Vegetarian Ilocos-style Empanada

Vegetarian Ilocos-style Empanada

Hello Everyone! Just about 2 weeks ago, I went on a road trip with a few of my workmates for a weekend away to Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur, specifically to the cities of Pagudpud and Vigan. Even though it was a stressful and quick trip, we had a lot of fun. I say stressful because literally right after work on the Friday, we made our way into the city to catch our private van. We drove through the night and arrived at Paoay before dawn.

We had our breakfast and then started our tour sightseeing Paoay before a rough morning ahead. A morning I think some of us will never forget. A rough 4×4 journey through the Paoay Sand Dunes followed by sand boarding activities. My multiple bruises took over a week to heal!

4x4 Paoay Sand Dunes, Ilocos Sur

We arrived in Pagudpud just in time for a sumptuous boodle fight lunch by the beach. Since were too full to go for a swim right after, and it was scorching hot as well, we decided to continue with the tour first to fulfil our #forthegram shots before returning to the Blue Lagoon for a refreshing afternoon ocean swim after a super hot day! After our swim, we headed on over to our accomodation for a much needed shower before dinner. Remember how I said earlier that we headed straight into the city after work? This was the first shower I had in more or less 36 hours.

Blue Lagoon, Pagudpud, Ilocos Notre

The next day we got up early and left our accomodation after breakfast to start making our way back south to the city of Vigan, Ilocos Sur. We arrived in Vigan just before lunch and took endless amount of #forthegram photos along the famous Calle Crisologo – pre-war beauty of whitewashed walls, cobbled streets, and old Spanish houses; a town saved from destruction because of a love story. It is now home to souvenir shops and interesting lokal products. After a quick lunch and a shopping/pasalubong spree, we were back on the road for our journey home to Manila.

Vigan City, Ilocos Sur

One of the many musts when visiting the city of Vigan, or just the region of Ilocos, is the famous Ilocos Empanada. It is an orange-tinged fried dish traditionally stuffed with vegetables like unripe papaya, skinless Vigan Longganisa, and egg. Modern versions of the dish add bagnet*, mung beans, and even hotdogs into the stuffing.

So my takeaway from this trip was to recreate the famous Ilocos Empanada at home, with a twist. Those who know me personally, ever since towards the end of last year, I’ve been trying to cut down on my meat intake for various health reasons. Those of you who also know me, I can’t cut out all meat from my diet and go completely vegetarian. And so, my diet as of this moment, consists of only chicken and seafood as my main source of animal protein. Hopefully, I can completely rule out chicken by the end of this year and go pescatarian.

Vegetarian Ilocos-style Empanada

Of course, I can’t not taste the original empanada first before attempting to put a twist to the classic. So just that one time, I broke my diet and had one (maybe 2) for myself. Before we dive into tonight’s recipe, here are a few links that you should check out that helped me put this recipe together:

* Bagnet, locally also known as chicharon in Ilocano, is a Filipino dish of pork belly that has been boiled first and then deep fried until it is crispy. It is seasoned with garlic, black peppercorns, bay leaves, and salt during the boiling process.

Vegetarian Ilocos-style Empanada Ingredients

PREP TIME 1 HOUR 30 MINS** | COOKING TIME 6-8 MINS | MAKES 8 EMPANADAS

** Allow up to a minimum of 6 hours or up to 24 hours for freezing time. Freezing the empanadas beforehand helps to keep them intact and prevent them from breaking apart during the frying process.

INGREDIENTS

For the crust

  • 1 & 1/4 cups rice flour
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tbsp annatto oil***
  • 1 tsp salt

For the vegan longganisa mixture
(Note: This recipe makes around 16-18 small sausages)

  • 250g firm tofu, crumbled
  • 1 & 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1 & 1/2 cups dried shiitake mushroom, rehydrated and minced (or any other mushroom)
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 & 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the filling

  • 8 small free range eggs
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium-sized unripe papaya, shredded
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, shredded
  • 1 medium-sized red onion, diced
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • Vegan longganisa mixture
  • Cooking oil, for frying

*** The main purpose of using annatto oil is to provide colour to different dishes to make it more visually appealing. Since annatto oil is not always available in grocery stores, learning how to make it will surely be beneficial to you. Here are the details to get your started:

For the annatto oil

  • 1 & 1/2 tablespoons annatto seeds
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (vegetable oil, canola oil, and corn oil can also be used)

METHOD

  1. Annatto Oil: Combine the annatto seeds and olive oil in a small saucepan. Turn on the heat to medium.
  2. When bubbles start to form around the annatto seeds, turn the heat off and let the seeds soak in the oil for a minute or two. Do not overcook the seeds as this will produce a bitter taste.
  3. Use a strainer to filter-out the annatto seeds and transfer to a heat proof bowl. Set aside to cool down.
  4. Empanada Dough: Add the water, salt, and annatto oil in a medium-sized non-stick frying pan. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  5. Once simmering, add the rice flour all at once and mix using a wooden spoon, until all the liquid is absorbed and and dough starts to form. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  6. Once completely cooled, knead until you get a smooth ball. Divide the dough into 8 equally-sized balls. Cover with cling wrap and set aside to rest for 30 minutes to an hour.
  7. Vegan Longganisa: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients together except for the breadcrumbs. Leave to marinate for about 30 minutes. Even though it’s not stated in the ingredients list, I ended up adding some chilli powder to the mixture for an extra kick of spice.
  8. Add the breadcrumbs to the mixture. Add more depending on the firmness you want to achieve. At this point, you can shape the mixture into sausages, but since we’ll be using them for the empanada filling, we won’t be needing to shape them.

Vegan Longganisa

  1. Empanada Filling: Add a tablespoon of coconut oil into a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the garlic until golden brown, about 30 seconds, before adding the diced onion. Cook for a further minute until soft and fragrant.
  2. Add the tofu-mushroom mixture to the pan and stir-fry until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Once done, set aside to cool down completely.
  3. Prepare the unripe papaya and carrots in a separate bowl.
  4. Assembly: Place the dough ball between two sheets of plastic cling wrap to prevent it from sticking to your counter-top and rolling pin. Roll it out nice and thinly.
  5. Fill with the shredded unripe papaya and carrots, together with the vegan longganisa. Arrange them so that they create a well in the middle. Crack one egg into the well.
  6. Fold the dough over and seal the edges by pinching it using your fingers or a fork. Transfer into a tupperware lined with parchment paper to prevent the empanadas sticking to each other.
  7. Repeat for the remaining dough. Should make about 8 small or 4 large empanadas.

Vegetarian Ilocos-style Empanada

  1. Cook & Serve: Deep fry until golden brown and crisp, about 3-4 minutes per side. Once done, transfer to a wire rack and strain any excess grease from the empanadas. You can fry the empanadas longer if you prefer your egg to be cooked more, as long as you don’t burn the empanadas. I personally like my eggs runny.
  2. Enjoy with your favourite spicy coconut vinegar or of course, with some delicious Ilocos-made vinegar.

Vegetarian Ilocos-style Empanada

Note:

  • You will most definitely end up with a lot of leftover sautéed tofu & mushroom and shredded veggies.
    • Shredded Veggies: You can make a delicious Thai Papaya Salad with it and serve it with anything fried! My choice would be to serve it with a humble portion of fried fish.
    • Sautéed Tofu & Mushroom: Shape the leftovers into sausages and freeze. Pan-fry them for 3-5 minutes before serving.
  • If you want to make this dish completely vegan, omit the egg from the recipe.

Vegetarian Ilocos-style Empanada

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Pancit Lucban (Filipino Style Stir-Fried Thick Flour Noodles)

Pancit Lucban (Filipino Style Stir-Fried Thick Flour Noodles)

Hello Everyone! So tonight, I’m sharing with you a dish that I think I over indulged in during my recent trip back to the Philippines earlier on the year in March/April 2015. We spent a ridiculous amount of lunches and meriendas in Buddy’s while we visited our relatives in the provincial City of Lucena. Anyway, the dish, known as Pancit Lucban or Habhab, is a version of pancit that originated in the Quezon province. This noodle dish may draw many resemblances to the traditional Pancit Canton, but there are some apparent differences. The main difference is all in the type of noodles used; Pancit Lucban/Habhab uses dried flour noodles known as miki Lucban which are not the same noodles used to make pancit canton. In addition, miki Lucban noodles that are made fresh also have a much softer texture than that of pancit canton.

Here’s a fun fact for you – well okay, it’s not really a fun fact but it is quite interesting and may be one of the reasons you’d probably go out and have a handful of Pancit Lucban. That’s right, a handful. This version of pancit is traditionally served over a piece of banana leaf and is eaten without any utensils. I know what you’re thinking, how exactly do you eat noodles without any utensils?! Well, imagine eating a sandwich. You will need to grab the banana leaf with the noodles in it and put it directly to you mouth. Don’t eat the banana leaf though! Below is a picture of my cousin and my Mom back in 2008 (I think) having some Pancit Lucban from a street food vendor during a dog show/walk in Lucena:

My Mom & Cousin eating Pancit Lucban the traditional way

It’s probably not the most glamorous way to eat your noodles, but it may be an exciting experience especially to those who find this way of eating very foreign to them. Miki Lucban is unfortunately not commonly found in stores around Brunei, not even in the Filipino section. So instead, we used Pancit Canton which actually makes calling this dish Pancit Lucban a sin! *cheeky grin*

Pancit Lucban (Filipino Style Stir-Fried Thick Flour Noodles) Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 45-50 MINS | SERVES 6-8

INGREDIENTS

  • 450g pancit canton (or miki Lucban if available)
  • 250g tiger prawns, shelled and deveined
  • 100g snow peas, topped and tailed
  • 3-4 dried bay leaves
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pcs thin sliced pork belly, cut into 1cm chunks
  • 1 bunch gai lan (Chinese broccoli)
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 chicken crown, breasts removed and sliced, bone reserved
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1/2 chayote, peeled and sliced
  • 5 tbsp light soy sauce
  • Ground salt and black pepper to taste
  • Whole black peppercorns

