Homemade Tom Yum Paste

Homemade Tom Yum Paste

Hello Everyone! Today’s post will be a simple one – well at first before even tackling the recipe, I thought it’d be a complicated and labour-intensive process. Actually, it took a while to finely chop up the garlic, onions, galangal, and ginger as I did not have a food processor to do it all for me in a jiffy; nonetheless, it helped me improve on my chopping skills (probably not really).

Homemade Tom Yum Paste

Tom Yum is one of the first Thai dishes that I learned to love, and it was probably from this dish that I slowly started to love chillies and the kick of spice it gave to my palette. In fact, Chicken Tom Yum was the very first Thai dishes that I learnt to cook from my auntie, who is Thai; but at that time I still used pre-packed tom yum paste from the supermarkets. It wasn’t until recently that I decided that I wanted to learn how to make my own tom yum paste – and quite a success I might add! The flavours were obviously tastier and had more kick than store-bought paste, and very easy to make as well! The opportunities are endless with this paste; you can use it to make a tom yum broth to accompany various meats such as chicken, pork, prawns, fish, and mixed seafood’s including clams and squid, or you can use it as a seasoning to various dishes. The original recipe can be found at Pickyin.

Homemade Tom Yum Paste Ingredients

PREP TIME 30 MINS | COOKING TIME 45 MINS | MAKES 40 TBSP (approx.)*

*What I normally do is place about a tablespoon of the paste in small plastic bags and place them into the freezer. Each time I make a dish that requires Tom Yum Paste, I defrost a bag (or two) depending on how many I need. This is how I keep my batch on Tom Yum Paste without the need for additives or preservatives to keep them on the shelf/fridge.

INGREDIENTS

  • 250g chili paste (from soaked, deseeded and blended dry chilies)**
  • 20g shrimp paste (or more to taste)
  • 1 cup tamarind pulp water
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 pieces kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
  • 3 inches ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 inches galangal, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, white parts only, finely chopped
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp ground coriander

**I couldn’t be bothered to deseed each and every dried chilli, so I ended up adding the seeds in. I’m not sure if you can buy already deseeded dried chillies in stores, but I could not find any myself. I mean, if you want the heat then by all means leave the seeds in – caution though, very hot!

METHOD

  1. Heat vegetable oil over high heat in a medium-sized frying pan, and then add in the onions, garlic, galangal, and ginger. Sauté until softened and slightly browned. Remove from the pan and set aside, leaving the remaining oils in the pan.
  2. In the same pan, add the chilli paste, kaffir lime leaves, lemonsgrass, coriander, shrimp paste, fish sauce, tamarind water, and brown sugar. Cook until the mixture slightly thickens before adding the other fried ingredients into the chilli mixture.
  3. Continue frying until the paste is thick and the oil starts to separate from chilli and surfaces. Set aside to cool down before sealing them in jars/cans. The paste can keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for a few months.

Homemade Tom Yum Paste

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Mesa Filipino Moderne - FRESH CATCH: Tilapia

Mesa Filipino Moderne

Hello Everyone and welcome back to an all new Review Sunday! I’ve got three more places from the Philippines that I want to touch on before I start reviewing a couple of places here in Brunei. I’ve actually visited quite a number of places in the Philippines, but I feel like I haven’t had the full dining experience yet in terms of what their menu has to offer. Then there are some other places that I was thinking of writing about, but when I look back at their food, it was all too similar and nothing special really.

Anyway, what I realised when dining out in the Philippines, food is always the same no matter where I go. For example, dishes like sisig, crispy pata, kare-kare, sinigang, laing, buko pandan, leche flan, and many other classic and famous Filipino dishes, though I imagine cooked slightly different to separate themselves from others, all taste quite similar no matter where we have it. In tagalog, I would normally say “nakakasawa”, if you eat the same food over and over you will say or have that feeling nakakasawa, but maybe its because I’ve been eating in the wrong places.

Mesa caught my eye as I was roaming around SM North Edsa with my sisters while my Mom was somewhere along Quezon Avenue doing medical checkups. We were looking for new places to eat, and when a saw ‘new’ I just mean nothing like Barrio Fiesta or Gerry’s Grill – not places that we have been to over and over again every time we visit the Philippines. I had never heard or encountered Mesa in my pervious trips, and what intrigued me was the modernity and interpretation of classic traditional Filipino dishes. I was definitely intrigued when I saw Ostrich on their menu even though I didn’t have any.

