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Halaan (Clam) Soup Recipe

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Clam Soup

Halaan or clam soup is one of my favorite soups (and it has now become one of hubby's too). It is so appetizing and refreshing. It also brings back memories of my childhood. We used to eat the clams using our hands and scoop the meat out of the shell using our mouth. Then I would reserve some of the clam shells and dry them under the sun. I and my cousins would then play with them.

These past few weeks, there had been plenty of fresh clams being sold in supermarkets. I think it’s because it’s in season these days. So, before it gets out of season, we’d rather take advantage of its abundance. We decided to cook halaan soup for lunch yesterday.

Here is the Halaan (Clam) Soup Recipe:

Ingredients:
½ kilogram halaan or fresh clams
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 thumb-sized ginger, thinly sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 tomato, sliced
3 tbsp. fish sauce or patis
2 cups water
Cooking oil

Cooking procedure:
1) Wash fresh clams and drain. Place the clams in a container and cover with water. Let it sit for several hours or overnight in the fridge. If possible, replace the water every few hours. This procedure will allow the clams to expel sand.
2) Heat oil in a pot. Sauté ginger and garlic together.
3) Add onion and cook until translucent.
4) Add tomatoes, cook for 3 minutes while stirring occasionally.
5) Add fish sauce and the fresh clams. Sauté for a couple of minutes.
6) Pour in water. Cover and let boil.
7) Turn off the heat when the clams have opened.
8) Serve immediately.

Turon Recipe

Turon or fried wrapped banana is a popular snack among Filipinos. It is usually made of saba bananas covered with brown sugar and wrapped in a very thin pastry wrapper or lumpia wrapper, which is the simple recipe. Another recipe is by adding slices of langka or jackfruit to add flavour and fragrance to Turon.

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Turon or Fried Wrapped Saba Bananas

My Turon Recipe is based on the simple version. You only need the following ingredients:
4 plaintain bananas or saba
Brown sugar
8 lumpia wrapper
Cooking oil

Method:
Start by peeling the plaintain bananas or saba and cut them in half horizontally. Roll the bananas in brown sugar. Using a large flat plate or clean cutting board, spread one lumpia wrapper then place the banana. Roll the lumpia wrapper halfway, then fold both ends, and roll the rest of the wrapper. Dip you fingertip in a bowl of water and wet the flap of the lumpia wrapper to seal. Repeat the process until all bananas are wrapped. Heat oil in a pan. When the oil is hot enough, lower the heat and fry the wrapped bananas for 3-4 minutes each side or until the lumpia wrapper has turned golden brown and crisp. Remove banana wraps in oil and drain on paper towel to remove excess oil. Serve immediately.

Iftar Buffet at The Village Club

Our company sponsored an Iftar for its entire staff yesterday. Despite a glitch on the reservation, all went home satisfied, or at least I believe that everybody felt satisfied.

It was a night of fun and a chance of loosening up from the pressure at work especially for the top bosses on project sites.

Iftar is the evening meal taken when Muslims break their fast during Ramadan. Iftar buffets are popular in the UAE. During Ramadan, several hotels and restaurants are offering all-you-can-eat meals. Our company-sponsored Iftar was booked at The Village Club at One to One Hotel. Last night was full-packed and I wonder if it is always the same every single Iftar night.

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Photo credit: Jenny (Twin Sister of Agua)

The Iftar buffet at The Village Club is priced at AED110 per head exclusive of tourism tax and service charge. I find the price quite reasonable compared to other buffets hosted by other well-known hotels that cost more. Our colleague though mentioned that the Iftar buffet package at Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi is less expensive than The Village Club.

The food was abundant, mostly Arabic cuisine and a few European dishes plus plenty of deserts such as fresh fruits, cakes, nuts and dried fruits.

I ate just enough. A little taste of almost everything I dare to taste. Everything I put on my plate was delicious. I had bow pasta in cream sauce top with parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves, salmon fillet cooked in cream and lemon, stir-fry broccoli, chicken kebab minus the skewer, circular-sliced potatoes cooked in some herbs. For deserts, I shared with hubby a platter of chocolate cake, slices of watermelon and cantaloupe, dried fruits, pecan nuts and walnuts. My most favorite desert last night was the brazo de mercedes paired with bite-size fresh fruits in season. The slight sourness of the fruits complemented the overly sweet brazo de mercedes. Hubby did not like it much though.

