King Mackerel Halang Halang (Visayan Spicy Mackerel Stewed in Coconut Milk)

King Mackerel Halang Halang (Visayan Spicy Mackerel Stewed in Coconut Milk)

Hello Everyone! I remember the first time I came across this dish; I was on the phone with my Dad asking him what he would like to eat for the upcoming week before his trip back here to the Philippines. He doesn’t get to eat much home-cooked Filipino food in Indonesia so every time he’s back home, I make sure to include in our weekly menu the things that he wants to eat, even if it is against his diet *facepalm*

One of the dishes he mentioned was Chicken Halang Halang. “What?” I said in confusion as I have never heard of this dish before. The way my dad explained it to me was “it’s like the Visayan version of Chicken Adobo.” But it is actually far from that. This dish more closely represents a cross between Tinolang Manok and Ginataang Manok.

King Mackerel Halang Halang (Visayan Spicy Mackerel Stewed in Coconut Milk)

Halang Halang is a Visayan dish where your choice of meat is stewed in a spicy coconut milk sauce. The word halang when directly translated to English, means spicy because of the use of chillies as one of the main ingredients in this dish. So essentially, the dish is called, in English, “Spicy Spicy” *cheeky grin* The coconut milk maintains the creaminess and richness of the dish while it tempers the spiciness of the chillies. It also has a hint of lemongrass, making the dish amazingly aromatic and taste super fresh.

Like most dishes, there are endless possibilities in making Halang Halang. I decided to attempt this dish using fresh King Mackerel steaks that I bought at the markets before we went into Enhanced Community Quarantine. It is definitely an exceptional dish that you can serve at home on a regular basis.

Delicious, no fuss, and easy to make.

King Mackerel Halang Halang (Visayan Spicy Mackerel Stewed in Coconut Milk) Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 25 MINS | SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS

For the king mackerel steaks

  • 6 large King Mackerel steaks
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp yellow curry powder

For the halang halang gravy

  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, lightly pounded
  • 2 small red bird’s eye chilli, sliced
  • 1 large green chilli, sliced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 thumb-sized ginger, julienned
  • 1 thumb-sized turmeric, julienned
  • 1 can (400ml) coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • Handful of chilli leaves

METHOD

  1. Combine the seasonings and spices in a small bowl. Generously rub the spices into the fish steaks, making sure to cover all sides. Leave to sit for about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large frying pan, heat 3 tablespoons of coconut oil over medium high. Make sure that the pan is scorching hot, but not smoking, before putting the fish in as this will prevent the steaks from sticking to the pan.
  3. Carefully place the steaks into the pan and fry for about 3 minutes per side, or until lightly browned to seal in all the flavours. Depending on the size of your frying pan, or the size of your steaks, you may need to work in batches. Once done, transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up any excess grease.
  4. Turn the heat down to medium. In the same frying pan, sauté the garlic, onion, ginger, turmeric, and chillies until golden and fragrant, about a minute or two.
  5. Slowly pour in half of the coconut milk into the pan and add the lemongrass stalks. Cover the pan and leave to simmer for about 20 minutes. Check and stir occasionally to avoid curdles from forming.
  6. Pour the remaining coconut milk into the pan and slowly return the king mackerel steaks to the pan. Cover and bring back up to a rapid simmer. Once simmering, turn the heat off and add the chilli leaves.
  7. Transfer to a serving plate and top with extra slices of red and green chillies for an extra kick of spice. Serve with hot steamed rice and enjoy!

King Mackerel Halang Halang (Visayan Spicy Mackerel Stewed in Coconut Milk)

This dish is guaranteed to tempt you to increase your rice intake. If you plan to stick with just a cup of rice – or just half like myself – make sure that you condition yourself beforehand because there’s a high chance that you’ll give in to the temptation. I know because I did. Oops.

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Pineapple Coconut Braised Pork Ribs

Pineapple & Coconut Braised Pork Ribs

I am Justine Michael (JM) De Guzman. A 26-year old Information System Developer and a very passionate home cook from the humble town of Limay, from the province of Bataan. I worked at a Government agency as a System Developer, had a break due to burnout, and that’s when I started focusing on my kitchen (which will soon be a little less, because I’m about to get back on my career track).

How did I get into cooking and food? Well I don’t exactly know when, but all I can remember was ever since I was a little boy, I used to lurk around with my mom, aunties, and Lola in the kitchen. While other kids of my age play outside, I on the other hand was busy buzzing around my mom’s kitchen staff. I used to ask a lot of questions about how our food was done. I would always insist on chopping and slicing the ingredients for our lunch. And I would be the first to ‘tikim’ (taste) my Lola’s dish. Yeah, since childhood, I was into food and cooking. I’m always present when and wherever there’s food.

Though I never really had the opportunity to pursue my passion in cooking until I graduated college, my parents wouldn’t allow me to enroll into culinary or any related program because it’s ‘mahal’ (expensive). We were financially unstable during those times. My mom had cancer, and thank God she’s a very lucky and blessed survivor up to this moment. Going back to the story, it was actually my dentist who became my stepping stone on getting into the real world of cooking. Long story short, she has a sister, who happened to be a celebrity chef who resides in Manila, who is also a lecturer at a premier culinary institution in the country. She endorsed me to her for a scholarship grant given by the said school. So I got in, studied, and trained for months. Voilà!

After my culinary training, an opportunity came, not in the cooking industry though, so I still haven’t really experienced cooking for a living. That’s when I started my career in my field of profession (information system). I worked at the office, but my passion, or should I say obsession for cooking never faded. I’ve been known by my colleagues as the guy who cooks and the guy who has baon (packed food) 🙂 Food became my motivation for work. I always wonder what to cook for dinner when I get home, and for my baon for tomorrow’s lunch.

I began exploring different cuisines, by researching through the web, books (I started collecting books about food), food channels, etc. Aside from food and cooking, my other fascinations include history (Asian history), linguistics, society, and culture. I started to appreciate our food, Filipino food – Southeast Asian food, and those are great factors that shaped up my style and way in cooking. I developed my standards, philosophy, and list of ‘musts’ in my cooking. I rarely cook foods these days that are Western in my point of view. I’m so patriotic. Ingredients should always be fresh and sourced by me. LOL. Ingredients that can be made from scratch must never be substituted with industrially manufactured ones (I hate sinigang mix!). You’ll never see stuff like tomato sauce, sinigang mix, and stew mix, etc. in my pantry.

Pineapple & Coconut Braised Pork Ribs

If I remember it right, I started following Amcarmen’s Kitchen’s IG posts since last year. I really love her content and I frequently visited her blog as well. It was on the first day of May this year when I received a message from her asking about my interest in being part of her Auguest series.

The dish I’m sharing is of my own creation That said, this isn’t a traditional and commonly home cooked dish in most Filipino households. I’ll just call it Pineapple and Coconut Braised Pork Ribs. Before diving into the recipe, let me share some insights about this dish. As I’ve mentioned before, I have these so called “standards, philosophy, and musts” in my cooking. As much as I can, I don’t use industrially manufactured ingredients, so this dish uses fresh pineapple (but you guys can use the canned one, it’s just me. LOL.).

My philosophy in cooking:

You shouldn’t cook or eat food just to survive or satisfy your hunger. For me food must be respected, consumed, and celebrated every time, along with the stories it underlies with. That’s why it’s important for me to know the background and the story behind one dish. Like why this is cooked this way, why these ingredients are used, etc.

Fun fact, I have this odd habit, just before we eat at home, I first gather the attention of everyone. I weirdly and literally discuss the dish we have on the table, the name, and the ingredients, how I cooked it, what’s its origin (if it’s a traditional dish), my reasons and inspiration of coming up with the dish if I just made it out of creativity and imagination, the taste profile, etc. Just like you do it in a culinary school. Only after that will then they’re allowed to eat. LOL. It’s weird right?! But it’s true. No kidding aside.

Again, this is not a traditional Filipino food per se, but I still call it Filipino food. When we say Filipino cuisine, we’re basically dealing with food that’s been shaped by various factors. Culture, beliefs, traditions, religion, local and indigenous ingredients, influences locally, and internationally. Pinoy foods’ characteristics show strong Southeast Asian/Malay, Chinese, Spanish, and Indigenous influences. I always use them in reference whenever I’m developing a dish, just so that I could come up with a more meaningful one. Like, when I think of an ingredient(s) to be used for my dish, I always make sure, it has to be significant to one’s culture or tradition. I wouldn’t use jalapeño or habanero pepper for my Bicol express, simply because it’s not native nor a traditional Filipino ingredient. You get my point, right? LOL 🙂 I always make sure that each ingredient used is there for a reason; it’s not just there because I want it to be there.

So, Pineapple and Coconut Braised Pork Ribs. As the name implies it’s pork braised in a sauce base with pineapple and coconut cream. Why pork ribs? Well, we Filipinos love our pork. Right? Who doesn’t love pork ribs! Pineapple is my hero ingredient. This is a very common ingredient used in Filipino cooking, and I’ve seen lots of traditional dishes that use it as the base or just a “sahog” (topping). My mom would add juice from a pineapple in her caldereta and hamonado dishes, and fresh chunks in her curry. Then we have coconut. What represents Southeast Asian/Pinoy food more than coconut? I’m a huge fan of gata, and I often cook dishes with gata as its base. It is a shared ingredient among ASEANs. The aromatics I used were shallots, garlic, and ginger – the Filipino mirepoix 2.0 as I call it, as 1.0 being the forever trinity of tomatoes, shallots, and garlic. I added spices into it, which is not a very common practice among Filipino cooking, aside from our ultimate spice known as “black pepper” to give it the curry-like flavour profile – black peppercorn, chillies, coriander, star anise, bay leaves, and cinnamon. For the seasoning, I used a balance of both fish sauce and soy sauce. In addition, since this is a sweet-tangy-savoury dish, I added “panutsa” or unrefined block sugar (but seriously brown sugar’s fine).

Pineapple & Coconut Braised Pork Ribs Ingredients

PREP TIME 30 MINS | COOKING TIME 45-60 MINS | SERVES 5-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 & 1/2 kg pork spare ribs, cut into individual ribs
  • 1 whole large fresh pineapple, divided
  • 200ml (approx. 3/4 cup) juice from half of the pineapple
  • 4 & 1/2 cups coconut cream
  • 6 red bird’s eye chili, finely minced
  • 6 shallots, finely minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or alternatively, 1 tbsp cinnamon powder)
  • 1/2 bulb garlic, finely minced
  • 6 tbsp panutsa or brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp ginger, finely minced
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp coriander powder
  • Fish sauce, to season
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Soy sauce, to season

METHOD

  1. In a large wok (kawa) over high heat, sear the ribs until browned and develops a crust on all sides. Set aside.
  2. Turn the heat down to low and add a portion of the coconut cream (about 1/4 cup) into the wok. Simmer until the coconut oil separates from its curd.
  3. In the now separated coconut oil, sauté the finely minced aromatics (shallots, garlic, and ginger) altogether. Sauté until aromatics are translucent.
  4. Turn the heat up to high. Return the seared pork ribs back to the wok and then pour in the pineapple juice, remaining coconut cream, all the spices, soy sauce, and fish sauce.
  5. Cover, bring to a medium boil, and then immediately turn the heat down to low.
  6. Meanwhile, in a medium heated pan, sear the cubed pineapples until browned and caramelized.
  7. For the last 15 minutes of simmering, add in the seared pineapple. Simmer the dish uncovered, just until the pineapple has absorbed the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Serve with steamed white rice. A little bowl of patis (fish sauce) with crushed chilies is a good accompaniment to this. Enjoy!

Pineapple & Coconut Braised Pork Ribs

You can technically call this dish “ginataan”, and you might also find resemblance with hamonado because of its “fruitful” ingredient – pineapple and a hint of “curry-ness” from the added dry spices.

I hope you’ll like this recipe.

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2019 | JM de Guzman

BON APPÉTIT

– JM de Guzman

myTaste.com

Dragon Fruit & Lychee Taho

Dragon Fruit & Lychee Taho

Hello Everyone! So somewhere around November time last year, I shared a recipe for a classic breakfast (or merienda) staple here in the Philippines – none other than the famous tahhoooooo that you hear from yodelling street vendors. I shared a recipe for homemade taho back then, and tonight I’m going to share a recipe for using store-bought silken tofu. Upon doing research, this approach was adapted by our kababayans living or residing overseas, who truly miss having street taho readily available at their doorstep.

Dragon Fruit & Lychee Taho

The very basic and classic version would be warm bland silken tofu that is sweetened with a caramelised brown sugar syrup known as arnibal, and is topped with tiny sago (tapioca) pearls. Nowadays you can find other variants such as Strawberry Taho or even Ube Taho, commonly found in the province of Benguet, more specifically in and around Baguio. Instead of a brown sugar syrup, a strawberry or ube syrup is made to sweeten the bland silken tofu.

Taking that into mind, I had this light bulb moment: what if I made a dragon fruit version of the arnibal? That had been my original for many months, and it was only lately that I decided to pair it with lychees since the two together had a great flavour profile for when I tackled a recipe for Dragon & Lychee Pork just last week.

Dragon Fruit & Lychee Taho Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR 30 MINS | SERVES 2-4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pack (500g) soft silken tofu, roughly cut

For the dragon fruit and lychee arnibal

  • 1 & 1/2 cups water
  • 1 medium-sized dragon fruit (about 600g), peeled and roughly chopped*
  • 1 can (255g) lychees in syrup, drained*
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup lychee syrup

For the tapioca pearls

  • 4-8 cups water
  • 1/2 cup large tapioca pearls, uncooked

*Reserve some of the fruits to garnish before serving

METHOD

  1. Tapioca Pearls: In a medium-sized pot, bring about 2 cups of water to a rapid boil before adding the tapioca pearls in. Leave to cook for about 15-20 minutes. Cooking time may vary depending on the size of the pearls that you use.
  2. Strain the tapioca pearls and add another 2 cups of clean water back into the pot. Bring to a rapid boil before adding the tapioca pearls back to the pot. Cook for a further hour until they become completely translucent ensuring that there are no white spots at the core. Add more water when needed to keep the pearls submerged in water as it evaporates.

I know I have said this before in a previous post, but I’ll say it again for those just tuning in:

Tip: For better results, leave the pearls in the cooking pot until it reaches back to room temperature. One hour of boiling will completely cook the pearls, but the core will still be slightly opaque. Leaving the pearls in the cooking pot for several hours (with the heat turned off) gives them a chance to absorb more water. Which makes the core translucent overtime.

Dragon Fruit & Lychee Taho

  1. Once the core is no longer opaque, strain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
  2. Dragon Fruit & Lychee Arnibal: Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients (except for the lychee syrup) for the arnibal in a small pot and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Stir occasionally and simmer until it thickens into a syrup and until the fruits are soft enough to mash, about 15 minutes.
  3. Once done, strain the syrup into a bowl to rid of any chunks of fruits. Stir in the lychee syrup and then set aside to cool down.
  4. Assemble: Layer each element into a tall glass; taho, syrup, dragon fruit, lychee, and repeat. Of course you can do it in any order you wish. Serve chilled and enjoy! Makes 2 large servings or 4 smaller servings.

The result was absolutely amazing! The sweetness from the dragon fruit and lychee was subtle, but that’s only because I didn’t go overboard on sweetening the syrup, for health reasons. It was just enough to cater to my tolerance of sweet. Of course, feel free to add more sugar in the recipe to your level of liking. Just think, whenever I buy bubble milk tea, I always ask for 0% sugar, or if I’m feeling naughty, then slight sugar only!

Dragon Fruit & Lychee Taho

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Pininyahang Manok (Pineapple Chicken)

Pininyahang Manok (Pineapple Chicken)

Hello Everyone! If you’re looking for a fast and easy dinner meal that will have you out of the kitchen in no time, then I have some great news for you!

Tonight’s recipe is one very close to my heart. Besides the famous Chicken Adobo and Sinigang for days, Pininyahang Manok, or in English, Pineapple Chicken is one of those Filipino dishes that radiates the true meaning of Filipino comfort food. It is delicately flavoured with milk or cream, and pineapples, pulled together with simple pantry staples, finishing in less than 30 minutes cook time. Pair it with steamed rice and you have a chicken dish that the whole family is sure to love.

Pininyahang Manok (Pineapple Chicken)

There are different variations on how the dish is prepared by individuals, mainly in using either fresh or canned pineapples. I like to use fresh pineapples for not only does it add a balanced flavour profile of sweetness and tartness, it also does not have that lasang lata* taste to the dish. Another variation would be the choice of milk used – fresh, evaporated, or coconut milk. Those who prefer a creamier texture use whipping or all-purpose cream. All produce the same results tweaked to their liking, so there is no right or wrong way in choosing your ingredient variations.

*For my non-Filipino followers, lasang lata means “canned” flavour. Some canned products for me have this weird taste that I can’t shake off, that it tastes like the can in which it was preserved.

Pininyahang Manok (Pineapple Chicken) Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 20 MINS | SERVES 3

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 pcs chicken whole legs, cut into 3
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, peeled and sliced diagonally
  • 1 red bird’s eye chilli (optional)
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 small red onion, halved then sliced
  • 2 cups fresh (or canned) pineapple, cut into chunks**
  • 1 cup fresh (or evaporated) milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Handful of chopped spring onions
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

**If using canned pineapples, drain and discard the syrup if you don’t want your dish to be on the sweeter side. The fresh pineapples that I used for this recipe were a bit tart which I personally loved.

METHOD

  1. Add about 2 tablespoons of cooking oil to a medium-sized pan and heat over medium-high. Sauté the minced garlic until golden brown in colour and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Then add in the onions, cooking until soft, about a further minute.
  2. Add the chicken pieces and season with salt and ground black pepper. Stir occasionally and cook until the chicken pieces are lightly browned.
  3. Lower down the heat and add the pineapple chunks and bird’s eye chilli for an extra kick of heat to the dish (optional). Stir then cover until the chicken is tender and has released its own juices, about 10 minutes. Add about half a cup of water if it gets too dry.
  4. Add the sliced carrots and bell pepper strips. Taste and adjust the flavour to your liking. If it is too sweet, add a bit more water or balance it by adding a bit of fish sauce (if it isn’t already too salty for your taste buds). Cook for a further 5 minutes.
  5. Make sure that you turn the heat down as low as you can so that your pineapple chicken is down to a very slow simmer before you add the milk in. Adding the milk when it is rapidly boiling will heat the milk too quickly and cause it to curdle and we don’t want that to happen!
  6. Leave to simmer slowly, but not bring to a boil, for a further 5 minutes before taking it off the heat. Sprinkle with spring onions and serve immediately with steamed rice. Enjoy!

Pininyahang Manok (Pineapple Chicken)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Spicy Chipotle Adobo Ribs sa Gata

Spicy Chipotle Adobo Ribs sa Gata

Hello Everyone! Okay I lied… Well not exactly. You see, last week I said that that would be my last Coconut post for the month. Technically it is since it’s already February, but I do have one more Coconut post to share *cheeky grin* The recipe that I’m going to share with you guys tonight was actually not planned at all. I didn’t want this to end up in my already growing archive of recipes that I never get around to posting because it doesn’t fit with the current theme that I have going. Lucky for me tonight’s dish still fits! Let’s just say that this is a special Chinese New Year post to welcome in the Year of the Pig!

I saw a post on Instagram a while back, towards the beginning of the year I believe, of a new dish that Max’s Restaurant put out which is their Adobo Ribs. I haven’t had the chance to try it yet, but it made me want to try it out at home for myself, with my own twists of course – the twists being adding chipotle peppers for a spicy kick and stewing them in coconut milk as well – to fit with the theme of course *cheeky grin*

Spicy Chipotle Adobo sa Gata (Marination Process)

Adobo can mean marinade, sauce, or seasoning. It is a highly popular Filipino dish amongst locals and even foreigners. I remember when I was still studying in Australia, my taxi driver asked me where I was from. I told him that I was born in Brunei, but a Filipino by blood. To which he replied, “Oh I love the Philippines! And I love… What’s that dish called? Chicken Adobo!” Basically any non-Filipino that I’ve talked to throughout the years, Chicken Adobo and Sinigang are their favourite Filipino dishes.

Anyway, the cooking process of adobo is indigenous to the Philippines. Pre-colonial Filipinos often cooked or prepared their food with vinegar and salt to keep them fresh longer in the tropical climates of the country. To make adobo, you start off by marinating any variant of meat, seafood, or vegetables in vinegar, soy sauce, fresh garlic, black peppercorns, and dried bay leaves. It is then simmered in the marinade until the meat is tender. The dish is characteristically salty and sour in taste.

Now adding gata to the classic adobo makes the dish not only hearty, but also rich and creamy. Would you believe me if I said I’ve never had adobo sa gata before? I mean, I’ve had adobo countless of times growing up, but never with gata – until about a few weeks ago when we had lunch out after our Sunday morning mass. It felt like I had discovered a whole new world of adobo!

Spicy Chipotle Adobo sa Gata Ingredients

PREP TIME 1 HOUR | COOKING TIME 45 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 kg pork ribs
  • 5-6 dried bay leaves
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, sliced or minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (fresh, canned, or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • Red bird’s eye chilli, to garnish

METHOD

  1. In a large cooking pot, add the pork ribs together with the soy sauce, crushed garlic, whole black peppercorns, dried bay leaves, and chipotle peppers. Marinate for a minimum of 20 minutes. If you have time, marinate for an hour for the flavours to really infuse into the meat.
  2. Add the vinegar and water. Cover and cook over medium-high heat for about half an hour. Once done, turn the heat off and leave it aside, covered, for a further half an hour. The residual heat* from the cooking process will further cook and tenderise the meat.

*Residual heat, or residual cooking, or carry-over cooking, is when food continues to cook after it has been removed from a heat source. The heat held within the food itself raises its overall temperature before it starts to cool down.

