Paksiw na Pata

Paksiw is basically a stew with vinegar as the main “spice” or seasoning. Pata is pork leg. So Paksiw na Pata is pork leg braised in a vinegar stewing liquid.

I have a go-to Paksiw na Baboy (Chinese-style) recipe that was my late father’s second favorite dish (after adobo, or so I have been told) but after a friend extolled her super-easy paksiw na pata recipe, I decided to try it. She had me at “It’s a dump-everything-recipe!”.

The secret, she says, is to find, not pork leg per se, but pork leg slices that are about 1 -inch thick, and that have been already trimmed of most of its fat and yes, virtually no skin on them. She even recommended to me her favorite meat shop that prepares such pork leg slices! There is even no need to cut the pork leg into serving pieces because, as she says, the pressure cooker does it for you! And no need to parboil too!

She graciously gave me permission to print her recipe.

3 large pieces pork leg slices, already trimmed and cleaned
(about 1 kilo total)

3/4 cup sukang sasa (native vinegar)
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
a large pinch of sea salt (may be omitted, if desired)
3 pieces bay leaves
about 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon smashed peppercorns (not ground pepper)
1 whole bulb of garlic, smashed
about 3/4 to 1 cup water
a handful of banana blossoms, knotted (softened in water if necessary)

And just as she says, simply rinse the pork leg pieces and place them in the pressure cooker (I have a small one that’s just perfect for a kilo or so of meat).

Dump the sukang sasa, soy sauces, brown sugar, salt, bay leaves, oregano, peppercorns, and garlic into the pot. Add just enough of the water to barely cover the pork.

Pressure cook about 30 to 40 minutes (start the timer after the cooker starts “whistling”). I cooked mine for 40 minutes because we like really soft meat. Wait for the pressure to be released before opening the pot. Add the banana blossoms and simmer uncovered another 5 to 10 minutes (the sauce should thicken slightly)

Adjust the seasonings as desired.

(Easy peasy yummy!)

Oh, a note about the vinegar – sukang sasa is a local Filipino vinegar fermented  from nipa palm, also known as sukang paombong.  If unavailable, regular cane vinegar may be used but reduce the amount by half or a third, because it may be too strong.  Use your personal judgment to adjust the sourness of the dish.

 

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Adobong Manok at Atay

Chicken and Liver Adobo

My family prefers the pork variety of adobo to the chicken variety. But hubby and B’s lola like liver; and liver cooked adobo-style is especially tasty for them. So, since the other family members do not particularly care for liver, I mix in chicken so that everyone can eat! Win-win, right?

My recipe for Chicken and Liver Adobo is a bit different from our favorite pork adobo, although the basics are similar – adobo is adobo after all.

500 grams boneless, skinless chicken thighs
300 grams chicken liver (remove any other attached organs)
5 to 6 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons sukang puti
1/2 cup chicken stock or plain water, or more as needed
Bay leaf

First thing to do is to mix the adobo sauce together – soy sauce, vinegar and half of the smashed garlic. Let it sit for a minutes while the chicken and liver are being cleaned. I remove the white fatty, slimy thingies from the chicken and slice each piece in half to form chunky pieces. Clean the liver as well and remove any slime, and other non-liver parts.

Marinate the liver in about 2 tablespoons of the adobo sauce, and the chicken in the remainder of the sauce. Do not marinate together in the same bowl.

Meanwhile, heat some canola oil in a pan. Flash fry the liver but do not cook all the way through. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add oil in the pan, if needed. Sauté the garlic until fragrant. Add the peppercorns. Add the chicken pieces (don’t pour in the marinade yet). Stir fry a couple of minutes, until the surface of the chicken is lightly browned. Pour in the rest of the marinade and the chicken stock; add the bay leaf as well. Simmer about 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked just about through.

Pour in the liver and simmer several seconds more or until the liver is just cooked. It is crucial not to over-cook the liver.

This is the saucy, soupy kind of adobo. For the other kind – the oily kind, take the chicken (and liver if desired) out of the sauce/soup and sauté for a few minutes in hot oil, adding adobo sauce if necessary. And that’s it!

Now, I have beed asked a few times why I flash fry the liver first and add it again later. Honestly I don’t know the reason. All I know is, that has been the way it has been done in the family. I will admit, however, that at one time I was feeling lazy and skipped the flash frying of the liver and just dumped it toward the end of the cooking. It just was not the same… so even if I was feeing lazy, I didn’t skip the flash frying… instead I would skip the pre-marinating part! 🙂

4 Cheese Frittata

I have always been a fan of eggs.  Even when it had a bad rep (in the 90s and early  2000s) I always had an egg (sometimes even 2) for breakfast.  In fact, one my fondest memories is of me and my brother J, vying to be first to use the frying pan for breakfast.  We would have 2 eggs each, cooked sunny side up.  But while I liked mine with a soft white and a less runny yolk, my brother liked crispy-edged whites with runny yolks.  In either case, we placed our respective eggs on top of a (huge, as it seemed then) mound of rice after which we heaped tomato ketchup on top and mixed everything into a red, messy, gooey breakfast!

To this day, I still eat an egg with my breakfast.  It is mostly the same soft-edged white with a cooked yolk, with a sprinkling of fresh ground pink salt and black pepper.  Once in a while though, I vary the manner of cooking of the egg.  This is one of my favorite variations… hubby is a fan as well.

1 medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced

100 grams lean ground pork
1 pinch each sea salt, ground black pepper and Italian spice

4 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 pinch each of sea salt, ground pepper and Italian spice

1 medium tomato, cleaned and sliced
a handful of kangkong leaves, cleaned and torn into bits

2 tablespoons grated parmesan
2 slices sandwich cheese (the melty kind)
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella

The very thing I do (after preparing all the ingredients) is to preheat the oven, and preheat a 6 or 7-inch cast iron pan.  The one I have is not a frying pan per se, but what is referred to as an eared pan.  Instead of a long handle on one side, the pan has 2 “ears” or handles, much like a casserole.  I use an eared cast iron pan because it is one that fits in my tiny electric oven.

Anyway, as both the oven and pan is heating up, I prepare everything…. mix the spices and the ground pork, then beat the eggs and the spices together…

As soon as the cast iron pan is hot, I sauté the onions and garlic, followed by the ground pork.  When the meat has given up most of its liquid, pour in the beaten eggs.  Stir lightly so that the egg goes underneath.  Scatter the sliced tomatoes and torn leaves, press down slightly.

Sprinkle with the grated parmesan.  Top with the sandwich cheese.  Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese on top.

Place the pan in the preheated 375*F oven and bake about 18 minutes, until the egg is fully cooked and the top is lightly browned.

Serve and enjoy hot!

 

Braised Chicken with Chestnuts and Mushrooms

Once in a while I cook for my mom and when I do, I always try to make the dish no-salt-added.  Why?  Because she developed hypertension early (in her late 30s I think) and since then she has tried to reduce her salt intake.  So her taste buds (and ours, too because she cooked reduced salt for everyone!) favors the blander side of food.

When I cook of course I use soy sauce and other condiments to flavor the dish, but if the dish is for my mom, I would never add table salt or sea salt, or fish sauce.  Of course it goes without saying, we don’t use MSG.

It is not easy to please my mom, but somewhere along the way, I stopped trying.  I just send over the dish and if she has no complaints, then it’s good news to me!

Braised Chicken with Chestnuts and Mushrooms, no salt added.

400 grams boneless, skinless chicken wings
12 pieces dried shitake mushroom, rehydrated, reserve soaking liquid
100 grams cooked chestnuts
4 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
about 8 thin slices of ginger, cut into thin matchsticks
5 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
2 pieces star anise
1 piece cinnamon stick
1 to 2 pieces dried chili
3 stalks leeks, sliced diagonally, white and green parts separated
boiled eggs, optional

Rinse the chicken thighs and remove the fatty membranes.  Slice each into 2 or 3 chunks.  Marinate for at least 30 minutes in the mixture of soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, 2 tablespoons of mushroom soaking liquid, half the ginger, half the garlic, star anise, and cinnamon stick.

Saute the remaining garlic and ginger, onion, dried chili, and white part of the leeks.  Add the chicken and marinade.   Add the mushrooms and chestnuts.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  If the mixture seems too dry, add reserved mushroom liquid by tablespoons.  Simmer for about 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.  Add the boiled eggs in the last 3 to 5 minutes, if using.  Thicken with cornstarch slurry.  Garnish with the green part of the leeks.  Serve immediately.

The secret to the dish is the very flavorful mushroom soaking liquid!

Marjoram Citrus Roasted Chicken Thighs

One my most favorite chicken dishes! The best part is it is soooooo easy to make. Here is the recipe:

5-8 pieces chicken thighs, with bone
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon rock salt, or to taste
1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, sliced thinly
1 lime, sliced thinly
1/2 an orange, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons fresh marjoram

Rinse the chicken pieces clean and pat dry.
(note re the chicken, if using large pieces 5 will do, for smaller pieces, use 8.)

Mix together the oil, garlic, salt and pepper.

Arrange the chicken in a 9-inch pie plate (I used a glass baking dish), skin side up. Pour the olive oil mixture over the chicken pieces and make sure that they are well coated. Arrange the slices of lemon, lime and orange all around and even under the chicken. Sprinkle the fresh marjoram all over.

Bake in a preheated 400F oven for 45 to 60 minutes.

 

Adobo, My Way

For Independence Day, this dish is perfect.  After all, it is national dish of the Philippines (well, not officially…). Seriously, I don’t know anyone who does not like it, even if everyone has varying preferences – salty, tangy, oily, saucy, mixed, double cooked… as it is claimed, indeed, that there are a million and one ways to cook it.

But the adobo that I like and cook at home these days is one where a bit of my ancestry shows through – with banana blossoms (which some say are really lily buds but that’s another story…)

I also like my adobo with bay leaves and boiled eggs… in addition to being all pork, specifically belly part (although on occasion I also use kasim or pork shoulder), where I try to find ones that have very little pork fat (otherwise we trim off as much as we can). And as much as I like pork adobo, I’m really not a fan of the chicken variant, don’t know why.

Anyway, here is my recipe.  It is pretty standard, although I use my magic cooker –

5 to 6 strips of pork liempo (about 750 to 1000 grams), cut into cubes (we trim a lot of fat off…)
1 whole bulb garlic, cloves smashed
2 to 3 large pieces bay leaves, crumbled
1 cup soy sauce (I use light soy sauce)
1/2 cup native vinegar
a handful whole black peppercorns, lightly smashed
1 cup water
a handful of banana blossoms, rehydrated, tough ends cut off
hard boiled eggs (optional)

Clean the pork and place into the inner pot of the magic cooker. Add garlic, bay, soy sauce and vinegar. Leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Place the pot on the stove, add water and cook (simmer) over low-medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Stir only after the mixture has bubbled (initial boil). Place the inner pot in the magic cooker and let it sit for at least 30 to 40 minutes.

Return the inner pot to the stove. Add the banana blossoms and boiled eggs. Lightly stir the mixture. Let simmer about 10 minutes. Return to the magic cooker and let sit until meat is tender – another 30 minutes or so.

Adjust the seasonings. I know some people like a really salty, or a salty-sweet adobo, but personally I like mine adobo tangy and only a bit salty so I’ve been known to add a little more vinegar (the banana blossoms add to the tanginess, too).

Yummmmyyy!!! And perfect with ice cold coke (diet or zero). Where’s the rice????

