Recipe: Fried Soft-shell Crab with Tartar Sauce

So someone gave me a box of soft-shell crab, specifically mud crabs from Indonesia. Soft-shell crab are basically crabs that just molted or crawled out of its old shell. Like what happens to snakes and some bugs. I’m not sure if these crustaceans are farmed or fishermen catch them by waiting for molting season (is there such a thing?) or fishermen caught them by chance. Anyway, I didn’t know how to cook this type of crab but I discovered the most common way is just to fry it.

The crabs that I got were not yet cleaned so I researched how-to’s and it was quite easy (you can Google it but I’ll explain it below, no pictures though). This recipe is simple and I accompanied it with a tartar sauce, which is always perfect for seafood.

Ingredients

500 g soft-shell crab (5 to 6 pcs.)
1 cup of flour
1 lemon
Oil for frying
Salt and pepper

Tartar sauce

½ cup mayonnaise
3 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tbsp. chopped chives

Procedure

1. Clean the crabs. You can actually ask your fishmonger to do this. First, using kitchen shears cut off the face of the crab. Then lift the side of the top shell and remove the gills (the pointy things with bristles). Do this on both sides. Then flip the crab and on its underside or abdomen, remove the triangular shell cover completely. And you’re done!
2. Make the tartar sauce. Mix all the ingredients together and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
3. Pat the crabs with a cloth or paper towel, but don’t wipe it completely dry. Then season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, season the flour lightly and spread on a plate. While doing this, heat oil in a pan. You can do a deep fry method or shallow fry. What I used was the shallow frying method.
4. Dredge crabs with flour. Let the crab sit for a couple of minutes before putting in oil.
5. Fry the crabs, cook each side for 2 to 3 minutes. It’s important that you do not overcook the crabs. You want them crispy on the outside, tender and juicy in the inside. Also when frying, do not overcrowd the pan.
6. Place on paper towels after removing from pan then serve immediately. Squeeze lemon on crab before serving. Serve tartar sauce on the side. Eat them with a side of salad or seafood soup. Enjoy!

Serves 2 to 3

Recipe: Thai-style Mussels

When I attended Mida Food’s 20th anniversary luncheon, each guest were given a bag full of frozen seafood—scallops, bacalao, softshell crab, prawns, and mussels—as a giveaway. The distributor of premium fresh and frozen seafood is known for its quality frozen products through its retail brand Pacific Bay. I immediately thought of various recipes for the seafood. I wanted to do something different for the mussels. It’s a pound of good shellfish, important from New Zealand, which was also already pre-cooked. I browsed the web and found Jamie Oliver’s Thai-style recipe. It looked simple and easy so I tried it and tweaked it a bit.

Ingredients

1 kg. mussels
1 1/2 cups fresh coconut cream
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1 stalk lemon grass
1 tsp. cilantro stalks
2 pcs. bird’s eye chili (or Thai chili), chopped
1 pc. lime
2 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. vegetable oil

Procedure

1. Clean mussels or ask your fishmonger to do this for you. Steam or boil them for about 5 minutes until they open up. Discard any mussel that remained closed. Set aside about a cup of the water you used to cook the mussels.
2. Prep the lemon grass and cilantro. Pound the white part of the stalk until it cracks and opens up. Cut stalk into one-inch pieces. Then, separate the leaves of the cilantro from the stalks. Chop the stalks into small pieces.
3. In a pot, saute garlic and onions in vegetable oil for about 2 minutes, then add lemon grass and cilantro stalks and saute for another 2 minutes. Add coconut cream and water. Wait until it boils.
4. When boiling, add fish sauce and chili. Stir and taste, add salt if necessary. Add more chili if you want it extra spicy. Then add cooked mussels, stir and let simmer uncovered for about 2 minutes.
5. Turn off heat and squeeze lime over the mussels and mix. Serve in a bowl and garnish with cilantro leaves and lime wedges. Enjoy!

Serves 2 to 3

Recipe: Chili Garlic

When hot sauce is not around, chili garlic is almost always present on the Filipino table. This is also common condiment in Chinese cuisine. It’s usually used in dipping sauces for dumplings likes pork siomai (siu mai) or to spice up noodle soups. It may be spicy, but it has a very toasted and nutty flavor thanks to the garlic and sesame oil. This recipe is very simple but requires your undivided attention from start to finish. Word of warning, cooking this much hot peppers may irritate eyes and nose.

Ingredients

1 head of garlic
1 cup bird’s eye chili
2 tbsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
Pinch of salt

Procedure

1. Finely chop garlic and chili, roughly the same size, set aside.
2. Over low heat, heat up the sesame and vegetable oils in a pan. When oil is hot, toss in garlic and chili together and add a pinch of salt. Stir constantly until garlic turns golden brown. Be careful not to burn garlic. (Also be careful because the spicy fumes coming from the chili while being cooked may irritate your eyes and nose. If you cook this in a big batch, the more irritating it would be and you might need goggles and gloves, especially if you’re using extra spicy peppers.)
3. When garlic is golden brown, turn off heat and let it cool down in the pan. Then transfer in a jar and let it completely cool before covering and storing.

