I was pleasantly surprised when I walked into Dusit Hotel’s Basix Restaurant recently. The lunch buffet not only offers more choices now, there are also cooking stations that serve dishes to order. One station cooks pasta with your choice of sauces, another station serves either roast pork or roast US prime rib of beef, and there’s a large assortment of fresh seafood that can be grilled to order.
Aside from the familiar Chinese dim sum and Japanese dishes (sushi, maki, tempura), there’s a corner dedicated to Indian cuisine. Chicken, lamb, prawn and fish tandoori are served together with assorted condiments and Indian bread such as pappadum and naan.
Meanwhile, a corner full of mezze (Middle Eastern appetizers) reminded me of a visit to Dubai many years ago. Hummus, tabouleh and stuffed vine leaves also share table space with large black and green olives, pita bread, baba ganoush and cucumber-yogurt dip.
Diners who love salmon will really like the gravlax, served with dill and pepper, as well as the thin slices of lapu-lapu topped with salmon carpaccio.
Amid the global fare, there are Filipino dishes, too. One in particular caught my attention: duck cooked in coconut milk, adobo style. If there’s one dish beloved by Filipinos, it’s adobo, in all its variations and mutations. Basix’s version uses duck, rather than chicken or pork, and is cooked with thick coconut cream. Sous chef Joel Cruz was generous enough to share the recipe with me, which I found very simple and easy to cook (I adjusted the recipe to suit the home cook).
(Lunch buffet in Basix is P1,600 net, while dinner is P1,800 net. Call 2388888, ext. 8430.)
Adobo sa Gata
(Makes around six servings. If you can’t find duck, chicken is a good substitute.)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ c vinegar
½ c soy sauce
1 whole duck or chicken, cut into serving pieces
3 tbsp cooking oil
Salt, to taste
1 ½ c coconut cream (kakang gata, may use canned)
3 bay leaves
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips (optional)
1 green chili pepper, cut into diagonal slivers (optional)
Combine onion, garlic, vinegar and soy sauce in a bowl. Pour over the duck or chicken pieces and let chicken marinate for one hour.
When ready to cook, heat oil in a large casserole. Remove duck or chicken from marinade (reserve the marinade) and cook in the hot oil just until brown, turning once. Spoon off excess oil from the pan, if any.
Pour in the reserved marinade and season with salt. Simmer until almost tender, around 20 minutes. Add the coconut cream and bay leaves and simmer for another 15 minutes or until duck or chicken is fully cooked and tender.
If desired, add the bell pepper strips and chili pepper during last five minutes of cooking. Serve hot with steamed rice.
*If using the canned variety, make sure you use coconut cream, which is thick, and not coconut milk, which is thin and watery (check labels). Stir the coconut cream well before using.
*If using fresh gata, use the first pressing of squeezed coconut meat.
*When browning the chicken, do it in batches so as not crowd the pan.
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