Tomiyao with Garlic

My first taste of this vegetable was in a famous (local) Chinese restaurant. I found it really tasty – they tasted a bit like bean sprouts but more delicious (my opinion!). I asked the waiter what kind of vegetable it was. He said it was a different kind of bean sprouts. Hmmm…. (felt skeptical and unbelieving since bean sprouts are bean sprouts… might be more logical if they were some kind of sprouts…)

Anyway, I tried to find some at various markets but there was none to be found… until recently! I found several packs in the supermarket nearby! And I asked the “promodiser” what they were. Imagine my surprise when I discovered they were actually pea sprouts (or pea shoots) because I do not like peas at all.

They’re easy to cook too!

200 grams of tomiyao, rinsed and dried
8 to 10 cloves of garlic, smashed
salt, to taste

Saute the garlic in some oil, taking care not to burn the garlic. Throw in the tomiyao and some salt (season to taste). Stir fry until just done, to keep the crunch of the shoots. Serve immediately.

That’s it!!!

 

“Benedict Muffinbatch”

Reposting a favorite…

Friend T has christened this recipe – Benedict Muffinbatch.

I suppose the inspiration came from it being similar to Eggs Benedict, but that it is radically not… combined with a wonderful play on the name of a favorite British actor playing the character of Sherlock Holmes.

But, yes, it is a variation on the same theme… something on top of an English muffin!

This time, I got inspiration from one of the breakfast items of my favorite coffee and tea cafe… Salmon Scramble… although their version is on a rosemary focaccia.

Toast an English muffin and spread lots of cream cheese over the top. Layer on 2 to 3 pieces of smoked salmon (or as many as you like!) then top with scrambled eggs. Drizzle dill sauce over and sprinkle cayenne pepper on top.

Enjoy! Hubby sure did!

Chicken Gyros

The “boys” haven’t been around for a while, but tonight they’re here!  So they are having something that hubby really likes!

Chicken Gyros with Tatziki, My Way…

Chicken:
1/3 cup olive oil
juice from 1 large lemon
6 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Greek-style yogurt

750 grams boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into strips

Mix all marinade ingredients together. Add the chicken and mix until the chicken is well coated with the marinade. Set aside in the fridge for at least 2 hours. When it’s time to cook, heat a skillet until very hot and cook the chicken until done (do not over-cook!)

Tatziki:
1 large cucumber, grated, water squeezed out
1 cup Greek-style yogurt
3 cloves garlic, minced finely
juice from half a lemon
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, or as desired
fresh ground black pepper
splash of olive oil

Mix all ingredients and store in the fridge until ready to serve/eat.

tomatoes, sliced thinly
onions, sliced thinly
iceberg lettuce, sliced thinly

pita bread or soft tortillas

To serve, warm the pita bread and/or tortillas. Add shredded lettuce, onions and tomatoes. Top with chicken and tatziki. Fold the tortilla and enjoy!

Healthy Baked Meatballs!

With all the things going on all at the same time lately, I haven’t had the time to indulge in my favorite hobby – cooking!

And I must say, it FEEEEELS SOOOOO GOOOOOOD to get cooking and fire the little oven once again!

These meatballs are healthy in the sense that they are not fried… I used lean meat… and yogurt! And it is an easy recipe to put together, too.

500 grams lean ground pork (maximum of 10% fat)

1 small onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

125 grams Greek-style yogurt
1/2 cup bread crumbs

1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Mix the yogurt and bread crumbs together.  It will be clumpy.  Set aside.

Beat the egg with the salt and pepper.  Meanwhile start pre-heating the oven to 400*F.

Mix the ground pork, onion, garlic, egg mixture, and bread crumb mixture together.  Don’t overwork the meat or it could get tough when cooked.

Form the  meat mixture into balls.  I got about 30 balls.  Arrange on a baking tray and bake for about 30 minutes or less.  The leaner the meat, the tougher it can get if it is over-done, so be careful.