Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Salted Burnt Honey Sauce

The little girl absolutely adores honey.  She loves it so much that she eats it off a spoon!

So when I saw the recipe for Salted Burnt Honey Sauce in my Donna Hay e-magazine, I just had to make it for the little girl.

She was very excited but had one request... could we make pancakes also, because she wanted her "honey syrup" on her pancakes... chocolate chip pancakes, to be precise.

The little girl got her chocolate chip pancakes, and we (the rest of the household) got plain ones... good thing I had just made a fresh batch of butter so I had buttermilk!

I must say the honey sauce was divine!  Not too sweet... perfect and incredible, in fact!

I liked it so much that I poured it over homemade biko (sweet rice cake)!  

The recipe can be found here.

Saturday, July 25, 2015


Bibingka is a local delicacy - a rice cake, or a cake made from rice, in general.  When I was little, we would more often see the bibingka during Simbang Gabi (midnight mass) at Christmas time.  Gradually it became more popular and available even off-season.

There are several variants, depending on the what is used (regular rice, glutinous rice, kamoteng kahoy or cassava), what mix-ins or toppings it contains (salted egg, kesong puti/white cheese, buko/coconut, etc.), or the region that it comes from - Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilonggo (2 kinds even!), Ilocano, and I've been told there's Visayan, too...  The one I really like is the one from Iloilo (not the puto-kind) followed closely by the one I grew up with... the one from Via Mare!

I've finally decided to try and make a homemade one!  But I wanted mine to be simple (no cheese or salted eggs), maybe just fresh buko strips, and topped with grated coconut and butter!

And based on a tindera (saleslady) at a tiangge stall, who I interviewed, the real secret is the butter that is slathered on the bibingka immediately after it is cooked (well, aside from the special bibingka oven that is).  According to her, in the province, they would use Star margarine (since this was what was widely available) but here they could buy large tubs of "generic" butter (or margarine)!

I preferred to use my homemade butter, of course!

The recipe is a forgiving one...if a slightly chewy texture is desired, add glutinous rice flour.  If a more spongy, less compact cake is desired, add 1/4 cup more coconut milk...

List 1
1 cup rice flour
1/4 cup glutinous rice flour (optional)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup coconut milk
2 eggs
6 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoon melted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt

fresh buko strips (or kesong puti, salted eggs, etc.)

melted butter, for brushing
1/8 cup sugar, for topping
grated fresh buko

Prepare 4 to 5 4 or 5-inch (disposable, aluminum) tart pans.  Brush with butter and line with (heated) banana leaves.
Mix everything in List 1 together.  Divide batter and place in prepared pans (about 1/2 to 2/3 cup per pan).  Add the buko strips to the pans.  Bake at 375F for about 25 to 35 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned.  Sprinkle sugar on top of the bibingka and bake 5 minutes more.  Immediately brush with butter upon taking out of the oven.  Top with grated buko and enjoy while hot!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tasty Turbo Roast Chicken

A friend shared this really tasty chicken recipe...  The beauty of her recipe is its sheer simplicity.  It requires almost no work...

First buy a whole chicken and have it cleaned (so you don't have to do it by yourself!).  Then open a can of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup.  Pour or spoon the contents of the condensed soup inside the inner cavity of the chicken and throw in 2 to 3 pieces of bacon, and some crushed garlic as well.  Place it in a turbo broiler and let it cook for 40 to 50 minutes, turning once or twice midway, depending on the size of the chicken.  (If roasting in an oven, make sure to place a pan below the chicken to save the drippings and "gravy".)  That's it!

In my particular case, however, I made a slight boo-boo.  I was careless and ended up with 2 whole but butterflied spring chickens!  In short, my chickens had no cavity to stuff the soup, bacon and garlic in.  So I improvised.  I spread the condensed soup (and bacon) in the bottom of a large Pyrex dish and laid the butterflied chickens, skin side up, on the soup and bacon, and (inconveniently) forgetting the put in the garlic with the bacon!

A-te J then requested that I place cracked black pepper on top (she likes a bit of kick in her food) so I did, finally remembering the garlic and putting it on top too.  I baked mine in the oven and it took about 60 minutes.

Long story short, it was absolutely yummy!!!

Thank you, friend M.!

Friday, July 17, 2015


I'd been trying to find another use for my takoyaki pan.  I figure it has to have some other application otherwise it takes up too much space in the kitchen!  A friend commented that an ebelskiver (a Danish spherical pancake) worked the same way but it was definitely bigger than a takoyaki.

So then a light bulb dinged in my head.  Why not make smaller ebelskivers using the takoyaki pan?

And I did... one filled with diced apple, and the other filled with peanut butter and chocolate chips...

Yes, I really used the takoyaki pan!!!

I used the recipe by Serious Eats, found here -

Monday, July 13, 2015

Langka Tartlets

A quick look in the freezer and I saw the langka (jackfruit) that I had frozen several weeks ago! I needed to unload some of the stuff in the freezer so I racked my brains and came up with this!

The filling is actually a very "loose" yema.  Why did I think of yema as a filling?  Well, because I love yema!  And... the way we made it (in my childhood) was so easy!

Melt (about) 2 tablespoons of salted butter over low heat.  Meanwhile, mix together 1 can of condensed milk and 2 extra large egg yolks; add this to the melted butter.  Stir, stir, stir.  When the mixture thickens a bit (about 10 to 15 minutes over low heat), add 250 grams frozen or fresh finely chopped langka.  Continue cooking over low heat until thick (another 5 minutes or so).  Cool completely.  Spoon into mini tart shells and bake about 10 to 15 minutes at 375F or until tart shells are golden brown.  Serve warm.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Taro Sago (西米露)

It's been stormy since Monday!  Apparently there's 3 storms in the vicinity.  And they're wreaking havoc with the Habagat (southwest monsoon).  I remember that 6 years ago, it was also the Habagat that brought such severe rains that the whole city went under water.

So far, however, while it has been raining on and off, it hasn't been a continuous downpour (knock on wood) and for that I am extremely grateful... considering the news that the nearby dam was nearing spill level!

Anyway, rainy days like these always make me long for hot soups... usually savory but this particular instance a sweet one!

Taro Sago is a common dessert in Chinese restaurants.  Sago is tapioca, usually the smaller kind but I like the bigger, chewier ones!  Unlike the usual chilled sago desserts (mango, avocado, pomelo, etc.) the taro sago is served steaming hot.  The "soup" reminds me of hot desserts that we enjoy when we're in Hong Kong (walnut paste, sesame paste, that sort of thing).  

It's not that difficult to make, although I used to think that it was.  While the ones served commercially are smooth, I rather like a chunky soup with little bits of whole taro (gabi in the vernacular) with big sago.  And because I still had some kamote balls from yesterday...

I had 2 (very comforting) bowls! 

The recipe:

750 grams taro, peeled, diced and steamed until cooked
1 cup cooked sago (big or small, as you prefer)
600 ml coconut milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
tangyuan/mochi balls, optional

Drain the cooked taro and mash lightly.  Add the coconut milk to the taro root and stir until blended.  If you like a smooth, lump-free paste/soup, process in a food processor (or use an immersion blender).  Mix in sugar (adjust sugar according to personal preference).  Heat over low-medium heat until sugar is dissolved.  Stir in sago.  Let the pot boil before putting the heat off (and adding boiled tangyuan).  Serve hot. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Burong Mangga

When I was little, especially during summer, my mom would drag me all over Chinatown while she did her shopping.  I would always beg for preserved green mangoes when she passed by the local Chinese grocery where (literally) one wall was filled with jars of preserved fruit.  The (supposedly Chinese version of) preserved mangoes had 2 types - the salty one and the sweet one.  I preferred the sweet one, of course.  My brother J and I would fight over the small bag that my mom usually bought.

Of course, my mom had her own recipe for burong mangga...

(To be honest, I do not really know how burong mangga translates to in English.  Is it  preserved mango?  pickled mango? fermented mango?)

Hers was a really good one if memory serves me - a sweet, sour and (a tad bit) salty mix with the mango strips still crunchy!  Her recipe was a rather complicated one involving several steps (1) soaking the sliced unripe mango pieces in a brine overnight, (2) boiling the syrup and cooling it completely, (3) mixing the cooled syrup with beer, (4) submerging the brined mangoes in the beer-syrup liquid, and finally (5) leaving it for 1 week in the fridge.  I could never wait a week and definitely got a lot of scolding for it!

Sadly I cannot find my mom's recipe.  But I couldn't forget that particular taste mix!  I have tried many preparations, and even store-bought ones, but there was nothing like the specific blend that I loved as a youngster.  The ones I tried (taste-testing prepared concoctions, or homemade attempts) were always wrong - too salty, too sweet, too yeasty, and yes, even too sour!  After a while I just gave up.

For some crazy, unknown reason, though, I recently asked A-te J if they made burong mangga in her home province and if yes, what was their recipe?  She said that they did make lots of burong mangga but as for the recipe?  They just winged it!  Bascially, in their version, they sliced the mangoes, placed them in jars and poured in vinegar, a sugar syrup laced with their local sea salt (which she claims to be saltier and cleaner-tasting than those sold in the nearby wet market) and a couple of siling labuyo (chili pepper)!  Then they just let it sit out in the open (she said they didn't have refrigerators when she was little) for a couple of days at least and it would be ready to eat!

Whoa!  Her method seemed a whole lot simpler and faster than what I remember of my mom's.

I immediately bought 3 large, unripe carabao mangoes (almost a kilo in weight) and prepared them for a new burong mangga experiment.  Then I made the sugar syrup - 1:2 water to sugar ratio and adding the Pangasinan sea salt (in half tablespoon increments) until I got the taste that I liked.  I found it a bit lacking in sourness so I added local cane vinegar, also in increments until I was satisfied.  After cooling the syrup I poured it over the mangoes in the jar (a Mason quart jar) and then (tried) to leave it alone, covered tightly, for at least 2 days in the fridge.

Of course I took some out to taste the next day (not even 24 hours later).  Today is the second day and yes, it does taste better.  I can't wait to taste it tomorrow!

As for the recipe?  Well, it's not exact since I was still experimenting and the recipe will (definitely) vary depending on the type of ingredients used, especially the salt and vinegar.  But roughly, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup local vinegar, and 2 to 3 tablespoons sea salt.  (Actually I added a bit more water in mine because the soaking liquid was a tad short and did not quite cover all of the mango strips.)  Add a couple of chilis, if desired.  Leave for at least 2 to 3 days in the fridge.  Then enjoy to your heart's content!

NB - friend D pointed out to me this link to a good burong mangga recipe.  She says that it is her go-to recipe when her craving strikes!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Oyster Sotanghon (Vermicelli)

This is a variation of my usual dry-type sotanghon (soy bean vermicelli).  Oyster is a favorite of ours so whenever we find fresh, big, plump ones, we grab them!

For this, here is recipe:

about 500 grams shucked oysters, drain but reserve the oyster liquor.

1 thumb ginger, sliced thinly
1 large onion, minced finely
1 to 2 stalks of leeks, sliced at a diagonal, white and green parts separated

200 grams boneless chicken breast, sliced into strips
200 grams suahe/fresh shrimp, shelled
100 to 200 grams straw mushrooms (as preferred)
fish tofu, sliced

1 tablespoon glutinous rice wine
2 to 4 tablespoons premium oyster sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 to 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
3/4 cup water or chicken stock, including the reserved oyster liquid, more or less
salt and pepper, to taste

3 bundles of sotanghon, soaked in water to soften, then drained

Saute half the ginger then flash fry the oysters.  Do not overcook!  Remove and set aside.

Add more oil to the pan if necessary and saute the onions and the white part of the leeks until fragrant.  Throw in the chicken slices.  Cook until almost done.  Add the shrimp and straw mushrooms.  Splash with rice wine.  Add the sliced fish tofu.

Season with oyster sauce and soy sauces. Add the liquid (adjust accordingly, sometimes up to 1 cup of liquid is needed so that the dish is not to dry)

When the mixture boils, add in the sotanghon.  Cook until the liquid is absorb (but it is nicer that the sotanghon is still firm). Adjust seasonings according to taste.

Place the oysters on top and garnish with the green part of the leeks.  Serve while hot!  (This is where a ceramic hot pot pan or a stovetop safe glass dish is convenient...)

Fresh scallops can be used instead of oysters.