You Didn’t Make That!

green goddess3
Oh, yeah! I sure did make it.

Remember Green Goddess Dressing that was made by Seven Seas in the States? Very popular back in the 1970s. I have never seen Green Goddess Dressing in Bacolod. Kraft bought Seven Seas and still makes Green Goddess Dressing.

If you have a blender or a food processor, you can make your own Green Goddess Dressing in the Philippines. You may have to substitute ingredients but the main ingredients are available in cities around the country.

The main ingredients are mayonnaise, anchovies, sour cream, green onion, chives, parsley, spinach, lemon juice, garlic, cracked black pepper and coarse salt. Tarragon is hard to find but you can get by without it.

Some people use buttermilk, milk or yogurt instead of sour cream. Not me. I have never seen buttermilk in the Philippines. Some use watercress instead of spinach but I have never seen watercress in the Philippines. Kale? I do not like kale, so forget about it. If you like avocado, you can add it to your Green Goddess recipe. I like avocado and can eat it anytime. Great for breakfast or anytime.

If you really like the taste of Green Goddess, it is not limited to being only salad dressing. It is a great dip for raw vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, bell peppers and whatever you like. You can also use Green Goddess like Green Taco Sauce, putting it on tacos, burritos, enchiladas, wraps, etc.

Green Goddess is good on broiled fish. It will work on steamed fish as well but I hate steamed fish. None for me, thank you!

Southern Style Pork Sausage Patties

pork sausage patties2
If you miss something you cannot find in the Philippines supermarkets, more times than not, you can make it at home, if you really want it. Jimmy Dean and Tennessee Pride southern style pork sausage patties are good examples. So EZ to make at home with ground pork and the proper herbs & spices, which I can buy in Bacolod.

All you need to make Southern style pork sausage patties is fresh ground pork and the following herbs & spices: Garlic Salt, Ground Parsley, Ground Sage, Coarse Ground Black Pepper, Dried Thyme and Red Pepper Flakes. If you like hot pork sausage patties, add as much as you like of Cayenne Pepper. If you like maple flavored pork sausage patties, add maple syrup, leave out the herbs & spices other than Coarse Ground Black Pepper and add a little salt.

To make the pork sausage patties, mix all the ingredients with the fresh ground pork. Next, you will form the sauage patties using your hands. Fry in a pan or skillet until browned on both sides. Now, you have something good to eat! Southern style pork sausage patties.

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

Love That Chicken From Popeyes!

Popeyes-Bonafide-Chicken
I love that chicken from Popeyes. That is what I told my brother in Florida earlier this year and he was amazed. He didn’t know there were Popeyes Louisiana Kitchens in the Philippines. There’s not. We make Popeyes Chicken in our home kitchen. I got the original recipe from the internet and I can make Popeyes chicken from all locally sourced ingredients… at local prices. Nothing imported.

I paid P128 for a whole chicken and my wife cut it into pieces at home. I think White King Flour, product of the Philippines, is as good as any imported flour and at a fraction of the cost. McCormick brand herbs and spices are packaged in Quezon City, Philippines. Once again, they are priced for the Filipino wallet and not sold at imported prices. Mother’s Best and Mama Sita, also local brands, make an excellent version of Louisiana Hot Sauce. Want to be blindfolded and take the taste test?

Sliders

I grew up eating the little Krystal Hamburgers. Nowadays, they are known as sliders. There are not any Krystal restaurants in our area of the Philippines but my wife and I make the little sliders all the time. In the southern part of the USA, we had Krystal. Up north, they had White Castle Hamburgers. Also sliders.

Drive A Little And Save A Lot

Bacolod is a mid-sized city and after living here 6 years, I know my way around. My wife and I both know the best places to shop for quality, without spending a small fortune. I know which grocery or specialty store has the best prices on what I want to buy.

Prices on imported food products can vary as much as P100 or more per item from store to store. It pays to check out all the stores, do price checks and then you will know where to shop. By knowing where to shop in the city you live in the Philippines, can save you up to 75% on your grocery shopping. You can believe that.

Imported VS Local Products

Unlike some foreigners, I rarely buy imported frozen food products. No, I will not spend P1,500 for a box of frozen cod fish or for a package of frozen Tyson Chicken. I am not spending P1,700 for a frozen steak from the USA. I pay P98 for a kilo of cream dory fish fillets, P128 for a 1 kilo whole chicken and P240 for a Monterey brand Porterhouse. I enjoy those very much and I don’t have to spend a ton of money when putting together a fabulous meal in the Bacolod area.

