Auguest 2020: JM de Guzman

Pinais na Hipon at Niyog na may Palapa (Shrimp wrapped in Banana Leaves with Coconut and Green Palapa)

“Food isn’t just something to eat to satisfy an empty stomach or a craving palate. One must know the story about every dish, and celebrate it as a work of art, culture, tradition, custom and beliefs of its creator, and by doing that, we don’t just let them know how we appreciate their food but also honour the people and the nation behind it.” — JM de Guzman

Auguest 2020: JM de Guzman

I’d like to thank Miss Allison, for inviting me once again to do an Auguest post on her blog. I’m also thrilled to share this recipe, which I personally developed for this year’s theme – Colours of Rainbow. The dish I’m about to share was inspired by a traditional Filipino dish ‘Pinais’ and pinais-like dishes (such as Bicol’s pinangat and kinagang). Therefore should I say that this is my take on pinais.

Pinais is a traditional dish from the Southern Tagalog region. While the name refers to the dish itself – it’s actually a cooking process wherein the ingredients (most commonly coconut meat and seafood) are wrapped in banana leaves before steaming. The method of pagpapais effectively seals in the juices and imparts a fresh aroma to the food.

What inspired me to make this take on pinais is my forever obsession about everything coconut and my interest to explore more regional Filipino foods, particularly the foods of the South (Mindanao or Moro Foods). So this dish is inspired by a multitude of cultures, from the flavours of Luzon and Mindanao.

Pinais na Hipon at Niyog na may Palapa

The usual components of pinais are seafood (fish or shellfish), coconut, and aromatics. For my recipe’s seafood component, I used prawns/shrimps. For the coconut, try to look for a matured one (we call it ‘ngalutin’ or chewey here in Bataan). It’s the stage between buko and niyog. However, since I cannot find the specific type of coconut, I just used matured niyog. For the aromatics or flavouring, I used my adaptation of Maranao Palapa, a spice paste mixture of pounded sakurab, ginger/turmeric, and chilies that stands as Maranao all-purpose seasoning. It can be used as a dip, condiment, marinade, or even an appetizer. However for my version, I used siling panigang to produce a greener palapa which is commonly reddish or yellowish from the red chilies and turmeric. I also used the whole sakurab including its green part, dahon ng kabuyaw (kaffir lime leaves), and langkawas (galangal) for a more herbal and aromatic flavour profile. It’s not traditional per se, but this is just my take which I’d like to call “Green Palapa”.

Langkawas and Kabuyaw rather are alien to many Filipinos, and most would have encountered these only with Thai or other Southeast Asian foods, but these are actually native to the Philippines, and in fact Filipino ingredients as well.

Pinais na Hipon at Niyog na may Palapa Ingredients

PREP TIME 30 MINS | COOKING TIME 45-60 MINS | SERVES 5

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g grated coconut meat
  • 500g prawns or large shrimp, peeled and deveined*
  • Banana leaves for wrapping

For the ‘green palapa’

  • 2 & 1/2 cups sakurab, chopped**
  • 1/4 + 1/8 cup cooking oil, divided
  • 8 sprigs of kabuyaw (kaffir lime) leaves, torn***
  • 4 pcs long green chilies, chopped****
  • 1 thumb-sized ginger, chopped
  • 4 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 & 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tsp galangal powder or 2 tbsp fresh galangal, chopped*****
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Ingredient Notes:

* Don’t throw the prawn heads and shells. The flavour is there. Pound it to extract the juice.

** Substitute green onion or scallion if sakurab isn’t available. Sakurab is an allium native to Mindanao and while this is almost synonymous to scallion or green onions it actually isn’t. You can substitute it though but it won’t taste the same. Sakurab is more pungent and for me it has a taste of something in between shallots and garlic.

*** It might be hard to find the kaffir lime leaves, but it is essential for this recipe. I suggest using grated dayap rinds if you can’t find it.

**** Add more chilies if you want a spicier palapa, likewise, deseed the green chilies if you want the palapa less spicy, but I personally don’t mind it getting overly hot.

