Green Shell Mussels

Mussels have long been one of my favorite seafood even before I ever came to the Philippines. I am blessed here in that you can buy a kilo, or 2.2 pounds, of mussels in Bacolod City for less than $2 USD. P50-P70 is the going price at the public market where we shop, depending on what you can bargain them for. Many local people in the Bacolod Area refer to mussels as “Green Shells.”

When steamed or boiled, the green shell mussels have a nice, natural red color.

Green Shell Mussels

These mussels were prepared by boiling them in salt water, taking off the top shell, garnishing them with fried slivers of garlic and grated cheese, and then baking until the cheese melted.

WoW! Now, we are talking. I really enjoyed these mussels, as always.

Mussels and Fries

I don’t  eat much rice on a daily basis, so my wife prepared fries instead. The ketchup with the fries is mixed with wasabi, to kick them up a notch. I also like wasabi as a dip with the mussels. My lovely wife studied Culinary Science in Singapore and she also knows the gadgets to use. She has a cutter to turn out the crinkle cut or waffle style potatoes when doing the French Fries. All this was done in our home, as you just can’t get food this good in a restaurant! My wife also taught me about cooking, although, I must say that I was not a novice before. I have improved!

Mussels are very healthy, so no need to be concerned. Mussels are grittier and chewier than oysters but they are still very good  for you and they make your tum, tum, tummy very happy!

Mussels are actually low in calories and low in fat but rich in protein. Believe It… Or Not? It is true, you can believe it!

Mussels are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Vitamins B, Vitamin C, folate, iron, manganese, potassium, zinc, phosphorus and selenium. Vitamin B-12, especially! Mussels are sounding better all the time.

There are many ways to prepare mussels and you can use them to create many dishes. For me, I like them on the half shell. If I am preparing mussels only for myself, I like to steam them in beer. Beer steamed mussels. Don’t worry, the alcohol in the beer is not in the mussels. Beer is not only for drinking but good to use in steaming seafood. Beer steamed crabs also rock!

Green Shell Mussels are available very cheaply in every area of the Philippines that I have ever visited or where I have lived. Mussels are really an incredible seafood! Great taste, healthy and packed full of nutrients.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Food in the Philippines

Philippine Cuisine is diverse and I could write a book about it based on my experience in the country. But, I am not going to do that here!

When I first visited the Philippines and lived here as an academic in 1986-1987, I had read and was told that the Philippine food was Chinese, Spanish and Malay influenced. There was a Shakey’s Pizza on Roxas Blvd that I enjoyed very much. It had pizza, spaghetti, draft San Miguel Beer and live rock bands at night. Not exactly Chinese, Spanish and Malay! 

Ma Mon Luk in Quezon City was my favorite Chinese Restaurant. The Aristocrat Restaurant on Roxas Blvd was one of my favorite Filipino restaurants in Manila back in those days. Back to the Future!

I moved to the Bacolod area 3 years ago and the Filipino food here is a little different from the fare in Manila but it is still food. Nowadays, we have Mexican, Thai, Korean, Middle Eastern, German, American style, Italian, Mediterranean and many other locally owned cuisine restaurants. We don’t have a Chili’s Bar and Grill or a Taco Bell or a Burger King. There is McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and KFC.

My wife and I enjoy preparing food at home but we still go out to restaurants several times a week. We thank all those Boyz from Bacolod Food Hunters for telling us about new places to go and eat when dining out. Way to go guys! Two thumbs Up!

I enjoy Japanese food but some of the Japanese restaurants leave a lot to be desired in our area, however, I have not tried them all.

This past week, I took a simple can of Century Tuna in oil and turned it into a nice delight!

I put the canned Century Tuna in the freezer for about 40 minutes to chill . In the mean time, I whipped up a Japanese style Mayonnaise. I used the non-sweet mayonnaise, about two tablespoons. I added one half tablespoon of wasabi paste from the tube, one tablespoon of soy sauce and one half tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce. I mixed all together and put in the ref for about 30 minutes to chill. Japanese Mayonnaise.

I don’t really like boiled eggs in tuna salad but you can do that if you like. I opened the can of chilled Century Tuna and drained it especially well in a strainer, as I don’t want oil or much liquid in the tuna when making the tuna salad since it really becomes watery. The less oil left in the tuna, the better!

Tuna Bowl

I like to do things right and be authentic as possible.

