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Recipes and ideas trending across our market place.

January 21, 2015 by Reggie Aspiras

Roasted Norwegian salmon fillet

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It is difficult to imagine a table devoid of pork and all its by-products at this time. Beef, too, cooked in numerous ways. But I truly wonder if it is ever possible to have a table filled with fish of all sorts, in lieu of our old-time favorites.

I recently got in touch with Enrique Valles, chief commercial officer of Mida Food, the country’s premier seafood specialist and a direct importer for and distributor to top restaurants, food chains and retail establishments.

I asked if he thought a meatless Christmas is even conceivable. “Of course, but unlikely,” he said. “I’ve always thought that serving a whole fish, say a whole salmon or halibut (poached, baked, grilled) is more decadent and looks as much of a feast as lechon. Add Christmas flavors like cinnamon, honey or even berry (strawberry, raspberry, etc.) glazes, and you’ve got yourself a wonderful and refreshing alternative to your typical ham!”

Just this week, Mida launched Pacific Bay, which aims to provide consumers easy access to great-quality restaurant-standard seafood at affordable prices.

“We have a select range of items sold under Pacific Bay, namely Cream Dory Fillet, Halibut Fillet, Chilean Seabass Steaks, Gindara Steaks, Halibut Steaks, Tuna Belly Premium, US Scallop Meat, Crabstick. We’re also developing King Crab, Tuna Saku Bars, Hamachi, among other things, in the pipeline soon,” said Valles. “You can find Pacific Bay in most SM Hypermarts, Robinsons Supermarket, and soon in S&R, Rustan’s, Shopwise.”

I have always wondered how home cooks can share in our joy of being able to pick from a colossal list of tasty treats from the sea; now, with Pacific Bay, it has become possible. Its blue packaging is hard to miss and is loaded with information. It has facts on fish and shellfish, cooking tips, the best way to thaw, how to pick seafood right, etc.

So to add to your holiday repertoire, I asked Enrique to suggest ways to cook and serve their new product line. Valles, who also happens to be a chef and owner of Chucks Grub, a fish and chips restaurant, quickly agreed.

Cream dory: Coat in beer batter a la Chucks Grub! The secret is in making a perfect beer batter that forms a solid crust around the fish, allowing it to steam inside.

Halibut, sea bass, gindara: Pan-fry with a bit of butter over high heat. Gindara has the highest fat content and therefore will caramelize the most. Halibut is the firmest and smallest of the three.

Tuna: Perfect raw (toro) or lightly cured, or at most grilled over low coal flame.

Scallops: Pan-fry over very high heat, basting constantly with butter. Takes less than 3 minutes to cook.

Crabstick, kani salad: Japanese mayonnaise, cucumbers, tobiko—you can even add mangoes and some greens if you wish.

Shellfish: Cast over a grill; the clams will cook for about 5-6 minutes. Let them cook in their own juice. When they open, dab with parsley butter.

Squid: Score squid fillet and grill for 2 minutes per side, or until it folds. Cut into strips, squeeze lemon and season.

Shrimp: Gambas al pilpil, but shrimp needs to be super-fresh for the oil to emulsify. With garlic plus a bit of chili, low-heat in a clay pot; mix it around until sauce thickens and shrimp is cooked.

Nice crab lump meat: Mix with garlic and chili and mix with linguini. Use very good extra-virgin olive oil!

The best way to cook fish, added Valles, is for one to start with a very hot pan and, halfway through cooking, turn the heat off. This guarantees that you lock in the flavor without overcooking the fish.

For his festive fish recipe, Valles combined two recipes into one for that extra holiday feel.

“For me, the most festive Christmas seafood you can find is salmon. A nice fresh Norwegian salmon slab will give our good old ham a run for its money any day of the week,” he said.


Roasted Norwegian Salmon Fillet with Ginger Strawberry Glaze

1 Atlantic salmon fillet 2-3kg/pc skin on

1 lemon

½ c strawberry jam (the chunkier

the better)

1 thumb-size ginger, no need to peel

¼ brown sugar

3 c water

1 tsp fennel seeds

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 180ºC.

1. Season the salmon fillet with salt and pepper.

2. Squeeze half of one lemon over the meat side.

3.  Place in oven and bake for 4 minutes, skin side down.

In the meantime, make your glaze.

4. Mix strawberry jam, brown sugar, ginger, water, fennel seeds and the rest of the lemon in a sauce pot.

5. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer and thicken, around 7 minutes.

6. Take salmon out of the oven and drizzle half the glaze over the meat; make sure to spread out evenly.

7. Bake for another 6 minutes.

8. Take out of oven and drizzle the rest of your glaze over the meat.

Serve immediately.


January 21, 2015 by Reggie Aspiras

Gravlax and king crab legs

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Ever since I started getting my smoked salmon from Chingling Tanco of Mida Foods, it has been difficult to find others that are as satisfying. Her salmon is firm, with no aftertaste, and it never crumbles even after defrosting. It remains chewy and simply delicious. 

Hers is salmon trout, smoked fresh,  then frozen. Because it does not go through refreezing, the natural oils and wonderful flavors of fresh salmon are locked in.

This year, Mida Foods has come up with gravlax. No need to cure salmon in salt, sugar and dill and to wait days before you can enjoy it.

