Hidden away veggie meat supermarket!

Veggie place

Quan Yin Chay

Quan Yin Chay

It’s so hard to find decent fake meat! In Europe being a vegetarian is almost a fashion, not so much in the Philippines. It’s not an uncommon conversation when eating out and you ask the waiter “is there meat in this?” and for the waiter to reply “no ma’am, only chicken” or sometimes “no ma’am, only ground pork”! Or to ask “What on your menu is vegetarian please?” and for your waiter to reply “this dish ma’am, it’s fish”. Sometimes it’s just easier to cook your own food at home but also, at times, it can get boring just eating vegetables and sauces, sometimes it’s nice to add something a little different.

To that end, I must tell you about an awesome, hidden away, veggie meat supermarket! Quan Yin Chay. Sounds Chinese right? So that gives a clue as to where this place is and why it’s so hard to find. Most people assume (myself included) that to find veggie meat, you look in the big supermarkets or in the rich areas of the Philippines. That would be wrong, for this little place is hidden away down a side street of China town, not far from the main immigration building, it’s a great little time waster whilst waiting for visas.

Veggie meat heaven!

Veggie meat heaven!

Before I get to how amazing the selection of veggie meat is, I should explain how to get there. From immigration, you take a tricycle for P70 to “Ogpin street” China town. It’s a special trip and it’s about 10 minutes so that’s why it’s a little more expensive than you’d normally pay for a tricycle journey. You ask the driver to drop you off at the front of “Café France”. Yes, there is a Café France, in the middle of China Town, in the Philippines! When you get to Café France, walk over a little bridge, when you get to the second street you pass, turn left there. Walk straight down there for a couple of minutes and there, ahead of you, is this tiny gem.

Inside, it’s half restaurant, half supermarket. I’ve never eaten in the restaurant as I’ve always been rushing to get back to immigration once I’ve bought my stock of veggie meat. However, it might be worth a try as it does look pretty good. It’s the supermarket part that is the exciting part though. It has everything, veggie bacon, veggie goose (awesome!), veggie chicken, veggie fish, veggie tuna in a can, veggie sausages and so much more, I’ve just listed the stuff I normally get. It’s not the cheapest but given how difficult it is to find decent veggie meat and how good this stuff is, it’s totally worth it. For a block of veggie bacon it’s about P200. Might sound like a lot, but it’s really worth it. If you buy a lot, they also give you discount. They also sell things like veggie barbeque sauce, veggie oyster sauce and veggie meatloaf in a can.

Yummy stuff!!

Yummy stuff!!

This place is a hidden gem in the most unlikely place. I am seriously thankful to my friend Amie who showed me this place and to the nice people in Café France who helped me find it again the second time I went. If you’re veggie and in the Philippines, it is the best place I’ve found in all my searching to buy quality veggie meat to cook at home. I’ll post some recipies soon about some of the yummy things you can make using this stuff :)

Full Address: Quan Yin Chay, 821 Masangkay St., Binondo, Manila, Phils.

It is near to: Dia Eng Chay.

Contact number of them: (02) 24303356

Email: meganet@netasia.net

Tomatoy Slop

 

Preparing veggies

Preparing veggies

Tomatoy slop!

I like to experiment with different cooking methods and different vegetables. As such, I make a lot of random meals which tend to end up with pretty strange names, such as creamy slop, tomato slop, sayote and egg stuff.

Calling food slop actually was started by a friend of mine who was trying to wind me up (and succeeded at first) but it eventually just became the name of different meals. This particular slop is a bit of a cross between menudo and adobo, two traditional Filipino dishes. It’s tangy, salty and can be made with pretty much any vegetables you have lying around. It’s one of those meals that you can just chuck together in 20mins, is filling and healthy. Anyway, try it for yourself sometime…here’s the recipe.

Ingredients: 

cooking...colourful :)

cooking…colourful :)

 

5 Okra
1 Bell pepper
1 medium Carrot
1 Onion
3 cloves of Garlic
¼ kg of Mongo sprout (or if you’re in Europe, you can also you bean sprouts)
1 Sayote
2 TBSP Malunggay Powder
¼ kg string beans
500g Tomato sauce
Soy sauce to taste
1 stock cube dissolved in half a cup of water

Method: 

  1. Chop up the onion and garlic and lightly fry
  2. Cut up the other vegetables into chunks
  3. Add the carrots and Sayote to the onion and garlic, allow to cook on a low heat for about 5 minutes
  4. Add the pepper, okra, mongo sprout and string beans to the pan
  5. Turn the heat down low, put a pan on the lid and allow to cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the tomato sauce, stock and soy sauce and Malunggay powder. Personally I like this slop quite salty but it’s really personal taste how much soy sauce you add.
  7. Allow to cook for a further 5 minute or until the vegetables are soft
  8. Kain na!
completed and time to eat  :)

completed and time to eat :)

Estimated servings: 4 – 5

Estimated complete cost: P100

Estimate price per serving: P20

Estimate length of time: 20 minutes

Serving suggestion:  Serve with rice and grated cheese (cheese makes everything taste better!)

Malunggay Powder: Malunggay is a very healthy leaf with loads of vitamins. You can buy it as a powder in the Echo store outside Market in the Fort, Metro Manila. I’m sure you can buy it in other places too but that’s the only place I’ve ever found it. Alternatively, you can buy it in the market for Php5 a bunch and either add it fresh or dry it out and grind it up to make a powder.

Stock cubes: You cannot buy vegetarian stock cubes in the Philippines. Even the vegetable stock cubes have fish in them. What you can buy instead is Knorr liquid seasoning. It’s not as good as having actual stock cubes but at least it’s vegetarian and adds that extra flavour that sometimes some meals just lack. If you do use the seasoning instead of a cube, add about a tablespoon.

Awesome food in the Philippines!

MarketThere are so many awesome fruit and vegetables in the Philippines and so many equally awesome recipes, traditional dishes, and amazing variety. However, if you’re a vegetarian, it can also be a pretty hard country to eat out in, if you don’t know where to go. Also, when you want to cook Filipino food and you find ‘veggie’ recipes, they may still contain fish sauce, or ground pork, or have ingredients that cost a fortune or are simply impossible to find.

The markets here are packed full of fresh fruits and vegetables. Just to walk into one is to be bombarded by smells. True, some of those smells are the slightly less savoury as there are so many different types of raw meat, animal intestines and fish.  However, walk a bit further to the vegetables sections and  the choice, the prices, and the quality are hard to beat.

I love it when it is time to visit the market and when it’s time to buy fruit. There are so many varieties, from grapes to jackfruit, from melons to mangos (mangos in the Philippines are the best!) and they’re all so fresh!

With all this produce so easily available, the secret is knowing just where to buy; what to buy; mistakes to avoid; how to cook in ways

Mango's are so good here!

Mangos are so good here!

that bring out the flavours, and how to store produce to keep it at its best for as long as possible. This is what I aim to cover with this blog: how to really enjoy healthy, nutritious, cheap vegetarian dishes with local ingredients. These will include traditional Filipino dishes, cooked for vegetarians and I will tell you all about some great little hidden away vegetarian restaurants. Then there are the places I have found where you can buy some amazing meat alternatives, including veggie bacon, veggie sausages  and even veggie goose!

For me food should be about fun, relaxation, and creativity. About sharing, enjoying good flavours with great company and of course nutrition. As this blog unfolds, I hope you can share some of that with me!