Although one of the most common items to find on a menu, when done well, this simple dish turns out to be the ultimate indulgence.
When my sister Cristy celebrated her birthday recently, after Mass in her office, she ordered merienda from Baby Vilches, to whom we turn when we need packed lunches or home-cooked Filipino meals for a crowd. Her food is affordable, simple but delicious. Despite the years ordering from her kitchen, I was unaware of her pancit, which turned out to be one of the yummiest I had tried.
Vilches’ was a mix of pancit canton and sotanghon with generous helpings of shredded chicken, shrimps, longganisang Macao, dried shiitake mushroom and the usual veggies.
Her pancit was distinguished by the quality and generous quantity of the ingredients, and the manner of cooking, which allowed the flavors to develop slowly but surely, and, of course, how the the noodles were added and timed perfectly.
Her pancit was not oily; it was very tasty but not salty and toothy. The earthiness of the mushrooms, the sweetness of the Macao, the crunch from the vegetables, all went hand in hand. A serving will not enough.
Other items we frequently order from Baby Vilches are kare-kare, adobo, dalag with mustasa and bagoong. (For orders, call 0917-6280368.)
Mida Foods is a supplier of frozen seafood, but now it also supplies fresh salmon, ocean-farmed from Norway.
Enrique Valles of Mida sent me a link to a website (salmonfromnorway.com) developed by the brand who supplies their salmon, which I found very interesting.
“While some have expressed concerns that ocean-farmed salmon are dyed to mimic wild salmon,” the website says, “this is inaccurate. The pinkish-red color of wild and ocean-farmed salmon comes from a natural oxycarotenoid called astaxanthin—not from dyes or coloring agents.
“In the wild, fish absorb astaxanthin by eating small crustaceans. Ocean-farmed salmon receive astaxanthin as part of their diet in supplement form, the same way humans take vitamin supplements. Studies have also shown that consuming astaxanthin is beneficial to humans as it can boost immune response and acts as a free radical antioxidant.”
The fish are fed with dried pellets that contain marine raw materials (fish oil and fish meal from wild fish) and vegetable raw material, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
“To better utilize resources, the marine life used in salmon feed comes from sustainable stocks of fish species that are not suitable for human consumption. In addition, vegetable oils have been added to the feed to reduce the strain on limited marine resources. While this has caused the level of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids in fish to fall, the remaining amount of omega 3 found in ocean-raised fish is still several times higher than the internationally recommended amount of 0.5 grams per day.”
Isn’t it good to know that our food has likewise been fed and raised in a manner that’s sustainable and humane?
According to Valles, customers’ orders are received by 3 p.m, Friday. Then the orders are air-freighted to the Philippines and delivered to the Mida plant Wednesday evening the following week, ready for delivery on Thursday.
Customers do not need to order in bulk, they can order per piece with delivery daily (following our delivery schedule) in case they do not have enough storage.
Chilled salmon can last up to one week if stored in the right conditions.
Prices start at P800/kg for a whole gutted fresh chilled Norwegian salmon.
(For orders, call Mida Foods, tel. 5240006.)
The Green Grocer (www.thegreengrocermanila.com) is an online grocery that makes deliveries of fresh organic produce, grass-fed meats, organic eggs, fresh-baked bread, even ice cream and other specialty foods and household items.
In the last e-mail of Nikki Bharwani of Green Grocer, I came across “healthy sausages” by The Butchery, a start-up artisanal kitchen that hand-makes a variety of organic lean fresh sausages.
The Butchery takes pride in the manner in which its sausages are made. The meat and herbs used are guaranteed 100-percent organic. The ingredients come from The Butchery’s home herb garden, local farms and international organic product suppliers.
The Butchery does not use preservatives, fillers, extenders or unnatural ingredients. Its sausages are made with only 20-percent fat.
When I cooked their sausages to try, the aroma permeated the air. The herbs were so fragrant.
The Butchery sausages come in seven unique flavors: jalapeño; buffalo and celery; parmesan and parsley; red wine and rosemary; mint and tarragon; and caramelized onion and mozzarella.
My personal favorite is the saffron, for its many contrasting tastes and its nice juicy chew. Its taste profile is quite close to regular sausages; you feel as though you’re bingeing when you’re actually not.
Another interesting product distributed by Green Grocer is the Bukidnon Butter.
Charmaine Uy-Jugador said it was in 2009 when her mother-in-law, Annabelle F. Jugador, went into dairy farming.
The family planted grass seeds which were ordered from Australia. Starting with just 30 cows, the farm now has over 100, and the farm has diversified its products from milk to cheese and, now, All-Natural Cow’s Milk Butter, all made the traditional way.
(Visit www.thegreengrocermanila.com. Call 0918-9594220 or 0917-8244220.)