Fern Friday Salad

IMG_1683.JPGDon’t be misled. The only reason I named this recipe as such is because where I currently am in Baguio City, Philippines, Fiddlehead ferns are only available in the public market on Fridays.

But this is simply a fresh fiddlehead fern salad, known locally as pako.

This is not the same as just fiddlehead, the curly top of the fern plant which is a delicacy in countries like Canada.

This salad uses more of the leaves rather than the fiddleheads.

I’ve been craving for this salad since I first tasted it at a gourmet restaurant in Manila.  Since then, I promised myself to make it in my kitchen, if I could find a source for the fresh ingredient.

Well, I did find a source.  You can bet I’ll be having this every Friday!


One bunch, Fiddlehead fern leaves

1 medium onion, sliced

2 tomatoes, sliced

1/2 cup white vinegar

1 tsp Olive oil

1 tbsp brown sugar

A dash of ground black pepper

1 red, salted egg, sliced in half


Separate the fern leaves and fiddleheads from the stem.  Discard the stems. Thoroughly wash the fern leaves.  Blanch and drain.

In a small bowl, mix vinegar, sugar and black pepper and set aside.

In a serving bowl, combine fern leaves, onion, tomatoes and Olive oil. Toss.

Pour the vinegar dressing over the salad mixture.  Toss one more time.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

When ready to serve, top with the salted egg slices.

A Soupy, Spicy Spinach Laing


When one thinks of laing, what immediately comes to mind is that spicy, coconutty delicacy from the Philippines’ Bicol region. It’s basically a stew of gabi (taro) leaves cooked in coconut milk, shrimp paste and other spices.  It usually includes pork slices.

But when taro is not available, one can always use similar leaves like kangkong (water spinach) or alugbati (Malabar spinach) which is what I did for this recipe.

Because I love coconut milk, I made my spinach laing soupy which is a departure from the usually drier recipe.


3 cups kangkong leaves, washed

3 cups alugbati, washed

1 can, coconut milk

1/2 cup, cubed pork belly

3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

1 small red onion, peeled and sliced

1 thumb, ginger, peeled and chopped

3 pcs. Thai chillies, thinly sliced

1 tbsp shrimp paste

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tbsp Olive oil


In a large pan, heat Olive oil. Add garlic, ginger and onion and cook for two minutes. Add pork belly and stir-fry until nicely browned. Add coconut milk and bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat and add shrimp paste and Thai chillies. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add kangkong and alugbati leaves and cook until wilted.  Remove from heat and serve warm with steamed rice.




Dinengdeng With Fried Bangus


You can’t claim to be an Ilocano (someone from the Ilocos Region in Northern Philippines) if you haven’t had dinengdeng.  It’s basically a vegetable stew akin to pinakbet or the French ratatouille.

But dinengdeng is unique in many ways because the dish can be as simple or as “elaborate” as you want it to be.  But you have to have some basic vegetables which many Ilocanos grow in their backyard.  Of course, it can’t be called dinengdeng without the fermented fish sauce (bagoong) for flavoring.

The dish can totally be cooked with vegetables or mixed with grilled or fried fish, usually, bangus (milk fish).

For this recipe, I used bitter melon, eggplant, long beans, alukon (birch flower), malunggay leaves, moringa fruit, sigarilyas (winged beans) and monamon (salt fermented anchovies). I couldn’t find squash flower at that time so I skipped it.


1 bangus (milkfish), cleaned and sliced into four pieces

1 eggplant, sliced into bite-sized pieces

1 bitter melon, seeded and sliced into rounds or crescents

1/2 cup, cut long beans (2-inches)

1/2 cup, sliced moringa fruit

1/2 cup, malunggay (moringa leaves)

1/2 cup, alukon ( birch flower)

3 pcs, sigarilyas (winged beans), cut into thirds (diagonally)

1 small onion, sliced

1 small tomato, sliced

1 thumb ginger, peeled and cut into ribbons

4 tbsps, monamon or bagoong (fish sauce)

4 cups water

Salt and pepper to taste


Season fish with salt and pepper to taste and either grill or pan-fry them.  Let aside.

Boil water in  a large pan before adding onion, tomatoe and ginger. Add the fish sauce and continue cooking for about 2 minutes. Add the vegetables, starting with the long beans, bitter melon, alukon, moringa fruit and winged beans. Cook for about two minutes before adding the malunggay.  Add salt and pepper as needed. During the last 2 minutes of cooking add the fried or grilled fish to add flavor to the stew.  Remove from heat and serve warm with steamed rice.



Adobo Pineapple Fried Rice


Here’s a way to enjoy your pork adobo and pineapple fried rice all in one.  Add in some Chinese sausage and season with turmeric powder to give it that awesome flavor and nice yellow color.

You can mostly use leftover rice and pork adobo to create this entire new dish.  And did I already say complete meal?


4 cups, cooked (or leftover) rice

2 cups, cooked pork adobo, chopped

2 pcs Chinese sausage, thinly sliced

1 cup celery, chopped

1/2 cup raisins

1 cup pineapple chunks

1/2 cup green onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

1 small onion, chopped

1 small tomato, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp turmeric powder

2 tbps Olive oil



Heat Olive oil in a large pan.  Add garlic and cook until browned.  Add onions and cook until tender.  Add tomatoes. Add pork adobo, Chinese sausage, celery and raisins.  Cook for about three minutes, stirring constantly.  Add in cooked rice. Add turmeric and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Cook until rice begins to turn crisp and yellow. Turn off heat and add pineapple slices.  Transfer to a serving plate and garnish with green onions


Open-Faced Lumpia (Eggroll)

IMG_0274Say what? Open-faced, as opposed to rolled.

This is an unconventional take on the ground beef and bean sprout eggroll (lumpia) posted here previously.  The only difference is that instead of rolling the wrapper, you fry it flat and layer it, adding melted cheese.


Same as in our beef and bean sprout eggroll

Melted cheese


Follow directions in preparing and cooking the filling using ground beef, bean sprouts and shredded carrots.

Heat Olive oil in a large pan. Place two sheets of the eggroll wrapper into the pan and fry until lightl browned and crispy.  Reduce heat and place the filling over the wrappers, spreading it out evenly.  Place desired amount of melted cheese over the filling.  Place two more wrappers over the filling and cheese.  Carefully turn the whole thing over and cook until the bottom wrappers are browned and crispy.  Turn off heat and using a large spatula, transfer the open-faced eggroll into a plate lined with paper tower to drain excess oil.

Serve warm and garnish with extra shredded carrots, bean sprouts and green onions. Use a knife to slice into pieces and eat like a pizza.

Pancit Miki (Egg Noodles)


When preparing Filipino-style pancit, you have a range of choices for noodles to use: rice, egg, vermicelli.  They can come thin, thick or flat. Some noodles even come flavored, like spinach or beet noodles.

Miki  egg noodles are a favorite when making pancit.  They’re more filling that canton, bihon or sotanghon.  Preparation is easy and is quite similar to that of the other pancit recipes.

Yesterday while out in the market for some fresh vegetables, I came upon a vegetable vendor selling fresh Miki, so I grabbed a pack and the opportunity to prepare pancit Miki for the first time ever!


5 -6 cups, fresh egg noodles

2/3 cup pork belly, cut into bite-sized pieces

1/3 cup pork liver, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 Chinese sausage, thinly sliced

1 small bunch, bokchoy, cleaned and separated

1/2 cup carriots, julienned

1 medium onion, sliced

3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

5 tbsps soy sauce

2 tsps white vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup water

2 tbsps Olive oil

1 tsp sesame oil

1/4 cup green onions, chopped


Heat oil in large pan. Sauté garlic until golden brown.  Add onions and cook till fragrant.  Add pork and cook until nicely browned. Add carrots.  Add water and bring to a quick boil.  Reduce heat.  Add soy sauce and vinegar. Let simmer for a few minutes. Add liver and continue cooking for one minute. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add noodles and stir fry until cooked and tender (if needed, add more water).  Add bokchoy and cook for one more minute. Remove from heat and transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle sesame oil, then garnish with green onions and Chinese sausage.

Bitter Melon Beef


Despite its nutritional benefits, not a lot of people incorporate bitter melon into their diet, except perhaps for the Chinese, Filipinos and others in Asia.  Sure, it is one of those “acquired tastes,” but there are ways to temper the bitter quality of this vegetable.  I, for one, hated bitter melon when I was growing up!

For this recipe, I simply cooked bitter melon with thinly-sliced beef strips, sautéed them in garlic, onions and tomatoes, added soy sauce, sugar and some spices, and … pineapple.

Of course, the pineapple is optional, but for those who are just now venturing into the taste of bitter melon, it might be a good compromise.


One large bitter melon fruit, seeded and sliced into crescents

1/2 lb, thinly-sliced beef strips, cut into bite-sized pieces

3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

1 small onion, sliced

1 small tomato, chopped

1 cup pineapple chunks or tidbits

Salt and pepper to taste

2-3 tbsps soy sauce

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp Olive oil

Sesame seeds for garnish (optional)


Heat Olive oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and cook until golden brown. Add onions and cook until fragrant.  Add tomatoes and cook for another minute.  Add beef slices and cook until nicely browned. Add bitter melon and sauté until nicely green and tender.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add water and cook for three minutes. Reduce heat to low and add in soy sauce and sugar. Add in pineapple slices. Let simmer  for another three minutes. Remove from heat and serve warm with steamed rice.  Garnish with sesame seeds.