  1. Meanwhile, heat about 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a small frying pan. Fry the garlic slices until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Turn the heat back on again on low and bring it back to a slow simmer. Once simmering, add the coconut milk in. It is important to slowly bring it back up to a simmer to avoid curdling the coconut milk. This happens when it is heated too quickly. Cook for a further 15 minutes.
  3. Once done, turn the heat off and transfer to a serving plate. Garnish with the fried garlic slices and chopped bird’s eye chillies. Serve with steamed jasmine rice and enjoy!

Spicy Chipotle Adobo sa Gata

Spicy Chipotle Adobo sa Gata

And with that, I would like to wish all my Chinese Family, Friends, Followers, and all those who are celebrating, a Happy Chinese New Year! May the Year of the Earth Pig bring you happiness, prosperity, good health, peace and success! 恭喜发财 Gōngxǐ fācái!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Crispy Pork Bicol Express

Crispy Pork Bicol Express

Hello Everyone! I can’t believe that this is the last recipe for my Coconut series on the blog – time sure does fly by in the wink of an eye. I’ve enjoyed cooking up a coconut storm in the kitchen for the past month, though I’ve realised that all my recipes (expect for one) focused on using Coconut Milk instead of the actual fruit itself *whoops* Nevertheless, I still covered the brief for the month… Hopefully. I did say in my very first post of the year that I will be “cooking with fruits or their… Derivatives“.

For my last Coconut recipe of the month, I will be sharing with you the ultimate Filipino Comfort Food (well let’s face it, almost every Filipino dish is worthy of the ‘ultimate’ title), known as Bicol Express.

Now, I can get into the whole in-depth history of its origins and disputes, but I honestly have no mental power right now to paraphrase the information I’ve read up on. For those who are interested, here’s an article on Market Manila I stumbled upon while trying to figure out why this dish is named ‘Bicol Express’ – which by the way until now remains a mystery to me. Other than it being a catchy name, it’s name is also derived from an overnight passenger train service from Manila to the Bicol region; a region in the Philippines that is famous for their spicy cuisine.

Crispy Pork Bicol Express

Bicol Express is a dish made from pork, bagoong (salted shrimp fry), coconut milk, and lots and lots of chillies that is of course adjustable to your tolerance of spice. Bicol Express is traditionally cooked by stewing the ingredients altogether while crisping up the pork first is just another creative way of enjoying the dish. I prefer it this way just because I love a nice crisp skin when it comes to pork. Roasting it rather than deep-frying it also makes me feel a little less guilty *cheeky grin* but unfortunately, truth be told that this dish is not exactly waist-friendly. Succulent pork belly cubes and a creamy coconut sauce does come with a price to pay!

Crispy Pork Bicol Express Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS* | COOKING TIME 50 MINS | SERVES 4

*Allow of 24 hours of resting time in the fridge for the pork belly after boiled.

INGREDIENTS

For the lechon kawali

  • 1 kg pork belly
  • 6 dried bay leaves
  • 1 tsp ground salt
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • Extra salt, for roasting

For the Bicol Express sauce

  • 2 cups coconut milk (fresh, canned, or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup pork stock (from boiling the pork)
  • 5 red bird’s eye chillies, sliced
  • 3 long green chillies, sliced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small red onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp bagoong alamang (salted shrimp fry)
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

METHOD

  1. Lechon Kawali: Score the pork belly skin with a very sharp knife. Place the meat in a large pot with water, 1 tsp of the whole peppercorns and half of the bay leaves. Boil for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain, placing in a large bowl and let to cool to room temperature.

Tip: Do not throw out the remaining pork stock. Reserve the pork stock to make other dishes or to use as a soup base. Keep in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

  1. Once the meat has cooled down, refrigerate uncovered for at least 24 hours for a better result. Refrigerating the meat will help to draw out any remaining moisture. Remove from the refrigerator and bring back to room temperature prior to roasting in the oven.
  2. Preheat oven between 220-240C (425-475F or gas mark 7-9). Rub oil and plenty of salt into the scored skin, really getting it into the slits of the score marks. The fat under the skin will react to the salt and that is what makes the skin puff up and crisp up.
  3. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes and then bring the temperature down to 160C (325F or gas mark 3) and roast for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the meat rest for 20 minutes. Then cut the pork into chunks and plate.
  4. Bicol Express Sauce: While the pork is roasting in the oven, prepare the Bicol Express sauce by heating about a tablespoon of oil over medium-high in a medium-sized cooking pot. Sauté the minced garlic until golden brown and fragrant, about 30 seconds, and then add in the onions. Cook until soft, a further minute or so.
  5. Add the salted shrimp fry and cook for about 3-4 minutes before adding the coconut milk and pork stock. Lower the heat down and bring to a slow boil. It is important to bring it back to a boil slowly to avoid curdling the coconut milk. This happens when it is heated too quickly.
  6. Season the sauce with ground black pepper and add in the sliced red and green chillies (reserve some for garnishing later). Continue to cook the sauce until it starts to thicken and reduce by half, about 10-15 minutes further on low heat.
  7. Once the sauce is done, pour over the plated crispy pork belly chunks and garnish with the fresh chillies.
  8. Serve with steamed jasmine rice and pair with some sautéed long beans in garlic (or any other favourite vegetable dish of yours) to balance out the richness of the Bicol Express. Enjoy!

Crispy Pork Bicol Express

Before I end tonight’s post, I just want to say that next week I will be back with a new fruit to hero with my upcoming recipes to share so stay tuned for that!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Full Pinoy Breakfast

Full Pinoy Breakfast

Hello Everyone! I can’t believe that we’re nearing the end of November! The month went by so quickly and before we know it, the year will be over too. I’m not going to say that tonight will be the last of my Filipino breakfast series because expect more for the month of December. The only twist is that I will be sharing Filipino Christmas Breakfast treats, so stay tuned for that! I will also be sharing with you a Noche Buena Special next month be sure to so look out for that too!

Tonight’s recipe is a dish that draws inspiration from a Full English Breakfast – but with a Filipino twist to it. I’m not sure if this has been done before (I’m sure it has), but nevertheless, I’ve swapped out traditional English Breakfast ingredients with its Filipino counterpart i.e. sausages for longganisa, toast for pandesal, and so on. I came across this idea while researching the top favourite Filipino Breakfast dishes and it clicked into mind: “what if I substitute the ingredients from a Full English Breakfast and make a Filipino version of it?”

The end result definitely put a smile on my face, and I’m sure it will do the same for you.

Full Pinoy Breakfast Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 20 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 250g fresh corned beef
  • 250g oyster mushrooms*
  • 12 Vigan longganisa**
  • 8 freshly baked malunggay pandesal***
  • 4 large free range eggs
  • 4 slices of pineapple-marinated holiday ham****
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small potato, diced
  • 1 small red onion, halved and sliced
  • Knob of unsalted butter
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To garnish

  • Lettuce leaves
  • Tomatoes, sliced

*Or any other type such as button, cup, or Portobello, whichever is readily available and fresh at your local market or grocers. In my case, the oyster mushrooms were the freshest from the rest.

**Quantity depends on the size and type, more if you get the smaller ones.

***You can bake your own pandesal or you can pop over to your nearest pandesal stall (ours is just a 2 minute walk from our house) and buy at 3 pesos a piece of freshly baked malunggay pandesal.

Malunggay Pandesal

****Since Christmas is nearing, Hamon de Bola (Ham Ball or Holiday Ham) can now be found in every grocery store nationwide! Since this is our first time being back in the Philippines for good, we’ve been scouting around for the best tasting Holiday Ham by just buying slices of the various brands out there before buying the whole ball to serve for our upcoming Noche Buena Feast next month.

METHOD

Get ready for some one-pan action!

  1. Preheat oven to 90C (190F) just hot enough to keep each element of the dish warm as we work through each one of them individually. Place your store-bought pandesal into the oven.
  2. Fried Egg: Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat with about a tablespoon of oil. Crack the eggs gently into the pan to keep the yolks intact. Don’t overcrowd the pan, so if needed, fry the eggs in batches.
  3. Cook until the tops of the whites are set, but the yolk is still runny. Browned and crispy on the edges with a golden liquidy yolk is how I like my fried eggs! Transfer to a heat-proof plate and set aside in the oven.
  4. Garlic Sautéed Mushies: In the same pan, add half of the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant and golden brown, about 30 seconds. Add in the mushrooms and cook until softened, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add a knob of unsalted butter, and season with a touch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Give it one good stir to combine and transfer to a small heat-proof bowl. Set aside in the oven.
  6. Corned Beef: Add about a tablespoon of oil to the pan and sauté the remaining minced garlic until fragrant and golden brown, about 30 seconds. Add in the onions and cook until soft for about 1 minute before adding in the corned beef.
  7. Continue to cook for 5 to 6 minutes, seasoning with a touch of fragrant and golden brown, about 30 seconds. Add in the diced potatoes and cook further until the potatoes are soft, about 2-3 minutes. Once done, set aside in a small heat-proof bowl and set aside in the oven.
  8. Longganisa: Wipe down the pan with a kitchen towel tissue and add about a quarter cup of water to the pan together with the longganisa. Bring the water to a boil. Roll the longganisa occasionally and continue to boil until the water in the pan evaporates.
  9. When the water has fully evaporated, let the longganisa fry in its own oil. Continue to fry the longganisa for about 5 minutes while constantly rolling them around to cook evenly on all sides. When the longganisa is slightly crisp on the outside, it’s done! Set aside on a heat-proof plate lined with a paper towel to absorb any excess oil. Set aside in the oven to keep warm.
  10. Holiday Ham: Again, wipe down the pan with a kitchen towel tissue and add about a tablespoon of oil. Add the ham slices to the pan and fry until golden brown both sides. Set aside on a single plate lined with a paper towel to absorb any excess oil.
  11. Plate Up: Remove all the cooked elements from the oven and plate up accordingly into four individual serving plates. Garnish with fresh lettuce leaves and fresh sliced tomatoes. Serve with coffee or any hot beverage of your choice and here you have it! Enjoy a Full Filipino Breakfast for the upcoming weekend!

Full Pinoy Breakfast

Full Pinoy Breakfast

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Classic Champorado (Chocolate Rice Porridge)

Classic Champorado (Chocolate Rice Porridge)

Hello Everyone! I hope everyone has had a fantabulous week so far and will have a great week ahead with the weekend to look forward to. Tonight I will be sharing a Filipino breakfast staple that is sure to spark some doubts, especially amongst those who aren’t very familiar with this foreign food pairing. Let me explain further.

Champorado, or in English, Chocolate Rice Pudding, is a classic dish found in many homes across the Philippines commonly served for breakfast. Chocolate for breakfast sounds like a heavenly dream doesn’t it? But wait, there’s a catch! Champorado is usually served with a piece of Tuyo, which in English is known as dried salted fish! Chocolate and dried salted fish?! That sounds like a bizarre combination!

Classic Champorado (Chocolate Rice Porridge)

Is it really though? While the sound of pairing chocolate together with fish seems like whoever came up with this combination was stoned, drunk, or suffered a milk mild concussion, let’s look at the flavour profiles instead. Okay before I continue, I would like to take a small shortcut – I had a major laugh fit when proof reading what I wrote above… What even is a milk concussion?!

Anyway, continuing on, there are a lot of impeccable desserts and sweet dishes out there that embrace the salty-sweet combination, and that’s exactly what you get from Champorado and Tuyo. It’s exactly like eating salted chocolate! The dried salted fish, which is shredded and mixed into the Champorado adds pops of salty surprises to each spoonful of the sweet chocolate rice porridge that you take.

Still not convinced? As the say, don’t judge a book by it’s cover if you haven’t tried it yet. Otherwise, you could get away with adding a pinch of rock salt into your Champorado – but it won’t be the same.

Classic Champorado (Chocolate Rice Porridge) Ingredients

PREP TIME 5 MINS | COOKING TIME 25 MINS | SERVES 8

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 pieces tsokolate tablea*
  • 1 cup glutinous rice
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar

Topping choices

  • Cacao nibs
  • Fried tuyo
  • Full cream milk
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Other dairy alternatives such as almond milk and/or coconut milk

*Tsokolate tablea, or literally translated to chocolate tablets is dried local cocoa beans roasted for a few hours before being ground to a rich, chocolate-y paste. Sugar, most often muscovado, is then added to the paste before it is shaped into balls or tablets, hence its name. Tsokolate tablea is traditionally used to make Champorado, but other alternatives such as unsweetened cocoa powder or a dark chocolate bar can be used in its place.

METHOD

  1. Pour the water into a large heavy bottom saucepot over medium-high heat and bring to a brisking boil. Add in the tablea chocolate and dissolve. Once dissolved, add in the rice and bring back to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, turn the heat down to reduce to a simmer and stir the rice every 3 minutes or so to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot and burning. Leave uncovered to cook further for another 15 to 20 minutes until the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked through. The consistency should be thick but soft, just like porridge.
  3. Add in the brown sugar and stir to combine until dissolved. Remove from the heat and transfer into individual serving bowls. Top with dairy of choice and fried tuyo (optional for those feeling adventurous).
  4. Serve and enjoy!

Classic Champorado (Chocolate Rice Porridge)

Note: Even after cooking with the heat turned off, the glutinous rice will continue to expand and absorb the liquid, therefore it is important to serve it immediately to avoid dry Champorado.

You may also like to add a bit of chilli to your Champorado. It is not traditionally a spicy dish, but if you want that extra kick to the guts to get you going in the mornings, then go for it! Chocolate and chilli afterall is another classic flavour combination!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Taho (Silken Tofu with Syrup & Tapioca Pearls)

Taho (Silken Tofu with Syrup & Tapioca Pearls)

Hello Everyone! So usually a new month on the blog means a new theme as well, but this time around I’ve decided to continue sharing Filipino breakfast favourites as there are so much more to cover than just the –silog dishes!

Tonight I will be sharing with you a popular breakfast protein in a cup known as Taho, pronounced tah-ho. It is basically warm bland silken tofu that is sweetened with a caramelised sugar syrup known as arnibal, and is topped with tiny sago (tapioca) pearls. The tofu base is as fine as custard that practically disintegrates into your mouth at every slurp. The arnibal imparts a warm, molasses-like aroma, and addition to the sweetness it brings to lift the tofu, it also gives it an earthy dimension. The sago? Ties the whole cup together by giving it some bite. It is a perfect breakfast to-go that warms your insides, is filling, and has enough sugar to get you through the morning.

Traditionally, taho vendors hawk their product using a yoke-and-bucket system that is hundreds of years old. Two aluminium buckets are suspended from each end of a bamboo pole – one containing the silken tofu, and the other carrying the arnibal, sago, and other necessities like plastic cups, spoons, and the day’s takings. Taho vendors balance their signature contraption on one shoulder and walk the streets in the mornings calling out “tahhoooooo” drawing out the second syllable for as long as their breath can handle.

As easy as it is to get taho from vendors, it is also just as easy to make it at home yourself with either store-bought silken tofu, or by making your own at home with instant or Homemade Soy Milk with a coagulant agent to help aid in the curdling of the soy milk to form taho – in this case, the recipe uses Epsom salt. Original recipe can be found over on Foxy Folksy.

Taho (Silken Tofu with Syrup & Tapioca Pearls)

PREP TIME 5 MINS | COOKING TIME 20 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

For the silken tofu

  • 2 cups unsweetened soy milk, instant or homemade
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 & 1/2 tsp (leveled) Epsom salt

For the arnibal

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup small-sized tapioca pearls, uncooked

METHOD

If using store-bought silken tofu, skip ahead to step 6

  1. Taho: In a large cooking pot over the stove, place a heat-proof bowl that is big enough to hold at least 500ml of liquid in it.
  2. Dissolve the cornstarch in 1/8 cup of water in a small bowl. Add the Epsom salt to the mixture and then stir until dissolved.
  3. Pour the mixture into the prepared bowl in the cooking pot. Then slowly pour in the instant/homemade soy milk to the cornstarch and Epsom salt mixture. DO NOT STIR! Once both mixtures are combined, try not to agitate it otherwise it will not curdle smoothly.
  4. Pour boiling water into the pot just enough to be on the same level of the soy milk mixture in the bowl. Cover the pot with the lid wrapped with a clean cloth to absorb the steam and prevent the droplets formed from dripping into the taho mixture.
  5. Turn the heat to medium-low and let the taho cook for about 15 to 20 minutes or until it is firm to the touch but still wiggly. While waiting for the taho to cook, you can prepare the arnibal and tapioca pearls.
  6. Arnibal: Combine equal parts of brown sugar and water in a small pot and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Stir occasionally and let it simmer until it thickens into a syrup, about 7 to 10 minutes.
  7. Tapioca Pearls: In a small pot, bring to a boil about a half litre of water before adding the tapioca pearls in. Leave to cook for about 10 minutes. Cooking time may vary depending on the size of your pearls.
  8. Place a colander or strainer in a bowl or pot and pour the pearls through to separate them from the water. Pour the same water used back into the cooking pot and bring the water to a boil again.
  9. Wash the strained tapioca pearls thoroughly with tap water and then place it back into the pot of boiling water again. Cook further until they become completely translucent ensuring that there are no white spots at the core.
  10. Serve: Using a wide spoon or ladle, make thin scoops of taho and transfer to a glass or mug. Top with the arnibal syrup and tapioca pearls. Enjoy while it’s warm!

