Ever since I relocated to the Philippines, my meat consumption has decreased significantly. When I moved here in the early 2000's, it was the height of Mad Cow and Foot and Mouth disease scare. Following that, came the Avian flu, or more commonly known as bird flu found in poultry. Being the paranoid, semi-hypochondriac woman that I am, I pretty much avoided all of these types of meat. No chicken, no beef, no pork. I turned to tofu for my main protein source. How I made myself eat this, I have no idea. One thing I learned about this ingredient is: tofu is your waistline's best friend. I must have shed about 12 lbs (5.5 kg) within 2 weeks.
When Anamaris of Chef It Yourself told me about her idea of starting a monthly challenge similar to Top Chef Challenge, I jumped at the chance to join in when she invited me to participate. As I've told her, I love playing with food.
The challenge for this first month was to prepare a dish that reflects you, that says something about you. I also took Anamaris' 3 pre-set ingredients: 1 uncommon ingredient, 1 spice and 1 wild card into consideration even though she specified that there are no ingredient restrictions for this month's challenge.
For the past month, on my trips to the market, it seems like squash blossoms are being sold by just about every vendor. If my memory serves me correctly, these were quite expensive back home. They were only available at weekend farmer's markets and were sold at about $5-6 for about 5 pieces.
As American as these products are, they are very much a part of the Filipino diet among the upper and middle classes. Filipinos consume canned corned beef, Spam and Libby’s Vienna sausage like nobody’s business. If you have noticed, these products are regularly stocked at most supermarkets.
One of the perks of living in a tropical island is the abundance and variety of seafoods that can be enjoyed at relatively cheaper prices. On my trip to the market this morning, these beautiful creatures the size of my hands caught my eye. The moment I laid eyes on them, I thought: "Prawns thermidor, prawns thermidor..."
During my first two months in the Philippines, I pretty much dined out most of the time since I wasn't much of a cook back then and I didn't know where to get a particular ingredient, or it wasn't available at all. Also, I simply didn't feel settled and comfortable enough in my then-new place.
As I promised in my previous post, here is my post on my first attempt at making ube ice cream, or any kind of ice cream for that matter. Since I don't own an ice cream maker, and have no intention of investing in one any time soon, I figured I'd make kulfi or qulfi, which is a rich and creamy Indian ice cream. No special equipment is necessary to make this.
As an expat, one of the benefits of living in another country is the delight of seeing and learning about the local cuisine and encountering "exotic" ingredients that you most likely won't have the chance of seeing in your home country.