***** Omit galangal if not available and double the amount of ginger instead.

Not only can you use the “Green Palapa” for this pinais, but also as base for “Ginataans”

Pinais na Hipon at Niyog na may Palapa - Step-by-Step

METHOD

  1. Green Palapa: Add a quarter cup of the oil and all the chopped ingredients for the green palapa into a food processor or blender. Blend until you get a smooth consistency, kind of like pesto.
  2. Over very low heat, add the remaining oil to a pan together with the blended paste and stir continuously. Season with fish sauce, sugar, and black pepper to taste. You’ll know it’s cooked when the colour turns deep green, and the oil seeps out of the mixture. Set aside to cool down. You can remove some of the oil as it cools down.
  3. Pinais: In a large mixing bowl, combine the grated coconut meat, the green palapa, and the extracted prawn juice. You now have a green-coloured coconut meat mixture.
  4. Place a cup of coconut and palapa mixture in the center of a prepared sheet of banana leaf. Place as much prawns as you want on the top. Fold all sides to form a tight wrap.
  5. Line the bottom of a large wok or pan with banana leaf. Place all the wrapped pinais and add two cups of water. Cover and cook over medium heat for 45-60 minutes.
  6. Transfer to individual serving plates, unfold the banana leaf and serve immediately while hot. Enjoy!

Pinais na Hipon at Niyog na may Palapa

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2020 | JM de Guzman (@thecoconutdude)

BON APPÉTIT

– JM de Guzman

myTaste.com

Capellini al Pesto e Gamberi

Capellini al Pesto e Gamberi

Capellini al Pesto e Gamberi

Hello Everyone! I’ll keep this short and simple as I don’t have much to say either. So out of all the pasta dishes that I have whipped up in the kitchen over the years, there has been one recipe that I hadn’t attempted to make myself from scratch – and that recipe is for homemade pesto sauce. I’m actually not a pesto person, and it’s not that I don’t have anything against it, it’s just that I prefer cream-based or aglio e olio-based pastas. However, that didn’t stop me from trying to make my own pesto sauce at home!

Last weekend, I went grocery shopping with my family. We scattered all around the grocers and I found myself at the fresh herbs section, and to my dismay, they did not have any fresh basil leaves *sad face* at first I was trying to come up with another pasta dish to make – thinking about what I had at home and what I could whip up easily as well. Then I decided to quickly look up on possible substitutes for basil leaves, and I was slightly relieved that I could use other greens such as cilantro or parsley for my pesto. In my opinion, I don’t think they flavours of using either was as strong as using basil, but it was satisfactory.

There are other ingredients that you can use to make different types of pesto, and you can find it here on Oh My Veggies. I’m keen to try out the sun-dried tomato and beet pesto another time!

Capellini al Pesto e Gamberi Ingredients

Capellini al Pesto e Gamberi Ingredients

PREP TIME 10-15 MINS | COOKING TIME 5 MINS | SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS

For the pesto

  • 1 bunch parsley, rough chopped (about 2 & 1/2 cups)
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Ground salt and black pepper to taste
  • 500g angel hair pasta (or any other shaped pasta)
  • 500g fresh prawns, heads removed, peeled and deveined

METHOD

  1. For the pesto: Preheat oven to about Add all the ingredients to a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth. Set aside.
  2. For the prawns: Heat a large frying pan on high until it is very hot. Add a little bit of melted butter or oil to the pan and swirl it around the base. Add the prawns and cook for about 2-3 minutes (1 to 1 & 1/2 minutes per side) or until they change colour to pink. Prawns cook very quickly. If you leave them on the heat for too long they will be tough and unpalatable. When they are cooked, remove them and drain them on absorbent paper before serving.
  3. For the pasta: While the prawns are cooking, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the angel hair pasta according to packet instructions – they usually take only 2 minutes to cook.
  4. Once the pasta is done, turn the heat off, drain and return the angel hair pasta to the pot. Add the pesto and stir until the pasta is well coated.
  5. Divide the pasta into 5 equal portions and top each plate with the pan-fried prawns, a bit of crushed cashews, and some parmesan cheese. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Capellini al Pesto e Gamberi

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

O Crab Sydney

“O Crab ain’t just another crab shack or seafood diner! The restaurant pays homage to the American seafood pub scene dishing out bags O Crabs with customers breaking out the mallets and getting messy all whilst enjoying a craft beer, or two or three…”

O Crab Sydney

Hello Everyone and welcome back to an all new Review Sunday on the blog! I actually had this review scheduled for last week, and when I realised that I was going to be covering seafood month, I thought I’d push this review to today as it sits with the theme for the month of September on Amcarmen’s Kitchen. Wow, I just realised that that was a really long sentence! I think I was living with Marissa at the time she came across this restaurant while she was browsing through Instagram for a place for us to have our next girls brunch out. She came across O Crab and asked if I wanted to go; I had a look at the pictures on their Instagram and was already hooked on the idea of crabs in a bag, eating them with disposable aprons, gloves, and a mini Thor hammer. They definitely lived up to their statement of a truly unique dining experience.

