I’m currently down with another cold and as the case being such, haven’t been in the mood to ask friends/family to eat out. I was craving for some pasta and decided to make some on my own instead. Since I wasn’t in the mood to slave over something too complicated in the kitchen, I thought I’d go with the very simple Spaghetti with Clams.
I didn’t follow a specific recipe for this since I’ve watched so many people cook pasta dishes before (both on TV and in person). The ingredients I used for this dish are quite basic too:
- Olive oil
- Cooking oil
- Butter (I used the salted one from Elle & Vire)
- Minced garlic
- Spaghetti (you may use another type of pasta, if that’s what you want)
- Flat leaf parsley (optional)
- Fresh clams
First off, I put a bit of regular cooking oil and a pinch of salt into a pot of water and let it boil. Once it was ready, I placed my spaghetti into it and let it cook for a couple of minutes. When it was already al dente, I took the spaghetti out and set it aside. I reserved a small amount of the liquid for later.
Having a store inside the local wet market meant I get easy access to a wide array of seafood everyday. It also pays that we have already made friends with a lot of the vendors there, thus getting stuff at lower prices (yay!). My Dad got me just 1/4 kilo of the fresh clams since I was the only one who was going to eat them at home. Make sure to have these cleaned and cooked properly before eating. Discard any of those whose shell did not open during boiling/cooking. Afterwards, set them aside for the next step.
I had a heated pan ready with some olive oil and a knob of salted butter. I then tossed the minced garlic into the pan and waited for it to brown a bit (I love frying garlic since they smell terrific!). Once the garlic’s ready, I placed the clams back in the pan with the reserved liquid from the pasta.
After a short while, I had the cooked spaghetti join the pan and added a couple of flat leaf parsley pieces. I tossed them around to have the spaghetti coated with the oil and butter mixture. At this point, you could try and taste a bit to check if the flavors are already acceptable to you. I found mine to be good, so I no longer added any salt or pepper to it.
I left them in the pan for just a minute or two longer and then transferred it onto my plate. I had Dad try it out and he said that the flavors were good, although he preferred to have the pasta just a bit softer. Mom passed since she doesn’t like anything that has to do with seafood that much.
I was satisfied with my pasta that day and knew that it was going to be something I’ll cook numerous times in the future. I might add a bit of dried chili flakes to it too, if I feel like eating something with some spicy kick to it.
I haven’t been able to eat out as often as before, so I decided to get myself back in the kitchen and do some cooking for my parents and myself. Yesterday, I tried making my own japchae (Korean stir fried sweet potato noodles). Thankfully, the parents thought it was good enough. I was thinking of what else I could make with all the leftover vegetables I had and decided to try another Korean dish: the Bibimbap (비빔밥).
Bibimbap literally means “mixed rice” and is served with tons of different vegetables on top. A bit of meat and a raw or fried egg is also commonly added to a bowl of bibimbap, if the person feels like doing so. It’s one of the most famous Korean dishes and is loved by a lot of people around the globe. According to a poll conducted by CNN Travel in 2011, bibimbap is even part of the World’s 50 Best Foods!
I’ve read through several recipes online and combined them to make my own. What were the ingredients I used?
- Sesame Oil
- Sesame Seeds
- Salt & Pepper
- Light Soy Sauce
- Gochujang (Korean fermented hot pepper paste)
- Vegetable Oil
- Vegetables (Carrots, Red Bell Peppers, Spinach, Beansprouts, Zucchini )
- Dried Mushrooms
- Chicken breast, thinly sliced
- Brown Rice
Here’s a shot of some of the vegetables I decided to use for my version of the bibimbap: beansprouts, zucchini, red bell pepper and carrots. Note that most of the stuff used in this dish are julienned / sliced as thinly as possible.
I didn’t have a lot of problems preparing this dish since most of the ingredients used are mainstays in our house’s pantry. A good example is the dried mushroom. These mushrooms were soaked in hot water for several hours before being sliced into thin strips. Make sure you squeeze the excess water from the mushrooms thoroughly before you start slicing / using them!
These mushrooms were mixed with a bit of sesame oil, light soy sauce, grated garlic, salt and pepper. Set them aside for stir frying later on. (I didn’t get to take a photo of that step, but rest assured that it was done!)
The same process was done with my red bell pepper strips. The bell peppers are a lot faster to cook versus the carrots, so don’t leave them in the heat for too long. Your kitchen will smell really awesome when these are in the pan, I promise!
The last one I cooked were the thinly sliced chicken breast fillets. Before starting with anything, I sliced then marinated the chicken in a mixture of light soy sauce, sesame oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper. I left it alone while I went ahead with the rest of the slicing and preparations.
I think bibimbap is often prepared using beef, but pork and chicken variations have been seen in different places as well. Since I don’t eat beef, the use of chicken breast was my best option.
After all that cooking, it’s time for assembly! I tried to mimic the way they usually serve bibimbap in Korean restaurants, and hopefully, I did not disappoint. You can’t see it in the photo above, but I used brown rice as the base before arranging all the goodies on top and the egg yolk in the middle.
By the way, that dark red blob next to the egg yolk is the gochujang paste, which I mixed with a bit of coco sugar and some sesame seeds. It’s just sad that my Motorola’s camera didn’t get to capture the colors properly.
Here’s the brand of gochujang I used for this dish. I thought I had another tub of gochujang (different brand) in the house, but it turned out that it was sent to our store and was used up for some of the dishes we served there. I found that other one to be spicier than the one above.
After placing the arranged bowl in front of my parents and getting their positive reactions, it was time to mix it all up. It no longer looked as appetizing once all those stuff are combined, but it was delicious! Mom enjoyed eating the bibimbap while it was still piping hot. Dad said it was good, but he couldn’t eat much of the rice once the gochujang was mixed in thoroughly because of the sweetness.
What complemented the bibimbap and made our dinner a lot more satisfying was Dad’s Pork Ribs and Lotus Root soup (排骨莲藕汤). I’ve always enjoyed munching on those lotus roots since they remain crunchy despite being soaked in the liquid for a long time.
This soup has been prepared and eaten in our household since I was very, very young. It’s light, has a sweet/salty taste and is very nutritious. They say that the lotus roots are good for detoxifying our bodies and in helping those with respiratory problems.
Anyway, the verdict for the bibimbap? Definitely something that I’ll make for my family again. It does take a lot of time to prepare all the ingredients, but I thought that it was a rewarding experience. I might choose to use other vegetables when I cook this again, just to shake things up a bit.
The last time I set foot at Eat Fresh was in 2011, when my brother and I had a tendency to eat out after work since we were both too tired to think of what to cook for dinner (our parents were staying in L.A. back then). This time, I visited the restaurant with my parents. It was a first for both Mom and Dad and they weren’t sure which ones to pick from the menu. There was a pretty long list for them to go through, but it didn’t take them too long to decide since we were all pretty hungry.
For our mains, Dad went with the Two Kinds of Sausages Claypot Rice. The two kinds were the standard pork sausage (red ones) and the duck liver sausage (dark red, almost black, ones). We have our own stash of Chinese sausages at home to satisfy our cravings, but sometimes it’s nice to have it elsewhere. This claypot rice was served with light soy sauce on the side.
Since Dad already chose the 2 kinds of sausages, I decided to go with the Chicken and Sausage Claypot Rice. It was served very hot, but the rice sticking at the bottom of the claypot wasn’t as toasted as I expected it to be. Again, similar to the time when my brother and I ate here, I found this dish to be quite ordinary but very filling. My claypot rice was also served with the light soy sauce on the side.
The three of us decided to order a couple of fried items to enjoy with our main meals. Dad initially wanted the fish cakes, but was informed that it was unavailable. He decided to go with the recommended Stuffed Tofu (Php50.00 for 2 pieces). This dish was supposed to be a small block of tofu with ground pork inside. Unfortunately, none of us enjoyed it since it didn’t have any flavor to it and Dad said that the tofu already had a tinge of sourness to them. We didn’t finish eating these.
I, on the other hand, couldn’t pass up on the chance to order a personal favorite: Fried (Pork) Big Intestines (Php35.00/stick)! Just like what I used to do years ago, I enjoyed these morsels of chewy intestines with the sweet chili sauce provided. I’m glad Dad really liked eating this one too.
We also ordered a stick of Fried Wantons (Php35.00 for 5 pieces) to share among ourselves. Mom found them to be really good with the chili sauce.
***Eat Fresh is located at 100-A Maria Clara Street near Banawe in Quezon City. This branch is closed during Sundays, but is open from Mondays to Saturdays from 9am until midnight. They also have another branch in San Juan. You may visit their official Facebook page by clicking here.
Last Monday, my parents and I had some free time on our hands and we decided to have lunch at the mall. Dad wanted to eat at a place which we’ve never tried before. We had to go through a list of possible restaurants when I suddenly remembered an Instragram photo posted by one of my college friends a few weeks ago. It was a plate of gyoza which I found to be quite intriguing. Good thing the restaurant where she ate that was located inside Trinoma so off we went to try it out.
