Sunday, January 24, 2010

Century Bangus

Last weekend, I was invited to an event by Century Pacific Group or locally known as Century Tuna Bangus. I had low expectation of the event but decided to go to support the team organising it and well, its free lunch and I get to visit the Wack Wack Golf club. Its a pretty nice club in the middle of the city and you know how I love greenery on the weekends.

But I was actually pretty glad I went because it really was a good event where many people had a good time but I discovered that these guys may be on to something.

Century was basically a tuna and sardine canning company. Tuna and Sardine are wild stock fish and everybody who knows their seafood, fish stock everywhere is in rapid decline. For the ignorant, before the 20th century there were basically a dozen major fish-stock in the world. We are down to basically 1.5 major fish-stock at 21st century and rate of decline is even faster.


The new product Century is marketing is Bangus or Milkfish which is a aquaculture product and hence renewable. Bangus don't grow to the same size as Salmons but you can find them as big as Spanish Mackerals.

Milkfish (Chanos chanos)

Being an avid seafood consumer especially fish, I don't generally like aquacultured product. They generally don't taste as good as wild ones and I can often tell the difference between a wild Salmon and a farmed one.

Bangus taste a bit like Salmon but honestly the taste is not as strong. I eat Salmon sashimi but generally I don't like cooked Salmon. Well, Bangus has sort of the same taste and I eat Bangus sinigang quite often, the local vinegar-lime soup here but I prefer other fish especially garouper(lapu-lapu), marlin, mahi-mahi which are common here.

Well, the Century group here showed me a thing of two. I LOVED the food they served. There was Bangus Tocino, Beer Battered Bangus, Bangus with Pasta and olive oil, Bangus with light Mustard, Bangus Panini sandwich, and Bangus spring-roll. ALL the food was really really good. It taste so much better than Tuna or Salmon. It did not have the strong aroma you associate with Tuna or Salmon.

Century Bangus Panini

Century Bangus Tocino

Century Beer Battered Bangus

Century Premium Boneless Bangus Pasta

Bangus is more expensive than Tuna but its cheaper than Salmon. Given its flexibility and taste, I say the product is a very good value proposition. I was going to suggest to the CEO they do a Bangus Sinigang Soup or Chowder to compete with Campbell Soup. I would buy it. They could do a Bangus Teriyaki (my favourite way to eat Salmon). I also wondered how a Cajun-style blackened Bangus Fillet taste like. A Bangus Jambalaya certainly works and although that would be more expensive than using cat-fish, it should taste better.


I am looking forward to experimenting with Bangus in my own cooking. For one thing, I am switching to Bangus sandwich instead of Tuna for lunch... Masala Curry Bangus Sandwich?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friendship Kayak

This was featured on ChannelNewsAsia and knowing a lot of adventure tourist, I had to write about it. Apparently it will be featured by National Geographic too. I did a lot of kayaking while in high school even considered joining the school team and remember how much fun it was. I always thought of doing it again.

They kayaked from one end of Philippines to the other 88 days, 3025km. Starting at south, Sarangani, Mindanao, around East Mindanao, heading straight through the heart of Visayas to Boracay, up around the West side of Luzon including Manila and then to the tip of North Luzon, Pagudpud


If you think about it, there is a period where the water is calm, October/November just after the rainy season and water is not cold yet, the weather is perfect for this activity. You can still do shorter distance in the other periods although the water is probably too rough in the peak of storm season. You can do it all year long in Mindanao where there is less storm and in Boracay for much of the year.

If I ever get a chance to take a Sabatical, this is one thing I have to consider doing..

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Everyday food i.e. Street food/Cheap Eats and Corned Beef Pan De Sal

Being Asian especially from South East Asia, I have to answer the question of cheap eats - the street foods, the food people eat everyday and a bargain. That is just who we are - We like cheap eats because some of the best foods we have are the cheap eats.

Firstly, there is no really street food in Philippines. This is because of building codes and sidewalk rules here where sale of food on the streets is actually a lost tradition. If you go through some literature, you will find that in the past, there were hawkers who moved around selling food but while you still see some on neigbourhoods streets, its actually rare to see them because the traffic of larger streets is really heavy with not a lot of room for pedestrians much less street vendors. You really don't have open air coffee shops or stalls can be seen only here and there and none at all in middle class or higher income neigbourhoods. Philippine building and street rules are very much like US and Europe where you don't see such things either. Even Chinatown (Binondo) here looks a lot like in Philadephia or Boston.

Having said that, there are stalls in malls, shops, and some markets. There is a lot of restaurants even chains that cater to demand for such food.

So what is my favourite?
1) Sinigang - vinegar and lime(calamansi actually) soup usually with seafood particularly fish but also with other meats too. There is a version with corned beef which strangely works.
2) Inasal
3) Bibingka
4) Pancit
5) Swarma

Other foods.

I will talk more about these foods in later post but you also find some unique surprises for example corned-beef Pan-de-sal sandwich with cheese. Its strangely reminds me of Philadephia Cheesesteaks. Pan-de-Sal is a local bread roll made from very lean dough and slightly salted. For some reason, the bread is very powdery.

Anyway, I came across this outlet that served it with Corned Beef and Cheese. It was surprising good. Generally, I think of New York makes the best sandwiches and no one outside of Philadephia can make a good Cheesesteak sandwich. The Pan-de-sal cheese corn-beef is no New York sandwich or Philly foot-long but it surprisingly is very good sandwich that I would appreciate similarly..

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Strawberry, Blueberries and Avocados

I knew I had to work most of the weekend, so I needed to get a number of things out of the way quickly especially to stock up my fridge which is nearly empty.

So on Saturday, my first stop was the Salcedo Village Market. I spoke about this place before. Its basically a high-end open-air market much like farmers markets in US or Europe. The reason I come here is because you can get Malaysian, Thai and Vietnamese food. But they do sell some very very good quality vegetables. One of the find this weekend was BLUEBERRIES - locally grown. Its kind of small but sour but its really cheap P800/kg for those who know, is amazing especially in South East Asian countries.

Salcedo Village Saturday Market:
Market in the Park

My next Stop is the Farmer's Market at Cubao. I come here for the seafood primarily but sometimes the fruits are pretty good deal for example, right now the strawberries are going for P45/250g.

Baguio Strawberrys

The other is Avocados which is also in season. Its very hard to find perfectly ripe avocados in Singapore and Malaysia. Someone taught me to slice up avocados and eat it with wasabi and light-soy.

Mga Abokado - Avocados

Vegetables and food in general are not cheap in Manila, its much cheaper out in the provinces. But sometimes there are some fantastic surprises including really high quality ones like these that make living here such a great experience.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Last Christmas/New Year Post

The reason this is called a Last Christmas/New Year Post is because its really about my New Year Eve Party. Well, its actually a bit difficult to say but basically the video below is approximately what it was..

Happy New Year..