Friday, November 20, 2009

A Dimsum Favorite - Spareribs with Black Bean Sauce

Everytime we go to a Chinese dimsum restaurant, my family tend to order our favorites: Siomai dumplings, Chicken Feet, and Steamed Spareribes in Black Bean Sauce. Tender morsels of meat clinging to ribs with tasty sauce... my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Just in case you don't know, these black beans are the Chinese fermented black beans. They're extremely salty and should be rinsed before use. The beans have a very nice, savory taste that blends well with many foods. It is also used in the spicy Mapo Tofu dish.

Steamed Spareribs With Black Bean Sauce (Dow See Jing Pie)


1/2 kilo Spareribs
1 Clove garlic, minced fine
2 tablespoon Salted black beans
1 tablespoon Fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon Dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon Cornstarch
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or Sherry

Here's how to fix it:
1. Have your wok ready by filling it with water halfway and letting it boil. You can also use a steamer for this.
2. Cut the spareribes into into 1-inch pieces. To make it easier for you, have the butcher do this. Trim off fat.
2. Place spareribs in a heat proof dish.
3. Wash and rinse black beans 2 or 3 times, then mash them with garlic, ginger, soy sauce, cornstarch and sherry. Mix with spareribs.
4. To cook the dish, place the sparerib dish on steaming rack in wok. Cover. Steam for 30 minutes.

This is a great side dish for rice, either steamed or Chinese Fried Rice.

Authentic Chicken Afritada

I recently saw a recipe for Chicken Afritada on a Serious Eats website and was startled to see a can of Hunts Pork & Beans included in the list of ingredients. What the hey? Pork & Beans in Afritada? I don't think so. I have blogged about Afritada before, only it was Pork Afritada .

Now this time, lemme share my mom's Chicken Afritada recipe. And it does not have pork & beans in it.

Chicken Afritada Recipe

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks 2X2 inch
2 potatoes, medium sized and cut into chunks
1 large bell pepper, cored & seeded, cut into strips
1 onion, cut into chunks
1 large tomato, cut into chunks
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small can of tomato paste
1/3 cup of soy sauce
5 tbsp vegetable oil
salt and pepper

1. In a large wok add the oil and heat until hot. Add the chicken pieces and fry until all the pieces get light-brown all over. Take out the chicken and set aside in a large bowl.
2. Add bell pepper slices and stir fy them for 5 minutes. Take them out and set aside.
3. Add the minced garlic and fry until golden brown. Add onion chunks and stirfry for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and stirfry for 5-7 minutes until the tomatoes are nice and soft.
4. Add tomato paste to the wok and stirfry for 5 minutes. No short cuts, you need to fry the tomatoe paste until it almost exudes oil on the pan. This is to make sure that the paste is thoroughly cooked before the meat is added back again.
5. Add the chicken back into the wok (plus the accumulated juices) and the carrots. Stir everything until all are coated with the red sauce. Add water until it covers the meat and ingredients completely. Add soysauce too. Bring to a boil.
6. When the sauce starts to boil, lower the heat so that it simmers. Cover the wok and let it simmer for 30 minutes. You would need to stir the contents every 7-10 minutes so that nothing sticks to the bottom.
7. Add the potato chunks and the bell pepper strips. By this time the sauce has reduced to almost half level. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are done. Salt and pepper to taste.

To serve this, just put a couple of chicken pieces plus veggies on a plate beside a mound of rice. In my family, we usually have something like slices of cucumber to refresh the palate for every afritada bite. Pickled vegetables would also work as a side dish. Happy eating!

A Noodle with a Hundred Ingredients (Pancit Bihon)

Ok, ok, maybe not a hundred, but my family's Pancit Bihon recipe has a lot of ingredients which makes it soooo good and so special. Pancit Bihon is one of the wonderful Chinese dishes that have become Filipino. It's a staple in birthday parties and even special occasions in the office. They say that the long noodles means long life for the birthday celebrant or long success for the business.

In my family, it's a wonderful afternoon snack that my mom and my brother fix for the whole family. The noodles used are called "bihon" (hence the name) which are thin rick stick noodles. The ingredients can be as sparse as just onions, cabbage and green beans or as lavish as containing pork, chicken, chinese sausage, etc. It can be adapted as a vegetarian dish or can be a "clean-out-your-veggie-bin" dish.

Anyway, let me teach you the basics on how to do this wonderfully tasty noodle snack.

