Thursday, August 13, 2009

Iced Salabat-Hibiscus Tea

Salabat or ginger hot drink (technically not a tea, because it is not made of tea leaves) is a staple for us who stretch our vocal chords so that the churchgoer would be able to pray and aspire for loftier things. The dread of many church musicians is a sudden turn of the head and a puzzled annoyed look from an individual who should look at God, and not on us. When we get this gaze with a pursed lip ala Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, we know what they mean: we don’t sing well and we don’t even approximate the choirs of angels.

But even those who love singing get bored by the usual salabat. So I remember putting something into salabat that made it a little exciting. If we don’t become glorious, at least, we are able to taste a little of that glory.

To serve around 8 people (a basic choir with two people per soprano, alto, tenor and bass), you can do this to a bottled salabat (though having it fresh is better). I’ll take the fresh anytime.

1 tablespoon of ginger (chopped)
2 teabags of hibiscus tea
5 tablespoons of brown sugar
a twist of calamansi or lemon
a slice or curl of a citrus peel like an orange, calamansi, dalandan or lemon

1. Put the first 2 ingredients into a pot of 9 glasses of boiling water. Allow to brew for 7 minutes. Remove the hibiscus teabag.

2. Add the brown sugar and stir until it dissolves. (You can add more sugar. I don’t like it too sweet because I am diabetic.)

3. Cool and chill.

4. Pour over ice and add a twist of calamansi/lemon/dalandan.

5. Garnish with a citrus peel or a slice of dalandan.

Variation: if you want a tall drink, you can put soda like Sprite or 7-UP on top.

WARNING: Do not serve this during the practices. This is ideal after the rehearsals, when people want to chill out, unwind, move around, socialize. After all, the choir is not just a music ministry, it is also a community.

The good thing: When you have leftover salabat, you can just add the other ingredients and you have a nice cooler. Good choir singing is usually the result of friendship.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dulong in Olive Oil

Here's a quick post for another kitchen experiment. Write-up on what a "dulong" is and more photos to follow. Just so i won't forget the ingredients and the procedure.

400 gms. fresh dulong (a very small fish)
1/2 cup whole shallots
1/2 cup black olives
1/2 cup white wine
3 tbsp finely chopped garlic
2-3 bay leaves
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup palm vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

1. Rinse dulong in water and vinegar. Drain and set aside.
2. Saute garlic in 3 tbsp olive oil. Low heat, just to infuse olive oil with garlic flavor.
3. Add in shallots, and allow it to caramelize a bit.
4. Add the dulong and olives and wine. Put a dash of salt and pepper.
5. Simmer until almost dry. Let it cool.
6. Add the remaining olive oil.

Serving suggestion: can be bottled and use for pasta sauce or topping for toasted breads.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

A Chocolatey New Year!

Dr. Jose Rizal, whose martyrdom we Filipinos celebrate every December 30, humorously depicted in his classic novel Noli Me Tangere the way some of the priests of his time would play favorites. In Chapter 11, this was shown by the way the cura (the parish priest)would serve chocolate drink to his guests. Here's an excerpt:

"Are you going over to the convento to visit the sanctimonious rascal there, the little curate? Yes! Well, if he offers you chocolate which I doubt—but if he offers it remember this: if he calls to the servant and says, ‘Juan, make a cup of chocolate, eh!’ then stay without fear; but if he calls out, ‘Juan, make a cup of chocolate, ah!’ then take your hat and leave on a run."

"What!" the startled visitor would ask, "does he poison people? Carambas!"

"No, man, not at all!"

"What then?"

"‘Chocolate, eh!’ means thick and rich, while ‘chocolate, ah!’ means watered and thin."

As the excerpt explains, "Chocolate, eh" is actually a code for chocolate espresso (rich and thick just like your espresso coffee) and "Cholate, ah" is a code for chocolate aguado (this can be likened to your cafe americano -- espresso diluted in hot water). Of course, "Chocolate eh" is specially served to those who are well liked by the cura (e.g. those with high stature), while "chocolate ah" is served to those considered unimportant.

It is a tradition among some Tagalog provinces in the Philippines to serve hot chocolate on New Year's Eve. A hot, thick and rich chocolate is a superb pair for sticky rice, bitso-bitso (fried rice batter -- close to churros) or any rice product usually served in Tagalog homes during New Year's eve.

In celebration of Rizal's day, and in joyful celebration of the New Year, I woke up early this morning to prepare "Chocolate eh" sans the political agenda. I just wanted to enjoy a nice cholatey New Year's breakfast.

These are cocoa balls from Legaspi City made from pure ground cocoa beans blended with sugar. Since these are local produce, you would probably not find this kind of cocoa preparation in most supermarkets. What you would find in most supermarkets are "cocoa tablets". Here,I used 2 cups of water and 2 cups of fresh milk for the 12 pcs. of cocoa balls to yield a darker chocolate.

The traditional way of preparing chocolate the Filipino way is to simmer it in a slender pot while slowly beating it with a tool called batirol(some kind of a wooden beater). I didn't have those traditional gadgets so I improvised a bit -- aluminum pot and aluminum beater. Preparing this needs some patience though because I had to slowly beat the liquid ingredients until the large cocoa balls totally disintegrate and the liquid is reduced to half its volume.

The 30 - 45 minutes of constant and slow beating yielded a hot, thick and rich chocolate -- ready for a nice New Year Breakfast. Happy New Year to all from the Jesuit Gourmet!