Lasang Pinoy 7: Tuyo

This month's theme for Lasang Pinoy is almusal, which is what we call breakfast, and just so happens to be my favorite meal of the day (yes, big surprise, I know). As this was my first ever time to host a food blogging event (and one so near to my heart at that), you can imagine I was very excited. This month we are honoring a very important, yet oft neglected, meal. The meal that starts our day and gets us going during the tough work week. The meal that we linger over with a good book and pj's on lazy weekends. Breakfast: We love you!

Breakfast in the Philippines is a whole wonderful affair unto itself. It is much larger and more filling than breakfasts elsewhere, consisting many times of a meat/fish dish plus rice, and eggs even. The term Pinoy Breakfast brings happy memories and tummy rumblings to many Filipinos all around the globe. Each Filipino will have his/her own favorite although there are some "classics" that stand out in everyone's mind. This is one of them.

Tuyo is a dried salted fish (tuyo actually meaning dried). The process of salting and drying preserves the fish and you can actually safely store this for some time. This is done to a number of kinds of fish so you can have different variants of tuyo. Tuyo has been touted as a poor man's kind of dish as can be procured quite cheaply (and as it is "preserved" can be stored cheaply too!). Poor man or no, tuyo has legions of fans from all walks of life, so I like to instead think of it as an everyman's kind of dish. And as far as tuyo lovers go, I am right there heading the pack!

For this post I used four different kinds to come up with a little tuyo sampler breakfast. You can see them in the picture below. From the front is tonsoy, which is one of the more typical types. Then it is followed by sapsap, which is shorter, thinner, but wider. Then the one behind that is lapad, which is much like tonsoy. The last fish all the way at the back is espada, which is long and thin, and super crunchy when fried right. It is also less salty.

I suppose for the uninitiated tuyo can be quite a shock. It's saltiness is so palate cleaving that your entire troup of tastebuds stand at attention. For me, there is nothing that quite compares. It is very simple to prepare, just fry in very hot oil and serve. I have presented it here in the most traditional way...with sinangag, which is garlic fried rice, and a fried egg. However, I used quail eggs instead of chicken eggs, and smaller portions of rice, to give it a feel of small tasting portions. A tuyo degustation menu if you will. Of course, anyone who eats tuyo would know that it is consumed with vast amounts of rice! I eat this with native vinegar flavored with a crushed sili labuyo (chili pictured above...very spicy!). My favorite part of the tuyo is the head (as with any fish). It is such an intense concentration of flavors that it almost brings tears to my eyes. If fried right to the perfect crisp point you can eat the entire head. Yes, just dip it in some of the aforementioned vinegar, pop the whole thing in your mount, but chew carefully. It's a salted fish flavor explosion.

Well, I have come to the end of this breakfast, but there is still more to explore. Come see the round up, which I will be posting in a couple of days, to see more Pinoy Breakfasts!

2 more meme's I owe...

I mentioned some posts ago about some unfinished meme business that I am determined to accomplish. That was one down...and now more to go. The two meme's that follow I owe the warm, sweet, and oh-so-kind and lovely Angelika of The flying Apple. Sorry for being tardy they are...

You Are What You Eat Food Meme:

My 10 Favorite Foods

I would have to echo Angelika's sentiments on this and say that it is extremely difficult to choose only 10! I just love too many things! Anyway, here goes...

1. Chicharon - By now, this is no surprise. Pork crackling in other parts of the world, total bliss to me. I eat this little bit of cholesterol heaven only if it has laman, i.e. the fat still on. This is one of those things that can make me go into foodie-nirvana. It really transports me to a better place. I'm dead serious.

2. Pork - My favorite meat. This covers BACON, lechon (roast pig), crispy pata (um, deep fried pig's trotter?), slow roasted pork belly in all manners of sauce, sisig (um, chopped up parts of pig's ears and cheeks served on a sizzling plate), and nearly any way you can serve it up! Ok, I am so cheating by naming all these dishes :) You may be wondering though why I separated Chicharon from this pork category. Well, it is in a class all its least in my life.

Ok, let's pause. You must be thinking that I am some huge, club-swinging ogre that strikes fear into the hearts of pigs everywhere. Well, I am here to tell you's not just pigs!

3. Foie gras - Oh yes. I once spent all my grocery money on a little block. I would do it again. I love it pan fried best. Maybe with some candied walnuts and apples. Oohlala!

4. Bone Marrow - Nice and hot. Ooof! Hmmm, is it me or is the cholesterol count in this list shooting up at an alarming rate? It must be me.

5. Tongue - I love tongue, or lengua as we call it here, when it is prepared right. So soft and tender. I will pass on excellent steaks for this, I kid you not.

Ok, another pause. I realize that my list so far does not really paint the "audrey-hepburn-esque" picture of me that I want to portray. Hmmm...perhaps some...

6. Chocolate - What more can be said about chocolate that hasn't already been said by people much wiser and more eloquent than me? I like mine dark. The darker the better.

7. Mangoes - The sweetest mangoes in the world can be found in the Philippines. But that's just my humble opinion. Mangoes are the reason that, even though I moan and groan quite a bit about it, it's not a total tragedy that I can't get a good fresh peach or fresh berries here.

By the way, I'm not a total meat eater...

8. Sushi - In a Japanese restaurant you will almost always find me at the sushi bar. The first time I tried sushi, when I was a young girl, I was mesmerized by the taste and texture. I dreamt about it for days after. It has never lost it's appeal.

9. Tinapang Bangus - Smoked milkfish. I can eat this for days on end. Just the smell has me sighing...

Oh no, running out of slots! Can I make a grand sweeping gesture and include a geographical area?

10. To find my favorite flavors in a cuisine you just have to make a triangle with one point in India, one point in Greece, and one point in North Africa. I love the powerful taste experience of the dishes found in those regions. Actually, it's more than the's the whole sensory experience of those spices. I will eat anything that falls in that triangle.

Ok! Now on to the 2nd meme I owe Angelika...the Cookbook Meme:

A disclaimer: I don't really have much cookbooks. My mother and I have a communal pot of cookbooks that we share, but nowhere near the wonderful collections of other food bloggers out there.

1. How many cookbooks do you own? We own about 40 I would say. But it's been growing...especially with the wonderful recommendations I read about on your blogs!

2. Which cookbook is the one you bought most recently? There are two: Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook and Donna Hay's The New Cook (which was 50% off!). Martha's book came highly recommended by a baker I admire. I had also been wanting to get one of Donna Hay's book after the success of those cupcakes, so when I found one that was 50% off I didn't waste any time.

3. Which cookbook is the one you read most recently? The New Cook. I'm deciding which recipe to try first! Always a lovely process :)

4. Name 5 cookbooks which mean much to you.
- Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook - It's a 1950 first edition. This was probably the first cookbook I ever used in my life. You can see a picture of it here.
- Egyptian Cooking - The cookbook I brought home from Egypt. More than the recipes it is really a momento of a fantastic experience.
- A cheap, ratty, pasta sauce recipe book from where my mom developed her tuna pasta sauce which is loved by everyone in my family and is now a favorite of C's.
- The Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook - I have never cooked anything from this book, but it is so filled with wonderful sentiments and inspiration. Plus, it was a gift from a 2nd hand book bin which graciously yielded it up for only just over a dollar. I love rooting through stacks of 2nd hand books and this cookbook reminds me of the nice surprises you can find. I enjoy just leafing through it and reading the day...

That's only four, I know. We have other cookbooks that are excellent but I wouldn't say that any one had more meaning than the other. Perhaps I can apply this extra cookbook quota to add another favorite food (category) to my list?

Favorite foods I miss and cannot get here: Oliebollen from The Netherlands (but now I can make it!), Dallaspulla from Finland (but I found the recipe and I will be attempting it soon!), Horchata from Spain, Greek yogurt, and Maison du Chocolat chocolate truffles.

Not tags for this one since I'm so late...but if anyone wants to answer it, feel free!

Thanks for the tag Angelika! :)

Mushroom Tart

I have written before about my little fixation with Vogue Entertaining + Travel. Aside from combining two things which I love (food and travel), the food is always on supermodel mode. Yes, lovely to look at even if some of the recipes do not come out quite at the bombshell level. I don't mind. I like looking at nice things. In any case, some recipes do deliver. This was one of those times. I spotted the Apple cider vinegar-glazed onion tart in the same issue as my Moroccan inspired meal (August/September 2005). It involved little baby onions, ricotta, thyme, and (as the name implies) apple cider vinegar, and it was absolutely exquisite. However, due to the laptop crash of October '05, all pictures were lost, and the onion tart was just a sweet memory.

Not one to stay forlorn for long, I let the past's memories inspire the present's lunch. I gave the recipe another go, this time with mushrooms. Truth be told, a big part of the recipe's essence is gone as I didn't use any apple cider vinegar. But the apple cider vinegar was more for the little onions and not my big portobellos. I did keep the chedder cheese crust though. Although in the original, the pastry had apple cider vinegar as well, which I likewise nixed for this version. So this one's got a whole other flavor going...

Here's the recipe:

Mushroom Tart
(inspired by the Apple cider vinegar-glazed onion tart of Vogue Entertaining + Travel's August/September 2005 issue)

Cheddar cheese pastry:
- 200 grams flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 100 grams grated cheddar cheese (I am thinking this might also be good with a mix...part cheddar part Old Amsterdam...hmmm, for another day perhaps)
- 130 grams butter, diced and frozen
- 4-5 teaspoons water

Mushroom filling:
- 220 grams portobello mushrooms (weight without stems), sliced
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 tablespoons butter
- 1 onion sliced
- 3-4 sprigs of thyme
- 150 grams ricotta
- 1 egg

Here's what you do:

- Make the pastry first. Combine the flour, salt, and cheese.
- Add the butter in pieces and cut roughly with a pastry cutter.
- Add water gradually, still going at it with the pastry cutter, until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. (You can do this whole bit in a food processor...I just don't have one)
- Transfer the mixture into a bowl and knead (yey!) until it forms a ball.
- Flatten the ball into a disc, cover with cling film, and refrigerate for at least an hour (or overnight).
- Now for the filling. Heat the olive oil and butter in a pan over medium heat.
- Add the onions and sautee until they are nice and soft.
- Add the mushrooms and sautee for a couple of minutes. Add thyme and toss a bit until mushrooms are cooked through.
- Now to assemble the tart. Preheat oven to 180C.
- Mix the ricotta and the egg until well combined. Set aside.
- Fetch your pastry dough and cut in half. Roll both pieces of dough on a lightly floured work surface into a rough oval shape around 2 mm thick. (note: I only used one piece of pastry for the mushrooms, the other I topped with dried figs, walnuts, and brie de Meaux...oohlala!)
- Transfer the pastry to a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- Spread the ricotta mixture on the pastry, leaving a 5 mm border (more or less).
- Top with your mushroom mixture and fold over the border to sort of give your filling a little "hug".
- Bake for about 15 minutes or until the edges of your pastry are golden.

This was delicious! It makes for a perfect light lunch (not the whole tart though!) with a simple salad. I used portobello mushrooms but you can substitute this with any mushroom you feel like having...or even a mix of different kinds. As I mentioned, I didn't make enough filling for both tarts, thus the fig version...also yummy. This recipe has the potential to transform itself infinitely I think...savory, sweet, sweet/savory...any suggestions?

Lasang Pinoy 7: Gising na! ALMUSAL!

I am absolutely thrilled to be hosting this month's Lasang Pinoy. Lasang Pinoy is a Filipino food blogging event that was created so Filipinos (and those that are fond of our charming selves) around the world could have a venue to share and explore Filipino food. The brilliant idea was actually conceived when I just started blogging and I have been a fan ever since. So hosting this food blogging event is very special for me...and being asked has left me blushing with delight!

Now, here's a little secret. I have always known what my theme would be, just in case, on the off, off chance, that one of my wonderful fellow Filipino food bloggers would ask me to host. So it's been simmering in my head like that little idea that you have to keep to yourself until it is perfectly ripe and ready to be unleashed onto the world. Ok, maybe "unleashed onto the world" is a bit dramatic for something as wonderfully cozy as my most favorite meal of the day...and in case you haven't guessed from the title of my's breakfast.