METHOD

  1. Add the reserved chicken bone, dried bay leaves, about a teaspoon or two of whole black peppercorns, and salt to a medium-sized pot filled with about 1.5L of hot/boiling water. Turn the heat up to high and leave to boil for about 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile heat a large frying pan over medium-high and add in the chunks of pork belly. Cook until browned. The oils released from the pork belly should be enough to sauté the garlic and cook the onions, but if needed, add a little bit more oil if there isn’t enough. Then add the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant and golden brown, about a minute, then followed by the diced onions. Cook until soft, about 2 minutes in total.
  3. Add in the sliced chicken breasts, and season with a bit of salt and ground black pepper and give it a good mix. Cook for about 5 minutes. Then add in the prawns, followed by the chayote, carrots, and snow peas. Mix well and leave to cook for a further 3-4 minutes. Lastly, add in the gai lan and cook until just slightly wilted. Once done, transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  4. In the same frying pan, add about half of the chicken stock to the pan together with the soy sauce, ground salt, and black pepper. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the canton noodles in and cook until all the liquid has evaporated (if the noodles are looking a bit dry, you may add more stock, a ladle at a time). Make sure that while cooking, you mix and untangle them periodically. Altogether this should take about 10-15 minutes. Halfway through, add in half of the cooked meat and vegetables to the noodles and mix well.
  5. Serve immediately topped with the extra meat and vegetables, and with calamansi, or alternatively a lemon wedge. Enjoy! Note: best served with a splash of vinegar!

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BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Arroz Caldo (Chicken Rice Porridge)

Arroz Caldo (Chicken Rice Porridge)

Hello Everyone! Today’s recipe is a dish that is quite well-known in the family, and across the Philippines I presume, as the go to dish when someone is feeling under the weather. In our house, you’d know when someone is sick with the flu when you see this dish on the table for everyone to eat; yes that’s right, you don’t have to be the sick one to have a bowl of arroz caldo! However, besides it well-known as the go to dish for the sick, arroz caldo is also a common breakfast dish as it can be quite filling, providing you with the energy that you’d need to last you until lunch time. It can also be a snack (merienda) dish with tokwa’t baboy (a dish composed of boiled pig’s ears and/or pork belly, and fried tofu with a vinegar, soy sauce, and chilli dip on the side).

Arroz Caldo is actually of Chinese origin as it draws resemblance to a type of risotto-like congee. The name of this dish however, was given by the Spaniards due to pronunciation issues. The dish is also similar to other Filipino porridges such as lugaw and goto, the only distinguishing ingredient would be that arroz caldo mainly uses chicken while goto requires the use of tripe, beef, and innards. Lugaw on the other hand, is as plain as it can get.

So I made this dish back when I was in Sydney, a few weeks before I left in early August. I was staying at Marissa’s place for the time I was there and we both fell ill at one point during my stay. I can’t quite remember who fell sick first and who gave who the sickness, but all I remembered was that I made this dish for the both of us. I even told her the story behind this dish and she even made mention that they have a similar Vietnamese dish known as Cháo Ga (also fed to those who were feeling under the weather).

Arroz Caldo (Chicken Rice Porridge) Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 45 MINS | SERVES 4-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g chicken mid-wings, washed and cleaned
  • 1.5L water
  • 2 cups rice, uncooked and washed
  • 4 large free range eggs, hard-boiled and sliced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large brown onion, sliced
  • 1 lemon (or calamansi if available)
  • 1 thumb-sized ginger, julienned
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp chicken stock powder
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • Crispy fried shallots
  • Spring onions, sliced

METHOD

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high. Add the ginger and fry until fragrant, then add in the garlic, sautéing until fragrant and golden brown. Then add in the onions and cook until soft, altogether about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the chicken mid-wings to the pot and season with the chicken stock powder and ground black pepper. Give it a good mix and cook for about 6-8 minutes or until the outer layer of the chicken starts to brown. Then add in the water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cook for a further 5 minutes and then scoop out the chicken mid-wings and set aside*.
  3. Add the washed, uncooked rice and mix well, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat down to low-medium and leave it to simmer until the rice is fully cooked (about 30 to 40 minutes). Stir occasionally just to make sure that the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. In the last 10 minutes of cooking time, you may return the chicken mid-wings to the pot to heat them up again before serving the dish.
  4. Taste and if the porridge needs a bit more seasoning, add some fish sauce and adjust to your liking.
  5. Divide the porridge into bowls equally and top with the chicken and sliced hard-boiled eggs. Garnish with a pinch of crispy fried shallots, spring onion, and a squeeze of lemon juice (you may add some saffron threads for aroma and colour).
  6. Serve hot and enjoy!

*You don’t usually scoop the chicken out, but because I didn’t want the chicken to become too soft and start breaking apart, so I took them out. The reason is just because I don’t want them to look aesthetically displeasing on the dish for the photograph really. Otherwise, leaving them in until they fall of the bone is what you would like to achieve with this dish.

Arroz Caldo (Chicken Rice Porridge)

Arroz Caldo (Chicken Rice Porridge)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Auguest 2015: Josephine Geronimo

Ginataang Munggo (Roasted Mung Beans & Sticky Rice in Coconut Milk)

Hello Everyone! Alas, we’ve come to the end of my mini collaboration series for this month! My last post for this Auguest that my Mom has kindly shared with us is another mung bean recipe that she grew up eating during her childhood years.

Ginataang Munggo (Roasted Mung Beans & Sticky Rice in Coconut Milk)

If you haven’t read Wednesday’s post, my Mom mentioned there that once a year when her whole family went to visit the province that they were from, they would always bring back one 50kg sack of munggo (mung beans) to the city, where they lived, from their farm. Everyday, Munggo Guisado (Sautéed Mung Bean Soup) was what they had for lunch and dinner, and for merienda, they’d have mung beans as well – there was no escaping the wrath of the mung beans – whether savoury or sweet! After lunch, everyone would take a 2-hour break before they’d be back in the kitchen, preparing and cooking Ginataang Munggo for merienda at 3pm.

Ginataang Munggo (Roasted Mung Beans & Sticky Rice in Coconut Milk) Process

Ginataang Munggo is basically roasted or toasted mung beans cooked in coconut milk together with some glutinous rice. It is a simple Filipino dish that can be eaten for either merienda (light afternoon meal or an afternoon snack) or dessert that is best served warm. toasted Mung beans and sticky rice are cooked in coconut milk. Though this dish has been a part of my Mom’s family tradition way back when she was still in her younger years back in the Philippines, today is the first time my Mom cooked this dish and served it to my sister Angela and I. Now that my Mom has passed on her two favourite mung bean recipes from her childhood, she said to me that it is but right that I pass them on to my children to be and keep tradition going – hopefully my children won’t be as fussy as I was before when I used to hate munggo!

Ginataang Munggo (Roasted Mung Beans & Sticky Rice in Coconut Milk) Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS SERVES 6-8

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5L boiling water water
  • 1 can (400ml) coconut milk
  • 1 cup glutinous rice
  • 1/2 cup mung beans
  • 1/2 cup white sugar

METHOD

  1. First, heat up a medium-sized frying pan over medium-high and add the mung beans. Toast until browned, about 8-10 minutes. Be careful as to not over toast them otherwise they will become bitter. Likewise, you can roast the mung beans in the oven for about 10 minutes at 200C.
  2. Turn the heat off and set the mung beans aside to cool down.
  3. Once the mung beans have cooled down slightly, crack the toasted mung beans using a mortar and pestle, or as my Mom prefers, by using a rolling pin. Set aside.
  4. Add the boiling water and sugar to a large pot over medium-high heat and dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved, add the coconut milk and bring to a boil.
  5. Once boiling, add the glutinous rice and mung beans, then give it a good stir. Turn the heat down to low and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the coconut milk is almost absorbed, stirring once a while to make sure that the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
  6. Once done, turn the heat off and let it sit in the post for a further 5-10 minutes. Then,transfer to individual serving plates.
  7. Share and enjoy! You may serve this either hot or cold. I prefer having this hot with a pinch of salt on top to further enhance the flavours.

Ginataang Munggo (Roasted Mung Beans & Sticky Rice in Coconut Milk)

Ginataang Munggo (Roasted Mung Beans & Sticky Rice in Coconut Milk)

And that about wraps up guest blogging month for this year! Many thanks to Jialing, Brendon, Marissa, and my Mom for participating in my very first Auguest series. I’m actually pretty happy with how this all came together in the end. It was hectic at first trying to find the how ever so many bloggers I had in mind for this collaboration series, but then narrowing it down made it much more simpler and much easier to communicate with my friends and fellow bloggers. If you enjoyed this mini collaboration of mine, let me know in the comments section below and I’ll see to organising this into a yearly series 🙂

My Mom and I at Bondi Beach, Australia 2015
my Mom and I at Bondi Beach, July 2015

PS: Back in the day in the 70s, canned coconut milk was not a thing yet and so my Mom had to buy a whole matured coconut and manually grate it. From the grated coconut, she then had to squeeze the milk out of it for this dish. This dish was a lot of hard work for her back in the day, which is why she was so confused as to why this dish took no effort at all for her to make, and then she realised it was because we already had coconut milk readily available.

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Auguest 2015: Josephine Geronimo

Munggo Guisado (Sautéed Mung Bean Soup)

Hello Everyone and welcome to the final week of Auguest! If you’ve read all the way to the end of my post yesterday, you’ll know that I’ve said that week 4 of Auguest would commence today seeing as I had a special post that went up live yesterday. Today’s guest won’t be communicating with you through the write up only because she’s not that confident with her English writing skills; so instead I will be the one taking you through her story of this dish. But first, who’s my guest for this week? Of course it is none other than the woman who cooked for me throughout my years of growing up and the woman who taught me how cook. Without her, my passion for cooking would’ve probably never existed, and neither would this blog. Today’s guest blogger is none other than my Mother, Josephine, known to many as Mama G!

