Ano’ng Ulam Mo? Week 5

Our topic for this week’s edition of “Andar ng mga Balita”‘s food segment, “Ano’ng Ulam Mo?” is about rainy day food. Rainy day food is a type of comfort food, dishes with nostalgic or sentimental appeal that are eaten under certain circumstances to pique positive emotions. For this, we featured soups and stews that people can enjoy on a rainy day.

Incidentally, Ash Wednesday (the start of the Lenten season) fell on this week, so we skipped one day and urged everyone to fast, abstain, and reflect on our Christian faith. A lot of people here didn’t take it lightly. Must be strange for a food writer to talk about fasting…


Monday
Featured dish: Mami
Mami is a favorite Filipino snack made with egg noodles, vegetables, cloves and other vegetables, meat, and light broth (mostly chicken). This is patterned after the noodle soups of China.
Mami is said to have been popularized by the Chinese-Filipino chef Ma Mon Luk (yeah, THAT Ma Mon Luk), from which the noodle soup was named after. It is also paired most of the time with siopao (baozi or meat buns).

Atty. Karen Jimeno, the spokesperson of the defense panel in the Corona impeachment trial was with us to taste our mami. Glad to have you with us, ma’am!

Tuesday

Featured dish: Arroz caldo
Arroz caldo is a type of congee or rice porridge. It’s actually Chinese-style congee whose recipe was modified to suit the tastes of the Spanish colonizers.  This is cooked with chicken sauteed in ginger, garlic, and onions, and seasoned with pepper and safflower.
Arroz caldo is eaten as breakfast or late dinner, or as convalescent food (stuff you eat when you’re ill).


Wednesday

It’s Ash Wednesday.

Thursday
Featured dish: Nido soup
Nido soup is the local version of the bird’s nest soup, a Chinese delicacy. (Again with the Chinese, you noticed? Much of our cuisine was influenced by the Chinese.) Ours is made from the nests of the swiftlet (balinsasayaw), which are found mostly at El Nido, Palawan.
Nido soup is believed to cure asthma, enhance libido, and strengthen the voice.
Most of the nido soup served nowadays is made either from fish maw and agar-agar (mock bird’s nest), or from instant nido soup powder.

Friday
Featured dish: Milkfish Sinigang
“Sinigang” is soup cooked with tamarind as a souring agent. Other common souring agents used are guava, kamyas (camias ginger lily), miso paste, or calamansi.
Some provinces in the Philippines use local (and less known) fruits as souring agents. Examples are karmay (a berry-like fruit) for the Bicolanos, batwan (similar to the mangosteen) in Visayas, and libas (wild mango) for Zamboanguenos.
This soup bears similarities with some Asian soups such as Thailand’s tom yam soup, Vietnam’s can chua, and the sayur asem of Indonesia. It is also compared to the bouillabaisse, a fish soup popular in France.

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Tune in to “Andar ng mga Balita” every Monday to Friday, 6:30 to 7:30pm on Aksyon TV Channel 41 for your weekly dose of news, information, and food!

Ano’ng Ulam Mo? Week 4

On this edition of “Andar ng mga Balita”‘s food segment, “Ano’ng Ulam Mo?”, we discussed aphrodisiac food, just in time for Valentine’s Day. These are foods that enhance sexual desire, and all physiological and mental processes related to it. Seriously, what’s Valentine’s Day without food that can fuel and ignite passion, if you know what I mean?

Monday: Certain vegetables are known to have aphrodisiac qualities. The real score is that they have nutrients that improve the production of sex hormones, strengthen the reproductive system, and stimulate libido and other sex-related functions.
Examples of these are asparagus, onions, lettuce, celery, carrots, and cucumber.
Featured dish: Asparagus in oyster sauce

Tuesday: Chocolates are always associated with love and feelings of love and well-being. That’s because they produce hormones that trigger good feelings. They also have brain-stimulating, anti-cancer, and anti-heart disease properties.
Featured dish: No dish today. I brought in a box of Ferrero-Rocher and some roses as props. 😛


Wednesday: Certain herbs and spices have subtle but very important sex-enhancing properties (such as improved blood flow and stamina) that can be unlocked if used or prepared properly.
Some examples of these can actually be found in your kitchen: garlic, chili pepper, ginger, cinnamon, and oats/oatmeal.
Featured dish: Bicol Express

Thursday: Folk medicine tells us about certain items that can enhance sexual prowess. While they do have nutrients or properties that enhance bodily functions related to sexual activity or libido, their direct effect on this is unclear.
Examples, are avocado, papaya, pineapple, lychee, banana, eggs, honey, oysters, and beef. 
Featured dish: Adobong Balut, a twist on the aphrodisiac from hell. I cooked it myself.