Almusal means breakfast and it's an essential part of every Filipino's day. At least before life sneakily speeded up its pace to "breakneck" and McDonald's had a drive-thru. It's the fuel we need to start a day of hard work...whether it be tilling the fields or trudging through the corporate jungle. Almusal is usually a hearty affair, complete with rice and meat (or fish)...sometimes even more than one kind! Now, with everyone and his brother busy with a million and one things, a traditional almusal is sometimes left by the wayside, traded in for a quick coffee and a random something bought from your friendly coffee conglomerate on the way to work.

This month, I'd like to honor this very important part of our day, and our lives, that can give us the super powers we need to take on days fraught with tasks and errands and the 101 things we all do. So, gising na! (That means, "Wake up!") Slow things down one morning and enjoy the special almusal that I know you deserve.

Some guidelines:
- This is open to all Filipinos out there, with a blog or without, and to everyone else who has experienced breakfast with Filipinos, or just likes having Filipino breakfasts, or has always wanted to try a Filipino breakfast food.
- You can write about your favorite Filipino breakfast food (and that means bevarages as well...barako to tsokolate!) or a regular breakfast that you have somehow filipinized, or anything you associate with Filipino breakfasts. What revs your engine in the morning Pinoys? We wanna know!
- You can email your entries to: Please indicate your name, blog name, URL, location, and blog post permalink. If you don't have a blog just email your entry to me and I will post it here.
- Send in all your entries on or before February 28.

There you have it! Gising na at mag-almusal na tayo! :) (That's, "Wake up and let's have breakfast!")

*** Thanks to Iska and Mike for the great LP7 banner!

*** a personal note
Big moment for 80 Breakfasts: First time to host something...anything!

Lasang Pinoy 6: Chicharon

First, let me say I am late for this month's Lasang Pinoy. Sorry guys!

Second, this post is extremely high in fat.

Ok, now on with the show. This month's theme, care of Ting-aling of World Class Cuiscene is "Let's wash it down with booze!!". It's all about pulutan, which is our local slang for "food you take with booze". Actually, the word pulot means to pick up, so pulutan would, I guess, translate to finger food. But it's really much more than that. And it's so much more than that complimentary bowl of stale nuts they give you at the bar. It encompases a wondrous food group that people gather around and enjoy when sharing a few (or more!) glasses of whatever poison they prefer.

Now, there are tons of different pulutan here. Each province, each city, each barkada (that's gang or posse or simply "group of friends" if you're down with the linggo) has its own favorites. This is mine. Chicharon. Pork crackling or pork rind in most other places, but chicharon to my dear cholesterol-loving heart. Pure, unadulterated, fatty perfection. What you see pictured above is the only way I'll eat it...with the fat still on. Don't give me chicharon that's just skin. That's like eating air! I need the fat baby! And my favorite pieces look just like that...the little crackling barely even being able to curl for the amount of fat its got.

Yup, that's fat you see there. Not slyly hidden fat that lurks in burgers and pizzas. This is the actual thing. Fat and nothing else. Fat with no additives if you will. Ok, maybe some salt (woohee!). Chicharon is like the bad boy you hid from your mother. No good but so good. Just the smell of chicharon makes my knees weak. When I take the first bite I lose my train of thought. It's that bad. I mean good. I have eaten a good share of chicharon in my lifetime and it still happens: First bite, brain goes bzzzt. My favorite store (which sells only this) makes them fresh so you can feel the warmth through the sack. The anticipation is sometimes too much that I drive home with the sack pressed against my nose. Yes, an unholy addiction. Did you ever wonder why my name on this blog is ChichaJo? Well, now you know.

As pulutan it's perfect. These babies will line your insides and the booze will behave nice and easy. Then again, with this plus booze your insides may not be too happy. But hey, it's Lasang Pinoy! Live a little! :)

Note: To those who are wondering how this post and my last post can exist in the same's all about pleasure and compensation :)