Bakkwa Rediscovered

Bakkwa, or Chinese sweet dried meat, was a staple of mine during my undergrad days.  It was easy to store in the dorm, always ready to eat, and can either be a snack or a viand.  My favourite was the chicken barbecue coin made by Bee Cheng Hiang, which has a branch in Robinson’s Place in Ermita.  After undergrad, I shied away from most forms of bakkwa (and meat jerky in general), mostly because I no longer had to store food in a clothes cabinet and partly because it probably wasn’t doing wonders for my health.

On a recent trip to Singapore, though, I chanced upon a branch of Bee Cheng Hiang in Chinatown and rediscovered an old friend.  I bought a box of chicken barbecue; S$18 for 280 grams.  At S$1 = P31.7, that’s P203.78 for every 100 grams.  Not really the cheapest bakkwa out there– Fat & Thin has a cheaper pork version (marketed as tocino) for about half the price– but quite exquisite.  Only BCH makes soft bakkwa (and made of chicken), as far as I can tell, but Fat & Thin’s pork version is also quite acceptable.

The great thing about bakkwa is that you don’t really need to heat it, but unlike canned goods it doesn’t have that canned/fake flavour.  It was meant to be eaten in its preserved state at room temperature.  If you do choose to heat it, you have a number of options at your disposal: microwave it, toast it, broil it, grill it, even dunk it in hot water (while in the pouch).  A meal can consist of microwaved bakkwa, fried egg, and garlic rice plus a side of fresh tomatoes.  Or you can add it to fried rice or an omelette.  Or it can be a viand all its own– a recent meal was just broiled chicken barbecue bakkwa and steamed rice.

I wouldn’t recommend having bakkwa as a regular fare, but it would make for a good substitute for canned goods from time to time.  It’s for those times when you’re just too tired (or lazy) to make a proper meal or go out and buy food.  It was student friendly back then; it is definitely bachelor friendly now.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Plurk as excuse for going out

Plurk is an interesting Web application. It is like Twitter, with the capability to display messages on a time line, plus you can view replies below the message. It is like IRC, says Jon Limjap. MLQ3 thinks so, too.

But it’s greatest use, so far, is to plan for unplanned dinners. Just this week, the Bachelor Food Bloggers had done so twice. Read on.

This week had been busy in terms of dining, no thanks to MLQ3’s plurks. It began exactly a week after Juned, MLQ3, and I ate at King Crab. Via Plurk, the Bachelor Food Bloggers Fritz teh Rockstar, Grand Meister Juned, Emperor MLQ3, and page boy me went to Mickey’s Delicatessen last Wednesday; Juned suggested that we try the place. It is located along Jupiter Street in Makati.

Mickey’s is a German restaurant. It has old European house feel to it, with wooden chairs and benches, wooden tables, and waiters in traditional German clothes. The German owner is usually there; he asked us if the food was good. We’ll see.

Juned ordered crispy pork knuckles, aka crispy pata, the Emperor’s favorite. It was very lean, and very tasty, the skin was crispy enough. The gravy was love – there was a hint of wine with it. I prefer eating fried food less dippings and condiments, but you have to try the gravy. The Rockstar kept on warning the Meister about his blood pressure.

The Emperor ordered German potato salad. Contrary to the usual potato salad that we know, this one is mashed, and tastes sour. I did not like it much.

And the piece de resistance – Mickey’s Super Sandwich. It is about 2 feet long, stuffed with cold cuts, cheese, onions, tomatoes, pickles, some green vegetables, and mayonnaise. It is good for 4-6 persons. Personally, I find the bread too tough for me to bite and chew. For the Rockstar, it was surprisingly light for a sandwich, though he had to take out the tomatoes and the pickles. The Meister just kept on chomping, while the Emperor had to take home the half of his sandwich.

We stayed on for some stories (the Meister is a good story teller, he knows a lot). Went home late. Mom spanked me.

Plurk has its uses, if it works. You can post open invites for whatever. If someone replies, great. If none, too bad. Most of the time, it works. MLQ3 exploits that to the fullest.

So I was again surprised when I got a text message from Juned regarding another dinner plurk from MLQ3. This time, we were joined by Marcelle the Mentalist and Bernard the Habagat. Marcelle suggested this place at Balara called Mang Jimmy’s.

The traffic along C-5 to Katipunan made MLQ3 and Juned hungry (though ABBA and movie/TV themes kept us entertained), then we picked up the other two, and off we were.

Mang Jimmy’s is like a typical carinderia catering to students – it is near UP and Ateneo. It is not surprising that it was full of noisy students when we got there. So we ordered liempo, lengua, blue marlin (me thinks) and tapa – which Marcelle claims to be the house specialty.

Simply put, it was great. It was sweet, tender, and made of awesome. If you find it too sweet, add calamansi to counter the sweetness.

I found the liempo tough to chew, so I let Juned finish it. I like the lengua, but only one plate was ordered, and I was not in the position to complain. The fish was largely ignored. And Bernard was scared by Marcelle’s bended fork routine.

After that, we retired to Bo’s Coffee Club along Katipunan, where Marcelle explained some ideas about mentalism.

And to add more proof, as of this moment, there is another pending plurk invite for dinner. Let’s see where it goes.

What is Plurk for you?

Zemanta Pixie

The versatile rice

Rice is an indispensable part of Filipino cuisine. A Filipino meal is incomplete without rice. Why has it become a staple as it is now?

My theory is that rice is a versatile food. Heck, just add anything to eat and it is already eatable. Let me count the things you can do with it. We’ll concentrate on leftover rice, as most bachelors are prone to have leftovers (if they could cook at all; well, they could buy cooked rice at the corner carinderia).

