In Which Corndogs are Given a Korean Twist…

Ooh, corndogs!

Of late, Korean pop culture has gained quite a following among many young Filipinos what with Korea-novellas airing on free television, K-pop blaring from mp3 players throughout the archipelago, and kids trying their darndest best to look like the kids from Super Junior, the Wonder Girls, and 2NE1 regardless of the fact that they will never be as pale of skin or slanted of eye as any of their idols.

Korean street-snacks have also been gaining sway in many food courts in the country’s bigger cities.  It’s mostly been potato-based treats like the tornado potato (a whole skewered potato that’s been very thinly spiral-sliced and deep-fried till crisp) and the garlic-and-soy potatoes sold in a stall that recently opened at the SM Megamall Food Court.  There’s pa jeon (seafood pancakes, kind of like Japanese okonomiyaki, only much thinner), mandu (gyoza-ish steamed/fried meat dumplings), and sweet griddle cakes filled with either red bean or custard.

And now, we have what the folks at SM refer to as a Korean hotdog.

Mustard? Yes, it should definitely be mustard…

Korean hotdogs are, essentially, an Asiatic spin on corndogs.  In this particular case, the ‘dogs (those scarlet-skinned Purefoods Tender Juicies) aren’t dunked in a corn-based batter.  Instead, these are dunked in a batter that, based on the texture, has a mix of wheat and glutinous rice flours.  The battered ‘dogs are then blanched in boiling oil and are then rolled in panko breadcrumbs and fried a second time to give it a crunchy golden crust.

The end result is a corndog whose crust is similar to the Okinawan snack sata andagi in that it is very crunchy and yields into a soft, chewy, moreish inside.  The sausage within, of course, was nothing really to write about as it was a generic ‘dog.  But, truth be told, this made quite a satisfying snack on the road home – and, in my personal opinion, honey mustard is the only sauce that goes perfectly with it.

 

In Which the Blogger Gives a Regional Spin to a Dinner Favorite…

Looks like a plan…

Meatball curry has long been a favored dinner dish at my house and for good reason:  it’s easy to prepare – heck, you can actually make and cook the meatballs well ahead – and tastes pretty darned good.  If you use Japanese curry roux as I’ve done, you get a sweet, mild curry that goes over well with even the most die-hard curry-haters.

But recently, my mom came home raving rather delightedly about the curried meatballs she’d had for lunch.  This particular meatball curry took the poached pork balls normally used for the Spanish-inspired dish albondigas (pork balls cooked in a clear broth with misua [soft wheat noodles]) and paired them up with the coconut cream-based sauce normally used for the local spin on chicken curry.  The end result, I’m told, was utterly delicious.

It was a rather spicy bit of curry, actually…

I confess that I’ve never cooked chicken curry from scratch because I’m all thumbs at grating coconuts and squeezing the milk thereof.  However, I was so seriously intrigued by the dish my mom was raving about and decided to give it a go.

My version is actually a tribute to all the easy ways out in that I used Asian Home Gourmet‘s spice paste for Singapore-style chicken curry and some Fiesta coconut milk powder (just chuck it into a cup of hot water – et voila! –  coconut cream).  I used my own recipe for meatballs and tossed in some chunked-up carrots and potatoes to round things out.

The end result was a deliciously fragrant, creamy, savory curry with moreish bits of pork and tender veg.  Considering this was several notches spicier than my usual curry, I was pleasantly surprised to see everyone – even my spice-wary mother – take generous helpings of the dish.  I daresay I’ll be repeating this one soon enough.  😉

In Which One Has a Fast Spanish Fiesta

Quite a meaty spread, wouldn’t you say?

Like many Filipinos, I grew up with some measure of Spanish cuisine cooked in and served out of the kitchen at home.  Indeed, many dishes cooked during the cooler months and are considered comfort food by many Filipinos based here or overseas are of Spanish origin: hearty beef caldereta, tomato-ey chicken afritada, comforting fabada, and chunky menudo (a concoction of diced pork, spuds, carrots, sausage, and – sometimes – raisins in tomato sauce).

However, if you’re the sort of person who rarely ever has the opportunity to enjoy home-cooked meals because you’re either a) putting in extra hours at work; b) having a hard time catching a bus home where you don’t have to stand in the aisle for the whole run from Makati to Muntinlupa; c) too exhausted to eat when you come home; or d) all of the above (which is exactly what I’ve been these past three months!), Cucina at the food court at Glorietta IV has the sort of Spanish meals that can – and will – put color back in your face, fire in your belly, and a spring in your step for the road home.

