Sunday, January 28, 2007

Some oily lessons from Alton Brown

The smoking points of olive oil and butter are the lowest.

The smoking points of canola and corn oil are average.

The smoking point of safflower oil and peanut oil is among the highest.

Why is this important to know?

Because when oil reaches its smoking point, it begins to taste bad, so when you cook food that needs to be really hot, you don't want to use oil with low smoking point.

This means, then, that when searing steak, you want to use an oil with a lower smoking point. Not olive oil or butter, then.

I read elsewhere that vegetable oil also has a low smoking point.

Helpful advice, isn't it?

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

New cookbook

After the success of today's Korean lunch, Mike very kindly bought me a Korean cookbook when we went to the supermarket today.

We also have two new Filipino cookbooks from Angie, who gave them to us for Christmas.

I'll let you know how the recipes turn out.

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Korean Chicken Barbecue with Kim

It's Mike's birthday today, but he's ill (as am I) so we weren't in the mood to go out for lunch. So instead we stayed home and I finally tried my hand at Korean barbecue.

At Korean barbecue restaurants, we always have beef or pork (kalbi), but we haven't gone to the supermarket, and the only thing in our freezer was a packet of chicken thighs. We didn't have lettuce leaves either, but yesterday I had bought some kim (Korean nori) along with some Korean beanpaste at a Korean convenience store at Market Market, so for this recipe we used the kim instead.

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A tub of chunjang (Korean black bean paste)

With all these ingredients on hand, I went online to look for ideas as to how to make a Korean barbecue out of the ingredients I had on hand and this is what I came up with. This recipe serves 2.


5 chicken thighs, deboned and deskinned
kim (Korean nori), cut into sheets measuring approximately 4" x 5"
3 cloves garlic
2 green chili peppers, sliced into slivers
sesame oil
steamed rice (one bowl per person)


2 tbsp rice wine
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp pepper
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/4 tsp chili powder


sesame oil
Korean black bean paste (chunjang/jajang)


Slice the chicken into strips. Marinate first in the rice wine and minced ginger for about 15 minutes. Then transfer to a separate bowl and mix well with the other marinade ingredients. Marinate for at least half an hour.

Put about a tsp of sesame oil on the electric grill. Grill the garlic and green peppers. When cooked, remove from grill and transfer to a plate. Grill the chicken on the same grill. When cooked, place the slices of grilled chicken on top of the garlic and green peppers.

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Prepare bowls of dip for each person. In one small bowl put about two tbsp of sesame oil, a pinch of salt, and around 1/4 tsp of ground pepper. In another small bowl, put 1 tsp of Korean black bean paste.

When the chicken is done, dip a slice of chicken into the sesame oil dip, put it on a sheet of kim together with a small amount of rice, and roll the kim. Dip the whole roll in the bean paste and eat!

Serves 2.

Verdict: It all came out quite yummy, although I'm sure the rolling process would've been less messy if we had used lettuce leaves instead of the tiny sheets of kim. But we were both very pleased with our meal, nonetheless.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Food for the ill.

I'm terribly sorry.

I've been ill since the beginning of the year (cough, sore throat, cold), so my tastebuds are shot, and I don't want to try anything in the kitchen for fear that my tastebuds might deceive me.

To keep this page updated, however, I decided to come up with a list of food for the ill....
  • fresh fruits

  • chicken-flavored ramen

  • salabat

  • warm calamansi juice with honey (or a bit of sugar, if honey isn't available)

  • green tea

  • lugaw or am (for children) - for when your appetite is gone and you can't eat anything else

  • a cure-all that I haven't tried but which my friend once recommended to me: green juice -- I've heard there are different recipes, but the most basic one blends together celery, cucumber, 1 clove garlic, and tomato.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Twenty-one tips for a thriftier kitchen!

Sorry, I'm still ill so my tastebuds are shot. As a result, I still can't recommend any recipes.

However, an email conversation with my friends and a post on a friend's blog have me thinking about ways to save money. Here are some kitchen-related tips for saving money:

(1) The simplest: cook instead of eating out! And I don't just mean lutong-bahay; instead of eating expensive meals in restaurants, Mike and I try to recreate our favorite restaurant meals right in our kitchen. Even if that means buying more expensive ingredients; it still comes out cheaper than eating in a restaurant. We encourage each other by reminding each other how much we save by eating in. ("This meal only cost us P150; if we had eaten this same meal in a restaurant, it would've cost us P300!")

