SPICEGASM.COM My travel tales and food hunting

June 25, 2010

Filipino will love this dip call Cincaluk

Filed under: Food,Philippines — Alex @ 11:56 pm

I think if given a chance, this dip call Cincaluk will definitely be embraced by the Filipino and even include it as part of their diet. Cincaluk is from Malaysia and just like bagoong, it is made from tiny shrimps. Best way to describe cincaluk is fermented shrimps. Main ingredients is basically just a lot of salt with shrimps.

Asian are notoriously known for their love for funky and smelly food. In fact most Western friend of mine like to poke pun at me for loving all this “smelly” food. I normally agree with them that the food is smelly but it really taste so good. But I do however jabbed back at them that most Asian also find their smelly cheese repulsive. At the end of the day, is a matter of opening up your mind and dare to try new things. Is really “sayang” ( miss opportunity ) not be to try new things in life when given the chance. When I was offered balut the first time, I did not even bat an eye and ate it immediately. In fact it was my Filipino friend who got a shock to see my prompt action.

Cincaluk could be use as part of an ingredient for many dishes, but I just like to use it as dip. It goes very well with fried fish, fried egg or grilled pusit ( squid ). Is very easy to prepare, just pour some of cincaluk to a small plate, add some thinly sliced onion, chili and kalamansi ( lime ), it’s good to go. Try it fried bangus and I can guarantee you, despite the funky smell it will be ABSOLUTELY DIVINE.

June 24, 2010

Garlic Shrimps Thai style

Filed under: Food,Philippines,Recipe — Alex @ 11:40 am

While I was visiting my friend in Bangkok, we always go to this restaurant near Soi 10, Ratchada. The restaurant is always packed with customers and is open till late. We always hung out there for it’s great food and drink Heinekken beer till 4am. One of my friend’s favorite dish is garlic prawns. We always refer the dish as garlic goong. Shrimp in Thai language is goong.

I think we patronize the restaurant almost every night for 2 weeks and we still do not know the name of the restaurant as the signage of the restaurant is written in Thai. We just refer it to the goong placeĀ  between the 2 of us. I bet everybody has their own version of garlic shrimp but I’m going to cook based on that Goong Place version.


  • 300 gm of shrimp or prawns ( shelled and leave the tail tip )
  • 5 cloves of garlic and chopped into tiny bits
  • one onion and sliced thinly
  • 2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon fish sauce ( patis )
  • one teaspoon brown sugar
  • one teaspoon coriander powder ( marinate with shrimp )
  • one teaspoon of black pepper
  • spring onion leaves and cut to 3 inches


  • heat up 3 tablespoon of cooking oil
  • add in onion and garlic
  • add in shrimp and stir fry to mix well
  • add in dark soy sauce and follow with fish sauce
  • add in sugar
  • add in spring onion leaves and black pepper
  • mixed it well and ready to serve

I think my version of the garlic goong is at least 80% as good as the one in our favorite restaurant. Too bad my friend is not around to confirm this. But I’m pretty sure he will think the same :).

June 23, 2010

Beef with bitter gourd

Filed under: Food,Philippines,Recipe — Alex @ 12:37 am

Made a beef dish yesterday for dinner and I’m pretty please with the result. As usual, I always have a tough time thinking of what to cook daily. Eating out is the same as well, sometimes you just do not know what to eat. After many days of spicy food, today I will just tone down a little on the spice.

Last week a friend of mine from Singapore came to Manila for some business meeting and he was kind enough to email me and ask me if there’s any ingredients I needed from Singapore. I just asked him to get me a bottle of cincaluk, small bottle of dark soy sauce and a small bottle of sweet soy sauce that are not available in Manila. Being the cool dude that he always is, he bought me 2 bottles of cincaluk, big bottles of the dark soy sauce and sweet soy sauce. Thank you very much Kevin for the nicest gestures.

Lets go on to our cooking tips on this beef dish shall we.


  • half kilo of beef slices really thin
  • one bitter gourd cut into semi moon shape
  • 3 slice of ginger
  • half bell pepper
  • one bunch of spring onion leaves and cut into 3-4 parts
  • one onion cut into 4
  • 3 cloves of garlic crushed
  • one teaspoon of sugar
  • corn starch ( one teaspoon )
  • sesame oil ( half teaspoon )
  • salt to taste
  • 2 spoon of light soy sauce
  • 5 spoon of dark soy sauce
  • one teaspoon of black bean sauce
  • white pepper


  • sliced beef are to be marinated with sesame oil, light soy sauce and one teaspoon of corn starch
  • set aside


  • heat up 5 spoon of cooking oil
  • stir ginger, garlic and onion
  • when fragrant, add in marinated beef and stir fry
  • add bitter gourd
  • add in dark soy sauce, black bean sauce and oyster sauce
  • add half cup of water
  • stir fry and mixed well
  • add in sugar
  • stir fry and when sauce thickens, add in spring onions and pepper
  • mixed it for a while and it is ready to serve

As a kid, I hate bitter gourd. Most kids I think hate it but as I grew older, I began to appreciate the taste of bitter gourd. It’s bitterness is not really like medicine but has some distinct flavor. I do not know exactly the word to use to describe the taste, but the Chinese refer it to “golden bitterness”, almost like ginseng.

If you go to a Chinese restaurant and most of the ingredients are prepared, this dish will not take the chef more than 5 minutes to cook it. The secret lies in the really big fire from the stove and the skill of the chef to “work the wok”. You need strong wrist and quite sometime to master this “work the wok” skill. I bet I will burn all the food if I were to use a Chinese restaurant stove with really big flames. But for now, I will just be contented with my dish fried on a normal house hold kitchen stove. And I think my pictures are getting better…hahahaha.

June 21, 2010

Visiting my Godsister in Italy

Filed under: Europe,Italy,Travel — Alex @ 12:26 pm

I visited my Godsister in Italy in year 2008. She lives in Vicenza, Italy with her boyfriend. The boyfriend is really a cool dude and he offered me to stay in his lovely house. At the time of my visit, I have no knowledge on how to blog nor was I really interested in blogging. Now that I’ve been bitten by the blogging bug, I think would be cool to feature them in my blog as a way to show my appreciation for their hospitality. It also allows me to share some of the pictures that I’ve taken with my family, friends and of course the visitors of my blog.

Was really a cool experience to be living in an Italian home and I got to be an Italian for a few weeks. To most people, I am the most boring tourist on earth. I hate visiting tourist spots and I am contented just to be visiting restaurant, pubs ( love getting buzzed and beer sampling ) and just watching the local TV stations. I believe in order to experience the country that you visit, best way is to stay with the locals. Staying in hotels and going to tourist spots is not really experiencing the country to the fullest.

Vicenza is just 20 km away from Venice and I have no idea why I declined the offer to go visit when Edo ( Godsister’s boyfriend ) offered to drive me there and show me around. I never regretted my decision as I was happier to be invited to have coffee with Edo’s parents during my stay. Seeing a typical Italian home and enjoying their company is all I ask. I had a good time with Edo’s dad talking mainly about our own country in general and mostly about food. The Italian are really stylish people, their poise and the way they drink coffee and fold their legs is really classy. I can’t help but to have the image of Al Pacino in the Godfather movie as I observed my Italian friends movement and gestures. I think is really cool and only an Italian can make drinking coffee looked so cool. No Asian or Chinaman in particular can pull that off. So if you are Asian, quit trying to look cool in Starbuck when you drinking your coffee.

Here are some pictures of Edo’s home :-

House Entrance


Living Room

Fire Place


Stylish Italian Man

Kitchen Stove

Study Room

My Room

Very nice toilet

So I think you would agree with me that this is better than staying in the hotel ya. I will post more pictures of my past travels in the future updates of my blog. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Edo and my Godsister for having me while I was in Italy. See you guys again soon.

My version of chicken adobo

Filed under: Food,Philippines,Recipe — Alex @ 5:47 am

Every country has their own popular food. In the Philippines, adobo got to be one of the most recommended food if you are a foreigner. Just like in Singapore, if you have foreign friends or business associates visitng for the first time, you will normally utter these questions – “Have you tried our famous Singapore chicken rice?” or “have you ever tasted the popular Singapore Chili Crab?”.

Is very much the same all over the world as most of us take pride in our food. Most of us take more pride in our national food compared to our government. I seldom hear people condemn their food but I cannot tell you how many times I hear people talk bad about their own government. Since this is not really a politic blog, lets not go there and we stick to what we know best – FOOD.

As I mentioned earlier about ADOBO being popular in the Philippines, I’ve been asked countless times and offered many times as well to taste this dish. So after tasting few variety of ADOBO, I would like to offer my version of my adobo mixing some spices that I am familiar with, together with other ingredients that is popular in the Philippines. I’ve got a friend from Cebu who is crazy of this dry squid that he always fry and then eat it with vinegar. So I am going to use this dry squid as one of my ingredients for my version of adobo.

Ingredients for my version of Chicken Adobo


  • Half chicken cut ( adobo style )
  • button mushroom
  • 2 star anise
  • 3 dried chili
  • 1 dried squid ( toyo pusit ) – correct me if I’m wrong
  • 3 cloves garlic crush
  • 2 onion cut into 4’s
  • 3 slice of ginger
  • half chili pepper
  • dark soy sauce ( the sticky kind – not so liquid ) – 4 teaspoon
  • light soy sauce – 2 teaspoon
  • sugar – 2 teaspoon
  • salt – one teaspoon
  • oyster sauce – one spoonful
  • sesame oil – few drops


  • Heat up 5 spoon of cooking oil in wok
  • add star anise, gralic, onion, ginger and dried chili
  • Add in chicken and mixed well
  • Add oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, follow with light sauce sauce
  • Add dried squid
  • Add dried chili, mushroom and bell pepper
  • Add salt and sugar
  • Make sure all this are cook in the wok in low heat at all time. This is just to mixed the ingredients and chicken only
  • When is well mixed, transfer all from wok to a pot
  • Continue to slow cook in the pot and add few drops of sesame oil
  • By cooking this way, chicken will be more tender compared to cooking in the wok
  • when chicken is cook, add pepper ( powder ) and mixed it well
  • Ready to be serve

To be honest, this is my first attempt to make this dish. I am quite please with the outcome and the star anise and dried squid really make the gravy taste good. Noticed that I did not use vinegar as I want the taste to be slightly different. The dried chili gave some spiciness to the taste and I normally refer it to the “OOMMPPHHH” factor. Also what makes it different is the dark soy sauce. Is not so common to find dark soy sauce in Filipino kitchen but it is available in some SM departmental store. I hope you enjoy this post and happy cooking as always.

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