Vongole: Prepared simply and seasoned to perfection with lowly sea saltBy Reggie Aspiras
Philippine Daily Inquirer
I have recently declared how things prepared very simply make my mouth water. Here are two recent discoveries.
One is Maiki Oreta’s Vongole.
A few weeks ago, my nephew Quinto Oreta invited us to his new home and, to my surprise, his wife Maiki can cook—and, boy, does she cook well. Her food, though simple, is executed well and seasoned to perfection.
I ate so much of her flavorful pasta, which was cooked al dente, and though no longer piping hot, remained very, very good.
When she saw me eat the way I did, she was in awe. She wasn’t quite sure whether to believe me every time I complimented her on how good her pasta and beef bourguignon were.
When I asked the secret to her vongole, she said: “Knowing I’ll be cooking for people near and dear to me, because that’s what inspires me to search for the best and freshest ingredients possible!”
I told her she was pulling my leg. She then chuckled and said: “Sige na nga, sea salt!”
Rightfully so, as sea salt enhances the clams and intensifies the flavors of the sea.
She shared her recipe, which she learned from Videojug and which she tweaked to her liking by adding more garlic and white wine, finishing it off with a dab of butter and serving it with chili oil.
“I love watching tutorials online to make sure I get it right. It makes cooking much easier,” she confessed.
One thing’s for sure, everyone can follow instructions, but not everyone can season as well as Maiki can.
- 500 g fresh clams
- 200 g cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 whole garlic bulb, chopped
- ¼ c of olive oil
- ¼ c of flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 500 g spaghetti
- 200 ml white wine
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Butter, about 1 tbsp
- Chili oil (3 bird’s eye chilies, sliced; 4 tbsp olive oil) to serve on the side for those who wish for a kick of spice on their vongole
- Rinse clams and scrub well. Boil noodles.
- Brown garlic lightly and add the white wine.
- Let the mixture reduce to half.
- Then add the tomatoes, half the parsley, season with salt and pepper.
- Add the clams, stir briefly, cover and leave to cook until the clams open.
- Pour the drained pasta into the pan.
- Add butter and toss the noodles.
- Finish with good olive oil and garnish with remaining parsley.
- Serve with chili oil on the side.
Other tips from Maiki:
Best to use premium-quality noodles because they make all the difference.
Also, use sea salt and freshly ground pepper. The later adds a particularly nice touch.
The other discovery is Red Catering.
If you are looking for a caterer that will fit your budget and properly deck your tables to match your theme, Red is recommended.
My favorites from the Red menu are baked fish with yogurt sauce, callos and sumang hubad.
The suman is chef Mike Profeta’s take on Thai sticky rice, but his version is topped with minatamis na langka, fresh mangoes, coconut milk, caramel sauce, sago and pinipig.
The combination of all the ingredients together makes his version so tasty—and so fattening.
If you are a kakanin lover like me, it is a must-try. Each order is good for 20-25 persons. (Call tel. 7412762.) Order a day in advance.
The tiles I picked for my kitchen are off-white and textured. I am sure you can imagine how difficult they are to maintain, especially when dirt gets to the crevices.
For a long time, I have been looking for the perfect tile cleaner. I shifted from one brand to another. We brushed the tiles laboriously with just about everything from the kitchen cleaner section of the grocery store until I found the green-colored Mr. Muscle Fresh Pine tile cleaner.
Wow! It cleans my tiles so well, and according to those who helped me out, they didn’t even have to exert much effort in doing so. What a great discovery. Now cleaning my tiles is a cinch.
In addition to finding the perfect tile cleaner, I also found a wonderful mop: the iMop.
I had tried using it at my friend Jenny Dy’s house. I was completely impressed by how fast it could get things cleaned, and how easy it was to use.
The mop is like a toy that works. My son Diego loves playing with it, and, for once, he is really cleaning and not making a mess.
Speaking of cleaning, here’s something I wish to share with you. Have you recently noticed how dusty it has been around lately? It has been so dusty in fact that Diego and I have been suffering from allergies.
If you are on the same boat as I and do not have a high-tech vacuum cleaner, you can call Grace Opis. She recently came to my house and turned our room upside down, vacuuming everything, and even cleaning our beds, pillows, window shades, etc.
What a relief! Call Grace Opis (tel. 0915-6776907).
My new class schedules are out. Apart from my regular schedule, we will be doing a lot of authentic Mediterranean cooking. For information or reservations, call tel. 0917-5543700/ 0908-2372346/ 4008496/ 9289296.