Of course, there’s the stir-fry rice, which most of us eat in the mornings. It is the best way to deal with leftover rice from last night. My mom cooks rice with the mornings in mind – she makes sure there is enough leftover to stir fry the next morning.

Stir-fry rice is in itself a versatile meal. So versatile in fact that it led to a cottage industry – those tapsilog place of yore. Anyway, in its simplest form (or the base form), you have rice stir fried in oil, with garlic and salt. You will want to have at least a fried egg or hotdog to go with it. Or, you can experiment and add stuff to it; heck, you can make a complete meal of out the base form by just adding food stuff. One simple way of doing this is adding what’s on the ref. My dad usually adds hotdogs, scrambled eggs, and ham. First he fries the chopped hotdogs, then the scrambled egg (which is chopped into cubes later), and the ham (chopped into cubes also). Then he proceeds to the rice: garlic first in the wok, then the rice, some stirring, salt, more stirring, the hotdogs-egg-ham, some more stirring, and voila.

That is actually a variation of the so-called yang chow fried rice. You can make a variation out of it by adding more ingredients to it, like peas, corned beef, onions, longanisa, tapa, leftover fried pork chop, anything. Instead of using cooking oil, you can use butter or margarine. My uncle used to fry rice using Star margarine, obviously inspired by that Star Rice commercial of theirs.

If you have leftover paksiw na pata, here’s a suggestion: bring it to a simmer until it dries. Get the meat and the fat out of the bones, cut them into strips or cubes, then add it to your fried rice. Yummy. You can also do this with leftover adobo.

I used to add liquid seasoning or oyster sauce while frying rice, but this led to the rice sticking to the pan. So what you should do is to add this later, when you have turned off the stove.

Enough of fried rice and let’s proceed to what I call poor man’s rice. There are several variations to this, but there are two that I had already tried. One is adding a little cooking oil and soy sauce to the rice, then mixed thoroughly. That in itself is a variation of rice and salt that poor people eat in very hard times. (It is good to try it to get a sense of how poor people subsist on minimum wage.) There’s my kuya’s favorite: adding condensed milk to rice. Add a generous amount, and then mix. Meal and dessert all in one!

If you have cooked longanisa or tocino, you can do what my other brother does: he mashes rice into the pan where longanisa or tocino was cooked. Sweet and salty and oily, but he likes it.

That’s just for starters. There’s a lot of things you can do with rice. Do you have any quick-and-easy rice recipe? Share them in the comments.

Zemanta Pixie


I don’t think I’ll be eating in places BachelorFoodBlogger MLQ3 eats soon: to be honest, I have lost all sense of what qualifies for “food” these days. Here are good examples of non-food I eat on a daily basis:

  • Stuff from McDonald’s;
  • Intriguing stuff passed off as dim sum at the a’la carte “flea market” behind St. Francis Square;
  • Ingestables from the office pantry;
  • Whatever I fancy at a Happy Balls or Waffle Time at an MRT station;
  • Cigarettes (yes, it’s food if it fills your stomach).

I can pass myself off as an alcoholic. A few weeks ago during a team gathering activity at Metrowalk (read: drinking session), I ended up making “absinthe” out of a cold glass of San Miguel Super Dry and a blue Vodka Cruiser. Tasted pretty damn good. Add to that a dozen more bottles of beer and some hard cocktails, and you have a recipe for disaster. Drunk? Like heck I was: I actually asked the taxi driver to stop somewhere near Vasra on my way home just so that I could vomit.

Shows you what kind of a “food blogger” – and a person – I am.

* * *

When you need to get work done, there’s always caffeine. I’m a Baguio boy, so I should be extremely familiar with hot coffee. The only problem is that when you live in a place as hot as Manila, you want everything with ice in it. So I ended up making the old reliable Wake-Up Juice back in the days of my thesis. It’s so easy to make, too:

  • A can of Coke. Regular, not Light, not Coke Zero, and definitely not Pepsi.
  • A pack of C4 Energy Powder Drink. Twice the caffeine. Tastes like cola.

Procedure: mix together in a glass or tumbler. Quaff.

Any general-practice physician, gastroenterologist, or psychiatrist will tell you that this is 330 milliliters and four grams of caffeinated, carbonated suicide. Which is the whole point.

Corporate emo at its finest.


You only live once, so get the most out of food

Well, you know the story. You just came from work, you live alone at home, and you are hungry. What’s to eat is a universal question, and bachelors are not exempted. A bachelor always has two choices: cook or eat out.

This blog is born to help bachelors in making their day-to-day (or night-to-night) food decisions. If a bachelor (that might be you) chooses to brave the kitchen, what can he cook with ease, within a tight budget, and have some semblance of taste? If he chooses to go out and eat, where is the best place to get crispy pata (Manuel L. Quezon III’s favorite, based on Twitter)? If you are a bachelor who lives alone and if you grapple with food issues all the time, then this blog might be for you.

The bloggers behind this blog will present you with easy-to-cook, outrageous, and out-of-this-world recipes, if you choose to do the cooking yourself. And if you are craving for the best siopao in the metro, we will try looking for it for you. We will be asking you where to get the best food, and we will try it out. If we are satisfied, we will feature it.

We will try to post healthy recipes/food trips, but being bachelors, who cares, right? You only live once, so get the most out of food. That is our philosophy (until we reach the age of forty, or our blood pressure is 190/100, or we get married, whichever comes first), and we hope we could impart it through this blog.

Bon appetit!