Archive for Food

“Savor the word. Swallow the world.”, Doreen Fernandez, 1994

The late Professor Doreen Fernandez is by far one of the most interesting essayists of our era. She wrote about many topics, but was most famous for her food essays and research. Here's an article written in New York City about Ms. Doreen Fernandez. A Tribute to Doreen Fernandez by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett of New York University.

Ilocano York Now Welcomes ANONYMOUS Posts

Ilocano York is now open to anonymous contributions! Since I welcomed contributions to my blog, I had persistent requests that names be kept confidential. I was hesitant at first thinking that a writer or contributor might submit works that aren't his own. Now realizing that not everyone is bold enough to provide a face and name to an experience or literary creation, I finally conceded. Yes, ANONYMITY is now welcome. All stories need to be told. Some people have stories that might run against common belief.  Some are afraid to publish because of public persecution. Some might have secret desires and dreams he would want to be kept as it is. Now they have a place in my blog. The freedom of expression should be upheld.  Keep the ideas flowing, and your identity in the closet. Ilocano York has matured. Email Anonymous contributions to  **LIMITATIONS**
  • All opinion articles should be published with a name. Also videos, pictures, recipes, critiques, technical and news articles cannot be published anonymous.
  • Only original journal entries, essays, reflections, open letters, poems and anecdotes will be accepted as anonymous contributions.
  • All articles will be subject to editing in accordance to Ilocano York standards.
  • Ilocano York keeps the right to reject and accept contributions.
  • Note that subject should lean towards the immigrant experience of Filipinos.

It’s raining … An excuse to stay home and eat champorado

Lazy Sunday afternoon, 71°F , New York City Even when I was still full from lunch, I couldn't help but salivate when I saw the  picture of  New Yorker Betsy Rhae Vergara's home cooked champorado on Facebook. She paired her version with danggit, salten-dried variety of fish that is a popular Cebuano product. Her picture brought back memories of the days when we used to have champorado and tuyo (dried salted fish best eaten when dipped in vinegar with garlic and Bicolano chili or 'labuyo) at least once week. The last time I checked, no Filipino restaurant in NYC serves this Filipino favorite on their menu yet. Champorado or chocolate rice pudding is made with glutinous rice cooked and sweetened cocoa powder  or cocoa blocks. Evaporated milk is sometimes added just before serving to loosen up the sticky consistency of the porridge. Whenever I cook it, I put coffee (instant or freshly brewed espresso) to give it that bitter coffee taste that I prefer. Chocolate is a much beloved Mexican cooking ingredient. While they cook their meats, vegetables and practically everything in chocolate, we relegated its use to desserts, drinks and sweets. This breakfast or snack dish is actually an adapted version of their Champurado, a thick chocolate drink usually eaten with churros (long and fried pastry that originated from Spain).  When our Mexican brothers  entered the country through the Spanish Galleon Trade, they introduced this delicacy to the natives. Owing to our love of rice, we cooked it with the sticky grains and dropped the churros altogether, then ate it with what else ---tuyo! TIP: Try eating it with a few drops of spiced Datu Puti vinegar as well.

Betsy Rhae Vergara's Champorado or Chocolate Rice Porridge

An Ilocano Living with Buro in New England

Burong Isda or Fermented Fish

When making my "Ano ang gusto mong pasalubong?" request, buro (fermented fish) is my usual answer. Why buro?
  1. It is my favorite food, of all time, of anything!
  2. The longer that you preserve it, the better (So, you won't even have to worry about getting it stale- never! In fact, at one time, my Nanay Aning bought a huge can of buro and I was making sure it would last me for a year and miraculously, it did - even better, actually heavenly!)
  3. It is what it is: fish and rice - both cheap and easy to buy in the Iloko region of the Philippines
  4. The immigration won't confiscate it as long as you declare it - unless you have a stop over in Hawaii and chances are, the people who are working there are Ilocanos who are also in great need of such buro supply, so there might be buro MIA case for you.
  5.  Where else on this land of fried chicken, RAGU and pasta will you ever buy buroby the tin can? Nowhere - so why not buro for pasalubong!
Buro is rather rare! But buro has something unique, hmmm...a raunchy smell! And buro, makes my neighbors cringe to their stomach and maybe grind their teeth. I like to cook buro with a lot of onions and garlic. So, one autumn day, I was sauteeing the ingredients for my buro when one of our neighbors rang the doorbell: SHE said: I'm sorry, but we were just wondering if there was an electrical line burning in your house. We have been smelling this burning smell. I said: Oh, that was my food! SHE said: Oh, I'm sorry I thought something was burning. I said: You want some, it's buro - my favorite! SHE said: Oh, NO thank you! Then she left as I enjoyed my buro with a plateful of rice, eating with my bare hands.

D’ Ampalaya Salad – So good, You’ll Turn Loco!

Again I came across a very interesting recipe shared by Karlo Primero that he posted on his Facebook wall. I haven't tasted nor cooked it yet, but those who tried it gave the dish very good reviews. I think this would make a good side dish for fried or grilled fish. Here is the procedure as posted by Karlo that I just copied verbatim:
Sounds really promising ...
Here's a picture of Karlo, the ampalaya-lover.

It's so good you will become crazy like the cook.

Hardin ni Monsignor Romy

Kay hirap paniwalaan na sa gitna ng siyudad na tinaguriang kapitolyo ng mundo, sa isang likod-simbahan ay may munting hardin na hitik sa bunga ng mga gulay na tunay namang nakakagiliw. Sino ba ang hindi mapapangiti sa mga luntiang dahon at naglalakihang ampalaya, mabibilog at makinis na kamatis, malalagong talbos ng kamote, mangilangngilang mapupulamg sili, atbp...?  Ang nagpasimula ng hardin ay si Monsignor Romy Montero, isa sa mga kura paroko ng Our Lady of Pompeii Church sa Greenwich Village.  Sa mahigit na anim taon na nyang pamamalagi sa Lungsod ng New York  ay talaga namang giliw na giliw at nangungulila pa rin sya sa mga gulay na nakalakhan na nya sa Pilipinas. Noong nakaraang Miyerkules, matapos ang lingguhang  Novena Mass para sa Ating Ina ng Laging Saklolo ay napagkatuwaan naming mga miyembro at tagapagtaguyod ng Filipino Pastoral Ministry (FPM) magkuhanan ng larawan sa kanyang hardin.  Matapos ang katuwaan ay ang inaantabayanang kainan na ang pinagsaluhan ay ang mga bunga ng kanyang pinaghirapan.  Kapareho ng mga gulay, masarap at sariwa ang mga ala-ala ng Pilipinas na bumabalik sa aking isipan. Salamat, Monsignor Romy! Salamat sa pagkakataong magkasama-sama ang mga Pilipino, mula sa mga munting salu-salo pagkaraan ng mga pagpupulong mula sa ating Lingguhang Novena at Misa.  Mula sa Eukaristiyang pagkain ng aming kaluluwa hanggang sa mga gulay na pagkain ng aming katawan, tunay kang aming tagapagtaguyod-- ang aming pastol.

Lengua Estofado

This is for Tita Nirma Barana Cornwallis who saw this posted on my Facebook profile today. She wanted me to post the recipe so her husband can cook this for her. Atta girl, Tita! Although I dislike measuring and following recipes to the tee, since she asked I will try my best to recall what I did with my version of lengua estofado.

MOVE OVER RIZAL. A culinary testament to 300+ of Spanish colonization, the Filipinized lengua estopada. While chewing the tender lengua drenched in tomato based sauce, I can't help but mutter, Viva Espana!

INGREDIENTS 2 lbs pork or beef tongue (I used pork.) chopped garlic and onion (for sauteing) bay leaves and whole pepper corns (for boiling the tongue) 1 whole thinly sliced potato (sliced like mojos. Store in freezer while preparing the rest of the ingredients.) 1 cup thinly sliced carrots 1 cup sliced button mushrooms half-cup cooking wine 1 small can of tomato sauce (or half-can of diluted tomato paste) 4 tablespoons of oyster sauce 2 tablespoons of soy sauce 2 spoons of sugar 1/2 teaspoon of salt PREPARATION
  1. In a pot, pour 6-8 cups of water. Season with bay leaves and whole pepper corns. Add the tongue. Let boil for 10 minutes then take out the tongue. Scrape the hard skin covering. Once cleaned, put back and let boil until tender. It took me 45 minutes to tenderize the pork meat. When done, drain the broth and slice the tongue. Keep the broth for the sauce.
  2. Meanwhile, fry the potatoes until brown. Set aside when done.
  3. Saute the garlic, onion and sliced tongue. Wait until the meat has turned brown.
  4. Add the carrots, followed by the mushrooms. Stir fry for about 5 minutes.
  5. Pour the broth, tomato sauce and all the other spices. Stir well then let boil.
  6. Simmer for 5 minutes  before serving with the fried potato mojos and rice on the side.
Preparation time is an hour and a half, but it is surely worth it. Enjoy, Tita Nirma!

Dinengdeng for the Terminally Single

I was browsing through Facebook this morning and saw this picture of dinengdeng  posted by Princess Grace Dulay, an Ilocano based in the Middle East.

