Saturday, January 22, 2011

an ode to a birthday

I thought long and hard about Kulinarya's cooking challenge this month.  Instead of a typical theme, the hosts (thanks JenMaribel and Tressa) had posed a fun question:  What Filipino dish would you cook for your birthday?  I must admit, I don't do anything for my birthday.  It is the one day in the year that I get a free pass... as in no cooking, no chores, no work, as I get the "queen of the day" title. We all need a break and there is no better day to celebrate - when the clock strikes 12 you are the queen, or king, for the next 24 hours.

My birthday comes right after my hometown's fiesta in August.  My dear Mama would reserve food for my party... in fact she would reserve most of the food for my birthday, haha!  As a little girl, I have fond memories of inviting  the whole class and my teachers to my party.  Lechon always topped the list, if I was lucky it was a whole roasted pig.  But if not, I was content with the leftover lechon, I remember vividly how my Mama instructs our cook to freeze the rest for "Malou's birthday" to make Lechon Paksiw.  This is leftover lechon stewed in a sweet and sour sauce of vinegar and liver sauce to be served on my birthday.

Since at this time I cannot roast a whole pig, I decided to prepare a dish based on Lechon Paksiw.  But somehow "paksiw na lechon" may not look appealing, so I took it as a fun challenge.  I had much needed help with this challenge.  So together with my best friend Teyene, our culinary experiment began.  To be quite honest, this has been so far the most challenging, but yet most fun Kulinarya challenge. I got to spend time with my friend, whom I love dearly.  And was all smiles even as I splattered oil over the oven top and her fire alarm kept on shrieking due to the smoke created by the splattered oil - much to the chagrin of her husband who was taking a nap at the time.  It was good times indeed, good times.

Deconstruction of Lechon Paksiw, aka Pork Belly, with a tamarind glaze and laced with liver sauce

I got the inspiration to make this dish from Bouchon, Thomas Keller's French bistro in L.A.  My family recently dined there and one of the dishes we ordered was pork belly with cherry marmalade, which quite frankly was comparable to our lechon kawali.  So I am adding my flare to the dish, adding a Filipino touch best described as a deconstructed Paksiw na Lechon.

Please see my Crispy Pork Belly  recipe. 

For the tamarind glaze:

4 pcs sweet tamarind pulp with seeds
1 cup water
1 tbsp sugar
salt to taste

Boil the water together with the tamarind.    When the tamarind is soft and pastey remove the seeds.  Add sugar and salt.  Reduce the sauce until thick.

Liver Pate gravy:

1/2 cup liver pate
3 cloves garlic,  minced
2 tbsp  honey
3 tbsp apple cider
1/2 cup broth
1 tbsp olive oil

In a saucepan brown the garlic with olive oil.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Let it simmer until it beomes thick and gravy like, adding more broth if needed.

Lace the pork with gravy and pour the tamaraind glaze on the pork.  Top the pork belly with avocado slices. 

The flavors maybe varied but it will blend together.  The avocado is not included in the traditional Paksiw na lechon.  I added it as it brought an interesting texture and gives a surpising twist to the crunchy pork belly.



This is my contribution to the Kulinarya Cooking Club . Check out other members on our website Kulinarya Cooking Club


Saturday, January 8, 2011

sweet surrender

I wanted a fancy dish to kick start the new year. Something sweet and divine perhaps, or something rich and savory.  Well that was the plan but then again work and life got in the way.   

So I was sitting at my desk when I received an email from my daughter.  She sent me pictures of what she had for lunch.  She took the photos just before devouring the spaghetti I prepared for her that morning.  

Mom you should blog about this... Filipino spaghetti is the bomb!

My husband chimed in, "When I was a kid I loved the spaghetti at Makati Supermarket, it was so sweet with very little meat and I had to add extra ketchup, but as a child I thought it was the best.", he reminisced.

"Then the sweet taste is distinctively Pinoy", my daughter added.

It sounds foreign indeed, but yeah we Pinoys have our own version of our spaghetti.  And you'll be surprised with some of the ingredients included.

My conversations with my daughter reminded me of a commercial I heard over the radio in my hometown some years back.  The radio ad for a new Chinese restaurant blared :  "Leng-lengs's Chinese Restaurant, It's authentic Chinese cuisine... try our spaghetti!"

Authentic what? Spaghetti?  Really?  I know the Italians got noodles from China, but Chinese noodles use rice flour.  And in tomato sauce??  Really?  

Before I digress further, let me share with you what my daughter said is a must-try Filipino food.  And yeah it prompted me to include it as my first post of the year, forget fancy, forget gourmet cooking, I just loved the idea that my daughter took time to plate the dish the way I wanted it to be, and to take photos of it just the way I do.

Filipino Spaghetti ala Jollibee


1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 lb ground beef
5 pcs hot dog, sliced diagonally
1 packet of deli salami, sliced (you could also substitute it with other deli meats like pastrami)
1 c diced ham
1 large can tomato sauce
1 cup banana ketchup
1/2 c pineapple juice or juice from a jar of pickles (cucumber)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bulb onion, chopped
bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c brown sugar (if you want it sweeter, you may add more)


Saute the beef and pork with garlic and onions in a pan.  Add  black pepper and bay leaf.  Stir until golden brown or when the mixture is almost dry.  This may take about 5 - 10 minutes

Add the tomato sauce and ketchup. Add a cup of beef broth and let it simmer on low heat.  Make sure to stir it so you won't burn the bottom.  

Add the hotdogs, ham and salami.  Let it simmer and allow all the flavors to fuse.  Pour the pineapple juice or juice from pickled relish. Add sugar, salt and pepper to taste. 

Pour it over a bowl of cooked spaghetti noodles.  Grate some cheddar cheese on top... voila, that's Filipino Spaghetti for you.. it's sweet and tangy... you'll love it and that's a promise!

watch my you tube posting on HOW TO MAKE SPAGHETTI ALA JOLLIBEE here:

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