My wife shops at several public markets when buying fresh seafood, vegetables and fruits. In my opinion, Pure Gold, SM and Metro Supermarkets all have excellent ground round beef. I use ground round when making many different dishes at home. Burgers, spaghetti, chili, tacos, burritos, enchiladas, chili mac, sloppy Joe and any dish calling for excellent quality ground beef.

I don’t have to spend hundreds of pesos when making my version of Mexican Cuisine at home. Mega Mexicana in Luzon, Philippines makes excellent quality taco shells, flour tortillas and corn tortillas. At a fraction of the cost of the same imported items. “Si Ortega?” No thanks, I don’t have to buy Ortega brand or Old El Paso, either.

I have been buying Ram brand Italian Spaghetti Sauce for the past 6 years. It is now P19 per vacuum sealed package, up from P17. All Ram items are products of the Philippines.

I do not like Ram brand pickle relish but I really enjoy another local product. Green Harvest pickle relish is P60 for the large jar. If you buy Vlasic or Heinz pickle relish, get ready for some bad news. P200 or more per jar.

I buy a number of imported items but it is because the items are not locally produced in the Philippines. Most of the items I buy are items used in preparing the dishes I enjoy. Horseradish, Lea & Perrins, A.1. Steak Sauce, Reese Mint Sauce, Kweichow Garlic Chili Sauce, Morehouse Mustard (the Official Mustard of the LA Dodgers), Heinz Malt Vinegar and similar items. I do not have to buy such items weekly or even monthly because I don’t use them all every single day. Some items will last me 6 months or longer.

Canned beans are another imported item I buy regularly. Pinto, white, baked, red kidney, black and black eye peas. I pay P31-P63 per can of beans that I buy.

Money to Burn

I know a few expats in Bacolod who have a large income from several pensions. They don’t mind going to the supermarkets and spending P12,000-P15,000 per week. Without cutting corners and buying quality locally sourced products as much as possible, my weekly grocery cost has similar figures. Only I spend P1,200 and not P12,000. I may spend P1,500 but never P15,000 in a supermarket.

Most of my meals are considered Western style. I recently used local large organic potatoes to make Potato Skins. I bought Virginia brand honey cured bacon, Nestle sour cream and Dari-Creme butter. Nothing imported and everything at local prices.

Avocado is P35 per kilo in our area. What about poached eggs over avocado and Century brand Corned Tuna? An avocado BLT with fried egg on good toasted bread is good anytime.

There are a number of Filipino dishes I really enjoy. I eat them regularly but not every meal or even everyday for that matter.

I have you started on the right foot. You don’t have to spend most of your retirement income to enjoy most all the dishes in the Philippines that you enjoy back home. If you don’t like cooking, it is very affordable to hire a full time cook in the Philippines. Just spend a little time in training them and supervising them, as they prepare the food you enjoy.

Happy shopping and happy eating.

I hope to see you someday, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

~  Gary ~

Potatoes in the Philippines

yukon_gold
In Florida, I was paying 99 cents for 5 pounds of the Yukon Gold Potatoes at Winn Dixie…in the year 2000.

I personally buy organic potatoes at SM in Bacolod City. They are the large style baking potatoes and are great for making home fries and Irish fried potatoes with onions. These potatoes are P160 per kilo. These potatoes are grown in the mountain region of NE Negros Occidental.

My wife makes the excellent Swiss style version of hash brown potatoes, known as Rosti. I enjoy eating Rosti but prefer the Waffle House style, which is Southern style. Chili goes well on hash browns. If you make hash browns and want a meal that will last you from morning to well after lunch, try Hash Browns All the Way! With onions, cheese, diced ham, diced tomato, jalapeno peppers, mushrooms and chili con carne. That is one breakfast that will kick start you and keep your motor running most of the day.

The potatoes grown in our immediate area are very small. Mostly good for adding to Filipino dishes or for boiling. New potatoes are what I call them.

Potatoes can be grown in large, clean trash bins and in spiral wire cages. You don’t have to live on a farm to grow your own potatoes. Plenty of information online about this technique. Not hard to do.

Oh, yeah! I had much rather have potatoes than rice.

Potato Skins
potato skins

One of my favorite dishes is Potato Skins. My wife and I both make them in the same manner.

