What did we have on my birthday?
Instead of answering all the questions individually about what I cooked during my birthday, I thought it would be a good idea to put it all in this page and just send them a link.
I love cooking during my birthday. It’s the way I celebrate and thank God for the life he gave me. By simmering in the kitchen all day and after that see most of the people that are close to me (unfortunately, I can’t invite them all), celebrate and thank God of all the blessings through preparing and partaking food. I think that’s why you need to at least have a small celebration during your birthday. Food represents life. Celebrating life is a must if you ask me.
So what did I prepare this time?
Let me give you an account of how my birth-day went:
I popped the duck in the oven for 130 deg C. This was 7 hours before the celebration. Three days before, I brined, marinated and dried it to make a perfect Peking Duck. I then set-up the monster barbecue machine, turned it on fire, all at 100 degrees celcius. I placed a wire rack on one side and popped around 2-3 kilos of rolled lamb shoulder, that should stay there in the next 6 hours at a minimal 100 to achieve a medium well… at least that’s what my intuition tells me. I chucked the chicken cuts as well on the grill. They were marinated in ketchup and fruit syrups that I got from the fruit mix that we used for fruit salad. So all are cooked in low heat becuse not only that it makes me do a lot of other stuff, but it also softens the meat while retaining all the juices in.
And I went back to the kitchen.
I drained the chicken stock that I prepared the day before. Then I put back all the stock in a pot and added Japanese Sake. That should stay there for the next 5 hours for a Chamomile Teapot Soup.
The pig cheeks and almost all of its face was waiting for me in the oven (Yes, your butcher can do a face-off for you). This was the first thing I did this morning – to chuck them in the oven to develop cracklings and boiled the ears in the marinade of fruits syrup, soy sauce and a lot of cracked pepper. So to start with the hard part - chopping them into little pieces along with onions and red and green chili peppers for Sisig. Sisig is chopped pork with crackling on a hot plate. The mixture of meat, skin and fat was around 3 kilos and I really hurt my hand chopping them that I have to revert to putting the rest in a blender. All of them were placed in a container ready for the hot plate later. I think I only have 3 more hours.
Good thing I have a wife. Not only a wife, but a beautiful, sexy, caring and a “looking-after-me” kind of wife. When I turned my head up, I saw her on the fryer getting busy with Lumpia (Filipino Spring Rolls). Yesterday she prepared 3 desserts. A Maja Blanca which is Filipino Pudding made with coco milk and corn. She also prepared a Fruit Salad with a sort of custard sauce. And finally, for a very Filipino dessert, a Leche Flan which white people call Creme Caramel.
So I went back quickly to the Barbecue and set the chicken cuts aside because they’ve been cooking for 2 hours already. And then I threw the pork belly cuts in. The pork belly was divine because you can see the luscious thick fat and an even lining of meat in the middle. Last night I also marinated them in just lemon, salt and pepper. I just have to make sure that they are cooking in low heat because barbecuing pork belly is dangerous specially when no one is looking after it as I am doing…. how many things was I cooking already? I have to run quickly back to the kitchen because I was also grilling skewered pork barbecue there. I don’t want either of them to get burnt.
And back on the cutting board because I think I only have 2 hours left.
I started cutting the fresh tuna fillets that I got from the local fishmonger this morning. They were red and vibrant and the fishmonger said they were just in this morning, I took him for this word and grabbed 2 big fillets. They are now being prepared kinilaw style, so I started marinating them in vinegar.
I realised there are too many I’s in this post. Indulge me, it’s my bIrthday.
I jumped on to making a Greek Salad – cucumber, tomatoes, red onions, olives and a lot of Dodoni Feta. They were all mixed and placed in a grape vine nest. The dressing of olive oil, lemon juice and oregano will be swirled later during serving.
I remember I need to check the pork belly because they are the only ones that you need to have an eye on because of too much fat. When I got back to the barbecue a fire was growing to a feet tall that I have to take it off by splashing the marinade in and closed the hood. Thank God I was cooking outside. When I opened the hood, 2 kilos of delicately cut pork belly has now turned to charcoal… and this was on low heat. I felt betrayed and disappointed. One main course gone to ashes. So I cleaned the grill and then run back inside the kitchen to check if my pork barbecue skewers are on to the same fate. I wanted to shout and freak out but I have to just to accept that sometimes things get screwed up really.
Hot plate onto the stove to heat up. One more hour and I have to have a quick shower.
Everybody took a bath before me and I have to take a very cold shower. Not a drop of hot water left. Most of you know that it is winter from where I am. So I was trembling as opposed to what I expected to be a comforting shower. At least when I was putting on clothes I have this big smile because the wife bought me a new blue Nike Free as a birthday gift. I like.
Back to the kitchen. I blanched Asparagus (Asparagi if many?) and king oyster mushrooms and placed them in cups. I transfered the broth (the one with Sake) to a teapot, added pockets of chamomile tea. When the guests arrive the broth will be poured in those cups.
It’s 6:30 pm and guests are coming in by now. This year we are looking back and celebrating with the first group of people that I have met here in Australia - our neighbors who helped us buy our first car, a family friend who can’t stop telling stories, always handy, a Filipino family that we worked with in our first job here, and my wife’s colleagues and of course my wife’s auntie and uncle - an intimate gathering of 15 people.
I called up everyone to get their seats on the table. I grabbed the hot plate and placed it on a pizza stone, I transfered the Sisig in the hot plate and poured a mixture of soy sauce, water and pepper. The sizzling sound of Sisig on a hotplate signalled the start of the celebration.
We had Sisig, Lumpia, Kinilaw, Greek Salad (Woh! That’s a far throw! Not. Half of the guests are of Greek descent.) and a few slices of different kinds of bread. And those are just appetizers. It’s a Filipino party what do you expect. Duck, Lamb, Chicken, Pork Barbecue skewers are still on-cue for the mains. And for desserts, you have to read again to remember what they are. There’s a 15 minute break for each course.
Happy Birthday to me.
And yeah, we forgot to take even a single picture. Great.
To all those who greeted me on Facebook thank you very much. For me, nearly 200 people is very overwhelming. If only you were all here to celebrate with me. Thank you very much. Thank God for another year of Filipino Food.