Chicken Donburi

I have to be honest – when I was making this post I did my fair, shallow share of research so I won’t offend any sensibilities. But of course, to err is human (haha)

I’m not a hardcore fan of Japanese food. I’m not even familiar with most of what’s considered Japanese. I don’t like sushi but I do enjoy California maki. I can crave for Ebi tempura, but I stay away from katsudon. Well, the issue with pork katsudon is that it was my first real meal after I was operated so eating it brings back memories I’d rather not remember fondly. And don’t get me started on wasabi (!)

But despite that, I still tried to make my first Japanese dish for lunch – chicken donburi. Apparently Japanese fastfood. (And right now I’m walking on eggshells because my disclaimer says it all)

Reading about donburi, I think my first mistake was using a plate instead of a bowl. Donburi means bowl and it’s also the name of a dish consisting of boiled riced topped with meat, fish, eggs and/or vegetables and broth. That’s the general term and it’s further divided into whatever protein is being used – Oyakodon (chicken and egg), Katsudon (pork) etc. I’m not sure if I’m reading what a Jap food purist might write (and we can skirt around some technicalities), so maybe somebody can enlighten this poor soul.

But whatever the process, it was still great. Thighs are my favorite part of the chicken. Groceries don’t sell it deboned so I did it myself. Yeah, this dish is a labor of love in more ways than one. And I’d gladly make this again because it’s so easy.

Making this probably gave me more exp points (this is a joke; experience points = video games = japanese. get it? omg was I offensive?!) in Japanese food appreciation.

Plus Pokemon was my all-time favorite show so maybe that counts for something under the appreciation department. Uhm, don’t hit me.

Chicken Donburi (serves 4 – 6)

adapted from The Best of Food Magazine (2001)

  • 3 chicken thigh fillets
  • 3 drumsticks
  • 1 1/2 cup water/chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup light soy sauce if using chicken stock; 1 cup if using water
  • 1 cup mirin
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 1/4 carrot, chopped into really small pieces/cubes
  • 1 lemon grass stalk, sliced into 3 inch strips
  • 1 pack oyster mushrooms (I didn’t know how many grams it was so how many you put in is your call)
  • 4 eggs
  1. Combine water/stock, soy sauce, mirin and sugar in a saucepan. Stir to mix and bring to a boil.
  2. Stir in chicken, onion, carrot and lemongrass. Lower heat and simmer for eight to ten minutes or until the broth reduces.
  3. Add mushrooms.
  4. In a small bowl, beat the eggs lightly. Pour on top of simmering chicken.
  5. Cover until chicken is fully cooked and eggs are set
  6. Spoon cooked chicken, mushrooms, carrots over a bed of rice. Serve warm with its broth on the side and drizzled on top of the chicken. Enjoy!

Fried Rice (with heaps of Goodies)

Graham Elliot (from Masterchef US) and I share the same sentiments on rice with things in it (risotto, fried rice etc). He calls these other ingredients “goodies” and he likes his rice dish with almost 50% rice and 50% goodies. Hell yeah. Sure, it’s called fried rice for a reason. But my enjoyment really comes from getting a lot of “goodies” on my plate.

I’ve been watching my rice intake for a while now, because my pudgy belly isn’t really the sexiest thing about me. But today, I cut myself some slack since I can’t enjoy fried rice without, well, eating rice.

My mom woke me up today and asked me to make fried rice. I haven’t been the luckiest person when it comes to making it. Usually it ends up under-seasoned or mushy. But at the end of a 30 minute ordeal I managed to whip up something that reminded me of the Yang Chow fried rice we tasted in Hong Kong.

But this dish is very Filipino since I used Ilocos longganisa to really flavor it. Maybe this is a “once in a blue moon” dish since we really don’t have a steady supply of longganisa. Don’t worry, as of writing this I’m already looking for a recipe that approximates the amazingness of Ilocos longganisa.

And it’s my first time to use shrimp balls. I don’t know if it’s readily available in every supermarket but since I’m from Zamboanga, the one I used came from Family Fried Chicken, a restaurant that mass-produces squid balls, kikiam and the like for home consumption. It tastes like shrimp so it’s no surprise there.

I’d like to believe the secret to good fried rice is in the seasoning. No matter how flavorful the ingredients can be, a little sachet of powdered seasoning goes a long way to pull it all together.

Fried Rice (serves 5 – 6)

  • 5 – 6 cups of rice
  • one 150 gram pack shrimp balls, sliced in half
  • 8 pieces Ilocos longganisa, sliced in half, lengthwise and casings removed.
  • 1 chorizo bilbao, sliced
  • Half a carrot, chopped
  • ¼ head of cabbage, chopped finely
  • 1 large white onion, chopped finely
  • 3 eggs
  • Freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • 1 8-gram pack seasoning powder (I used Knorr Meaty seasoning)
  • MSG/Ajinomoto, to taste (I put in 2 dashes)
  • 8 tbsp cooking oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions for garnish
  1. Over medium heat, heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a large wok.
  2. Whisk eggs and season with salt and pepper. Cook the eggs in the wok and make an omelet.
  3. Once done, remove from wok and place on a plate. Shred the omelette to create strips. You don’t have to be precise with this. Go crazy!
  4. Using the same wok, heat 4 tbsp of oil and fry the shrimp balls until tender.
  5. Add the carrot, onion and chorizo. Fry for a minute then add the longganisa. Crumble it and cook until the fat renders, for about 2- 3 minutes.
  6. Add the rice and mix everything together.
  7. Add the seasoning powder and MSG and mix well. Add the cabbage.
  8. Cook for 1 – 2 minutes more and remove from heat.  Top with the shredded omelet. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Hello Hong Kong…and Macau (part 3)

First off, I’m sorry for my lag between posts. I’d like to believe that there’s still the continuity with my posts, despite being held back a day or two. So where were we?

Ah, yes. The Best Part.

I woke up shivering. The AC was turned up to the highest point, and I think it rained a bit during the night. So the window was foggy and covered with dew from the outside. But that only fazed me for a minute, because I know today would be a great day.

We decided that for today, we’ll go visit another Chinese territory: Macau/Macao. I was psyched because my mom told me it’ll be like travelling from Singapore to Malaysia – we have to go through the process of long lines at the immigration counter, since apparently Macau and Hong Kong are two special administrative states which are autonomous-ish. Go figure.

Since we were billeted in a hotel that had a view that was basically city on one side and water on the other, it was natural for the harbor to be located a block away from where we were staying. We just had to walk to…..of all places, a mall, which housed/had the pier for the ferries that leave for Macau. I don’t really have anything to say about the ferry except for the tiny detail of me feeling sea sick. Do not take the First Ferry, take the Cotai Jet if you’re high maintenance (haha), and stay calm while you’re dealing with ticket operators which don’t really have patience for people who can’t speak Mandarin. They can go semi-ballistic so keep your poker face ready.

We arrived at Macau, extremely hungry. It was around 2pm and we still didn’t get a proper meal for the day. So our tour guide (Yes, it was necessary to get a tour guide in Macau, and no, we didn’t have a tour guide when we were in HK) took us to a hotel (I think it was called Mocha) which had a food court in one of its floors. Apparently hotels are the lifeblood of Macau – there are exhibits, casinos, stores and food courts all rolled into a building.

And what could be better to quell my hunger than to have a bowl of rice, topped with what I have been waiting to devour since I got to Hong Kong: Peking Duck.

That was a meal to remember. It was amazing. Basically Peking Duck is roasted duck, hung out to dry, marinated with flavors I have yet to comprehend (please, somebody help me!).

The skin, was juicy, slightly crispy and fatty and had this intense flavor to it that came from the flavorings used. As for the meat, well, ironically it didn’t taste like chicken. It had an earthy flavor to it, it was succulent, very meaty without a lot of fat.

And I realized what it reminded me of – lechon meat. No, not the fatty meat, but the lean meat without a lot of fat. It wasn’t tough at all. It had this slightly chewy yet soft texture to it. I heard that overcooked duck meat is leathery, so I was glad it was not that all. And they serve it with a side of Bok Choy (not in picture), which was a nice addition as well.

Forgive me for just posting the rest of the pictures of what my mom and ninang ate. Nothing could top the epiphany my mouth just had.

Next stop – The Ruins of St. Paul’s cathedral. Getting there was nice because we had to pass through a slightly narrow street jam-packed with people. The buildings were an eclectic mix of Spanish and Chinese, from run-down to modern.