One portion of tuna

Japanese Mayonnaise

Waiting to be mixed! The Japanese Mayonnaise and the tuna. I had this last night and munched on Skyflake saltine crackers, as I enjoyed eating the tuna salad. Will this work served over rice? You betcha! If you want to go that route. It will also work on a bed of lettuce and you can add mango slices, too. Now, that is a tropical delight right from the Philippines!

Food in the Philippines can be kicked up a few notches for creative flavor and your meal is only limited by your imagination.

 

 


 

Calamansi or Kalamansi

Don’t worry, either spelling will work. For those not familiar, calamansi is the native Philippine lime and there are many uses for it.

Calamansi

We have calamansi growing in pots in our subdivision in Bacolod City. At our farm, south of Bacolod, we have calamansi growing naturally.

Calamansi Close Up

The calamansi, Philippine native limes, are smaller than limes we are accustomed to in the USA but they are still very good. Calamansi is sometimes referred to as golden limes because the flesh is golden color.

Just One More Tine!

Another calamansi growing. Calamansi is a staple in the Philippines.

Chicken inasal, the local version of BBQ chicken, always requires a dipping sauce. The customary sauce is calamansi, soy sauce and vinegar.

Many are aware of dried mango. Well, there is also dried calamansi fruit!

Calamansi is diverse and it can be used in beverages, purees, syrups, marmalade, jam and candies. It is a perfect condiment or flavoring ingredient to food, which require lime juice. Yeah, such as seafood, my favorite.

One of the first beverages I ever had in the Philippines, way back in 1986, was calamansi juice. A simple native juice drink. It can be served hot or cold.

Let’s not forget the health benefits of calamansi. It is loaded with Vitamin C and it reportedly helps with digestion and with blood circulation.

Whenever you are in the Philippines, especially in the Bacolod Area, you will see calamansi most every day. Squeeze a calamansi today!

 

 

 

 

Homegrown Tomatoes

A little bit is better than nada and I am happy with my tomato plants. It is not so easy to grow large tomatoes in this part of the Philippines. It is much easier in the cooler climate of Don Salvador Benedicto and Mt. Kanlaon, aka “The Salad Bowl of Negros Occidental.” Those areas are higher elevation and it is cooler there. Great weather for growing many vegetables and the tomato that are not hindered by the intense heat.

Homegrown Tomatoes

There are a few little green tomatoes and soon, they will become larger red tomatoes, ready for picking and eating!

Another tomato plant

These tomato plants are potted and growing at our home in Bacolod City. We have a farm but these tomatoes are city tomatoes!

I remember as a child, I would get a big ole ripe tomato from my dad’s garden, put some salt on it and eat it just like I would eat an apple. Now, that is good eating on a hot summer day, especially if you chill the tomato in the fridge first.

Living in the Bacolod area the past 3 years, I discovered it is more difficult to find the larger tomatoes in the public markets but they are available. For a price. Now, I am trying to grow my own tomatoes and it looks like I have a good start!

There are many things you can do with tomatoes. You can make your own salsa or make your own tomato relish. There are hundreds of ways to eat a tomato and you are only limited by your imagination. I like a BLT, Bacon/Lettuce/Tomato, sandwich on toasted bread with lots of mayonnaise. Sometimes, I eat just a tomato sandwich with lots of mayonnaise.

Sliced tomatoes are good at breakfast and go with most anything. We sometimes forget that tomatoes are actually fruit.

I enjoy fried green tomatoes very much. This is the way I do fried green tomatoes. Slice the tomatoes on the thinner side but not too thin, so about 1/2 inch thick. Beat one or two eggs for dipping the tomato slices, depending on how many you need to dip. You can add a little milk to the egg if you wish but it is not required. Put flour that has been seasoned with salt and pepper on one plate for dredging the tomato slices and put cornmeal on another plate for dredging the tomato slices. In order, dredge the tomato slices in flour to coat, dip in the egg mixture and then dredge the tomatoes in the cornmeal. Now, you are ready to fry the tomatoes in cooking oil over medium heat. Don’t overcrowd the skillet or wok, which you are using, and the tomatoes should not touch each other when frying. When the tomatoes are brown, flip over and brown the other side. Drain on paper towels before eating. Fried green tomatoes are best eaten while hot.

As you can see, I am already thinking about what I will do with my homegrown tomatoes. You can buy tomatoes in many places but you just can’t buy your own homegrown tomatoes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2012 Panaad sa Negros Festival

The Panaad Festival kicked off on Monday, April 9, and will end on Sunday, April 15. The weekend will be the highlights of the Festival but every day is good. We heard the fireworks from our home on the opening night.

Tropical Treasures

There is a little bit of everything at the Panaad Festival. Almost every city, town and municipality in Negros Occidental has an exhibit.