It’s been a while since I came and visited O crab, I’m guessing it was somewhere in the middle of winter around late June or early July, so bear with me if I can’t remember what the dish tasted like. Trust me though, you’re going to want to pay them a visit when you get a load of the pictures. Also, before I forget to mention, when we were about to leave the place, the waiter asked us if we wanted to sample their Jolly Rancher Cocktails, which at the time, they weren’t serving on their menu just yet, but now I think they are. It was a Sunday after lunch kind of day and already we were doing vodka shots of Jolly Ranchers haha! We told the waiter to not give Marissa any shots since she was underaged (she wasn’t, but we just wanted to play with her a bit). It tasted really good and I’m glad that it’s on their menu now but sad that I won’t get another opportunity to have a proper drink of it!

O Crab Sydney
One more thing! If you check in on Facebook or upload an image on Instagram with the hashtag #ocrabitson and #ocrabsydney you get a free soft drink! How cool is that? Actually, another thing I remembered when I was just about to post this review, we also got complimentary nachos while waiting for our meals! #winning #sofood #muchfree

FEELIN’ PECKISH…

O Crab Sydney: O Crab Seafood Chowder
O Crab Seafood Chowder: Creamy taste of the sea – mussels, prawns, fish, and seasonal veg served in a freshly baked bread bowl ($12.00)

I love a good chowder, and what better way to warm up from such a cold morning it was that day we trekked to O Crab than a seafood chowder in a bread bowl! It was well seasoned, definitely creamy in texture, and nicely finished with a soggy bread bowl to nom on. Since it was a very long time ago since I had this dish, I can’t remember if there were pieces of fish in the soup or they were all just blended together, but I guess it would’ve been nice to have a few pieces of mussels, prawns, and fish in the there instead of just all soup.

CRABS AND PRAWNS “IN A BAG”

O Crab Sydney: Blue Swimmer Crabs in Original Old Bay
Blue Swimmer Crabs in Original Old Bay: American blend of herbs and spiced seasoning ($25.00 per crab)

I remember this dish very well and because the Original Old Bay sauce was to die for! I remember we were dipping everything we could find, the prawns, fries, and even the bread bowl from our chowder into this sauce because it was just that amazing. Besides the sauce, the crab was also cooked well and had a lot of meat in it (I cannot stress the number of times I’ve had crab that was all shell and no meat).

O Crab Sydney: Snow Crab Cluster in Cajun
Snow Crab Cluster in Cajun: Classic Louisiana style spiced seasoning ($29.00 per cluster)

The seasoning for this crab cluster wasn’t bad but it was my least favourite from the three sauces/seasonings that we picked. Nonetheless, the crab clusters were well cooked, and again packed a lot of meat into those legs so I couldn’t complain. Also, we dipped the crab meat in the Original Old Bay sauce anyway so it was pretty damn good!

O Crab Sydney: 300G Prawns in Garlic Butter
300G Prawns in Garlic Butter: Special blend with herbs ($18.00)

The prawns were pretty good as well, well cooked that they were melt in the mouth kind of good, and the sauce was garlicky, buttery (as you’d imagine garlic butter sauce to be anyway), and simply delicious. There’s really nothing more that I can say about these prawns really; I have no issues with it.

BURGERS & FRIES

O Crab Sydney: O Crabby Patty Burger
O Crabby Patty Burger: O Crab signature spiced crab patty with lettuce, grilled pineapple, and chilli mayo served with original fries ($19.00)

I only had a small bite of the burger only because this was actually Jialing’s dish. She wasn’t too fond of crabs even though she tried very hard to want to like it. So instead, she ordered a burger for herself. I can’t remember what the burger tasted like but I do hope for your sake that the patty is cooked through but still juicy on the inside. That would be perfect. Oh, you can also substitute original fries for sweet potato fries for an extra $2.50 – I don’t know why we didn’t get the sweet potato fries!

O Crab Sydney

I really enjoyed our dining experience at O Crab; I wish I had gone back a second time for some Jolly Rancher Cocktails and more crabs of course! Also, I could not have chosen better people to dine with that day. The food was superb and I really could not fault the dishes that we had; so I’d say the food for me is a sure 9/10. When we got there, the restaurant was in fact empty, which I thought was kind of weird for a weekend and during lunch, but anyway, it meant for a quicker service for us. I guess it was good also in a way that we were then able to sample their Jolly Rancher Cocktail since we were the only ones there. Though it was quiet because we were the only ones there (what am I saying, we were a very noisy table on our own!), the ambience was quite nice and in theme with the whole crab shack/seafood diner vibe of wooden crates and ropes that decorated the restaurant; 8/10. If you’ve got the money to spend on high quality mud crabs then go for it! Mud crabs are based on market price and when we saw their Instagram post from a few weeks ago, a 1.4kg (or something of that weight) mud crabs was going to cost you a whopping $95!!! Other than that, the blue swimmer crab and snow crab cluster are quite affordable; 7/10. I do highly recommend this place if you want some good quality seafood at an American themed crab shack and a beer to go with that.

O Crab Sydney: Aftermath

O Crab Sydney
Suite 2/9 Railway Street
Chatswood, New South Wales
Australia, 2067

– Ally xx

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - DESSERT: POPULAR POPCORN PARFAIT

In Asia Restaurant & Bar

Hello Everyone and welcome back to an all new Review Sunday! I think I will keep the introduction short today just because you’re about to dive into a 2200 word review below and I’m already tired of typing and spinning words out of my brain at this hour of the night. Seriously though, if university essays were this easy to write in less than 4 hours, I’d never hate writing essays (most probably)…

About three months or so, I actually don’t remember, I attended a talk organised by General Assembly on the Business of Food Blogging. It was there that I met Brendon D’Souza from brendonthesmilingchef, and he was indeed a happy smiling chap. Last week he invited me and a few other bloggers for an Instagram Meet Up at In Asia Restaurant and Bar in North Strathfield. He told an interesting story about how he came to know about this restaurant; basically he and his family were driving along looking for a place to hold his graduation dinner. They came across In Asia and I think he pretty much fell in love with the food here and even said that the Popular Popcorn Parfait dessert sold it for him. He met the owner of the restaurant and talked about organising a food blogger’s event to basically build up a social media presence of the restaurant. I’m really glad that Brendon organised this event because it was definitely a great experience for not just me, but for everyone else who was a part of the night. I met a lot of other food bloggers, and shared a few laughs over the night as we all started getting a bit tipsy from the drinks.

Let’s get straight into their menu and what I thought of their awesome dishes:

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - COCKTAILS: SUGAR FLOSS MARTINI
COCKTAILS: SUGAR FLOSS MARTINI
Vodka, fresh strawberries and limes, with candy floss ($16.00)

I remember seeing one of the blogger’s ordering this drink across the other table. Rachael and Angela, who were seated in front of me, bolted over to take a picture of this very photogenic drink that looked like a fluffy unicorn. I wasn’t bothered to get up, only because I was sitting on the inside of the booth(?), not sure what kind of seating it was, but it meant that I had to ask people to get up for me, slide over, and then get out. When the girls returned, we decided to all order a cocktail each and share so that we could get a taste of what In Asia had to offer. I really liked this drink, mainly for the fairy floss and vodka combination, but you can’t really go wrong with strawberry and lime.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - COCKTAILS: TOBLERONECOCKTAILS: TOBLERONE
Baileys, Frangelico, Kahlua, cream, chocolate syrup, and Toblerone shavings ($16.00)

This was something that I’ve not actually seen before elsewhere, but then again, I’ve only been to how many bars in my life? Yeah, not a lot. Anyway, this was by far my favourite cocktail of the night; alcohol and chocolate? Don’t mind if I do! I’m not a heavy drinker myself, but I’d definitely have 2 or 3 more glasses of this. For me, I couldn’t really taste the alcohol, but that’s okay because it tasted more like a chocolate drink to me, and I like that!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - COCKTAILS: FINE LYCHEE DAIQUIRI
COCKTAILS: FINE LYCHEE DAIQUIRI
Bacardi, Soho Lychee Liqueur, fresh lychees, and lime ($16.00)

I am currently obsessing over lychees so this drink was also a favourite of mine that night. Loved the sweetness of the lychee paired with a tangy lime. I very much enjoyed this drink and would definitely come back for more of this… And the two above as well *cheeky grin*

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - ENTRÉE: PAN-SEARED CANADIAN SCOLLOPS
ENTRÉE: PAN-SEARED CANADIAN SCOLLOPS
with chilli purée and lime sauce, fresh pear ($15.00)

I love love love love LOVE scollops. Have I told you how much I really love scollops? Well, as you can tell for my love of scollops, it is without a doubt that this was my favourite entrée of the night. The scollops were cooked perfectly and surprised me with that great kick of heat. I say surprised because I wasn’t expecting it to be that big of a kick to my mouth. I found it quite spicy to my liking at first, but loved it as I had more of it. The pear was a nice touch of freshness to the dish as well.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - ENTRÉE: BARBECUED CALAMARI
ENTRÉE: BARBECUED CALAMARI
with pickled papaya, fennel, cashew nuts, and crispy pork crackling ($15.00)

I honestly cannot remember what my tastebuds were going through when I had this dish. I mean, it was not a bad dish, but I feel like I didn’t have an overwhelming reaction towards the dish like I did with the other entrée dishes. The calamari was cooked well, and the salad was dressed nicely too. I like how they’ve added the crispy pork crackling in the dish for that added crispy element, but they were all gone before I could get any onto my plate (yes, most of the bloggers who I shared the dish with picked most of the crackling out)!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - ENTRÉE: BETAL LEAF OF POACHED PRAWNENTRÉE: BETAL LEAF OF POACHED PRAWN
with roast coconut, crushed peanuts, ginger, chilli, lime, and caramel sauce: 2 pieces ($12.00)

As soon as this dish hit the tables, I was flabbergasted by its presentation. Loved the shot glasses. Moreover, I was impressed with the flavour combinations in such a little piece of betal leaf wrap. You’ve got the roast coconut, crushed peanuts, together with the ginger and caramel sauce I presume, that is topped with the tender, melt in the mouth poached prawn topped with roe and a tangy hit with a thinly sliced piece of lime, all wrapped in a peppery betal leaf that gave a nice fresh crunch to everything. It was a bit of a guessing game on how many bites you should take with this; it feels a bit big for one bite, but not big enough for two if you get what I mean. I tried two bites, but then you’re left with just the coconut and peanuts at the bottom without the prawn for your second bite. So I just went for it in one bite for my second serve. I find it quite expensive though because that means that one betal leaf wrap if $6.00; it’s quite a spectacular dish, but I don’t know if I’d pay that much for it.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - ENTRÉE: SEA SALT AND BLACK PEPPER CALAMARI
ENTRÉE: SEA SALT AND BLACK PEPPER CALAMARI
with wasabi mayo and sweet chilli sauce

I had a look back at their main menu and didn’t see this dish so I can’t say how much it’d cost you to order this. There’s nothing much I can comment on this only just because it’s salt and pepper calamari; I mean you can practically get it anywhere you go. Nothing special, but I did like the tender calamari, however not a big fan of wasabi myself.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - SALAD: TEA SMOKED DUCK BREAST
SALAD: TEA SMOKED DUCK BREAST
with roasted rice, chilli, lemongrass, Vietnamese mint, and tamarind dressing ($22.00)

I felt like it’s quite similar to a Thai dish known as Nam Tok in terms of flavour, but anyway this was a very innovative dish and the flavours were a nice accompaniment to the duck. I actually wouldn’t have been able to tell that the duck was tea-smoked, but nonetheless, the duck was delicious and I wanted more!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - STIR FRY: WAGYU BEEF
STIR FRY: WAGYU BEEF
with asparagus, shallots, and onion with hoisin sauce ($28.00)

Again, this was nothing special for me because I know how to make a mean beef stir-fry myself. I mean, it’s a good, simple, and humble dish, but nothing really as innovative as what I’ve already covered from this point on their menu.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - MAIN: CRISPY SKIN SALMON
MAIN: CRISPY SKIN SALMON
with IN ASIA’s spiced Kumara mash, cashew nuts, sweet potato chips ($27.00)

I wasn’t a fan of this dish for several reasons: firstly, I thought that it was a curry-based dish because of the ‘sauce’ and then I was surprised when I re-read the menu again at it was actually kumara mash. In my opinion, it was a bit thin for a mash. I like my mash creamy no doubt, but this felt like it took creamy to a whole other level. Secondly, though the salmon lived up to its crispy skin, it was however overcooked to my liking; it was a bit dry on the inside for me. The only thing I liked on this dish was probably the sweet potato chips. Sorry!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - MAIN: CRISPY SKIN ROASTED DUCK
MAIN: CRISPY SKIN ROASTED DUCK
with tamarind sauce, pumpkin mash, and navel orange

