This 20-Minute Spicy Peanut and Chicken Soba is the bomb

It’s a bit strange that I don’t make enough simple meals here on the blog. In fact I was quite surprised myself when I made this noodle dish. I managed to finish cooking it in less than 20 minutes, including prep time. At the end I literally went, ‘Wait a minute. That’s it?’ I guess I’m just too used to baking and dessert recipes– you know, those that always take at least 30 minutes especially if they have several components. There are the cakes that need time to bake up then cool before they can be meticulously frosted. There are the yeasted bread recipes I so love to make, usually requiring some 20-minute kneading time, 40 to 60-minute++ rising time, with some resting time and even cooling time…  You get the drift. Suddenly here we are with a recipe that takes almost no time at all to put together. By my standards anyway.

Which is why I guess it amazed me even more than it probably would other people who cook regularly. That just tells me I really should cook a bit more to try to balance out all the baking that I do.

Truth be told this is a recipe that I am happy to now have in my arsenal. It’s something so quick and easy that I can prepare this in a pinch when I’m left at home alone with no food, starving. I am really terrible company when I’m hungry, I can tell you that much. My mood gets largely affected by an empty stomach!

Aside from the easiness of this recipe, the best part is that is soooo good. The flavours that hit your tastebuds when you take a bite of these noodles make it seem like the sauce is complex. There’s the dominant peanut, a little bit of the chilli, then there’s also that beautiful fresh and crunchy bell pepper taste that seems to complete this dish. Of course to elevate the freshness factor, adding basil or cilantro is a definite must! I usually just pluck basil from our garden here at home but I’m thinking that cilantro is a better fit since these flavours are a bit oriental in nature. The sauce is peanut-based with hints of sesame oil and chilli after all.
Get the recipe! >>

My first ever walking food tour at SM’s #MegaFoodWok

The Mid-Autumn Festival is often a big deal with many Asian nations. As a Chinese, my family and I follow through with some mid-autumn traditions every year such as playing dice games and exchanging mooncakes. Mooncakes are pretty popular here in the Philippines thanks to its burgeoning Chinese community, so it’s no surprise that many establishments would, around this time, create some sort of special menu item just to match the occasion. That’s where SM Megamall’s Mid-Autumn #MegaFoodWok comes in.

The Mega Food Wok allows foodies to take a “walk” through six different establishments around SM Megamall’s newly-minted Mega Fashion Hall, where I must say there is a whopping number of interesting restaurants to try. It’s a walking food tour that is by all means a journey for the tummy, guaranteed to satisfy even the biggest of appetites. Previously there has been a similar food tour involving fifteen (FIFTEEN!!!) establishments and I can’t even imagine what that’s like since six already was too much for my stomach.

Meet Jin Perez of my favourite restaurant review blog

She is the one who put this event together, picking out her favourite eats at the Mega Fashion Hall and leading us from one restaurant to another throughout the walking food tour. Her blog is one of those I instantly go to when I’m looking for somewhere new to eat. I’ve seen her countless times in her blog photos, which is why I recognized her immediately when I saw her. (I got a little starstruck too admittedly, so my usually shy self became just a tad more shy.) Anyway, I asked Gilbert to take a selfie with her because that’s how we roll, and Jin was more than happy to oblige.

And yes, once again I attended the event with my friend Gilbert. Here we are at our first location with a mirror and a camera and the next natural thing to do (at least for him): Take a selfie with troll-faces. (I also used some of his other selfies in this post, in case you come across photos that look to be a bit different in colouring.)