We bake the whole potatoes at 375F/190C degrees. You can also *bake* a potato in a microwave for 10-12 minutes.

We then cut the potatoes in half vertically, scooping out the potato until about 1/4 potato is left. What you scoop out can be saved and used in a different potato recipe, such as mashed.

Next, we fry the potatoes for about 5 minutes. Loading the potato shells with your favorite fillings is up to you. We use real fried crispy bacon bits and shredded cheddar cheese. We bake until the cheese melts and top with sour cream. Nestles Sour Cream is sold at SM and Metro for about P80 per tub.

The first time I had Potato Skins was way back in the late 1970s at a TGI Friday’s in Huntsville, Alabama. I’ve been hooked with them ever since.

Hash Browns and the St Louis Slinger
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I prefer making hash browns in a manner that does not turn out potato cake style. Or as a block of potatoes. Or a ring of potatoes by cooking the potatoes in a ring.

My wife learned to make hash browns by using the julienne cut on the potatoes, same as most chefs. For me, I enjoy shredding the potatoes by using the large holes on a grater. I like the texture of the cut potatoes and I can scatter then on the griddle or in the skillet. Where I come from, this is real hash browns.

For basic hash browns, I scatter them and fry them with onions. If you want to kick up your hash browns, it is not difficult. Topping with chili con carne, mushrooms, chunked ham, cheese, diced tomatoes, jalapeno peppers and more onions. Add all these and you have hash browns all the way. If you only add sausage gravy to your hash browns, you have country style.

slinger2
In 1996, the baseball St Louis Cardinals swept the San Diego Padres 3 games to 0 in the first round of the playoffs. Some of the Cardinal players said they get their power from the St Louis Slinger that they eat. That was new to me! The St Louis Slinger is really a high powered breakfast. You start with a bed of hash browns, add a hamburger patty, add 2 over EZ eggs, add diced white onions, add a cup of chili with beans, topped with grated cheese and serve with buttered toast.

People decided they were going to kick up the St Louis Slinger and they made it into The Super Slinger. A bed of hash browns is still used, 2 or 3 eggs any style, a hamburger patty, diced onions, chili with beans, grated cheese with a number of additions. White gravy, pork sausage patties, chicken fried steak, a whole T-Bone steak and/or diced tomatoes in any or all combinations as the additions. I could eat two, maybe 3 days with 1 Super Slinger!

I have a special place in my heart for all farmers but even a more special place in my heart for Potato Farmers. Let’s support them by eating more potatoes! There are thousands of potato recipes out there.

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

~ Gary ~

EZ Chicken Recipes in the Philippines

indonesian-chicken
Personally, I really enjoy eating chicken and I have as long as I can remember. There are so many diverse dishes that you can prepare with chicken, as the sky’s the limit. I am not a big fan of Chicken Curry but I will eat it. Actually, I prefer Curry Goat!

Food is always a hot topic among the expat community in the Bacolod area. I, for one, am a Hunter and a Gatherer. I am always on the Hunt for new food items to buy and new recipes to prepare.

In my article today, I have listed just a few of my favorite and EZ to prepare chicken recipes. All the ingredients to prepare these wonderful chicken dishes are available in Bacolod City. No fear!

*Chicken Adobo is a staple in many areas of the Philippines and it is not difficult to prepare at home. Cut up the chicken or buy the actual adobo cut, which is relatively available. You will need white vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves and black pepper. I prefer peppercorn.

I don’t brown the chicken first. I put the chicken in a wok or similar cooking utensil. Add the vinegar, soy sauce, smashed garlic, peppercorn and bay leaves. I make sure there is enough vinegar and soy sauce that won’t simmer out. It takes 20-30 minutes of simmering to complete Chicken Adobo. I prefer yellow rice but you can serve Chicken Adobo with plain white rice.

*Indonesian Ginger Chicken. When I am cooking, I don’t usually follow any set measurement of ingredients. For me, it is part of the fun in coming up with the right mix or the right formula to my personal taste. To make Indonesian Ginger Chicken, I make a marinade with honey, soy sauce, mashed garlic and grated ginger. It is best to marinate overnight but if you can’t wait, at least 6 hours, so best to plan this in advance.