Mesa Filipino Moderne - SISIG: Sisig in a pouch
SISIG: Sisig in a pouch
Savoury pork sisig wrapped in a pouch (₱190.00)

As mentioned probably in a previous review, sisig is a dish that I never fail to have whenever I visit the Philippines. I was attracted to this dish because I’ve never had sisig this way before. It was a perfect way to start out our lunch at Mesa; the pouches had a very nice golden brown finish to them, and it gave each bite a nice crunch to the sisig filling inside. It was paired nicely with a side of spicy vinegar as well.

Mesa Filipino Moderne - SOUP: Sinigang na baboy in guava and pineapple
SOUP: Sinigang na baboy in guava and pineapple
Pork simmered in broth with guava and fresh pineapple; serves 4-5 (₱290.00)

What caught my eye with this dish as I was browsing the menu was the guava and pineapple part. I’ve never had sinigang with these two fruits before so I was indeed very intrigued to know how the strong flavours would blend together. It actually worked quite well to an extent. I say ‘extent’ because there was one time I had a whole heap of guava flavour in my spoon of soup and the taste overkilled. Nevertheless, an enjoyable dish.

Mesa Filipino Moderne - FRESH CATCH: Hito
FRESH CATCH: Hito
Crispy boneless with mangga salad (₱340.00)

The only thing that concerned me about this dish was where’s the mango salad? If you’re going to make mention “with” mango salad, I expect it to be of reasonable portioning as a side dish and not just “topped” over the fried fish. Slightly disappointing.

Mesa Filipino Moderne - FRESH CATCH: Tilapia
FRESH CATCH: Tilapia
Crispy boneless served with four sauces (₱340.00)

Well, just like the crispy boneless hito, nothing quite special about the four sauces that went with fried fish that in my opinion had not much flavour in the flesh itself. Verging on being overcooked? Quite possibly.

Mesa Filipino Moderne - VEGETABLES: Laing 2 ways
VEGETABLES: Laing 2 ways
Taro leaves, pork, shrimp paste, and coconut cream topped with adobo flakes, served original and crispy (₱170.00)

The taro, or also known as gabi in the Philippines, is low in saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol, and in contrast, high in dietary fibre, vitamin E, vitamin B6, potassium, and manganese. The leaves, stems, and corms are all consumed and form part of the local cuisine, a dish known as Laing. Laing originated from the Bicol region, and no matter where you have it at, and no matter the way it is cooked, it always ends up looking like a pile of… 🙂 I’ve had my fair share from many eateries, and even home-cooked laing, and it always looks like this. But I assure you that it tastes so much better than it looks. I like how Mesa served this dish two ways – basically one with sauce and the other without. Both tasted pretty good and the adobo flakes on top added that extra flavour and crunch to the dish.

Mesa Filipino Moderne - MEAT: Pinatayong Manok
MEAT: Pinatayong Manok
“Standing” whole chicken carved right at your table (₱415.00)

Quite possibly one of the reasons why I stopped in front of the restaurant and had a look at their menu; I saw a picture of this dish and I immediately knew I wanted to eat that. It was basically a whole roasted chicken that didn’t particularly have any special taste to it in my opinion, but what I enjoyed was the way it was served to us. It was brought to our table “standing” and carved for us at our table. The chicken was cooked well and was very tender.

Mesa Filipino Moderne - MEAT: Pork Binagoongan
MEAT: Pork Binagoongan
Pan fried pork belly sautéed in shrimp paste (₱190.00)

This dish I enjoyed because I love the pairing of a well-cooked pork belly, shrimp paste, and grilled eggplant. This dish did not disappoint at all unlike the others.

Mesa Filipino Moderne - DESSERT: Pandan Macapuno Rumble
DESSERT: Pandan Macapuno Rumble (₱75.00)

I was intrigued to know what modern twist they would put on a classic buko pandan dessert. Nothing special to be honest except the fact that the coconut meat was set with the jelly? That’s all that I could point out that seemed different to the classic ones I’ve had multiple times. Other than that, flavour was good.