So let’s get down to the food tour, shall we?
Read about where we ate! >>

Getting some homemade puto-pao satisfaction

I’ve been slacking off, I know. But I have a perfectly good excuse: It’s the weather! Seriously though, with the arrival of the first -ber month we’ve officially entered sweater-weather territory. Aside from finally getting a chance to break out my favourite layered outfits, this weather has made the evenings utterly conducive for lounging around after a long day at work catching up on new shows like Outlander, or surfing the interwebs. Basically anything to do with not blogging, because this kind of weather has a way of activating my lazy bones. And maybe a part of me was stalling too because I haven’t yet decided what to write about next.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a lot of recipes waiting in the wings. My iPhoto has never been this full of unposted recipes. But my brain just has not been functioning as well when the temptation of lying around in my jammies with a warm cup of tea and a good book was at its strongest. When I finally looked through my pending food photos, I spotted this one special recipe I had been so insanely eager to share after I made it. Not uncharacteristically, I had forgotten all about it thanks to my excitement over other things.

I had been having inexplicable puto-pao cravings for weeks when I decided I needed to just make some on my own. Normally I would buy some from Nathaniel’s, but I wasn’t getting any opportunities to as it’s not close to where I live. Those are really my favourites, and while I can’t say that this is an exact copycat recipe it is no less delicious. I was as much in love after I took the first bite. And the fact that it did satisfy my long-time craving was perhaps the best testament to how pleased I was with this homemade puto-pao recipe. I always find joy in slowly building my treasure trove of Filipino recipes.

The puto-pao is actually a hybrid of two Filipino favorites rolled into one. Puto is this muffin-like steamed rice cake that usually comes with a slice of cheese on top. Originally it is just white and milk-flavoured, but in time an assortment of flavours were developed (ube, pandan, cheese flavours) and the puto were coloured according to flavour to make them easier to identify. Now the -pao in the name refers to the siopao, better known to the rest of the world as siu-bao or Chinese steamed buns. The most popular siopao in the Philippines is the sort filled with sweetened pork flakes (asado) and is usually eaten with some sweet sticky sauce. Now put those two elements together and it seems like a no-brainer that the resulting offspring would be an equally big hit. 

Just imagine the body of a puto and the sweet pork filling of a siopao fused together to create the magic treat that is the puto-pao. Honestly my mouth is kind of watering right now just thinking about it.
Get the recipe! >>

Oxymoron ice pops + Sipper Ice Pop Maker review

This post was supposed to come out ages ago, but in the last few days I have been so unbelievably exhausted from being overworked at my day-job that I just started dozing off every time I sat down to prepare this post. I’m too tired to even rant about it, and since I make it a rule not to think about work at home maybe it’s best that I don’t say anything more. 

Anyway, this is something I thought I would attempt to do every once in a while: to write a sort of review for whatever new and interesting food-related product I might come across. Since I’m not an expert I don’t really like to use the word “review” at its strictest sense, but what else do I call a written account of my own experiences in using a product? I really like sharing my thoughts so I figured this would be a fun exercise.

So, popsicle maker. Just another one of those things that has been difficult for me to find in this country. You’d think that living in a tropical country would mean that any product that has to do with cooling down would be in abundance. But no… Not popsicle makers anyway. I have my eyes set on this particular popsicle mold but since I don’t live anywhere near where Amazon ships for free in 24 hours at the moment, I had to settle for whatever I could scavenge locally.

Now before I say anything else, I would just like to commend the Gourdo’s chain for being a rather reliable source of hard-to-find kitchen equipment like this one. (I’m not being sponsored to say this, just to be clear.) I e-mailed them with what I was looking for and they got back to me rather quickly, pointing me towards what I would venture to call their best branch, the Living Well Homestore in SM Mall of Asia. It’s where I found my Wilton Doughnut Pan after searching for so long, and it’s where I found these popsicle molds as well. Maybe not my ideal shape, but you can’t really be picky when you’re out of options. In any case, my popsicles look fine don’t they?

I’ve been gathering a bunch of popsicle recipes since I got this mold, but I decided that for the purposes of test driving I would go with an extremely simple one. Called Hot Cocoa Ice Pops, this recipe caught my attention because of its oxymoron name. Basically it’s frozen milk and chocolate with some marshmallows on top and a bit of chocolate chips at the bottom, giving it that hot cocoa feel. If you add some cinnamon it would have like a Mexican Hot Cocoa vibe don’t you think?
Get the recipe + read the review! >>