After marinating, I place the chicken on a greased or lightly oiled baking pan, skin side up. I place the baking pan with the chicken in a preheated oven of 350F or about 177C degrees. Baking time will vary from oven to oven but you can figure on about 40 minutes. Keep an eye on the chicken to prevent burning on top, as some ovens in the Philippines will get hotter than the temp setting and some will not be truly 360F degrees. You can adjust the time accordingly.

Mo Chicken For Ya

*Honey Soy Garlic Chicken is a similar recipe to Indonesian Ginger Chicken. The preparation in the oven is the same. The marinade is a little different, as I use honey, soy sauce, mashed garlic and peppercorn.

When it comes to Southern Fried Chicken, I indeed like it fried after battering. Cooking battered chicken in a pressure cooker is KFC style but it takes a lot of cooking oil and it can be dangerous in the home kitchens. I stopped making this recipe upon my wife’s request!

*Oven Fried Chicken. Use your favorite chicken batter recipe, place chicken on a baking pan, skin side up, bake on 400F or 204C degrees. Depending on your oven, you should be eating in 20-30 minutes. At this temp setting, you should have crispy chicken.

Several foreigners in the Philippines told me that they can’t cook but I told them, “Yes, you can!” I have confidence that most anyone can prepare these EZ Chicken Recipes…if they want to.

Eating food you will enjoy is an important aspect of actually living in the Philippines, in my opinion.

I think it is about time that you head on out to the supermarket or to the local public market and load up on fresh whole chicken. If you don’t want to cut the chicken, feel free to buy cut up chicken. There is an actual adobo chicken cut, which is readily available most everywhere.

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

~ Gary ~

Best Recipes from GGG Hacienda

kitchen6
As I have written many times, if you live in a mid-size city or a large city, you can prepare most all of your favorite dishes in the Philippines. In Bacolod, SM, Metro, Lopues Mandalagan and Robinsons are well stocked with ingredients you will need for cooking at home.

Today for an early lunch, it was fried Lison, one of my favorite deep sea fish. It is common around Negros Occidental and Panay Island. Elsewhere in English, it is known as Whitefin Trevally. It is very popular in Japan and it is a wonderful table fish. In Japan, Lison is known as Kaiwari and trawlers go out to catch it.

The way I enjoy Lison is very simple. Lightly dust the whole fish, head, body and tail, in flour but do not dredge and cover so much. Deep fry golden brown. It is not a bony fish and is easy for foreigners to eat. Great taste as well. I don’t even dip it in tartar sauce. If I want a dipping sauce, I use Sinamak, the local version of spiced vinegar.

Mexican Inspired

Burritos with a twist. Spanish Rice and Shredded Chicken Burritos. You can stuff your tortillas with Spanish rice and shredded chicken, then roll em’ up.

You will need flour or corn tortillas. I buy those at SM, Mega Mexicana brand and made in the Philippines.

If you can only find taco shells, the recipe will work. Sometimes, I eat a chili with beans taco.

La Victoria Taco Sauce is what I keep on hand and I buy it at Metro. It works on burritos and enchiladas as well. I actually prefer enchiladas.

Refried beans are available in Bacolod and I can do a lot with those!

Asian Fusion

Pad Thai Noodles is one of my all time favorite dishes. Real Thai brand Rice Stick Noodles are sold at SM. Instead of grinding peanuts, I use Jif Peanut Butter. Hey, I want to eat soon! I also use Marca Pina Patis, aka fish sauce, as one of the ingredients when I make Pad Thai. I also add both shrimp and shredded chicken when I make Pad Thai. You will also need fresh chili peppers, green onions, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, lime juice and lime wedges. Wow! I can already taste it.

Pork Kilawin is a local Filipino dish which I really enjoy.

You can choose the pork you like. Pork belly is a popular choice in our area. Pork with some fat on it is preferred but it is up to you. You boil the pork in water and salt according to taste, for 15-20 minutes; or until the pork is soft and tender. Slice the pork into bite size pieces while still hot.

Next, you place the pork in a bowl. Add vinegar, a little soy sauce is optional and not required. Add chopped onion and the chopped chili peppers. Serve.

I don’t plan on writing a cookbook but I wanted to share a couple of my favorites.

Country Cooking at its Best

I love the smell of hash browns cooking in the morning. Smothered with onions, covered with melted cheese, chunked with ham, diced with tomatoes, peppered with chili peppers or jalapenos, capped with mushrooms and topped with chili con carne. The perfect breakfast!

