Tag Archives: filipino recipe

“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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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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“I confess, I smuggle cans of evaporated milk.”

Leche Flan

The two main dishes that I must pull out during the holidays are my parents glazed ham and my mother’s leche flan. This main course and dessert were regulars at our family’s table on Christmas and Easter. I don’t really celebrate these holidays in the religious way, but I do like getting my friends and family in Prague around the table for some eating marathons. On this Easter Sunday, I called a pot luck in honor of a friend’s birthday so this day was a special double bill. My contribution to the feast was Filipino Hamon (Glazed Ham) and Leche Flan.

When I travel home to NY or visit another place, a mandatory visit to the  grocery store is scheduled into our itinerary. One of the things I am often searching for are cans of evaporated milk. Yes, this is a treasured item in my pantry. On my last trip home, I managed to pack 6 cans in my suitcase and on a recent trip to London brought 2 cans back with me. A good friend even carried a few cans back with her on a recent trip to California. I think that would be the last time she would ask if she could bring me back anything back from the States.

Can you see how much it means to me? I can not live without my mom’s caramel vanilla soft custard that just melts in your mouth. I am aware of the many types of flan recipes out there and many do not call for evaporated milk. However, my mother’s does and hers is the one that I grew up with and nothing can compare. I guess I am just a little old-fashioned when it comes to flan. Leche means milk, therefore, to get that state of perfection I never worry about the excess baggage weight my few cans of evaporated milk could cause. I do, however, hold my breath when I wheel my suitcases pass the custom guards at Prague airport. Then again, would they really take away my beloved  containers of evaporated milk? Honestly, I don’t ever want to find out.

Just in case I did have a shortage of these precious cans of milk, I have researched the web for ways to substitute it, and found that it is possible to make at home. However, that would require some extra work and one of the things I love about making this dessert is that it is very effortless and uncomplicated. You only need a few ingredients, then there are a couple of quick steps and an easy clean up. Aside from it being one of the simplest desserts to whip up, it never fails to delight the taste buds.

Then one day Tesco comes to the rescue! This is the name of the mega supermarket in my neighborhood. During one of our grocery runs, as I was looking for some cream for a quiche, I noticed there were some new products in the dairy aisle and what do you think I found there? Yes! EVAPORATED MILK! I have lived in Prague for five years and evaporated milk has just come into the market, there is a god! But, hold on. How good is this type over the ones I have hauled back from different parts of the world? I would have to test it out…

Leche Flan

1/4 to 1/2  cup of Sugar

8 egg yolks

1 1/4 cups of Condensed Milk

1 1/2 cups of Evaporated Milk

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1 tsp Grated Lime Zest (optional)

-Heat oven to 180 or 325 degrees

– Pour sugar in a 8” round baking tin: silicone or aluminum works fine

-Over a low flame, hold the pan over the heat and let the sugar caramelize. This can take a few minutes. This is the trickiest part of the recipe. You don’t want to burn any fingers and you don’t want the sugar to burn.  As the sugar is melting, swirl the pan around so that the bottom and the edges are evenly coated. Put aside when done.

-In a bowl, combine the egg yolks, condensed and evaporated milks, along with the grated lime zest and vanilla. Stir and mix all ingredients well.

-Pour into the baking pan. Cover pan with foil.

-Using a larger baking pan that can hold the flan, place it in the oven filled halfway with water.

-Then place the flan inside the steam bath.

-Bake for 1 hour.

-When done, let cool and refrigerate  for at least 2 hours until ready to serve. (I always make this dessert the night before)

-When you are ready to serve it, be sure to carefully flip the flan over to display the beautiful caramelized top and let the syrup fall along the sides. I usually slide a knife along the rim to loosen it and then take the platter where it will be served, place it on top and flip it over as quickly as possible.  Garnish with mint or berries.

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