This I liked better than the salmon dish, and I loved the pairing of the duck with the navel oranges. Though the skin wasn’t as crispy as I thought it would be, it was still a very good dish, and that’s also mainly because I love duck no matter how it’s cooked (just not overcooked of course). You may have noticed as well that there is no price – same what I mentioned above for another dish, I couldn’t find it on their actual menu so sorry to say I can’t make out how much this dish would cost if you want to order this dish.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - MAIN: KOREAN STYLE BARBECUED WAGYU BEEF
MAIN: KOREAN STYLE BARBECUED WAGYU BEEF
with grilled pear, black sesame, pickled radish, and ginger ($28.00)

This dish wasn’t actually on the pre-planned menu that the restaurant had for us. One of the girls, as she called herself, “that annoying person who just doesn’t like seafood”, ordered this off the menu as the owner of In Asia suggested that she did as he felt bad for having pretty much a seafood-heavy planned menu for the night. I am actually glad that she got to order off their menu and shared a little bit of her food with everyone else because this was a really REALLY lovely dish. The wagyu beef was cooked perfectly and was very tender. The grilled pear, I mean, where do I even begin with this pear? It was so good and paired so well with the beef. It was a match made it heaven.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - MAIN: CARAMELISED TWICE COOKED PORK BELLY
MAIN: CARAMELISED TWICE COOKED PORK BELLY
with crispy panko egg and sweet tamarind sauce ($23.00)

This was another dish that was ordered off the menu, and yet another great dish that made me happy that she doesn’t like seafood. This was actually my favourite main dish of the night. The pork belly was crispy and sweet, and that panko egg was just lovely. I honestly wanted more of this dish, but since we were only sharing, it made me sad that I could not have more that night. I would definitely recommend this dish if you’re ever thinking of dining here. It is a must! I would definitely go again if it weren’t so far from where I live!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - DESSERT: MONKEY SNICKER
DESSERT: MONKEY SNICKER
with banana pudding, passionfruit curd, pandan foam, pandan granita, shredded coconut, and coconut ice cream ($12.00)

Finally on to dessert! This was probably not one of the best desserts of the night just because I didn’t enjoy it as much as the other dessert that you’ll see below, both in terms of presentation and flavour. This didn’t really wow me that much I’m sorry to say!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - DESSERT: MRS B'S FIRST KISS
DESSERT: MRS B’S FIRST KISS
with organic banana lightly battered in shredded coconut and fried, palm sugar caramel, tapioca sauce, and rice puffs, served with passionfruit sorbet ($14.00)

I apologise in advance because I cannot comment on the flavour of this dish, and I will tell you why. So when the desserts arrived at the table, everyone went nuts for this dessert, as well as the one below because of their spectacular presentation. It was almost too beautiful to eat! So I got my pictures, and then I had a sudden urge to go to the bathroom. I thought, okay I’ll go to the bathroom quickly since the other bloggers were still busy taking pictures of the desserts. Came back about 2 or 3 minutes later and this dish was completely demolished. Lesson of the night? Hold it in, no matter how urgent it is. It’s not worth it especially if dessert is concerned and you’re sharing one dish with about 12 other bloggers. I was so sad!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - DESSERT: POPULAR POPCORN PARFAIT
DESSERT: POPULAR POPCORN PARFAIT
with IN ASIA’s crushed corn flakes, caramel popcorn, grilled sweet corn, and caramel jersey cream ($14.00)

Okay, at least there was a good quarter or so of this dessert left when I came back from nature’s calling. Thank goodness because this dessert was the absolute bomb. I loved the flavours and different textures that you got in each mouthful of the dessert, and I didn’t think that grilled corn would be such a great compliment to the overall dish. The presentation was on point as well. Well done In Asia for this dessert!

