Pancit Guisado

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There’s no excuse for it, so I might as well just put it out there: I’ve been deliberately avoiding my blog. I haven’t been in the kitchen for a while, my posting schedule is pretty much zilch, and…well, I didn’t really care. I think, or at least I’d like to believe that every writer/blogger has gone through a period where…inspiration isn’t really there. You feel parched, tired and done for. Does that sound familiar?

A few things first:

1. I finished reading The Millennium trilogy (ie The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and its sequels) and, I am experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Stieg Larsson just has this ability to draw you in, and I was sucked into a ‘happy’ black hole for a while, hence I took a respite from hardcore writing.

2. My barbecue craving hasn’t abated yet, so watch out for more barbecue dishes soon! (If the grilled pieces of pork and chicken haven’t been the death of me yet!)

3. At least three people wanted to send me herbs, but since international shipping is pricey, it’ll only remain a dream. This is still an invitation to any Filipino living in the Philippines, who might be interested in helping a fella out. (wink)

Anyway, am I back in motion? Hopefully. If there’s one thing I learned from my retreat, it’s that hope is a powerful word. So here I am, hoping for the best.

April rolled by and the first day of May came as a surprise for me. The Kulinarya Club holds a monthly challenge with a specific theme, and strangely enough I only knew of the April theme when the other members started posting their works. It turns out the notice got lost in the mail, so before I jump into the May challenge, here is my attempt at ‘Filipino Food Truck Fare’, brought to you by Louie and Nathan. The premise is that food from a food truck is portable and easy-to-eat, since apparently food trucks have a huge following in the US.
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When I was reviewing for my boards, the university’s newly renovated two-story cafeteria was opened. It was a far cry from the two small cramped canteens that served the entire campus. The cafeteria now had a reasonable number of food stalls that served ‘decent’ to ‘great’ food, depending on what stall you choose to buy from. There’s this one stall that serves ‘great’ dimsum – siomai (steamed or friend), rolls,  and fried rice and noodles. I go there for the siomai and the noodles, or sometimes both, because if I order the friend noodles, there’s always a siomai or two resting on top.

Observing how they put together the fried noodles is pretty straightforward. Pre-boiled/softened egg noodles have been measured and placed in small individual plastic containers. When somebody orders, all they have to do is get a container, dump the noodles on the pan with oil, then add a little bit of what I assume to be a soy sauce mixture, mix it all together, place it in a small serving bowl, and top it with siomai. That method can easily mesh with the whole dynamic of a food truck, because it’s easy and makes so much sense.
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I tried to bring back that ‘noodle love’ by making a simplified version of pancit guisado. Guisado in our context means ‘sautéed‘, and there’s a lot of it going on here. This is Chinese-Filipino happiness on a plate. The taste actually reminds me of the pancit canton of a popular fast food chain here in the Philippines that may or may not be called Chowking.

Oh, and we didn’t have any cardboard takeout boxes, so for a moment, let’s just imagine these ceramic bowls are light as a feather.
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Pancit Guisado (serves 1 – 2)

  • 100 grams dried pancit canton noodles
  • 5 – 6 pieces medium-sized prawns (deveined, head and shell removed), each sliced into 3 – 4 small pieces
  • half a medium-sized carrot, sliced thinly
  • 100 – 150 grams pork belly, sliced into bite sized cubes
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • half a garlic bulb, minced
  • 2 small red onions, sliced
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • spring onions, sliced, for garnish
  1. Cook the noodles in a pot of boiling water. The noodles may cook fast, around 1 – 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Cook the pork pieces by placing it in a frying pan and adding the water. Let the water boil and cook the pork until the water dries up, pork starts to toast, and fat begins to render. Add the 1/4 cup soy sauce and cook until tender. Set aside.
  3. In a pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions. Saute until fragrant. Add the carrots and fry until slightly tender.
  4. Add the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and the prawns. Mix everything together and cook until prawns are pink, around a minute or two. Add the pork belly and noodles.
  5. Mix everything together and fry for another 30 seconds. When done, remove from pan and serve in individual bowls or in a takeout box for that full effect. Garnish with the spring onions and serve. Enjoy!

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MNL Snippets

It’s been a few hours since I got back from Manila, again. More pleasure than business this time, though I managed to squeeze in a day of productive school and accommodations inquiry. But I won’t go into the details, because nothing’s set in stone. But I am hoping, with fingers crossed, that the words ‘career shift’ will make 2012, my year.

