the patty in that particular burger. I chose the Cuban Burger because it had pickles and Dijon mustard, but I wasn't aware of the flattened patty. I think they should clearly indicate this detail in their menu. I was also unimpressed by the amount of fries I got. To be fair, the fries were actually good-- real potatoes with enough crunch.

So what's my assessment? Not as impressive as I thought it would be, but it deserves a second visit (I'll steer clear of the Cuban). The menu actually looked good and the service was nice. Maybe I'll try the Classic American Burger next time, or the Philly Cheesesteak.

By the way, if you're gonna be an American diner, do bring on the fries.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Luxurious Liempo

Here’s my take on the classic lechon kawali. It stores well in the fridge and, as you'll see, it attains perfection after reheating. Perfect for those who only have time to cook during weekends and can only reheat stuff for weekday dinners.

pork liempo (at least 1 kilo)
laurel leaves

1. The most important element here is the pork. You need to use pork liempo (belly) and they have to be in big chunks. And I mean big: I usually cut one kilo of liempo into three or four pieces. You need the size to ensure the right texture; don't use those bacon-thin strips of liempo. You also need to use liempo for the flavour-- yes, the fat really helps. Obviously, health food this isn't.

2. Season the pork with salt, pepper, and spices. You can use any spice mix you want: recently I used Cajun seasoning, but you can also use Old Bay, curry, or anything that's available. You can also skip the spices and just stick with salt and pepper. Remember to be generous with the flavourings-- very few of the essential oils will actually penetrate the meat so make up for it with flavour strength.

3. Braise the pork (i.e., boil in slow to medium heat) along with the bay leaves and garlic; I also add some dried chile arbol just because I have some. Boil the pork for a long time, like two hours or more, until the pork is completely cooked and soft. Take your time; watch some TV or do some homework. Turn the pork occasionally, and make sure it doesn't run out of water before you're done.

4. Drain the remaining stock and allow the pork to cool down. If you did this at night, put the pork in the chiller and go to sleep. If you still have a meal ahead of you, keep the piece you're going to eat and chuck the rest into the chiller.

5. Prior to serving, brown the pork using your preferred browning method-- frying or broiling. I personally prefer broiling because it allows the fat to drain. Since the meat is already cooked all you have to worry about is its final state-- how crisp and brown you want it or how much of the fat you want to drain away. With some patience you can get the skin to a very crisp state-- not like lechon or chicharon, but still good. Note that this is the second time you're cooking the meat so by the time you're finished it will be falling off your fork.

Serve with steamed rice and vegetables on the side-- grilled eggplant is a perfect partner.

* When you braise meat it goes through three phases: (1) raw, (2) cooked but rubbery, and (3) cooked and soft. From (1) to (2), the heat denatures the meat (i.e., cooks the proteins) but also makes it tougher. As you continue to braise the meat, the heat and moisture transforms the tough proteins (specifically collagen) into gelatin, softening the meat to perfection. The meat will toughen up when you put it in the fridge because of the gelatin cooling down, but it will easily soften again with just a little reheating.