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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dinner in a Hurry

Its been quite a few months since I have not even peeked at any internet site. And that includes this site too. However, now that I am able once more to go to these pages, I thought it only apt that I share a few of the dishes I have prepared for my family considering the busy busy hours at the office. While I sometimes fall back on certain familiar Filipino dishes, and thank God, I have someone I can rely on to cook these dishes when all I want to do is sit back and relax, there were times that I felt that there should be something healthier and faster presented at the table even if I’m already at my wits end or would just rather raise my feet and watch pre·dinner tv.

After noting that I have a tray of pomelo sections in my fridge, and there were really fresh, succulent shrimps available, I thought of preparing a Thai style salad to accompany our pork dish. It’s quite easy to prepare.



Shrimp Pomelo Salad

pomelo sections from 1/2 fruit
1/2 kilo shrimps
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
handful cilantro sprigs, chopped
Dressing:
2 tsp. white sugar
2 Tbsp. fish sauce (or patis)
juice from 5 calamansi (Philippine lemon), seeds removed
1/4 cup toasted peanuts, crushed, for garnish


1. Peel half a kilo of shrimps of their heads and shell, leaving the area of the tail intact, sprinkle & toss in a dash of rock salt.
2. Poach in vegetable broth for just a few minutes, or as soon as the shrimps turn pink in just boiled broth.
3. Take the shrimps immediately out of the hot water and dip in ice cold water to stop them from overcooking. Drain the water and set aside.
4. Meanwhile, tear the pomelo sections into bite size chunks and place in a bowl.
5. Prepare the dressing by mixing all ingredients together in a smaller bowl. If you dont have calamansi, you may use 3 Tbsp. lemon juice. You may adjust these ingredients according to preference.
6. To assemble, add the shrimps and chopped cilantro in the bowl of pomelo chunks and toss with the fish sauce mixture until all flavors are incorporated.
7. Garnish with additional sprigs of cilantro and sprinkle with toasted peanuts.

It took me around 15 minutes to assemble the ingredients and prepare the salad, so it’s a real time saver. The salad can be a refreshingly light meal on its own or can be a side dish to balance any fried or saucy meals.

Another time saver is this quite popular Japanese beef soup, the Beef Sukiyaki. There were occasions when we would eat out in Japanese restaurants and I thought how complicated this dish might be. Then I thought of trying to make my own when I came across a recipe for this in a local cooking magazine and saw the multiple steps that are necessary to go through to get to your sukiyaki. But when it was time for me to cook it, I lost the copy of the recipe and so decided to just go with whatever is on hand instead and just simply guided myself with how the picture looked like from memory for the list of the ingredients. Two things that saved me were the packets of hondashi soup base, which is essential, of course, and my bottle of Kikkoman Tempura & Noodle base, which is my impromptu ingredient. These can be found in the Asian/Imported section of supermarkets.



Beef Sukiyaki

1 white onion, sliced in strips
2 stalks onion leeks, sliced in match sticks, light green to white part only
250 grams beef, cut sukiyaki style (or beef belly sliced thinly)
250 grams fresh shitake mushrooms, whole or sliced, stems removed
1 tub Japanese silken tofu, cubed
200 grams vermicelli or rice thread noodles
1/4 cup carrots, sliced into coins
2 cups cabbage, sliced roughly
3 packets hondashi soup base
200 ml Kikkoman Tempura & Noodle Base
2 liters beef broth
1 egg

1. After assembling the ingredients, soak vermicelli noodles in water for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. In a casserole or deep saute pan, saute white onion followed by onion leeks in 2 Tbsp. cooking oil until fragrant.
3. Add the beef broth, hondashi and Tempura & Noodle Base and let boil.
4. Lower heat and add carrots. At five minute intervals, add the mushrooms, noodles and slowly add tofu to prevent breaking.
5. When noodles are almost cooked, add the cabbage leaves then the beef. Season with pepper and salt according to taste.
6. Just before serving, add one raw egg into the casserole while still cooking and slowly distribute the egg into the soup.
7. Garnish individual bowls with sliced onion leeks.

Well, my little diversion had really good results, considering that I was in a fix as to what to serve my family. The assembly of ingredients, from a look on the list, would seem too many, but its actually quite easy to have them all together. The actual cooking didnt even take too much time (the benefit of a one pot dish) and we were able to have it for dinner in less than 30 minutes. If you ever decide to take this up as part of your menu plan, this can served by itself but some would prefer eating it with plain rice regardless of the presence of the noodles in the pot.

However, if all energy fails, there is always the reliable sandwhich and potato chips. I took a bit more effort by adding greens in the bread for added bite and less guilt especially since I am trying to make healthy choices. A cup of tea also helped freshen my palate.