Category: Alma’s Kitchen

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!

Fried Galunggong

Fried Galunggong, photo by JMorton

Fried Galunggong

It was such a treat to eat these crispily fried galunggong once again.  Alma, my sister-in-law did such a good job cooking them.  But then again she is a very good cook.

These galunggong were so delicious, Peter ate them with gusto despite a dicky tummy. 🙂

Galunggong is apparently called round scad in English! Well anyway, frying is just one recipe for this fish.  It can be cooked as paksiw as well.

The Recipe:

  • Galunggong
  • vegetable cooking oil for frying
  • salt

Cooking Directions

  1. Clean and gut the Galungoong
  2. Rub salt to the fish.
  3. Heat the oil using a wok or a large frying pan.
  4. Fry the galunggong until crispy and golden all over.

Filipinos usually have fried galunggong on Fried as an accompaniment to sauteed monggo (mung beans) and plenty of rice.  Somehow this combination really works.

I am feeling hungry just thinking about this. 🙂

Pansit-pansitan (Peperomia pellucida) Medicinal Herb

Pansit pansit herb, photo by JMorton

Pancit pancit, photo by JMorton

Pansit-pansitan (Peperomia pellucida) Medicinal Herb

This was the herb given to us by the Lady of Necodemos, the manghihilot (healing massager) when we consulted her for stomach aches which seems to have afflicted our whole family in the Philippines after going for an overnight swim at Club Manila East.

She said to make a drink of tea from this herb.

She gave the following instruction:

Chop the herb and then boil in plenty of water.  Leave to simmer for at least 10 to 15 minutes with the pan uncovered.

Turn off the stove and leave this herbal tea to steep for at least 10-15 minutes.

Strain and drink half a cup every four hours.

This herb will settle your stomach and digestive system.

Remaining tea can be stored for over a couple of days in a clean jar in the fridge.

Halabos Na Alimasag (Steamed Blue Crabs)


Halabos Na Alimasag (Steamed Blue Crabs), photo by PH Morton


Halabos Na Alimasag (Steamed Blue Crabs), photo by PH Morton

Halabos Na Alimasag (Steamed Blue Crabs)

You do not need a fancy way to cook crabs if they are really fresh.  The simpler they are cooked,  the more the natural sweetness of the crab meat would come out.

We are lucky that we had the most most delicious crabs for lunch cooked by sister-in-law.  Peter can’t enough of these crabs.


3-4 lbs fresh blue crabs, cleaned thoroughly
½ cup water
2 teaspoons salt


Pour water in a large cooking pot or a wok (some sort of a lid or cover will be required). Add the salt. Bring it to a boil.

Now drop all the crabs. Cook by covering the pan or wok with a lid.  This will ensure that the crabs are steamed by their own oozing juices :).

Stir occasionally.  Cook for 5 to 8 minutes on until the crabs have changed colours to red or orange.

Serve. share and enjoy!

Charcoal Grilled Tilapia

Tilapia, photo by PH Morton

Tilapia, photo by PH Morton

Charcoal Grilled Tilapia

I really find it very sad that tilapias have been having a bad press lately when in natural fact, they are one of the best tasting fish there is.

They are also very versatile, they can be cooked with just a bit of ginger and a few tablespoons of vinegar or can be fried, and be made into fish balls, etc.

Whilst growing up in Marag, where we had a farm,  tilapias used to grow naturally along the dykes that run in between our rice-field.

At lunch time we would go and catch them by hand or with the help of a rattan woven like a net.  After cleanign and de-scaling the fish, the would then be pushed into a bamboo skewer and set over an open fire to grill.

We then have a delicious lunch with boiled rice.  We also have a home-made sauce made from small amount of water, a dash of salt and a few siling labuyo (bird’s eye chili).


Spaghetti Bolognese a la Filipino

Spaghetti Bolegnase, Photo by PH Morton

Spaghetti Bolegnese, Photo by PH Morton

Filipino spaghetti bolognese is marginally different from what is the norm in Italy and the rest of the world. 🙂  We have put our own mark to our version, which is equally delicious as what is standard spagbol.  The difference is that SpagBol a la Filipino is rather sweet.  I will tell you this, once you’ve tasted it, you would want to try it again.

Good thing, it is very easy to do at home.  Below is the recipe.


  • 500g spaghetti pasta
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 2 – 3 jumbo Filipino-style hotdogs (in the absence of Filipino hotdog, frankfurters available in most western supermarket can be a good substitute), sliced diagonally
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 – 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 pound minced (ground) beef
  • 1 can plum tomatoes, pureed
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup banana ketchup (preferably sweet and spicy (buy from any Oriental shop selling Filipino products)
  • 1 beef Oxo stirred in 1 cup of water
  • 1  teaspoon sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese, grated
  1. In large pan, cook the spaghetti in boiling water according to packet’s instructions.  It could be al dente that there is still a bite to it.  Drain.
  2. Using a saucepan, heat the oil. Add sliced hotdogs (or sliced frankfurters) and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Using the same saucepan, add the onions and garlic and cook until the garlic is so fragrant, do not burn or it will turn bitter.
  4. Add the minced beef, breaking it into small pieces; cook for about 7 to 10 minutes until browned. Drain any excess fat.
  5. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, ketchup and beef broth. Stir in sugar. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer, covered, for about one hour or until meat is fully cooked and sauce is thickened. If sauce is getting too thick, add water in ½ cup increments as needed. During the last 10 minutes of cooking, add the hotdogs. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. To serve, spoon spaghetti sauce over noodles and top with grated cheese.

