Recipe: Adobong Pusit

I love seafood and squid is at the top of the list along with shrimp. One of the best Filipino squid dishes is adobo. It’s basically squid, stewed in vinegar and its own ink. This recipe is very easy and it’s one of my favorites and is best eaten with rice.

Ingredients:

1 kg (2..2 lbs.) squid
1 garlic bulb, chopped
½ cup white vinegar
1 tbsp. whole pepper corns
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 piece siling Tagalog (finger chili), sliced

Procedure

1. Clean squid by removing guts and cartilage. Remove and save ink sacs of each squid. If you don’t know how to do this, ask market vendor or grocery staff too do the cleaning and extracting of ink sacs for you. Slice squid into rings.
2. In a pot put in squid, vinegar, garlic, and pepper corns. Put over low heat and let simmer for about 45 minutes until squid meat is tender.
3. In a small bowl, mash and break ink sacs to extract ink. When squid is done, pour in ink and vegetable oil. Mix well. Let simmer for another 10 minutes to cook ink, then add sliced chili at the last minute.
4. Serve over steaming white rice and enjoy!

Serves 4

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Whew!

The past two weeks have been crammed with so many food events. The Madrid Fusion Manila just had its successful second run. The World Street Food Congress is currently ongoing. New restaurants opening and will open before the month ends. I just learned from Tourism Promotions Board chief operating officer Domingo Ramon Enerio III that April is Philippine Food Month!

00 - Arroz Caldoso - Hand cut squid grains, vegetable stew, garlic cream, popped Valencian rice
Arroz Caldoso or squid chopped into the size of rice grains then cooked in a stock and squid ink sauce served with garlic cream and crunchy Valencian popped rice

Last week, I was lucky enough to attend another dinner by a Spanish chef, this time by Michelin Star-trained Chef Kevin Cherkas. Hosted by Makati Shangri-La Hotel and was held at its Bespoke Sage Grill, the dinner featured the flavors of his restaurant Cuca, located in the Indonesian premier tourist destination, Bali.

Unlike the dinner by Michelin star Chef Dani Garcia, this dinner was more casual and family-style. The very personable chef will actually tour his food around Asia and his first stop was Manila. After speaking at Madrid Fusion Manila, he had a successful three-night dinner. The seven-course dinner, he revealed, was a result of months of preparation, researching about Filipino flavors.

00 - Ternera con Patatas - Beef n mushroom, whipped potato, Rioja red marmalade
Ternera con Patatas, beef and mushroom served with whipped potato and red wine marmalade

“We researched for two months the traditional dishes of the Philippines. Things like kinilaw, adobo, sisig, the flavors that you love. We developed the menu based on these flavors. It’s all made for sharing. Food will be served on the center of the table. It’s casual,” Chef Cherkas said.

At his restaurant Cuca, he uses 100 percent local ingredients and makes sure he creates interesting dishes.

Three dishes stood out to me: the Pulpo a la Brasa or the grilled Galacian octopus with fresh apple slices, caramelized cauliflower served on Asian gazpacho; Arroz Caldoso or squid chopped into the size of rice grains then cooked in a stock and squid ink sauce served with garlic cream and crunchy Valencian popped rice; and the Ternera con Patatas, beef and mushroom served with whipped potato and red wine marmalade.

It was another night and another dinner by a world-class chef.

Makati Shangri-La Hotel, Ayala Ave. corner Makati Ave., Makatgi City / +632 813 8888 / http://www.shangri-la.com/manila/makatishangrila/

Recipe: Buko Pandan Salad

We love our fruit salads. Occasions are not complete without a cold bowl of creamy fruit salad. One such salad dessert is buko pandan. This is a favorite especially during fiestas. Pandan is an aromatic plant used in Southeast Asian cooking. Here, it is mostly used in rice cakes and desserts. When cooked, it has an almost vanilla characteristic. This recipe uses this amazing plant and highlights its full flavor. It also requires a few ingredients, making it easy to make.

Ingredients

Meat from two young coconuts
1 pack green jelly, unflavored
2 packs 250 ml all-purpose cream
1 can 300 ml condensed milk
4 pcs. pandan leaves
1 tsp. pandan extract

Procedure

1. Cook jelly according to package instructions but instead of using plain water, use pandan water. To achieve this, in a pot boil some water with the four pieces of pandan leaves. Knot the leaves to ensure proper extraction. Let jelly completely cool. When cool, cut jelly into cubes.
2. Using a melon shredder/stripper (a common Filipino kitchen tool that looks like this), shred coconut meat stripping them from the shell. Set aside.
3. In a bowl mix the cream and condensed milk together, combine well. Then pour in jelly and coconut milk, stir well. Then add the pandan extract. The extract is color green, which will turn the salad into a light green color.
4. Chill for at least two hours. Serve and enjoy!

Serves 12

Recipe: Filipino Sopas

The name sopas originates from Spain which translates to soup. Sopas is like many Spanish words that has been adopted into the Filipino language. There are many local soup recipes but sopas is directly associated with one Filipino soup recipe that uses pork limb for the broth, chicken, and elbow macaroni pasta. It’s a comfort food that Filipinos love eating especially during rainy days. My mom’s recipe doesn’t require a lot of ingredients but I like mine with veggies.

Ingredients

1 pc. whole pork limb bone (cut in half then both cracked lengthwise)
2 liters water
250 grams elbow macaroni pasta
Half a chicken breast
Quarter of a whole cabbage
1 pc. carrot
1 yellow onion
6 cloves garlic
¼ cup evaporated milk
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
3 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. oyster sauce
Salt and pepper

Procedure

1. Put water and pork limb with 1 tbsp. salt in a pot, bring to a boil and let simmer (covered) for at least an hour. The longer the better to make flavor richer. But when water boils, put in chicken breast and let cook for abut 10 minutes. Remove chicken from broth and let cool.
2. When completely cool, shred chicken. Chop carrots and cabbage. Mince garlic and dice onions.
3. In a separate pan, saute garlic and onions for about a couple of minutes. Add shredded chicken and saute for another minute. Then add fish sauce and stir well. Remove from heat and pour in the soup pot with the broth. Stir well.
4. Add macaroni pasta and stir occasionally. Cover and wait for the pasta to cook. When pasta is done, add oyster sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir well. Add carrots and cook for about three minutes.
5. Then add evaporated milk and mix well. Lastly, add cabbage and stir. Turn off heat and let sit for five minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Serves 6

Best shawarma in Manila?

Okay, I haven’t really been going around Metro Manila and taking a bite of every shawarma I see but the last shawarma I had was pretty damn good. I don’t claim it’s the best but in terms of quality, this small restaurant in BGC makes a good wrap statement.

Shawarma is very popular here, thus, very common. It’s widely available in food markets, malls, and even train stations. What makes it so popular is its convenience—quick and easy to-go meal.

This Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines staple is basically meat (beef, chicken, or lamb), marinated in special spices, cooked in a vertical rotisserie, and then wrapped in pita bread. Fresh vegetables like tomatoes, onions, and cucumber are added to the meat pile and drizzled with special sauces (usually yogurt-based sauces).

ebeneezers counter
Ebeneezers counter and salad bar

Ebeneezers is one of the new eateries in the BGC business hub. The restaurant elevates the humble shawarma roll into a gourmet meal. It uses prime Angus beef, organic chicken, and halal Moroccan lamb in its tasty wraps. Most of the vegetable it uses are also organic and sourced from small, sustainable farms.

Its head chef is Tom Hines, one of the men behind Ebeneezer’s Hong Kong. This is not a franchise of the popular HK eatery, however.

Aside from the special meats, it also serves vegetarian dishes like fresh vegetable salad from the salad bar and falafal (mashed chick peas with special spices, formed into patties then fried). Customers can also have the option of having the premium meats and falafal over rice pilaf.

ebeneezers organic chicken
Organic chicken on fluffy rice pilaf

Personally, I like the lamb shawarma. Marinated in Moroccan spices, the lamb is perfectly tender and full of flavor. The organic chicken is a must try, too. The restaurant also has special house-made sauces with varying level of spiciness from no heat to super spicy.

What’s unique about Ebeneezers is it is divided into two sections. The restaurant downstairs and the “naughty room” upstairs. A small bar where people can unwind and just chill. This part offer signature cocktails and good bar chow. Must tries are the aged (45 days) beef burger, lamb burger, and the crazy sinful fried organic chicken skins.

Read my Manila Bulletin article here.

Ebeneezers is located at the ground floor of Net Quad Bldg, on 4th St. corner 30th St., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City. +63 917 5694429 / Facebook.com/ebeneezersmnl / IG: @ebeneezersmnl

Two-Michelin star Spanish chef Dani Garcia dazzles Manila gastronauts

Confession: I’m not into fancy feasts (well, that is if I can afford a 12-course meal at a five-star hotel. My job gets me to enjoy this luxury, however). I’d rather have full, hearty meals. Although, indulging once in a while can be a treat to the senses.

So last Monday, I got to enjoy a 10-course dinner by two-Michelin star Spanish chef Dani Garcia (no, we’re not related). And oh boy, it was a treat indeed.

Organized by New World Manila Bay Hotel, the “Dinner with the Stars” special, exclusively delighted Filipino gastronauts with an exquisite banquet by the renowned chef. Known for mixing traditional Andalusian flavors with modern kitchen techniques, chef Dani wowed with every slurp, bite, and munch.

oxtail ravioli
Oxtail Ravioli with Sherry Flavored Consomme

Inspired by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry‘s classic book The Little Prince, the chef showcased his kitchen skills including a demonstration of techniques. The second course was a performance. Hanging on a wire, slices of Jamón Ibérico, was rendered using a kitchen torch. The drippings drop to the waiting pile of tuna tartare below. Doing all this in a room covered with glowing LCD displays, showcasing different scenes of the beach and ocean life.

