Filipinos are funny about their secrets. They are also notorious gossips. So some things they divulge in a blink of the eye while other secrets they keep to their graves.
Ask a Filipino to tell you about their family history and you might hear him talk about of how an aunt of the family got pregnant at 16 with the family driver and gave birth to a child who was adopted by her mother and this child grew up as the aunt’s daughter. Or how their best friend had a one night stand with the fiancee’s best friend the night before the wedding and how nine months later the little bub looked strikingly similar to the now husband’s best friend. Confusing isn’t it? But makes for great family conversations!
In fact, Filipinos are so open about these so called “family secrets”, or most secrets in general, that my English brother in law once remarked that there are NO FILIPINO SECRET AGENTS. For the simple fact that they would have failed the psychological portion of the exam that determines how willing you are to give up super top secrets! Can you imagine a Filipino secret agent being dragged to a room to be interogated by a the CIA and before they enter the room the Filipino tells the CIA “by the way, did you hear about the little atomic bomb the terrorists in the South are looking to build?”…
BUT never ask a Filipino to share a family recipe. NEVER. They simply won’t. These are the secrets they take with them to their grave. These are the recipes that are passed on from one generation to another and another and yet another but will never be shared outside the confines of the family.
I remember in my university days a funny conversation I had with a schoolmate. She had just shared with me a very sad family problem over afternoon tea. We were having empanadas which we bought in the bakery across school. Between sobs she mentioned that the emapanadas were similar to what her aunt made and they were a family specialty. I asked if she could share the recipe with me and she replied that her mother swore her to secrecy. I found it funny how she was willing to tell me about her father’s affair with her brother’s school teacher but not willing to share the empanada recipe!
The empanadas we had that afternoon were something that I have always been meaning to recreate. They were not the typical empanadas as they were very flaky and tender and called “kaliskis” which in Filipino refers to it looking like fish scales. It took awhile before I found out how to make them but many years later here they are! Luckily for me, there is a vast resource over the internet as well as great cookbooks such Andrea Nguyen’s Asian Dumplings which details the procedure of how to make this flaky pastry which I found out has Chinese origins. Her site, Asiandumplingtips.com is an excellent resource.
The recipe for the pastry below is adapted from Andrea’s book which can be purchased on Amazon. It is a fantastic resource and if you love dumplings (which I do in all shapes, sizes and forms!), this is a must have.
The recipe for the filling is my own. I decided to use adobo flakes, salted red eggs and some mayonnaise as filling because I wanted to sure there was no mistake that this was a Filipino snack!
- 125 grams flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 15 grams lard
- 5 tablespoons warm water
- 85 grams flour
- 85 grams lard, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 chicken thighs (with skin on)
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 cups water
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 peppercorns
- To make the outer dough, combine the flour, salt, sugar and lard in a food processor. Blend until it resembles a sandy consistency.
- Transfer the mix to a bowl and make a well in the center and add the water one tablespoon at a time. Use a wooden spoon to combine the ingredients. Toss the contents to a lightly floured surface and knead for around two minutes. This should create a soft, smooth and slightly elastic dough. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for about 30 minutes. (note: you can add more flour if it feels too wet)
- For the inner dough, mix the flour and lard again in a food processor for around 10 seconds to blend the mixture. Transfer to a bowl and mix to combine. It should resemble soft cookie dough.
- Gather and pat the dough into a rough ball and place on a lightly floured work surface. Gently pat the dough and form into a smooth ball and set aside.
- To encase the inner dough in the outer dough, roll the outer dough into a 16 cm circle. Center the ball of the inner dough on top and then gently pull up and press the outer dough, pinching the ends together to completely encase the inner dough.
- Use a rolling pin to gently roll the dough into a square (Andrea uses an oblong shape but I didn’t read it properly at first and used a square!) about 21 cm wide and 31 cm long. Once done, fold the dough into thirds like a letter.
- Turn the dough 90 degrees and roll out again 21cm wide by 31 cm long, and then fold into thirds like a letter.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and let the dough rest at least 1 hour before using.
- When ready to use the pastry, roll it out into a square measuring 30cm by 30cm. Then, roll the dough from the bottom all the way to the top like a jelly roll.
- Cut the dough into 16 equal parts and to use each part, flatten the dough with the palm of your hand to make a disc, then use a rolling pin to increase the diameter of the dough.
- Fill each dough portion with mayonnaise, adobo and salted red egg.
- Deep fry the dumplings at 180c for 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve.
- To use the pastry, the best resource for me was this site form Corner Cafe. This site shows you the various techniques on how to fold and shape the pastry.
Mix all ingredients for adobo and simmer the chicken for 30 minutes. Once done, remove the chicken and cool. Once cool, shred the chicken and fry in some oil until crispy.