Mesa Filipino Moderne - DESSERT: Crispy Leche Flan
DESSERT: Crispy Leche Flan (₱70.00)

This was the dessert that I was most looking forward to only to be disappointed in the end – small, not so crispy rolls of flan that didn’t quite taste like flan in my opinion and more like steamed egg. I was disappointed only because I had a much better first experience with crispy leche flan when I was travelling the city of Lucena just a couple of days before I visited Mesa again.

Mesa Filipino Moderne is definitely a place to visit if you want to experience modern Filipino cooking at an affordable price. I say that it is affordable because the pricing of their dishes are quite reasonable for the portions you get, so definitely a good value for money indeed. But as I have mentioned in another review before, these prices are not very affordable for the average Filipino, so I guess the value for money on a more general scale wouldn’t be so good. The food I would rate no more than a 6 to be honest – at first glance I was very excited to experience modern Filipino cuisine, but after having dined and looked back at the dishes that I’ve had, I can’t say I was left excited to go back for more. The only dish that I really enjoyed was the pork sisig in a pouch. Everything else was mediocre. Service 8 out of 10; it was exceptional nor was it bad, and the ambience is a sure 10 for me.

Now that I look back at all the dishes that I’ve had and my small disappointments with each of the dishes I ordered, I wonder how they were able to achieve the Best Food Retailer award. I may be jumping into conclusions a bit early as I’ve only tried probably an eighth of the dishes they have on offer, but if I am off to a non-promising start with their menu, I can’t be sure on how the rest will unfold if I visited a few more times and trying other dishes. Anyway, my opinion is my opinion; it may be biased, it may be not. You may agree with me, you may not, that is, if you’ve dined at Mesa.

I’m not sure if there are other restaurants that are much better at modern Filipino cuisine, but this is the first step of my journey to finding out how far we can modernise classic dishes. There is one place I have yet to visit, but have been closely following their Instagram page, and it’s called Sarsá Kitchen+Bar. I must say that their Sinigang Fried Chicken looks very enticing. Maybe on my next adventure to the Philippines I’ll be able to drag some family members over to have some eats.

Mesa Filipino Moderne
3/F SM City North EDSA, Main Building
EDSA corner North Avenue
Quezon City, Metro Manila
Philippines

– Ally xx

Oxtail Kare-Kare

Oxtail Kare-Kare

Hello Everyone! So I was just browsing through all the posts I’ve uploaded since I got into a regular uploading schedule and I realised that I actually haven’t posted a savoury dish in a while. I’ve been posting about cakes, cookies, and muffins these past few months! The last savoury dish that I blogged about was back in October with The Ultimate Brekkie (for those who have not seen it, click on it and prepare to drool, seriously).

Today’s recipe is a little different, or may be different to some of my readers/viewers. It is one of my most favourite dishes of all time, and only because my mom used to make it on a regular-enough basis to always have this orgasmic sensation with every bite. It may not suit the taste buds for many I feel, but seriously, every person I’ve made this for, well okay 3 people, loved it so much that they’ve even gone and tried to make it for themselves!

There are a few things to cover in this recipe that many may not know about, so I’ll start of with what even is Kare-Kare. Pronounced kah-reh kah-reh, it is a traditional Philippine stew flavoured with ground roasted peanuts or peanut butter, onions, and garlic; creamy, rich, and thick. Traditionally, a palayok (clay cooking pot) is used to cook this dish and it is also used as the serving pot. Typical meats that make the base for this stew include oxtail (sometimes this is the only meat used), pork hocks, calves feet, pig feet, beef stew meat; and occasionally offal, or tripe, rarely goat or chicken. Besides the meat, vegetables are also cooked with the stew and these include a range of (but are not limited to): eggplant, Chinese cabbage (or other leafy greens), long beans, okra (lady fingers), daikon, etc. – usually equaling or exceeding the amount of meat in the dish. The overall dish is then coloured (and flavoured) with annatto seeds, which is extracted by add the seeds in oil or water. Since I didn’t have some in handy, I just left them out – I feel like it didn’t have a significant effect to the overall flavour of the dish.

This dish is often served and eaten with shrimp paste known in a Philippines as bagoong (pronounced ba-go-ong). Sometimes it is spiced with chilli, or sautéed with garlic, onions, tomatoes, and sprinkled with calamansi (small round lime) juice. Bagoong paste varies in appearance, flavour, and spiciness depending on the type. Pink and salty bagoong is marketed as “fresh”, and is essentially the shrimp-salt mixture left to marinate for a few days. I sautéed a whole jar of shrimp paste and only used about a generous tablespoon of it on the side for this dish. The rest I put back into the jar and into the freezer until for later use. There are many other dishes that you can make with the sautéed shrimp paste and it may pop up in my blog a few more times!

I cooked up this dish for our supposed International (Asian) Feast Night that we had been planning for a while. I say “supposed” because instead of having food from 5 different Asian Cuisines, we ended up only having 3 and it turned out to also be Lydia’s farewell dinner. Basically Lydia cooked a dish from China, Vidhya from India, and me from the Philippines. Jialing (who did not show up by the way because she had a staff dinner) was supposed to make a dish from Malaysia, and Marissa, who already went on holiday, was supposed to make a Vietnamese dish. I was seriously so tired that night, I mean first of all, I had just come back from my Outback trip and only felt the tiredness after returning back. Secondly, I worked from 9am-5pm that day, and when I got home, I straightaway went into the kitchen to cook. I was SO tired that I actually seriously fell asleep at the table after dinner, during dessert. Talk about an induced food coma!

So for this night, which by the way happened about 3 days after I got back from the Red Centre, I decided to make my famous Oxtail Kare-kare. I also made a chicken version for Vidhya because the only meat she eats is chicken (and fish). I’ve never actually tried the dish with chicken before; it turned out okay but in my honest opinion, it wasn’t as flavourful as the Oxtail. I have made this dish in the past as well where I used pork hock/leg, pork shoulder, beef shank or gravy beef, and my mom made it a few times with beef tripe – all these cuts of meat work perfectly well with the dish. Some butchers sell oxtail either whole or cut. If your local butcher happens to seek them whole, just kindly ask them to cut it into rounds for you, that’s what I did. I remember as a little kid that I would always love the bigger cuts because they had more meat in them… Until someone ruined it for me saying that “the bigger the cut, the closer it is to its bum!”

Oxtail Kare-Kare Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR 45 MINS | SERVES 4-6

INGREDIENTS

For the stew

  • 1kg oxtail, cut into rounds
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 5 dried bay leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed then minced
  • 1 large onion, halved and then sliced
  • 1 tbsp crunchy peanut butter (a very generous tablespoon)
  • 1 tsp rock salt
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • Ground salt and pepper
  • Buk Choy, separated
  • Eggplant, sliced diagonally
  • Long beans, cut into 1-inch long strings
  • Okra (lady fingers), whole and then sliced later once cooked

For the sautéed shrimp paste

  • 345g bagoong alamang (shrimp paste)
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed then minced
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large onion, halved and then sliced
  • 1 tbsp sugar

METHOD

  1.  Add the oxtail, bay leaves, rock salt and whole peppercorns to a large pot with about a litre of water, or enough to submerge the meat. Boil for about 1 to 1 and a half hours until tender. If you are using a pressure cooker (which I don’t have), 30-35 minutes should do the trick! Once the meat is tender, remove from the heat and set aside. Do not throw away the stock.
  2. While your meat is tenderising, move onto sautéing the shrimp paste. Heat oil in a medium-sized frying pan and sauté garlic and onions until fragrant. Add the tomatoes in and sauté until they have softened. Add the shrimp paste in and give it a good mix. Add in the sugar and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and set aside. You may need to heat it up again before serving.
  3. Heat oil over medium-high heat in another pot and sauté the garlic and onions until fragrant. Add the the oxtails, season with ground salt and pepper, and give it a good stir. Add the peanut butter to two cups of the stock and stir until the peanut butter has softened. Add the peanut butter mix to the oxtail and bring the heat to low. Let it simmer for about 8-10 minutes. If you want your stew to be less creamy and thick, add more stock to your liking.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and cook your vegetables for no longer than 5 minutes. Drain and transfer the cooked vegetables to your oxtail stew just before serving. Serve hot with sautéed shrimp paste and enjoy!

Oxtail Kare-Kare

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com