Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Next in the Galley: Mechado


Literally how my mom used to make it.  


1 kilo beef threaded with pork fat
garlic, onions and tomatoes, minced
1 small can of tomato sauce
potatoes and carrots, cubed
2 laurel leaves
1/5 to 1/4 cup soy sauce
ground pepper

Actual email: You can get a 2 lb. (a kilo) slab of beef, insert pork fat in the middle (in Manila, i'd get it from Rustan's or SM supermarkets prepared that way). You can thickly slice it and put in a pot. Mince garlic, onions and tomatoes, then place on top of the meat. Add a small can of tomato sauce. Add water using the same small can. Add pepper and soy sauce, around 1/4 cup. See, am not into measurements so be careful in adding too much soy sauce at once. When beef is almost done, taste.
Better to cook it slowly. Enjoy!

NINANG ETANG'S MECHADO (from Positively Filipino)

Ninang Etang's Mechado leaves required threading of the fat to the cook's imagination.  From "Recipes of the Philippines" by Enriqueta David-Perez, pioneer food editor of Manila.  The book was in its 19th print as of 1973.


1 kilo beef, lean
4 big onions, whole
1/2 cup vinegar
Strips of pork fat
1 can tomato sauce (small)
6 potatoes, cut in halves
1/2 laurel leaf
2 tbsps. fat
1 tsp. pimenton
Salt to taste

1. Insert fat strips lengthwise in beef.

2. In a deep pot or pan, place the meat, laurel, tomato sauce, vinegar, salt to taste and water to cover.  Cover and simmer until tender.

3. Add potatoes, onions and pimenton and continue cooking.

4. When most of the broth has evaporated and potatoes are cooked, add the fat and stir well.

Serve meat sliced crosswise.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Next in the Galley: Cemita Poblana

I want to make this sandwich for the Boy. Ok, for myself, but the Boy will surely like it too. Recipe is from here, but modified for my circumstances.


beef, pork, or chicken cutlets (e.g., Taiwanese chicken chop or German Schnitzel)
avocados, halved, pitted, and sliced
cemita buns, sesame-seed buns, or brioche buns, halved
string cheese, divided
raw onion rings (about 1/4 inch thick)
chioptle chiles or pickled jalapeƱos
fresh cilantro leaves
extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

1. Spread avocado slices on bottom bun halves. Top with fried cutlets. Mound half of the cheese on the cutlets.

2. Arrange onion rings on top of cheese. If using chipotles, tear into pieces and arrange on onion rings; alternatively, arrange pickled jalapeƱos on top of onion rings. Top with cilantro and mound the remaining cheese on top. Drizzle with olive oil.

3. Close sandwiches and serve right away.

Had to make do with what I could find at the neighbourhood FairPrice. No sesame seed buns or brioche buns, so used whole wheat burger buns instead. Replaced with Oaxaca cheese with Bega Stringers and the nopales with cilantro. The Boy loved it:

Back in the Galley: Bellychon

I've made this dish twice now, and the second one was better than the first. Still need to find my perfect technique for the skin though.  


1 kilo pork belly, whole and skin-on
insane amount of minced garlic
smashed lemongrass stalks
laurel leaves
ground pepper
spices, chilies, peppers, other accoutrements (optional)

1. Prepare the pork belly. Ensure that there isn't too much hair on the skin; there's a scorched skin method to get rid of the hairs (see dong po rou recipe below for a video). Also better if the belly is sliced fairly evenly so it can roll up nicely.

2. Generously rub salt and pepper onto the meat and skin. Lay the belly skin-side down and layer garlic, lemongrass, and bay leaves. You can also add other spices here, although I prefer to keep the flavourings simple.

3. Roll up the belly and tie with twine. Cover with aluminium foil.

4. Preheat oven at 180C and roast for 1 hour or so for every kilo of meat. I use a rotisserie oven so I am not too concerned about heat distribution or repositioning of the meat: I set the oven to broil so the heat comes from the top.

5. Raise heat to 200-220C. Remove aluminium foil and continue roasting until skin starts to brown. After about an hour you need to check in more often to make sure the skin is crisping evenly. You may need to regularly reposition the meat to make sure that the skin that needs the most attention is closest to the heat source. Some tips for helping the skin to crisp are to prick the skin pre-cooking, baste with oil, or baste with milk (to make it red). I used the pre-pricking method.

6. When skin is done, or as crisp as it will ever get without burning, take out the roast from the oven and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before you start slicing.

Serve with sinamak (dipping sauce of spiced coconut vinegar), tomato/herb salad, and steamed rice. Goes well with a robust red wine.

A few pictures: (first attempt)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Next in the galley: Dong Po Rou


Braised Pork Belly (Dong Po Rou)

1000g (2.2lb) Pork Belly
1000g (35 oz) Cooking Wine
200g (7 oz) Soy Sauce
150g (5 oz) Rock Sugar
300g (10.5 oz) Green Onion
300g (10.5 oz) Ginger
300g (10.5 oz) Garlic
1 Piece Bamboo net


1. Removing hair on pork skin. Heat up wok, When it hot, put in pork belly with skin side down and push it against wok bottom to burn hair on it.

2. Add water, let pork piece immersed in water, bring to boil for a few minute, turn it over keep boil for another a few minutes. This is to remove blood in meat. Take it out and drain water.

3. Cut pork into smaller pieces.

4. In a wok, layering bamboo net, green onion, ginger and pork pieces on top with skin side down. Then add in all other ingredients, cover and simmer for 90 minutes.