Pancit Bihon

1 package rice noodles (bihon), sometimes it would say makes 1 kilo
2 cups chicken or pork broth (a must, don't substitute water)
2 tablespoon cooking oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 onion, thinly julienned (sliced into long, thin strips
1/2 carrots, thinly julienned
1 green bell pepper, thinly julienned
1 cup green beans, thinly julienned (beginning to get the idea?)
2 cups of cabbage, thinly shredded
1 cup cooked chicken meat, flaked
1 cup cooked pork, thinly julienned (this must have fat on it, trust me)
1 chinese sausage, thinly julienned
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
salt & pepper

1. The preparation for this dish is time consuming, thinly slicing almost everything and boiling the meat (chicken & pork). But once you get everything prepared, it takes about 20-30 minutes to cook everything in a large wok. In a large basin, soak the rice noodles in warm water for about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat the oil in the wok, when hot dump the minced garlic. Stirfry for about half a minute until light golden brown. Add the sliced onions next. Again, stirfry for a minute until the onions are translucent.

3. Do this technique for the following veggies: carrots, green beans and then bell pepper. After everything is stirfried in the wok. Add the cooked meat and sausage. Stir-fry for a minute

4. Add the chicken broth to the wok. Let it come to a simmer, add the drained rice noodles. With two spatulas (or chopsticks if you prefer) start mixing the noodles and the ingredients in the wok. Continue doing this until the noodles are throughtly mixed with the veggies.

5. Add the soy sauce and the cabbage. Again, mix and stir everything up. Let the noodles cook until all the broth is absorbed by the noodles and the color is uniform all over. Salt and pepper as desired. This would take 5-7 minutes.

6. Serve hot with Puto (Filipino rice cake) or garlic toast on the side. Add a half of calamansi fruit to individual plates so that it can be squeezed over the noodles. If you don't have calamansi, add lemon wedges instead.

Enjoy your Pancit Bihon!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Daicor's Orange Chicken

Hubby was watching a football game when an ad for Orange Chicken popped up in the side banners. Thinking it was a keeper of a recipe, he requested that I find a recipe for it. Good thing my best gal pal Daicor (from Maui) has a favorite recipe and gladly shared it with me.

Orange Chicken ingredients:

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast (cut into bite-size pieces)
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste
oil (for frying)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon minced ginger root
1 teaspoon minced garlic
a dash crushed hot red chiles
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon rice wine
1/4 cup water
1/2 to 1 teaspoon sesame oil


2 teaspoon Minced orange zest
1/4 cup Juice (from 1 large orange)
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
2 tablespoon Chicken stock
1 tablespoon. Light soy sauce

Combine all ingredients in small bowl and set aside.

To assemble the dish:

1. Cut chicken pieces in 2-inch squares and place in large bowl. Stir in egg,
salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon oil and mix well. Stir cornstarch and flour
together. Add chicken pieces, stirring to coat.

2. Heat oil for deep-frying in wok or deep-fryer to 375. Add chicken pieces,
a small batch at time, and fry 3 to 4 minutes or until golden and crisp.
(Do not overcook or chicken will be tough.) Remove chicken from oil with
slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Set aside. (Note: I omitted dredging the chicken in flour and frying it).

3. Clean wok and heat 15 seconds over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil. Add ginger
and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant. Add and stir-fry crushed chiles and green onions. Add rice wine and stir 3 seconds. Add Orange Sauce and bring to boil. Add cooked chicken, stirring until well mixed.

4. Stir water into remaining 1 T cornstarch until smooth. Add to chicken and heat until sauce is thick. Stir in 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Serve hot over rice.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Italian Wedding Soup (What a lovely name for a soup!)

My sister-in-law Sherry's hubby posted that they were having Italian Wedding soup one night and that got me intrigued. A soup you only serve during weddings? I found out it was simply soup with meatballs and pasta in it. I found a simple recipe from Rachel Ray and adapted it.

Mini-Meatball Soup (Italian Wedding Soup)
Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray

Prep Time: 20 min
Inactive Prep Time: --
Cook Time: 27 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 4 big servings

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (I used butter)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 bay leaves, fresh or dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground beef, pork and veal combined (I used 1/2 pound ground beef and 1/2 pound ground pork)
1 egg, beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano, (I omitted this)
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs, a couple of handfuls
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg
6 cups chicken stock or broth
2 cups water
1-1/2 cups dried pasta, rings, broken fettuccini or ditalini (I used broken spaghetti)
1 pound triple washed fresh spinach, coarsely chopped (I used kale)

1. In a deep pot over medium heat add oil, chopped carrots, celery and onions and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Cover pot and cook veggies 5 or 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. While the veggies cook, in a large mixing bowl combine meat, egg, garlic, grated cheese, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, nutmeg.

3. Uncover your soup pot and add broth and water to the pot. Increase heat to high and bring soup to a boil. When soup boils, reduce heat a bit and start to roll meat mixture into small balls, dropping them straight into the pot. You are making meat dumplings that will cook in the broth. When you are done rolling the meat, add pasta to the soup and stir. Cover and simmer soup 10 minutes. When pasta is tender, stir in chopped spinach in batches. When spinach has wilted into the soup, the soup is done and ready to serve. Salt & pepper to taste.

I served this with garlic bread for the kids. It was a hit, especially with Jai who had two bowls.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Chicken Pot Pie from scratch

Some can get intimidated by chicken pot pie. It does take some work to make it, especially if you don't have access to ready made pie crust. Some thinks its a breeze by just using cream of mushroom soup, frozen veggies and canned chicken. But nothing beats the taste of homemade Chicken Pot Pie made lovingly for your family. If you want to know how to make chicken pot pie from scratch, read on.

Personally, making chicken pot from scratch can take literally a day to make. It's something I have to plan in advance. Before when I started making it, only hubby enjoyed this oven-baked goodie. But now I found a new fan - our eldest son Jai. Also, Jai has taken to eating a whole pie by himself. Now that's what I call a big thumbs-up. :)

Pie crust

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 stick of butter
4 tablespoons of lard (yes lard or else it won't be flaky)
1 tsp salt
6-8 tablespoons of ice water

Dump all the flour in a large bowl. Cut the butter into pieces, add to the flour along with the lard. Add the salt and start mixing the butter and lard into the flour, rubbing it between your fingers. Once everything is incorporated into the flour (which now resembles like oatmeal) add the ice water slowly and begin kneading the dough. Try to add water and then kneading the dough until the dough comes together into a ball and is smooth and elastic. It should have the color of golden wheat. Wrap in plastic and store in the fridge for 30 minutes to let it rest.

Chicken Pot Pie

4 chicken breasts, diced
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
2 celery ribs, diced
1 large onion, minced
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
salt & pepper
2 tablespoons butter

1. In a large pot, cook the carrots, onion and celery together. This is called the mirepoix. Cook this for 5-7 minutes until you see golden bits of crust form at the bottom of the pan. That is good.

2. Add the cube chicken and cook until the chicken is cooked through. (Note, you can used cooked chicken too but don't stirfry as long).

3. Add soup broth and turn the heat up to let it boil. Once it starts to boil, turn the heat down and let it simmer until the carrots are cooked through (about 20-25 minutes).

4. Add the potatoes and let cook for 7 minutes. Salt and pepper the soup to taste.

5. Add the flour to the milk and stir until everything is mixed thoroughly. Add the milk-flour mixture to the pot and stir. Cook until the chicken mixture becomes thick. Turn off the heat and let it cool.

To assemble: Get a pie pan and oil it well. Add about 2-3 cups of the cooled chicken mixture. Roll out the dough that you have chilling in the fridge. Cover the pie pan with the dough, brush it with milk and cut some slits for the steam to come out. Bake in your over, at 345 degrees F for about 40-30 minutes, or until the top is nicely golden brown all over. Take out of the oven, let it cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

Serve and watch your brood demolish the pie.

Note: You can make mini pot pies but ladling the chicken mixture into custard pots and covering each with its own pie crust cover like the picture I have up on top.

A Recipe from the early 18th Century (Meat Rolls)

Jai's Favorite Meat Rolls

I've always been a fan of recycling everything. Being a Filipina, it makes me cringe when stuff goes to waste. That's why I culled a recipe from The Old Foodie's blog (she's a fellow foodie member) that uses meat scraps and leftover veggies. The recipe is from an 18th century British cuisine for housewives.

Here's my adaptation.

2 cups of cooked meat (pork, chicken, beef and even fish)
1 cooked potato
1/2 carrot
1/2 onion
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
salt & pepper to taste
3 slices of bacon, cut into 2 pieces each

1. Chop the onion, grate the carrot and dice the potato finely. You can use a food processor to do this to make it easier for you.
2. Shred the meat or mince using the food processor.
3. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix very well.
4. Grab about 2-3 tablespoons of filling and shape into a mini-roll (about the length of your palm.
5. Lay a slice of bacon on top of the mini-roll and do the same with the rest of the fillings. You will be able to make about 6 mini-rolls with this recipe.
6. Heat the oven to 345 degrees F and bake the rolls for about 20-30 minutes until the bacon is crisp and the rolls are evenly golden-brown all over.

Serve rolls with your favorite gravy.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

New Eggs and Mushrooms Adobo

I am fortunate to have a good friend who works for a huge poultry farm. Catherine, a poultry vet, is married to the son of a poultry farm magnate. They have about 200,000 to 300,000 chickens at their farms every month. They sell chicks to little poultry farms everywhere in Korea. Once in a while, Catherine comes over to give me two trays of new eggs. What are new eggs? They are eggs laid for the very first time by young hens. They are quite tiny and the yolks are rich and utterly delicious.

So after countless omelets and egg dishes, I thought of making eggs adobo. Then, in a brilliant after thought, I remembered I had a bunch of button mushrooms in the vegetable bin in the fridge. How about adding that too? I've always loved Adobo Mushrooms as an appetizer. Let's go to recipe, shall we?


6 new eggs (or 12 quail eggs as substitute)
20 pieces button mushrooms
1 whole head of garlic (yes a whole head, peeled and minced)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2-3 tablespoons oil

1. In a saucepan, put the eggs and add cold water. Heat up until the water boils and turn off the heat. Cover and set aside for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, drain the hot water and dunk the eggs in cold water to stop the cooking. Crack and peel the eggs and set aside.

2. Wash the mushrooms (trust me, its ok even though the other sites tell you not to do it) and cut the ends off if necessary.

3. In a large wok or pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and stir-fry until golden brown. How do you know that the garlic is nearly done? You can start to smell the fragrant garlic. And it is easy to burn it so once you smell it, add the next ingredient right away.

4. Add the button mushrooms and stirfry for about 3-4 minutes (or when the mushrooms begin to exude liquid). Add the cooked eggs.

5. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, salt & pepper. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Make sure to stir every once in a while to make sure the eggs get thoroughly coated.

6. Serve hot as a side dish or as a main dish with freshly cooked rice.

For my lunch, I had it as a side dish with meat torta patties. It was wonderful!

Making Flied Lice

Ok, ok I am just kidding. I really mean Fried Rice, specifically Chinese Fried Rice or more commonly known as Shanghai Rice in the Philippines. The neat thing about rice is that leftover rice is great recycled into a new dish - fried rice. One very important thing to remember is that to make fried rice you would need cold, leftover rice. Freshly cooked rice just won't do.

To make Chinese Fried Rice, you would need: chinese sausages (the ones with whole fatty pieces in them), dried scallops (or dried fish), small shrimps, eggs, spring onions, soy sauce and cooking oil.


3 or cups of cooked, leftover rice
1 chinese sausage, diced
dried scallops, (soaked, squeezed dry, and minced)
small shrimps, peeled
eggs, beaten lightly
spring onions, cut into small circles
1 teaspoon soy sauce
4 tablespoons corn oil

1. In a large bowl, dump the rice. Wet hands and mash the rice until the grains are separated and not clumped up.

2. In a large wok, heat up 1 tablespoon of oil and cook the eggs (scrambled style). Take it out and set aside in a bowl.

3. Put the rest of the oil in the wok and fry the chinese sausage. Add the scallops, shrimps and fry for a minute. Dump all the rice and begin to stir-fry for 5 minutes. Make sure the rice is evenly mixed and keep stirring all the time.

4. After about 2 minutes more of stirring, add the scrambled eggs and continue stirring for a minute and then the soy sauce. Stir some more.

5. Take out the rice and put in a large platter. Sprinkle the chopped spring onions over it and serve hot.

*TIP: Fried rice is not limited to the above ingredients alone. It can be a clean-out-your-fridge type of fried rice. You can add carrots, leeks, cabbages, ham, mushrooms, etc. Anything you find delicious you can add to your rice, make sure that the ingredients are diced or chopped up small. It will make for even cooking when you add it to the rice.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Stinky Tofu Stew (Lunch with My Friends)

I was invited to lunch by my best friend Catherine, along with Imelda (one of my English tutorial students) and a couple of women from Catherine's church. We went to this traditional Korean restaurant that specializes in set menus. The rice served with the set menu is barley rice or called "boribap" (rice and barley grains cooked together).

Here's Catherine and Imelda. Catherine has been my closest friend for several years now. She's a veterinarian and specializes in poulty medicine. Imelda was referred to me by a Filipina friend for English conversation studies. Imelda runs a private dog shelter and she was the one who gave Buttons (our adorable Yorkie) to us to adopt.

Catherine's church members (busy preparing their boribap bowls). They helped identify most of the dishes that were served in our meal. They were interested to see my reaction to the Chongukjang stew that is one of the side dishes served. The latter is made out of "natto" or fermented tofu beans. It has been describeda s a funky mixture of old sweat socks marinated in cabbage juice with a sprinkle of sewer gas.

Our Meal

The boribap bowl. I love barley rice. There's a certain nuttiness to the flavor of the rice, added by the barley. I was surprised that the boribap was given to us in a large mixing bowl. Then one of the ladies pointed out the ceramic bowls for us to put the rice in.

This is called "keran jjim" which is literally Egg Stew in Korean. I love this steamed dish, with some restaurants' version that comes with fish roe on top.

This spicy mixed green salad came with small snail meat. It was a pleasant surprise and gave a nice chewy twist to the spicy-crunchy salad. Even if it added a nice burn in my mouth, I keep going back and getting bites of this wonderful salad.

The namul or veggie side dishes. The key is to take small portions of each mound and add to your rice bowl. You then add a little red pepper paste (gochujang) and mix everything up. The mounds (starting on the upper right, going clockwise) are eggplants slices, soybean sprouts, braken and spinach.

The cooked cabbage and raw green chili peppers are to provide a nice crunchy contrast throughout the meal. Imelda showed me how to dab a little mixed seasoning paste (I shall delve more on this later) on the cabbage and then eat it. It was wonderful! I am still intimidated by the chili peppers since some can be fiery hot even if they are green.

The chongukjang stew. Oh yes, it did um, reeked but it was tolerable (for me). My husband would have fainted or gagged. The first taste was not bad. Then I saw Catherine add some to her rice bowl and mixed it up. I did the same and ate a spoonful. It was great! I begged my friends to teach me how to cook it and Imelda promised to show me how to make it.

Here's some seaweed laver (wrapper cut into strips) to sprinkle over the rice and some lettuce if one wants to wrap up the rice in it. The mixed seasoning paste here is made up of soybean paste, red pepper paste, garlic, sesami oil and some sugar. I love this seasoning, especially on grilled korean barbeque meat.

Pickled slices of radish. There are about a hundred ways that Koreans pickle radish. There's the tiny raddishes complete with their leafy tops, huge radishes that are bigger than my thighs, cubes of radishes in spicy sauce and even slices of radish in clear pickling liquid. I love the last one the best.

Lastly, here's a shot of my bowl and some more veggie dishes. The one on the farthest right is made out of peeled sweet potato stalks. I swear I will learn how to prepare this dish as it is so simple but taste so delicious.

It was a wonderful lunch with good friends and good conversation. I heartily recommend this restaurant in Icheon City to whoever wants to try the Boribap-Chungukjang experience

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Guinataang Baboy (Pork Stewed in Coconut Milk)

Now I've always been saying that Filipinos love their pork. One of the many ways we enjoy our pork is stewed in coconut milk. There is actually a province in the Philippines that specializes in everything cooked with coconut milk - the Bicol province. That province is also known for its fiery, hot chili-spiced dishes. Anyway, I digress. Here is a quick and easy recipe for Guinataaang Baboy or Pork Cubes Stewed in Coconut Milk.

"Guinataan" means cooked with coconut milk. It can be a savory dish like Guinataang baboy or Guinataang Isda (Fish Coconut Stew) or it can be a sweet dish like the common afternoon snack just simply called "Guinataan". The latter contains cubes of plantains, sweet potato, rice balls, slices of jackfruit, etc. So, keep that in mind whenever you come across the word - Guinataan.

Now, onto the recipe. You'll need:

1/2 kilo (or 1 pound) Pork cubes (preferably with some fat on some pieces)
3-4 cups of water
1 coconut, grated and then extracted (milk)++
1/2 onion, sliced
4-5 cloves of garlic, coarsly minced
1 red bell pepper, seeded, cored and sliced into 1-inch squares
5-6 pieces of yard long beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
3-4 pieces of green chilis (the mild, sweet kind)***
Optional: cubes of carrot (which I added for a nice touch of color) and potatoes.