There were some ups and some downs with the dishes that we had over the night, but I can safely say that the positives overpowered the negatives greatly. There was really only one dish that was a let down for me, and the others that had minor issues based on just my personal opinion and palette is nothing major to say that it was a bad dish. I’d rate the food of the night a solid 9.5 out of 10; the food really blew me away and clearly the definition of modern (kind of, sort of fine dining) Asian cuisine. For me, it’s sort of somewhere in the middle like it’s not casual but not extreme fine dining either. Not only did the flavours and textures impress me, the presentation of some of the dishes, mainly the entrées and desserts, really blew me away. The service was great as well, though I wasn’t sure why it took quite possibly close to 30 to 45 minutes for the light menu (which were the tea smoked duck salad and the barbecued calamari salad) to come out to the table after entrées – I wasn’t complaining though because I had a pretty hefty entrée to begin with. I’d give the service an 8 or possibly 9 out of 10 anyway. Now, value for money – the dishes here are pretty pricey to be honest but I guess you can say that you actually do pay for what you’re getting. If you’ve got the money to spend, definitely spend it here, otherwise it’s not really a place you can just rock up to if you don’t have the money or for a casual dine.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar
181 Concord Road
North Strathfield, New South Wales
Australia, 2137

– Ally xx

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan

Hello Everyone and welcome back to an all new Review Sunday! Most of the food that you’ll see here have either already been touched on in previous reviews, and/or recipes, so I may not write much about the food only because it’s nothing quite so special. Kamayan sa Palaisdaan has both a Hotel & Resort, as well as a restaurant, both carrying the same menu but differ in ambience. It is the ambience of the restaurant just down the road from the Hotel & Resort that made me want to write a review and share this place with you – floating bahay kubos on bamboo rafts!

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan

Other than the ambience, I couldn’t really pick out anything special from their menu that really made me want to say, “I’m coming back here for this particular dish!” Though they say it’s an ideal getaway restaurant for seafood lovers, the seafood did not really impress – well I mean, we barely ordered any seafood to be honest.

I don’t know why I am so negative when it comes to reviewing Filipino food. The only reason I can think of is that most of the food that you get dining out, you can easily cook it up yourself at home and it tastes exactly the same. From the dishes that you will see below, I can definitely cook up all the dishes. I guess it’s because I know how to cook these dishes, that I comment the way I do. I’m not saying that these are terrible dishes; if anything, they are my favourite dishes to have when eating at home. It’s just that when I dine out, I want to eat something that I can’t cook myself (or I guess in my case, haven’t attempted to cook yet).

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan - SINIGANG atbp: Sinigang na Sugpo
SINIGANG atbp: Sinigang na Sugpo (₱320.00)

Sugpo, as you can already tell from the photograph above is prawn (or shrimp if you’re from that part of the world that calls them that despite being huge-ass prawns). Sinigang is a soup that is characterised by its sour and savoury taste that is most often associated with tamarind. This is a dish that my mom would make a few times a month, varying between different meats such as beef and pork, and seafood like prawns and fish, accompanied by all sorts of vegetables from daikon, water spinach, okra, taro corms, etc. This is a dish I love especially when the weather is quite chilly.

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan - SINIGANG atbp: Tinolang Manok
SINIGANG atbp: Tinolang Manok (₱255.00)

This is another dish that my mom would always make, and also great for cold and rainy days. Tinola is a ginger and onion based soup with manok (chicken) as the usual main ingredient, best complimented with green papaya wedges (an alternative is chayote/chokos) and chili leaves. Again, a dish that I love, but very close to the way that I’d make it at home.

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan - SIZZLERS: Sisig Pork
SIZZLERS: Sisig Pork (₱205.00)

Of course, a meal in the Philippines would not be complete without sisig! I was actually quite disappointed with this sisig dish though – it came to the table, not only without a freshly cracked egg on top of it, but it also wasn’t sizzling and was very dry.

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan - IHAW: Inihaw na Spareribs
IHAW: Inihaw na Spareribs (₱310.00)

I love ihaw, and I love spareribs. Sadly, these ribs were dry and weren’t very tender.

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan - IHAW: Inihaw na Pork Chop
IHAW: Inihaw na Pork Chop (₱320.00)

The pork chop option was much better than the spareribs; juicy, tender, and full of that lovely char-grilled flavour.

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan - VEGETABLES: Chopsuey Chicken
VEGETABLES: Chopsuey Chicken (₱185.00)

Whenever we dine out, we try to avoid dishes like chopsuey, but because we couldn’t decide on any other vegetable dishes (I know there’s chicken in it but it was somehow placed under the ‘vegetables’ section on the menu). Why we try to avoid this dish is simply because it’s basically just stir-fried vegetables and nothing more exciting to that.

