SPICEGASM.COM My travel tales and food hunting

May 23, 2010

Khao Man Gai – Thai Chicken Rice

Filed under: Food,Thailand,Travel — Alex @ 8:30 am

We loved the run down joint so much that we decided to go back there again for lunch the next day. If you are curious where this place is, it is just at the corner of Soi 7, Ratchada. Soi means street in Thai.

When we arrived at the run down joint, we saw a stall with very long line of people. It is a stall selling Khao Man Gai. So seeing the line is long, the chicken rice must be good and famous. I decided to join the line and will order chicken rice for me and Zach. ( joining to cue up upon seeing a long line is a famous Singaporean traits by the way )

The chicken rice is really affordable. It cost 30 BHT for small and 35 BHT for big. I decided to order 2 big ones. One for me and one for Zach. The stall offers 2 types of chicken. Boiled white chicken and crispy fried chicken cutlets. I decided to get one each and can do so sharing testing with Zach. For 35 BHT, the chicken rice set comes with the fragrant chicken rice, chopped chicken leg ( you can specify to the owner which part you like best ), a complimentary soup and 3 types of dips. The dips consists of chili, fermented black beans and thick soya sauce. The chicken rice is also served with some slice cucumbers. So basically everything you need for a meal is here. The complimentary soup is really tasty as you can see a lot of chicken feet and necks in the soup.

Singapore is also famous for chicken rice. I’ve never made this dish myself as it takes a lot of effort and work to make this dish. I would say is quite hard and need a bit of cooking skills to make a decent chicken rice. I never bothered trying as chicken rice in Singapore just cost 2 SGD – 3 SGD. Is so convenient to just order from your neighborhood food court. Maybe one of these days I will gather up some courage to try to make this famous dish.

May 22, 2010

Thailand the land of smile and food

Filed under: Food,Thailand,Travel — Alex @ 8:10 am

February 2010 I was in Bangkok visiting my good friend. My friend is from America and has been living in Bangkok for the past 4 years. He is also a great fan of good food and is very open minded for a Caucasian guy. So being the self proclaimed Asian food expert that I am, I took the responsibility of trying to show him the real deal of Thai food. This is not an easy task as he has been living there for 4 years. And he is not the type that only eats Western food 24/7. With him having an ex Thai girlfriend makes my job even harder. ( He is very single now and good looking. Rumors has it that he prefers Pinay. I will post his picture one of these days. So if you are a Filipina reading my blog, please come back often )

We had a good time eating Thai food while I was there. Most of the food that I wanted to intro to him, he already knew. I was surprised that he even LOVE this Thai dish name namprik. Is more of a dip rather than a dish. The Filipino would call it sausauan. The main ingredient of this dip is made of chili, fish sauce, lime and belacan ( something similar to bagoong but smell and taste stronger ). This namprik is good with fried fish, fried omelet and also raw vegetables like long beans, cabbage, cucumber and some funky leaves that I don’t even know it in English.

Is quite odd for Western folks to like namprik as the smell is pungently funky. I am sure you can relate the odd feeling when you see a Puti proclaiming for the love for bagoong. So I decided to bring him to a run down place that I spotted that is near to his condo. Since he has tasted most of the food that I wanted to recommend I assume that he never ate in this run down place before. My guess was spot on and I did not even have to convince him to go as this guy is game for anything when it comes to food.

The secret of finding good food in Thailand is to eat where the locals go. DO NOT go to a 5 star Hotel in Bangkok and eat Thai food. The taste is altered to suit the foreigner’s taste buds and the worst part of it, the PRICE.┬áSo back to this run down place that has many different stalls ( maybe up to 15 ) selling different types of food. You have the choice of noodle dishes ( Thai Nooden as the Thai would pronounced it ) and also rice dishes. They are also vendors selling dessert and fruits. The run down joint has a big common area with tables and chairs and surrounded by stalls. Well, basically it just looked like a food court without air conditioning.

So we walked around and decided to go with rice dishes as Zach spotted namprik. So I took the liberty of ordering for both of us. I ordered a fried catfish, egg omelet, raw vegetables, namprik ( normally this dip comes for free when you order those raw vegetables ). We also order another pork dish that is very spciy. It is minced pork with lots of spices in it and it taste so damn good. If you have been reading up to now, I think is time for me to post some pictures so that you don’t have to kill your brain cells by imagining how the food looks like.

Namprik with fried catfish, egg omelet and variety of fresh vegetables. Namprik is a dip where it goes really well with fried food and raw vegetables.

Spicy mince pork name Kuk King Moo. I’m not sure if the spelling or pronunciation is correct. I am just an expert in eating but not with the names.

I swear to God it was really like a grand feast. We always over did it when it comes to ordering food. By right for that lunch, namprik with raw vegetables and the fried cat fish with rice is good enough. But hey, we are in Bangkok and is such a waste of opportunity with we do not order more. After all we can go to the gym later which most of the time I fail to do. So our lunch cost us around 80 BHT. Is probably 110 Pesos if converted. It was lunch hour for the office people and the run down joint is packed. I can’t help to noticed that all the Thai office worker looks so happy when they are ordering their favorite food. The place does not only cater for office workers but we see also laborers and tuk tuk drivers ( Thai version of trike ). Most of them might not be wealthy but they just look so happy. Maybe this is due to the fact that good food is still very much affordable in Bangkok.

Fried Bangus with curry powder

Filed under: Food,Philippines,Recipe — Alex @ 7:27 am

For dinner yesterday I just made a simple dish of fried bangus marinated with Indian curry powder. I brought the curry powder from Singapore as is quite hard to find good curry powder in Pinas. When I do my groceries shopping in SM, I can only see one particular brand which is McCormick. I am just not a big fan of that brand and I prefer the brand Baba’s.

The curry powder from Baba’s normally consists of 2 types. One for meat and another for fish and seafood. So obviously I will have to use the curry powder for fish to marinate the bangus. I bought boneless bangus that is not marinated with vinegar and garlic which is the favorite choice in the Philippines. This to ensure that the flavors do not clash when I marinate the fish with curry powder. You don’t need special cooking skills to make this dish as the taste lies on the powerful taste of Baba’s curry powder.

I just marinate the bangus with some salt, turmeric powder, chili powder and Baba’s curry powder. Just leave it for 30 minutes and let the fish blends well with all the ingredients. Heat up the wok with oil and just fry the fish till is crispy.

You can see Baba’s curry powder at the background and the marinated bangus.

The end result of the fried bangus with Baba’s curry powder.

I know that most of you would probably think that why aren’t the pictures are not taken professionally. I purposely made the pictures to appear amateurish so that it will look really authentic and 100% taken by me and not by hijacking other professional looking pictures from other people’s site or blog. Nah, I am just giving an excuse…the truth is, my photography skill sucks. But I can assure you that the food definitely taste better than how it looks. My photography skill is not doing my dishes any justice. Bear with me till I improve with my photography skills. I hope to make those pictures so good that you can almost smell and taste the dishes.

May 19, 2010

My version of Pinakbet

Filed under: Food,Philippines,Recipe — Alex @ 2:29 pm

For dinner tonight, I wanted to eat some greens. So I decided to make my version of Pinakbet. Instead of using bagoong, I am using belacan. The picture on the left is belacan. It looks like chocolate but it smells and tastes no where near your favorite Hershey chocolate bars. We Asian love to eat food that smells funky. The best way to describe belacan is, smells like shit but taste like heaven. That’s what I normally tell my Westerner friends. Belacan is made of tiny shrimps and prepared with some special process. I am not sure how it is done but you can find out via wikipedia if you would like to know more.

I have tasted Pinakbet but I think it tasted all right. But since I am used to having some spiciness in all my dishes, I find the Pinakbet lack the “Oommph” factor. So I decided to make some modification by switching bagoong with belacan. I am aware that bagoong is also made of tiny shrimp but I think the taste of belacan is way stronger. I also decided to add one labuyo ( bird eye chili ) to give the missing spiciness. Lets get down to business shall we.

I decided to add some meat for this dish as well. I do not have shrimp but I do have some pork in my freezer. Cut the pork into tiny bits and try to get the part with the fats. After cutting into tiny cubes deep fry it. Keep the oil for later to fry the vegetables as it will make the vegetables taste better. Tasty food is also unhealthy and I am not that health conscious honestly. I personally believe that if you exercise and indulging in fatty food once in a while is all right. And if fate decided to cut short a few years of my life, at least I can go happily coz at least I’ve tried tasty food in my lifetime. No point living up to 90 years and the diet is the same as the cow in the farm. ( I am poking fun at those who always eat salad with minimal dressing ).

INGREDIENTS :-

  • Kangkung ( Morning Glory )
  • Bitter Gourd
  • Pumpkin
  • Eggplant
  • Okra or some call it Ladies Fingers
  • Long Beans ( Cut to 3 inches long )
  • Fried pork cubes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • One onion slice thinly
  • One chili
  • One small cub of belacan and soak it with half small cup of water
  • Salt

COOKING :-

  • Get the oil that we fried the pork cubes earlier ( 5 spoonful )
  • Sauteed the garlic and follow with onions and chili
  • Half teaspoon of salt
  • Put the belacan that is soak in water ( It will dilute by now and looks like mud water )
  • Stir for few seconds and put in all the vegetables
  • Keep stirring till vegetables are slightly soft and cooked. Make sure it is not too cooked or it will be too soft and lost all it’s nutrients
  • Finally add the pork and mixed it well
  • Voila….Pinakbet ala Alex is ready to serve.

I think the entire meal just cost me 60 pesos and is good for 4 person. Is very important to use big flames when cooking vegetables. If the fire is too low, the process to cook the vegetables will take long time and it will become really soft and lost it crunchiness. Most Chinese restaurant can cook a vegetable dish in less than 3 minutes I believe. The taste is good and the texture is still crunchy and cooked. But most house stove is not really designed to have big flames.I have never really tried cooking using those extreme big flames as I believe, one gotta train for it. Movements need to be fast or else the vegetables will be burn because of the big flames if we are slow.

The problem with this recipe is that belacan is not available in the Philippines. This is why I hope that one day I can make it available to you. It will definitely make your Pinakbet stands out compared to what Filipino are accustom too. I would not want to offend anybody by saying belacan is better than bagoong but I can guarantee you at least it will taste different. You can be the judge if ever you get the opportunity to try this dish. But I did get a comment from a Filipino that it taste better than the MAX’s version…hehehehehe.

Recipe for Spicy Malay Fried Rice

Filed under: Food,Philippines,Recipe — Alex @ 5:52 am

Sometimes when I have a lot of leftover rice from yesterday dinner, I will always cook spicy Malay Fried Rice. Is easy to cook and is really delicious. Most important thing about making Fried Rice, we need to use leftover rice. This is very IMPORTANT. The rice need to be kinda dry and not those newly cook rice with a lot of moist in it.

I made a picture of the ingredients that is needed to make this simple dish.

INGREDIENTS :-

  • Left over rice from yesterday dinner ( 2 scoops )
  • Anchovies ( Dilis )
  • Egg (1)
  • Chili ( 2 pieces and chopped real fine )
  • Garlic ( 2 cloves and chopped fine )
  • Half red onion ( slice thin )
  • A bit of cabbage ( slice thin )
  • Soya sauce ( one spoon )
  • Salt and pepper to taste

COOKING :-

  • Heat up 5 big spoon of oil in wok
  • Fried the anchovies till crispy ( Make sure fire is not big or else anchovies will get burn easily )
  • Put crispy anchovies a side
  • Scoop up the used oil and leave approximately 3 spoon of oil in the wok
  • Sauteed the garlic, follow by onion and chilli till fragrant
  • Add soya sauce
  • Add cabbage and keep mixing and stirring
  • Add the rice and continue to stir
  • Make sure all the ingredients are mixed well
  • Lower fire and create a space in the middle of the rice till we see the center of the wok
  • Put just a little bit of oil
  • Break the egg and cover it with rice
  • Turn the fire to high and wait for 40 seconds ( depend on how big is your flame )
  • Put salt ( 3 small pinches will do as the anchovies are salty enough )
  • Keep stirring and finally add some pepper and is ready to serve

This dish is commonly known as nasi goreng in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. My mom used to cook this for breakfast for my siblings before we go to school. Serve it with a cup of hot Milo, it can last you till 11am before recess time in school. It is also labeled as poor man’s as anchovies is always synonymous with poor man’s diet. But I think this meal has all the nutrients that you need. You have carbohydrate from rice, protein from anchovies and egg and lastly some vitamins from chili and cabbage. Is economically, tasty and take less than 10 minutes to prepare.

The food became so popular now that every major hotel in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia serve this dish. In hotel they would normally add meat like chicken or beef, sometimes even seafood. If you order it from a 5 star hotel, it would cost you roughly 600 pesos. I never recommend any friends to eat nasi goreng in the hotel. It is meant to cater to Puti who is afraid to eat on the road side stalls. If you get the chance to visit Singapore, ordering this dish from the road side stall would cost you only 60 pesos. And the taste would be 100 times better and more authentic.

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