This dish is a delicacy from one of the Ilocanos provinces, my Mom’s hometown in the Northern part of the Philippines, Pangasinan, but her family grew in Quezon City. Once a year the whole family would travel the province to visit their farm and bring back some of their produce, one of them included one 50kg sack of munggo (mung beans). Munggo Guisado is a common lunch and dinner dish found on their table as it is a healthy and nutritious dish. Her father (my grandfather) would always remind his children that munggo contains the same amount of proteins that can be found in beef, chicken, pork, and other meats. Her father was a little bit on the stingy side, so their Munggo Guisado contain no meat at all, just pure mung beans and other vegetables such as ampalaya (bitter gourd) leaves or malunggay leaves. Her father even planted a malunngay tree so that they could pick their own leaves instead of having to go to the markets to buy it. The dish would then be flavoured with bagoong isda (anchovy sauce). It was a dish that they had for both lunch and dinner, everyday.

Munggo Guisado (Sautéed Mung Bean Soup)

This dish was introduced to my Mom since she started to eat solid foods, and has been a part of her daily meal until she came to Brunei. She stopped eating it because she wasn’t in a cooking mood since she moved out of the Philippines to work in Brunei. She started cooking it again when she had a family of her own. My Mom did the same thing by introducing this dish to me when I started to eat solid foods. To her surprise, I hated this dish and she didn’t know why. Even my two younger sisters hated it. She tried everything to make it more appetising for us by adding meat and/or prawns, but still she could not get us to eat it. So, she had no choice but to stop cooking it.

But now, after 20 years, she was able to introduce it back to us again (mainly because for this Auguest post as it has a story to tell of her roots), and apparently we love it! I kept asking my Mom why I didn’t like it in the first place, and she kept answering, “I don’t know with you!” Now Munggo Guisado has found it’s way back into our table as a regular, weekly, meal. The dish is best served with steamed rice and fried fish, as they would say “magkakambal sila” – twins, or meaning a well paired dish.

Munggo Guisado (Sautéed Mung Bean Soup) Ingredients

PREP TIME 1 HOUR | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup mung beans
  • 1 cup malunggay (or ampalaya) leaves
  • 250g pork belly, sliced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 tbsp salted ziganid fish (bagoong padas, or anchovies)
  • Ground black pepper

METHOD

  1. Soak the beans in water for about an hour or two, this will help soften the beans and lessen the time required to boil and tenderise the beans when it comes to cooking them.
  2. Add the beans to a medium-sized pot together with about 1L of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, let the beans simmer for about half an hour until soft (or about 50 minutes if you didn’t pre-soak them).
  3. In a medium-sized deep fry pan, add the sliced pork belly and fry until browned, about 3-4 minutes. Move them to one side of the frying pan and add the garlic. You shouldn’t need to add any oil and the natural oils from the pork fat should be enough to sauté the garlic. Once the garlic is golden brown in colour and is fragrant, add in the onions and cook until soft. At this point, you can mix them together with the pork. Add in the tomatoes, season with a bit of ground black pepper, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Pour the cooked mung beans, together with the water that it was simmered in into the pork and tomato mixture. Give it a good mix and if it’s looking a bit dry, add more water to make it more into a soup. Bring to light simmer.
  5. Add the tablespoon of anchovies to a small bowl with about a few heaped tablespoons of the munggo soup. Press on the anchovies to get the flavours out and strain the sauce/paste back into the soup. Discard the anchovies.
  6. Simmer for another 10 minutes or so and then add in the malunggay leaves. Turn the heat off and give it a good mix, until the malunggay leaves have wilted into the soup.
  7. Serve with a nice bowl of steamed rice and fried fish. Enjoy!

Munggo Guisado (Sautéed Mung Bean Soup)

Munggo Guisado (Sautéed Mung Bean Soup)

Of course this dish can be an all vegetarian dish just as how my Mom ate it when she was growing up; just remove the pork belly!

While my Mom was telling me the story of this dish, she teared up a little as it brought back many childhood memories. I hope that one day I’ll have kids of my own and share with them the many favourite dishes I grew up with and the stories that come with them 🙂

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Tinolang Manok (Chicken & Green Papaya Soup)

Tinolang Manok (Chicken & Green Papaya Soup)

Hello Everyone! My goodness has it been cold these past few days/nights! Today I didn’t particularly do much besides staying indoors, away from the cold and rain, and cooking up a nice pot of Chicken Soup to stay warm. I made Arroz Caldo, a Filipino chicken porridge, over the weekend seeing as I thought I’d be doing down with a cold, but I was mighty fine the next day. I had some leftover chicken and ginger from that, and so I decided to make chicken soup with it! All I really needed was green papaya and malungay or chilli leaves. Also, perfect as it’s winter warmer month on my blog, and I actually didn’t have chicken soup pre-planned into the month.

Growing up, my mom always made this dish, even though we live in the tropics where we have hot weather all year round, it was still a perfect dish for a rainy day. We usually skip the malunggay or chilli leaves altogether since its not commonly found in the markets, unless you grow your own, and we usually use chayote (or known as chokos here in Australia, which by the way I never knew until I arrived here) instead of green papaya; no real reason for the substitute. My mom also adds glass noodles to the soup rather than pairing the soup with rice (but I still add the glass noodles and have a serving of rice anyway).

Tinolang Manok (Chicken & Green Papaya Soup)

I think I may have at one point in my life tried this chicken soup with green papaya, and I honestly could not tell the difference in taste, until today that is. I’m not sure if it’s the particular papaya that I picked or the way I prepared it, or whatever it may be, it did not leave a lovely taste to my buds. It just tasted wrong and I can’t pinpoint what it tasted like. Probably just raw papaya to me, but I believe that I’ve cooked it long enough because it was soft, and I don’t think I needed to do anything with it besides peeling and removing the seeds to prepare it. After this dish of mine, I definitely prefer using chayote/choko with my chicken soup. Anyway, I also tried to look for malunggay and chilli leaves in the markets. No one knew what malunggay leaves were and a lady told me that “no one here sells chilli leaves”. I stopped and thought for a while, and then I saw a sign that said that they sell curry leaves. I thought to myself if I could use curry leaves instead of chilli leaves, and so I bought a small bag of fresh curry leaves. It was a wise decision in my opinion! The curry leaves made the soup even more fragrant, which I didn’t think was possible seeing as the chicken soup alone without it was already fragrant enough. It also added a subtle flavour to the soup which I can’t quite describe. Basically, if you’ve had the chance to smell curry leaves, that smell is the flavour. I don’t know if I made any sense there but that’s what I feel/taste.

Tinolang Manok (Chicken & Green Papaya Soup) Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 25 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1kg chicken wingettes, washed and cleaned
  • 1.5L water
  • 1/2 small-sized green papaya, peeled, seeds removed and cut into wedges
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • Thumb-sized ginger, julienned
  • Small bunch curry leaves
  • Ground salt and black pepper, to taste

METHOD

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high. Add the julienned ginger strips and sauté until fragrant. Add in the garlic together with the curry leaves and continue sautéing until golden brown. Finally, add in the onions and cook until they are soft and translucent.
  2. Add in the chicken wingettes together with a bit of salt and pepper. Give it a good mix, then cover the pot and let it cook for about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Add in the water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add in the papaya wedges and cook for a further 15 minutes or until the papayas are tender. Taste and if needed, season a bit more to your liking.
  4. Turn the heat off and serve immediately with steamed rice. Enjoy!

Tinolang Manok (Chicken & Green Papaya Soup)

The secret to making a good chicken tinola is to simmer the chicken for a long period of time. This enables the flavours of the chicken to infuse into the soup and also tenderises the chicken. I’d say cook it between 45-60 minutes, but 20 minutes cooking time is good enough if time is not on your side. Both has worked out fine for me.

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Sinigang na Bangús

Sinigang na Bangús

Hello Everyone! I’ll make this a quick one because I am eager to start watching Season 2 of Game of Thrones – yes that’s right! After much questions have been asked if I watch Game of Thrones, and hearing the gasps of shock when I say no – peer pressure got the best of me and now I am pretty much hooked onto it; I finished Season 1 in a day and a half! Just a note to myself, don’t watch when having lunch or dinner. I made that grave mistake of eating my dinner and the episode started with someone removing the guts of an animal and skinning it – I wanted to puke.

Anyway, if you have been following my blog for a while now, I posted a recipe for Sinigang somewhere in May last year. I made mention in that post that the dish can be made with any type of meat ranging from fish, pork, beef, shrimp, or chicken, stewed with tamarinds, tomatoes, and onions as its base. With that recipe, I used pork spare ribs, and for today’s recipe, I made it with bangús (milkfish). It is essentially the same ingredients and a similar process of cooking. Of course you can make it with any other types of fish; my mom has made this dish with pomfret, mackerel/tanigue steak, and even salmon belly – whatever floats your boat! Also, a perfect winter warmer!

Sinigang na Bangús Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 25 MINS | SERVES 2-3

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large bangus (milkfish); scales removed, cleaned, and cut into 4-5 thick slices
  • 2 small spanish red onions, quartered
  • 1 bunch kangkung, washed, leaves separated from the stems, and stems cut into short lengths
  • 1 large tomato, cut into wedges
  • 1 long red chilli
  • 1 medium sized daikon, peeled and sliced
  • 1 thumb-sized ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tbsp tamarind soup base
  • Ground salt
  • Fish sauce (optional)

METHOD

  1. Fill a pot with about 1.5L-2L of water. Add the chilli, ginger slices, onions, and tomatoes and boil for about 10-15 minutes. Once boiling, add the tamarind soup base and season with a bit of salt. If you want your soup a little less sour, add in a teaspoon at a time to adjust to your liking (I love my sinigang soup really sour!)
  2. Then add in the daikon and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Follow with the bangús and let it cook for about 10 minutes. Taste, and add a few drops of fish sauce if the soup is tasting a bit bland.
  3. Remove from the heat and add the kangkung in. Serve immediately with steamed rice.

Sinigang na Bangús

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Pritong Bangús Steak (Fried Milkfish Steak)

Pritong Bangús Steak (Fried Milkfish Steak)

Hello Everyone and sorry for a very late post tonight (or more like just past midnight by the time I am done with the post)! I spent the day bringing my family around to Bondi Beach and Maroubra Beach despite the gloomy weather. We managed to visit the beaches and take some photographs before it started to pour. After that, we chilled around at my friend’s place before finally heading off to the airport; I said my goodbyes to my Mom and my two younger sisters. Safe travels! They’ll be in Kuala Lumpur for about 7-hours, and then finally arriving in Brunei the next day in the afternoon. I just finished editing and uploading my graduation photos on Facebook, and now I am writing this post. I thought of just going to bed since I am quite tired, but I felt bad for not even attempting to write a post for tonight/today. Anyway, I’ll make it quick if I can; I’ll probably end up taking the long route and explaining some components of the dish that may be unfamiliar to some people.

Pritong Bangús Steak (Fried Milkfish Steak) Ingredients

Bangús (or Milkfish) is the national fish of the Philippines. They are notorious for being much bonier than other fish, which is why deboned milkfish, called “boneless bangús” in the Philippines, has become popular in stores and markets. There are many ways in which you can use this fish to create many loved home-cooked Filipino dishes, and I will show you two/three easy ways to prepare the milkfish for a tasteful lunch or dinner. Pritong Bangús (fried milkfish) is a simple dish that is packed with flavours. The milkfish alone has its deliciously rich taste, especially the belly, but the marinade enhances its flavour with a hint of sourness and spiciness. The bangús belly is my favourite part of the fish, especially when it is fried. I would always fight for the bigger piece of belly, or I would always make sure that I get the bigger share of the belly. In an ideal world, the belly would be ALL mine.

Pritong Bangús Steak (Fried Milkfish Steak) Ingredients

PREP TIME 8 HOURS* | COOKING TIME 12 MINS | SERVES 2-3

*Minimum. Up to 12 or even better, overnight in the fridge for marination time.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large boneless bangus (milkfish); scales removed, cleaned and butterflied
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2-3 red bird’s eye chillies, cut in half
  • 1 large red spanish onion, cut into rings
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • Juice of 2-3 calamansi

METHOD

  1. Combine chillies, vinegar, garlic, whole peppercorns, and salt in a large container. Give it a good stir to combine the ingredients before laying down the fish skin side up. Cover the container and place in the fridge to marinate for about 8 to 12 hours, or even better, overnight to soak up all the flavours.
  2. Heat about 1 cup of oil in a large frying pan (preferably with a lid)** over medium-high. Fry both sides of the bangús until each side turns medium brown in colour. Once cooked, place on a serving plate. You can enjoy the fried bangús just like this with some steamed rice and atchara*** on the side, or you can add a few more ingredients to further heighten the flavour of the dish.
  3. Tip the oil out into an empty jar (you can reuse for your next frying adventure) from the same frying pan, leaving about a tablespoon or two. Fry the onions until soft and then turn the heat off. Add in the soy sauce and give it a good stir, about 1-2 minutes, and the pour the mixture over the fried bangús. Squeeze the juice from the calamansi over the fish and serve!

Pritong Bangús Steak (Fried Milkfish Steak)

Pritong Bangús Steak (Fried Milkfish Steak) Ingredients

**Caution: take care when frying as the oil has a tendency to splatter because of the liquid from the marinade. Make sure to cover the frying pan while leaving open a small space for the steam to escape.

***Atchara or Atcharang Papaya is basically pickled julienned or grated green papaya and soaked for a week in cooked vinegar and sugar mixture with onions, garlic, ginger, pepper corn, and red bell pepper.

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Tortang Talong (Eggplant Omelette)

Tortang Talong (Eggplant Omelette)

Hello Everyone! I’m now back in Cedar Vale, QLD after spending two nights in the city. I must say that it’s very quiet in comparison to Sydney. Quiet is nice, but it’s almost just too quiet to what I am used too, for a city that is! Anyway, I caught up with some high school friends over a heck load of food last night, two of the three of them which I hadn’t seen since graduating IB five years ago. Good company over good food(s) makes for a great night out in the quiet city.

Tomorrow we commemorate 117 years of the Philippine Declaration of Independence from Spain on June 12, 1898. In honour for tomorrow, I will be making a loved Filipino dessert for a BBQ we have happening here in the countryside – Leche Flan! And tonight I am posting a very simple, yet very tasteful dish that you can have for either lunch or dinner; Tortang Talong, or in English, Eggplant Omelette.

Process

Tortang Talong (Eggplant Omelette) Process

Tortang Talong are grilled eggplants are soaked in a beaten egg mixture and then fried; as simple as that. It’s the grilled flavour of the eggplant that really hits the spot right there. I usually don’t season it with any salt or pepper as I accompany the omelette with some sautéd shrimp fry which is already very salty on its own. Otherwise, feel free to season it if you don’t fancy a side of shrimp fry!

Definitely good for those who are in a hurry or on a tight budget; you can grill several eggplants in advance and keep them in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in a freezer for several months. Easy peasy. I definitely think that its best served with some steamed rice, shrimp fry, or ketchup should do the trick! My mom usually makes these eggplant omelettes to accompany a pork belly stir-fried in the shrimp fry dish or a dish of kare-kare. For this particular time, we had them with steamed blue swimmer crabs because we bought them fresh from the market that day and we were in the process of cleaning out the fridge since we were about to travel here in Australia; at the time we had eggplant in the fridge!

Tortang Talong (Eggplant Omelette) Ingredients

PREP TIME 1 HOUR | COOKING TIME 20 MINS | SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

For the eggplant omelette

  • 4 medium-sized lebanese eggplans
  • 4 large free range eggs
  • Ground salt and pepper (optional)

For the sautéed shrimp paste

  • 345g bagoong alamang (shrimp paste)
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed then minced
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies, halved
  • 1 large onion, halved and then sliced
  • 1 tbsp sugar

METHOD

  1. Sautéd shrimp paste: Heat oil in a medium-sized frying pan and sauté garlic and onions until fragrant. Add the tomatoes in together with the chillies and sauté until they have softened. Add the shrimp paste in and give it a good mix. Add in the sugar and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and set aside. You may need to heat it up again before serving.
  2. Eggplant omelette: Grill the eggplants until the colour of skin turns almost black. Let the eggplants cool for a while before peeling off the skin. Set aside.
  3. Crack one egg per grilled eggplant into a deep dish and beat. Add the eggplant to the beaten egg mixture and flatten using a fork.
  4. Heat oil in a medium-sized fry pan over medium-high. Pour the egg mixture together with the eggplant into the pan and fry for about 4-5 minutes per side.
  5. Serve with steamed rice and the sautéd shrimp fry. Enjoy!

Tortang Talong (Eggplant Omelette)

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Chicken Sopas

Chicken Sopas

Hello Everyone! I am now in the Sunshine State of Queensland where I spent the weekend at a family friend’s farm in the countryside of Cedar Vale, near Jimboomba. They have a lovely country home with about 4 acres of land, and an alpaca(!), a donkey, three goats, and six chickens. Today, my family and I caught the bus to the city of Brisbane where we will be staying for 2 nights before heading back to the country and then to the Gold Coast for a day. Anyway, it’s actually already late here, I mean past 11pm isn’t late, but I need to go to bed and start early tomorrow as we are spending the day at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary! Finally after 5 years in Australia, I get to cuddle a koala and feed kangaroos! So I’ll keep tonight’s post short so I can get as much z’s as I can.

Chicken Sopas Ingredients

Tonight’s recipe is a Filipino classic; a soup dish made of shredded boneless chicken, macaroni noodles, a bit of milk, and some vegetables to flavour the dish. This dish is actually common for breakfast or a snack time treat during cold and rainy seasons. The difference between a regular chicken soup and a chicken sopas is the use of milk, either fresh or evaporated for a richer flavour. Other meats besides chicken can be added to the dish, such as diced hotdogs or luncheon meat in some recipes, and also chicken liver. I think my Mom has made a sopas dish with chicken liver before; didn’t fancy it. Play with the ingredients if you wish – the pasta and vegetables may also vary so feel free to use the appropriate ingredients in which you desire!

Note: If anywhere you see ‘soaps’ instead of ‘sopas’, it’s not a typo, it’s autocorrect and I’m a bit tired to go through and change them if you see any beyond this point – it’s happened to the first two above and I managed to go back and change those; but otherwise Chicken Soaps sounds like an intriguing dish! Also, on the ingredients photograph, you will notice the chicken wings. We actually used chicken spare ribs in this recipe but my Mom was insistent on photographing the wings because it looked ‘prettier’ than the ribs.

Chicken Sopas Ingredients

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

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g chicken spare ribs, washed and cleaned
  • 250g tri-colour shells
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup fresh milk
  • 3 small red onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1 small carrot, julienned
  • Half head cabbage, roughly chopped
  • Ground salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

  1. Heat oil in a large pot and sauté the garlic until golden brown. Add in the onions and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add in the chicken ribs, seasoning with salt and pepper. Give it a good mix and then let it cook for about 10 minutes, checking and mixing regularly to avoid the chicken meat sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  2. Add in the water and bring it back to a boil. Once boiling, add in the shells and cook according to packet instructions, mine took about 10 minutes.
  3. About 5-6 minutes into the 10, add the carrots and cabbage. Continue cooking until pasta is tender. Add in the milk and turn the heat off.
  4. Serve hot and enjoy!

Chicken Sopas

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com