The Newbie Cook
- 19,442 forkfuls since 16.Oct.10
Making everything for the first time
The members of this little household were craving for seafood. After a few days of eating Italian, we both wanted something Asian. Something Pinoy.
I’m a little nervous about cooking any Asian dish, especially Filipino. For one, both my parents are very good cooks and I grew up eating yummy homemade Pinoy food. I would be so disappointed with myself if I can’t make something up to their standards and I probably wouldn’t eat it. Cooking Italian is relatively easy — everything goes well with risotto or pasta. But most Filipino foods have to be made with specific ingredients and the process is not always simple.
Motivated to continue my project, we flipped through Miki Garcia’s cookbook, argued which one looked yummiest, until we finally settled for paella. I tried making Kapampangan paella before (bringhe) but it was not so successful (understatement of the year *rollseyes*). I was determined to stick to the recipe this time so I wouldn’t mess up the dish especially since seafood isn’t exactly cheap.
The local fresh seafood shop, John’s Seafood, closes on Tuesdays. Isn’t it weird? Family businesses closing on Sundays are pretty common but Tuesday is unusual for me. Luckily, yesterday was a Friday so we were able to procure the three most important ingredients for paella: mussels, shrimp and squid. Unfortunately, they did not have the small, pinkish squid that Filipinos often use so I had to settle for the bigger, peeled, white ones.
Since paella is a dish that is usually served on special occasions, I always had the impression that it must be difficult to make. Imagine my surprise when I found out that it is relatively easy to cook paella. I can’t wait to make it for my family when we see each other again this April.
I had it with a glass of White Merlot wine and Chris stuck to his precious Yuengling. Miki’s recipe is shown below after the jump. I halved the recipe but followed all of her instructions except for adding the olives. Enjoy!
I was feeling particularly adventurous. Baked mussels and tomatoes are okay. But oats?! I first used oats in meatballs and I’m fascinated about using it in a dozen other ways now that I know how versatile it is.
I previously made garlic butter baked mussels using a more traditional recipe. While I wanted to eat baked mussels again, I didn’t want to eat the same exact dish so soon. So I decided to experiment.
I was a little nervous but, thankfully, it wasn’t the horrible dish I feared it would be. The oats lent a nice crunch to the soft mussels. I ate it with half a cup of white rice. What’s your side dish of choice?
Recipe after the jump.
A while ago, my friend Jovett told me about the baked mussels she ate in another friend’s house. I had no idea how to make it but I thought about it a few times, wondering how baked mussels would taste. I always ate mussels in soup, in a stew and even in pasta. Once, I had grilled mussels but the experience was so traumatic I swore never to eat mildly grilled seafood again.
Okay, where was I? Yes. Baking. Mussels. Ahem.
I looked up a number of baked mussels recipes and there were different versions of toppings. Some had bread crumbs, mayonnaise, some sort of salsa, fresh herbs, and cream cheese. I had to work with whatever I have in the kitchen so choices were limited. Luckily, this dish doesn’t have to be complicated and you can be creative with the topping if you like.
I finally had the chance to use the frozen mussels I bough from Lulu a week ago. Shopping in Lulu is insane! It’s like a sardine can in the evenings with way too many people to shop at your leisure. So we go there in the morning when everyone else is sleepy and lazy.
Making the crispy tuna flakes is simple enough: open can, drain, toss tuna in a pot of boiling oil, cover the pot asap to prevent major injuries, check back every few minutes and, if the flakes look brown and crisp, take them out of the oil and drop into a mass of paper napkins until the almost all the oil is completely absorbed. This isn’t a diet dish and there’s no need to ingest more fat than necessary.