Category: Philippines

Biko From Alma’s Kitchen

Biko, photo by PH Morton

Biko From Alma’s Kitchen

My sister-in-law, Alma is a very capable woman.  A good example of a decent human being.  She is friendly, she is caring, she can’t do enough to be helpful to anyone.

She is well like by everyone.

Her abilities go on and on.  What I like most about her is her cooking.  She can really cook up a storm.

Her biko is to die for.  Peter, my English hubby, who do not usually eat anything made of rice love’s Alma’s biko.

The above photo was from Alma’s kitchen.  Doesn’t it look so delicious?  And it was so yummy.

Click here for the recipe!

Biko a a favourite of mine.  It reminds me of happy childhood and young adulthood in the Philippines. It reminds me of my loving family, cheerful, always ready for a laugh and adventure.

I remember my mother going to market and coming home with biko, which we would share and enjoy.

I remember my grandfather coming home with ‘pasalubong’ of biko, amongst others, when he goes out.

Biko is a symbol of halcyon days for me!

Sinangag (Garlic Fried Rice Filipino Style)

Sinangag, Photo by JMorton

Sinangag Breakfast , Photo by JMorton

Sinangag (Garlic Fried Rice Filipino Style)

Filipino fried rice called sinangag is the easiest fried rice recipe to do.

It is so tasty because of the addition of fragrant garlic.  It gets even tastier if the oil you fry it in was from the oil you fried your meat of dried fish in as it absorbed all the tasty residue of the meat or fish.

Fried rice are better cooked from left-over rice or at least rice that has been cooked a day or night before.  A day old rice has a a better texture as it had ‘dried’ up as it sits on the fridge.  A fried rice from a freshly boiled rice tend to yield a rather soggy mess.

Sinangag cannot be simpler.  It can just be from left-over rice, onion and garlic.  This is because it is often eaten with separately cooked friend eggs, salted eggs, hot-dog sausages or the best there is – tuyo or danggit.  (See above photo.)  All washed down with a hot strong milky coffee.

Ingredients:

2 cups leftover rice, even out the clumps

4-6 garlic, peeled and chopped or minced finely

1/2 onion, chopped finely

salt & pepper to taste

1 tbsp cooking oil

Procedure:

Heat the oil using a wok or a large frying pan over medium to high heat.

Fry the garlic, then quickly add the onion.  Stir-fry until fragrant.

Add the rice.  Fry vigorously until the grains absorbed all the oil giving off a fragrant breakfasty aroma. 🙂

Serve immediately with any of your favourite meaty or fishy breakfast.

Enjoy!

 

Just Tomato & Salt

Salty Tomato, Photo by JMorton

Vine tomatoes, photo by JMorton

Just Tomato & Salt

There is some truth about the best things in life are the simplest things.

Like this recipe for instance.  A few ripe tomatoes, sliced and then drizzled with a bit of salt is delicious with boiled rice and some fried fish.

Sometimes though, this salted tomatoes is a complete meal with a plate of fried rice.

I remember when we were still children, my mother would serve us rice with some viand of vegetables and fish and this recipe of salty tomatoes. I would watch her not bothering with a knife to slice the juicy ripe tomatoes.  With dexterity she you would pull a tomato apart with just one hand and it was the loveliest memory of delicious childhood.

I have to say that when I first came to the UK, the tomatoes did not taste like the Philippine tomatoes.  They looked the same but the UK ones are bland.

It was some few years later that Sainsburys started selling flavoursome tomatoes.  It tasted slightly like the good tomatoes of the Philippines.  But why has a tomato has to be flavoursome to taste like the real thing?

The Recipe:

Ripe firm tomatoes, sliced

a pinch of salt

  • Sprinkle the salt to the sliced tomatoes.
  • Stir
  • Serve
  • 🙂  Yummy

 

Grilled Lapu Lapu in Oyster Sauce

Grilled lapu lapu in Oyster Sauce

Grilled Lapu Lapu in oyster sauce, photo by Ruben Ortega

This recipe is quite easy to make and perfect for an outside barbecue.  It is cooked wrapped in banana leaves (these can be availed in the frozen section of Oriental supermarket), which gives a delicious and ‘fresh’ taste to the fish beloved by Filipinos.,  The fish wrapped banana leaves is then re-wrapped in tin (aluminium) foil for two reasons:  one, to prevent the banana leaves from burning  and two, the foil would ensure the fish to stay soft and moist as it cooks.

Ingredients:

Whole lapu lapu (grouper fish), cleaned, descaled and gutted

1 tsp olive oil

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 sweet red peppers, sliced

2 shallots or small onions, diced

1/2 inch ginger, julienne

Instructions:
  • Arrange the banana leaves to be enclosed over a larger tin foil (see photo above)
  • Place the fish on top of the banana leaves.
  • Drizzle it with olive oil, drop the garlic all over the fish, do the same with the red peppers, shallots or onions as well as the ginger.
  • Spoon in the oyster sauce.
  • Wrap the fish fist with the banana leaves, enclosing all the ingredients onto the fish.
  • Then securely wrap the banana leaves parcel in tin foil.
  • Put the tin foil directly into the barbecue and cook for 20-30 minutes.  Ensure to turn over at foil parcel on the barbecue as it cooks.
  • Serve with some green salad and buttered bread.

