Sunday, November 30, 2008

How to Make Japanese Pancakes

You can put any filling you like, i.e, cheese, bean paste, yam...etc. Try this at home!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The harder you try...

One day after some heated argument...

Foodhuntress: (Impatiently) Why do we have to try so hard?
Tribe Chief: Rather try hard than be mediocre.

Case closed.

The Glorious Nuts, Beans and Pulses

When I was a child and my mother dragged me to market every Saturday morning, my favorite part besides the market breakfast is that nuts and beans section. I had this habit of burying my hands up to the elbows into the nuts (or sometimes rice) and feel that unforgettable grainy sensation. The nuts are cool to the touch,as though they were breathing. I just like it- as much as I liked beans and all sorts of nuts and pulses in most any way they are cooked. (Thank you God for not giving me any gout).

So here at the market, there are many kinds of nuts. Peanuts are sold with shell, without shell but with skin on, and naked peanuts.

Dried white beans, tapioca pearls (pre- bloom)...

Green peas, pop corn...

Red beans...
Chickpeas. I love chickpeas...
Green mung beans.

Special mention to green mung beans:These dried mung beans are toasted, then cooked with rice and coconut milk and a little sugar. Reminiscent of many summer afternoons where mungbeans were harvested and dried right at our backyard, I wouldn't trade this for any fancy dessert.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Takeshi Kaneshiro and Takenoko in Coconut Milk

The other night after uploading my previous post, I finally dreamed of Takeshi Kaneshiro. Ok, I have a very big crush on Takeshi since 2005. ( Big enough that when I learned that Takeshi Kaneshiro was a big star in Hong Kong, I chose to study for my graduate paper on the beverage trade of the Hong Kong market- just to go there. Crazy, I know!) He is an Okinawan Taiwanese actor who has starred in many films such as this one – “House of the Flying Daggers.” (You’re really crazy if you don’t watch this wonderful film of Zhang Yimou). I used to sleep with the Newsweek with Kaneshiro’s picture on the cover under my pillow in an attempt to dream of the guy. And yes, I even had his picture in my wallet. Unfortunately, there were no Kaneshiro dreams for like, three years, until the other night.

So, I was walking in a bamboo forest looking for takenoko (Japanese for bamboo shoots). See, even in dreams I am true to my alter ego. Then there was the ‘swish- swash’… and there he was-clearing the bamboos! Why, it’s Takeshi! I hurried immediately on my feet and crouched behind some bamboos with the takenokos clutched closely to my heart. I had to hide! – for if he’d see me with that sword- I’m sure he’d swing it on my neck.
I watched as Takeshi passed by- he was being chased by a group of bandits. I woke up with a jerk.

How far such silly dream took me, it made me feature this dish made of bamboo shoots, labong in Filipino, takenoko in Japanese. These shoots are shredded thinly, boiled, the juices are squeezed, and then you can do whatever you desire with the cooked shoots- sauté, wrap, fry, pickle, etc. Here in the Philippines, it is normally cooked with coconut milk

Bamboo Shoots in Coconut Milk
1 T cooking Oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 pc. Onion, sliced
1 pc ginger, julienne
1 pc Jalapeno pepper
500 g shredded bamboo shoots
2 C Coconut milk (second extraction)
1 C Spinach
1 C Coconut (first extraction)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1. Saute garlic, onion, ginger and chili in oil briefly. Add the takenoko and mix further.
2. Pour in first extraction of coconut milk. Simmer, until the bamboo shoots are tender.
3. Add spinach and lower the heat.
4. Pour the first extraction coconut milk. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Best served with rice and fried fish... or lechon kawali.
Kaneshiro photo credited here

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Carbs! The Carbs!

This is the real truth that will stare you at the face: Diets don’t work. Yes. D-I-E-T-S D-O-N’-T W-O-R-K. So stop all that deprivation and get a fork.

Clockwise from top: Suman – Ground glutinous rice cooked with coconut milk and boiled in young banana leaves. Linusak / linupak- boiled cassava mashed in a mortar and pestle where grated coconut, margarine or butter and sugar have been added. Cassava cake – grated cassava baked with eggs and sugar.

Kutsinta – ground rice, sugar, lye, and steamed until cooked. Best served with grated coconut.

Pan de Sal – The Filipino staple. Move aside bagels. And hey, don’t forget the liver spread.

Monay? I don’t know how this is called. But still, flour, fat and sugar.

Ensaymada – Soft dough. Margarine, sugar. Sometimes with grated cheese.


Effect of too much sugar: Everybody gets cranky. (You can go back to your diet if you like).

Hoy, magandang umaga!

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Hi, thank you for staying tuned and welcome back to the show. This is Food Huntress at Chef’s Day Out.

Well, we are right here at Little Tokyo- found along the length of Amorsolo Street here in Makati. See this little creature here? This is the guardian of the gates. In Chinese, this is called ‘pichu’- a mythical creature that is all-eat- no- poop. For the Chinese, business should be all-eat-no-poop, meaning money should only come in and must never go out. I am not sure, though, how the Japanese call this- it looks like a samurai creature to me. I am honestly fascinated by this – look at those stone incisors!

Little Tokyo is a small compound that will take you to that Japanese neighborhood so reminiscent of Karate Kid’s. Since it is full of restaurants, it is apparent that there is a Japanese grocery around- like this one- Yamazaki. Let’s take a look!

Yamazaki showcases lots of Japanese products from curries to dried mushrooms to lotus roots. It is an all- food grocery- I didn’t see Japanese knives nor sushi mats for sale There’s that unagi, the Japanese fresh water eel marinated in a special sauce. This fish has really cast its spell on me. Damn, I like!

A little hungry? Ok, lunch will be served at Seryna’s restaurant, now my favorite Japanese restaurant in the city. It has a sushi bar, manned by talented sushi chefs I could only gape at, and a sushi master himself doing hands on very quietly. Salute, sensei! I do have a high regard to people like this who dedicate so much of their lives in their craft.

- Ah, yes, I heard you- Morimoto also included.

For god’s sake… I told you why this restaurant rocks. They have here a wall full of Japanese sake. Once a Japanese friend back in the graduate school poured me sake, and my head started to spin that day and all I did say was, ‘Hai, more sake…”. I like cooking with sake too.

And food! A hungry man’s dream. I had that tonkatsu bento – crisp panko on the outside, tender pork on the inside… sided with tamago, and sliced kyuri and pickled renkon… and miso soup with wakame and silken tofu. Wow. I told you, Japanese food can’t be wiped away by declines of human civilization…

Aww…. Japanese visa…hmmm…

Ok, post lunch, we head around here- a small peek at the backdoors of Little Tokyo…

- before we proceed to Cartimar, which is really a whole strip of Japanese groceries.

Hai, there are many Japanese groceries around here, and one just differs so greatly from the other. I suggest, take a look here yourself

NEW HATCHIN TRADING 7602 Sacred Heart St., cor metropolitan ave., san antonio vill. Makati 890-5038/ 890-1649/ 897-7207 #6 Cartimar Plaza, Pasay 833-8905/ 834-1384

DARUMAYA #5 Cartimar Plaza, Pasay 831-0114

ASUKA TRADER INC #7 Cartimar Plaza, Pasay
YAMAZAKI 2288 Dernando St., Pio del Pilar, Makati City 893-2162 - 6

And last but never, ever the least, don’t forget to take home with you- Ninja Chips!

Friday, November 14, 2008


The ‘thousand needles’ that pricked through my body evolved into a hardcore flu that plastered me to bed for what seemed like an eternity. For all that cooking and carrying a heavy laptop around, my left shoulder became a dilapidated limb that screamed its own agony every time I wake up in the morning. I literally had to get someone to help me braid my hair and slip my jacket into lest the pain breaks me into uncontrollable tears. But alas! So true was the old saying that behind every flu is a rainbow of better opportunities.

The great thing that happened is, I have been so lucky to have signed a contract with E.T. TV – (The Extraterrestrial TV). The genius behind this ET TV believed that there was another line that ET said in the movie besides “E.T. phone home…”. It is “E.T. tee… vee…” – Why, ET wants to watch TV! So to immortalize ET, this TV genius decided to add another program with me in it. (Huh!) I just mentioned in a recent conversation that I liked Ming Tsai over other TV chefs, but now this TV genius wanted to create a TV blog program for me! Anyway, ET TV is the official channel of Food Huntress’s show which will showcase her adventures around town.

To start with, I was given a great day off by the Tribe Chief with all expenses shouldered by his checkbook, to go around town – “just to see” – and a few assignments on the side. Now, I officially hand over this post to ET TV to show us around…


Script: Hi! Welcome to the premiere of Food Huntress’s TV- blog show Chef’s Day Out. You know what’s great about today? It’s our day- off and here we go- on a mini field trip around town! Yipee- kewpie! We are headed for the Saturday Market at Salcedo Village in Makati… haven of fine food people and talented cooks.

Indeed, it is a feast in there!

Let's take a look at this French man who is so engrossed in his craft (which I like) - making crepes. I asked him where he bought his buckwheat flour and he had said "Santi's"... - it's a store here frequented by cooking people.

Busy, busy, busy!

Freshly- made honey butter crepe, yum!

Wait, is it French- friendship day? Why are we swarmed by French cooks around here?

- no shmancy- fancy, just real great food! La Cuisine Fracaise’s quiche Lorraine is swear- worthy: “!@#$% , it’s good!”

Freshly- baked breads.

Delightful lasagna.

...and some flyers you can take home with you. When they saw us taking photos of the poster, these gracious French men handed me some brochures instead.

So that's the short episode of the show for now. I would like to thank The Body Shop and Maybelline for my hair and make up (hahaha!) and MGM taxi service. Meanwhile, we are on our way to the next segment of Chef’s Day Out – so stay tuned!
Le Cuisine Francaise is located at #8 Farol St., Urdaneta Village, Makati City 1225 Metro Manila Philippines. Tel #”s: 893 2072 email:

They sell salads and soups – Ceviche, Taboule, Soupe a l’ongon et croutons (P200- 270)
Quiches – Lorraine, Tomato Basilic, Forestiere, Pissaladier (P160/ slice or P850 whole)
Breads- Sourdogh bread, ficelle, brioche, rye bread, pain au chocolat (P50- 250)
Pates- Chicken liver mousse to country pate to chicken terrine (P200- 220/ slice)
Sausages – Boudin Noir, saucisse de paris, etc ( P170- 220 each)
Pastas- Lasagna, aux legumes, chicken tapenade, mossaka (P300/ SVG)

…… and many other for the main main courses. I will leave it right here only so you will be curious enough to give them a call and have excellent cuisine delivered at your doorstep. Their minimum orders is P1000 only ($20.00). Bon appetit!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The un-EC Life

I could only hope for the best in everybody and I do hope that you are all having a great time. Everyday I wake up this week it seemed like my body is pierced with a thousand needles. And the funny thing is that at night I tend to wake up when an idea pops up and write it down lest I forget the following morning…the look of a perfect wagashi… What again is the proportion of butter to flour to milk for that great white sauce? How much again is that wine for the French onion soup? Every time I close my eyes the dreams are no longer of erotic things but drifting Japanese kanji. Before I knew it, it’s 4 am and I have to cook again.

So this is the EC life. I don’t know the PhD nor the MD life, but the EC life is far from being academic nor smart- it is swinging in different directions between science and romance and poetry and fine arts and humanities and anthropology, and the marketman’s and fisherman’s and the farmer’s- and the insane (or at least sometimes, I do have that little sentiment that some aspects of my job is driving me crazy.) I could not patch all the pieces altogether, but the EC life is like a mosaic of many professions. For now, we set aside the culinary trainings. You’re doing French? Ok, so by all means learn the language- therefore you need a stardust of the linguist; befriend a flirtatious French man – therefore you need the skills of public relations; watch Amelie- ah- humanities professor? You’re doing Chinese? Go back to the incense- smelling streets of Chinatown, travel to the land of Chairman Mao, sleep with a Chinese cookbook- learn feng shui! You’re doing Spanish? Ah, those Spanish lessons– and reward yourself with canonigo afterwards. You’re doing Japanese? Learn the hiragana, go to Little Tokyo, and don’t ignore those creepy horror flicks! (And most importantly, don’t forget the portrait of Takeshi Kaneshiro). It doesn’t matter if you become a little of a multi- lingual freak- it’s part of the job.

I could not imagine how I would go through this had my initiation been incubated in the four corners of the culinary school. The more I open another book and discover another dish, the more my paranoia kicks in and the more I start to doubt if I can really cook or not.

My cluttered desk is the portrait of this predicament. Since I have been working on things Japanese, my screensaver were all Zen Buddhists and geishas and mornings at the Tsukiji market downloaded from the National Geographic archives. And yes, live Japanese , speak Japanese. Start with the Japanese ABC’s if you want to read the labels next time you go to the Jap grocery.

My past time on an ordinary afternoon is leafing through some cookbooks for ideas and inspiration to create a hybrid of Japanese and European cuisine. I am a cookbook freak myself, but still, the rules that rule are the following: Rule number 1: Do not copy recipes. Rule number 2: Do not copy recipes. (By the way, is there such thing as ‘food plagiarism’ in the culinary world? You know, your restaurant makes money from a particular recipe you lifted from the book.)

Specially if you are working on a whole restaurant menu, unless you wanted to acknowledge the genius of the author who made the recipe, I wouldn’t think it’s fair to copy down to the last teaspoon of salt.

Why I call this un- EC (read: uneasy) life because of the many food tugs-of-war between me and my boss. He wants me to create dishes taken from snapshots that he got from his travels abroad. “Chef, I want you to do this.” My source is the picture and not the recipe. It is like creating a brassierie from a post World- War photo- no blue prints- just the picture. This is where that saying “Imagination is better than knowledge“ comes in. Ergo, it is helpful that you have, albeit it drives you to the brink of insanity, a little piece of each and every helpful profession. How can you translate on the plate the penchant for things European of the Japanese? And vice versa? Since there was no recipe on hand for the said dish, I had to resurrect the essence of a beautiful French woman wearing a kimono walking down the streets of New York with a white parasol… The creaminess of a French sauce smothering steamed Hokkaido scallops on pasta topped with a chiffonade of nori ? Any individual who can imagine would probably get the picture. But not anyone who can cook can paint the picture on the plate.

If I could remember well, there is Math 101 at every academic curriculum, but what I didn’t learn from the schools I’ve been to is one that one skill that constantly inspires and changes the world: Imagination.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Whenever me and the chefs are talking about the foods and cuisines we cook (god, I hate it when people ask questions like “what cuisine do you specialize in?”), I want the questions to go elsewhere so I always drop in my culinary waterloo: Egg Cookery. Yes, the precious and humble eggs give me that uncomfortable feel in my gut- I don’t know where all of it came from. And this egg cooking is not about soufflĂ©s nor pavlovas, but… boiling. Yes- boiling eggs!

Sunday morning in a halter dress and I have to review some egg cooking techniques. I am creating this Japanese dish that includes a hanjuku tamago (soft- boiled egg), and it all has to be very, very perfect. (Aaarrgghh… do I really have a tough destiny with the perfectionist Japanese?!)
Egg boiling 101. Water must be a full rolling boil. As aggressive as it could get. The temperature is steady anyway. Drop the egg slowly. In this case I marked the shells 5 minutes, 6 minutes and 10 minutes. The counting of the minutes start as soon as the eggs are dropped into the water. What is so fascinating about cooking eggs (and sugar) is that they change very rapidly at every minute that passes. This calls a lot of attentiveness on the cook’s part. Even the temperature of the egg when you cook it is crucial too. So I have to compare- chilled vs. room temp. - just to be very, very sure. (See, I get all too OC at this). Be sure to have very cold water in which to plunge the eggs after cooking.

I skipped the three- minute and four- minute eggs. The egg white and the yolk aren’t all set during those hours anyway so I don’t have much need of them. I settled with the 5 minutes :

Careful with the yolk. Although the white is set, it is still very fragile.

The 10- minute egg. I prefer hard- boiled eggs that are chalky on the outside but have a moist center. I like its good mouth feel.

The 6- minute egg. My favorite. The yolk is just beginning to set around the sides but the inside is still runny. Oeufs mollet, anyone?
Good morning!