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Guava Sinigang

Guava Sinigang

The other day SBS Food Safari did a feature on Filipino Food. It’s not very often that Filipino food gets center stage, so it was fantastic to finally see our cuisine getting some attention. I am very grateful to the team of Food Safari for doing such a wonderful job! All of the dishes and cooks who showcased our food made me so proud to be Filipino. It was a pity that the episodes are only 30 minutes long – a series on Filipino Food definitely deserves longer!

For those that missed the episode, it can be found here. My recipe for Pinakbet can be found here.

It also made me realize how neglected this blog has been in the last few months. A new job and a few new hobbies have left me thin for time but watching the Food Safari episode made me want to blog again… and share more of what Filipino food is all about (yes, contrary to popular belief, it’s not all about pork!).

Filipinos love the sour flavour and Sinigang is one of the Philippine’s most loved dishes. In fact, the late Doreen Fernandez, who was one of the most respected food writers in the Philippines once argued that sinigang, rather than adobo should be considered the national dish of the Philippines, after all, Filipinos are the champion lovers of sourness…

Sinigang is a soup whose flavor is soured with fruits abundant in the Philippines like tamarind, guava, green mangoes or bilimbi (kamias). My personal favourite is the guava sinigang. The dish is easily adaptable depending on what protein is on hand, but most frequently made with pork, beef, or prawns. The soup is also rich in vegetables that are easily available in the Philippines like daikon, eggplants, snake beans and water spinach.

I had been craving guava sinigang for a few months. So much so that I bought my own guava tree but was told that it would take at least another two years to bear fruit. I search everywhere for guava only to discover it is quite difficult to source in Australia. Finally, I found a supplier of pure guava puree online and was so relieved that I ordered five kilos to freeze for future use. It you are lucky enough to source the fresh ripe fruit, that’s even better. Boil the fresh fruit until soft and then use a blender to mash the guava into a puree.

Sinigang na Bayabas (Seafood in Guava Sour Soup)

  • 12 large prawns
  • 500 grams firm white fish fillets, sliced (like ocean perch)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced
  • 3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 300 grams guava puree
  • 1 long green chili
  • 1 piece radish, peeled and sliced
  • 1 bunch snake beans (sitaw)
  • 1 bunch water spinach (kang kong)
  1. Peel the prawns and place the heads and peel in a pot and add 1 liter of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. In the meantime, devein the prawns and set aside.
  2. Sprinkle some salt on the fish and set aside until ready to use.
  3. Place the oil in a large pot and add the onions and add the tomatoes. Saute until the onions are translucent, around 5 minutes.
  4. Add the guava puree, green chili, sliced radish, snake beans and shrimp stock and allow to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
  5. When the soup is done, set the green chili, radish and snake beans aside. Place the broth in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  6. Strain the soup and add it back into the pot and return the chili, radish, and snake beans. Finally add the prawns, fish and water spinach and simmer until the seafood is cooked and the vegetables are warmed, around 3 to 5 minutes.
  7. Serve while the soup is still hot.
Guava Sinigang

Guava Sinigang

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FIlipino Style Spaghetti

FIlipino Style Spaghetti

I love being an Aunt and I’m fortunate enough to have three gorgeous nephews who I can return after a few hours of babysitting! I previously wrote about my eldest nephew when I did a post on making sushi rolls a few years ago. Since then, two other little boys, James and William, have come into our family. Its fascinating to watch James handle his little brother. I still remember the first time James laid eyes on William. He came into the maternity room with his father, looked at the little bundle, then looked at his Mum, and then back to his brother and then to his Mum again as if to say “what have you done?!?!” Luckily he quickly warmed up to William, constantly trying to give him a cuddle and kiss. It should be loads of fun to watch them grow up together but I suspect though that James will find a way to put the blame on William for any mischief them may get into. When I ask him “who is naughty?”, James loves to say, “bro-da”!

James and his baby brother Wills

James and his baby brother Wills

One of James’ favourite food is spaghetti. He also has a penchant for anything sweet (like his Mum). I suspect James would love Filipino Style Spaghetti which was the Kulinarya Club’s dish for the month of October. Purists out there need not read any further as the recipe below is enough to give any Italian grandmother a heart attack. Filipinos have taken the traditional bolognese recipe and put their own twist to it. So what makes it so different? A few things come to mind. First, the sauce is sweetened by the addition of sugar and some recipes will also include ketchup (banana or tomato) Second, is the that the recipe includes chopped hotdogs. The recipe is not going to win any awards for traditional cuisine but kids love it! In fact, it’s so popular that it’s become a staple in children’s parties and even Mc Donalds in the Philippines have created their own version called the Mc Spaghetti.

So here is my recipe. I have to admit that I couldn’t bring myself to use ketchup in this recipe but otherwise, it’s pretty much how I remember it tasting. A little quirky, but every little bit of it delicious.

Filipino Style Spaghetti

Serves 6

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 500 grams beef mince
  • 230 grams hot dog (your favourite brand)
  • 50 grams tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 400 grams pasta sauce (your favourite brand)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • 1 package of dried spaghetti noodles
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot and add the onions and garlic. Saute over low heat for around 5 minutes until the onions turn translucent.
  2. Add the red peppers and again saute until softened, around 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add the beef and cook over medium high heat until cooked then add the chopped hot dogs and the tomato paste.
  4. At this point, season with salt and pepper and add the sugar. Stir the mixture well and add the tomato sauce. Allow to cook for around 15 minutes over a low heat.
  5. In the meantime, prepare the pasta as per directions on the packet. Drain the water from the pasta. When the sauce and pasta is done, spoon the sauce over the spaghetti noodles.
  6. Serve with cheese.
FIlipino Style Spaghetti

FIlipino Style Spaghetti

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Seafood Kare Kare

Seafood Kare Kare

It’s embarrassing how, being a founding member of Kulinarya Cooking Club, I’ve neglected our monthly challenges. The one thing about taking an extended leave from blogging is losing the discipline to do every other thing that comes with blogging. Testing recipes, trying to make a dish you KNOW that tastes delicious, actually LOOK delicious, taking pictures, and then there’s the writing! It can be very intimidating.

Let me tell you what else seemed very intimidating. Making kare kare. This is a traditional Filipino dish made with a peanut gravy, thickened with rice. It is usually made with oxtail, tripe, and vegetables. To me, this dish was the ultimate in cold weather comfort food. When we moved to Australia I thought the recipe for this dish was to open a pack of Mamasita Kare Kare Mix. This dish was my achilles heel. Surely, there was no way I could make this from scratch.  Was there?

Which brings me back to Kulinarya Cooking Club. The goal of KCC was not only to promote Filipino food, but also challenge ourselves to learn new dishes with the support of our group. This month’s challenge was to make a Filipino dish but put with a healthy twist.

This month I decided to make kare kare from scratch. From the number of Filipino cookbooks I had, I noticed the common theme was the use of rice and peanuts to flavour the stew. As mentioned earlier, this dish is commonly made with oxtail, so my healthy twist was to use seafood instead. Oxtail, when simmered for a number of hours, provides the richness to the stew, something not available when using seafood, so instead, I’ve added some coconut milk for that added richness.

This dish was inspired by a meal I had during my last trip to the Philippines. We ate in a home called Bale Dutung, owned by Claude Tayag and his wife Mary Anne.  I also later found out that Anthony Bourdain had eaten at Claude’s place when he did a feature on Filipino food.  We had ten (at least that’s when I gave up from delicious food overload!) dishes that day and this was one of my favourites.  Claude had let it slip during out conversation that the kare kare was made with coconut milk and it does add that extra lucious dimension to the dish.

Ice Cream Cart from Bale Dutung

Ice Cream Cart from Bale Dutung

So here is my (late) contribution to Kulinarya Cooking Club.  Seafood Kare Kare, served with a steamed bowl of rice and bagoong (fermented shrimp paste).  I realized that it wasn’t that difficult to make kare kare from scratch, and, I was really really pleased with how well it came out.  Plus, it definitely taste mush better than any Mamasita mix.

After I proudly told my sister I had made the kare kare without a mix, she asked me whether I had also made the bagoong from scratch.

Ha!… Let’s start with baby steps…

Kare Kare from Bale Dutung

Kare Kare from Bale Dutung

Seafood Kare Kare (Philippine Seafood, Peanut and Coconut Stew)

serves 8

  • 100 grams uncooked rice
  • 200 grams raw peanuts
  • 6 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons annatto seeds
  • 4 tablespoons peanut butter (optional)
  • 500 ml good quality coconut milk
  • 2 onions
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 bunch snake beans
  • 8 pieces lebanese eggplants
  • 2 bunches bok choy
  • 1 kilo prawns
  • 500 grams squid, cleaned
  • 1 kilo large mussels
  • salt and fish sauce to taste
  1. Make the stock, peel the prawns (reserve a few whole ones for presentation) and place the heads in a pot with 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil then simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the stock and place in another container. Set aside.
  2. While the stock is simmering, place the rice in a pan and heat until the grains turn a golden brown, around 10 minutes. Place the rice in a spice grinder and grind until fine. Set aside.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 160c and place the peanuts in the oven and roast until golden, around 30 minutes. Place the peanuts in a food processor and process until it comes together in a paste. Set aside.
  4. Heat the oil in a small pot and add the annatto seeds. After around 2 minutes, turn off the heat and allow the seeds to steep in the oil for around 10 minutes.
  5. Strain the seeds and heat 4 tablespoons of the oil again in the pot used to make the stock. Add the chopped onions and the garlic. Season with salt and saute until the onions are soft and translucent, around 5 to 7 minutes.
  6. Add the ground peanuts and ground rice. Cook for around 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Add the prawn stock, a little at a time. If the sauce is too thick, thin out with some water. Taste and adjust the seasoning with some fish sauce and the peanut butter if necessary.
  8. Place the sauce in a blender and blend until smooth. Remove from blender and place back into the pot. Taste and adjust seasoning again if necessary.
  9. At this point, add the coconut milk, depending on how thick you want the stew to be.
  10. To make the vegetables, Heat the remaining oil and fry off the eggplants until nicely browned. For the rest of the vegetables, you can either place the vegetables in another pot of boiling water and serve on the side of the stew, alternatively, you can add the vegetables to the peanut stew.
  11. For the seafood, lightly score the squid and pan fry. Boil the mussels until they just open. Add the prawns, squid and mussels right before serving.
  12. Serve with bagoong (fermented shrimp paste), calamansi and steaming rice.
Seafood Kare Kare

Seafood Kare Kare

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Mango Natilla

Mango Natilla

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but growing up, I certainly enjoyed the many perks of my family owning a Spanish restaurant.  Probably top of the list was being able to order anything I wanted from the menu.  With each visit I’d try to order a different dish  for my main course but dessert would always stay the same.

I’d always have the Natilla. I loved the look burnt sugar topping provoking me to give it a good hard crack and then my spoon surrendering to the velvety custard and sponge finger mix beneath.

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Lumpiang Hubad

Lumpiang Hubad

Who said Filipino food is unhealthy?  If you haven’t already, hop on over to Tangled Noodle‘s site to read her essay on Filipino food.  I couldn’t have written it better myself.  In her post one of the things that Tracey mentions is that many people have a misconception that Filipino food is unhealthy.  Yes, we love our pork (especially our deep fried pork), and our steaming bowls of white rice, but there’s also a number of deliciously healthy alternatives.  One of them, is my dish for this month’s Kulinarya Cooking Club.  Malou, from Skip to Malou and Cherrie from Sweet Cherrie Pie have brought us this month’s challenge.  Lumpia refers to spring rolls and most of the ones I have tried have been filled with either pork and vegetables, or ubod (heart of palm).  Most lumpia is either fried, or served fresh with a crepe like wrapper (check out Tangled Noodle’s post for this).

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Prawns with Coconut Milk and Crab Fat

Prawns with Coconut Milk and Crab Fat

The other day I spent more than sixteen hours trying to get my house in order.  It had been awhile since I did a MAJOR clean up but I knew it was time after speaking to a work colleague.  We were chatting one morning and I mentioned that I needed to get my house more organized.  I told him that I would spend an hour a day organizing a certain part of the house.  He said “That sounds like a great idea!  In fact, I remember you telling me that you were going to do that last year…”

Of course, that project I talked about a year ago never happened and the blogging only contributed to more clutter with all the cookbooks and “props” I managed to accumulate.

By far, the biggest project that day was trying to organize the cookbooks.  In the end over 360 cookbooks (almost one for each day of the year!) were sorted (by color) and stored.

A neater house, a few organized bookshelves, many hours and an aching back later (and thighs), I found it funny how many cookbooks I hoarded over the years.  Is this where all my extra cash went to?  No wonder I had no money to buy nicer clothes!

The more ironic thing is, I hardly ever cook from them.  I buy them thinking “Oh yes, I certainly need THIS ONE cookbook.  It has so many recipes I’m going to make over and over again.” Yeah right…

I’ve noticed, through the years, I rely less and less on the cookbooks for recipes to follow but more for inspiration – whether it be a new cooking technique, an ingredient I’ve never used, or sometimes I take two or three different recipes for the same dish and come up with my own!

This recipe is probably one of those “inspired from” the 15 or so Philippine cookbooks that I have.  It’s my late addition to the Kulinarya Club’s July theme which is “Ginataan”.  Thanks to Asha (Fork, Spoon and Knife) and Althea (Busog Sarap) who decided on using coconut milk as this month’s main ingredient.

For me, coconut milk goes extremely well with the Philippine’s holy trinity of ginger, garlic and onions, sauteed and blended with a chili pepper to create a gravy  base.  Then I added freshly peeled prawns and spinach leaves.  On top of this, I blame  Shirley, who reminded me about how damn delicious Taba ng Talangka could be, so I added a few spoons of this preserved crab fat to the dish. Now tell me, who can resist this dish with a steaming bowl of rice?

Ginataan na Hipon with Taba ng Talangka

Ginataan na Hipon with Taba ng Talangka

Ginataan na Hipon and Taba ng Talangka

  • 500 grams fresh prawns, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 small knob of peeled ginger, sliced, around 30 grams
  • 1 red chili, seeds removed, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 200 ml coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons, taba ng talangka – available from Filipino/Asian groceries(optional)
  • Handful of spinach leaves
  1. Heat the oil and add the onion, fry until translucent, around 5 minutes
  2. Add the garlic, ginger and red chili and saute for another 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes and then process in a food processor.
  4. Once done, fry the paste for a few minutes and add the fish sauce and coconut milk. Allow to simmer for around 15 minutes then add the crab fat.
  5. Add the prawns and cook for around 2 to 3 minutes and then add the spinach leaves and cook until wilted.
  6. Serve over steamed rice, top with some more taba ng talangka.

Another reminder that I’ll be teaching a Macaron making class at the Essential Ingredient in Sydney on the 21st of August 2010.    If you’re interested please contact them on 02 9555 8300.

Essential Ingredient is located in 731 Darling Street, Rozelle.

Macarons

Macarons

Stumble It!

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Pancit Molo

Pancit Molo

The Blog Monster has a collection of recipes which she put together a few years ago. I remember that she asked me to “design” the front cover. After some discussion this is what we came up with.

Daily Menus

7 Week Cycle

With Weekly Market Orders

Proven Effective, even for beginners

(more…)

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