Cooking in Manila

Whilst it’s relatively inexpensive to eat out, it can get a bit much to eat out all the time.  It stops feeling like a treat and I’m sure it’s not good for our waistlines, or in fact our wallets overall.  And often it’s just nicer to eat a home cooked meal.

But cooking here has been a challenge.
For a start, whilst we live in a furnished apartment, we don’t have all the equipment we had at home.  This is what we had when we moved in:
1 x narrow diameter, but tallish saucepan 
1 x medium sized saucepan
1 x wok
1 x frying pan

4 x steak knives
1 x plastic general purpose cooking spoon
2 x fish slice (1 plastic, one metal)
1 x serving spoon
1 x set of measuring cups

After a nasty accident with my penknife whilst trying to open a tin of tuna (I ripped a portion of my thumb nail off), I invested in a tin opener.  I have also invested in:

A vegetable peeler
A chopping board
A Japanese vegetable slicer / ginger grater (see picture to the right – what are the round holes for?)

But we still don’t have various things which I would probably use at home on a daily basis:
  • Wooden spoons
  • Colander
  • Cheese grater
  • Kettle
  • Scales
  • Baking trays
  • etc.
It’s also not entirely easy to get all the ingredients you might need for a recipe.  When we were packing up to leave I debated whether to bring any recipe books with me or not.  I decided to bring one book “British Food Bible” and a collection of my favourite recipes in a binder my mum had given me for a birthday present a few years ago.  I figured I’d be able to find any other recipe I needed online.  Which I will be able to.  Finding a recipe you can actually cook in its entirety is a different challenge.  I have flicked through my books a number of times, and when I go through to make a shopping list I realise that I won’t be able to make it after all.  Ingredients which I wouldn’t have thought twice about at home – cheese, flour, golden syrup, various herbs & spices – are a bit more difficult to get hold of here.  I am sure you can buy absolutely anything you want.  If you know where to go.  And if you have a limitless budget.

I was making a french bean salad the other night.  The ingredients included white wine vinegar and Dijon mustard.  “I’ll be able to get them in the local supermarket” I thought to myself.  I ended up with cane vinegar (it would have to have a sugar base being produced in the Philippines) and ‘French’s mustard’ which tastes nothing like Dijon mustard.

But, we’ve been getting by.  In fact, we have eaten some pretty decent meals since we’ve been here – roast chicken (with roast potatoes of course), spaghetti bolognaise, tuna pasta, some delicious salads and so on.  And I’m making some sundried tomatoes (in the oven, not on the balcony!!!) as I type.  However, I am running out of inspiration for meals which use local ingredients and therefore don’t cost an arm and a leg to cook.

Recipe ideas which include tropical fruit & veg would be much welcomed!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *