A Soupy, Spicy Spinach Laing

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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.

INGREDIENTS

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

DIRECTIONS

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.

 

 

 

Sisig Potatoes

 

IMG_1442Sisig is a very popular appetizer in the Philippines, usually consisting of chopped pig ears, snout and tongue, pork belly and liver, grilled then cooked in vinegar, soy sauce and spices and enhanced with either pig’s brain or mayonnaise. It is best served sizzling.

This dish is a two-step process, unless you already have some leftover sisig.  First you have to cook the sisig, then complete the process by cooking the potatoes before mixing them together. It is similar to sisig (French) fries sold at many fastfood restaurants, or the Canadian poutine.

I chose to use halved baby potatoes instead of the usual French fries.

SISIG

INGREDIENTS

1/2 lb. pig ears

1/2 lb. pig snout

1/2 lb. pork belly

1 large onion, minced

1 thumb fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

3 pcs. Thai chillies, chopped

3 pcs. dried basil

3 tbps soy sauce

2 tbsps vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

6 cups water

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

1/2 cup butter or margarine

DIRECTIONS

Boil the water in a large pan, adding salt, pepper and dried basil.  Add pig’s ears, snout and pork belly and simmer for an hour or until the meat is tender. Remove the boiled ingredients from the pan and drain. Grill the boiled pig ears, snout and pork belly until done.

Chop the meat into tiny squares.

In a wide pan, melt the butter . Add onions and cook until soft. the onions. Add ginger and cook for about a minute. Add the chopped meat and cook for 15 minutes. Add soy sauce, vinegar and chillies.  Mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add mayonnaise and mix well.

Remove from heat and set aside.

POTATOES

INGREDIENTS

10-15 baby potatoes (skin on) scrubbed and washed thoroughly, cut into halves

1 cup fresh basil, sliced into thin ribbons

1 tsp. , dried rosemary

Olive oil for frying

Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil and add potatoes.  Add half the basil. Add rosemary. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Continue to cook until the potatoes are tender.  When potatoes are done, add the remaining basil.  Turn off heat.

FINAL PREP

In a serving bowl or platter, place the cooked potatoes.  Top the potatoes with sisig and garnish with green onions.

The Perfect Grilled Pork Belly

IMG_1269Of course, “perfect” is relative, but we all have our own ideas of what constitutes a perfect meal, a perfect menu, or a perfectly-grilled pork belly.

My idea of a perfectly-grilled pork belly is the right combination of meat and fat, the right mixture of marinade, and a cross between medium cooked and a little burnt.

INGREDIENTS

1 lb pork belly, sliced pork chop style

1/3 cup soy sauce

4-5 pcs. calamansi (or one medium lime), juiced

1/2 tsp garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

In a medium bowl, marinate the pork belly in the soy sauce, calamansi juice, garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Fire the grill. Cook the marinated pork belly in batches, constantly turning them over to make sure they’re evenly grilled.  Allow grill fire to direcly touch parts of the pork, especially the skin and fat. Cook until desired tenderness of the meat with edges a little burnt.

Remove from heat and cut two or three slits on one side of the grilled pork belly.

If desired, sprinkle some extra calamansi juice of the the cooked meat.

 

The (Almost) Perfect Kilaweng Kambing: Boil, Grill, Marinate

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Goat  is said to be the healthier of meats — healthier than pork or beef. It is rich in Vitamin B with less saturated fat. So if you’re a meat eater and are on a diet,  consider goat as an option.

Kilaweng Kambing is one of the more popular ways of preparing goat meat. “Kilawen” basically means “raw,” but not to worry, you’ll not be eating raw goat meat.

It’s like ceviche, but with some additional process.  First, you boil the goat meat to make it tender.  Then you grill it before cutting it up and marinating it in vinegar (or lime juice) mixed with onions, ginger, chillies and other spices.

Being from Baguio City where it’s easy to find prepared Kilaweng Kambing, I could just head out to Slaughter House or other restaurants and food stalls that sell it.  But nothing gives me the excitement and pleasure of making my own, home-made, almost perfect, Kilaweng Kambing!

INGREDIENTS

1 kilo (2.2 lbs) goat meat and liver, thoroughly washed

1 large onion, peeled and chopped

1 thumb ginger, peeled and minced

1 green or red chilli pepper, thinly sliced

3 tbsps vinegar

4 pcs. dried basil leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

6 cups water

DIRECTIONS

Boil water.  Add basil leaves and goat meat and cook for 60 minutes or until meat is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add goat liver during the last 10 minutes of boiling. Remove from heat, drain and slice meat and liver into thin strips (reserve liquid for soup).

In a mixing bowl, add sliced goat meat and liver, onions, ginger and chilli pepper. Add vinegar and more salt and pepper as needed.

Serve in room temperature or chilled.

 

Pinangat Na Pompano (Boiled Pompano)

IMG_1204.JPGPompano is a marine fish with a compressed body and short snout,typically silver and toothless with a forked tail and narrow base. It is found around the Philippines often close to shore near reefs, lagoons, and along sandy beaches. In the U.S., the most popular variety is the Florida pompano. A city near the Florida coast is named after this premium fish.

“Pinangat” is a Filipino term that means “boiled in water and salt.” And that describes the process in preparing this dish.

INGREDIENTS

2 pompano fish (whole)
3 medium tomatoes sliced into thin rounds
1 small onion cut into rings
1/4 cup calamansi or lime juice
3/4 cup water
1 tbsp Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 green onions, sliced

DIRECTIONS

Clean the fish and cut two diagonal slices on either side. Place half of the onions and tomatoes on the bottom of a deep pan. Add fish, the remaining onion and tomatoes, calamansi or lime juice, water, olive oil, green onions. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let boil on medium-high heat, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until the fish is done.

Dinengdeng With Fried Bangus

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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.

INGREDIENTS

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

DIRECTIONS

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.

 

 

Home-made Mini Bibingka (Rice Cake)

IMG_0988.JPGAh, the memories of warm, freshly-made bibingka on chilly Christmas season mornings, sold near church premises during the traditional dawn masses – Simbanggabi. Or dining out with family and friends at Filipino restaurants specializing in popular cuisine and delicacies.

Now, in home kitchens, modern technology has replaced traditional cooking implements like claypots and charcoal-fired grills.

How about an inexpensive pancake maker to enjoy your bibinka anytime at home? Mini bibingkas to be exact.

Mini bibingkas are great for family gatherings.  You can definitely impress your guests with these home-made replicas of that favorite “coconutty” Filipino delicacy!

(Use of banana leaves to hold the mini-cakes optional)

INGREDIENTS

1 cup rice flour (available at most Asian grocery stores)

2 tsps baking powder

4 tbsps butter, melted

A couple pinches of salt

1 cup sugar

1 cup coconut milk

¼ cup fresh milk

3 eggs

1 salted duck egg (itlog na maalat, sliced)

6 slices, cheddar cheese

1/2 cup  grated coconut

DIRECTIONS

In a mixing bowl, combine rice flour, baking powder, salt, eggs, butter, sugar, coconut milk and fresh milk.  Whisk and mix well.

Pour the mixture into the pancake maker. Top each cake with a slice of cheese and salted egg. Cook until mixture is set and lightly browned. Remove from pancake maker.  Transfer to a plate and top with grated coconut and, if desired, some extra butter.