Recipe: Chicken Katsu

In cooking, you have to be resourceful, especially if preparing exotic and foreign dishes. While it is true that globalization has pulled every country “closer,” some ingredients are still hard to find particularly if you’d like to taste what people on the other side of the world is having. In this recipe, the ingredients for the sauces I used can be found in every household pantry. You don’t need to go to Japan or an Asian store, although authentic sauces are still the best. When the required ingredient is unavailable, you just need to improvise.

Ingredients

4 pcs. boneless chicken breast
2 eggs
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1 cup Japanese bread crumbs
1 head of cabbage
½ cup of vegetable oil for frying

Tonkatsu sauce
3 tbsp. tomato ketchup
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sugar

Japanese mayonnaise substitute (cabbage dressing)
4 tbsp. regular mayonnaise
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. rice vinegar (or cane vinegar)

Procedure

1. Remove and discard skin of chicken breast. Using a sharp knife, butterfly each chicken breast (carefully slice chicken breasts horizontally but not cutting all the way through). Spread each meat on a tray and season with salt and pepper on each side. Set aside.
2. Heat oil in a nonstick pan. While you wait, prepare dredging station. You will need three wide and shallow bowls. Beat two eggs in one and pour in flour and brad crumbs to the other two.
3. Remember to use the proper dredging technique. Use one hand for the wet ingredient and the other for the dry. Dip chicken breast first in flour, shake excess then dip in eggs before finally coating it with the bread crumbs. Fry each chicken breast until golden brown. Rest on paper towels or wire racks before slicing.
4. Meanwhile, chop cabbage into very thin strips. You can also use a food processor or mandolin for this procedure.
5. For the sauces, mix all ingredients of each kind and set aside.
6. Slice each chicken breast into strips before serving. Put the tonkatsu sauce on the side while you can drizzle the mayonnaise on the cabbage or dress the vegetable completely. Eat with a bowl of white rice. Enjoy!

Serves 4-6

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Recipe: Chicken Sandwich

When my mom first prepared this sandwich, I was instantly hooked. Using boiled chicken, mayonnaise, and fresh cabbage, she mixes everything together, seasoning it with salt and pepper, then spreading it on the bread. It was that simple but oh so good. In my version, I tweaked it a bit, using different ingredients and introduced a new flavor to the dish.

Ingredients

1 pc. boneless chicken breast
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 large tomato
Lettuce leaves (any kind, I used romaine)
8 slices of white or wheat bread
Butter
Salt and pepper

Procedure

1. In a small pot, boil chicken breast until cooked. This will take about 10 to 15 minutes, timing it after the water boils. After it’s done, remove from water, set aside and let it cool down.
2. After the chicken cools, shred it using your fingers or two forks. Set aside.
3. In a bowl, mix together mayonnaise and Dijon mustard. Then add in shredded chicken and season with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Mix well.
4. In a pan, over medium heat, melt a slice of butter. Swirl pan to cover coat the entire pan surface. Put in bread slices and toast until golden brown. Do this two slices at a time and grease pan with butter constantly.
5. Tear lettuce leaves, big enough to cover the bread surface. Rinse well. Wash tomato well then slice into ¼ inch thick slices.
6. Time to assemble. On one bread slice, lay down lettuce leaf (as many as you want), spread chicken over, then a slice of tomato, and top with the other slice of bread. Done. Enjoy!

Serves 4

New York steak of mind

When it was announced last year that Woflgang Zwiener will open his restaurant here, a lot of foodies and steak lovers (like me) got really excited. Imagine, one of the best rated steakhouses in the US will bring its famous beef here.

So last week, when I got a text from my editor that Woflgang’s Steakhouse is hosting an exclusive preview dinner for the media, I didn’t even think twice and accepted the assignment. The invitation was short notice because the organizers informed everybody on the day of the event, which was the night before the big launch. I had another event that day, also a restaurant, so I tried my best to restrain myself from eating too much.

ws jumbo shrimp cocktail
Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail

Arriving at the Newport Mall at Resorts Word Manila, I was not able to immediately locate the restaurant. It is situated on the second floor of the mall, at The Plaza. After a few minutes, I was able to spot the steakhouse that was still covered and boarded up, which explains why it was difficult to find. The hostesses of the restaurant were the only ones outside, welcoming guests. “Where should I enter?” I asked one of them. She led me to a door on the wooden wall (covered in tarpaulin) that hides the steakhouse’s facade.