The cobbled streets really made me feel that even if nothing escapes time, there are just some things that will never go out of style. And it was lined with stores selling everything from food, souvenirs to clothing. It was lovely chaos.

Despite the fact that I’ve just been to one of Macau’s most iconic landmarks…there was one icon that I was more excited about:

Go figure. I just had Peking Duck, I was on a roll.

Now, let it be known to the world, that Hong Kong Disneyland’s egg tarts could never hold a candle to what I just ate. It was….just so good.

The egg custard filling was soft and velvet-y with just the right amount of sweetness. And like HK Disneyland’s egg tart crust, Macau’s was puffy, crumbly and had this melt in your mouth deliciousness.

Now it was time to go “hotel-hopping”. I mentioned awhile ago that hotels were the go-to places when tourists visit Macau. I like that idea of swanky snooty hotels being built to offer attractions and free admission for people who just want to look around.

One of the hotels, I’m not sure if it was the Wynn or The Grand Lisboa, had the Dragon of Fortune show. There’s basically a large circular area with a big dome in the center. When it’s time, the dome opens, smoke billows and out comes a larger than life mechanical dragon.

And the ceiling, which we thought was just for posterity, opened to reveal a digital fire show.

Our tour guide said we didn’t arrive in time for the better show: the Tree of Prosperity which was according to him, more beautiful than a larger than life scary dragon.

At the end of the day, the highlight of the trip, aside from the Egg Tarts, was most definitely…..the Venetian Macau.

And this is where I scream “cliff hanger!!!”

There’s too much for me to talk about that I didn’t have it in me to cram all of it into one post. So…

(please don’t hit me)

To be continued.

Cream Dory with Lemon Butter Sauce and Black Olives

I began my relationship with Cream Dory a few months ago, when I saw a tarpaulin ad a block away from our house, about a local breeder selling it for 90php/kilo.

I knew commercial Cream Dory was pricey. I first tasted it in a restaurant, and it  fetched at around 150+php a plate. Then I saw fillets being sold at the grocery store and a half kilo (around two fillet slices I think) was 200+php! Steep.

They only deliver when you buy  5 kilos and above , so that’s around 500php and you can have it filleted for 10 php per kilo. Not bad at all. Plus I have no experience filleting a fish (and I’m lazy to learn) so what’s 10php for convenience? I like the fact that they deliver it filleted + with the skin and bones that I usually give to my aunt for her to make soup out of it.

When I first tasted it, I liked it because it was soft, and had this melt in your mouth quality like butter. It’s generally bland so it was paired with a lemon butter sauce that married the flavors perfectly. It was perfect with rice.

We order from the breeder from time to time since it usually takes a while for us to finish the fish – 5 kilos is a lot afterall. My favorite way of preparing it? Well, I have two recipes that I really like. One is marinating it in soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and toasted sesame seeds then frying it to make a crazy Oriental explosion.

The other one, which I’m going to share right now, brings me back to the first time I tasted Cream Dory  – lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, fried then coated with a lemon butter sauce. It’s really simple and who doesn’t enjoy the clean, citrus smell from the lemons that really fill up the room? I think the smell plus the acidity cuts through the fatty bland taste of the fish really well, with the butter adding a creamy, really light decadence to the dish. Food for the soul, if I do say so myself.

Cream Dory with Lemon Butter Sauce and Black Olives (serves 2-3)

3 pieces Cream Dory fillet

salt and pepper

1 lemon

1/4 tsp dried basil leaves

4 pieces pitted black olives, sliced

1 – 2 tbsp butter + 2 tbsp for the sauce

1 tsp sugar

2 tbsp olive oil

1. Season the fillets with salt and pepper and set aside.

2. Heat a frying pan large enough for the 3 pieces and add the olive oil.

3. Add the butter and allow the butter to melt but not burn. Using a cheese grater, zest the lemon enough until you can smell its awesomeness.

4. Add the fillet and fry for 2 – 3 minutes on both sides or until done. Remove from the pan and set aside. Do not discard the oil

5. Add more butter to the oil. Squeeze the juice from the lemon using a small juicer and add the juice to the oil. Mix until everything has been incorporated well. Add the sugar ( you may adjust the taste to your preference ).

6. Add the sliced olives and remove the sauce from the pan. Drizzle the sauce generously on the fish and if you’re really hungry, serve the dish hot with a cup (or three) of steaming white rice.