This week is going to be quite busy for me at work, which doesn’t mean I won’t be cooking – it just means I probably won’t be taking the time to set up the camera to take photos while I’m doing it. So I’ve decided to do a few food porn posts from our recent trip around Asia (Singapore, Philippines and Japan). This was the Doctor’s first trip to Asia and my first trip back home in over 20 years, and for both of us, the first time we’d both been on a plane together!
I had a bit of a technical hiccup with the photos I took, so I’m just going to be posting a few at at time. Anyway, no one could possibly stand it if I posted every single delicious thing we had, right?
The first dish was practically the only restaurant dish we had in the Philippines. Mostly we were eating home-cooked meals (which I felt super-awkward about taking photos of), and we hadn’t had any kare-kare yet. This is the Philippines’ answer to satay, but is totally non-spicy. Kare-kare is slow-cooked meat (usually oxtail), with eggplant, tripe and snake beans, in a creamy peanut sauce. The small dish in the top right is bagoong, a pungent and very salty dried shrimp paste – the traditional accompaniment to kare-kare. Buko is simply Filipino for coconut juice, freshly made, served with the coconut flesh. It’s not as sweet as the Malaysian or Thai types you can get in shops here, since there is no added sugar.
More dishes from Singapore, Philippines and Japan after the cut!
(Warning: the next picture includes a decapitated animal)
It doesn’t get more Filipino than lechon baboy – whole roast suckling pig. We were in the Philippines for my sister’s 25th wedding anniversary, and they roasted two whole pigs to feed about 150 people. Even the Doctor commented that the smell was good enough that he was tempted to try some. Had he done so, it would have been the first meat he’d eaten in about six years! Alas, he never got around to trying some. Also unfortunately, the caterers forgot to put out the Mama Sita’s lechon sauce, so he wouldn’t have had the “full lechon experience” anyway. The leftovers were then made into lechon paksiw (Filipino pulled pork) for our trip to Subic Bay the next day.
Let’s jump back in time a little to our stopover in Singapore. We met up with a co-worker of mine, who took us to the new Ion Orchard food court. I cannot visit Singapore without having either of two dishes – Haianese chicken rice or char kwei teow. To me, these dishes (apart from being two of my top ten favourite foods), are the absolute culinary signature of Singapore. Luckily, I’d only just been in Singapore a year earlier, so I could be a little adventurous and order the roast chicken version.
As good as the Ion food court was, it was nothing compared to the real hawker centre I was taken to on my previous visit. So let’s jump back even further in time.
This will forever be an unforgettable culinary experience. True hawker-style char kwei teow (fried rice noodles), in the style you can only get in Singapore – cockles, fresh chilli and two different kinds of noodles, made by a guy who has been cooking only char kwei teow for more than 20 years.
Sigh. I can still taste it now.
They may not be the prettiest pictures in the post, but they’re the first dishes we ate in Japan! We went the “wrong” way up the street from our hotel, and wound up in a tiny little cafe where the owner/chef was having a quiet smoke while watching TV. He understood my incredibly embarrassed Japanese (even to the point that we wanted food without meat), and brought us these two delicious meals. The omurice (fried rice, rolled in an omelette) was not oily, but just as comforting as if it was deep-fried junk food. It was probably at this point that we should have realised that Japanese people are all so slender because even their junk food is still fresh and relatively healthier.
To finish off, here is the last meal we had in Japan – ebi ten-don (prawn tempura) at Kansai International Airport. And not just prawns, as you normally get here, but also a tempura piece of nori and a whole tempura egg. Not a boiled egg, either, the yolk was warm and completely runny. How on earth did they do that??
So, I hope you enjoyed this post. I hope I can find the rest of my photos (including the takoyaki we had in front of Osaka Castle), so I can share the rest of our memories with you.