Today was market day! We went to Sidcor market which sells fresh, local and organic fruits and vegetables for a very good price. There are some new fruits that I had never had before in that bunch. I also found some ingredients that I had been looking for to try my hand at filipino cooking: delicious homemade cheese wrapped in banana leaves, some very amazing suca (filipino coconut vinegar) with chilies and garlic, very tasty bangoong (shrimp paste) and some patis (fish sauce) made with real fish that you can see! Maybe I went a little overboard with the food but it all looked so great. And this way, I don’t have to go to the market for the rest of the week 🙂
I bought a few Filipino cookbooks last month. And some of the very basic ingredients are the ones above—Patis or fish sauce. The ones you get at the market are usually a dark brown color. The one I got today is made of actual tiny fish! I think it is also called bagoong balayan which is made of a thick, fermented paste made from dillis or young herring-type fish. In the middle is a bottle of suca– coconut vinegar. This one has lots of fresh chilies and garlic and tastes almost like apple cider vinegar but a little more tart. To the right, there is another type of bagoong, this one is called bagoong alamang– it is made with fermented baby shrimp. My roommate promised to show me how to make my own variety of this and I’m very excited for that lesson. In the meantime, this delicious variety is quite fishy but reminds me of shrimp paste curry that we have in Bangladesh. Although I had all those lovely vegetables, I would be perfectly contented to eat just rice and shrimp paste for the next little while! (I won’t though.)
I have heard that squash flowers were delicious to cook with but have never tried. When I saw them at the market for a mere 20 pesos, I decided to get them and try out a new recipe! I really love how people here eat all the parts of plants (flowers, stems, leaves, etc.) One of the biggest wastes in Canada is that most people only wait for the actual vegetable to come out. Squash leaves are also delicious and make an amazing spinach in curries!
In all markets in the Philippines, you can find many varieties of fish and other seafoods that are being sold. They are dried and often salted so they can last longer. The top picture is of a fish (not sure what kind!) and below, there are dried squid (a sustainable source of livelihood for many coastal communities).
A friend here doesn’t like to eat fruits (WEIRD!). She does love mangosteen though which is the fruit on the right here. I think they’re pretty adorable looking. The inside is partitioned almost like an orange but tastes like a dulled down version of a lychee.
One of my favourite fruit of all time is the guava- the texture is a cross between a very ripe pear and an apricot. They can be either pink or white inside. I have a tendency to buy all the guavas at the local market so I was glad to see a lot of them at the market today. I like making smoothies with them because although the seeds can be a little gritty, they are a great source of fiber and taste great too.
There was a man deep-frying crabelettes and they smelled so GOOD that I just had to buy a few to try them out. Very crunchy with a little bit of crabiness on the side. I doused them in the spicy suca (vinegar) that I got today and had a very delicious crunchy treat.
I really love cheese but most countries in the non-industrialized world don’t seem to have a great variety in them. I have been hearing about this local homemade cheese and am so excited to try it. It’s almost like a hard feta but a little bit sharper and salty. They come wrapped up in banana leaves. I plan to eat some with skylark crackers, tomato and a little pesto made out of laksa or vietnamese mint (which is very peppery in taste). Maybe I’ll post up some photos of that experiment here.
For lunch, we bought some pancit from one of the stores. I think pancit means noodle because all noodle dishes are called pancit. So yes, good deduction skills there huh? Actually, it looked better than it ended up tasting. I added some suca and dalandan juice (local lime juice) for extra flavouring.
I’m still unsure what the above dish is called but it was amazing! It was made of very lightly cooked baby shrimp, some fresh kamias which is a little vegetable that almost tastes like starfruit but more vegetable-ey. There was also lightly cooked bitter gourd which, most people don’t like but I LOVE. The little seeds are called atsuete or annatto seeds. The whole dish was very fresh and light- perfect for a hot summer day.
All in all, I had a great market day! And will definitely be returning there very soon.