5: What to do with Etag (smoked mountain ham)

Roughly four months after visiting Sagada for the first time and I am already thinking about where I can get etag minus the 13-hour travel. Etag, or smoked mountain ham, is 4 parts meat and 1 part pork fat. Traditional preparation can take as much as 6 months although there are already shorter curing processes these days. Anyway, I bought two slabs which would have been too much if Choi didn’t do a lot of cooking. Choi, my sister’s boyfriend, does a lot of experimenting in the kitchen like me so let’s just say we had a lot of fun. Here, I’ll be enumerating a number of things you can do with etag. I’m thinking of putting up a link from my travel blog to this list of etag recipes as it’s related to Sagada.

Tinola or Nilaga

Although the most common recipe used with etag is tinola, Choi found out that it is just as good mixed with Nilaga. Thin slices of etag may be enough for the soup to have that smoky taste. You should especially watch your seasoning as it can get a little bit too salty. You would need to boil etag for at least 3 hours to make it tender if you are planning to eat it. However, you can skip the boiling part and not eat it especially that most of the flavor is already in your soup. It’s tedious but you can simply use a sharp knife and shave it as thin as you can.

Stir-fry

Local sautéed vegetables may sound ordinary but with etag, Filipino dishes are completely transformed. Instead of mixing in pork or shrimp, kalabasa at sitaw (squash and string beans) can be sautéed with a slice or two of etag before stirring in gata (coconut cream). You can also do the same for kangkong, pechay, broccoli and any other type of legume or vegetable you want to sauté. Mushrooms will also do just fine. Basil, parsley and celery can also be put into use for more variation. Not happy? Make chopsuey!

Vegetable soup

I can think of about 5 pureed soups right now and give me about a minute and I’ll tell you 10 more. Anyway, pureed broccoli, squash, cauliflower, asparagus and carrot are only some examples of vegetable soups that can be transformed by simply infusing a shaving of etag while sautéing garlic. You can add water and vegetables and boil until tender. After that strain vegetables and set the broth aside. Use a food processor or a blender before mixing it with the broth. Sprinkle some spices cause it’s no magic.

Fried Rice

The smoky taste of etag is perfect for breakfast. Sauté garlic and shavings of etag before mixing in chopped vegetables. Carrots, cabbage and peas are only some examples of what you can make use of. If you want more flavor, add in shrimp and other kinds of meat. Just try not to overdo it as etag has a very distinct taste. I, on the other hand, will be quite satisfied with garlic, green onions, shavings of etag and pair it with good old scrambled egg for breakfast.

Salad

Sauté garlic and shavings of etag in olive oil. Once cool, strain olive oil into a bottle. Mix it with your typical salad dressings as needed. The result is something in between bacon and dried anchovies. Choose from mixing it with classic vinaigrette, mango and capsicums, honey mustard, Caesar, sour cream and onion and any other dressing you can think of. Have fun with a bit of heat like cayenne and chili. drizzle over salads, sandwiches or use as a dip for tacos and chips.

And please, don’t let me stop you. Cheers!

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Flaming Wings at Katipunan

Lately I find it hard to try something new because of our ongoing Korean food addiction. We eat at Woorijib at least once a week so that’s a huge cut in our budget. We were able to forget Korean temporarily and finally got the ball rolling again. We tried Flaming Wings because we had been craving for New York style buffalo wings since we saw a Man versus Food episode.  I’m not a huge fan of chicken in general so I’m not exactly raving but really it wasn’t bad. I don’t really know what authentic tastes like but I will tell you that it’s almost exactly like the wings they serve at Yellow Cab, TGIF and Chili’s.

We had an order of original and an order or their hot wings. I did enjoy ranch and blue cheese for dipping. I think I made the right move when I ordered oriental lettuce wraps especially that Phil and I got so used to eating vegetables with every meal.  What I am most happy about is the serving. We actually thought they made a mistake of serving us the 6-piece instead of the 3-piece basket. I’m so happy about the lettuce wraps that I have a post prepared somewhere in my folders.

oh and I find the breakfast sundae intriguing. a second visit? Cheers!

Tomas Morato: Greens

It’s always stressful for me to decide what to order in a favorite resto because as much as I want to try something new, I know I would regret not ordering what I was craving for in the first place. Oh! Such a long sentence. Anyway, expect longer sentences for this post as Greens is the best vegetarian restaurant I’ve tried. It is the first and only vegan restaurant that actually made me crave for gluten. And gluten is, let’s just say, my enemy when it comes to vegetarian cuisine. So after a long time, I finally satisfied my cravings and went there to celebrate a friend’s birthday. It was  perfect considering we came from Ace Water Spa that morning.

I wasn’t able to sample Mitzi’s eggplant (up there) but I did try a lot Don’s soy “chicken” (below).

It was surprisingly addicting and it surpassed my love for the rellenong “bangus” (below) at least for that day.

Below is the very popular appetizer called fried mushroom. Basically it’s oyster mushroom in batter fried into a crisp so I wouldn’t really call it healthy. I can actually eat about 3 or 4 orders of this and still not be full so I think the serving is too small for 90 pesos or something like that. I do know that oyster mushroom is expensive and spoils easily so I guess that’s why it’s a bit pricey. Anyway, I really love the idea and I would love to experiment with other kinds of mushrooms both cheap and expensive so I’d have more options. And perhaps do better than serve it with watered down ketchup? This viand has a lot of potential!

If my weakness is relleno, phil’s is barbecue. It is a bestseller and the same recipe is also used for their “beef” broccoli. Most people would rave about that but I am not a big fan of bbqs so it’s natural that I’d skip ordering it. Speaking of skipping viands, I do not recommend soups from Greens. For some reason, their soups are bland, watered down and basically lack spices so if you want soup, ask me to make you a batch. haha!

People shouldn’t really listen to me when I talk about dessert as it’s not my passion. I think the carrot cake was okay but the mango custard could definitely use some hint of sweetness. The mango is already a little bit sour so it should be balanced out by the custard but it basically tasted like basic jello. The caramel custard sounds like salvation but let’s not jump into conclusions. You’ll hear from me if it’s a feast. I did not take a picture of the Lassi which Mitzi ordered but I liked it. I am actually considering to order it instead of coffee next time even if I never really liked yoghurt drinks or any other shake for that matter.

Rather barbaric but I’m more of the soda or beer kind of person. Cheers!