Monday, January 14, 2013

The Mysterious Crispy Cereal Prawn at Boon Tong Kee

Crispy Cereal Prawn
Large serving (6 pieces) - 595
I am waiting for the fast food delivery person for my lunch. At past 2PM. So you can imagine the state of starvation I am in. And the worst part about it is that I am flipping through the photos of my recent Boon Tong Kee dinner in my computer. Torture, I know.

Crispy Roast Chicken
Half serving - Php395
Chicken Rice
French Beans with Spicy XO Sauce
I have been asked what I liked most from that spread. I say the Cereal Crispy Prawn. By a mile. The flavor of that dish is as unusual as its appearance. Normally, when I come across a dish that I have seen for the very first time, I will have some sort of an idea on how it could have been cooked. But this Cereal Crispy Prawn, looking at it, I cannot make heads or tails- pardon the pun- of how it was made, and how the cereal played a part in it. Nevertheless, I found it delicious. Unlike shrimp tempura, where I feel dependent on dipping sauce to complete the dish, I did not miss any form of additional seasoning for this Cereal Crispy Prawn.

Crispy Beancurd
But that is not to say that I was not happy about the rest of that meal either, because I did eat more than my usual ration that night (against my better judgment), from the appetizer to dessert. I liked the Crispy Roast Chicken for instance, which is one of Boon Tong Kee's signature dishes, particularly its skin, so flavorful and crispy. I must confess I like this better than the boiled version in general, for the same reason.

The French Beans with Spicy XO Sauce, which I felt was our token healthy food option because it's vegetable, was surprisingly good, too. Oh, and those morsels of Crispy Beancurd, which I find antithetical in that they are crispy yet pillow-soft, healthy yet deep-fried, were actually quite addicting.

Yes, I just used the word "antithetical" to describe food. I tend to over-think things when I am hungry.

Sago Gula Melaka

Anyway. I should end here. Lunch is at the door.

Boon Tong Kee, MOA is located at the Second Floor of the North Wing, Entertainment Mall (facing Manila Bay) of SM Mall of Asia. Land line is (02) 804-2862.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Oven Roasted Chicken Quarters

Oven Roasted Chicken Quarters

Fried chicken is a staple in our home. When nobody has time to cook or even think about what to cook, my mom would always have some chicken quarters marinating in the fridge, ready for frying. And boy, do those fried chicken taste good. Generously dredged in breading before frying, they were crispy and gloriously greasy. But alas, fried chicken is not exactly the healthiest thing in the world, and with a household with burgeoning issues with cholesterol and weight gain, we were looking to make our diet a bit more forgiving. Now, what to do with that chicken marinating back in the fridge...

They will not be fried, that's for sure. For a healthier chicken meal, I decided to roast the calamansi and garlic-marinated chicken in the oven. To up the flavor, I slathered a paste made with some herbs and olive oil on the chicken quarters before roasting it roast-beef style. That simply means I roasted the chicken over high heat in the oven for the first few minutes before letting it cook the rest of the way in 325F heat.

The chicken turned out quite fetching. The skin was paper thin, owing to the fact that the fat has melted and dripped away from it through the wire rack during the cooking process, but it still had a delicate crunch to it which I enjoyed. The meat was juicy and while I took it easy on the sodium, only half a tablespoon of sea salt for a whole kilo of chicken, it was abundantly flavorful. The garlic gave it a robust punch (Imagine Emeril!). It had citrusy notes from the calamansi. And the medley of rosemary, thyme, and black pepper lent a complexity to the dish that made me believe that it does not take that much to make a healthy change after all.

Oven Roasted Chicken Quarters

1 kilo chicken quarters
juice of 10 calamansi
10 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
2 tbsp salt
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp rosemary
olive oil

Marinate chicken in calamansi juice, garlic, and salt overnight.
Preheat oven to 400F.
Remove chicken from the marinade. Combine thyme, black pepper, rosemary, and olive oil to make a paste. Rub the paste equally all over the chicken pieces. Place the chicken on a wire rack inside a pan, so that the grease drips away from the chicken. Roast in the 400F oven for 20 minutes. Then lower oven temperature to 325F. Roast for another 30-40 minutes.