5. Put meat and sauce in clay bowl, steam for 3 hours.

6. Ready to serve .

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Next in the galley: Tass Kabab e Aremaneh



My mum makes the best Tass Kabab. I don’t know what it is about hers. It is such a simple dish yet hers has all the juices and fragrance that can come out of cinnamon, meat, tomatoes and prunes. She would layer all the raw ingredients – including the meat, so no searing involved – then let it cook slowly while we did all sorts of things around the house. We knew the dish was done when the air was filled with the scent of caramelised onions, cinnamon and meat.

Tass Kabab is similar to a Moroccan tagine with its sweet and sour combination. Serve with crusty bread to soak up the juices left on your plate and some sharp torshi (pickles, page 84).

2 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, sliced in 1cm (1/2in) whole rings
1kg (2lb) de-boned leg of lamb or stewing beef, cut into 5–7.5cm (2–3in) cubes
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 5cm (2in) discs
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 7.5cm (3in) pieces
4 tomatoes, sliced
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 tsp salt
few twists of pepper
10–12 Persian unpitted golden dried plums or pitted prunes
2 tbsp butter
juice of 1 small lemon or 1 rounded tsp powdered Omani lime (or more, to taste)
1/2 tsp saffron threads, pounded and dissolved in 2–3 tbsp hot water

This recipe works best in a heavy cast-iron pot, but a regular casserole will do. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to the pan. Begin layering the ingredients. Start with the sliced onions: spread some out on the bottom of the pan. Then add a layer of meat, onions again, chopped garlic, carrots, potatoes and the tomatoes, sprinkling the layers with a little cinnamon powder, turmeric and salt and pepper and adding a few plums or prunes as you go.

Once all the ingredients are used up, add the rest of the oil, the butter and the lemon juice or powdered lime.

Cover, place on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, then lower the heat to its lowest setting and let the casserole cook gently for about 45–60 minutes or until the meat is fork-tender. Add the saffron liquid 10 minutes before the end of cooking time.

I like to put the pot on the table and let everyone help themselves. Serve with some bread – and watch out for the plum stones!

TIP: If you don’t have any plums or prunes or want to try a variation, substitute fresh apples or quince (with their skins on). Cut them into large chunks or wedges so they keep their shape while they cook. They will become soft, aromatic and add a sweet tang to the dish.

You can also substitute 1½ tbsp green advieh mixture (page 204) for the individual spices.

My first (and so far only) attempt:

Friday, October 28, 2016

Chill, man. Chill!

First came this: Ode to Halo-Halo. Then came the angry social media reactions from "insulted" Filipino food enthusiasts, this article featuring some of them. They're comparing it to Bon Appetit's pho pas (heh) as well as Jamie Oliver's jollofgate.

Let me start with some personal context: I am a Filipino who is very proud of Filipino cuisine. I love to eat it, study it, and convert people into it. Whenever possible, I look into regional variations and histories behind famous dishes. For a small sampling of how much I like food, and Filipino food in particular, take a look at my IG page.

I needed to get that out because of what I'm going to say about the Bon Appetit halo-halo article: chill out, folks. They did not pretend to be experts in halo-halo as they did with that pho video. They did not imply that their recipe was anywhere near approaching authentic like Jamie's jollof rice. They said what halo-halo was, and presented their recipe. They called it their "ode" to the dish, their own version of halo-halo.

Now as halo-halo versions go, let's just say I won't be tucking into theirs. I mean, gummy bears on ice? It's hard enough to chew those bears if you store them in the fridge, just imagine chewing on them after being under shaved ice. They could use a bit more textural balance too. The popcorn also won't hold up well in liquid (cornflakes or crisped rice might fare better). A lot things could have been improved.

But I see no insult to Filipino cuisine. It's not something you'd find in Manila, yes, but halo-halo is about adaptation. Razon's halo-halo would fail many of the "authentic halo-halo" recipes floated on social media-- horrors, no ube!-- but people from Guagua will argue otherwise. Halo-halo is also about personal taste, with some stores allowing customers to customise their own halo-halo: more leche flan, less beans, more nata de coco, less macapuno. Like adobo or sinigang, there are common elements to making halo-halo-- crushed/shaved ice, sweet condiments, cream-- but its spirit is about making it your own. Bon Appetit made halo-halo their own using ingredients their American readers can easily find (try finding macapuno or kaong in your local Safeway).

Bon Appetit could easily have called their recipe their ode to Japanese kakigori, Korean bingsu, or Malaysian ais kacang, but they went with Filipino halo-halo. I say set aside the indignation, thank them for putting Filipino cuisine front and centre, and teach them a better halo-halo recipe.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Adios, Don Alba

'Paella king' Alba dies at 89

Just read that Don Anastacio de Alba passed away yesterday, 31 July 2016. He was one of my defining culinary icons, up there in my pantheon with only Keith Floyd. While Bourdain, Ramsey, and Zimmern give me lots of inspiration (and envy), Don Alba and Floyd have influenced my palate and cooking so profoundly.

Don Alba's restaurants gave me my first tastes of Spanish food. Along with Mingoy's in the South, Alba in Makati and Quezon City defined the Spanish side of my palate, quickly converting me to the religion of aceitunas, chorizos, and paellas. My beloved tuhod y batoc (a Filipino-Spanish stew of ox knee cap and chuck in brown sauce), which I fell in love with at Dulcinea, was invented by Don Alba. My Dear and I held our wedding reception at his restaurant along Tomas Morato, and the Boy had his first taste of paella there shortly after his first birthday. I am learning to make paella (and soon tuhod y batoc, hopefully) using his cookbook.

Adios, Don Alba. Gracias.