Photo by Haragayato of Tokyo, Japan
If you are rather partial to Chinese food, you are probably familiar with bamboo shoots.
And if you have been to the Philippines, it is possible that you have come across bamboo shoots in menus. Probably they would have been called labong in the Tagalog regions or rabong in the Ilocos region. They are also often called ubod.
Outside of Asia, bamboo shoots would most probably come in cans/tins or jars.
Bamboo shoots are usually harvested during the rainy season when they shoots grow profusely. As per above photo, the shoots are like cones covered in papery, a la papyrus, brownish and greenish leaves. The outer shell of leaves are then trimmed off leaving a yellowish tuber.
They can be cooked in variety of ways and can then be also made into a delicious if rather spicy and piquant salad.
Tomatoes, Photo by PH Morton for Globalgranary.org
Skin A Tomato
There are some recipes that require skinless tomatoes. Below is a process of how to remove the skin off tomatoes.
By the way, did you know that a cooked tomato is better than a raw tomato? Apparently tomatoes are a good source of lycopene which is an antioxidant. The lycopene in tomatoes increases as they are heated/cooked.
How to Skin a Tomato:
Put the tomatoes in a large heatproof bowl or basin.
Pour in boiling water over the tomatoes. They should be completely covered with water.
Leave to soak for 3-4 minutes.
Pour out the hot water. Now pour in cold water and leave for 30 seconds to a minute.
Using a sharp knife, break the skin and then start peeling using your hands.
Siling Labuyo and Siling Mahaba, photo by PH Morton
Chilies – Hot & Spicy
There are many varieties of chilies in Asia, where spicy food are favoured. In the Philippines, there are a lot of different kinds of this spice but the two main ones are the siling labuyo which is the small red chilies on the above photo. They are bird’s eyes chilies, which are really hot. The above green one is the other popular one. They are used in sinigang and paksiw (both delicious recipes). They are also rather hot.
To lessen the hotness, the white membrane and seeds that run through the chilies should be removed.
As a rule of thumb the smaller the chili the spicier it is.
Chili Vinegar/Soy Sauce
Photo by JMorton
My favourite: soy sauce, a little vinegar, with chili flakes. Perfect for chips (French fries)
Chili flakes useful more many recipes like curry and spicy stews.
Gabi, photo by JMORTON
TARO, PHOTO BY JMORTON
Taro (Colocasia Esculenta )
At the back of our house in Marag, plenty of gabi or taro used to grow. They grew next to our well (bubon) where the vicinity always has water.
Gabi growing profusely in our backyard was a Godsend. It was a ready source for a vegetarian viand. Thank goodness we also had a constant supply of coconuts which goes deliciously with taro.
As children, we were told to treat gabi with respect. Eaten raw the leaves and stalks can be poisonous as they contain oxalic acid. The sap that comes out when the stalks and leaves are torn can cause itch.
Labanos, photo by JMorton
Daikon Radish (Labanos)
Daikon or labanos may look strange to non-Asian consumer and cooks but this long pale tuber is delicious cooked using many recipes or serve raw in salad.
Below are some recipes which daikon can be used.
Pineapple Juice @ Manila Hotel, photo by JMorton
One of the most delicious juices around is the pineapple juice. It is even more ambrosial if it is made from fresh pineapples.
The taste is only one factor in why one should be drinking pineapple juice. There are a few good reasons why one should. A glass of fresh pinya juice is full of goodness, it is packed with vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. I heard it is also a dieter’s friend.
The best way to consume pineapple juice is to have it fresh and therefore making it at home is ideal and we have got just the quickest recipe here.
Pineapple Juice Recipe
1 ripe pineapple
1 cup water
1 cup ice cubes
Method of preparation:
Ensure that the pineapple is ripe for it to be really sweet tasting 🙂 otherwise you might have to add a teaspoon or two of sugar to the recipe.
Peel the hard outer skin, as well as removing the little eyes (read the legend of the pineapple here), then cut into chunks.
Put the pineapple chunks into a food processor, together with the ice cubes. Pour in the water as well.
Blend until smooth and frothy.
Pour in into tall glasses and share the joy.
Ampalaya, photo by PH Morton
Snapped: Ampalaya (Bitter gourd)
It is said that if it is bitter then it is good for you. You only have to remember the taste of the different drugs (as in medicine) 🙂 you have taken over the years. Bitter as bitter can be!!!
In the bitterness scale ampalaya can reign supreme, so much so that it is now an accepted crude metaphor for a person being bitter. 🙂 🙂 🙂 like “Ampalaya ka naman, Ate” (you are a bitter gourd, sister) pertaining to someone, who is on a full on tirade. 🙂
Anyway, bitter it may be, ampalaya is delicious in its own way that it is a major ingredients in many a Filipino recipe. Just search for ampalaya or bitter gourd in the search box on the top right of this site.
By the way ampalaya or bitter gourd is also referred to as bitter melon.
Mussels in a bilao, photo by PH Morton
Peter took the above photo while we were wandering the wet market of Pritil in Tondo, Manila, Philippines early last month.
The above are fresh mussels.
We have a number of recipes in this site.
Please click any of the following to send you through them.
Pansit pansit herb, photo by JMorton
Pancit pancit, photo by JMorton
Pansit-pansitan (Peperomia pellucida) Medicinal Herb
This was the herb given to us by the Lady of Necodemos, the manghihilot (healing massager) when we consulted her for stomach aches which seems to have afflicted our whole family in the Philippines after going for an overnight swim at Club Manila East.
She said to make a drink of tea from this herb.
She gave the following instruction:
Chop the herb and then boil in plenty of water. Leave to simmer for at least 10 to 15 minutes with the pan uncovered.
Turn of the stove and leave this herbal tea to steep for at least 10-15 minutes.
Strain and drink half a cup every four hours.
This herb will settle your stomach and digestive system.
Remaining tea can be stored over a couple of days in a clean jar in the fridge.