Monday, January 7, 2013

To Feed the Sweet Tooth

Food for the Gods

Sometimes you just want to create something sweet just for the heck of it. It can be a gesture, a poem, a mix tape, a note... or, if you were unglamorously domesticated me, it can be pastry. A couple of days ago, I dusted off the last recipe card of food for the gods (date and walnut bars) that I was working with and gave it another whirl.

As I mentioned here somewhere, I tried to make food for the gods before. Once, and unfortunately, without much success. But I am not one to give up so easily once I have set my sights on a particular baking project so I thought back on what could have possibly gone wrong the last time and I prayed I rectify it on my second try. For starters, I halved the original recipe to fit my 8 x 8 pan.

That second time, it baked properly. (It baked in half an hour.) Moist and chewy, it was no longer as inedible as the goo that resulted from my first shot at baking food for the gods, and the flavor, I thought, was there. But I still found it a bit too oily for my taste and, er, fingers and I thought the recipe could still do with a bit of tweaking.

So on to my third try. From the original recipe (see below), I deducted 1/8 cup of the melted butter and replaced it with with 1/8 cup of evaporated cup. That did it for me. A bit less oily and a bit more creamy, the resultant bars of sticky, golden pastry studded with exotic dates and decadent chunks of walnuts were divine and definitely worth sharing, if not with gods, at least with dearest friends.

Food for the Gods
(Chewy Version)

1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup pitted dates, chopped
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp. honey or light molasses
½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9" x 13" rectangular pan OR 2 – 8" square pans with aluminum foil. Set aside.
2. Sift the all-purpose flour, salt and baking powder together. Divide this mixture into two. Use one-half to dredge the chopped dates.
3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar, sugar and eggs. Mix until well-blended. Add in the honey or molasses and vanilla extract.
4. Fold in the dry ingredients to the batter mixture. Lastly, fold in the dates and walnuts. Pour the mixture to the prepared pan. Spread evenly. Bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes or check doneness with a cake tester. Insert tester close to the side. It should come out clean and dry. The center would still be a little wet when tested. Cool completely. Slice into bars.

Friday, January 4, 2013

These (bread) sticks are made for munching

Crunchy Breadsticks
New Year's Eve, I realized I failed to buy some nachos or baguettes to serve with my chili and spinach and Parmesan cheese dip. (As if I was not frazzled enough already making so many things for the 4-hour long dinner feast.) To make up for the tragic tragic loss of chips, I thought about making some crunchy breadsticks. The recipe, courtesy of, was a very easy one and every ingredient it called for is available in my pantry. For optimal dipping, I made my breadsticks short and flat. Pretty much the only tweak I made in the recipe. That, and using butter (yum!) instead of plain old shortening. Oh, and I sprinkled some with parmesan cheese (extra yum!) instead of salt and thyme.

Crunchy Breadsticks

2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons shortening
1/2 to 3/4 cup ice water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

In a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and shortening; cover and process until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. While processing, gradually add water until dough forms a ball.
Transfer to a floured surface. Roll dough into a 10-in. x 8-in. rectangle. Cut into 10-in. x 1/2-in. strips. Twist each strip four times and place on baking sheets. Brush with oil. Combine coarse salt and thyme; sprinkle over breadsticks.
Bake at 350° for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Yield: 16 breadsticks.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Last Meal for 2012

Barbecue Pork Ribs
New Year's Eve, while we waited for the fireworks to start-- I mean, really start, at midnight, because there have been a few small sporadic celebratory explosions here and there since morning-- my brother was hard at work on his new charcoal grill to make sure his barbecue pork ribs come out perfect for the family's last meal for 2012. (The recipe, called  Last Meal Ribs Recipe, that he followed I think was very apropos.)

And if how that rack of barbecue ribs came out is any indication of what is to come for a year that is beyond the reach of Mayan predictions, then we will have a fantastically awesome 2013!

Happy new year, everyone!
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