Standard Pages (they don't change often)

Friday, June 29, 2012

A portrait of melons


Yellow fleshed. 
Watermelons come in myriad varieties, from seeded to seedless, red fleshed to yellow, small to large. And few fruits are as refreshing on a hot day.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

No illusions

Sometimes, a cold fizzy drink is just the thing for a hot day. Outside of the US, Tropicana sells a sparkling orange juice based soda - and it's 10% juice. But maybe it's just the thing for the heat.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Unusual drink

I encountered this unusual dark chocolate drink topped with cheese and salt in a donut shop in Mandaluyong. It sounds a little strange, but the flavors actually worked.

Apparently, the popularity of boba tea places has sparked the need to stand out, and using cheese and salt to balance out the sweetness is an emerging fad.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hot day in Houston.

A halo halo is appropriate.

Alternative sisig

Sisig is the unofficial national drinking food of the Philippines. It's a Kapampangan term meaning to cook with or eat with something sour. It's origins lie with taking various pork scraps like ears or skin, boiling until tender, and seasoning with vinegar, onions and spices. The resulting mix, gussied up with some calamansi or fresh chiles, is the perfect foil with cold beer on a hot day - specially when served sizzling on a hot cast iron plate.

Sisig has since evolved to use any number of ingredients aside from pork scraps, but the results always tend to be savory, and shareable with drinks and friends.

Tofu Sisig, from Nomnomnom Cafe in Quezon City, Philippines

The inventive oyster sisig, at Two Seasons, in Boracay. Unfortunately, this dish was marred by a rather sweet flavor profile.

Monday, June 25, 2012

When you are dinner

Ever heard of a fish spa? Apparently all the rage in regions in Asia, one dips one's feet in an aquarium of small fish that spend time nibbling at your toes, allegedly eating off all the dead skin. Piscine exfoliation, it would appear. I've heard, however, that you want to keep these things around the toes and ankles, where the skin is relatively thick. 

Giving the fish access more, ah, delicate skin can lead to some painful consequences. But perhaps turnabout is fair play, and that the client should be able to harvest a few of fish, fry them up with chile and lime, and serve them as refreshment during your spa appointment. It can be like autocannibalism by proxy.

Note: this article was originally published earlier, but is reposted due to a glitch.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fruity Spikes

Left, a durian. Right, a marang.
A grocer fillets a durian.
You may not realize it, but it is the start of the durian season. The famed "king of fruits" is controversial to the western sensibility because of its potent aroma - some have described it akin to rotting meat, but to many in Southeast Asia, that scent is just a signal of the delicious flavors encased in the spiky shell. Indeed, an odorless variant bred for commercialization seemed to cause more rancor than celebration.

While many hotels and airplanes will explicitly ban the durian (I've heard stories of hotel guests bearing market bought fruit discreetly escorted to out of scent regions where they are requested to finish enjoying the purchase, and cleaning up before entering the building) so as not to offend Western tourists, the inoffensive marang often gets hit due to the similar appearance and association.

Inside the marang.
A relative to the jackfruit and the breadfruit, the marang is native to Southeast Asia, and sensitive to cold conditions. The fruit doesn't travel well, and thus, it rarely seen or tasted outside of the region. Once removed from the shell, the white flesh around each seed (an aril about the size of a grape) starts to brown on exposure to air. 

The flavor is sweet, tart, creamy, complex. It has a far milder odor than a durian (as with most fruits), the seeds can be saved, dried, and roasted like nuts. I've never encountered marang used in any processed food products, such as dried fruit, or jams, or breads, but only eaten fresh, and without any adornment. 

Marang prepped for consumption.