Dinengdeng by true blue Ilocano, Princess Grace Dulay

As pictured the dish looked authentic and was presented very threadbare and meager, which is characteristically Ilocano. Though not visually appetizing to anyone used to the elaborate and artistic culinary presentations, I am sure that this is one yummy dinengdeng that was even made more special because it was cooked outside Ilocandia shores. I christened her version as 'dinengdeng for the terminally single' because it has papaya as a major ingredient, a medically proven contraceptive, and even some believe has anaphrodisiac effects when consumed in large amounts. For her version of dinengdeng, Princess also used string beans and jute leaves with the papaya.

Dinengdeng, or inabraw is a Ilocano dish or a method of cooking vegetables that is a staple within Ilocano circles yet not widely known in other areas of the Philippines. A very distant cousin of pinakbet, the only similarity is that they are both bagoong-based dishes that makes use of easily accessible vegetables. Pinakbet has more ingredients and much more elaborate in preparation compared to dinengdeng. The dinengdeng ingredients vary depending on what is available or in-season (meaning cheap).


1. In a pot boil sliced tomatoes, onions, bagoong monamon or any sagpaw or sahog (a non-vegetable ingredient).  Use 2-3 cups of water and the amount of bagoong according to desired taste. I usually use one teaspoon for every cup of water. For sahog, Ilocanos usually use leftover meat or fish. Also common are tiny shrimp called ‘kurus’, grilled fish, or any dried fish.

2. After the tomatoes melt, put the vegetables one by one. Start with the hardest vegetable in your chosen vegetable medley. There are popular combos but technically, any edible root, leaves, bean or fruit that will taste good together can be thrown into the pot. Pick any 3 or more in-season vegetables. Keep in mind that dinengdeng is usually better half-cooked and prepared just enough for one meal. Like any vegetable dish, dinengdeng is best consumed immediately after cooking.


Set 1: patola, dahon ng kalabasa and sitaw

Set 2: malunggay, papaya and sitaw

Set 3: gabi tubers, sitaw and sabiddukong

Set 4: saluyot, bamboo shoot and alukon

Click here for pictures of popular DINENGDENG INGREDIENTS.

Experiment with different ingredients. What I usually do is pick my most favorite vegetables for my dinengdeng. Enjoy!  

Dinengdeng Market

Here are the popular dinengdeng ingredients. Pick 3 or more ingredients for your version of dinengdeng. Click here for cooking instructions.   Share your dinengdeng medley. Email me at

Fishball Sauce ala Manong Pushcart

Yesterday a friend was bugging me on how to make sweet spicy fish ball sauce. You know the kind that the industrious Manong pushes in his cart all day. It is supposed to be a secret, but for the sake of our friendship and in the true spirit of sharing  food that Filipinos grew up with, I relented. So here is the recipe. Ingredients for the brown sauce:
  • half-cup brown sugar (or adjust according to taste,)
  • 1/3 cup Datu Puti vinegar (it has to be this brand if you want authentic taste)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 spoonfuls of all purpose starch diluted in 1/4 cup water
  • 3-5 siling labuyo (pepper), chopped
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 full red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon salt (garlic salt is optional)
  1. In a bowl mix together the brown sugar, water, black pepper, and salt. Mix until the sugar and salt grains melt.
  2. In a deep saucepan, put a few drops of cooking oil. Pan fry the onion until translucent.
  3. Then pour the mixture into the sauce pan. Let boil.
  4. After it boils put the siling labuyo and diluted starch into the mixture. Whisk continuously until it boils and thickens.
  5. Finally, pour the vinegar into the thickened mix. (You may add water to adjust to desired thickness and taste.)
  6. Your sauce is ready. Set aside and start frying your fish balls.
In New York, fish balls (or basically all sorts of balls/flavors: squid, beef, chicken, cuttle, tendon, veggie, roe, scallion, etc) are available  in Asian-Chinese groceries. They are also available in small single-flavor packets  or sold by the pound. I usually prefer buying them by the pound to have a variety of flavors.

In sticks waiting to be enjoyed

Aside from  the standard sweet spicy sauce, I also like dipping the fish balls in a bowl of vinegar sauce. The suggested mixture:
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 spoon white sugar
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 siling labuyo, optional
  • 2 spoonfuls of lemon or calamansi juice
  • 1 spoon chopped red onion, fresh
So there goes.  It feels like bringing the much-missed fish ball cart to New York.

The ubiquitous fish ball cart, a Philippine street staple

But the real secret? Great company while you eat your blues ....err ... balls away.

Actual picture of one of the fishball parties my friends and I had this summer