Archive for Recipe

Peruvian Jalea

The Peruvian 'jalea' is a bed of deep fried and lightly battered sea food mix. The usual mix includes squid, lobsters, fish fillet, clam, oysters, crabs, snails, and barnacles topped with a generous layer of fresh red onions, tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. With a spritz of lemon and dash of black pepper, this is one heck of an appetizer!

This jalea version is served at Rikko, a tiny Peruvian restaurant in Sunnyside, Queens. The seafood is mixed with deed fried yuka or cassava root that serves as an effective palate cleanser from the tasty and flavorful jalea. Compared to its Manhattan counterparts the menu selections at Rikko are varied and the prices much more reasonable. Take 7 train, stop at Bliss Station.


Nutella Champorado

Champorado is a Filipino porridge flavored with tablea, a cocoa tablet used for cooking or making hot chocolate drinks. It is best paired with something salty such as tuyo or tinapa. Last night I made my pairing a little more unique with Nutella! The result was an even yummier champorado with hazelnutty flavor. The dried fishes were fried to a crisp and were eaten with every spoonful of the champorado. These imported dried fishes are called 'pinka' and 'danggit' in the Philippine north. Milk is optional. I prefer mine dark and less sweet.


Pinakbet Guisado

Pakbet or pinakbet guisado is a popular and modified version of the authentic pinakbet. Although the ingredients are the same, the manner of cooking is guisado. Instead of strategical boiling of the vegetables, this version is sauteed in pork fat (generated from cooking the other main ingredient, pork belly) and added with a generous serving of Ilocos bagnet or 'Chicharon Camiling'. Ingredients Eggplant, 2 lbs Bittermelon, 2 lbs Sweet potato or yam, 2 lbs Tomato, 1 lb 1 small can of tomato sauce Bagoong monamon, 1/8 of a cup Okra, 1 lb 2 tablespoons of minced garlic Half cup of white onion Pork broth Sliced Pork belly, 2 lbs Scallion Preparation of the vegetable is as important as cooking it. The shape and size must be bigger than usual to not overcook. Timing, cookware, variety of vegetables used are the different factors to consider when cooking pinakbet. Vegetable Cutting Procedure 1) Peel the sweet potato. Cut into big chunks around 1" by 2". Do not cut too small because they easily crumble once cooked. Soak in water while preparing the rest of the vegetables. 2) Cut the bittermelon. Clean out the seeds. Cut into half-inch sticks. To those who prefer it less bitter, soak in brine water for 15 minutes or more. 3) Cut the eggplant. If it is the round variety just slice a little bit on top. If it is the asian long ones cut into 3 slices and slice the top part making sure the two halves are still jointed on the lower part. Just like the sweet potato also soak in water to prevent darkening of the cut vegetables. 4) Mince the tomatoes. Keep the juice and seeds. 5) The okra just needs to be washed and cleaned on top. Do not cut the head. The seeds will spill out once cooked if the top is cut. Pork Belly Preparation 1) Boil chopped scallions and pork together. Wait until pork is tender. Remove from broth then cut into bite-size pieces in such a way that fat, skin and meat are evenly distributed in each slice. 2) In a thick pan with splatter cover, pour little oil. Once ready, fry the pork. Turn over when necessary. Wait until both sides are brown. This can be dangerous as oil splatters can burn the skin. If available buy already cooked bagnet or crispy pata as an alternative. Set aside when done. Keep the oil for next step. Saute Procedure 1) Using the remaining pork fat, saute garlic and onions. Mix the tomato. Pour a cup or two of pork broth. Wait until the tomato is melted. 2) Throw in the sweet potato. 3) Once the potato has changed color, put the eggplant. 4) Put the bittermelon. Do not disturb and cover. 5) Once the other vegetables are 80 percent ready, put the bagoong, tomato sauce, pork belly and okra. 6) Simmer for another 5 minutes. There you go! Pakbet guisado is now ready! TIP: The pinakbet is best enjoyed the same day it is cooked. Not recommended for tomorrow's baon. 20130911-123654.jpg

Do-It-Yourself Binubudan: When Craving Gets Tough, BREW!

One of my favorite Ilocano specialties is the binubudan or tapuy. Binubudan is a wine porridge that is a favorite northern Philippine delicacy usually eaten as a snack or breakfast item. It has a soupy rice consistency and with a sweet juice that tastes a lot like sake. The key ingredient is the 'budbud' or live yeast balls available in the Philippine north. Once I tried using the yeast balls available I found in oriental stores in New York, the finished product did not quite come close to the kind we eat back home. (Maybe in the microbiological level there are also ethnic differences) In my part of the US, the perfect timing is during summer, June to August, when the hot weather is most ideal for fermenting binubudan.

Preparing binududan is fairly easy. The hardest part is waiting 3-9 days before the delicacy can be enjoyed.


1) Sweet sticky rice (for stronger wine taste) or red rice (for sweeter binubudan) 2) Budbod, usually imported from the Philippines 3) PATIENCE! - Fermentation can take 3-9 days. WHAT TO EXPECT 3 days: it starts smelling like alcohol. 5 days: my favorite when I can taste the alcohol, but the rice remains sweet. 9 days: results to a very intoxicating binubudan and bittersweet taste. 10 days or more: Expect some kind of hard liquor. Rice will disappear.   PROCEDURE 1) Steam cook the rice. (Like you always do) Let it cool.

2) In a clean (must be very sterile) container, terracotta or steel, sprinkle the powdered budbod evenly on cooked rice. For one cup of rice, I usually use half of the budbod cake. I arrived at this preference by trial and error.

3) Cover the container with a clean cotton cloth. This allows the fermentation agents to breathe and do their work well.

4) Keep and place in a cool dry place away from sunlight and movement. Do not disturb until its ready.

5) Once the binubudan is ready it will smell sweet and with soup that tastes a lot like alcohol. No need to add anything. I like serving it cold though so I put it in the fridge to cool before enjoying.

Like any alcoholic beverage and food, it can be intoxicating so eat moderately.


Yeast cakes imported from the Philippines


I prefer using the red rice variety. The red wine once fermented is sweeter compared to the usual white sticky rice.

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

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.

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