Thursday, March 25, 2010


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Idiot-proof Cooking and Creative Writing (Dish #3: Adobong Pusit)

I remember once when Mama asked me to help make a sponge cake, and for some reason- whether it was the mixing part or the sifting part or the baking part, the entire cake collapsed. The center part of the cake caved in while the sides were relatively firm. That was my last attempt at baking. I despised using measuring cups and spoons- apparently accuracy was not on top of my list, so I left the baking for good to my Mom who was more adept with measurements.

My grandmother, on the other hand was good with estimates. If you notice my recipes, there are hardly measurements- it is because when my grandmother cooks, she usually fine-tunes the taste on the spot. As if by magic, she always knows how much seasoning or which herbs to use. That's 75 years of cooking experience in action, I suppose.

Growing up in a coastal community, there was always fish and other seafood on the table. Strangely enough, I've never grown tired of it because even when I visit the highlands I always find myself veering toward the seafood aisle in the supermarket. Squid has always been a favorite, and believe me I've tasted it in almost all possible ways of preparation- even slicing raw squid, dipping it in vinegar, and eating it (courtesy of the fishermen on my aunt's boat when we hitched a ride in their fishing boat once during my childhood). The dish I'll prepare tonight is more classic though- Adobong Pusit.


1. 1/2 kilo medium sized fresh squid
2. Vinegar
3. Soy sauce
4. Cooking oil
5. Garlic
6. Onions
7. Brown sugar


Clean squid and slice into rings or small pieces (note that this would shrink once its cook so don't overdo it). Mince the garlic and onions. Heat the pan and add the cooking oil, then, yup you guessed it- sauté, sauté, sauté! Walang katapusang gisa. Then add the sliced squid and vinegar. Bring this to a boil, then add the soy sauce.

This part is optional but hey, we won't be pinoy unless we like it sweet right? Add a few tablespoons of brown sugar according to taste. Mix well, allow to simmer in low fire for 30-40 minutes stirring occasionally. When squid is tender or malapot na ang sabaw (shit I don't know how to say that the Martha Stewart way.. hmm wait till the mixture is viscous? ay basta yun na yun!), stir and serve.

Image source

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Idiot-proof Cooking and Creative Writing (Dish #2: Kinilaw na Tanigue)

I woke up early today because I wanted to go jogging at dawn. Incidentally, the best catch of the day- fresh Tanigue at very low price- is usually available at the wet market. Tanigue (King Mackerel) is best prepared the quintessential Visayan way which is "kinilaw". After working up a sweat, I went straight to the Tacloban public market still huffing and puffing from the run.

For P140 I was able to buy a 1 kilo whole fish. Without additional cost, I had the vendor fillet the fish (I can hardly slice a tomato, you can't possibly expect me to have the expertise of removing fish bones) before wrapping it. With a little instruction from Nanay, my 83 year-old grandmother who is visiting for the weekend, I was able to prepare a dish that brought up childhood memories of growing up in a coastal town.


1. Fresh Tanigue
2. Very sour vinegar (those commercially prepared are usually weak)
3. Calamansi
4. Tomatoes, chopped
5. Onions, chopped
6. Bell pepper (optional)
7. Ginger, chopped
8. Salt


Slice the Tanigue into cubes (or just as long as they are sliced into small pieces), soak in vinegar until it appears somewhat opaque (raw fish meat looks translucent). Then firmly squeeze the fish meat to remove the vinegar and place in a clean bowl. Add Calamansi juice making sure to soak the fish meat. Season with salt.

Wash the tomatoes, onions, bell pepper, and ginger, then chop, chop, chop! Simply add this to the fish and mix thoroughly. You may add more seasoning according to taste. Some prefer to add gata (coconut milk), but I like kinilaw with just the calamansi juice. Refrigerate before serving (oh well this is actually more of a personal preference).

Image source

Idiot-proof Cooking and Creative Writing (Dish #1: Beef with Broccoli)

They say creative writing is like learning to ride a bike. Even when you haven't done it in a while, the skill itself is never forgotten- it's as if some of the motor and balance centers of your brain became permanently hardwired, and the moment you get a feel of the grips and levers or the pedals beneath your feet again, it all comes rushing back.

I think the last time I picked up a pen to write an article was last December. The past three months truly had been the most hectic, and try as I might to read a novel or an essay leisurely it just wasn't possible with our schedule. From January 4 to March 10, the only free days we had was on January 31 and a single day in February (I know because I counted), the rest of those days we toiled with our readings and neverending exams and requirements.

Having answered a total of about 2,000 questions (pretests alone) and 1,250 questions for post-tests and major exams in total, we barely had time to rest and breathe- hardly any room for me do some soul-searching to get my blogging mojo back.

Today is March 20. I just returned to Tacloban after a 10 day hiatus from the crazy life of a graduating student nurse. As I tried to deperately fill in the free time we suddenly had (ironic, isn't it?) I tried everything from reading a novel- The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, to inspire me to write, to trying to cook, because my partner always rants about how I never had any interest in cooking. I decided it was best to do both, by blogging about the food I learn to prepare or cook. I call this "The Idiot's Guide to Cooking", me of course being the cuisine idiot.

There are two reasons why I never really learned to cook(or had any interest in cooking): first, I'm not really that particular with food- I mean I'm a guy who can live on Instant Pancit Canton dinners for a straight month, and second, growing up we always had household help to do that job. To this N. simply pointed out that I was neither wealthy nor jaded enough to be bored with the intricacies of braising, brewing, frying, and of course, sauté, sauté, sauté. So I reluctantly picked up a butcher's knife to begin my transformation from food moron to chef-from-hell (kidding).


This is the first dish I became familiar with (well, after frying random things from chicken to hotdogs). Very easy to prepare and it takes only a few minutes to cook. Since this was my first time to prepare, I made a lot of bloopers even before cooking- like improperly sharpening the knife, cutting the beef too slowly and too carefully for fear of accidentally amputating my fingers, cutting on the wrong side of the butcher block, and many more, which had my partner's vein on his forehead throb like it was going to explode. Peace, we are just cooking Hun.

1. Beef, cut into strips. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
2. Garlic, peeled and minced.
3. Onions, cut into rings.
4. Broccoli, cut into bite size pieces.
5. Cooking oil
6. Oyster sauce.


If the beef is fresh you may go ahead an cut them into strips, if frozen allow to thaw. Season with salt and pepper- use freshly ground because it tastes better and you can really smell the aroma. Prepare the broccoli and set aside. You may actually opt to either add the broccoli to the dish or make it a side dish by microwaving it with a little butter and seasoning.

Pour oil into the frying pan. Sauté the garlic (gosh how I love using that word haha I feel like a chef already), and add the beef strips. When the beef turns brown, you may add some oyster sauce and a little water. The amount of oyster sauce is according to taste. You add the onions last, or if you prefer you add the broccoli.

Serve with plain rice. If you are feeling particularly snotty, you may have a glass of red wine made from Bordeaux grapes. Oh laban? Hahaha

Stick around for more bloopers and recipes of doom. This is Chef Thadie G signing out.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Apparently, this is How to Prepare for Finals

Bastos version of pinoy henyo during Final Coaching Batch Chrysoberyl 2010


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