Colon Night Market

Work and the flurry of activities around the holidays have always taken me North of our downtown home.  So when my week long vacation started last Wednesday, I immediately vowed to visit the downtown street Colon with its annual Night Market now on its 5th year.  This night market is open starting 6PM when the whole stretch from the Metro Gaisano to the University of the Visayas is closed to motor traffic.

I had that chance the next day Dec. 23rd.  Since it was already well into the Christmas holidays, I’ve already bought and given out my gifts.  This was  a purely sight-seeing paseo across downtown. 

I have discovered a whole new dimension to the Night Market with the shopping out of the way, the Food Dimension!  Oooh the many sinful delights!

I found some Kwek-Kwek stands.  Kwek-kwek is hard-boiled quail egg, dunked in a batter and then deep fried.  Aside from the grease, quail eggs are also known to be high in cholesterol.  Who cares?  That’s just for starters.  I also found deep fried chicken skin in cute little brown paper packets.  A little vinegar for the acid and hanging rice – puso, and you have yourself a quick snack.

To my delight I saw piles upon piles of sa-ang, a shellfish, which is one of my favorites.  There are a lot of ways people cook this delicacy so they get the meat out of the shell. You see, if you overcook it, the meat will become tough and curl up so far into the shell that you won’t have any chance of prying it out. Some say to blanch it using brine, some say to use actual seawater, some even use Sprite, some heat the shell on hot coals.  If you cook it right, the meat will be just right and will come out just enough for you to pull it out.  For this guy, he says he blanches them, but obviously, he had to use a hammer to break the shell.

The perennial barbeque grills were there but to my delight they now serve grilled seafood too!  Like these fat slices of White Marlin @P60!

And for dessert, there is always the Sorbetero with his ice cream cart.  Finding this guy at the end of the food stretch brought back memories of my childhood days and hot summer afternoons.

What pleasant surprises has Colon brought you lately?  Please do share, I would love to hear about them.

My Sense of Smell!

I just recovered from a bout of respiratory tract infection.  I am very happy I have my sense of smell working again. 

Smell is a sense that is quite sentimental to me.  Various smells remind me of various events, moments, and people.  The scent of apples remind me of Christmas, the scent of Bioderm reminds me of the 12 years we spent in Banilad, growing up with IPI as our neighbor.  The perfume Infinity and Drakkar Noir reminds me of my high school classmates who didn’t know better to use their parents expensive perfume everyday.  The smell of cigarette smoke reminds me of work and stress and IT Park and my call center “days”.

I am just glad I am smelling things 100% again.  Even the smell of my downtown neighborhood is well appreciated.  Welcome the dank smells of the clogged gutters, the smell of smoke belching jeepneys, the smell of soot and grease, spicy smells of street food and the smell of burning candles from the churches.  I am home.

Minced Meat with Seaweed Soup

April 6, 2010

It’s the week after Holy Week and after 5 days of staying home and enduring very spartan meals due to the lenten season, Shaun invited me to a quick chow at our favorite Lai Garden at the North Wing.  We literally broke the fast.

It was to be my first day back at work and since I woke up at around 5PM, I still had enough time before my shift started at 10PM.  Shaun was buying, what a way to kill time! 

One of our favorite things to order is the Po Lon Chay soup, which really is Chinese Spinach with Minced Meat.  It is common in any Chinese restaurant but not many non-chinese customers order it. 

I have yet to encounter Chinese Spinach here in Cebu and so I tried to create a soup dish of my own, inspired by Po Lon Chay.  Now I have prepared this for the folks at home a couple of times already and this recent chow date reminded me to share the recipe here:

Minced Meat with Seaweed Soup

1/4 pound of lean meat, minced (i do not suggest groundpork)

3 nori sheets

2 eggs

1/2 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 tbps flour

2 cans of chicken stock, or just plain water

2-3 cloves garlic

salt and pepper

Steps:

1.  Crush 1 garlic clove and chop coarsely.  Boil together with soup stock or water.

2.  While waiting for the stock to boil, mix together cornstarch, flour and minced meat by hand.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Mince the rest of the garlic and add into this mixture.

3. Once the stock boils, lower heat to simmer and slowly drop the meat mixture into the liquid.  Make sure to separate the pieces before dropping.

4.  Allow meat to cook for 3-5 minutes.  You will know meat is already cooked once they start to rise up from the stock.

5.  Tear nori sheets and add into the soup. 

6.  Lightly beat the eggs and pour into the soup.  Mix briskly to ensure there will be no big egg lumps and just a feathery consistency remains.

7.  Season with salt and pepper.

Holy Week’s Binignit

April 2, 2010

My mom was never fond of cooking, although she knows how to cook, cooking is more a chore for her than an art, an hobby or any other fancy idea you may attach to this domestic activity.  So during the holy week celebrations when we were younger, we never got to enjoy binignit, not from her that is.  Binignit was always courtesy of our friendly neighbors.

I did not take after my mom, I love cooking.  Binignit, together with local delights like biko and puto, have always sparked my curiosity.  I have never tried making any of them though.

Early this morning, I went to Carbon Market to buy fruits and vegetables and saw that all the requisite ingredients for yet another holy week celebration are in full display.  Tapioca(landang), sweet potatoes, yams, plantain bananas, sago, and coconuts lined the jam-packed streets.

Today, I learned that Binignit originates from Cebu.  I also learned from the street vendors that tapioca is from “buli” just like “ubod” is from lubi.  Sounds like a tongue-twister.  Although I don’t have the courage to try making binignit YET, I sure enjoyed learning more about it.  Here’s a recipe from the web.

http://www.pinoyrecipe.net/cebuano-binignit-recipe/