The chicken kebab was the only Arabic food I tried last night because it just looks like grilled chicken breast. I wasn’t brave enough to try another Arabic dish. Hubby tried the lamb biryani (I forgot the Arabic term for it but it looked like biryani to me). Biryani is a rice-based food made of basmati (long grain) rice, spices and meat, fish, eggs or vegetables. Also, he particularly liked the smoked salmon on his salad plate.

The selection of drinks were smoothies of different kinds of fruits, which I fail to remember except for the watermelon that I welcomed happily since it is my favorite, and fresh orange juice. Water on bottle is not included on the buffet but can be ordered separately, which costs at AED10 per bottle. Likewise, coffee and tea were available on separate orders, and shisha too!

Overall, the experience was great. We had fun seating on the traditional Arabic floor couch, despite the occasional gliding, and posing for lots of picture taking.

Thai-Inspired Beef Salad Recipe

Inspired by the Thai Beef Salad we had last weekend at the Bowling Village, which tasted fairly authentic, hubby requested that we prepare this light salad for dinner.

We bought 100g of thinly sliced beef from the supermarket which we marinated in soy sauce, garlic and pepper for a couple of hours to absorb the flavor then pan-fried them.

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Thai-inspired Beef Salad

To create the Thai dressing for the beef salad, I used the recipe from Yummy Magazine, which was quite simple to make. I wish to have added more chopped red chili though to attain the hot kick on the dressing. I’ll definitely do that next time.

This recipe is worth a try. Aside from being healthy and easy to prepare, this beef salad is a wonderful fresh salad with a fusion of sweet, sour and hot flavors.

Here is our Thai-inspired Beef Salad Recipe.

Ingredients:
100g thinly sliced tender beef
Romaine lettuce or variety of greens, cut into 1-1/2 inch strips
2 cucumber, quartered, seeded and diced ½ inch
1 large tomato, seeded and sliced lengthwise
5 scallions, thinly sliced
2 coriander or cilantro stems with leaves, roughly chop

For the dressing:
1 lemon or lime juice
2 tablespoons patis or fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 red chili, seeded and chopped finely (add more if you desire)

Method:
1) Heat a little amount of oil in a shallow pan over high heat.
2) Fry the marinated beef slices for 3 minutes on each side or until cooked to your liking. Remove from heat and let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing thinly.
3) Combine romaine lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, onion and coriander in a large bowl.
4) Add the thinly sliced beef to the salad.
5) Drizzle with the dressing and gently toss using your hands (like Jamie Oliver does!).
6) Divide salad among plates and serve immediately.

Dan Dan Noodles of Noodle Hut

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Dan Dan Mian

It is our first time to have Dan Dan Noodles and what a treat, it tasted real good! I’m not sure if others would share the same sentiment, but it has instantly become one of my favorite noodle dishes. (Be warned though that it is really spicy, even without the sliced chili that they usually top it with. )

Dan dan noodles or Sichuan Spicy Noodles is a Chinese classic dish of Szechuan or Sichuan Cuisine. According to Wikipedia, it usually consists of a spicy sauce containing preserved vegetables, chili oil, Sichuan pepper, pork, and scallions served over noodles.

What we had last night was a slight variation of the usual dan dan noodles. It is one of the two Kung Fu Noodles selections on the Noodle Hut’s menu. Btw, the Noodle Hut is located at the food court of Khalidiya Mall, which just opened a couple of months back. Yesterday was our second sampling of their dishes. The charming lady at the counter recommended that we try dan dan noodles and said that it is one of their best tasting noodles, and she did not fail us.

Going back to what I was saying, the difference of the dan dan noodles on the Noodle Hut’s menu from the usual that was described on Wikipedia was the roasted duck. I couldn’t compare at the moment which one is better, pork or duck. I only hope that I could also taste the pork version in the future.

Smitten by it, I did a little research for the recipe, which I hope to prepare in the future. Meanwhile the recipe links below would serve as a record to check out with when I finally gain the courage to prepare it.

The links also discussed a few facts and history of this Spicy Sichuan Noodles. Most of these recipes are dry version, the nearest to what we had was the one from Chinesefoodfans.com.

Guinataang Tanigue (King Fish) Recipe

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Guinataang Tanigue

When I was growing up, I never liked guinataan dishes (except for the deserts) because my mother rarely cooked guinataan. As time went by, I learned to appreciate guinataan flavored dishes. What has drawn me to it is the rich taste of the coconut milk combined with the ginger flavor.

Since I’m a veggie lover I particularly like Guinaatang Sitaw and Kalabasa. Fish cooked in coconut milk has also become one of our favorite dishes.

