26 Aug2006

bb1

I was at the markets bright and early this morning despite the gloomy and wet weather. A market visit never fails to lift my spirits and I find it most satisfying when I don’t go with a long list of things I NEED to buy. bb2I am a spontaneous market shopper for the most part, and I enjoy spotting unusual finds or particularly good looking produce. What to do with my finds is a secondary issue, as I am just so thrilled with the raw ingredients themselves. Here are a few snapshots of what went into my basket(s) this morning…First up are the most stunning siling mahaba or long chillies that I have EVER seen in my life. They had clearly been picked at their finest just a day or less before getting to the market. They were displayed in a small basket although I spied another 10 kilos worth of the chillies in the background. At PHP100 a kilo, they were a tad pricey but quality costs…so I quickly picked up 500 grams for PHP50 and they would have made a fantastic still life for a painter or photographer…

I also spied a terrific bounty of locally grown lemons. I often find that local lemons have incredibly blemished skins as though citrus acne was having a party. But these lemons were smooth, shiny and bb3a bright, yet deeper yellow. They actually smelled like lemons and their heft suggested a high juice content within. I sometimes dislike local lemons because they often lack flavor but these ones looked and smelled great (I hope not due to excessive insecticides…). I also found some siling labuyo leaves, a necessity for tinola (chicken and green papaya soup) in our home and it is highly likely that tinola will be cooked on any given week so I am usually on the lookout for great leaves. I suppose the best leaves are the youngest ones at the “top” of the plant and they too should be whole and unblemished. However, I tend to like the sturdier and possibly older specimens that often include the siling labuyo themselves. Not sure why, I just like it that way…

Finally, I ran across a huge pile of large mung bean sprouts. These weren’t unusual nor incredibly fresh looking but I just felt like eating some today so I got a kilo worth. bb4There is something about the crunch of bean sprouts that is incredibly satisfying. Besides feckless cucumbers, which were the only vegetable I would eat before 10 years of age, the next veggie I took a liking to was bean sprouts done the “Kimpura” (a Japanese restaurant) way on their fascinating teppanyaki tables. In the 1970’s, our Sunday family lunches were either at a Chinatown restaurant or Kimpura. I learned how to use chopsticks at Kimpura and I recall their steaks, prawns and beansprouts fondly. I can replicate a meal at Kimpura fairly closely now though I do not use MSG as they did with abandon in those days. Now that I got all this produce home and photographed it, the question is, what to do with it…

 

COMMENTS:

  1. corrrine says:

    I too get a high discovering fresh and beautiful produce. You don’t get such in a supermarket here. My mom has green chilis in her garden but shorter than the espada type. It’s bedecked with chilis which I find so thrilling. Where did you buy those beautiful lemons and chilis in Manila?

    Aug 26, 2006 | 7:08 pm

     
  2. Apicio says:

    Can’t resist fresh citrus either whether Persian or Key limes and Meyer or the regular Lisbon lemons. Makes a marked difference with lemon chicken or if not feeling ambitious enough to go all out whipping up a lemon meringue settle on easy, tart, sweet and fragrant lemon squares.

    Aug 26, 2006 | 10:46 pm

     
  3. connie says:

    Hmmm, Apicio, I’ll be dreaming of lemon squares, lemom meringue and key lime pies the whole day now.
    As for bean sprouts, I like the crunching noise you make when eating your noodle soup with it. You could do pretty much anything to it. I sometimes just add it to fresh spinach, add some bacon bits, boild eggs and whatever dressing I feel like having at the time and I happily munch.

    Aug 26, 2006 | 11:40 pm

     
  4. maria says:

    lemon squares are perfectly topped with lemon curd. the curd can also be used on top of freshly made pancakes or as another flavoring for ice cream. nothing beats getting real good lemons though before anything else.

    Aug 27, 2006 | 3:05 pm

     
  5. ENYA says:

    Those are indeed beautiful green chillies, Mr. MM.

    Just want to share with you an experiment I did about three weeks ago. I passed by Quaiapo market one Sunday and spotted bountiful, beautiful green chillies (well, maybe not as beautiful and fresh as the ones you got) and a vendor was selling them for P5.00 per tumpok. They were so good-looking and cheap, I could not resist. So I bought two tumpoks for P10 (which easily could have been 3/4 kilo at least). When I got home, I didn’t know what to do with them. (I don’t know how to cook Bicol Express.) For some reason I thought, “Hmmm… maybe I can make some kind of Chillies Atchara out of these.” Washed em, made a slit and took the seeds out of each of ’em which took me over an hour(stupid me didn’t even bother to wear plastic gloves, so my hands were “burning” from the heat for at least two days!). Cut ’em cut in small pieces like the size of your Bicol Express. Boiled some sugar cane vinegar and sugar with slivers of garlic and onions. Put a dash of salt and ground pepper.

