Monday, February 22, 2010

Sentosa Underwater World

Nearly two months of living in Singapore, I can't help but wonder how time flies real fast in this country. Before I can even savor with much gusto the needed weekend rejuvenation, it's back to work again. For this reason, weekends should be spent with absolute pleasure and joy. Back in the Philippines, our family weekends were typically spent going out and exploring places. In Singapore, it still remains the same. So, last weekend we visited two of Sentosa's attractions - Merlion Walk and Underwater World. The kids had a great time roaming around.
There's not much big difference in the experience between Underwater World and Manila Ocean Park. However, the observation tunnel of Underwater World showcased more diversity in content. Space wise, I think Manila Ocean Park has a more relaxing ambiance.
Another highlight in the oceanarium - aquarium is the Dolphin Show. The show runs at roughly 30 minutes combining a dolphin-trainer and fur seals encounters. If you happened to be in our very own Ocean Adventure in Subic, the Dolphin show in Sentosa clearly failed in comparison. And by this, I referred in all aspects. From the dolphin tricks to the showmanship of the host to the overall appeal of the show's content, Ocean Adventure is far better. Now I am more than convinced, Filipinos can be globally competitive. I hope Ocean Adventure and Manila Ocean Park get the necessary tourism support which they absolutely deserve. These attractions ought to be visited. These were among the many things we have back home that we, Filipinos can be proud of.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Chicken Tinola with Spinach

Our new surroundings that is largely dominated by Chinese - Singaporean Cuisine is daring the cook in me. How can I prepare authentic Filipino foods in this foreign land? By and large, this seems to be one of the tough challenges any expat deals with in living overseas (and I'm no difference to experience that). My first struggle began with the classic "Tinola". It's a Filipino favorite chicken soup that's typically cooked with papaya and chili leaves. I've searched shelves inside out from one supermarket to another yet I didn't find any chili leaves here. Although most of the ingredients of the dish can be easily substituted like chayote with papaya and chili leaves with moringa or malunggay, I haven't tried substituting both with some other types. Much with the limitations of the available susbstitutes in the supermarket here, there's no other option but to take the risk of trying from the available ones. This explains for my Chicken Tinola with Spinach and surprisingly, it came out acceptable.

There maybe other variations or ways of cooking this dish but the simplicity of its taste and its comforting treat will be carried through wherever it's served.

How to make: Saute onion, garlic and ginger in canola oil until fragrant. Add in chicken and stir-fry until it turns brown. Season with salt, pepper and fish sauce. Stir-fry for 2 more minutes. Add sufficient amount of water (just enough to cover and cook the chicken). Allow to boil and simmer until the chicken is almost done. Add in green papaya or chayote (cut into wedges) and cook until tender. Turn off the heat then add spinach leaves. Serve immediately.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Good Eats in Singapore

Singapore's Uniquely Singapore fame will never be such for nothing. In fact, it's even translated to its cuisine. Indeed, the food fare here is unique in its own way. The country is known for having a multi-cultural mix of inhabitants and this is synonymous to the hodgepodge of foods available. There's the local, genuinely Singaporean such as the Hainanese Chicken Rice, Chili Crab and Black Pepper Crab, Indonesia's famous Mee-goreng and Satay, Malaysia's Laksa and India's Roti, Teh Tarik and Fish Head Curry. Undoubtedly, the lion city is a complete melting pot of Asian taste and good eats are everywhere.

Hainanese Chicken Rice

Chicken Satay
Oyster Omelette
Prawn Kway Teow

It is only in Singapore that I would brave the lines of street foods. It is here where Hawker Centers are considered the place to be for foodies and non foodies alike. Never mind the hot and humid ambiance, scrumptious foods are what you're here for. Should an open-air set up be an issue, air conditioned Kopitiam and Food Republics are the options for you. Contrary to the popular notion that all things in Singapore are expensive, food is not. Perhaps it's only about finding the right place to visit and making the right choice of food. A good eat may not necessarily be pricey. There are dishes that can be worth the queue at only S$ 3 - S$ 5. Whichever dining place you visit in Singapore, there is certainly something lip smacking for each discriminating palate.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Seafood Linguine - Presto Pasta Night #151

I already lost count on how many times I did mention in the blog about my missing our habitual pasta treats. What with the recent move to a new country, it all makes the craving more intense. Now that I've finally found my way in our new kitchen, the weekly pasta feast is eventually back into our menu. For this resurgence to Ruth Daniels' Presto Pasta Night, I'm sharing a Seafood Linguine recipe. This is supposed to be part of our Chinese New Year fare, but for some reasons the dish did not reach the table on time. Anyway, as the cliche goes better late than never. Rather than the usual toasted garlic or butter bread, I paired it with Chicken Wrap. (such a substantial meal indeed!)
Seafood Linguine
What you need: 250 g linguine (cooked according to package directions), 1 med bottle of traditional pasta sauce (italian), 100 g shrimps (peeled & deveined), 1/2 cup squid rings, 1/2 cup fish fillet, 1 can of tuna flakes (in water), 5 cloves of garlic (minced), 1 small onion (chopped), 2 tbsps olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, 1 tbsp lemon juice, parmesan cheese
How to make: Combine shrimps, squid and fish in a bowl. Add lemon juice, mix well and let it sit for 2 minutes. Cook linguine according to package directions, set aside. Cook all seafood except tuna in boiling water for 1 -2 minutes. Set aside. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until fragrant. Add in drained tuna flakes, saute for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add in pasta sauce and allow to boil. Stir in cooked seafood and pasta. Mix well. Serve hot sprinkled with parmesan cheese.
Chicken Wrap
What you need: Tortilla wrap (cooked according to package directions), 2 - 3 tbsp shredded roasted chicken, 1 tbsp caesar salad dressing, 1 - 2 tbsp chopped tomatoes, 1 tbsp chopped onions, grated cheddar cheese
How to make: Cook tortilla according to package directions. While hot spread it with salad dressing, add chiken, tomatoes, onion and lots of cheese. Fold both sides to make a wrap.
This week's pasta event is being hosted by Mrs. Ergul of Passion for Life and Food . Chow down and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Celebrating Chinese New Year (Part 2 of 2)

Gong Xi! Gong Xi!
Chinese New Year + Valentines Day = merrymaking to the highest level! People were all over the place celebrating. Chinatown looked so vibrant with all the decorations. The main street was well adorned with beautiful flowers. It's also quivering with sounds of joyous people. Restaurants were filled and witnessed to lively reunions. This was Chinese New Year in Singapore...

Chinese trinkets and novelties were abundant in Pagoda street.
Lucky charms are among the popular grabs.

In Clarke Quay it's equally crowded but less exasperating. Valentines Day celebration was more evident here.

I hope everyone had wonderful celebrations. May we all have a tiggerific year ahead!!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Celebrating Chinese New Year (Part 1 of 2)

Kiong Hi Hoat Chai! Believed to be the most important traditional festivity, Chinese New Year is often times well celebrated anywhere in the world where Chinese community abounds. It is generally the tradition that speaks of the Chinese culture and beliefs about the coming year. Food, gifts, money and a lot more are generously poured out. This is pretty much how we keep Christmas in the Philippines. Oranges, flowers along with other popular decorations are the typical icons of the celebration. Each has its own symbolism that can be related to prosperity, luck, longevity and happiness.
It's a lucky chance to be experiencing this kind of festival the first time. We visited Chinatown and Clarke Quay (among the popular spots during CNY) to view some fanfare and spectacles. Unfortunately, due to time constraints and the large cluster of people we were not able to view any. At home, we celebrated it plainly with food (a far cry from any of the traditional Chinese repertoire). But the real essence of which was actually finding the right time to get back to what I love to do - cooking! Pardon the food shots, my kitchen is still limited at the moment. I've yet to snag a couple of household stuffs to make my food plating more enticing.
A friend came over and we ate sumptuously of these fare...

Pan-fried Salmon with Cream Sauce
How to prepare: Season salmon with salt and cracked black pepper corns. Pan fry in canola oil for 2 - 3 minutes until it's cooked. Melt about 30 g butter in a pan. Add 250 ml full cream milk and 1/2 of chicken stock cube. Allow to boil and simmer until the sauce thickens. Don't forget to stir continuously.
Tofu Asparagus
How to prepare: Cut tofu into small squares, coat with corn flour and egg then fry until it turns slightly brown. Set aside. Saute onion and garlic in 2 tbsps olive oil until fragrant. Add 250 g boneless chicken (cut into cubes), stir- fry until it turns brown. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce, 1/2 cup of water, 2 small packs of golden noodle mushroom (enokitake) and 250 g asparagus. Simmer and cook until the vegetables are done. Stir in fried tofu and mix well.

Shrimps Broccoli
How to prepare: Blanch broccoli flowers in boiling water for 1 minute. Dip in cold water to preserve the crispiness of the veggie. Set aside. Saute minced garlic in 2 tbsps olive oil until fragrant. Add in shrimps and cook until it turns red. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked broccoli and mix well ( 1/2 a cup of water maybe added if you prefer a slightly saucy version).

Chili Garlic Shrimps
How to prepare: Melt about 30 g butter in a hot pan. Saute garlic and shrimps until fragrant and red respectively. Add in 2 tbsps soy sauce, 1 tbsp chili-garlic sauce, 1/2 cup water and 1 tbsp sugar. Cook until shrimps are done.

Chocolate Cookie Burger A la Mode
How to prepare: Sandwich one scoop of choco nut ice cream in two soft type chocolate cookies. Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Finish with stawberry and Ferrero Rocher. Yum!

May we all have a prosperous banquet in the year of the Tiger!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

This I heart...

I never imagined that Chinese New Year (CNY) preparation here is as maddening as celebrating Christmas in the Philippines. Nearing the much anticipated day, supermarkets are just unbelievably crowded. Nevertheless, we need to get some stuff for the celebration so we must not mind the crazy throngs of people. There are quite a number of supermarket chains to choose from in Singapore. But I'm partial to Cold Storage and Giant. I find Fair Price and Shop and Save limited in product offerings although the former preferences are a bit more expensive. One thing I'm beginning to appreciate in Singapore's fresh produce is the wide selection of vegetables and greens. I just can't help filling my cart with these healthy choices.

More so, as if to prove to me that indeed this is a place of convenience, I'm greatly pleased to have something like this.
I know so much more are yet to be discovered so for now I'll merely enjoy my serendipity.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

JPOT Hot Pot (Singapore Style)

Our Singapore food adventure has just started. From hawker centers to air conditioned food republics, we feasted and braved on practically anything that looked enticing. Last weekend was Hot Pot time. Although our Din Tai Fung experience did not deliver as we expected, we're glad that our Hot Pot day went otherwise. My sister arrived a few days ago to give us support in settling down. Since it's her first time to visit Singapore, we were challenged to give her nothing but good impression of the country "food wise". So off we went to Vivo City to try JPOT's Hot Pot Singapore Style.

Our overall impression of the restaurant is good. It's the kind of place we would like to visit every now and then. More often than not on times that we would be craving for comfort food. The Jpot and Bak Kut Teh soups are the must try for the fresh stuffs. The seafood goes well with the Jpot and the Beef with the Bak Kut Teh. On the whole, I would rate this first Hot Pot Singapore style experience a 4 out of 5 spoons. We'll definitely go back.