Biscuits and gravy. Biscuits made from scratch with Bisquick. White gravy with or without ground pork sausage. I like them both but not at the same time.

Tennessee Pride and Jimmy Dean style pork sausage breakfast patties. I can make those! All I need is ground pork, sage, salt, pepper, oregano, garlic, parsley, thyme and red pepper flakes. This breakfast is the pride of Tennessee!

My wife makes cracklin’ cornbread. I always have grits on hand, good for breakfast or with fried fish day or night!

I think I’ve made your belly growl enough for one day. I wasn’t hungry before this article but I am now!

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

We’re Kicking It Up in the Kitchen!

 

cooking2
When relatives come to our home, the usual word they say when they see our cupboard is, Wow! I always buy extra items when I go to the supermarket to add to my stockpile. No, I am not a survivalist, preparing for a disaster, however, I like having food items on hand for when I want them.

In Bacolod City, I can find most anything I want in one of the supermarkets in the city. There are a few exceptions but very few. Some guys look for things to complain about and expect to find food that is regional even in the USA! Maypo Maple Oatmeal, for example. You won’t find it in Bacolod or in Florida, either. Unless you have friends living in New England or the NE part of the USA and they send it to you in the Philippines, you are SOL, Sortta Outta Luck!

Staples

Since I spent most of my life in the Southern states, beans are my comfort food in the Philippines. Here, I can buy pinto, red kidney, black, Cannellini, black eye peas and refried beans. I can also easily buy chickpeas. Mung bean, aka mungo, is one of my favorite local beans in Negros Occidental.

The sauce makes the difference. I make sure to have all the condiments I need on hand to prepare my favorite food. Lea & Perrins Worcestershire, horseradish, chili garlic sauce, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, Louisiana Hot Sauce, sweet pickle relish, mint jelly and…well, I think you get the idea.

Spices

Most all the spices I regularly use are here! Sage, Italian seasonings, thyme, allspice,  turmeric, marjoram, white pepper, black pepper, crushed red pepper, red pepper flakes, cumin and chili powder. I haven’t found poultry seasoning or crab boil but I can live without those. I don’t use a lot of salt but I keep iodized salt on hand. I also like blending spices for my own taste.

I don’t use the particular spices in a bottle, onion salt or garlic salt. I prefer using fresh onion and garlic.

Locally Sourced Food

Unlike some foreigners, I don’t load up on frozen food from back home. Some foreigners will pay P1,300 for a box of frozen cod fish but I’m not one of them! I use locally sourced food that is fresh and high quality. I am not only eating healthier but I am also saving a ton of money!

My wife buys most of our fruits, vegetables meat and seafood in one of her favorite public markets in the city. The food is same day fresh, in my cases, and less expensive than in supermarkets.

My family and I enjoy dining out once or twice per week in one of the excellent restaurants in Bacolod. However, we enjoy preparing our own dishes at home most of the time. My wife studied Culinary Arts in the past and she can cook! She knows how to kick up dishes several notches, same as I do.

Are you hungry yet? I need to get moving and start lunch. Today, it is Pasta de Sardine.

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

Bacolod Grocery Prices

supermarket
I went to SM Supermarket yesterday afternoon. Here are current prices for you.

Ground Round is still about the same, P210 per kilo. Lean Ground Pork is P182 per kilo. Regular Ground Pork is P168 per kilo but too much fat for my taste.

Extra Thick Pork Chops are P188 per kilo. You will only get 4, on average, of these large pork chops in a kilo but you can cut them in half and easily have 8. Not much fat on them but enough for my taste.

A package of Monde Belgian Waffles is still P66.

The regular price of Listerine has dropped from P117 per bottle to P99. It was not a special sale to move old merchandise.

A can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup is P48.50.

Century Tuna in oil is P32.50 for a medium size can.

I don’t think anyone will be interested in the other things I bought. All together, my total bill was P1,228, which is about the usual. I was not walking around with a calculator to keep track and keep it under P1,300 but i bought what I wanted and needed for the week. Some weeks, I only spend P1,000 or P1,100 at SM.

Never tried Hoegaarden Beer before, so I threw one bottle in my cart. It was P107. If I had skipped it, my bill would have less than P1,200 this week but I wanted to try it. It’s in my freezer now and I am looking forward to trying it.

K-Mart

My wife found a better source for specialty fruit and vegetables, K-Mart. A bunch of asparagus is P35. Broccoli is P54 per head. Snow peas are P24.75 per package and bean sprouts are P12 per small bag.

I won’t be buying yellow onions, baking potatoes or other veggies at SM any longer, as long as K-Mart is here.

K-Mart is not connected to the USA K-Mart. In the Philippines, the letter K is blue and not red like in the States.

You never know what you will find at K-Mart. I’ve seen Butterball Turkeys and Maple Leaf Ducks!

Ever tried Corned Tuna? That was the rage of the age a few years back and San Marino had many ads on ABS-CBN TV about it. It is good but I use it to make Tuna Tacos and Tuna Burritos. I don’t put Guacamole on those Tuna Tacos or Burritos! Yuk!

There you have it, shoppers! The cost of living for food in Bacolod City is very reasonable.

Take care and I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

Your Amigo,

~ Gary McMurrain ~

Southern Comfort

Southern Comfort
Yes, I did it again! I had a hearty Southern breakfast! However, don’t be concerned, as I don’t eat this every morning. I know, I know, I overdid it with the Dari Creme Buttermilk Butter on my grits but it has 0% trans fat. I regularly buy Dari Creme Buttermilk Butter at SM Supermarket. My personal favorite breakfast dish was prepared at home, here in Bacolod City. Yes, I know how to cook and I enjoy cooking. My wife studied Culinary Arts, so she is a fabulous chef! She has me beat in the kitchen.

Over the years, I have found that many people do not know what grits are! If you are from the Southern USA, you know what grits are. Grits are made from ground white corn and commonly made from hominy, which is alkali-treated corn. There are only two places I know where you can buy grits in Bacolod and that is Metro Supermarket and Cafe Bob’s Deli Grocers. Both stores sell Albers Grits, which are milled in Seattle, Washington, USA. I pay P250 for the large box, which is almost a full kilo in volume.

I bought the pork chop at Bahama Meat Shop on Tindalo Avenue, next door to Hua Kong Chinese Pharmacy. Bahama Meats tout raising their own organic hogs and I can taste the difference! We buy all our pork from Bahama. Their hogs are not fed antibiotics.

Eggs are very commonly purchased in Bacolod but we have one shop we buy from regularly. The egg yolk is bright orange in color and are never rubbery in texture unless you overcook them. The shop is located at Galo and Mabini Streets in Bacolod. Fabulous eggs with hard shells! I poach eggs often in a deep wok with enough water to cover the eggs and I add a little vinegar but no salt or other seasoning while cooking. Eggs Benedict is another one of my favorite breakfast foods but nowhere to buy English muffins in Bacolod any longer since Kuster’s Food Hub closed. At least no where else that I know about! If you know where to buy English muffins in Bacolod, please give me a shout!

Many forget that breakfast is the most important meal of the day but many pig out for lunch and supper but eat a light breakfast or skip it altogether. I like to start the morning out full of energy! My breakfast was a grilled pork chop with over EZ egg and grits with buttermilk butter. Wow! I am still ready to face any challenge today!

If you are a foodie, please check out my new article on Retiring to the Philippines:

http://retiringtothephilippines.com/living-in-the-philippines/banana-ketchup/

RTTP Book
Please don’t forget to check out my books on the Retiring to the Philippines Bookstore.

http://retiringtothephilippines.com/books/

Take care and please don’t skip breakfast! I hope to see you one day, somewhere, all around Bacolod!

Rice Is Nice!

philippines-rice field
As many already know, rice is the staple food in the Philippines. Many eat rice 3 times per day, day in and day out! I am not so fond of rice on such a regular basis but I do enjoy rice from time to time, just not every day.

I do like rice because we grow it! We have 3.1 hectares of rice and we have 2 harvests each year. We do not have irrigation or otherwise, we would have 3 rice harvests each year. Currently, an un-milled sack of rice sells for P585 in our area of the Philippines. We sell as much of our rice as we like to one rice trader and we do not sell it by the kilo, which is a long, drawn out affair.

Rice Dishes

For breakfast, I can enjoy rice, with two over EZ eggs and I mix the eggs with the rice. It is actually yummy. But other mornings, I enjoy grits, with over EZ eggs. I also enjoy biscuits and gravy, so I have a good variety to choose from.

