Thursday, August 15, 2013

Recipe for Dry Flat Noodles in Squid Ink Soup

I have always been fascinated with pasta in squid ink or black ink sauce. Whenever a restaurant has this on their menu, I make it a point to try it. Most of the time I'm satisfied with this pasta variety.

One weekend, while thinking of something new to serve for lunch, I thought of making something using black ink or squid ink. I was tempted to experiment and try pasta in squid ink but I felt that it won't be original because there are quite a number of restaurants serving that already. That's when I decided to try to make a Ramen like dish using squid ink.

My experiment turned out okay so I'm sharing with you my very own recipe of Dry Flat Noodles in Squid Ink Soup

 500 g        small squid
 150 g        dry flat noodles
 250 g        lettuce
                  spring onions
                  salt and pepper

1. Saute crushed garlic and minced onion.
2. Add squid. Leave it in the pan for 2 - 3 minutes to allow it to release the  black ink.
3. When the black ink is boiling and the squid has shrunk, add two to three cups water. Let it boil for a few minutes.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste. Go easy on the salt coz squid can be a little bit salty on its own.
5. Add the noodles. When the noodles is almost cooked, add the lettuce. Let it boil for under a minute.
6. Serve the noodles topped with spring onions and roasted garlic.

Note: You can also use big squid. However, you may want to remove the squid when you do step 3. Set the squid aside and cut to form rings. Just the squid rings back again when you reach step 6.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Koreans -- Where do they buy their pasalubong (Take-home treats)?

That there are many Koreans in the Philippines is already given. We all know that. Perhaps they outnumber all the other nationalities in the country. Maybe their number is even greater than the number of other tourists combined. Some of them come here to see the beautiful places like Vigan in the North and Boracay in the South. Others stay here to study in good Universities like the University of the Philippines and La Salle. Others just come here to study English believing that Filipinos are good teachers of that language. Still others come here to do business. But I've also learned that some Koreans actually come here with intentions of staying for good. Some of them intend to make the Philippines as their retirement place. Nice thought, right?

We Filipinos like to bring pasalubong or take-home presents to our family and friends whenever we come home from trips. Do Koreans do the same? In my observation, some of them are like us. Some of them also bring pasalubong. I saw some Koreans buying bags of Chicacorn when I was in Vigan. By the volume of what they were buying, I assumed they were for pasalubong. I also saw Koreans buying key chains in Boracay. In Laguna, I saw some buying buko pie although I doubt if they are going to bring those pies home to Korea. Perhaps they'll just give it as pasalubong to friends who were left in Manila and were not able to join them.

But do Koreans who do not go out of Manila buy pasalubong as well? They do as I saw in SM Mall of Asia. I saw Koreans buying volumes of pasalubong in a stall near the skating rink called Michelle's Putong Ube.

Michelle's Homemade Putong Ube

There was a long line of Koreans buying bags of goodies that I assume are delicacies not available in Korea (duh? haha). The delicacies they sell in Michelle's are good -- export quality I should say. We won't be shamed if tourists like these Koreans present them as pasalubong to their family and friends. However, for many of us locals, their delicacies are a bit pricey. But judging from the long line I saw, these Korean tourists probably didn't mind.

Long line of Koreans buying pasalubong

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Take that Stress Out with a Spa Visit and Buffet Meal

Working 8 hours a day, 5 times a week can really be draining and stressful. You give your all to your work thus your energy is zapped come Friday. So the best response to this is to relax. And two of the best ways to relax is to go to a spa for that much needed pampering or to have a really good meal in an eat-all-you-can restaurant.

There are a lot of spas you can visit. Some of them would cost a fortune (which could make you even more stressed) but there are also others that are affordable. There are also lots of eat-all-you-can (buffet)  restaurants around. Some are expensive while others are cheap.

If you can't decide whether to go a spa or to a buffet restaurant, don't worry. There is a spa in town that also offers buffet meals. This spa is none other than Wensha. It has a branch in Timog (near Quezon Ave) and Pasay (across the World Trade Center).

Wensha's body massage costs P 780. That price includes use of the jacuzzi, steam room, sauna and showers. And yes, that also includes the buffet meal (more on this later). You can even sleep in the massage room after your massage. You can stay inside the spa for a maximum of 8 hours.

The buffet usually consists of siomai, siopao, a fish meal (fish fillet in lemon sauce, with tausi or hot and spicy), a pork meal, vegetables, chicken (fried or afritada), noodles, soup and rice.

I've noticed that the chefs in Wensha like the lemon sauce a lot. They usually have something in lemon sauce on their buffet table -- fish fillet in lemon sauce, pork in lemon sauce and chicken in lemon sauce. I think lemon sauce is best for fish. Of the three, its the one that I liked.

Their siomai is okay but I think it's similar to the ones you could buy from those canteen or mall carts. Their siomai is far from what you can have in good Chinese restaurants. I have not tried their siopao yet.

I like their noodles (pancit). Instead of pork, they usually put beef. The first time I saw their noodles I didn't try it because it looked dry. But it's good the lady ahead of me actually "showed" me it's not. She got from the bottom of chafing dish. That's where the sauce (and oil) is.

Aside from these ready to eat dishes, they also have shabu-shabu. They have a long line of ingredients for this do-it-yourself meal. I had tried this only once but that was already too long ago I can't remember anymore how it really tasted. What I do remember is that I didn't like what I cooked until I made the soup spicy. At first I thought what I cooked was bland. Most of the ingredients you can put in look good but don't be tempted to get a lot because you'll be  asked to pay P 300 for leftovers. The reason why I do not eat their shabu-shabu anymore is because I usually go alone. I'm too conscious I might cook more than what I could eat so I  just forget about the whole thing altogether. You see it's weird to cook just a little shabu-shabu. I don't know exactly why but it feels awkward cooking soup just for yourself. Anyway, if you go with friends, shabu-shabu is good especially if you want to stay long in the dining area to chat.

They serve bottomless (unlimited) drinks -- orange juice and red iced tea. I was told that they also now have soft ice cream.

This is a spa to begin with so may I say a few words about their spa services?

When you enter the spa you would need to register or pay at the reception counter. After paying, you will receive your electronic locker key and then you'll be asked to go one side where you'll deposit your shoes and get your prescribed rubber slippers. When you enter the locker area, the attendants will give you your robe and two towels. Before, they just give you robe and a towel. That's because back then you can use several towels per visit. But probably because of laundry expenses they've cut down towel use to two per customer per visit. Actually there's a sign saying that even before but I guess nobody minded it so they had to think of a way to really implement it.

You can choose to stay in the wet area first before getting your massage. The wet area is clean. Probably it's because you can't wear your slippers (yes, the one they gave) inside the wet area. You have to go in barefoot. The jacuzzi is big and inviting but if you're a little shy or conservative, you'd probably think twice before taking a dip because the jacuzzi has the big video wall as its backdrop.

I've never been a fan of their steam room because it is way too hot for me. It could get suffocating inside, actually. I like the sauna more.

The massage is most of the time good. Probably 80% of time, I've been satisfied. I've had a masseur or two who are not good  but it general, their masseurs are fine.

So, are you tired and stressed? If you want to relax this weekend after working so hard, I say try Wensha.