Anyway.

I might as well post photos of what I ate, since at this unholy hour, photos and food are more interesting.
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first stop: Congo Grill at SM Mall of Asia. A nice family resto that serves reasonably priced and portioned food. Don’t forget to try their SISIG – laced with chicharon/pork skin cracklings, drizzled with a light and creamy white sauce that’s still, but also not quite, mayo.
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Random note: their iced tea is orange flavored. I didn’t like it, even if I knew it was Nestea.
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The next day: Cafe Via Mare at The Landmark. A restaurant inside a department store is ingenious. A plus considering it shares the same floor with the ladies’ dep. Dad and I were perfectly comfortable perusing the menu while Mom was busy enjoying the chaotic ambiance of sales and shoes.
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Noteworthy: Adobo flakes. Crispy and full of that salty-sour adobo flavor, this “all day breakfast” fare tasted pretty good; perfect for a hungry shopper. Ambiance was great. Basically any resto that serves great Filipino food is a winner in my book.
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The Ensaladang Bagnet/Bagnet salad was also great. Bagnet is deep fried pork belly, and the salad is a mix of mustasa/mustard greens, tomatoes and onions. Normally with a distinct bitter taste, the mustasa was pleasantly mellowed by the dressing and went really well with the other ingredients. I need to replicate this.
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Not to be outdone is their bibingka topped with salted egg. For some strange reason I needed to have my bibingka fix. Served hot, this heavy ‘dessert’ is perfect as it is.
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Also ingenious: Chatime sharing the same floor with Via Mare. I ordered the Original Roasted blend, Taro and Matcha Red Bean. Though I still think Gong Cha and Zensonita are amazing, Chatime’s Taro was a surprise. It was rich, dense and definitely starchy, like a heavy smoothie. All of these had half the amount of sugar. I think I should have ordered the full.
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The next day dad and I were left to our own devices. After checking out a school in Makati, we went to Lutong Macau, a Chinese restaurant that caters to Jupiter Street’s busy professional strip. It was a good thing we went there before lunch, because we were told that place becomes packed pretty fast when the clock strikes 12.
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To say it was a heavy lunch was an understatement. We each had a small plate of dim sum as an appetizer. Looking back I think it was a bad call because we almost had no room left to finish our meals.
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Noteworthy: Pancit Canton and Lechon Macau. Though I’ve tasted my fair share of pancit canton, I can’t really say that theirs was a dish I’ve already tried (that’s a good thing). I like my pancit canton dry, but I made an exception for their ‘soupy’ variety. They served it with kwek-kwek/breaded, deep friend quail eggs, which was definitely Chinese.

The lechon macau, pork belly with a crispy skin, with just a hint of five spice, was deliciously sinful. I couldn’t finish the rice that came with it. It’s funny that I only had lechon macau here in the Philippines and not in Macau, where it’s supposedly from.
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On our last full day in Manila, we found ourselves stranded at Bonifacio Global because of the heavy rain. And I couldn’t think of a better way to while away the time than to spend it at Fully Booked’s Starbucks outlet.

Cozily tucked inside Fully Booked’s 3rd (or was it 4th?) floor, it was a comforting haven for readers who enjoy the experience of spending precious uninterrupted time with a good read.
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What made it even more comforting was their crew, particularly the barista who took our orders. I’ve officially met the friendliest barista in the world. The way she carried herself with ease, and showered with attention everyone who came in really made the place better. And here I am gushing.

A cup of hot coffee, books, bed weather and friendly people – I couldn’t ask for anything more.
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That night, in another location that can’t be disclosed, I finally took a picture of a friend that took to me pretty well. I was sitting down as he approached me, rested his head on my lap, and looked at me with those big doe eyes. He doesn’t take too kindly to strangers, I was told. I think the massage I gave him helped quite a bit.

A few hours later we were boarding the plane that would take us home, and here I am a few hours later still sleepy but with enough gumption to post this. If I waited longer the memories might go stale and it wouldn’t have been as ‘freshly pressed’.

I think I wrote enough for one day. I need to give my brain enough time to catch up. To reach this point and not click on ‘save draft’, is a tiny miracle.

Oh, the smudge you see here was supposed to be a plane. It just goes to show that my skill at capturing the moment is also extremely noteworthy (haha).

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