Monday, August 31, 2009

Good Mood is Good Taste: Thai Cooking at The Mandarin

The Mandarin Oriental is known for its wonderful accommodations and even more wonderful cuisine. A couple of months ago, I got to witness the creation of this cuisine firsthand when I attended the hotel's Thai Kitchen 2009, an interactive cooking class with Chef Anchalee Luadkham of the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

We were a class of about fifteen people, all huddled around the makeshift kitchen set up in the middle of the Tivoli Grill. Chef Anchalee taught us three Thai dishes. An appetizer - Yam Nue Yang A-Ngun, spicy beef salad with grapes and mint dressing; a main course – Panang Goong, red prawn curry; and a dessert – Tub Tim Krob, chilled water chestnuts rubies in sweet coconut milk.

It was fun watching Chef Anchalee, who, at 26, is also a faculty member at the Mandarin culinary school (as well as being a sous chef in the hotel's Thai restaurant) in Chiang Mai, demonstrate her skill. She worked fast and with a smile, her Thai staff skillfully assisting her, without her having to tell them to do so.

What was more fun was learning some secrets of Thai cooking. “You have to get all ingredients ready before cook,” Chef Anchalee suggests.

One secret I learned was how to get really good curry. What Chef Anchalee did was heat (stirring constantly) a ladle-ful of coconut milk (gata) in a wok until it reduced and was mostly oil. It was this oil she used to fry the curry paste. The technique may be slow and time-consuming, but it made a big difference. The resulting curry was more flavorful and had more depth to it. It was also somehow more filling.

Another secret that I discovered (one that I had been wondering about ever since I was a child) was what the glutinous exterior of the Tub Tim Krob was prepared. I have always been fond of dessert, and it was wonderful to finally find out how to make it (I'm too lazy to surf for it – besides, having a Thai Chef prepare it in front of me is proof that the recipe is authentic).

“I think that Filipino and Thai cooking are similar, in that they can have a lot of ingredients, but take a short time to cook, like curry,” Chef Anchalee says.

When asked what her tip for cooking Thai well was, she answered, “My tip is smiling. Good mood is good taste.”

chilled water chestnuts rubies in sweet coconut milk
(serves one - why share?)


7 – 10 pcs water chestnut (fresh or canned)
2 tbsp red food color
3 tbsp tapoica flour (magic powder)


½ cup coconut milk
3 tbsp sugar
1 pc pandan leaf
1 pinch salt

½ cup crushed ice

1. Heat coconut milk in a saucepan. Add sugar, salt and pandan leaves. Mix well and set aside.
2.Dice water chestnuts. Place in a bowl, add red food color and leave for 1-2 minutes. Drain excess food color.
3.Mix chestnuts with the tapoica flour. Make sure that chestnuts are evenly coated.
4.Shake off excess flour and drop water chestnuts in hot water until the flour coating solidifies into a red gel covering, then place in cold water.
5.Place water chestnuts in a serving bowl. Top with crushed ice and milk (remove pandan leaf first). Garnish with jackfruit and coconut meat if desired.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Waking the Dead online buying info

Unfortunately, Waking the Dead isn't available on Amazon.

You can, however, purchase it directly from the publisher, or through National Bookstore (or any Philippine bookstore that offers a delivery service).

Anvil Publishing
order here

National Bookstore
order here

Monday, August 24, 2009

Philippines Free Press 101st Anniversary Issue out this week!

The issue is of course a special tribute to Cory Aquino featuring new writing by Teodoro Locsin Jr., Fr. Catalino Arevalo, Oliver X.A. Reyes.

As it is their 101 Year Anniversary, this special collectors issue also has articles from the Free Press archives (edited and curated by Ricky S. Torre). Featuring articles by Gregorio Brillantes, Wilfrido Nolledo, Kerima Polotan, Jose Quirino, Jose Lacaba and Quijano de Manila.

So please come and support The Philippines Free Press—after all, they did invent the term "Juan dela Cruz".

**Full disclosure: I hear it'll also have coverage of the Waking the Dead book launch! :D

Monday, August 10, 2009

Waking the Dead Book Launch This Saturday!

Everyone is invited to drop by the launch of Waking the Dead, my first collection of short stories.

It will be held this Saturday, 4pm at Powerbooks Megamall.

Here's a review of the book from today's Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Route 196

If I'm going to a gig, more often than not, it will be in Route 196. Aside from great production nights, this bar and restaurant has great food as well. And cheap beer! Did I mention the cheap beer?

Their Fish and Chips (P165) is served hot. The sutchi fish is soft, the batter enclosing it light and crispy. It goes well with the lemon mayo it is served with, though I would have preferred asabe mayo. But that's just me, because to me, wasabe is its own food group. The fact that it is served wit potato chips instead of french fries makes it more Pinoy, and more 'bar' than 'restaurant.'

The Deviled Chicken (P165) is Route's version of buffalo wings. The boneless chicken pieces are coated in a dark, spicy-sweet glaze whose heat can easily be tempered by the accompanying dip.

A personal favorite is the Pepper-Seared Tuna (P145). Served with wasabe mayo (yay, wasabe!), the tuna has a black pepper crust and is seared so that it is cooked on the outside and pink and raw on the inside. My two complaints about this dish is that the serving isn't big enough and that the mayo isn't spicy enough. But this is still the dish I always order.

Route 196 is also known for their pizzas, perhaps the most famous of which is their Noypi (P195). Topped with tinapa and kesong puti, this salty pie is almost like eating unsweetened bibinka, but with smoked fish instead of slated egg. The crust is thin and uneven, giving the pizza a rustic feel.

They have a happy hour from 6-9pm, where the beer is even cheaper than its usual P40. Band usually start playing at 10pm.

Route 196
196-A Katipunan Ave.
Blue Ridge A, QC