++Substitute a can of coconut milk or two pouches of powdered coconut milk mixed with 2 cups of water.
***If you like your stews fiery-hot, substitute habaneros or other hot chilis of your choice.

1. In a wok or deep pan, add the water and pork. Cook for about 30 to 45 minutes or until the pork has become tender.

2. Take out the pork stock and set it aside for other dishes. Take out the pork and set it aside. Put a little oil on the pan and heat it until hot.

3. Add the garlic and cook until it is golden brown. Add the onion slices and cook until they are translucent (about 2 minutes). Add the green beans, carrot and potato cubes too.

4. Add the cooked pork and saute until the pork edges turn brown. Add the coconut milk and turn down the heat to low. Add the green chilis (sliced if you like or cut in half) and bell pepper.

5. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the coconut milk turns thick and saucy.

Serve hot with freshly cooked rice. This also makes a perfect side dish to a fried fish meal like what I had for lunch today.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Stuffed Tofu

Here's a great recipe for those of you who are left with a block of tofu sitting in the fridge. I mean, who can eat all that tofu? I remembered there was a Chinese recipe of hollowing out tofu blocks, stuffing it with meat and deep-frying it. Lastly, the golden-crunchy blocks are covered with sauce.

The result? Crispy tofu with soft, creamy meaty innards. Your block of tofu will be gone in no time.


1 block firm tofu
1/2 cup ground meat (pork, chicken or beef)
1/4 cup finely minced carrot
2 mushrooms, finely minced
1/4 cup finely minced onion
1 garlic clove, finely minced
2 sprigs of spring onion, minced
1 egg
1 cup cooking oil

Sauce ingredients:
1 cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1. Combine ground meat with egg, carrots, mushrooms, onion, garlic and spring onions. Salt and pepper the mixture and set aside.

2. With a sharp knife, cut the tofu into 8 blocks. Take a small spoon and hollow out the center of each tofu block. Be careful as not to pierce a hole in it.

3. Take your stuffing and stuff the holes that you carved out. If you have leftover meat stuffing, combine it with the tofu pieces that you took out of the blocks and you can fry these as fritters.

4. In a deep pan or wok, heat the oil until it is very hot. Carefully place the stuffed tofu (meat side down) on the pan and fry until all the sides are golden. Take these out and let drain on paper towels.

5. In the same pan, take out the oil and wipe the pan down. Heat it up again and in a bowl combine all the sauce ingredients. Put the mixture in the pan and stir like crazy. When the sauce gels up, add the fried tofu blocks and let everything get covered in the sauce. Serve hot as a side dish.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Binagoongan Baboy (Stewed Pork with Fermented Shrimp Paste)

Filipinos have this stinky condiment called "bagoong" or fermented shrimp paste. My hubby, an American, cannot stand it when I cook with it. It smells like dirty socks stewed in armpit juice. Well, you get the picture. But for someone who grew up with it, it smells like heaven, gastronomic heaven.

Different Asian cultures have their own version of bagoong. In Indonesian, they have "terasi", in Thailand they use "kapi", in Malaysia shrimp paste is referred to as "belacan", "mắm tôm" in Vietnam, and "hamho" in China. In Korea, they also have salted shrimp fry but not that fermented like "bagoong" or "belacan".

One of my favorite viands for lunch is "Binagoongan Baboy" which means stewed pork in shrimp paste. It's quite easy and very flavorful. Here's how to make it.

Binagoongan Baboy

500 grams fatty pork, preferably from the belly or spare ribs cut in 2-inch cubes
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 onion, minced
1 medium tomato, minced
4 cups water
1/2 cup bagoong (shrimp paste)
1 tbsp oil
2 pieces of green chili, stemmed and cut into two

1. In a pot, add water and pork and bring to a boil. Cook until the pork is tender. When the pork is cooked, take it out of the pot and set aside the pork stock.

2. In a large wok (with a cover), add the oil and heat until hot. Add the pork cubes and cook until all pieces are golden-brown. Make sure to cover the wok since the pork would make the oil splatter.

3. When the pork cubes are golden-brown, take out the pork pieces and take out the rendered fat/oil but leave about a tablespoon in the wok.

4. Heat the oil again in the wok and add minced garlic. Fry until golden-brown. Add the onion and fry for a minute or until they are translucent. Then add the tomatoes and stir-fry for about2-3 minutes.

5. Add the bagoong to the wok, stir thoroughly. Add the pork cubes and stir-fry for a minute. Add a cup of the pork stock and let simmer. Lower the temperature and let the pork cook until the sauce has been cooked down to half the amount.

6. When the sauce has thickened, turn off the heat and serve the binagoongan baboy with freshly cooked rice. Plenty of it.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Asian Veggie Stir-Fry

I was feeling blah again last night about dinner. We've been pigging out on roasted chicken and roasted pork loin. My inner rabbit was craving for veggies to eat. I figured that since I had celery, carrots, button mushrooms and broccoli in the fridge, why not make a stir-fry?

And that's what I did. Stir-frys are the best way to fix a quick, easy side dish. And a great way to empty out the vegetable crisper in your refrigerator. Here's how I did mine.


1/2 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 rib celery, washed and cut diagonally into slices
1/2 white onion, cut into quarters
1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
1 broccoli, washed, cut into small florets and the stem peeled and sliced
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 cup pork stock (or any kind of stock that you have - chicken, veggie, etc.)
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsbp cornstarch
1/2 cup water

1. Take a wok or a deep pan and heat the oil. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 2-3 minutes. You will see that the mushrooms will have started to "sweat" or give off liquid. Add the minced garlic and thoroughly stir-fry.

2. Add the carrots, broccoli stems (not the florets!) and celery. Stir-fry for more than a minute. Now add the broccoli florets and the pork stock.

3. Let simmer for two minutes. Add the onion quarters. In a small bowl, mix the oyster sauce, corn starch (if you have potato starch so much the better) and water. Mix thoroughly and add to the pan. Stir-fry everything and let simmer for a minute.

4. When the sauce has simmered to a nice, thick sauce, the veggie stir-fry is done and ready to serve.

Serve this as a side dish or as a vegetarian topping on rice in a bowl. Or top it over ramen noodles and even cooked spaghetti noodles.

Another Deokkbokki Recipe (Korean Rice Cakes in Sweet-Savory Sauce)

I have blogged about making Korean Rice Cakes in Red Pepper Sauce (Deokkbokki) in my first blog. You can read it here. This kind of spicy deokkbokki is the most popular way to cook the long rice sticks and can be found in almost any snack stand here in Korea.

But there is another way to cook deokkbokki - the sweet, savory way. My korean friend, BB, taught me how to fix this snack. She served it to me one time as a snack and I was fascinated with the sweet and savory flavor with a hint of garlicky goodness. Now let me share with you how to make this quick snack.

First you need to assemble these ingredients:
Deokkbokki (korean rice cakes), vienna sausages, carrots, dried mushrooms, garlic, onion and leeks or celery. Not in the picture are cooking syrup (or Karo syrup or any pancake syrup), cooking oil and dark soy sauce.

For the rice cakes, if you buy them fresh like what I get from the local korean market, there's nothing to do with them before cooking. But if you get them from the grocery chiller, chances are they would be hard and stuck to each other.

The key is to soak them in hot water for about 30 minutes. They would soften and be easy to pull apart.

Next, prep the ingredients by cutting the carrots and the celery/leeks into thin sticks. Slice the onion thinly. Mince the garlic. Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water to reconstitute them. Cut the vienna sausage diagonally, lengthwise. (For measurements, you would need half a carrot, half an onion, one celery rib or 2 leek stalks, 1 cup of dried mushrooms, 1 tbsp of garlic and 1 cup of vienna sausage.)

Now take a deep pan or a wok and add about 2 tbsps of cooking oil. Drain the rice sticks and place into the pan. Stir-fry for about half a minute and then add the vegetables (carrots and celery). Stir-fry for about a minute. Drain the mushrooms, squeeze them before adding to the pan. Add the vienna sausage last. Stirfry for about 1 minute. Now add the minced garlic and mix until everything is well-coated.

Now add about 4 tbsps of soy sauce and then 2 tbsps of cooking syrup. Mix everything and let simmer for a minute or two. If it looks too dry, add more syrup. If it is too wet, just let it simmer longer. It'll be ready when the sauce has coated everything in the pan. Cooking time is between 10 to 15 minutes total. I told you this was a quick and easy snack to fix.

To serve, just scoop the deokkbokki on to a plate and serve with toothpicks (like what koreans do). Take a piece of deokkbokki, eat. Then take a sausage, eat. Take a piece of deokkbokki, eat. Then follow it up with with a veggie or a mushroom. You get the picture. Before long, you'll be cleaning up the plate and licking the sweet-savory sauce in the end. (Not saying that's what I did but...) :)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Great Celery Salad

You heard me right, I made Celery Salad. I had a bunch of celery in my fridge was faced with a dilemna that most shoppers had when buying celery. Usually, recipes only call for a small amount of celery. But you can't buy celery for just a teensy-tiny amount. Celery comes in he-man sizes as big as my thigh here in Korea.

So I had this celery in my fridge and most of the upper leaves have already wilted. Then while reading the Food & Dining section of the New York Times paper online, I found interesting recipes for celery. One of them was a recipe for celery and raw mushrooms, button mushrooms to be exact.I was kinda leery about the raw button mushrooms bit. But the instructions was to
slice the mushrooms very thinly.

Like so with the celery, the celery ribs should be washed very well, dried and then sliced thinly. Then you can add other veggies of your choice: like thinly-sliced carrots (for color and additional texture), thinly sliced white onions (which I think every salad should have) and some green sprouts to substitute for the parsley that is suggested in the recipe. Then you toss everything in a large bowl to get it all nicely mixed up.

Then, you take a handful or two and pile it on your plate. It looked interesting, by this time I was wondering if it was going to taste good as well. I had never had eaten raw mushrooms before, well, except for enoki mushrooms.

I had some stale, thick bread in my freezer. I decided it was time to make croutons. It's really easy to make them. You take a hot pan, drizzle generously with olive oil, toss in your bread cubes and some minced garlic. Drizzle more olive oil and keep stirring the pan until the cubes become nicely brown and toasted. Sprinkle some iodized salt and pepper and continue tossing for about a minute or too. Take out from the pan, let cool and taste it. Oh man, it's so good even for snacking.

Now this is my plate, with the croutons and a generous drizzle of antipasto salad dressing. If you don't have this kind of dressing, any tart salad dressing will do like a vinagrette or lemon-based dressing. I tasted a forkful and I was in heaven. The creamy mushroom slices was a perfect foil for the crunchy celery, onion and carrot. It was a great salad. And the perfect start for our dinner tonight - Spaghetti.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Grilled Veggies with Pesto Spaghetti

For the past couple of days, we've been dining on hubby's wonderful barbeque'd ribs. We had some friends over last Friday (a former officemate who wanted to sample Bill's BBQ Ribs for a long time). So Hubby grilled about 5 kilos of pork (large ribs, baby back ribs and tenderloins). I made garlic fried rice, veggie kebabs, potato salad, mashed potatoes and buttered corn.

After several meals of grilled porky delight, I wanted something different. I remembered that we had some sticks of veggie kebab leftovers. In the kebabs, I've skewered zucchini rounds, oyster mushrooms and red & yellow bell peppers. The mushrooms, the oyster kind, kinda dried out because of the grilling. So I took those veggies out of the fridge, spied a jar of pesto and took that out too.

While my pasta was cooking, I added the mushrooms to a half a cup of simmering water in a deep pan. When the mushrooms reconstituted, I thinly sliced the zucchini in half-moon shapes and chopped the bell pepper. I added those to the pan too. Then I saw the water was almost gone so I added another half cup of water to the pan. Then I took my trusty pesto jar and added 2 tablespoons of pesto to the pan. I swirled everything around to get the veggies get well-coated with pesto.

By this time my pasta was cooked and I thoroughly drained it. I just dumped the pasta in the pan and mixed everything up. Then I ladled half of it on a plate and sprinkled grated Parmesan cheese all over the hot pasta. First taste was a bite of savory goodness. The mushrooms were tender and there was a hint of smoky aftertaste in every bite. It didn't take long for me to finish the plate. And the great thing is that I have half a pan of leftover for snacking tonight. :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Eating from the grill...

Tonight's dinner was a pretty easygoing affair. I bought about a pound of sliced pork steaks from our local Hanaro grocery store last weekend. The steaks were beautifully marbled with fat (ok, who else but a Filipino would wax poetic about fat?).

Anyway, we have an electric grill pan that we bought a year ago for a huge discount. The store owner said that they were selling the Tefal grill at more than half the price since they lost the original packaging box that came with it. Which was cool since we paid kust about $40 for the grill. And we've been loving it since.

Here's Billy manning the grill tonight.

The perks of manning the grill is that you get to "taste-test" if the food has cooked.

"Okay, Mom. That's enough pictures. You can put the camera down now."

We would grill our tenderloin steaks, korean pork bacon (samgyeopsal), hotdogs, fish, etc.

And Billy giving the thumbs-up sign for a great pork dinner. :)