Monday, January 25, 2010

Sinigang na Tilapia (Ilocano Style)

Today, I finished my presentation (my second mid-term presentation, actually). This is one of the reasons why I have ignored blogging and the kitchen for quite a while. I needed to meet my deadlines for my dissertation. However, as it turned out, no matter how on time I was or I am, some things just don`t ever turn out the way others expect them to be. To make a long story short, I won`t be graduating till September. But I am glad that today`s presentation is over. I went home with a big headache and a growling stomach and immediately made macaroni fruit salad and gobbled left over tocino. To further "celebrate" this event, is a blog post.

When I went home (Philippines) last October, a Tilapia vendor would always drop by our house every other day to entice us with his freshly caught tilapia or mudfish. We would almost always buy thus our refrigerator or our dining table is never without a tilapia. At 100 pesos per kilo (about 4-6 pieces), compared to the 100 pesos a piece here in Japan, I didn`t mind seeing tilapia everyday.

There was a week however, when we had a steady supply of the fish from Solsona, my mother`s hometown and my birthplace. My cousins built a fishpond, let the rain and clean stream ran through it and filled it with a lot of tilapia fingerlings. There were so many fish that even with a simple stick and a tiny bait, in less than a blink and voila, you`ve got yourself a meal!

There are a lot of ways to cook tilapia so you won`t ever get tired of seeing it always on your plate, but I won`t go into all the 101 ways. I would just like to share the way the Ilocanos (or at least, my side of the family) cook their "tilapia sinigang" . Sinigang is the Filipino sour soup or stew. Usually, tamarind is used to come up with that distinct sourness, although some other fruits such as guava, calamansi or kamias (Averrhoa bilimbi) may also be used.

Here though, the only ingredients used were tomatoes, onion, and salt. It is a very simple dish really. It only takes boiling water, dropping the tomatoes (sliced, of course) and onion and then the fish and add some salt and/pepper to taste. The broth is not as sour as the normal sinigang but it has the delicious taste of fish in it, especially if the fish is fresh. With this way of cooking tilapia, one can easily tell whether the fish used in the dish is fresh or frozen.Mangantayon!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Twas` a Hiatus (Inihaw, Inabraw and Kamote Leaf-Banana Salad)

For so many reasons (which, I will slowly disclose with every post from hereon), I let my blog go on a hiatus. Well, let me correct that, for a time ( more or less, 3 months), I didn't even want to stay in the kitchen, nor cook anything. My hard drive though, is full of food pictures. So as a comeback, I will be sharing some of the foods that I got to enjoy when I went home to the Philippines for a short vacation. Yep, that is one of the reasons. Went home and put food-blogging at the back of my mind (writing that is, not the food).

First feature is that sumptuous lunch prepared by Manang Perla, my brother-in-law Boyet and my sister Peng. We were supposed to go to the beach that day but there was no available transportation and the weather didn't look so promising, so instead, Boyet cooked one of his specialties (the one he always cooks whenever we go home for vacation), Inihaw Galore!

The Ihaw (grill) part is not a very hard thing to do but when the fishes and sea food came together with the side dishes which were grilled eggplant (torta) and green mangoes with tomatoes and fresh spring onions with a bit of fish sauce, my, my, it is one mouth-watering dish!

We ate outside at Mama`s garden and Manang Perla came out with her delicious Inabraw which consisted of string beans, squash flowers and malunggay (horseradish tree) leaves.

In addition, she and my sister made a combination of banana flower (or heart, we call it "puso ng saging") and sweet potato leaves salad. This one is not a mystery either. Just boil the leaves and add minced ginger and tomatoes in fish sauce. The banana flowers and potato leaves were boiled separately though. We usually rub salt to the banana flowers before boiling to remove some bitterness that come from its juice and then you have to squeeze the flowers after boiling too.

Now, that, plus eating with your hands plus a glass of cold soda on a not-so-hot day with your family is what I call a real good time!

So what made me decide to write a blog today despite the things waiting to be done on my to-do list? It is freaking cold! I need something to remind me of summer.