    The result was fantastic! Well worth the hour of “deseeding” and “burned” hands. I have it with my rice and fried fish or grilled pork chop. Yum! I still have a jar of it in my fridge.

    Aug 27, 2006 | 4:18 pm

     
  6. gonzo says:

    enya, nice move. pickled chillies, mmm.

    apicio you seem quite the lemon aficionado. ever try making the north african dish, tagine of chicken with preserved lemons? Not bad, not bad at all. That’s another relatively unexplored cuisine that i think is worth a look; Moroccan food is delish. Tunisian as well (as a hot food fan i do enjoy their harissa). Maybe Marketman will post a couscous recipe or something? I love couscous. parang kanin. yes it takes a while to get used to but once you’re in, you’re in. light, fluffy, slightly buttery, comforting. a great alternative to rice.

    Aug 27, 2006 | 4:40 pm

     
  7. Marketman says:

    Maria, you are reading my mind…or my cookbooks! ENYA, that idea sound stupendously good. Though I would leave the seeds in and have a burning spicy pickle! In Singapore, they have these pickled green chillies that they serve with just about anything… I used to mix them with soy sauce and make sawsaw my roast pork in the mixture and eat lots of rice! Gonzo, Moroccan food is excellent. I have a photo of a couscous salad somewhere in my files as well as the Jalapenos… And it’s healthier than rice…

    Aug 27, 2006 | 6:23 pm

     
  8. Apicio says:

    The Cake Bible has a recipe for banana cake where you can put to good good use your lakatan that are turning brown too quickly and the rind of some of your lemons. According to the perfumers of Grasse, combining banana and lemon scents gives you the fragrance of jasmine.

    Aug 28, 2006 | 1:02 am

     
  9. maddie says:

    mmmmm. I was just eating squid sisig last night and those chilies would be really good on them. and Kimpura. our vacations in manila wouldn’t be complete without eating misono style at kimpura (would the original spot be at Glorietta 3 or 4?) ah basta I remember pa how it looks. i also learned to love sprouts there, among many other things!

    Aug 28, 2006 | 1:22 am

     
  10. Marketman says:

    Apicio, I did a lemon squares tast test…coming up in the days ahead. Maddie, yes the misono tables, a great memory from 10 years old or so…

    Aug 28, 2006 | 5:58 am

     
  11. Mila says:

    ooh, i see all those ingredients and the first thing that came to mind was a pho, just add a good stock and beef or chicken or seafood.

    Aug 28, 2006 | 9:50 am

     
  12. anonymous paul says:

    pho sounds goooooood. i almost always end up overspending when i go to the weekend markets. but where else can you get gloriously fresh produce. for green chilies, i sometimes grill/char till black then peel the skins. the soft, sweet, spicy flesh can be used for mixing in salsas, salads or eaten as is with other grilled/fried stuff. or minced with garlic, ginger patis limes and coriander for a thai inspired seafood sauce

    Aug 28, 2006 | 11:21 am

     
  13. Marilou says:

    I was wondering if you can enlighten me. I have been looking for siling haba and labuyo seeds to plant here in Ohio, but I don’t know the equivalent name in the seed catalogues. I have tried so many that look similar but unfortunately it didn’t taste the same. Thanks!

    Aug 28, 2006 | 9:29 pm

     
  14. Marketman says:

    Marilou, I did some research. The siling mahaba or pangsigang is a bit elusive. However, local and international material refers to it as a “hotshot” or “hotpot” chilli. Since there are over 150 varieties of chillies, it is hard to pin this down…but it does appear closed to say an anaheim chilli which are described as around 4 inches long, red or green and mild to medium in flavor… I suspect the locally grown ones have evolved and lost some of their heat. If you google “siling mahaba english translation” you find some pdf reports that sight the siling mahab though they don’t go far enough to identify a scientifc name. As for the siling labuyo, it is related to say the Thai bird’s eye chillies but over several hundred years it has evolved into a smaller hotter version. I have a post on siling labuyo in my archives, type it in and keep scrolling down until you find it. I suspect the best you will get in the West is the bird’s eye chilli relative… I hope that helps.

    Aug 28, 2006 | 9:39 pm

     
 

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