There were still construction men working on the restaurant but it was already 90 percent done. I was greeted by Marvin Agustin of SumoSam Group, the one responsible for bringing the steakhouse here. Peter Zwiener, son of Woflgang was also there to greet the guests. The setup was pretty simple, tables formed a u-shape and were fully dressed for a dinner party—white tablecloths, silver cutlery, wine glasses, and fine china.

And then Mr. Woflgang arrived. Dressed in a blue suit, white shirt, a red tie, and a wide smile, he welcomed each guest to his restaurant.

After all the guests arrived, we started dinner. I was pretty excited but who wouldn’t be anyway? We would get to try dry-aged (for an average of 28 days) USDA Prime beef steak, cooked the Woflgang’s way.

ws ribe eye
Rib Eye Steak

For starters, we had the Wofgang’s Salad, Beverly Hills Chopped Salad, Canadian Bacon slabs (I mean, b-a-c-o-n s-l-a-b-s), and the Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail. The shrimp was indeed, jumbo and was served on ice and with the special cocktail sauce. I love shrimp so, I’m pretty partial about this. So good. All of these appetizers paired with a cool glass of French white wine.

After having all the shrimp and bacon I want, in comes the stars of the show. Served on huge platters, he big cuts of steak—rib eye, porterhouse, and prime rib—were cooked medium rare. Perfect crusting on the outside and perfect pink center. The steaks were perfectly seasoned and in every bite, you could taste the difference of the aged beef. For Wolfgang and Peter, they like their steaks rare and even black and blue. Personally, I prefer my steak medium rare to medium.

“As you understand the quality of the beef you are eating, you’ll understand why you want it a little a bit less cooked so you could get the true flavor and appreciate what the beef tastes like,” Peter says.

The steaks were perfectly paired with a glass of red and three sides were also served alongside the beautifully cooked meat, Creamed Spinach, German Potatoes, and Sauteed Mushrooms.

We finished the dinner with slices of pecan pie and New York’s Junior’s Cheesecake, the most famous cheesecake in New York. I’m telling you, this cheesecake is popular for a reason.

ws junior's cheesecake
Junior’s Cheesecake

The steakhouse is not all hype like most international brands coming into the country. It promises quality good food. After all, each branch ages its own meat, all USDA Prime beef, by the way. It has full control of its process from the aging to the preparation. This is expected from a restaurant that knows its steak. Mr. Wolfgang, who worked for the legendary Peter Luger’s in New York for more than 40 years prior to putting up his own steakhouse, definitely knows what he is doing.

Wolfgang’s Steakhouse is located at the second floor of Newport Mall, Resorts World Manila. For inquiries +63920 8219247 / +63995 610-361; wolfgangssteakhouseph@gmail.com; www.facebook.com/WolfgangsSteakhousePH/

Recipe: Chicken and Vegetable Soup

When I’m out of ideas or too lazy to make a complicated dish, soups are go-to dishes that are quick to make and filling. That is why it is advisable to have a good chicken stock on hand. There are so many stock recipes out there, you can always make it in advance. Since I didn’t have stock when I cooked this, I used bouillon cubes instead. It’s as good but I’m not sure if it’s healthy.

Ingredients

Half a chicken breast (with bone intact)
1 Chinese cabbage (Napa cabbage), cut into bite size pieces
1 large carrot, cut into bite size pieces
1 large onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, diced
1 leek stalk, chopped
2 liters of chicken stock or 3 pcs. bouillon cubes
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. oyster sauce
1 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
Salt and pepper

Procedure

1. In a big pot, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion, garlic, and leeks for a couple of minutes then pour in stock.
2. Add chicken breast and wait until liquid boils then lower heat. After about 10 minutes of simmering, remove chicken breast and wait until it cools.
3. Time to flavor the soup. Add Worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce, and fish sauce. Add salt and pepper and adjust to taste.
4. Using fingers or two forks, shred chicken breast meat. After shredding, put it back in the soup along with the chopped carrots. After a minute, add cabbage. Turn off heat and cover.
5. Serve as is or with buttered bread and enjoy!

Serves 6-8

Recipe: Filipino Style Grilled Pork Belly

Liempo or pork belly is the Filipinos’ preferred cut of pork for grilling. Because of its good fat to meat ratio, the belly is also used to make bacon. There are many ways to grill this kind of meat and it varies across the globe, this is the Filipino version. We don’t use dry rub but rather a marinade. Our basting sauce is also different because it uses an ingredient that is uniquely Filipino—banana ketchup. This ingredient is also the reason why the meat appears redder than a regular un-marinated grilled meat. I, however, also love my liempo simply salted then grilled and dipped in a sour and spicy vinegar sauce.

Ingredients

1 kg (2.2 lbs.) pork belly (cut across into slabs)
10 pcs. calamansi (Philippine lime)
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp. oyster sauce
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. ground black pepper
¼ cup banana ketchup

Optional dipping sauces
Vinegar
¼ cup of cane vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1 small red onion (diced)
2 pcs. bird’s eye chilies (diced)

Soy
¼ cup soy sauce
2 pcs. calamansi
2 pcs. bird’s eye chilies (diced)

Procedure

1. Juice the 10 pcs. of calamansi into a bowl. Then pour in soy sauce, oyster sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and ground black pepper. Mix well.
2. Put the slabs of pork belly into a large bowl. Pour in marinade and massage the meat well. Cover with cling wrap and let sit in the fridge for at least an hour.
3. Remove meat from the fridge. You’ll notice that the liquid increased, this is due to the salt from the soy sauce, drawing out water from the meat.
4. Get about ½ a cup of the marinade, strain and pour in a small bowl. Add the ketchup and mix well. I usually add more oyster sauce, about 1 tbsp. This will be the basting liquid.
5. Grill meat over charcoal, turning them every two minutes and basting them constantly.
6. For the dipping sauces, just mix ingredients together for each type. The meat is best eaten with steaming white rice. Enjoy!

Serves 6

Filipino salads

The idea of a vegetable salad today is a mix of mostly lettuce leaves, tomato, onions, and other fresh vegetables. But before this Western dish came to this part of the world, Filipinos already have their own version of the vegetable mix—the ensalada.

I don’t know if we got the inspiration from the Spanish but the word ensalada was borrowed from them. The greens we use, however, are far from the lettuce people use today. We use what’s commonly available in our own backyards making them cheap to make. A basic Filipino salad is composed of one kind of green vegetable mixed with tomatoes and onions. Dressings vary as well, from the use of bagoong (shrimp/fish paste) to vinegar. Here are some of the most common local salads:

TALBOS NG KAMOTE
Kamote or sweet potato is widely common in the country. It’s easy to grow and much easier to maintain, which makes it a good source of food. Filipinos use the plant’s tops in the salad. These are handpicked, cleaned, then boiled. Then it is mixed with slices of onions and vegetables. The dressing is just fish paste heated in oil or sauteed shrimp paste.

talbos ng kamote
Sweet potato tops salad

LATO/AROSEP
Lato or arosep is a kind of seaweed that is common in Philippine waters. Also called sea grapes, it resembles small grapes but the plump “fruits” only contain water. The seaweed is best eaten fresh and usually mixed with tomatoes and onions. Dressing is either vinegar or fish paste.

PAKO
This is my personal favorite. I love pako salad. I first had this in Ilocos and have craved for it ever since. Pako or fiddlehead fern is usually harvested in Philippine rainforests and is rich in potassium, vitamins A and C. These furled fronds are also used in other parts of the world. In the Philippines, it is blanched first then mixed with tomatoes, onions, and topped with slices of salted egg. It is tossed in a vinegar dressing—vinegar, sugar, and ground black pepper mixture.

HILAW NA MANGGA
This is probably the most favorite among all Pinoy salads. This is the only salad that uses a fruit as its main ingredient—green mangoes. Mangoes are widely common in the Philippines. In fact, we produce the sweetest mangoes in the world. But unripe mangoes are very sour, although may be eaten alone with shrimp paste or salt. The salad tosses the mango with tomatoes, onions, and a very salty shrimp paste. Best paired with grilled meat.

arosep
Seaweed salad

TALONG
Talong or eggplant is another common vegetable in the country. This salad requires roasting of the eggplant over direct fire or hot charcoal. This burns the skin of the vegetable and softens its flesh. Peel the burnt skin and spread out the flesh of several eggplants on a plate. Then sprinkle chopped tomatoes and onions and serve shrimp paste on the side.

MUSTASA
This salad is good if done right. Mustasa is mustard greens and it has a pungent and strong peppery flavor if eaten fresh. The key here is soaking the leaves in a saline solution or simply washing them and adding salt then squeezing them to get rid of the strong taste. It’s also key to let it sit in the vinegar dressing for a few minutes before serving. Other ingredients in a typical mustasa salad is like pako‘s—tomato, onion, and salted egg.

Did I miss any Pinoy salad? What is your favorite?

Cocktail: Three-Citrus Splash

This cocktail makes for a refreshing drink. This makes use of three citruses—lemon, lime, and dalandan. Dalandan or the Philippine orange is a citrus that is widely available in the country. This recipe also requires a tall glass. One is enough to last you a night or a whole afternoon. After all, every hour is happy hour, right?

Ingredients

1 part gin (I used Ginebra)
1 part Manille Liqueur de Dalandan (if not available, use orange liqueur)
3 parts Waitrose Cloudy Lemonade soda
1 part lemon-lime soda (Sprite)
Juice of ½ a lime

Procedure

1. Fill a tall glass with ice.
2. Use a shot glass to measure the liquids. Pour in gin, dalandan liqueur, lemonade soda, and lemon-lime soda.
3. Cut a lime in half, squeeze juice into the glass. Using a bar spoon (or an ordinary spoon) stir mixture well.
4. Using the other half, slice lime for garnish. You can put the slices into the cocktail or let a slice straddle on the lip of the glass. Enjoy!

Serves 1

Recipe: No-Brainer Chocolate Chip and Hazelnut Spread Pancake

There are already several variations of this breakfast staple, but this version is very easy because it uses an instant mix. I know, instant anything is lazy, but adding a few premium ingredients to the mix elevates the cake to another level. This is quick, easy, and oh so delicious.

Ingredients

250 grams of instant pancake mix
50 grams of bittersweet chocolate chips (I used a block and chopped it into small pieces)
Chocolate hazelnut spread (Nutella)
½ cup of whipping cream/topping (you can also use ready whipped cream)
½ tsp. vanilla extract
Unsalted butter
Maple syrup or toffee

Procedure

1. If you’re using store bought whipped cream, skip this part. Chill electric mixer bowl and whisks in the freezer for about 15 minutes. After chilling, put whipping cream/topping to the bowl with the vanilla extract and whip until the right consistency. You’ll know it’s ready when it forms stiff peaks (Using the whisk, dip it into the cream, pull and lift it, and turn it upside down. If the cream holds its shape [stiff peak] then it’s ready). Set aside.
2. Prepare instant pancake mix according to instructions. Mine required an egg, 2 tbsp. vegetable oil, and ¾ cup of water. Mix well.
3. Mix chopped bittersweet chocolate to the mixture. Combine well.
4. In a nonstick pan, put about a tsp. of vegetable oil. Set burner on low. Pour one ladle of pancake mix to the pan and immediately spoon in small globs of the chocolate hazelnut spread into the cooking batter. Then spoon a small amount of the pancake mixture over the exposed chocolate hazelnut spread until well covered. Flip when ready then repeat. Make sure to oil the pan constantly.
5. Spread unsalted butter immediately after removing the cake from the pan.
6. Serve with dollops of whipped cream. Shave chocolate over and drizzle with maple syrup or toffee. Enjoy!

Serves 4