Recipe: Bibingka Cheesecake

Pastry chef Gel Salonga discovered her knack for baking after taking a break from corporate work. Now, she bakes full time, crafting delicious cakes and pastries for Aurora Filipino Cuisine and Ted’s in Santa Cruz, Laguna. This recipe, she fuses the Filipino classic bibingka with cheesecake. I have to admit, I love cheesecake and I have to say, the salted egg topping works very well.

Ingredients

Crust
¼ cup melted unsalted Magnolia Gold Butter
1 ½ cups crushed La Pacita graham crackers
2 tbsp powdered sugar

Filling
5 (225g) pcs. Magnolia cream cheese, softened
5 pcs. Magnolia brown eggs plus 2 egg yolks
1 ½ cups sugar
1/8 cup Magnolia all purpose flour
¼ cup Magnolia all purpose cream
1/8 cup coconut milk
2 pcs. salted egg, shelled and sliced

Procedure

1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F).
2. In a bowl, combine all ingredients for the crust, then press firmly against the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan and bake for 15 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, eggs and egg yolks, and mix smooth. Add the sugar, flour, cream, and coconut milk. Blend until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan with the crust.
4. Top with salted egg slices.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. Turn the oven off and let the cake cool in the oven with the door closed for 2 hours until set. This prevents cracking. Chill.

Serves 8 to 10

Recipe care of San Miguel Pure Foods Culinary Center. For more recipes visit www.homefoodie.com.ph

Bibingka Cheesecake with La Pacita Graham Crackers 2
An option is to dust the side of the cake with toasted desiccated coconut

Mocktail: Cucumber Basil Cooler

This refreshing mocktail is perfect for hot summer days and nights. This is perfect for entertaining family events or any gathering. Mocktails are always great options for non-drinkers (of alcoholic drinks). This recipe is for a tall glass. Just multiply the ingredients if you need to make big batches.

Ingredients

3 tbsp. fresh cucumber
1 tbsp. simple syrup
juice of half a lime
3 pcs. basil leaves
250 ml lemon lime soda
Ice

Procedure

1. Mince fresh cucumber with skin on. Pour in a tall glass with basil leaves. Muddle the two together using a spoon or the handle of a wooden spoon. Then add lime juice and syrup.
2. Pour in ice and lemon lime soda. Mix with a bar spoon and garnish with lime wedge and basil leaves before serving. Enjoy!

Serves 1

Recipe: Pancit Malabon

Pancit malabon is a variation of the Filipino pancit palabok, a kind of pancit (sautéed noodles). This originated from Malabon City, hence the name. A regular pancit palabok and the malabon variation use the same ingredients but served differently. The original palabok is served pasta-style with the sauce poured over the noodles and finished with the toppings. The malabon on the other hand, the sauce and noodles are incorporated together, served in a platter and finished with the toppings. Another difference is the size of the rice noodles, while the classic palabok uses the thin variety, malabon uses the thick variety.

Ingredients

500 grams thick rice noodles
250 grams medium size shrimp
1 cup fine tinapa (smoked fish) flakes
1 cup of crushed chicharon pork rind cracklings
3 eggs
¼ cup fish sauce
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp. annatto seeds
Vegetable oil or any neutral oil you prefer
Pepper
Spring onions for garnish
Calamansi (Philippine lime

Procedure

1. Soak annatto seeds in ¼ cup of water. The seeds will dye the water red, a natural food coloring we use to color certain dishes. The longer you soak, the deeper the color.
2. Cook noodles according to package instructions. In my case, the instructions detailed that the noodles should be soaked first in tap water for 10 minutes. Then cook in boiling water for 10 minutes and let sit in hot water for another 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.
3. To make the sauce, deshell shrimp and set the heads aside. Using mortar and pestle, crush and pound shrimp heads until juices come out. Then pour in a small saucepan and add 1 ½ cup of water and boil. After it boils, turn off heat and strain broth. Then cook shrimp body/tail separately in ½ cup of water. Cook shrimp until it turns pink, then set aside. You can also slice the shrimp tails in half, cutting it along the spine. Add the used water in the shrimp head broth.
4. Hard boil eggs, slice then set aside. Chop spring onions, set aside.
5. In a wok or big pan, sauté garlic and onion in about 2 tbsp. of vegetable oil for a couple of minutes. Then add shrimp broth then add fish sauce and pepper to taste. Add annatto water, don’t add everything, just enough to color the broth an orange hue. When the broth boils, add noodles and mix well. Then add half of the pork rind cracklings and tinapa, mix well. Make sure that the noodles is well coated by the sauce. The natural starch from the noodles will thicken the sauce. The cracklings will also thicken the sauce. Add about 2 tbsp. of oil and mix thoroughly.
6. Pour noodles in a large serving platter. Then top with remaining cracklings and tinapa. Top also with sliced egg, shrimp, and spring onions. Serve with sliced calamansi for squeezing (calamansi is squeezed over a serving of the pancit, the juice adds freshness and acidity). Enjoy!

