When it comes to creating new dishes for my restaurant , there is no better place than to start in the farmers market for inspiration for my next tasty creation. You never know what you will find! Today I traveled over to Cubao Farmers Market in Araneta Center, Quezon City, to see what they had to offer.
The market is huge! Divided into 4 main sections, it has fruit and vegetables in the front of the market and the fish and meat is located at the rear. We walked straight to the fish section to make sure we get the freshest fish before they sell out for the day. We carefully walked between the busy fish stalls as we made our way to my favorite fish monger who specializes in selling tuna. I found a nice piece of tuna belly, which is highly prized in Japan for its fatty content.
We move on to another stall located near the corner of the market, and find some sea grapes and little fish that look a lot like anchovies. I’m getting good ideas, from walking around the market already. There is so much to see!
We move upstairs to the vegetable section where to my surprise, we find zucchini flowers! I had no idea that this was even available in Filipino markets. I’m told they use it to make sauces and is used as a garnish. These flowers are highly prized in Italian cuisine, and in Japan, like the tuna belly, zucchini flowers are very expensive. I buy all of them from the lady’s vegetable stall, first checking to see if she had any more to sell. I already know what I will be making first when I get back to my restaurant!
Next we go to another vegetable stall to pick up some micro vegetables that we use a lot for garnishing, and adding color to the food. There I am surprised to find edible fern shoots! This is another vegetable that I have rarely seen sold in any other market around the world. It has a very interesting flavor, a little nutty, a cross between okra and a potato.
We take our bounty of fresh produce back to the restaurant to start on my new creations. I will start by making a classic Italian dish of deep fried zucchini flowers, topped with marinated anchovies. Check out my video below to see how I created a classic Italian dish using only Filipino ingredients: