Category Archives: Pinay at Heart

Stories that bring out the Filipina in me

A Little Bit Filipino & A Little Bit American

Rice is the staff of life!

Last week, I went on a little field trip with my friend Beth. I call it a field trip because we both left the comforts of our local neighborhoods and headed over the river and across town to meet for lunch at one of my favorite Italian restaurants in Prague: Osteria da Clara. It’s THE place to go to in Prague for an authentic Italian meal. I feel like I can say that with some authority after living in the land of pasta, limoncello and espresso for three memorable years.

Since the restaurant was also close to the neighborhood of Vinohrady, we decided to extend our culinary adventure and visit two specialty grocery stores in the area. The neighborhood of Vinohrady is well-known for its flow of ex-pat residents, fine cafes and restaurants. In addition, it’s also the place where one can find a variety of specialty food shops, ranging from Russian, Italian, Hungarian, Greek and the two we popped into: British and Asian.

I don’t know why but every time I walk into one of these grocery stores and see a bunch of familiar brands that I grew up with in the States, I am hit with feelings of nostalgia and excitement. I returned home with a couple boxes of cereal, a bag of sweet rice flour and a plan to make two rice desserts that I grew up with, a Filipino recipe and then an American one!

Palitaw

Palitaw: For me this is the Filipino version of Mochi.It is made from the same type of flour, sweet rice flour, which gives it its gummy, chewy and sticky texture. By itself, it would taste quite bland, but mixed with grated coconut, sugar and toasted sesame seeds, it becomes a very delicious dessert or mid-afternoon snack. My family always served this at parties and Christmas time.

Rice Krispies with pecans, cranberries & chocolate chips

Rice Krispies Treats: I am still on this pecan, dried fruit and chocolate chip combination kick. I decided to add these extra ingredients to a batch of rice krispies treats. This simple snack reminds me so much of my childhood!

Palitaw (Good ol’ Grandma’s recipe)

1 cup sweet rice flour
3/4 cup water
1 cup grated coconut
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds

Heat oven to 350 degrees and toast sesame seeds until brown and golden.
Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, mix the flour with the water.
Make little balls and then flatten them.

Boil a quart of water in a deep pot, then bring down to a simmer.
Remove the rice cakes when they begin to float to the top.
(This should take about 30-50 seconds)
Remove from water with a slotted spoon.

Allow a few minutes to cool down.
Combine the sugar and sesame seeds together.
When the cakes are cool enough to handle, roll them in coconut.
Before serving, sprinkle some of the sugar/sesame combination on top.

Rice Krispies Treat with Pecans, Cranberries and Chocolate Chips (adapted from the good ol’Kellogs box)

3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 bag or about 40 regular size marshmallows or 4 cups miniature marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup chocolate chips

Grease a large baking pan and spread the chocolate chips all around the pan.

Melt butter and then add the marshmallows.
When the marshmallows have melted, add the rice krispies, pecans and cranberries.
Mix well.

Then with a rubber spatula, spread the mixture evenly across the baking pan.
Allow it to cool.
Then cut into squares.

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“And just boil it all together.”

“Hi Dad!”
“Hi, what’s up?” (Dad’s usual phone greeting)
“Um, I want to ask mom about mongo. Just wanted to double-check how to cook it.”
“Oh. You just need mongo, spinach, pork, if you like, tomato, shrimp, patis, garlic and onions. And just boil it all together.”
“Boil it all together?”
“Yes.”
“Are you sure? Doesn’t mom fry something up too?”
“No, just boil it all together.”
“Is mom there?”
“She’s still sleeping.”
“Ok, thanks. Tell mom to call me later. Love you.”

When I call home to ask my parents about some of the Filipino recipes I miss and crave, I always seem to get my dad on the line. Maybe it has to do with the European/ North American time difference. When I call from Prague, it is afternoon here and I am thinking about what to make for dinner. In NYC, when my dad picks up my call, he is still in his pj’s, just about to have breakfast and my mom, well she is still deep in a state of slumber. She has never been a morning person.

The usual suspects...

The funny thing is that although my dad is really good about remembering ingredients and is really helpful with directions, we didn’t grow up eating many meals cooked by my father’s hands. There were a few occasions when Mom had the night shift at the hospital and Dad would make dinner for me and my brothers. It didn’t happen very often and the surprising thing for me is that when I look back at those handful of memories I remember really enjoying my father’s cooking.

I am in need of a serious boost of iron. My third trimester blood tests detected a drop in this area. I returned from the doctor’s office with two packs of iron supplements, but I do believe the right foods can help you get back on track. I hardly eat meat, I do cook it for my husband, but I rarely eat it. Fish and seafood: yes. Beef, pork, chicken and other game: no. Yes, I am one of those.

...of the Filipino Sofrito

One way to get more iron into the system is through legumes and leafy greens. A bowl of mongo would be the perfect combination. My dad was right, I would have to boil all the ingredients together. However, that was only after I let the beans boil for an hour and sautéed a few of the other ingredients. I called my mother back later that same day and she laughed when I repeated the instructions given by my dad. We kept it our little secret and didn’t bother to correct him. Neither one of us wanted to spoil my father’s culinary confidence.

Mongo

1 cup green mung beans
5 cups water (plus 2 more cups)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium-sized onion, sliced
1 large tomato, diced
1/2 lb. shelled shrimps
1-2 tablespoons fish sauce (patis)
salt and pepper to taste
1 package of baby spinach

Mung beans

Give the beans a very good rinse.
In a deep pot, combine the beans, water and season with some salt.
Let the water come to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
Cook beans for an hour, or until soft or until doubled in size.

In a large pan, sauté the garlic in oil, until lightly browned.
Then add the onion, tomato and fish sauce.
Let it cook for a few minutes, until the onions and tomatoes soften.
Add this pot of mung beans.
If the liquid has dried up, add another cup or two of water.
Let it cook for another 10-15 minutes.
Add the shrimp and spinach at the end and let it boil a few more minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.

Serve with jasmine rice.

The Filipino way: Spoon & Fork!

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Mom:1 Me:0

No relish, No good.

Recent phone conversation between my mother and I:

Me: “What do you put in your macaroni salad?”

Mom: “Macaroni, chicken, relish…the sweet relish…”

Me: “I can’t get that here in Prague. They don’t sell that in the stores.”

Mom: “Uh-uh, then you can’t make it. It won’t taste good.”

Me: “What else do you add?”

Mom: “Pineapple, salt and pepper…:

Me: “Don’t you put carrots and celery too?”

Mom: “Oh yeah and raisins.”

Me: “I don’t like raisins in it.”

Mom: “Well, you still can’t make it, if you don’t have sweet relish. Love you, gotta go, am cooking.”

Sweet relish is not been something you find on the shelves of the grocery stores in Prague. Sauerkraut in two varieties: red or white cabbage: Yes! Jars and jars of pickles: Yes! Sweet relish: No!

I proceeded to make the salad without that coveted ingredient. How important could the sweet relish really be? The pineapples would add some sweetness to the dish and so would the mayonnaise. At least that’s what I thought to myself.

But, as usual Mother knew best. After letting the salad sit in the refrigerator, we tried some. It wasn’t the same, it was missing something and I knew exactly what that was.

Uggh… If I was going to save this Filipino macaroni salad, I would have to make the relish myself. All from scratch.

And here it is…

My first jar of sweet pickle relish! Mama would be proud!

It wasn’t as tough as I thought. I turned on BBC news to keep me company and then worked on chopping the vegetables into teeny, tiny pieces. That was the most arduous task of the process. What followed afterwards, was simple, but it did take about 5 hours.

I immediately added the 4 tablespoons of the home-made relish to the salad. With my sturdy wooden mixing spoon, I stirred and stirred until all the ingredients were well combined.

I scooped some salad into a bowl and after tasting it, I immediately thought of my mother. She was right. If I was ever going to make this again, I couldn’t make it without including the sweet relish.

What makes mothers right all the time? It doesn’t matter whether I ask my mom about a big or small matter, she always seems to have the answer, the right answer and that bugs me. I get even more irritated when I disagree with her and she still comes out the winner.

Is that a part of motherhood that I will get to look forward to? One day, will I have all the right answers too? Will I possess the acumen to dish out the proper responses to my daughters’ endless queries? Well, at least I can tell them how to make a jar of sweet relish, when they find themselves in a country where it isn’t sold.

Sweet Relish (just in case you wanted to make some too)

4 cups diced cucumber (seeded and with the peels on)

1 green pepper

1 red pepper

1/4 cup salt

2 1/2 cup sugar

2 cups cider vinegar

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

1 bay leaf

Chop all the vegetables into fine small pieces.

In a large bowl, mix the vegetables with the salt.

Then add cold water until it covers all the vegetables.

Let it sit for 2 hours.

Then in a pot big enough to boil the vegetables, add the sugar, vinegar, mustard and bay leaves.

Let the liquid come to a boil, then add the vegetables.

Bring the heat to a simmer and let it cook for 10 minutes.

Then place in a clean jar. If you are an expert with sterilizing and canning, you will know what to do. If not, ask your mother!

Recipe for macaroni salad can be found here: https://adventuresintheredkitchen.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/a-cool-salad/

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A Cool Salad

I’m hot! And by “hot”, I don’t mean the sexy, make you think impure thoughts, I’m going to knock your socks off kind of hot! At six and a half months pregnant, I wish. But I’m not. I am just hot and pregnant. Since the maternal powers took over, my body had suddenly turned into an oven. The weather in Prague, these past few days has grown increasingly warmer and summer-like. I am keeping my fingers crossed for a thunderstorm. We are badly in need of a cool down.

The only “healthy thing” I can eat in this weather, besides ice cream, is a salad. Our recent meals have been cool plates of tabbouli salad, egg salad and tuna salad. And just because I have had salad after salad, doesn’t mean that I am tired of them. Here is one more, my mother’s Filipino Macaroni Chicken salad.

Warning: This is a sweet salad. But oh so good! Don’t let the list of ingredients turn you away. It’s not your typical macaroni salad, such as the kind from the deli counter or the type served as a side dish with your favorite sandwich at your local diner. Seriously, the flavors do blend well. On a day when the temperature spikes to fiery levels, pull this dish out of your refrigerator and your body will instantly melt to a comfortable temperature.


Mama’s Filipino Macaroni Chicken Salad

1 package of cooked elbow macaroni (add salt to the boiling water)
1-2 pieces of chicken breast
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into small pieces
2 celery sticks, diced into small pieces
4 tablespoons of sweet relish
1 can of diced pineapples
1 scallion, chopped into fine pieces
Mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the chicken breast in salted water for 30 minutes.
When cooked, allow to cool before shredding the chicken apart.
You can use a two forks to do this, I just use my hands to thinly pull the meat apart.

After the macaroni is cooked, drain and allow it to cool.
In a large bowl, combine the macaroni with all the ingredients.
Mix well.
Add salt and pepper to taste.

I did not give an exact measurement for the mayonnaise because it depends on how creamy you would like the salad to be. Sometimes we use 1/2 to 3/4ths of a large jar of Hellman’s mayonnaise.

Refrigerate before serving.

Enjoy and stay cool!

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A Canton Celebration!

Pancit Canton

I’m celebrating. I’m celebrating that I am half-way there. I am celebrating that I am in week 20 of my pregnancy and things are going very well. I am celebrating that the doctor just said that we’ll be the parents of two little girls. And I am going to celebrate the best Filipino way I know how, with a plate of Pancit Canton (Pahn-seet Cahn-ton.) These 16-ounce packets of wheat noodles have yet to appear on the shelves of Prague’s grocery stores, therefore I usually reserve them for special occasions, such as birthdays or Christmas dinner. (Back in NYC, a package costs about $1.99 and I have been known to buy some to take back, and have asked family members to stuff a few bags into their suitcases when coming to visit) But, these are special times and that means the pancit must come out.

I miss Asian grocery stores!

Pans of pancit regularly appear on the tables of a Filipino celebration: birthday, christening, Christmas or Easter. Those long, thin strands mixed with vegetables, meat, shrimp or tofu sits waiting to be devoured by the multitude of guests. Growing up, my family had me believe that if I ate a plate of these sautéed noodles every year on my birthday, I would live a long and prosperous life. My grandmother just turned 89 in March and still exhibits the same sharp wit I have known since childhood. Obviously, Grandma ate her share of pancit too. It’s impossible for me to take this family superstition lightly.

When I introduced this dish to my husband’s side of the family, my Spanish father in-law thought it was a very complete meal. You have your carbohydrates, protein and vegetables all in one. Lately, some friends who recently became parents have been sharing stories about the kinds of foods that appeal most to their children. Many of the flavors that the mothers had exposed their little ones to while in utero, are ones that the babies favor and seek out. I think it is time to introduce my twin girls to the taste of pancit and get them ready for this birthday tradition.

Pancit Canton with Tofu (Grandma’s recipe)

14- 16 oz package of Pancit Canton
2 cloves of garlic
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced thinly
2 celery sticks, sliced thinly
1/2 head of cabbage, sliced thinly (I used napa)
1 block of tofu, diced and fried lightly in vegetable oil
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
2 cups of vegetable broth
2 tablespoons of light soy sauce
salt and pepper for extra seasoning
sliced lemon wedges

Heat a large, deep non-stick pan and place two tablespoons of oil.
When ready, add the tofu.
Fry until crispy and pale yellow.
Scoop out with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil and the garlic.
When it turns slightly golden, add the onions.
When the onions become transparent, add the carrots and celery.
Cook for about 5 minutes before adding the cabbage.
After adding the cabbage, also add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, salt and pepper and stir fry.
The vegetables should maintain a crisp tenderness to them.

It should probably take another 3-4 minutes to cook.
When done, remove and set aside.

In the same pan, add the broth, remaining tablespoon of soy sauce and a little bit of salt.
When the liquid comes to a boil, gently add the noodles.

Evenly mix the noodles with the sauce and allow the liquid to get absorbed.
After a few minutes, add the vegetables and tofu.
Continue to carefully mix the ingredients all together.
Serve warm with lemon wedges on the side.

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Babes’ Cake


My dad has four sisters. When I was 5, one of them came to live with us. She came straight from The Philippines and moved into our tiny NYC apartment. Her name is Eloisa, however, in our family and with other Filipino friends, we never called people by their officially documented names. Everyone in our Filipino-American world had a nickname and it would be a long time until you found out a person’s “real” name.

My aunt was the second to the youngest in her family, but for some reason they called her “Baby,” just like in the movie Dirty Dancing. Out of respect for our elders, we always addressed our aunts by first using the word Tita which is aunt in Filipino and then by their nickname. Somehow, my brothers and I started calling Tita Baby, “Tita Babe” and eventually she became “Tita Babes”.For the three of us, Tita Babes was like a third parent. She moved to the States to be closer to her family and to help my parents out. Much of the immediate family had emigrated earlier to Toronto, Canada or NY. She was the last to relocate. The year she came to live with us, was also the year my mother started a full time job. Tita Babes became our own Mrs. Garrett (see TV show Facts of Life , if you don’t know Mrs. G.) She brought us to and from school, took us to the library, spent hours with us at the park, walked us to the local Baskin Robbins Ice Cream Shop and cooked a lot of tasty meals for us. Tita Babes is one of our family’s finest in the kitchen. When we got to our teens, Tita Babes left and moved into another apartment with two other sisters. We are still very close to her and she holds a very special place in our hearts.

Found this photo of the three of us with Tita Babe, the youngest one is hiding behind the stroller


Over the years, I have collected many recipes from my special Tita. Just a few years ago, she started experimenting with baking and last summer I got this recipe from her. We typically celebrate birthdays in our family with an ice cream cake or a mocha cake from our local Filipino bakery. I was surprised to find a recipe for mocha roll stuck to her refrigerator door. The combination of a mocha sponge cake and mocha buttercream frosting often graced the tables of many Filipino celebrations and was served in different ways, such as a roll, sheet cake or layered cake. This one is for the mocha roll.

The recipe I scribbled down

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about Tita Babes and missing her. I am also thinking about my babies, still in my womb and this ex-pat life that my husband and I live. Separated by borders, an ocean and a time zone, we live kilometers away from our families. I can’t help but wonder if they will be lucky enough to have a Tita Babes in their lives too.



Tita Babe’s Mocha Roll

Ingredients:

Cake:
1 tsp. instant coffee
1 tsp. hot water
6 egg whites
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Mocha Buttercream Filling & Frosting:
1/2 cup butter or a stick
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp. coffee (dissolve granules in a drop of hot water)
1/4 cup cream or evaporated milk


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees or 180 celsius

Cake:
Line a large jelly roll pan with parchment paper or grease it with butter and sprinkle with flour.

Dissolve coffee granules with hot water, from the tap is fine.
In a bowl, beat egg whites on high for about 3 minutes, until they are stiff.
In another large bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar.
Beat on high for 3 minutes.
Then add flour and stir.
Fold in the egg whites and carefully blend all the ingredients.
(I use a spatula)
Finally, add the vanilla and dissolved coffee granules.
Gently mix all the ingredients together.
Then pour into pan and spread the mixture evenly.
Bake for 15 minutes.

Filling/Frosting: (You can start the filling while the cake is baking or cooling off)

Dissolve granules in a drop of hot water
and then stir into the cream.
With an electric mixer, cream the butter.
Then add sugar and continue mixing.
With the mixture running, slowly add the coffee
and cream mixture, tablespoon by tablespoon.
Otherwise, it may curdle and you will have to start
all over again.

When the cake is done, run a knife along the edges to loosen it up from the pan.
(You will have to invert the cake onto a clean kitchen towel,
so have that ready on your counter.)

Place the towel over the pan.
To ensure a good catch, I also place my cooling rack on top of of the towel.

Then hold the pan on the short end and flip it over.
Remove pan and then peel off the parchment paper.

Starting with the long side, begin to roll the cake up.

Let the cake sit in this position for at least 20 minutes or until completely cool.

When ready, carefully unroll the cake. Don’t worry about cracks, you can cover it up with the frosting.

Then spread a thin layer of cream in the middle and sides of the cake.

When it is all covered with cream, roll it up again and cut the ends off.

With the seam of the cake facing downwards, use the rest of the frosting to cover the cake.

Before serving, refrigerate cake for 30 minutes to let the frosting firm up.
You can run a fork along the cake to add some fancy ridges.
Leftover slices can be refrigerated or kept in the freezer for up to a month.

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Two Buns in the Oven

For the past three months or so, I have been unable to cook, eat well and write. Sometime in the middle of December, I found out that I was pregnant. Shortly after that, my body was quickly possessed by nausea, fatigue and a new super power sense of smell. We spent our Christmas holidays visiting our relatives in Spain and the newly pregnant me unwillingly had to reject many delicious dishes of fideua, paella, jamon and even sweet pieces of turron. I lived on tea and dry crackers, but it’s all been worth it. I am going to be a mommy!

Fideua

The last thing I can remember cooking and happily eating was siopao(sho-pow.) That is the Philippine name for it. It is a popular snack also found in China and other Southeast Asian countries. In China it goes by the name Bao. When I was a little girl, my family would all pile into our navy blue 12 passenger van and venture outside our borough of Queens for Manhattan’s Chinatown. As soon as we crossed the Williamsburg Bridge, my mouth would begin to water. A warm, white, spongy bun with a scrumptious filling would soon be in my hands.

Now, when I say my family jumped in the car, I don’t just mean my immediate family such as my parents, myself and my two brothers. This also included my three aunts and my grandmother. Therefore, when we went to buy these buns we would get at least two dozen. One siopao was never enough. Two of my aunts would leave the car and head to the shop. The rest of us stayed behind in our family bus, most likely double parked, as we excitedly searched for their return among the crowds of people. In each of their arms, would be a white cardboard box filled with our steamed goodies.

The buns came in a variety of fillings: red bean paste, sweet roasted pork, tofu and vegetables or chicken and egg. The fillings, although very tasty, were never that important to me. I was more interested in eating the doughy parts of the steamed bun. I enjoyed their soft spongy texture and can remember many times being scolded for not eating all of my food!

Siopao filled with tofu, shrimp and veggies

Siopao is still a family favorite and when I am back in NYC, we make a trip to one of the many Chinese or Filipino bakeries that serve them. Nowadays, we don’t even have to leave Queens to enjoy them, she has her very own Chinatown and Little Manila. Sadly, I can’t say the same about Prague. Some days before I discovered I was pregnant, a craving for siopao had hit me. The only way to satisfy myself, was to make them. Fortunately, I had Andrea Nguyen’s book, “Asian Dumplings” on hand and her easy to follow recipe for Zheng Bao (steamed filled buns.)

Siopao is not something you can easily whip up, but it is worth the time and effort, especially when they are unavailable. I was actually surprised by the way my batch had turned out. The similarity of the texture and flavor of the buns quickly reminded me of the kind my family would purchase in NYC’s Chinatown. I couldn’t believe these were made by my own two hands. Between my husband and I, the siopaos didn’t last for very long. Two for a snack, two for dinner and two for next day’s lunch.

A few weeks later, at a routine check up at the doctor’s office, the sonogram revealed that I was carrying twins! Funnily enough, at that stage the two circles she was pointing to on the screen, known as gestational sacs, resembled two small siopao buns. Ironic- that the last thing I remember joyfully cooking and eating were these buns and here I am waiting for the two in my tummy to arrive.

Siopao!

Siopao (adapted from Asian Dumplings by Andrea Nguyen)

Dough:

1 1/2 teaspoons of instant dry yeast
3/4 cup of lukewarm water
2 Tablespoons of a neutral oil
2 Tablespoons of sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder

In a small bowl, add yeast then the water. Let it sit for a minute.
Then mix in the oil and dissolve the yeast. Set it aside.

In a food processor, add the sugar, baking powder and flour.
Pulse it two to three times to mix well.
Then with the motor running, pour the yeast/water mixture through the tube.
After 30 seconds, it should start to form into a ball. If it doesn’t, add a few drops of water.
Run the machine for another 45-60 seconds.
It should form into a ball, with a few pieces of dough sticking to the sides.
Take it out and on a lightly floured surface, knead it for a few minutes, until it feels medium soft.
The dough should not stick to your fingers.

Place the ball of dough into a clean, lightly oiled bowl.
Cover it with some plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place for 45 minutes or until it has doubled.
After it had doubled, punch it down.
If you press the dough and it springs up with a slight indentation left behind, it is ready!

Shrimp, Tofu and Veggie Filling ( should be prepared ahead of time and can be refrigerated for up to 2 days)

Sauce:

In a small bowl, combine the following:

2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 Tablespoons lukewarm water
2 1/2 Tablespoons of light soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil

Stir together well, making sure the sugar crystals dissolve well.
Then set aside.


Filling:

2 Tablespoons Canola Oil
1 large scallion, chopped into thin slices
1 cup of cabbage, finely shredded (omit thick center part)
1/2 block of firm tofu, sliced or chopped into fine pieces
1 medium-sized carrot, sliced into thin pieces
6-8 small mushrooms, chopped into tiny pieces
1 cup of cooked shrimp, diced into small pieces
2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in a Tablespoon of water.

Note: The smaller the vegetables are cut, the easier it is to place the filling into the dough.

Stir-frying the vegetables

In a wok or medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.
Add the scallions, and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
Add the tofu and vegetables.
Stir to combine and then add the sauce.
Cook for 3-5 minutes.
Then add the shrimp. Stir and mix well.
Cook for another minute.
Then add the cornstarch mixture and cook for another half-minute.
Check seasonings and add to taste, only if needed.

Set aside and cool.

Assembling the Siopao:

Pre-cut 12 4X4 squares of wax or parchment paper

Take the ball of dough and divide it in half.
Place one ball on a lightly floured surface.
The other half goes back in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
With two hands, shape the ball into a long log.
Then divide the dough into 6 small pieces.
Roll each piece into a ball and then flatten it out with a rolling pin or shape with your hands.
The center of should be thicker than the sides.

Take a spoonful of the filling and place it in the middle of the dough.
Lift the edges of the dough and bring them all to the center.
Pinch and close.
Turn it over and place on a piece of parchment paper.
You can rest the buns on a baking pan or cookie sheet.
Do the same for the rest of the dough.

Let it rise in a warm place for another 30 minutes.

To cook the buns:

Prepare the steamer equipment 10 minutes before the dough’s second rising is complete.
When the buns have risen, place the buns in the steamer and let it cook for about 12 minutes.
Remove each bun with a spatula and allow them to cool on a wire rack.
Remind your eaters to remove the paper before eating!

What to do with the leftover buns (if there are any…)

Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. It can be left out overnight or refrigerated for up to a week, frozen for a month.
To reheat, best to steam them for 5 minutes or dab a few drops of water on top of the bun and place in microwave for 30 seconds.

If there is leftover filling, you can wrap some in dumpling wrappers and pan fry or steam them!

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