Spanish Rice! I love Spanish Rice! Tomato sauce, bell peppers, onion, and crispy bacon all mixed together in one rice dish.

spanish-rice
Chicken and Rice. I take any cut of chicken I am interested in on that particular day and make one of my favorite dishes that includes rice. I cook this dish in one pot. The chicken, the rice and grated ginger. I get a good boil going with a homemade broth, add the chicken, the rice and the ginger, lower the fire, and let it simmer. Wow! It is fabulous. The rice really soaks up the taste of the chicken.

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Dirty Rice. This is very simply made and the rice dish will be brown in color, so this is why it is called dirty rice! Chopped chicken livers, chicken gizzards and rice, cooked in one pot. Flavorings according to taste. Dirty rice is well known as a Cajun dish down in Louisiana but you can prepare it right here in the Philippines. Ayee!

popeyes_cajun_rice_01
Stir Fried Rice. This is one dish in that you can really let your imagination run wild! The sky is the limit. I lived in mainland China and in Hong Kong for 9 years but nowhere could I find the fabulous fried rice dishes that I ate in Chinese-American Restaurants back in the States. There was chicken fried rice, shrimp fried rice, pork fried rice, beef fried rice and pretty plain egg fried rice. But, wow! So delicious. I am sure you can kick up some fried rice at home using your own imagination. Don’t forget, you must use cold rice when making stir fried rice and you must cook it in a wok or skillet! Don’t forget the soy sauce seasoning!!

stir-fry-rice
Beans and Rice. My favorites are black eyed peas and rice, red beans and rice and black beans and rice. In the Philippines, black eyed peas in our area are known as white sitao and black eyed peas over rice is known as Hoppin’ John!  Both black beans and red beans are available in the Philippines but make sure you are not using the Chinese black beans with this dish, otherwise, they will be far to salty to eat! Yes, Chinese black beans are salted beans. All bean and rice dishes are 100% better if you add sausage! The local chorizo and longaniza will work but I prefer Kielbasa, Italian or the Portuguese Linguica Sausages. Yes, they are all available here in the Philippines!

red-beans-and-rice
Rice does not sound so bad after all, now does it? You can really do a lot with rice and it does not have to be eaten plain!

Rice is really nice and you can kick it up a few notches right here in the Philippines.

Filipino Chop Suey

chop suey
As I always say, some of the best food around is made right at home! There are many fabulous restaurants in the Bacolod Area and we have our favorites. We also enjoy trying one of the many new restaurants that seem to constantly be opening in our area. Someone asked recently, “Which products are missing from the Philippines?” Everyone seems to have some obscure request that is not available in the Islands of Paradise and it is true that there are many foreign food items that you will not find here. However, with the passing of time, that list is growing smaller everyday.

What is Filipino Chop Suey?

The Chinese translation of chop suey is “assorted pieces.” Originally, Chop Suey is a Chinese-American dish but in the Philippines, Filipinos have added their own version. Chop suey is certainly not new, as I remember my mom making it when I was growing up in the 1960s in the USA. I remember my mom used La Choy brand Soy Sauce! And she always added fried chow mein noodles.

Someone once said that the sky is the limit when making chop suey! There are so many thousands of different chop suey recipes, so you are only limited by your imagination as to your personal favorite chop suey dish. Usually, chicken, pork, beef, prawns, fish balls or other seafood are added, either alone or in combination. Among the popular vegetables  added to chop suey are cabbage, bean sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, okra and celery. Please do not forget one key ingredient in making chop suey and that is corn starch. If you use okra in your chop suey, this thicken the dish even more.

Sesame oil, oyster sauce, fish sauce and soy sauce are among people’s favorite additions to chop suey. Do not be afraid to experiment, as it is not easy to mess up when making chop suey! You can also add onions, garlic, green onions or even ginger for that matter.

You can cook all the chop suey ingredients in one wok or one skillet but it is best to add the cauliflower, broccoli and snow peas last, as not to overcook and keep them with crunch. Broth will add to flavor when boiling but spiced water will work, too. Add your favorite spices to the water. I found it best to saute the garlic and onions, together with the meat or seafood first, before adding the remaining ingredients and letting them boil for about 10-15 minutes.

In the cover photo of my article, prawns, cauliflower, snow peas, red bell peppers and quail eggs stand out. This is by far our most popular recipe at home for making chop suey.

You now have the basic idea how to make chop suey, so let your imagination run wild and kick it up a few notches! If you come up with a great innovated chop suey, please let us know on All Around Bacolod!