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Physician by profession, artist by vocation.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Shiitake: Not A Four-Letter Word.

And so the two-year hiatus ends.

I love mushrooms, and because I do, my four-year old son now loves them too. In fact, his favorite pasta dish is fresh fetuccini with a cream-based sauce smothered with portobello mushrooms. Mmm.

And while I don't have the recipe to the said dish (we have to go to a restaurant for that one), I've recently whipped up a wonderful and healthy dish (an instant hit with both the boy and the Mrs.) that showcases the unbearable yumminess of the shiitake. Pair that with a pear, blue cheese and arugula salad, and you're bordering dangerously close to gastronomic heaven.

Here we go!

Mushroom Rice

Monday, June 05, 2006

Tomato and Kangkong Salsa

Okay, so this is a late follow-up post, but better late than never, right?

Last time I said I would post the perfect side dish to fried bangus fillets--aside from salted eggs with tomatoes. Admittedly, this recipe is not entirely original and is inspired by a side dish that comes with a bangus belly dish they serve at Cafe Adriatico. It's been a long time since I ate there last, and I don't remember if this is a faithful recreation, but I tried it a couple of weeks back, and it seems to work just fine.

Start off by washing a bunch of kangkong really well in a basin of water. Use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut off the larger, tougher stems and cut the rest of the leaves and small stems into bite-sized pieces. Set aside. Grab a couple of large tomatoes (the largest you can find) and slice and seed them. Cut into small cubes.

Saute some minced garlic in a pan with some oil then add the tomatoes. Season with pepper and allow to simmer. When the consistency of the tomatoes becomes a bit soupy, add some bagoong (you get to determine how much). Check the flavor and season as needed. Add the kangkong and cook until the leaves wilt and become a bright green color. Serve immediately.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

KitchenLab Recommends: Seaking Boneless Bangus Back Fillets

Bangus bellies are overrated. Supposedly the tastiest part of the fish, it has been popularized by many a popular restaurant, and thus commands top dollar, er, peso.

Objectively though, the back fillets seem like a better buy. They are packed with protein, are very lean (okay, so bangus belly fat is supposed to be good fat, but for someone trying to lose weight, fat is fat), and cost half the price of bangus bellies of similar weight. Plus, they taste really good too!

Grill it, fry it, steam it--there's no wrong way to cook bangus. It's amazing how tasty it is, no matter how it's prepared.

Up next: the perfect side dish to your fried bangus back fillet.

Poached Eggs

One thing about dieting is that it forces you to look for alternatives to high-calorie, high-fat food. That means exploring alternative cooking techniques as well. I wanted fried eggs today, but didn't feel like I wanted all that excess oil in my slowly flattening tummy.

Enter poached eggs.

I successfully poached my first eggs today. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, and the texture as well as flavor was just right. If you're the type who likes warm egg yolk running over his steamed rice while enjoying your tapa, tocino, longganisa or tuyo, then poached eggs are for you.

I had to look for a simple egg-poaching method on the internet, and this is the recipe I followed. It turned out really well for me--maybe it will for you too.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Garlic For Breakfast?

And why not? Granted that there are some of you who absolutely do not like garlic for varying reasons, there are also those who absolutely adore garlic, breath freshener be damned. And for those who belong to the latter group, this one's for you.

Lots of people eat toast with butter or jelly for breakfast--and these are loaded with sugar or unhealthy fat. One alternative for you garlic lovers is to make your own garlic spread. Yes, you read right. Spread. Trust me, it's delicious.

To prepare, get desired number of cloves of garlic (a couple should be enough for a piece of toast--multiply by how many slices you're preparing) and do not peel. Simply drop in boiling water with a little salt and allow to boil for about 15 minutes. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking and peel--the skin will come off really easily. This should leave you with transluscent-looking garlic cloves which are extremely soft to the touch and will turn to mush when squished.

Place the garlic cloves in a shallow bowl, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. To serve, just place a couple of cloves on a piece of toast or a slice of baguette (that's French bread to you), spread like jelly (yup, it's now spreadable!) and eat.

You can serve this as an appetizer or a snack, mix it with pasta, or eat as a side dish--whatever floats your boat. The only limit is your imagination. You (garlic lovers) will love it.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

KitchenLab Loves Fresh Tarragon Tea

Those of you who have dined at Sonya's Secret Garden and Antonio's in Tagaytay will probably have tried fresh tarragon tea already. The first time I had it was at Sonya's and I was amazed at how great-tasting and soothing it was, for something so simple to make. It is, to me, the perfect after-meal drink to soothe the tired tummy.