Taho (Silken Tofu with Syrup & Tapioca Pearls)

You can find taho vendors almost in every corner – everywhere! There’s usually a vendor just outside the entrance to the weekend market where my Mom and I do our weekly groceries. I also remember coming across a taho vendor on the beach as well. In fact, we have our own taho vendor who comes on his bicycle every morning around 9am yodeling “tahhoooooo” on our street. Occasionally we’d call out to him for a cup (or two) of delicious taho, and since he comes right to our doorstep, we opt to use our own ceramic cups/mugs instead of the plastic cups he usually serves them in – we need to do what we can to reduce plastic waste!

In Baguio City, Strawberry Taho is a big hit where locally grown strawberries from the region are preserved as chunky jam and then added to the bland tofu instead of arnibal. Make you own chucky strawberry jam at home with my Homemade Strawberry Jam to bring the City of Baguio into your kitchen!

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Tinapang Bangusilog with Ensaladang Lato

Tinapang Bangusilog with Ensaladang Lato

Or in English, Smoked Milkfish, Rice, and Egg with Seaweed Salad.

Hello Everyone! Firstly, I would like to wish everyone a Happy Halloween! Sorry I don’t have any spooky recipes to share this year – with so much that’s been going on for the past few months, we’re still slowly settling in.

Anyway, though this may be the last of my –silog series for the month of October on the blog there are still endless possibilities out there! For example, there’s adosilog, bacsilog, dangsilog, chiksilog, cornsilog, hotsilog, litsilog, sisilog, and the list goes on! The ones that I have shared with you are the most popular ones that can be found in almost any café, restaurant, or calenderias across the Philippines. They are also most definitely my favourite –silogs to whip up at home whenever I feel like fueling up with rice in the mornings, or whenever I’m in the mood for breakfast for dinner.

Tinapang Bangus or Smoked Milkfish

Tonight, I will be sharing with you a long time favourite – tinapang bagus, or in English, smoked milkfish. Milkfish is another popular staple in a Filipino household, one that we’ve grown up with despite growing up in Brunei where milkfish is also readily available all year round. What Brunei didn’t have though was smoked milkfish readily available in the markets or supermarkets. So whenever we’re back in the Philippines for the holidays, we’d make sure that we’d get our fair share of smoked milkfish in our bellies *cheeky grin* Now that we’re permanently back in the Philippines, you’ll always find tinapang bangus in our fridge!

I’ve added a little twist to the regular bangusilog of just garlic rice, fried egg, and bangus – I’ve also added a fresh element to cut through the dryness of the overall dish. If you’ve noticed from the previous –silogs I’ve shared with you, they’re pretty much dry and have no veggies to them at all which to be honest, makes me feel guilty for not consuming any greens!

Green Caviar, Sea Grapes, Seaweed, or Lato

Known as Green Caviar or Sea Grapes, it is set to lead the health food market with their bountiful benefits. Now this is probably a type of seaweed that isn’t commonly seen everywhere. In fact, they can only be found on the shores of Japan, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and now Singapore. Here in the Philippines we call these Lato. I first came across these when I was dining at Blackbeard’s Seafood Island during one of my trips to the Philippines way back when. I was reluctant to try them only because they looked so foreign. I was convinced that they were just there on the dish for decoration until our friends that we were dining with told me that they were edible. They have a good fresh crunch to them and also pop in your mouth like caviar – minus the hint of saltiness that you get from actual caviar.

Here in the Philippines, Lato is commonly used to make Ensaladang Lato, which in English translates to Seaweed Salad. There are a few variations to this, but generally it consists of tomatoes, salted egg, fish sauce, and a squeeze of fresh calamansi juice. The simpler, the better.

Ensaladang Lato Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 15 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tinapang bangus (boneless)*

For the ensaladang lato

  • 1/2 kg green caviar seaweed (or known as Lato in the Philippines)
  • 2 salted eggs, quartered
  • 2 tomatoes, quartered
  • Fish sauce, to taste
  • Fresh calamansi juice, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To serve with

  • Garlicky fried rice or steamed rice
  • Fried sunny-side up egg or scrambled egg

*We usually only eat half of a bangus per serving but feel free to eat a whole fish for yourself!

METHOD

  1. Ensaladang Lato: In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, salted egg, and lato.
  2. Toss through the fish sauce, calamansi juice, and season with freshly ground black pepper. Adjust to your liking. Set aside for at least 10 minutes before serving.
  3. Tinapang Bangusilog: Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan. Fry both sides of the bangus over medium heat, until the colour turns medium brown.
  4. Serve hot with garlicky fried rice (or steamed rice), fried or scrambled egg, together with the ensaladang lato. Enjoy!

Tinapang Bangusilog with Ensaladang Lato

Tinapang Bangusilog with Ensaladang Lato

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com