(2) Bring lunch to work. We don't do this often, but every now and then Mike brings lunch to work.

(3) I don't do this myself, but at my in-laws' house, fish is fried in the backyard instead of in the kitchen. How does this save money? You don't need to switch on your hood or exhaust to get the smell of fish out.

(4) Drink water instead of sodas or instant drinks. I'm one to talk; I drink so much iced tea. Nonetheless, this is on my list of New Year's resolutions: water is cheaper, and it's healthier as well.

(5) Brew your own coffee. If you're one of those people who buy your daily coffee from Starbucks, then it's time to get a coffee-maker and make your own coffee at home. Knowing how much more one spends at a coffee shop over and above the material cost of a cup of coffee, Mike (the coffee-drinker of the two of us) has a good rule of thumb: he only goes to coffee shops to meet up with business associates or friends, and only if he intends to stay there for awhile. That way, he's paying for the use of the place, not for the coffee. (And the nationalist in him is biased towards local coffee shops like Figaro or Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.)

(6) Buy a water filter/purifier instead of buying bottled water. Or, to save even more money, just boil your water (two minutes at full boil) and let it stand overnight. It's better for the environment too: no plastic bottles.

(7) Use a gas stove rather than an electric stove. In the Philippines, LPG is much, much cheaper.

(8) Learn to use extenders in food: bread crumbs in ground beef, for example.

(9) When buying meat, have the butcher pack the meat into portion-sized bags already. When Mike and I buy ground beef, for example, we ask the butcher to put it in bags of 250g portions. That way, we don't cook more than we need. (And it regulates our food intake as well!)

(10) Learn to make your own bread, yogurt, pancake mix, syrup, sandwich spread and jam. I don't do this but my father-in-law does.

(11) Grow your own vegetables. Again, something I haven't tried, though my in-laws used to do this as well.

(12) Save your lamb and chicken bones. Keep them in a sealed bag or container in the freezer. When you have enough, make your own lamb or chicken stock.

(13) If you buy deli cold cuts, consider buying the ends rather than the middle cuts, depending on what you intend to use the cuts for. They're cheaper.

(14) Save your cooking oil! It can be reused twice or thrice. Make sure, though, that you separate the oil that you use for fish, the oil that you use for meat, and the oil from longaniza or bacon fat (I learned this from our housekeeper when I was young). (I suppose this is the Philippine version of the Western tradition of never washing cast-iron cookware [they just wipe it down].)

(15) Buy energy-saving freezers and refrigerators. They're on all the time, so make sure they don't cost more than they have to.

(16) If you have excess freezer space, make ice. Excess freezer space wastes electricity (unlike excess refrigerator space which actually saves electricity). We often have excess freezer space (because we have a separate freezer), so we make ice in bags and sell them to our neighbors. (In the summer our housekeeper makes ice candy for sale as well!)

(17) Buy in bulk.

(18) Don't buy branded products when you can avoid it. We recently started buying homemade (non-branded) detergent, laundry bar, fabric softener and dishwashing liquid. It's less than half the price of stuff at the supermarket! At the grocery, goods which don't have famous brands are also usually a lot cheaper than the P&G/Unilever goods; with P&G/Unilever, you're just paying for all the marketing.

(19) If you just intend to toast your bread, freeze the loaf to make it last.

(20) Eat more veggies and less meat! Cheaper and healthier!

(21) Use rags instead of paper towels. And make rags from old cotton clothes rather than buying new ones. To disinfect rags and sponges pop them in the microwave after washing (30 seconds when dry, a minute when wet).

(22) Cut worn bath towels into smaller pieces, and hem. Ta-dah, a new hand towel for the kitchen!

(23) If you eat a lot of bread, collect your own breadcrumbs.

(24) Before you do your supermarketing, check your pantry and refrigerator and make sure that you've used up or have plans to use up ingredients from your last trip. The most wasteful thing is allowing food to expire before you've touch it!

(25) If you have a garden or a big-enough balcony with potted plants, make your own compost from kitchen waste.

(26) Reuse water. The rinsing water for your dishes or laundry or from washing rice can be used to water the plants.

(27) Segregate your rubbish. It won't necessarily save you money, but it will help save the earth. :)

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

What to do with New Year's fruits

Happy New Year!

I've been ill and haven't had time to putter around the kitchen, but if you want ideas as to how to finish eating all those round fruits you bought for your New Year's table spread, here are some suggestions from older posts: