Shopping for Durian, Black Chicken and Frog Legs

What have started as a smooth-sailing start of my expat life has turned quite challenging lately…

It all started three exhausting weeks ago when I accepted a contract work here in Singapore.

The job should be pretty easy as it is in a similar business environment I had in Manila. The job is a simple clerical job but with unnecessary pressures at work, struggles in decoding every wah and lah in everyday conversations, motherly duties at home and the inevitable tell-tale of my bygone youth – the past weeks were terribly draining – both in mind and body.

If I were in Manila and had been in this so much stress, I would simply retreat to a spa.

Imagine relaxing in an hour of aromatic full-body massage (cheap treat at Php250 or about S$8) and a mani-pedi (around Php200 or just S$6) will definitely help me regain back my lost energies.

Unfortunately, with limited pampering budget in an expensive city, I spent $28 (about Php900) for a 20-minute neck and shoulder massage on my first week, $12 (about Php400) for a 15-minute foot reflexology on my second week and just over the weekend, I spent another S$25 (about Php800) in classic pedicure and S$10 (about Php330) more in eyebrow threading. :(

My husband said I am stressing myself more every time I convert all these numbers. He was right. All the few minutes of luxurious heaven, GONE. I really miss HOME

*****
Since my lavish (based on my calculations) spending , I felt the need to find an alternative de-stressing activity for tonight so I headed to a nearby supermarket to window-shop.

Here are some local finds that will either tickle your palate or will simply amaze you:

Durian, Red Bean and Coconut Ice Cream
Durian might not be allowed inside public transportation here in Singapore but this smelly relative of Jackfruit is a favorite local desert here that is eaten raw, candied or made into yummy ice cream like the one in the picture. Other popular local desserts are Red Bean and Coconut. If not in ice cream form, usually sweetened and placed over shaved ice, layered with crystals, rubies or pearls then mixed with milk like the yummy  halo-halo in the Philippines.

MUST TRY: Durian ice cream in wafer, sold by Wall’s Ice Cream mobile vendors.

Mani (Peanut) Leaves
Mani is very common in the Philippines, but not its leaves. The mani alone maybe plainly boiled then eaten as a healthy snack, or finely grounded and mixed with oil, salt and sugar to make yummy peanut butter spread, or grind it to make thick peanut sauce for a famous Filipino dish, Kare-Kare. Heard that the Chinese actually cook mani leaves together with crab meat, minced pork or dried shrimp to make soup while the Malays stir-fries mani leaves with eggs and anchovies.

Black Chicken
Judging its appearance, not all may become an instant fan. But the Black Chicken is known for its supposed healing benefits. It is usually made into a flavorful soup cooked with variety of traditional Chinese herbs and roots that is believed to boost the immune system and treat body ailments. If you would like to try, here’s a herbal soup recipe  from mamatongsoup.com using this intimidating black chicken.

Frog Legs
Presented just like fresh chicken cutlets in the wet market, bloody and all, these frog legs are fast selling here. Locals here say that the texture and taste is similar to a chicken and it can be cooked in various ways – sautéed, fried, caramelized, grilled, mixed with congee, and many more. My favourite bizzare food explorer, Andrew Zimmern, has a great Crispy Salt & Pepper Frog Legs recipe worth a try.

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