My particular fave is a combo plate that features incredibly tender roast pork in a tomato sauce, lengua [ox tongue] in a rich tomato and mushroom gravy, and pork sisig with just the right balance of flavors and textures.  Throw in a scoop of paella rather than plain rice and you, my friend, have a proper Spanish fiesta for a truly flavorful and satisfying dinner.

In Which the Blogger is Cheered Up by a Black Sesame Treat…

Black Sesame Mochiko

About a month ago, prior to my trip to Iloilo, stress began to take its toll on me.  Both my physical health and my general happiness began to suffer thanks to very little in the way of sleep, too many things to think about, and pretty much feeling more than a little unappreciated, overwhelmed, and totally useless.

Sometimes, I would get home too tired to eat dinner: I’d just try to drown myself under the shower and manage – barely- to haul myself to bed.  Other times, I would find myself wondering if any of the things I did was worth it, if what I was doing still had any meaning in my life, and whether or not I was a fool for staying where I was, for staying in the Philippines where the political situation is pretty much shot to hell and the economics are even more so.

One evening, my sister managed to cheer me up with a small treat that she kept for me in the freezer: a black sesame ice cream mochi from Mochiko.

Mochiko is run by Fruits in Ice Cream and has been a long-time staple of such foodie fairs as the Mercato Centrale Night Market in Taguig and The Collective in Makati.  As its name suggests, it features scoops of ice cream wrapped in mochi [Japanese-inspired sweet rice dough] – a delightful enough notion on its own, but the variety of flavors makes it even more amazing.  You can get cookie dough, matcha [green tea], adzuki [sweetened red bean], caramel, and even avocado.

And, yes: the black sesame.

You need to let this baby thaw out for a few minutes out of the freezer before scoffing it down – and, even then, you should take the time to appreciate the mixture of flavors and textures.  It isn’t impressive to look at; indeed, this wee beastie is rather on the drab, gray side.  But the second you take a bite, it goes ballistic on you.  The chewy mochi coating is interspersed with crisp, smoky-tasting tidbits of toasted black sesame.  This, in turn, gives way to creamy-rich FIC ice cream that is rather vanilla-esque at first, then goes all rich and nutty with that wonted sesame taste.

I seriously nibbled at this treat little by little, savoring every last bit of it as much as possible.  It may not have solved all my problems that evening, nor did it soothe all my aches and pains in both body and soul.  But, by gum: it sure put a smile on my face and – since it was supper in its entirety – sent me off to a deep, restful sleep at the end of an excruciatingly long day.

In Which One Bakes for the Community…

Cinnamon Cake

Over the past weekend, I spent the bulk of my time at our community’s parish for the quarterly Parish Renewal Experience (PREX).  As part of the organizing class, I helped in a number of ways: calling up both organizers and participants, preparing presentations, writing notes, running out to buy supplies from time to time, relieving the prayer-warriors in the downstairs chapel, and – to keep people’s spirits up despite the seemingly overwhelming amount of work – I baked.

This is what I refer to as a PREX Cake, a wee treat that I’ve named after the event.  It is, in essence, a riff on two things: cinnamon-infused snickerdoodle cookies and a community-feeding traybake.  It’s not too sweet, buttery, quite moreish, and is definitely a great way to feed a crowd.

The thing about baking for a crowd is that it helps to bring people together.  People find comfort in the smell of fresh-baked treats.  They pause from whatever it is they’re doing at the moment, take a good deep breath, sit down, and accept a bite of cake and a sip of coffee whilst chatting or joking with others. They bond over such a small experience and this helps pull everyone’s efforts in for bigger tasks.

It is, truly, amazing how even something as small as a piece of cake can be part of a community-building experience.

PREX Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • additional 2 tablespoons sugar mixed with additional 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 eggs

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees/Gas Mark 4.  Grease a large rectangular baking dish; set aside.

Whisk together the sugar, butter, milk, and eggs.  Sift in the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon.  Mix until you get a smooth-ish batter.  Pour the batter into the prepared dish and sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar evenly over the top.  Bake for 25 – 28 minutes.

Allow to cool for 25 minutes before cutting into small squares.  Yields approximately 64 squares.

Incidentally, this also makes a great fund-raiser for community events.  🙂