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan - PRITO: Daing na Bangus
PRITO: Daing na Bangus (₱160.00)

Bangus (milkfish) is the national fish of the Philippines and can be prepared and cooked in various ways. ‘Daing’ refers to dried fish from the Philippines. Fish prepared as daing is usually split open, gutted, salted liberally, and then sun and air-dried. I love eating fried bangus with a bit of pickled green papaya on the side with plain rice. But honestly speaking though, why order fried fish at a restaurant? In my case, because I love it and I couldn’t find anything else in the menu that attracted me to it.

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan - SALADS: Ensaladang Pako
SALADS: Ensaladang Pako (₱125.00)

Quite possibly the worst dish from this place based on my taste buds and opinion. For starters, the taste of what seemed to be raw pako (an edible Fiddlehead fern) did not sit too well with me; it tasted bitter. What made it worse for me were the raw onions and the obvious canned sardines in tomato sauce. Why did I order this? Well I didn’t, my uncle did. I don’t think I even touched this dish after a small bite of just the pako.

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan - JUICES: Buko FreshJUICES: Buko Fresh (₱60.00)

Fresh coconut juice straight from the shell, need I say more?

Overall, as I have already mentioned above, the menu is pretty average and can honestly be found in many other restaurants (and homes no matter rich or poor) across the Philippines. I guess it’s safe to say that if you are going to the restaurant for the food, it’s not worth the trip to this place seeing as it is also quite hard to find. However, if you want to dine in a bamboo hut on a bamboo raft floating over water, then you may want to make the trip here just for that experience. Dining at the Hotel & Resort isn’t bad as well as it provides a lot more recreational activities that you can enjoy aside from dining, and it also overlooks Mount Banahaw. So ambience and dining experience is a sure 10 for me. Service probably an 8 as even though there were quite a few staff members, it was pretty hard to flag one down whenever we needed something. Food – probably a 5; 6 if I’m feeling generous, but nothing more.

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan

Barangay. Dapdap
Tayabas, Quezon
Philippines

– Ally xx

Prawn & Mango Vermicelli Salad

Prawn & Mango Vermicelli Salad

UNSW Student Cookbook 2014: Photoshoot
Getting my dish styled and photographed for the cookbook

Hello Everyone! So about a month ago or so I entered a recipe into this year’s UNSW Student Cookbook 2014. The theme for this year was “Simple Recipes to Impress” or as it is aptly referred as “Simprecipes”. I originally submitted a recipe for fried chicken wings with a prawn and mango vermicelli salad, but since there was another chicken wing entry that already made the cookbook, I was asked to tweak my recipe and just submit the salad. Though it wasn’t quite what I submitted originally, I was still very happy that it was chosen – they loved it for the bright and fresh colours! I also realised though that mangoes are out of season in Australia right now so I doubt anyone will be trying out my recipe until the summer. Sucks. That’s why I love the tropics, all year round mangoes!

Today was the official launch of the cookbook and it was a great turnout! Good food, good drinks, good music. I helped with setting up in the morning, preparing the platters to go out, serving, and a little bit of packing up at the end. Oh and I also got to meet Kumar Pereira, Masterchef Australia’s Season 3 and Allstars contestant. Such a sweet and loving guy! Here’s my entry for the cookbook (I will also post the recipe down below if it’s a bit hard to read from the photo):

Prawn & Mango Vermicelli Salad


PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 10 MINS SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

For the salad:

  • 200g rice vermicelli noodles
  • 500g cooked prawns, shelled and deveined
  • 2 ripe mangoes, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 bunch fresh mint leaves, loosely torn
  • 1 red bird’s eye chilli, sliced
  • 1/4 cup unsalted peanuts plus extra to serve, finely chopped
  • 1/4 head red cabbage, finely sliced

For the chilli-lime sauce:

  • 4 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 4 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 red bird’s eye chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped

METHOD

  1. In a medium-szied bowl, soak the rice vermicelli noodles in lukewarm water until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix well (yields about 1/2 cup of sauce).
  3. Add the salad ingredients to a large bowl and mix through. Dress with the chilli-lime sauce and toss to combine. I’m a huge fan of all things spicy so don’t be afraid to add more chillies for those spicy-lovers out there!
  4. Garnish with extra peanuts and a few mint leaves. Serve.

This recipe is all about the intense variety of flavours, so invest in quality ingredients to really give it the best punch. It’s easy and super tasty! The bold flavours definitely won’t disappoint!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com