Hanamaruken Ramen is said to be a food chain from Osaka, Japan. According to Dianne, our server for that afternoon, they started their operations in Trinoma on November of 2013. Why my parents and I were unable to dine there before is something we don’t quite understand.
For appetizers, we just had to go with a serving of their gyoza (Php150.00). A serving comprised of 8 pieces of pork gyoza, accompanied by a sweet soy dipping sauce and chili oil. These weren’t as big as I expected them to be, but they were very flavorful. I enjoyed eating them with the chili oil. My Dad also liked it so much that he ordered another serving even before we finished with the first one.
We also wanted to try their karaage, but was informed that it was unavailable during that time. We hope it’s going to be available by our next visit.
Mom wasn’t in the mood for ramen, so she chose the Drunken Man Rice Bowl (approximately Php220.00). This was basically white rice topped with kakuni (braised pork), two fried eggs and spring onions. I was able to try a piece of the kakuni and thought that it was really good. Mom liked it too, but commented that the serving size was a little too small for her.
Dad ordered Hanamaruken Ramen’s specialty: the Signature Happiness Ramen (Php480.00). Good thing that Dad was really satisfied with his ramen! He couldn’t stop raving about how flavorful the soup base was, the noodles’ texture and how soft the pork rib was. I was really glad to see how much he enjoyed this that he’s already thinking of revisiting the restaurant soon.
I was initially thinking of ordering the Signature Happiness Ramen as well, but decided to try something else. I ended up ordering a serving of their Chasyu Ramen (approximately Php280.00), which was also pretty good! I found the tonkotsu shoyu broth to be very light, so it wasn’t difficult to go through one bowl on my own. The braised pork belly was also a treat.
Apart from the delicious and filling food, another great thing about Hanamaruken Ramen was their level of service. Service was quick and their wait staff were efficient. We’d like to applaud Dianne, who assisted us during our visit, since she was always smiling and obviously knew what she was doing. She answered all of our questions and made sure we were okay with everything throughout our stay. I hope Hanamaruken’s service levels and food quality will remain this high as the months go by.
**Want to try this place out? Hanamaruken Ramen is located at the 2nd floor garden restaurants of TriNoMa in Quezon City. Visit their official Facebook page here for more information.
Part of The Boyfriend’s work is to travel within Asia to attend to his clients’ IT concerns. His first assignment for this year was a 3-week stay in Bangkok. The night before he left for Thailand, we decided to have dinner somewhere in Bonifacio Global City. I suggested we try Sariwon Korean Barbecue.
I don’t think any Korean meal is complete without having banchan, a variety of small dishes meant to be shared among those in a group. I LOVE banchan. I personally have a thing for kimchi and all the other stuff served are added bonuses. There’s a wide array of stuff that can be considered banchan, so it doesn’t always have to be those pictured above.
By the way, these come in unlimited servings and are free of charge, just let your server know which ones you want to be refilled.
Another one of my favorite Korean dishes is the japchae (Php380.00). I’ve always enjoyed the chewy texture of the sweet potato noodles used in this dish. It’s a pretty small serving, but was good enough for The Boyfriend and I to share. Apart from the noodles, this dish consists of slices of mushrooms, pork, carrots and other vegetables, topped with sesame seeds.
We also chose to split a serving of Jeonju Bibimbap (Php300.00). As with standard practice, the rice was mixed with all the vegetables, meat and egg before we started to eat it. This dish was actually pretty good, but I would have preferred more gochujang to give it a bit more heat.
We decided to order another dish and The Boyfriend was torn between a chicken dish or the famous Korean beef stew. The Boyfriend badly wanted to try Sariwon’s beef stew but knew I wasn’t going to be able to share the dish with him if he ordered it. He decided to get the dak galbi (Php380.00) instead. The dak galbi is another popular dish which consists of marinated chicken and gochujang. This was served with a couple of lettuce leaves which you could use as a wrap for the chicken.
Although the menu indicated this to be a spicy dish, neither The Boyfriend and I found it to be spicy at all. Putting that aside, this was a decent dish to have at Sariwon.
I remember my grandmother serving us something similar to this when I was younger, except we had barley instead of rice. I have forgotten what it was called though. The sikhye brought back so many good memories that it was definitely a great way to end our dinner.
**We visited the branch located at the Upper Ground Floor of Bonifacio High Street Central in Taguig. Sariwon has another branch located at the ground floor of Promenade in Greenhills. You can visit their official Facebook page here to learn more about the establishment.