More Tropical Treasures

Food and drink are one of the many pleasures at the Panaad Festival. Luscious fruit, fabulous vegetables, native cuisine and native drinks make an enjoyable experience.

Miami Dolphins??

Not today! Philippine Dolphins at Panaad. 

More Luscious Beauty

It really is more fun in the Philippines!!

Oh, yes! We have some bananas!

There are many types of bananas grown in Negros Occidental and this is one showcase.

Five more days to go in the Panaad Festival. I will be there every day and I will share more. If you have a juicer, blender or food processor, just imagine all the great drinks you can whip up from the fruits and vegetables from the Panaad Festival. The Showcase of Negros Occidental, my home. It is Showtime!

 

 

 

Oysters

One of my favorite foods ever since I lived for years near Apalachicola, Florida has been oysters. The best oysters in the USA come from Apalachicola Bay in Florida, my old hometown area.

Great news! The oysters from Iloilo and Panay Island, readily available in Bacolod City, are every bit as good as the oysters from Apalachicola, Florida. On Lacson Extension, going from Alijis Road, right next to a bridge, you will see a sign that reads, “Talaba.” That is the local language for “oyster.” P150 (pesos) will buy a lot of oysters! That is less than $4 US Dollars.These oysters in Bacolod City come from Iloilo or Panay Island.

My wife, family and friends love oysters and they do not require any special preparation before eating. Steamed, boiled or grilled is fine. I enjoy oysters any way possible, even right out of the shell, but I don’t eat raw oysters any longer. I have a wife and son to think of!

Over the Easter weekend, we had oysters. My wife loves me a lot! She prepared some of the bounty of oysters we bought especially for me.

Cheese and Garlic Oysters

One of the ways I enjoy oysters is having them baked, after steaming, boiling or grilling, for a short period of time after garnishing them with cheese and fried garlic. Just long enough to melt the cheese.

Horseradish is one of my favorite condiments. I use horseradish to make my own cocktail sauce, which is great for seafood. However, with oysters, I like Wasabi, the Japanese horseradish. Louisiana style hot sauce is good, too.

Cheese and Garlic Oysters with Wasabi

For you horseradish lovers, wasabi can be purchased at SM Supermarket and they keep a large supply on hand. It seems many of the Koreans in the area also like wasabi, so no problem. Cafe Bob’s on Lacson sells horseradish from USA and from Germany in their deli grocery section.

Can I see those oysters once more?

Cheese and Garlic Oysters with Wasabi

One lone oyster without the cheese and garlic but I like oysters straight, too!

If wasabi is too sharp for you, a dash of Mama Sita’s hot sauce or Mother’s Best hot sauce will add a little spice for you. Tabasco Sauce will kick it up a few notches higher on the heat index!

No need to be concerned about eating oysters. They are healthy. Oysters have Tyrosine, which is an amino acid, the building block of all proteins that helps regulate mood and stress levels in the brain. Comfort Food! There is very little fat or cholesterol in oysters. Seriously! Oysters are also rich in Zinc, Iron, Calcium and Vitamin A. All good for men and women, too.

I don’t suggest eating raw oysters but they are great boiled, steamed, grilled, broiled and baked.

Oysters Rock!!

 

 

 


 

McDo Kiddie Crew Workshop

This was the first week of school being out until June, when the new academic year begins in Bacolod City. Our son was interested to attend the McDonald’s Kiddie Crew Workshop. Today was the last day of the workshop and the students received their certificates. Our son learned how to make burgers, he learned accounting practices and he had a great experience with fun, games, all the McDo food and drinks and making new friends. I think each of the kiddies gained a pound or more! I think I did, too!! Hey, it is only once per year.

McDo Kiddie Crew

Our son and others received their work shop certificate today. Now, they know how to make burgers, McDonald style. The lone pickle, diced onions, ketchup and mustard makes the difference!

It's Ronald Time

All the Kiddie Crew were waiting for today. Seeing Ronald McDonald.

Ronald Can Dance

The Kiddie Crew enjoyed dancing with Ronald McDonald.

Non-Stop Dancing

The entire McDo Kiddie Crew had a blast this week learning all about McDonalds. I tip my hat to the McDonald Hostess of the Work Shop, who did a great job entertaining the Kiddie Crew for 5 days. There may have been some future managers and even a few District Managers in attendance this week during the workshop. Time will tell.

I don’t personally eat at McDo often, but a Big Mac or Fillet-O-Fish every now in then won’t hurt me.