Enjoy

 

Sinabawang Ulo Ng Tuna

Sinabawang Ulo Ng Tuna, photo by Ruben Ortega

Sinabawang Ulo Ng Tuna

Awww the air is getting colder as we head towards autumn or rainy season in some other parts of the world.  What better way to cope and ‘try to’ enjoy this change than by having a heart-warming delicious soup.  Sinabawang ulo ng tuna is a recipe which uses the head or jaw of tuna fish.   There are a lot of goodness in the tuna head/jaw alone and just perfect for some soupy recipes like the one below.

Ingredients:

2-2½ lbs Tuna head, sliced
1 tbsp vegetable oil
6 cups water
1 onion, decoratively cut into rings
4-6 tomatoes, sliced
1 teaspoon ginger strips
1/2 head Chinese cabbage, roughly cut  or 2 heads Pechay (bok choy), leaves separated
some chili fingers
2 tablespoons fish sauce or salt to taste

Procedure:

1. Using a large casserole pan, saute the ginger, onion and tomatoes in oil.

2. Quickly add the fish head, then add the water and bring to a boil, when boiling reduce the heat to simmer, this might take 20 minutes until fish is cooked.

3. Increase the heat, add the Chinese cabbage or pechay and chilies.

4.Season with fish sauce or salt according to your taste.  Simmer for another minute and it is ready to be enjoyed with some freshly boiled rice.

Enjoy! Itadakimasu

Woven Rattan Baskets

Rattan basket, photo by JMorton

Woven Rattan Baskets

Rattan is some sort of a climbing bamboo looking plant which grows profusely in the mountains of Ilocos and other parts of the Philippines.

Thank goodness that they do grow abundantly as they provide materials for weaving so many things necessary to the farming communities of the Philippines.

Rattan basket, photo by JMorton

Bilao in Tagalog is a winnowing flat basket which is called bigao in Ilocano.  This flat basket is necessary in separating the husks or hulls from the rice grains, especially when a mortar and pestle had been used to manually dehusk the palay into rice.

 

Rattan basket, photo by JMorton

 

What’s Bilao in English?

Bilao, photo by JMorton

What’s Bilao in English?

Bilao, bigao in Ilocano, is called winnowing basket.

This basket is very versatile.  Its usefulness was first used in ancient times by agricultural folks to separate the grains from the chaffs at harvest or milling time.

Ampalaya Salad (Bitter Gourd Salad)

Halved Bitter Gourds, Photo by PH Morton

Ampalaya Salad (Bitter Gourd Salad)

This salad goes well with fried food or other very rich food.  The slight bitter taste from the ampalaya will go well with savoury food.

Below is the salad recipe which uses fermented shrimps or bagoong.  If this is not your taste or you have run out of it, a patis (fish sauce) is highly suitable.

Ingredients:

3 medium size bitter gourd (ampalaya)

1/2 tbsp salt

4 shallots, sliced finely

1 tbsp shrimp paste (bagoong alamang) or 1/2  to 1 tablespoon fish sauce (according to taste really)

2 large tomatoes, sliced

3 siling labuyo (bird’s eye chilies)

1 lemon, juiced or 1 tablespoon of fresh juice of  kalamansi

Method of preparation:

Cut the ampalaya in half lengthwise and deseed. Cut in half rings (?).

Place the amplaya in a colander and then sprinkle the slice with the salt.  Set it aside for half an hour to give the ampalaya time to absorb the salt to counter-balance its natural bitterness.

Wash after ‘curing’ the ampalaya and drain any excess liquid or moisture.

Put the ampalaya in a serving bowl, add the shallots, tomatoes, chilies and season with shrimp paste or fish sauce and lemon or kalamansi juice.

Leave to stand for 10-20 minutes, then serve.

Deliciously challenging to the taste buds.  A true gourmet delight!

 

Agbayo (Life Size Mortar & Pestle)

Life size mortar and pestle, photo by JMorton

Agbayo (Life Size Mortar & Pestle)

The above photo was taken in Ferdinand Marcos’s Batac ancestral house.  It was used when he was obviously younger as the mortar shows sign of erosion or depreciation.

Having lived in a farming community when I was a young girl, this life-size mortar and pestle is a familiar sight.

It was used in many things that needed pulping like my favourite sweet rice dessert called nilupak or dehusking palay, especially when going to a rice mill is a bit of a hustle.

The term used by Ilocanos, people of Northern Luzon, is agbayo, which means to pound.

Rice comes from palay grains, and if you only wanted a chupa or a ganta of rice, most Ilocanos would probably use a pestle and mortar to pound the palay to dehusk and turn into rice which then ready to cook.

Pounding rice is sometimes more than just a chore.  It can be a way of bonding with friends and family.

I used to help my cousins when they were pounding in the mortar.  Usually there are extra pestles around and two or three people can pound together but take turn.  It is a matter of timing.  It was a lot of fun though can be hard work.  Having someone to help makes this arduous repetitive task less of a chore.

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