Friday: In celebration of February as “Healthy Heart Month,” instead of aphrodisiacs, we featured food that are good for the heart. Eating these, along with proper nutrition, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle, will ensure that our hearts stay strong.
Featured dish: Pink salmon omelette. Salmon is rice in omega 3, while eggs contain hormones that help cope with stress. Carrots have Vitamin A, onions contain zinc and vitamin E, and garlic improves blood circulation.

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Watch out next week for a bigger, better, more exciting edition of “Andar ng mga Balita”. Tune in to us every Monday to Friday, 6:30 to 7:30pm on Aksyon TV Channel 41!

Special thanks to Barby Pornea for the cover picture. Visit her DeviantArt page. Her artwork’s really great.

The best of Tagaytay in a pot of Bulalo



Nothing beats spending a cold, rainy day with a pot of bulalo (stewed beef shank). Sipping on hot soup, savoring that chunk of beef, and scraping out that wad of bone marrow brings pure bliss to the mind and the belly.

What makes a great bowl of bulalo? Is it the beef, the broth, or the marrow in the soup? Is it the vegetables added to enhance the flavor, or the way it is cooked?

While there are lots of restaurants that serve great-tasting bulalo, most foodies point to one place where bulalo should be best experienced – Tagaytay.

Tagaytay is known as the country’s second Summer Capital. The city’s cool climate makes it a prime spot for vacations, honeymoons, and retreats. The view alone of Taal Volcano is a great experience, much more if you tour around Taal Lake and the volcano itself.

Tagaytay has a rich food culture. Tawilis and maliputo, fishes caught in Taal Lake, are popular fare among tourists. Fruits and vegetables are aplenty, sold with locally-made patis and vinegar. Sweets like peanut brittle and buko pie are sold everywhere. 


And then there’s bulalo. Tagaytay’s beef, which comes from farms all over Batangas, is believed to be the best meat in the market. Beef is so fresh and abundant here, it’s no wonder bulalo is popular.

An outing in Tagaytay can never be complete without dining on bulalo. Every part of the city has restaurants or canteens that serve a version or two of bulalo.

One restaurant stands out among them: Leslie’s.

Leslie’s is located at one of the best vantage points of Taal Volcano in the city. The view of the lake makes the bulalo experience all the more pleasurable. The ambience inside is just as impressive. The place is cozy and relaxing, making it a perfect spot for families and large groups.

One of Leslie’s most popular dishes is the Bulalo Special. Big chunks of mouth-watering beef wade in the broth. The vegetables are fresh and tasty. The marrow melts and blends with the dish, enhancing the taste. The best part of the bulalo is the broth itself, with its thick, fragrant, flavor-rich texture.  Diners say this dish is indeed worth traveling for.

Bulalo fans may also try out the Sizzling Bulalo, beef shank in all its fried, sizzling goodness. Other dishes here are their kare-kare, sisig, and ensaladang talong. Just have lots of rice and bulalo soup ready and you’re set.

 
It’s nice to note that Sooo Pinoy recognized Leslie’s as one of the best bulalo houses in the country, and its bulalo the best of them all. And why not, since it closely reflects Tagaytay’s food culture, and by extension, Tagaytay itself.

So, what makes a great bowl of bulalo? Is it the beef, the broth, or the marrow in the soup? Is it the way it is cooked, or the vegetables? In the case of Leslie’s and its bulalo, it’s probably all of the above.

Ano’ng Ulam Mo? Week 3

 This week, instead of featuring dishes, we gave tips on how to encourage and train children to eat a healthy diet. I found it nice and challenging to seek out ways to make kids eat their vegetables. In the end, though, it all boils down to getting exposed to all kinds of food (including healthy ones, which they ought to practice or at least get used to).