 

Panaad sa Negros Festival April 9-15, 2012

It is about that time of year again. My favorite festival will begin soon. Panaad sa Negros Festival. Every city, town and municipality in Negros Occidental will have an exhibit at Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod City. There is something for everyone at Panaad! Negrense Cuisine from north, central and south, handicrafts, other native products, sporting events, contests, eco garden exhibits, agriculture exhibits and ideas (including organic and hydroponics), music, dance, martial arts, trade fair, a derby and fireworks. I can hardly wait!

I will be posting photos from the 2012 event and I will now post a few photos from last year’s Panaad sa Negros Festival 2011.

JAWS

My son and I at the Toboso exhibit.

Hydroponics from the town of Hinigaran

Being a gentleman farmer, I am very much interested in new agriculture techniques.

Wonderful looking cauliflower grown in Negros Occidental.

Handicraft Vases

Beautifully Carved Fruit

And yes, you can eat the fruit.

Handicraft Jewelry

Panaad is a collector’s haven, as one will find many unique collectibles. The good thing is, you can bargain the prices and both seller and buyer are happy!

Children Love the Panaad Festival

Are you ready to have fun, di ba? Each day of the seven day festival has a new event. If you are an early riser, you are in luck, as Panaad starts at 6am! Every day. Morning, afternoon and night, it doesn’t matter, as you will find something exciting to do. Great food, cold drinks and music all day and night.

ABS-CBN Kapamilya Festival Caravan will be at Panaad on Saturday, April 14 at 9pm. There will be surprise special guests from among popular entertainment personalities.

I hope to see you at Negros sa Panaad Festival one day, April 9-15! I will be there.

 

 

Birthday Party In Bacolod

Nope, it was not my birthday party but the party we threw this month for a good friend, Jerson, who also happens to be one of the drivers for my wife’s taxi franchise.

That is me! Guarding the food. Ribs, fried chicken wings, spaghetti, kare kare, native pie, lumpia (egg rolls) and rice. Not bad for a party of six. A birthday party in the Philippines would not be complete without spaghetti. Long life!

Time to display the cake. No, we did not put 33 candles on the cake but we all know how old Jerson is. He knows, too, and says he is getting old na.

Hey, where did it go?

Someone lifted a wing or maybe two! I was distracted with the photo taking. Oh well, there are still plenty of fried chicken wings left.

Kare Kare

Now, we’re talking! Kare kare is my favorite dish in all of Philippines. Ox tail is usually in this wonderful dish but beef leg or beef internal organs can be used. Long green beans, pechay (Chinese cabbage or bok choy), and eggplant are the vegetables. All are cooked together in a delicious peanut sauce. If you want to save time, you can buy Mama Sita’s Kare Kare Mix, as it is complete and you only need to add the meat and veggies. Kare Kare is not complete without bagoong, shrimp paste, for dipping and rice! WOW. The peanut sauce is soooo delicious over rice. The bagoong is the finishing touch of flavor.

Party Favors

Gold Eagle Beer took a back seat to the Generoso Brandy, Tavernello Red Wine from Italy and Laughing Lizard Red Wine from Australia.

Our Niece Singing

It’s a good night for singing! A Birthday Party is not complete without singing.

Dawg is tired of hearing singing or else is hungry

My lovely wife had to see why Dawg was howling! Either the singing was not good or else he wanted some food.

It was not time to say “turn out the lights, the party’s over” until well after midnight but we will get to do this again very soon! With a large extended family, there always seems to be a Birthday, a Wedding, an Anniversary or sadly, a Funeral. These are all part of life in our area of the Philippines. Bacolod City, the City of Smiles.

 

 

 

 

Healthy Juice

Healthy Green Juice

It is that time of the year again here in the Philippines! Summer Time. March 1 kicked off the summer season in our area. I remember back in my Flori-Days when I lived south of Miami and making a summer time juice in the old juicer or food processor was a real way to beat the heat. And stay healthy, too!

In the Philippines, there are many juices available in stores and in restaurants. Mango, pineapple, coconut, Four Seasons, are all common and there are many different juices made with multiple fruits.

Healthy green juice is one of my favorites but I also like the fruity juices for plain ole enjoyment.

I live in the Philippines, so I have a few more things at my disposal to make a healthy juice. The Healthy Green Juice is made from avocado, malunggay, cucumber, celery, lettuce and/or spinach and pineapple. If it is too thick, you can add coconut water.

The kinds of juice that you make is only limited by your imagination! Who knows? You may create a new rage of the age among those who enjoy drinking a healthy juice or drinking a juice just for the pure pleasure.