One of my favorite among the dishes was the amazingly fresh and delicate Yellow Gazpacho with Nirto Tomato. Using his signature techniques (he is one of the first chefs to use liquid nitrogen in cooking), he creates a “tomato”—tomato foam encased in a kind of thin gelatin. He uses a method using liquid nitrogen. The soup was smooth, fresh, light, and garnished with fresh cherry tomatoes  and cilantro.

smoked eel shavings on savory mousse
Smoked Eel Shavings on Savory Mousse; this is not pretty to look at but it’s damn good.

Another amazing dish is the Oxtail Ravioli with Sherry Flavored Consomme. The tender oxtail meat mixture in a thin envelope of pasta burst with flavors and complemented by a light and crisp consomme. The garden fresh garnish, complete with flowers, made the dish so pretty.

But the most memorable for me is the shavings of smoked eel on a soft bed of savory mousse with orange pulp. The thin shavings immediately melt in your mouth upon contact, having the texture of fine foie gras. The mousse makes the eel even more rich with a burst of citrus tang from the orange pulp.

The menu was a sample of Chef Dani’s special culinary concept “Cocinacontradición” which was inspired by Alice in Wonderland. He currently runs Dani Garcia restaurant at Hotel Puente Romano in Marbella, Spain, which was awarded two stars by the prestigious Michelin Guide.

yellow gazpacho
Yellow Gazpacho with Nitro Tomato

Aside from orchestrating the fabulous dinner, he is also here for the second Madrid Fusion Manila as one of its special speakers. Currently ongoing, Madrid Fusion Manila is the first and only Asian edition of the international gastronomy congress and is considered as one of the best and important food events in the world. The congress will run until Saturday, April 9.

Read my full experience here.

 

Recipe: Turbo-Broiled Lechon Kawali

Lechon Kawali (lechon translates to roast pork while kawali means a deep frying pan) is a classic Filipino dish that uses a whole slab of pork belly, boiled then deep-fried until skin is crunchy, almost like pork rind cracklings. This traditional cooking method requires a lot of oil. Pork belly is fatty as it is so frying it makes it extra sinful, which makes it more delicious (haha). Another method is cooking the meat in an oven or turbo broiler to keep things “healthier.” In this recipe, I used the turbo broiler because it’s a more common kitchen appliance in the Philippines. The skin turned out perfect—crunchy. Make sure not to overcook it, however, because the meat will turn out dry.

Ingredients

1,250 grams (2.75 lbs.) whole pork belly
1 tbsp. salt

Dipping sauce
1 red onion, diced
1 pc. red chili
¼ cup water
3 tbsp. vinegar
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. sugar

Procedure

1. Put pork belly in a pot of water. The water should cover the meat entirely. Add in salt and wait until it boils. Simmer meat for 40 minutes. While waiting for this, prepare a wire rack preferably resting on a pan.
2. Turn off heat then remove meat from the water. Put on rack, the pan beneath will catch any drippings to lessen mess. Let cool and sit on the rack for an hour. This is an important part of the procedure because air cooling helps make a crunchy skin. Preheat turbo broiler at 200°C, 5 minutes before actual broiling.
3. Put in meat skin down and cook for 30 minutes. After, turn the meat skin up and turn up temperature to 250°C. Cook for another 10 minutes or until skin is crunchy. The skin will turn red and cracklings will form. When done, remove from broiler and let rest for 10 minutes before chopping.
4. For the dipping sauce, combine all ingredients together, mix until sugar melts. Serve alongside pork.
5. Serve with rice and enjoy!

Serves 6

 

Trying out cheesecake bars

So last week, I was itching to bake something. I had a bar of cream cheese and I was looking for recipes to make a dessert out of it. A cheesecake was out of the question because it requires a lot of cream cheese. I forgot to look up Japanese cotton cheesecake recipes, which I have been wanting to make, but instead, I looked up cheesecake bars recipes.

This cheesecake bar recipe I found on allrecipes.com is such an easy recipe and requires only handful of ingredients, so I tried it out. It turned out amazing, actually. The cream cheese gives it a rich flavor and texture while the lemon juice gives it the proper tartness.

cheesecake bars for blog 04
Perfect combination

Originally, I wanted to make an easy graham cracker crust but we were out of the crunchy biscuits that time. You see, in creating recipes, I try making uncomplicated ones that require just a few ingredients. So I try to make the most out of whatever’s in our fridge or kitchen cabinets. Experimenting with food can be expensive because you end up buying ingredients you don’t need after, hence a lot of wastage. I try not to waste as much as I can.

Anyway, the recipe recommends to serve it with fresh fruit. So I topped mine with fresh mango. I was hoping the sweetness of the mango will offset the tartness of the bars but my taste buds were looking for more sweetness. So, I made a simple mango compote, cooking the pieces of mango in a light sugar syrup. It was better! (Too bad I was not able to take a photo)

So, if you’re looking to make something quick and easy, consider making this one.