Serves 8 to 10

Recipe: Five-Ingredient Filipino Roast Chicken

Turbo broiler is such a popular kitchen appliance here that every household has one. One dish that we always cook in this round oven is roast chicken. Traditional means of cooking is rotisserie (constantly rotating the chicken over hot charcoal) but the turbo broiler has made it easier. It is so common that Filipinos even call the dish “turbong chicken.” This recipe, which I grew up eating and making is easy and uses a few ingredients. This roast has a darker and slightly crispy skin. It is usually accompanied by the traditional Filipino roast chicken gravy which is a thick liver sauce but in this recipe, I made a basic gravy. TBH, you can eat this roast without any sauce.

Ingredients

1 whole chicken (1250 grams or 2.75 lbs.)
½ cup soy sauce
10 pcs. calamansi (Philippine lime)
3 stalks lemon grass
2 tbsp. osyter sauce
Ground black pepper

For gravy (optional)
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. Flour
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 cup water
Drippings

Procedure

1. Prep the chicken by cleaning it and patting it dry.
2. Trim the tops of the lemon grass by removing the long green parts. Bash the bulb part enough until it splits open. Do this to all three stalks then tie them into knots. Then push them inside the cavity of the chicken.
3. In a large bowl, pour in soy sauce and squeeze in the juice of all 10 calamansi. Add ground pepper into the marinade. Put chicken in and scoop some of the marinade inside the cavity of the chicken. Marinate for at least an hour, occasionally flipping chicken.
4. Remove from marinade then rub oyster sauce outside the chicken. Then put the chicken inside the turbo broiler and cook for 35 minutes at 250° C (480° F).  After the time, flip the chicken over and cook for another 25 minutes. When done, remove the chicken, set aside, and let it rest before chopping. If making gravy, collect drippings.
5. Melt chicken bouillon cube in one cup of hot water. In a sauce pan make a roux, do this by melting butter and adding the flour. Let the flour cook for a couple of minutes. Then add drippings to the roux, stir well. Then slowly add chicken broth. Wait until it boils, this will allow the sauce to thicken. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with chicken.

Serves 6

turbong chicken 02
Filipinos don’t carve roast chicken, we chop it.

Recipe: Strawberry Cheesecake

I love cheesecake. I mean, I love cheesecake. It’s the one cake that I don’t get tired of. There are a lot of ways of making cheesecake from cooking it in a water bath to prevent cracks (I like the cracks, TBH) and mixing in all sorts of flavors—from chocolate to cookies. I personally love plain cheesecake and just top it with fresh fruits or compote. I don’t have much experience baking cheesecakes but so far, with the cakes I’ve made, the results have been amazing. You need a nine-inch springform cake pan for this recipe but since I didn’t have one, I used a glass pie pan instead.

Crust

2 cups crushed graham crackers
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup melted unsalted butter

Filling

24 oz (3 pcs. 8 oz. bars) cream cheese, softened at room temperature
3 eggs
½ cup sugar
250 ml heavy cream
½ tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Topping

8 oz. fresh strawberries
Juice of half a lemon
¼ cup water
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch

Procedure

1. First, make the crust. Preheat oven to 180C (356F) Pour in all crust ingredients in one bowl and mix well. Then press mixture to the bottom of the pan. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. After baking, set aside and let cool on a cooling rack. Increase the oven temperature to 200C (392F) to prepare it for the baking of the filling.
2. Now to make the filling. In a mixer, cream the cream cheese for a few seconds in medium speed, add sugar slowly. Then in low speed, add eggs one by one. Increase to medium speed after adding the eggs and add cream and the rest of the ingredients. Turn off mixer and using a spatula, scrape mixture from the sides of the bowl and fold into the rest of the filling. Make sure that there are no lumps.
3. Make sure that the crust is completely cool. Then pour in the mixture to the prepared pan with the crust. Lightly drop on table and tap on sides to get rid of air bubbles. Then bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until toothpick done (using a toothpick, pierce the center of the cake and slowly pull it out, if it comes out clean then it’s done). Top will lightly brown and the cake will crack.
4. If you don’t like a cracked cake, bake in a water bath. First, wrap pan with tin foil (do this before pouring the batter in) from the bottom and all around up to the rim of the pan. This will prevent water from seeping in, then pour in the batter. In a deep bake pan, put the cake tin in the middle then pour hot water, immersing the bottom half of the cake tin. Then bake at the same time or until done.
5. While cake is baking, make the strawberry topping. Wash and cut strawberries into half but if you have bigger strawberries, quarter them. Then put in a sauce pan with the water, sugar, and lemon juice and wait to boil (in low heat) while occasionally stirring. Simmer for a couple of minutes until liquid turns bright red. Then make a slurry out of 1 tbsp. cornstarch and 1 tbsp. water, then pour in. This will thicken immediately. Turn off heat and pour in a container and let cool. The goal is making a thick topping without breaking down the fruit. It’s best that the fruit retain its shape.
6. After the cake is done, put on a rack and cool down completely before putting in the fridge to chill. It is important to chill the cake first before assembling and serving.
7. Before removing cake from the pan, run a knife between the cake and the sides of the pan to loosen it up. Then carefully remove it from the pan and put in a cake platter. Pour strawberry compote on top and serve.

Serves 6 to 8