I serve mine sprinkled with freshly cracked pepper, lemon wedges, crisp bread and mustard dill sauce made by combining ½ c sour cream, 2 tsp wine vinegar, 3 tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp chopped capers and 2-3 tsp fresh dill, pinch of sugar and salt.

Alaskan king crab leg

This is another treat: sweet, large chunks of crab meat, a satisfying mouthful that tastes of the sea. It has been par boiled, thawed and quick-steamed for five to eight minutes.

Although I made a sauce, I didn’t serve it after I tasted the crab meat. I believe it is best eaten alone with just a squeeze of lemon.

For gravlax, king crab, smoked salmon and hamachi, call 5240006.

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January 21, 2015 by Reggie Aspiras

Fresh, Premium Seafood Delivered to your Doorstep

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I have relied on Mida Food  for just about every seafood need: fish of any kind (bass, skate, roughy, trout, apahap, tuna, halibut, salmon), fresh or smoked, whole, headless, fillet, steak cut, fresh, belly, tail cut, head,  any part and any which way; crustaceans (shelled, in a half shell, soft-shelled, whole, claws); mussels, scallops, shrimp (shrimp balls/shabu-shabu balls); kani, lobsters (whole/tails); cephalopods (octopus and squid of all sizes, cleaned whole, etc.).

The list goes on.

I just concluded a seafood class and was once again very happy. The unbeatable Mida team of Chingling Tanco, Enrique Valles and Lynette Jugueta always delivers supplies on time, wherever, even on very short notice.

I cooked a delicious black seabass with lemon truffle sauce. The black bass tastes very much like the Chilean. The difference is that the flesh is darker, with  slightly firmer bite. It’s a whole lot cheaper, too, and the sea still has an abundant supply of it, according to  Valles, Mida’s chief commercial officer.

The baby squids were equally delectable, an inch in length, including the head. This was how I cooked them: I washed, cleaned and removed the bone, then drained and seasoned the squids with salt and pepper, with a good squeeze of lemon juice.

I then put the squids in a Glad Zip bag where I mixed 2/3 cup cornstarch (I like it better than flour) and 1/3 cup potato starch with a pinch of salt. I shook them until the squids were evenly coated with the flour mixture.

Then, I  deep-fried them in hot oil until nice and lightly golden.

Do not overcook, and do not overload your pan either.

Cook the squid in batches and wait a few seconds for the oil to once again heat up (between the removal of the cooked batch and the frying of the next).

I served the dish with homemade aioli (garlic mayonnaise), salsa (onions, tomatoes, cilantro, olive oil, parsley, salt, pepper and lemon juice) and lemon wedges.

New service

I have worked with Mida for so long but never have I been as excited as I am now, with Mida’s new service of delivering  to customers. It’s a fishy Christmas present in Styro cooler with dry ice, put together based on your budget, with recipes, a beautiful bow and your Christmas wishes on a card!

It even accepts credit card payments. Its delivery trucks are equipped with  wireless credit card machines. How cool is that?

You need not order in bulk. Mida will deliver any order for a  P300 fee. (Delivery fees are waived for orders P5,000 and above.)

On Mida’s Christmas promo list: halibut, salmon, seabass, US scallops, soft-shell crab, New Zealand half-shell mussels.

According to Valles: “Special mention must go to our smoked salmon, as it really is the best in town, promise!” (Mida Food, tel. 0917-8902327 or 5240006).

Gourmet desserts

Nic’s Gourmet Desserts has opened its doors at 172 A. Mabini, San Juan.

I got to know of Nic’s while dining in a coffee shop. The caramel cake we brought home had a sticker that read Nic’s  with contact number.  I then ordered mini caramel cakes (in its outlet it is called dulce de leche) and a couple of  mini apple pies.

The apple pie is classic, the  type we grew up with before everything became so complicated—packed with apples and capped with nice generous helping of moist crumbly streusel. I enjoy it warmed in  toaster oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

I’d forgotten about Nic’s until a month ago when I was on my way to pick up my son Diego. I saw the cake box-like structure that serves as its store in San Juan, and I just had to drop by.

I was hungry and had a few minutes to spare before dismissal time. I had a slice of meat lasagna and a slice of dulce de leche. I like eating sweet and savory at the same time—weird!

The lasagna was delicious. It was meaty, and the wavy lasagna noodle used perfectly held the chunky pieces of meat and thus gave the dish a substantial bite. A satisfying mouthful, it was the perfect comfort food at its finest.

The quantity of béchamel was also just right, enough to keep it moist and tasty yet not cloying. And it is generously slathered with cheese.

The lasagna is always available and comes in three sizes. Perfect for a holiday potluck or even if you’re just too lazy to cook for the family.

The store even carries vegetable lasagna. I’ve vowed to try it sometime, though the meat lasagna always calls louder than the vegetable one.

I also enjoy eating the wheat crisps with just about anything—dips, spreads, patés and the tasty parmesan ensaimada (bread-y, not the soft, airy kind). These are all welcome additions to our list of Christmas gift ideas. (Nic’s, tel. 5711818, 7160321, 7155831).

For information on my new cooking class schedules, call 0917-5543700/ 0908-2372346/ 4008496/ 9289296.


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