Batchoy

If only every morning can be as good as batchoy: as amazing as the the thick, chicaron-laden broth and as smooth and velvety as slurping the noodles while making that peculiar sound.

But no, not all mornings are nice. Most of the time I have to drag myself out of bed, and to think I haven’t done anything professionally productive in the last three months!
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But it was a relatively calm and peaceful morning today. No, I don’t live in a rough neighborhood. It’s calm and peaceful because everything just fell into place: I woke up in a good mood (and early to boot), and the first thing I did was to finish making the broth that’s been sitting on the stove overnight.
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I don’t like eating innards, especially liver. I despise it. And batchoy usually has liver, spleen (and all that nasty stuff) mixed with the broth. So I took matters into my own hands and made a friendlier version of batchoy. I have a pretty good feeling what I made isn’t remotely ‘La Paz’ but nonetheless, it was a great, great start for me today.
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Dig in.
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Batchoy (serves 6 – 8)

500 grams fresh batchoy noodles (thinner than regular miki noodles)

Broth:

  • 1 whole garlic head, minced
  • 2 large white onions, cubed
  • One 1-inch piece ginger, minced
  • ¼ kg/250 grams pork shoulder, cut into small, ½ inch cubes
  • 2 pork broth cubes
  • 1 shrimp broth cube
  • 2 -3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cane vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 10 – 12 cups water
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • Optional: 1 cup crushed pork cracklings

Garnish:

  • 5-6 pieces Napa cabbage/Chinese pechay, sliced thinly
  • 5-6 stalks green onions/scallions, sliced thinly
  • Pork crackling/chicharon, roughly crushed
  1. In a large stockpot, over medium heat heat oil enough to cover the bottom of the pot.
  2. Add the onions and cook until slightly translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and toast until fragrant.
  3. Add the pork and frequently stir to cook. Season with salt and pepper. Allow pork to toast, around 10 – 15 minutes.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients for the broth. Adjust taste to your preference by adding more water or seasoning.
  5. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to the lowest point. Optional: add crushed pork cracklings to the broth and stir. Let it simmer for 1 hour (or more, if you like).
  6. Put noodles in a colander and run it through warm water to clean.
  7. When ready to serve, put noodles and Napa cabbage in individual bowls. Add the broth. Garnish with pork crackling and green onions. Serve immediately and enjoy!

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And let me just put it out there: IT’S MORE FUN IN THE PHILIPPINES!

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This is by far, my favorite ad shot because of the picture itself

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But this one takes the cake. Lechon is amazingly fun after all.

And why exactly we append the article ‘The’, well, maybe this can help. 

Szechuan Eggplant

It was really Kylie Kwong who introduced me to szechuan/szechwan/sichuan cuisine through her television show. Well, it was really just one episode. I’m not sure how long ago that was, but it was before I saw her as a guest judge on Masterchef Australia.

Anyway, szechuan cuisine is know for simple dishes emboldened by adding chilies, garlic and other flavors that are a trademark of Chinese cuisine (thank you Wiki). The fact that Chinese condiments are readily available in groceries makes discovering this form of cuisine pretty straightforward. Where I come from, of all the different Asian techniques and flavors, Chinese is the most pervasive (hello there Chowking).

Kylie also made this during one of the Masterclass episodes in season 2. At that time I really didn’t have enough inspiration to make it. Then a few days ago, I saw an easy how-to video for the dish (from a newspaper website), and it looked delicious and easy enough to make. I think it was also during that time that I had tortang talong (eggplant omelet); something that I really enjoy eating but have yet to make.

So it seems the forces of nature have spoken.

With an appetite whet, I said to myself “Ok grasshopper, the time has come” *cue the gongs.

Szechuan Eggplant (serves 6 – 8 )

  • 6 medium sized eggplants, sliced crosswise in half then sliced lengthwise into fat sticks.
  • ¼ kg ground pork
  • Half a garlic head, minced
  • One 1 inch piece ginger, sliced
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in ¼ cup water

Marinade:

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • Freshly cracked pepper
  • Sauce:
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp chilli garlic paste (Lee Kum Kee)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • Optional: 1 tbsp rice wine
  1. In a bowl, combine the ingredients for the marinade and add the pork. Let stand in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a bowl combine the ingredients for the sauce.
  3. In a wok (big enough to hold the eggplants) heat enough sesame oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the ground pork mixture and cook until fat renders and meat is lightly browned.
  4. When cooked, remove from pan. Using the same pan and the oil, over medium heat, add the garlic and ginger and toast until fragrant.
  5.  Add the eggplants and stir – fry to cook until tender. About 3 – 5 minutes.
  6. Add the sauce, the pork and mix well. Add the cornstarch slurry and cook until thickened and eggplants are tender. Serve warm and enjoy!