Pork Sinigang sa Batwan

Sinigang is a popular sour soup made with pork, beef, fish or seafood (mostly shrimp).  The usual souring agent is sampalok (tamarind), but other souring agents, such as kamias (bilimbi?), calamansi, even green (unripe) mango, can be used.  I’ve even heard of sinigang using bayabas (guava).

But in my mom’s hometown province, they use batwan!  What is batwan???? Mmmm, there’s a few articles of it online – just type batwan or batuan in Google.

I got lucky when A-te J brought some with her when she came back.

Even luckier when she cooked sinigang with it!!!

How is it used as a souring agent in sinigang?  Well, according to A-te J, just throw 5 to 10 pieces of batwan into the pot with all the other ingredients (half kilo pork, water, tomatoes, etc.) and let it boil until the batwan is soft, then lightly mash the batwan to bring out even more sourness…

We usually start by sautéing ginger and tomatoes then stirfrying (cleaned, rinsed) pork rib pieces.  Broth or water is added, as well as the batwan and gabi (taro) if using.  Let the pot boil and add the veggies as desired (sitaw, kangkong, puso ng saging, labanos, etc.).  When the batwan is soft, mash lightly and stir.  The soup will thicken slightly.  Adjust seasonings as desired.  Serve hot!

Advertisements

Pork, Liver, Peppers and Onions

This is a dish that is especially for hubby.  Why?  Because he really likes liver, bell peppers, and onions!  The pork part is for me, because I don’t eat liver at all, bell peppers scarcely, and onions?  Only when they are “invisible” in the dish!!!

The dish is cooked in the the sequence of its name…

Saute thin slices of pork (usually kasim or shoulder part) until it is almost done.  The liver slices go next (sliced thicker than the pork).  Stirfry several seconds then add the bell pepper pieces.  Swirl the pieces in the pan then add the sliced onions.  It is important that the onion slices stay crisp, and the bell peppers not mushy.  Most important of all, the liver should not be overcooked.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Stewed Pork Leg

My mom has always been “revolutionary”… while all other parents encouraged their kids to eat fatty food (at least as far as my contemporaries have told me) my mom “trained” us by cutting out the fat in pork chops and adobo, trimming the fat from spare ribs and liempo, removing the fat from barbecue… even going as far as having no-skin fried chicken!  Needless to say, we were utterly ignorant of bacon, chicharon, crispy pata (pork leg) and similar stuff!  Our only exposure to “fat” was the yearly lechon at the office party at Christmas!

But my late father had 3 favorite foods – the pancit (noodles) from his hometown (the ones his mom made from scratch), adobo, and stewed pork leg… stewed pork leg which was usually swimming in fat, and hidden from my mom’s sights!

Well then, imagine my surprise when I found a recipe for stewed pork leg in my mom’s recipe files!!!!

Of course I had to make it!!!!  And, of course I bought pork leg slices which were the least fatty that I could find!!!!

Sorry, though, since I do not have my mom’s permission to share her recipes. But, the good news is that this dish is a winner!!! Everyone said so!!!

 

I AM A FILIPINO ADOBO

When I have time to waste, I always go to the bookstore and browse the cookbook section.  It was in one of those moments that I found a cookbook that I could not resist buying.  It was rather expensive, I admit, but after flipping through the pages, I just had to add it to my collection.

The first time I saw the book, it was the digital version.  With the limited browsing facility of Amazon, it did not interest me at all – there are, after all, MANY MANY cookbooks on Philippine food (both local and international) and most of my recipes were given to me by word-of-mouth.  I honestly did not need another one!

But curiosity got the better of me and with the permission of the bookstore personnel, I unwrapped the book and took a deeper look.  And, I swear, there is something about the smell of the pages, as well as the feel of the paper, that has a stronger appeal than the digital version!  In a matter of seconds, I made the decision to fork over the cash!

What I love about this cookbook is that the recipes are very close to what I have been taught (by word-of-mouth) by my mom, our faithful helper (who was with us since I was a child until after I finished schooling (at age 25!), and other elders.  Another thing that I really liked was that the food titles were in Filipino, with an English subtitle.  I’ve seen Filipino cookbooks (by Filipino authors no less!) who write their recipes with English translations, with the original Filipino title relegated to a sub-title, and I felt offended!

Sigh.

Anyway, the first recipe I tried in the book is the Adobong Manok at Baboy (Classic Adobo).  Why?  Well, because it is almost (almost!) the exact recipe my mom dictated to me a couple of decades ago!

While I have several recipes of adobo, depending on who taught me, this is the easiest to remember so I never wrote that recipe down.  All I have to remember is … ONE.

1 cup white vinegar (Datu Puti was what we had), 1 cup soy sauce (the Chinese favorite with the bird logo), 1 whole head of garlic, 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns, 1 large bay leaf, 1 kilo of chicken and/or pork, and 1 heaping spoon of guava jelly (though this was optional).  The only other ingredient without a specific measure is the water – basically add enough water to cover everything.  That’s it.

The major difference is that in my mom’s version, there is no marinating the meat.  Just put everything in a pot (kaserola) and simmer until the meat is soft and tender (depending on the pork cubes, it could be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour).  That’s it.

Oh, there is another difference… we usually add hard boiled eggs midway!

Yum. Yum. Yum!!!

 

 

Homemade Char Siew

Char Siew, or Chinese BBQ Pork, also known as Asado locally, is one of my childhood favorites.  There was this place in Chinatown where my mom used to buy char siew – it was the best in town!

These days it is not easy to find good char siew,  It seems like just every Chinese restaurant has its version and it is not necessarily a good one… but there is one place I found, a virtual hole-in-a-wall place relatively near, where the char siew is good enough.  They have good lechon macao (known as roast pork) also.

Anyway, I’ve been trying to make a homemade one and this one seems to be the best – and guess what?  It is not even roasted!

I found the recipe online from a lady who calls herself a “Domestic Goddess Wannabe“.  Her recipe and instructions are very clear, and I followed her recipe exactly!

(well, except that my pork shoulder marinated for about 4 to 5 days!  although I had intended to marinate only for a night, and scheduled the char siew for lunch the next day, something came up and I didn’t have the opportunity to cook it until about 5 days later!)

Verdict?

Success!  Hubby likes it!  It is moist and perfect!

Success!  I like it!  It is easy to make!!!!!

 

Sabaw Itim

When my brothers and I were kids, we called this dish “Sabaw Itim”, literally Black Soup.  To our very young minds, we called it as we saw it – soup because it was so liquid-y and black because it was so dark in color.

sabaw_itim_02

It’s actually chicken braised in soy sauce with mushrooms and boiled eggs.

It was a real favorite and we had it at least once a month!  In those days, the dish was so much more soupier (after all we all wanted the soup/sauce on our rice!) and the chicken pieces were various cuts from 1 whole chicken.  These days, chicken is available by specific parts, and boneless, no less!  My favorite part?  boneless, skinless chicken thigh!

The recipe:

about 600 to 700 grams of boneless chicken thighs (about 8 to 10 pieces)

Marinade:

2 to 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/2 bulb garlic, smashed
a small thumb of ginger, sliced into matchsticks
2 to 3 pieces large bay leaves, crumbled
1 tablespoon mixed peppercorns
1/4 cup light soy sauce
dash of shao xing wine
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil

150 grams small fresh shitake, about 15 to 18 small pieces
(or 60 grams dried shitake, about 15 to 18 small pieces)
4 to 6 pieces boiled eggs

1/2 to 1 cup water (or mushroom soaking liquid, chicken stock)

Mix marinade ingredients together; set aside for a while.

Clean the chicken pieces and slice each piece into 2 or 3 pieces, depending on the size desired (remember that meat shrinks upon cooking so adjust accordingly).

Pour marinade over chicken and let stand for about 30 minutes.

sabaw_itim_03

Meanwhile, if using dried mushrooms, soak in warm water until softened; drain but keep the soaking liquid.  Cut the stems off the mushrooms (fresh or dried ones). Rinse lightly to remove dirt and grime, if there is any.

sabaw_itim_04

When we were younger, this dish was cooked on the stove-top in a clay pot; it was soupier too. The way I make this dish now is with the magic cooker and with a lot less liquid.

The traditional way:

Smash some more garlic and saute them over low fire until lightly browned and deliciously fragrant! Then dump the chicken pieces and all marinade into the pot. Throw the rehydrated mushrooms in too (IF using fresh mushrooms, add them after 15 minutes of simmering.) Add enough liquid to barely cover the chicken pieces; mix to combine everything. Cook on medium or medium low and simmer until done, about 30 minutes or so, depending on the size of chicken pieces (smaller pieces cook faster). Top up with more liquid if the sauce is reduced too much OR if a soupier dish is desired. About 5 minutes before putting off the stove fire, add the boiled eggs. Adjust seasonings to desired taste. Off fire, add a few more drops of sesame oil. Top with chopped leeks. Serve while hot!

The magic cooker way:

sabaw_itim_05

Just dump the chicken pieces and marinade into the inner pot. Throw in mushrooms and boiled eggs, too. Add 1/2 cup of liquid; mix gently to combine everything (and not mutilate the eggs). Adjust seasonings. Cook on medium or medium low and simmer for 10 minutes (start counting when liquid starts bubbling). Place inner pot inside the outer chamber of the magic cooker. Leave for 30 to 45 minutes. Just before serving, add a few more drops of sesame oil. Top with chopped leeks. Serve while hot!

DISH VARIATIONS – Use firm tofu instead of mushrooms, or use a variety of fresh mushrooms – shitake, button, Korean king oyster, straw, etc.

Or, use pork cubes or ribs instead of chicken.

00_sabaw itim

PERSONAL NOTES –

The soaking liquid of the dried mushrooms is very flavorful, but some find it too strong, in which case use only 1/4 of the soaking liquid and 1/4 cup or more of water or stock. Or omit the soaking liquid altogether.

If using dried mushrooms and their soaking liquid, the sauce of the dish will have a stronger, more pronounced flavor. If using fresh mushrooms, the dish has a more subtle, delicate flavor. It’s delicious either way. Using different kinds of fresh mushrooms gives more dimension to the dish.

The original recipe (from my mom’s files) has 1/2 tablespoon sugar as an ingredient in the marinade but I’ve always skipped it. Also, dark (and salty) soy sauce was traditionally used but I’m happy with my light soya sauce (and hubby is ok with it as well) which is less salty and does not impart a dark brown (almost black) color.

 

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.

 

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!

 

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????

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.