Monday: We discussed ways to train children to eat vegetables.
1. Let them get used to seeing vegetables served at mealtime.
2. Give them small servings of vegetables until such a time that they can eat more.
3. Have them help out in preparing dinner.
4. Encourage children to eat their vegetables, and explain the benefits of eating them.
5. Set a good example and eat healthy.
Featured dish: Lo han chai (Buddha’s Delight)

Tuesday: Some children are difficult to feed, especially when it comes to vegetables. Here are techniques to sneak in vegetables in their favorite dishes:
1. Chop, dice, or mince vegetables finely and add them to viands. Add them on pizza or spaghetti as toppings.
2. Puree vegetables and add the juice to the food.
3. Add vegetables to soups or soupy dishes.
4. Serve vegetables as finger foods.
Featured dish: Rellenong bangus

Wednesday: There are some vegetables that children find easy and enjoyable to eat. Let them get used to these “kid-friendly vegetables” so they can gradually condition themselves into trying out unfamiliar stuff.
Some of these vegetables are:
1. Carrots
2. Corn
3. Red bell pepper
4. Lettuce
5. Cucumber
6. Tomatoes
7. Potatoes
8. Pumpkin
9. Sweet potatoes (kamote, or the WMD of the vegetable world XD)
10. Asparagus
11. Broccoli
12. Cauliflower
Featured dish: Roast chicken with mashed potatoes and corn salsa

Thursday: Giving desserts as a reward for eating vegetables is good. Here’s a healthy twist:
1. Dip sliced fruits in melted chocolate and freeze them so they could be served like candies.
2. Make fruit skewers.
3. Make milkshakes, juices, or popsicles.
4. Frozen yoghurt or low fat ice cream is a good alternative for regular ice cream.
5. If you and your kids love cooking or baking, find recipes for pies, cakes, or pastries that use fruits or even vegetables.
Featured dish: Banana bread

Friday: The time has come to feed children a main vegetable dish. This dish features some of the vegetables that children hate most: eggplant, pumpkin, string beans, okra, and ampalaya (bitter melon).
The key is to slowly familiarize them with vegetables by slowly adding them into the menu until such a time that they can eat a main dish.
Featured dish: Pinakbet

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Tune in to “Andar ng mga Balita” every Monday to Friday, 6:30 to 7:30pm on Aksyon TV Channel 41 for news, information, and facts about FOOD!

Ano’ng Ulam Mo? Week 2

For Week 2 of “Andar ng mga Balita”‘s segment “Ano’ng Ulam Mo?”, we featured dishes that are used as part of a cleansing diet. Since we feasted on heavy fare last Chinese New Year, this seemed to be the next best thing to do.


Monday: Cabbage – Cabbages are rich in dietary fiber, Vitamins A, B, and C. It removes wastes and toxins in the digestive system and the lier. It also has anti-cancer and antioxidant properties, and can help lower cholesterol.
Featured dish: Chopsuey

Tuesday: Garlic – Garlic is known as an herbal medicine especially fed to those with high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. This herb/vegetable has antibiotic, anti-viral, and antifungal properties, and can clear the arteries, blood, intestines, respiratory tract, and liver.
Featured dish: Garlic fried chicken

Wednesday: Tofu – Tofu, an alternative protein source for vegetarians, is also rich in calcium and iron, and low in calories and fat. It can also lower cholesterol levels.
Featured dish: Tokwa’t baboy (Fried tofu and pork)

Thursday: Potato – Believe it or not, potatoes are a good and filling energy source, mainly because it contains complex carbohydrates. It’s also rich in Vitamin B6, minerals, and fiber. A word of caution: the potato itself does not make you fat, but what you add on it does (as in the case of baked potato toppings).
Featured dish: Potato marbles with creamy garlic dip

Friday: Seaweed – This staple in Asian cuisine is rich in iodine, calcium, magnesium, iron, and fiber. It may also remove toxins and heavy metals that cause obesity, arthritis, and high blood pressure.
Featured dish: Crunchy seaweed

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Tune in to “Andar ng mga Balita” every Monday to Friday, 6:30 to 7:30pm on Aksyon TV Channel 41 for news, information, and facts about FOOD!