This post is for the Food Blogging Event: LASANG PINOY 3 – Pinoy Street Food.
What would be my favorite street food? Trick question. I was what you call the all-too-obedient child at home while the street kid-type once unleashed. When we were young I don’t recall our parents ever buy us any kind of food being sold in the streets with the exception of sorbetes or ‘dirty’ ice cream, balut, penoy & nilagang itlog ng pugo (boiled quail eggs), which I fancied most before grade school. I could devour a whole pack, which I remember contained about 5 to 6 pieces, during any bus or jeepney ride.
In school (recess period & after class), we would buy all kinds of stuff – cotton candy, scramble (crushed ice w/ sorta fruit juice & coloring), sa malamig (any cold drinks from fruit juice to gulaman at sago or gelatin and tapioca balls) , manggang hilaw w/ alamang (unripe mango w/ unsauteed shrimp paste), kalikot (I suppose it’s coconut jam picked & eaten from a piece of bamboo stem), & ofcourse the ever popular fishballs. I remember spending my entire food allowance for these fried well-seasoned balls of ground fish, day after day, at least for a year maybe. When we got a little bit older, our folks would buy taho (made from bean curd w/ sago & arnibal, a sweet syrup) and puto (rice cake) so I don’t really think they hate ‘street food’ per se. I guess it’s more of the responsibility that goes w/ being parents.
During HS & university days when food allowance was better, my preferred street food became barbeque – pork, hotdogs & the radical inihaw na isaw ng manok or chicken intestine barbeque). In college, we had series of overnight jobs working on projects as a team. These would be like all work, work, work, and rest would be during meals or snacks. There were instances when we will just set off to our favorite barbeque stall for merienda. Buy ice-cold coke poured into plastics from the nearest store & eat right there while queuing for our isaw. I remember a particular street in San Andres Bukid, Manila near the railways & the South Expressway. Never been there for a long time. Hope somebody would tell me if that particular place of barbeque stalls is still there. (Isaw photo courtesy of Karen.)
I don’t have a special fish ball recipe & the temperature here is dropping that barbequing isaw would be quite a stunt. (My pork barbeque recipe is just around the corner.) So I decided to experiment on the [i]nilagang itlog ng pugo[/i] and make them tea eggs or marbleized eggs. Once cooked w/ tea these eggs will be patterned with veins or streaks resembling marble. Kinda reminds me of calacatta vagli & spider gold. Again, I got some tips from our Ate Vi (V for Vivian, whom I mentioned in my earlier post) – our Chinese interpreter from northern Urumzi who lived w/ us for about 3 months during the infamous SARS period for health measures as we all self-quarantined. She cooked this dish once for us. These eggs are also quite popular here in the streets of Beijing!
Normally, any type of black tea can be used but Ate Vi says I can utilize what we have right now – Guanyinwang oolong tea, a gift from a friend, which I was a bit reluctant to use since she says it’s expensive. It has the qualities of both black and green teas & is said that drinking it is among the best ways to fight skin ageing.
Boil the eggs in a saucepan w/ about half an inch of water above the eggs. Simmer over low fire for about 15 minutes. Remove the eggs & quickly rinse in cold water till eggs are cool enough to pat. Tap the eggs lightly all over w/ the back of a spoon to create cracks to the eggshell. Do not peel. Return the eggs to the water in the saucepan and add the other ingredients. Bring to boil, adding more water if necessary & simmer over low fire for 30 minutes or even longer. Turn off the heat & leave the eggs to soak in the tea water for at least 30 minutes. Peel the eggs & see the marble lines. If you think you cooked more than you can finish at a time, you may leave the eggs soaked in the tea inside the ref for few more days. The tea mixture is already a preservative.
As the month’s theme is so fascinating, I would like to show you a glimpse of Beijing’s street food culture.
We went for a walk in Donghuamen night market in Wangfujing, open from 4:30-10:30pm, which they say is Beijing’s most crowded, most bustling snack market. Initially, I thought of going to Xiaochijie or Snack Street, also in the same area, but Donghuamen is more interesting. There’s a signage that says the place offers more than 60 specialty snacks famous all over the country.
I had been busy taking pictures of what took my attention while my son kept on pulling my jacket telling me he wanted hotdogs. Of course it wasn’t hotdog that he really wants but anything on skewers. But which one should we buy? I couldn’t take off my eyes on exotica especially the seahorses, grasshoppers & cicadas on sticks.
So we agreed to have Urumzi beef barbeque, a specialty from the northern Xinjiang Province. We’ve tried it a few times before & it’s not like we’re here to try something new. I’m not very good at describing food but it’s delicious, grilled to tender, juicy, mouth-watering perfection, w/ a kind of spice that’s new to me. You have a choice of chicken, beef or mutton. Cean enjoyed a few bite but complained that it’s too spicy for him & asked to be taken to the nearest Mcdo for coke.
So here is what they offer on the streets. I have tried caramel-coated fruits on sticks on several occasions – kiwi, cherries, peaches, strawberies – crispy, nice, sweet. There are also noodle soups & you will have to choose the ingredients – vegetables, tofu & fish balls are on sticks. There are plenty of barbeque choices – aside from what I mentioned above, there are also lobster, breaded crab & prawn, corn, beef tripe, scorpions, frogs, day-old quails… honestly, I don’t really recognize a lot of other things. We should have asked Ate Vi to accompany us. By the way, everything are to be grilled/cooked on the spot, piping hot, which is just great for such a cold & windy autumn night.
A quick bite on a tasty lamb burger & we’re off to Mcdo.
Last October 12, I conducted a poll based on Kai’s question “if you were a Pinoy street food, what would you be?” 50% favored ‘dirty’ ice cream while the rest of the votes were divided among rest of the other poll options: manggang hilaw (13.6%), balut (13.6%), fish ball (9.1%), gulaman (9.1%) & barbeque (4.6%).
A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked. – Bernard Meltzer