From the supermarket shelf we went to yesterday, the steak-cut tanigue or king fish were neatly packed fresh and clean. It is always wonderful to cook fresh fish as the taste is quite delicious and the fish meat is tender and firm. Since our last guinataan dish has been a while ago, we decided to cook the tanigue this way.

Here is the Guinataang Tanigue (King Fish) Recipe:

Ingredients:
½ kilo tanigue, steak cut
250ml coconut milk
1 tbsp. ginger, thinly sliced long strips
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium size onion, sliced
3 tbsp. fish sauce or patis
1 bunch pechay or bok choy
4 pcs. banana chili
Cooking oil

Cooking Procedure:
1) Heat oil in a pan.
2) Sauté minced garlic. Do not brown.
3) Add ginger, sauté for 30 seconds.
4) Add onions and cook until translucent.
5) Pour in fish sauce. Sauté for a few seconds.
6) Pour in the coconut milk. Cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until the natural oil from the coconut milk comes out. Stir occasionally.
7) Add the banana chili and fish. Simmer for 5 minutes.
8) Add pechay or bok choy. Simmer for another minute or until the bok choy have wilted.
9) Serve hot with steamed rice.

Guinisang Kamatis at Itlog (Sauteed Tomatoes and Eggs)

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Sauteed Tomatoes and Eggs

A tasty and easy to cook side dish for fried fish is Guinisang Kamatis or sauteed tomatoes. My mother would make it with eggs or without. The guinisang kamatis recipe without eggs though tastes a little sour than with eggs. But, I like both versions specially that tomatoes are good for us.

Here’s the recipe for Guinisang Kamatis at Itlog:

Ingredients:
6 pieces tomatoes
2 eggs
2 cloves minced garlic
1 small sliced onion
2 tbsp. patis or fish sauce
Salt
Cooking oil

Cooking procedure:
1) Sliced the tomatoes roughly.
2) Beat the eggs and season with a pinch of salt.
3) Heat cooking oil in a pan.
4) Sauté garlic until light brown.
5) Add onions and cook until translucent.
6) Add the sliced tomatoes and sauté until tomato skins curl.
7) Add the beaten eggs. Cook over low heat while stirring constantly.
8) Season with fish sauce and cook until the eggs nearly solidifies.
9) Serve with your favorite fried fish or pork chop.

A Call for Help

The Philippine National Red Cross and UNICEF Philippines are receiving donations to aid the recently flood-stricken country, Pakistan.

The news reports say that the floods that began three weeks ago is the worst to hit Pakistan in decades. More than 20 million people have been stranded and over 1,600 have died. Tens of thousands of villages remain under water. Officials warn that even as the floods is receding in some areas, there is still the danger of losing lives as hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis remain cut-off from food, shelter and medicine. The United Nations says that it is worse than the 2004 Asian tsunami.

Photo credit: Folsol.com

Global aid is pouring in and continuous call for help is being done by various international sectors.

In the Philippines, the populace is given the chance to contribute by sending cash or check donations thru Philippine National Red Cross and UNICEF Philippines.

Here’s how you can help (excerpts from the article Yahoo! Southeast Asia by Faris):

PHILIPPINE NATIONAL RED CROSS

i) Cash or check donations
Please send cash or check donations to the PNRC National Headquarters along Bonifacio Drive, Port Area, Manila. Checks should be made payable to The Philippine National Red Cross. They can also arrange for donation pick up. Please include name, contact details and “Pakistan Floods” at the back of the check. You may contact them at (632) 5270000.

ii) Bank deposit, credit card, SMS and G-CASH donations
Donors can donate via bank deposit, credit card, SMS and G-CASH.

UNICEF PHILIPPINES

Please contact the UNICEF donor hotlines for more information on how to help the Pakistan flood victims (632) 758-1000 / 758-1442.

Tuna Fried Rice Recipe

Hubby turned our canned tuna and leftover rice into a creative dish. The Tuna Fried Rice is an interesting alternative to our usual garlic fried rice.

This recipe can be a complete meal on its own with a little sprinkle of pepper, salt and lemon juice. And, just like any other fried rice, it can be paired to any of your favorite dish. As for me, I like to serve fried rice with saucy dishes.

What I like about this particular recipe is the crunchiness of the carrots. Initially the carrots were intended to add color to the dish. It served its purpose though and as a bonus it did make the fried rice fun and healthy to eat.

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Tuna Fried Rice

Here is our Tuna Fried Rice recipe:

Ingredients:
1 can tuna chunks, drained
3-4 cups cooked rice (leftover rice)
1 medium size carrot, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of salt
Cooking oil

Cooking Procedure:
1) Heat oil in a deep pan or wok.
2) Fry the garlic until golden brown.
3) Stir in the diced carrots and cook for 1 minute (or until tender if you desire).
4) Add the tuna chunks and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
5) Add the cooked rice gradually in order to blend well with the stir-fried mixture of tuna and carrots.
6) Season with salt and stir constantly to heat the rice throughout.
7) Serve hot!

This recipe serves up to 4 persons.

Broccoli in Oyster Sauce Recipe

One quick and easy recipe to make is Broccoli in Oyster Sauce. It involves a simple cooking method of stir-frying garlic, broccoli and oyster sauce. In less than no time your meal is ready. Other kinds of vegetable can be cooked this way also, like zucchini, cauliflower, cabbage, snow peas, carrots, etc. Two or more kinds of vegetables can also be combined to create this delectable and nutritious recipe, just like my 3-Kind Vegetable Stir-Fry recipe.

I often prepare this dish to pair it with anything fried or pan-roasted. Aside from being simple to prepare, it is rich with nutritional and health values. Research says that broccoli is rich in vitamins C, A and K, as well as dietary fiber. Broccoli also has anti-cancer properties.

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Broccoli in Oyster Sauce

Here is my Broccoli in Oyster Sauce Recipe.

Ingredients:
500 grams Broccoli, cut into small florets
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
5 tablespoons oyster sauce (add more if desired)
¼ cup water or broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooking oil

Cooking Procedure:
1) Heat oil in a deep pan (or wok if you have any).
2) Sauté minced garlic. Do not brown.
3) Add oyster sauce and cook for under a minute.
4) Add in broccoli florets and stir-fry in 3-5 minutes over a high heat.
5) The water or broth should be added within the first 2 minutes of stir-frying the broccoli florets.
6) Season with salt and pepper to taste.
7) Serve with steamed rice and your favorite fried or pan-roasted meat or fish.

This recipe serves 3-4 persons.

Broccoli is quick to cook. And, to know when to remove it from heat is when it turns to bright green in color.

Try this recipe and you’ll surely enjoy it!

McDonald’s McArabia Sandwich

I have fallen in love with McArabia Sandwich by McDonald’s since I started to notice it about a couple of months ago. I would have not learned of its existence if not for my Lebanese boss at work who I overheard ordering McArabia sandwich.

According to Wikipedia.com, in 2003 McArabia was introduced in the Middle East by McDonalds via a large advertising campaign. It has been very well received in the region and has become popular since then especially in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

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McArabia Sandwich Meal

McArabia is an Arabic-themed sandwich available in two versions, grilled chicken and grilled kofta (beef with spices). Two patties of grilled chicken or grilled kofta are wrapped in Arabic pita bread with lettuce, tomatoes, onion and garlic mayonnaise. The Arabic pita bread with tiny little bits of black sesame seeds is soft and tasty. The garlic mayonnaise was a perfect dressing to the vegetables and patties.

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McArabia Sandwich

I am really enjoying McArabia all the time. Actually, I should say I’m lovin it! Just like the slogan on its handy small pouch wrapper. It’s the better (and healthier) alternative to a regular McDonald’s burger.

Whenever you have the chance, try it!

Shrimps and Vegetable Spaghettini Recipe

This shrimps and vegetable spaghetti recipe is a healthy option for a pasta dish, in which I used oil-based sauce. Other types of pasta sauce may be tomato-based, cream-based, herb-based or meat-based.

It is recommended for oil-based sauce pasta to use strand pasta. I used spaghettini for this dish. Spaghettini is thinner than the regular spaghetti.

What makes my shrimps and vegetable spaghetti recipe healthier than other spaghetti recipes? It is because I incorporated a mix of vegetables to it.

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Shrimp and Vegetable Spaghettini

Here’s my shrimps and vegetable spaghetti recipe.

Ingredients:
400 grams Spaghettini
500 grams fresh shrimps, shelled and washed
1 large broccoli, cut into small florets
1 large red bell pepper, roasted and sliced into long strips
2 large fresh tomatoes, diced (or 200g sun-dried tomatoes)
5 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon chili flakes
½ teaspoon dried basil
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Procedure:
1. Cook spaghettini according to instructions. Cook it al dente and reserve a little amount of the pasta water.
2. Heat olive oil in a large pan.
3. Sauté minced garlic. Do not brown. Then, add the chili flakes.
4. Stir in shelled shrimps and cook for 2 minutes.
5. Add broccoli, stir well and cook for 2-3 minutes.
6. Add the grilled bell pepper and diced tomatoes.
7. Season with salt, pepper and dried basil.
8. Toss in the cooked spaghettini.
9. Mix well and cook for 3-5 minutes.
10. Remove from heat. Drizzle with olive oil.

