Oh the merry month of May! It seems to be a succession of parties, both in real life and online. Just at the heels of the last Is My Blog Burning? is a potluck party! I only found out a few days ago that Stel has opened Baby Rambutan house for a Blogging Girls’ Night Out as inspired by her mom’s “hen parties” and in the spirit of IMBB.

Although the event is open to all able and willing ladies (updated to include “people who like girls or wanna be girls or girls-at-heart”, in the words of our host), it looks like a Filipina food bloggers and friends mafia. For such notorious foodies (in situ or in diaspora), who greet visitors with “Have you eaten?” instead of “How do you do?” and whose snacks can be considered as meals, it’s about time! The Italians have gone local almost a year ago and the Francophones, of course, even have a dedicated website, Blog Appétit for their cook-offs. But no, this one’s not nationality or linguistically-based. Perhaps it’s similar to the End of Month Egg on Toast Extravaganza (EoMEoTE) “non-event event” dreamt up by Jeanne at Cook Sister! and Anthony at Spiceblog last year. It seems like Alberto’s a very young grandfather, with his brainchild having so many children in just a year’s time (sorry, just indulge my corny joke).

The Filipino flavour is not in the taste, er, but in the songs! Songs, like in singing?! Certainly! If you haven’t noticed, where Filipinos (and friends) meet, there will always be food and singing. I heard someone say that a Filipino’s most cherished appliance is the karaoke. A hyperbole, but you get the idea! And so Stel asks us to bring food and in the event that we can’t, we have to post what we’ll sing. Something like a food or consequence game. Fun, isn’t it?

I should stop rambling and get on with what I’m taking to the virtual potluck. I figured from the comments that I’m most probably the only one currently in the country (am I, Stel?). Stel said to bring our “favorite finger or party food, hors d’oeuvres, canape, pica pica” and preferred beverage. And so I take with me several – fish balls, a whole tiklis (large fruit or vegetable basket) of tree-ripened mangoes, a vegetable platter, bochi and some jars of ice-cold very young coconut juice.

It’s not that I am trying to be a goodie-goodie-foodie but our town fiesta was just last Sunday and I still don’t want to eat anything too heavy, having had an overload of meat in rich sauces by simply cooking and tasting. Our wine and champagne bottles are also empty, nothing but a half bottle of Merlot left. Besides, checking Stel’s early visitors has convinced me that we will have more than enough food and spirits. See for yourself and you’ll understand what I mean when I say Filipino merienda fare are meals unto themselves. :hungry:

Among the things that I’m bringing, it’s only the fish balls that I cooked myself. I chose fish balls because they’re such perfect finger food, originally having the status of lowly street food but now have invaded cocktail parties. Perhaps almost every middle-class child has been told not to buy from food peddlers, with their carts containing the stove and frying pan exposed to dust and grime of the streets. I’ve heard that lecture from my mother and so didn’t get to taste street fish balls till I was in university, when someone from the same organisation I was in persuaded me to try. And so I was hooked! A friend and I still go out and have a fish balls eating spree now and then. We try to eat from as many carts as possible. But I’ve always wanted to make my own, with the commercial variety progressively shrinking in size and becoming more of discs than balls. I wanted to replicate the taste, texture and aesthetics of good quality fish balls but my first attempt isn’t so successful. I got the taste right, even better perhaps – even if I say so myself, but the texture is a bit more dense. Perhaps next time I should use some baking powder instead of eggs to get lighter and softer balls. The ones I have now seem to be a cross between fish croquets and fish balls. But my experimental spheres taste good so I’m serving them (recipe provided below).

Fish balls are also incomplete without their sauce, having three variants – vinegar with spices, a sweet-salty mixture and a hot and spicy combination. Each vendor would have his or her own secret recipe and I still haven’t managed to get it out of them, except that one uses good quality margarine to fry onions before adding the base. For my sauce, I used Zarah Maria’s sweet chilli sauce recipe. Try it, it’s one of the best I’ve tasted.

For those with a sweet tooth, I bought some bochi. These are ground glutinous rice dumplings stuffed with sweet red bean paste and then deep-fried till golden brown, very similar to the Japanese mochi (even the names are related). These are commonly sold in the marketplaces or also as street food peddled by itinerant vendors. They’re also fairly easy to cook. I’ll probably devote an entry sometime in the distant future, hehe!

Why did I bring jelly beans? Well, this is a girls’ night out and when girls are together singing, chatting and laughing, it’s also nice to have something like junk food to munch on. Although I hardly crave for sweets, jelly beans are a weakness, more for the fun factor – anticipating the burst of flavour each bean contains. A Jelly Belly baby I am. I have probably tasted each flavour they have, except for some of the Harry Potter Bertie Botts’ beans, if you know what I mean.

That should do for now. I’m sure Stel’s tables are already groaning. See you there!

Fish Balls

500 g. white fish meat (for this recipe, maya-maya – green jobfish, sc. Aprion virescens)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2-3 tbsp. garlic, finely crushed
50-60 g. (approx. half cup) flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. salt
ground black pepper
cooking oil

Poach fish in boiling water for around 5 minutes then remove from water, mash and mix with onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Combine the eggs then the flour and mix till smooth. Shape the dough into small balls.

In a wok or frying pan, heat the oil (high heat) then drop the fish balls one by one. Make sure there is enough space to stir them thoroughly now and then. Cook until golden brown. Remove from heat and dry on paper towels.

Serve with preferred sauce, in my case Zarah Maria’s sweet chilli sauce.

Update: Stef has put her fishballs experiment online. Check it out! Mmmmm…!!!

Related posts: