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No-Name Spaghetti

No-Name Spaghetti 1

This rather simple spaghetti dish draws on three fairly well known Italian pasta specialties: Puttanesca, Carbonara, and Amatriciana, using black olives, eggs, bacon and tomato. I have tried it a few times, making a few minor adjustments here and there, and this latest production was really nice. I haven’t thought of a name for it yet, though … perhaps some of my readers might make some suggestions… (Stefan?) Read more

Keema Pie

Keema Pie 1

This dish I have been working on is something of an east-west fusion in that it incorporates a traditional Indian dish known as ‘Keema Saag’ in the basic form of the more well-known Shepherd’s Pie. Basically, ‘Keema’ is minced (ground) meat, while ‘Saag’ refers to a whole range of greens, with spinach often being used in many western renditions of Indian dishes. Here I have used both Kale and Swiss Chard with the result that you get a Shepherd’s Pie with the added spiciness of a curry, combined with a good way of getting some greens into your diet… Read more

Foodstuff: Ocean Brand™ Puttanesca Sauce

Ocean Brand Puttanesca 01

A few weeks ago, a colleague of mine dropped by for a beer and brought me the jar of Puttanesca Pasta Sauce you see pictured above. The timing was rather coincidental as I had been planning to do a blog post about Puttanesca Sauce for some time now as it is a favorite of mine and the origin of the name, which essentially means ‘Prostitute’s Sauce’, is a bit of a mystery. On reading the label, I was informed that Pasta Puttanesca was ‘first served in a popular night spot on the island of Ischia in the 1950’s’. This is the first time I have heard that tidbit of information and it is something I want to research a little further. I still plan to do a more detailed post on the Puttanesca Sauce, along with my own recipe, so for today I’ll save any further discussion of the origins and restrict myself to a taste test of the instant product… Read more

Pork Binagoongan

Pork Binagoongan 1

Given my occasional penchant for making up odd names for dishes I create, you may be excused for thinking that ‘Binagoongan’ falls into that category. Actually, the word ‘Binagoongan’ , in Filipino cuisine, means that a given dish is made using a ‘Bagoong ‘, and the pairing of fermented shrimp paste with Pork is a firm favorite in the Philippines.

Naturally, as with all classics, there are countless variations on the basic theme… Some renditions are basically sautés with very little sauce, whilst other are more like braises or stews. Generally, the ingredient list, beyond the pork and shrimp paste, tends toward the simple, with onions garlic, and a little chili being the most common additions. Some, but not all recipes, use tomatoes, whilst sugar and vinegar are almost invariably added in order to offset the saltiness of the Bagoong. Here, I use quite a bit of tomato, and the end result is heavy on the sweet and sour… Read more

Spice: Homemade Madras Curry Powder

Madras Curry Powder 1

At one time, a ‘Madras Curry’ was a standard on Indian restaurant menus in the west, and was also a fairly common recipe entry in Indian cookery books. It seems, however, to be a little less frequently encountered these days and this is perhaps because the Indian City of Madras (whence the name) is now known as Chennai, and the eponymous curry was probably more of an Anglo-Indian, rather than a purely Indian creation. Whatever the case, the Madras Curry is still something of a classic and well worth adding to one’s culinary repertoire.

In my research of a wide variety of spice blends, I have found that the Madras Curry blend is the closest to what most westerners would call the ‘curry flavor’ and the typical ingredients are much the same as found in the generic ‘Curry Powder’ you can find in almost any supermarket. The one major difference between the two, as far as I have seen, is that the generic type tends to be high in Turmeric and low in Chili, while, in a Madras blend, the reverse is usually true. In this post, we will have a quick look at the general composition and then I’ll provide a fairly straightforward version that you can use as a starting point for your own culinary creations… Read more

Sweet Sesame Shrimp

Sweet Sesame Shrimp 1

I had a small amount of shrimp leftover in my freezer that needed to be used and so I put together this little Cantonese-style appetizer for a light snack. If you peruse the ingredient list below, it may strike you that Worcestershire Sauce and Ketchup are not particularly Chinese, but, in fact, they are both quite commonly used. Indeed, I would hazard to say that, these days, Worcestershire sauce is probably used more commonly in the far east than it is in the west. In any event, this little dish is dead easy to make and can be put together in very short order… Read more

Foodstuff: Bagoóng Alamáng

Bagoong 1

If you have ever perused any Filipino cookery books, or Filipino recipes on the Internet, you have probably come across the name ‘Bagoong’ from time to time. Most sources confidently assert that ‘Bagoong’ is a fermented shrimp paste but this is only partly correct as there are many varieties made with fish as well. The fish types are collectively known by the name ‘Bagoóng Isdâ’, but there are also specific names depending on the type of fish being used. If a Bagoong is made with shrimp, however (and most commonly the super tiny variety known as ‘krill’, is used), then, strictly speaking, it should be called Bagoóng Alamáng.

Like Terasi and Belcan, or Chinese Shrimp Paste, the Filipino variety is manufactured by allowing small shrimp to ferment with salt. However, in the Philippines, the ‘raw’ product is only used in limited ways (generally as a condiment on cooked rice or fresh fruit), and, instead, it is generally cooked before packaging for sale, often with other ingredients such as garlic, chili or onion. Sometime ago, I actually featured the Lingayen Brand in a foodstuff post (which is a fairly complex variety), but I didn’t specifically identify it as a ‘Bagoong Alamang’. Here, I thought I might use the ‘Barrio Fiesta’ brand as a vehicle for a general discussion of the condiment as it is a pretty decent representative of the type … Read more

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