And since we here at KitchenLab are fans of the uncomplicated, fresh tarragon tea is something we love. To make it, simply buy a tarragon plant from your local market or plant store (it's really not difficult to find) and keep it alive for as long as possible. Cut or pinch off a sprig, wash it, put it in a cup, and fill with boiling water. Wait a few minutes and serve.

Try to use a white mug (or something that looks Shabby Chic-ish) when serving to guests. The green of the tarragon leaves plays off beautifully with the white of the mug. I guess you could also serve it with honey if you like.

Tell me if you like it.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Sauce Mariosep

While we're on the subject of pasta sauces, let me share another concoction inspired by the crabfat pasta dish served at Gaita Fores' Cibo. Cibo has mainly Italian cuisine, but some dishes like this one should actually be categorized under east-west fusion. Or Filipino dishes in disguise. Whatever. I will eternally be grateful to Gaita though for the roast duck with grapes and truffles she serves at Pepato. Gastronomic heaven.

But before we ramble off the topic, here's the dish (fusion also) that I've taken the liberty of calling Pasta in Sauce Mariosep, primarily because the concept of eating pasta smothered in crabfat while I'm on a diet right now, despite its delicious flavor, is just plain yikes.

Cook the pasta (your choice, but I suggest plain spaghetti or angelhair pasta) as directed, and drain in a colander. Using the same pasta pot, put in a little cooking oil (I like extra virgin olive oil for this one) and brown a couple of cloves worth of minced garlic with the heat set to low. You don't want to burn the garlic. Add in some ground pork seasoned with salt and pepper and brown. Add just enough crabfat (or taba ng talangka, which you can buy at your local grocery bottled and ready to go) so that the pasta can be coated evenly, then put in a couple of tablespoons of all-purpose cream and allow to simmer a bit. At this point, you can add a bit of shredded wombok pechay for texture and color, and mix with the sauce for a few more seconds before adding the pasta and mixing everything up.

I know that all bottled crabfat brands are not created equal, so you'll just have to adjust the flavor by seasoning with salt and pepper and tasting it before you mix it with the pasta. I use Marisco Pure Taba ng Talangka--tasty and cheap.

Oh, and as a side note, I took a capsule of Xenical with this particular meal as a precaution, and was surprised to discover that my, um, poo wasn't swimming in oil! Does that mean that this dish is actually safe to eat while on a diet? Hmm... What a naughty thought.

Friday, May 26, 2006


I have this nasty habit of creating a dish I really like, and then forgetting the recipe because I didn't write it down. So putting the recipes down on this blog is also one way of making sure I don't forget them. But this one is not easy to forget.

I'm not a fan of store-bought pesto sauce for my pasta, so I like making my own. The twist is that instead of using pine nuts (which I don't think is available at the local grocery), I use pistachio nuts; thus, pisto and not pesto.

Here's how I do it. As pisto-making is not an exact science (nor is my cooking), you'll just have to play it by ear and estimate the quantities needed. Put the pistachio nuts (without the shells, of course) in a food processor and grind to tiny bits. Add about a clove of garlic and a handful of basil leaves (thoroughly washed and allowed to dry a bit), then process again. Add some extra virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook the pasta (your choice, but I prefer linguini) and drain in a colander. Using the same pasta pot, put enough pisto for the pasta (tongue twister there) and heat for a few seconds without allowing it to burn. Put the pasta back in the pot and stir the sauce through. Serve with grated parmesan cheese on top and garlic bread on the side.


KitchenLab Recommends: Pampanga's Best Fatless Tocino

[Disclaimer: Author on a diet.]

Supposedly the inventors of tocino, Pampanga's Best has a fatless variety that does not scrimp on flavor or texture. But don't prepare it the way the package tells you to, which is to fry it in 1/4 cup of oil. (You bought fatless meat to deep-fry? Horrors!)

The alternative? Pan-grill it! Brush the bottom of a large nonstick frying or grill pan with a light coating of cooking oil (I use canola) and crank up the stove to medium-to-high heat. Put the tocino in the pan and turn it over once the side cooking caramelizes or browns (or burns, if you haven't been paying attention). Place on a chopping board, cut into slivers, and serve.

Fans of chunky tocino might find the consistency of this product too soft to the bite, but it's just fine with us.

Tip: serve with salted egg and tomatoes, diced and seasoned with freshly-cracked black pepper. Delicious.