This recipe serves 4-5 persons.

I sliced the shrimps into half and the result was a twirled cooked shrimps which were delight to the eyes.

To add more herb flavor, use sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil leaves and chopped parsley.

Eggplant Salad Recipe (Ensaladang Talong)

This pinoy eggplant salad recipe or ensaladang talong is a creation of my hubby, which he learned from my mother-in-law. He did a little modification to the original ingredients by adding vinegar to it. This eggplant salad has instantly become one of my favorite salads. It is best served with grilled or fried fish.

The eggplants can be boiled or grilled. I prefer to grill the eggplants to get the smokey flavor. Since it is not possible to use charcoal grill indoor, grilling the eggplants on a stove top would be enough alternative. If you choose to boil the eggplants instead of grilling, peeling them will not be necessary. They can be eaten with the skin on.

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Grilling the Eggplants on a Stove-top

I highly recommend that you try this salad recipe and you’ll surely enjoy it!

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Eggplant Salad

Here’s the recipe for the Eggplant Salad (ensaladang talong).

Ingredients:
5-6 medium-size eggplants
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 medium-size onion, thinly sliced
1 piece green or red hot chili, remove seeds and slice thinly
2-3 tbsp. bagoong (add more if desired)
1 tbsp. vinegar (add more if desired)

Preparation Instructions:
1) Grill the eggplants until its skin is burnt.
2) Peel the eggplants. Remove any excess burnt skins.
3) Cut and roughly shred the peeled eggplants into 2 inches long and place in a bowl.
4) Mix in the thinly sliced onion and green chili.
5) Season with bagoong and vinegar, and then mix well all the ingredients.
6) Serve with fish or seafood and steamed rice.

Serving size: 3
Preparation time: 15-20 minutes

Sardines with Misua

I prepared one quick and easy recipe for a late lunch today. It is the second day of no lunch breaks policy at work to give respect to the fasting traditions of Ramadan. I got home from work with a really hungry stomach at past 2pm. Anything in the cupboard or fridge that can be cooked and eaten was appetizing for me but it had to be done quickly. I initially thought of opening a can of sardines and eat it right away but I had a better idea. Besides hubby is still on his way home so I had to wait a little more. I enhanced the plain sardines in can dish and cooked it with misua.

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Sardines with Misua

Misua is made of wheat flour and one of the varieties of Chinese noodles. It is very fine and brittle.

I finished cooking in no less than 15 minutes. It is recommended though that the sardines should be in tomato base but the only available can of sardines we had in the cupboard is in oil. I cooked it anyway with a little twist. I sautéed 2 large ripe chopped tomatoes to satisfy the tomato base. I was brave with the experiment and it tasted just as delicious as in using a tomato base sardines in can!

Here’s the recipe for my Sardines with Misua:

Ingredients:
1 small can sardines
50 grams misua
2 large chopped tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. fish sauce
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1-2 cups water
cooking oil

Cooking Instructions:
1) Heat oil in a small cooking pot.
2) When the oil is hot enough, sauté garlic until light brown.
3) Add chopped onions and cooked until translucent.
4) Put in the chopped tomatoes. Cook until saucy under medium heat.
5) Add the sardines, fish sauce and ground pepper. Cook for 2 minutes while stirring.
6) Add the water and let boil.
7) Put in misua and cook for 3 to 5 minutes.
8) Remove from heat, then serve in a bowl.
9) If desired, garnish with toasted garlic and chopped spring onion.

Ramadan 2010

It’s that time of the year again for our Muslim brothers. The Holy month of Ramadan begins today, 11th August 2010. As a non-Muslim living in the Middle East, a Muslim-denominated region, I have to be reminded to respect the traditions of the fasting month of Ramadan. And so, I re-visited my blog article last year which helped me to refresh myself of the Ramadan etiquettes for non-Muslims.


photo credit: tinypic.com

During this fasting month, Non-Muslims should be considerate and sensitive of the traditions. Here in the UAE, every year the dailies remind and highly encourage the people to abstain from eating, drinking and smoking during daylight in public. Violators and offenders will be punished as per UAE laws.

Most food shops at this time of the year will not be opened until sunset or Iftar, there are some though that offer home deliveries. Iftar is the first meal of the day after the fast. The most popular way of breaking the fast is by eating dates or drinking some water. Dates are popular palm tree fruits here in the Middle East and tastes really sweet when ripe.

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