Recipe was adapted from:

Alma’s Kitchen: BIKO


Biko from Alma’s Kitchen
Photo by PH Morton


My sister-in-law, Alma is a very good cook.  Whilst in the Philippines she fed us non-stop with the most delicious food.  One of her specialty is biko, which was absolutely to die for.  Alma said that it was so easy to make and then proceeded to give me the recipe, which follows below.

  • 2 cups glutinous rice (also known as pudding rice, sticky rice or malagkit in Tagalog)
  • 1½ cups water
  • 2 cups Demerara sugar (brown sugar)
  • 4 cups coconut milk
  • ½ tsp salt
  • lightly toasted sweetened coconut flakes (optional but really tasty when added)
  1. Wash the rice and then drain.  Using a large pan, preferably heavy bottomed one, combine the sticky rice and water in and cook until the rice is ready, i.e. when the water had evaporated. 🙂  Ensure that the rice is not burnt.
  2. As the rice is cooking, mix the coconut milk with brown sugar and salt using another pan, a large flat bottom frying pan is ideal.  Cook under low heat until the texture becomes thick. Stir constantly.
  3. Once the rice is cooked and the coconut milk-sugar mixture is thick enough, add the cooked rice in the coconut milk and sugar mixture then mix well. Continue cooking until all the liquid evaporates.
  4. Transfer the cooked biko in a large serving plate;  flatten the surface.
  5. Sprinkle generously with sweetened coconut flakes if using.

Enjoy this recipe from Alma’s kitchen to yours!

Talbos Ng Kamote Salad

Talbos Ng Kamote (Sweet Potato tops), photo by PH Morton

Talbos Ng Kamote (Sweet Potato tops), photo by PH Morton

Talbos Ng Kamote Salad

I did not realise how much I have missed talbos ng kamote (sweet potato tops) until Alma, my sister-in-law, put it on our dining table during our recent holiday in the Philippines. I think it turned me into a bit of a goat as I just could not have enough of it. I just want to chew and chew on the green young shoots of sweet potato tuber.

I wonder if it is easy to grow sweet potatoes in a UK garden?!!! I would like to harvest the shoots rather than the sweet potatoes, although when I was a young girl, we planted a lot of sweet potatoes on our farm in Marag, Philippines. I remember digging out sweet potatoes when they were hardly ready and eat them straight from the soil. I loved the newly formed sweet potatoes, they tasted crisp and sweet. OMG, I was wild; I was feral! 🙂

Apparently, sweet potato tops are great for making smoothies and juices as they contain a lot of healthy nutrients that naturally cures ailments of the body.

Be that as it may, I want my potato tops made as a salad.

Talbos ng Kamote (Sweet Potato tops) Salad:



1 large bunch sweet potato leaves, tougher stem removed and discarded
2 large ripe tomatoes, sliced
1 large red onion, sliced

The salad can be made with different types of sauces. Perhaps what is already in your food cupboard.

It can be half a cup of cider vinegar or red wine vinegar seasoned with salt.

it could also be a spritz of a whole lemon again seasoned with salt.

It could be a more exotic fish bagoong that can be bought from any oriental supermarket selling Filipino or Thai products.

Though I love any sauces from the above, I would tend to use fish sauce (patis) and calamansi/lemon as I always have a patis in my fridge. 🙂


Boil some water in a sauce pan.

Blanch the sweet potato tops by plunging in the boiling water and leave for a couple of minutes.

Remove from the water to drain.

Using a large bowl, combine the sweet potato tops with the tomatoes and onion.

Drizzle generously with your choice of sauce from the above list or with your own favourite sauce.


Tahong With Dahon Ng Sili

Mussels with Chilli Sprouts, Photo by PH Morton

Mussels with Chilli Sprouts, Photo by PH Morton

Tahong With Dahon Ng Sili

(Mussels with Chilli Sprouts)

This was so delicious.  I think it is the best recipe for mussels.

The mussels were very fresh and the dahon ng sili (young leaves of Chilli plants) complemented the dish thoroughly.

Peter loved it so much, he had a bowlful all to himself.

Alma, my sister-in-law, cooked it for us on our last day in the Philippines.

She said the secret to the recipe is the freshness of the tahong (mussels) and of course a proper preparation by cleaning them thoroughly.  The soup that has all the goodness of the mussels will fresh and so tasty.

Below is the recipe, which is easy to follow.



  • 1 kg of tahong (mussels), washed thoroughly, remove any gunk on the shells.
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 whole onion, peeled and sliced
  • 2-3 thumb size ginger, skinned and julienned
  • 3 cups of water
  • Patis (fish sauce) to taste
  • 1 bundle chilli leaves (dahon ng sili), washed and separated from stalks, discard the stalks


Method of Preparation:

  • Using a large pan, heat the vegetable oil.


  • Sautee the garlic, onion, ginger.


  • Stir in the tahong.


  • Season with the patis (fish sauce); try a tablespoon of it first and just add more according to one’s taste.


  • Cover the pan and let it simmer under low heat for 5 minutes to allow the mussels to soak in the spices and seasoning.


  • Check that the mussels have opened;  add the water, increase the heat to bring the water to a boil.


  • Let it simmer for 3 minute.


  • Correct the seasoning, add a smidgen of salt if needed.  At this point add the dahon ng sili, which cooks immediately.  (By the way, spinach is a great substitute for dahon ng sili).

    Serve immediately with freshly boiled rice.

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