29 May 2010

Glourious Sinegang!

Okay now, don't hit me on the wrong spelling.  That's called literary license.  Ehehe.  If that's not enough reason for you, how about discrimination - why can Brad Pitt's Inglourious Basterds use "wrong" spellings?

Anyways, that is what it is.  I thought I should title today "Unusual," in contrast to yesterday's title "Usual," and let the Sinigang be a surprise.  But it is just too important a milestone for me here.

I got up the usual time.  Took my usual breakfast of coffee and something.  Today's breakfast something is a few pieces of Oreo cookies.  Then I did my laundry.  It's a gloomy, overcast day the whole day today (daytime high was 19 degrees = 66 degrees Fahrenheit), and even a little bit of rain later in the day - but no worries, the washing machine spin-dries the laundry dry enough for hanging indoors.  Of course they won't dry as fast as when they're under direct sunlight.  But I had to do this today because tomorrow I will most likely go to Meguro church again for the 12:00nn mass and then meet up for lunch with my fellow Filipinos taking or finished taking or yet to take their PhDs here in Japan.

Anyways, I had two batches of clothes hanging to dry already, and one more batch was still in the tub but it was already 12:00 noon and so I went to the DIY shop.  Again.  To try to buy a stove.  Again.

But this time I came prepared.  I learned that there are two types of gas lines here: the city gas ("toshi gasu") and the propane/LP gas ("puropen gasu"), and that my apartment uses the city gas line.  I even have a document that says what gas type exactly.  There are sub-types of city gas, like "12A", "13A", etc.; mine is 13A.  So I found my stove type, and got the cheapest one, although it was only 200 yen / 100 pesos / 2 dollars cheaper than the next one.  I noticed that one brand would have two different types of the same style of stove at the same price, one for propane and one for city gas.  So of course I took the city gas type of stove.

When I went to the cashier, I tried to confirm that what I was getting was correct.  I asked the cashier if it's okay, and she said yes.  Then I showed her the document, and again she said yes, it's okay.  So I said, okay I'll buy it.

And there was the start of today's miracles.

I also bought a tube to connect the stove to the gas line.  The stove, by the way, cost around 5600 yen / 56 dollars / 2800 pesos.  Imagine that.

Anyway, next stop was the 100-yen store, to get some "accessories" for the stove, like these aluminum-material table top surface protectors and aluminum-material tilamsik protectors.  I didn't need pots or pans or those big spoons for cooking (what are they called again?), because the person who used to live in what is now my apartment left his cooking stuff there.  That person is also Filipino, and well not for any reason but just to make sure, I soaked all stuff that I got for free (like those pots and pans, etc.) and that I didn't buy myself in boiling water, then scrubbed them clean, so they're all like new. :-D  I didn't also need to buy cooking oil, because there was already cooking oil.  The next thing to buy was...  Food to cook!

So down to the grocery store I went.  And I went crazy.  It's difficult being deprived!  My total grocery bill today was 4003 yen, if I remember correctly.  That's around 2000 pesos or 40 dollars.  I bought pork, beef, eggs, veggies, and spices for making sinigang, nilaga, picadillo, pork steak, and tapsilog.  I wasn't so sure which was beef and which was pork.  I was only 98% sure, and so there was a 2% probability I was wrong and I could just be wasting money.  But anyways, I asked other shoppers around...  "Is this pork?"  ("Botaniku desu ka?")  "Is this beef?"  ("Gyuniku desu ka?")  So I became 99% sure.  I was only 100% sure once I've cooked and tasted them!

Anyways, I guess the little doubt was fine.  I also bought three 1-liter cartons of milk, and bananas, and a few other items.  I think the total weight of everything I bought today was around 10kg.  And I only had one basket on my bike.  So anyways, it was a difficult bike ride back home, going slightly uphill with all that weight on the bike (some also on my backpack).  And then it was starting to drizzle.  Just very tiny drops though, like  the ones that come out from hairspray cans.  I don't know the effect though on the fresh veggies and meat I bought, if they got wet.  Oh, and on the stove!

Anyways, all those worries were secondary.  My primary focus was the food that I was going to prepare and eat that evening.  I got home around 4pm.  I left home to go to school at around 8pm, after taking dinner and cleaning up a bit.  (I haven't yet washed the pots and pots... :-D)

Guess what I cooked!



Nilagang baboy?




Pork steak?


Tapa, sinangang, and itlog?


All of the above!

Kidding.  I cooked Sinigang, then rice, then Picadillo.  :-D

The Sinigang looked like the real thing.  I bought "buto-buto" or boney pork parts - I think they're from the ribs part.  I also had okra (lady fingers), sitaw (string beans), labanos (but I used "Japanese radish" - which I think is just the same as labanos, except it's larger in size), a couple of green peppers, tomatoes, and onions, and of course Sinigang Mix.  The difference?  I can't find kang-kong, or patis, so I settled for some cabbage and just salt.  Actually it lacked a little bit of saltiness but in general, I loved it.  I've never been this full since coming here.  Getting full by Sinigang is not like any other feeling in the world.  I am truly thankful for the things that has lead me to this moment.

Oh, but wait!  The Picadillo was still cooking.  I got it wrong actually.  But I think it's fine considering it has been a long while since I last cooked Picadillo.  I think I was still in high school then - more than 17 years ago now?  On the contrast, this is already the 2nd time (and yes, only the 2nd time) I cooked Sinigang - the 1st and last time being around 5 years ago.  Both times, I used Sinigang Mix, of course.  But the first time around, I didn't check to see if the meat was tender enough, so it turned out a little too chewy.  And I think I didn't have labanos back then.

Anyways, my Picadillo turned out too salty.  The first thing I got wrong was I put too much oil for sauteeing the onions, garlic, and tomatoes (i.e. the ginisa part).  So it took a long time for them to release their taste and aroma.  Anyways, so I put the meat in.  But the next thing I got wrong was I put too much water after.  So it took a long time for the water to come down to a level such that it doesn't look like a soup.  Anyways, like I usually do, I season to feel (not to taste).  When I put in salt and soy sauce, there was still so much water.  When a lot of the water has evaporated, it turned out a little too salty!  My remedy for this is that I will eat them with rice anyway, which should tone down the saltiness a bit.  If it is still too salty I guess I'll need to add more water and then just heat again.  Hope it doesn't turn into soup, though!

Today, I "seasoned to feel" also because I didn't know exactly how much weight of meat I bought!  Can't find any indication of weight in the labels.  But anyhow, the Sinigang I prepared is good for 2 meals (so 1 more Sinigang meal to go).  The Picadillo I prepared I think is good for 3 meals.  So assuming I will eat them for dinner, I have food until Wednesday evening.

By the way, one other new thing I tried today is to eat at the foodcourt on the 3rd floor of Atsugi Trellis, same floor as the 100-yen store.  I tried this McDonald's-like Japanese fastfood place, I think it's called Dom-Dom.  They have this promo, 100 yen off this 550 yen set meal that includes fries and drinks and this chicken sandwich.  I got lost in translation for a little while with the cashier who was trying to ask me something but I didn't understand her.  Anyways...  The chicken sandwich was sooooo juicy and sooooo yummy, I wanted more.  Medically that translates to: too oily, too fatty, and too much sodium.  But it was really soooo juicy and sooooo yummy and well it was toooooo small actually in size, and that is one other reason why I wanted more!  This is a must try.  It's a new kind of chicken sandwich experience I've never had with any other chicken sandwiches.  

Then again, who cares about chicken sandwiches if you've got Sinigang, right? :-)

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