Sunday, December 12, 2010

Noche Buena Bento

I decided to continue my theme of "Holidays around the World" by going to the Philippines this time. Sadly, I didn't get to research as much history like the Hanukkah bento I did last week. The Philippines did surprise me on the amount of traditional foods and blending of flavors so I went ahead and did a quick dive into Filipino foods to bring you this nice (and hearty) lunch. Filipino food is greatly influenced by both Spanish and it's neighboring Asian cousins. This is pretty evident in the ingredients and dishes as well as their names (some taking on Spanish names). As a former Spanish colony, there is a heavy tradition around big feasts during the holiday season, namely Noche Bueno (Good night) for Christmas. I think there's a really rich food culture here and am looking forward to exploring Filipino food more, there's even a Filipino grocery/restaurant nearby for me to check out.


Hardinera is usually made out of pork and reserved for special occasions, I wandered upon a more healthy ground chicken variant that seemed quite interesting. I had to adjust the cooking methods and the times since 30 mins didn't seem enough time for a "chicken loaf" but I'm very happy with the results. The chicken was very tender and moist thanks to the binding ingredients and I'm glad the freshly ground chicken didn't come out tough. Special occasion dishes usually mean a lot of work but this dish is something I'm ok with holding on to and serving at the next holiday potluck. The simple mushroom gravy added a lot of flavor.




The next dish is called Bam-I, I loved this recipe it's an interesting fusion of texture and flavor. It uses two types of noodles, mung bean vermicelli and canton style noodles, this gives you a mushy, plus an al dente noodle texture but then we add on the wood ear mushroom for the ultra crunch. The noodles were reconstituted in soy sauce, sugar, fish sauce and chicken broth to produce and an amazing flavor. For protein we have chinese sweet sausage, shrimp and pork I should have just added beef to round it all out. It's a cross between a lo mein, pad thai, and vermicelli bowl WOW! This was admittedly the most labor intensive but I'm very happy to keep this in the "must do" category since it epitomizes asian food in flavor and texture. It's the "meltingpot" of noodles :).


Arroz Caldo is what you see to the left. It's also known as Chicken Congee or Rice porridge with chicken. I added a bit of salted duck eggs but I think I did the epic fail with using the starchy sushi rice, I should have gone with plain jasmine. My solution is to have my diners to further water it down in the reheat. I used a lot of chicken broth instead of water for flavor. I really wanted to pop in the thousand year old eggs but I didn't have any on hand but the resulting dish was still very tasty.




For dessert Bibing Ka. It's a really simple coconut cake that almost tastes like a sponge cake. The recipe asked for a lot of baking powder so I knew it would rise by quite a bit. I'm glad it wasn't very sweet it will make a great end to the lunch. If I had to make it decadent I would have soaked this cake with a rose petal honey glaze or treat it tres leche style but that's only for the +1 bonus and were trying to stay healthy here folks.



This might be the last of the bentos for the year. Holiday season is coming up and lots of folks are out on vacation. I'll find some things to post on in the meanwhile. Have a happy and safe holiday!

Box Contents
  • Hardinera
  • Bam-I
  • Arroz Caldo
  • Bibing Ka

4 comments:

Andrew said...

Hmm Noche Buena Bento, very interesting. I'm Filipino and I never thought of that! Great job!

I also wanted to share about our online bento store at www.inbento.co . We ship to Singapore from Japan! Hope you like what he have in stock! If not we can get it for you!

Ironjack said...

:) thanks for dropping by! I'll definitely go check out your site.

Zonia Cruz said...

The food in those photos looks amazing, I am literally getting hungry right now. Its perfectly good for this coming noche buena.

catering in philippines

Ironjack said...

:) Thanks for visiting Zonia!