Friday, September 4, 2015

Garlic Butter Shrimp

Garlic Butter Shrimp is one of the common dishes being ordered in most of the restaurants in Macapagal, Pasay which is commonly known as Dampa or Seaside.  This is where you buy fresh seafood at the nearby market and bring them to the restaurant of choice and ask them to cook it for you, however you want.  This practice is called paluto *wink* So if  you are planning to visit the Philippines, particularly Manila, make sure to put this in your itinerary and eat your heart out. 

But you don't need to go to Macapagal when the craving for shrimp kicks in.  You can do this in your own kitchen.  Don't fret, this is gonna be easy, even a child can do this.

Usually, shrimps are deveined - the process of removing the sand vein found at the back of the shrimp. It's not necessary though, Filipinos do not do this often, I don't *wink*  There is even a tool specifically designed for deviening shrimps which, I do not know how to use... ahhahaha!

There are an array of shrimps from the extremely huge (I saw one in Macapagal.  Really huge almost the size of a lobster.  It looks scary!) to the smallest we locally call alamang - the type of shrimp being used to make shrimp paste or bagoong. My favorite is called suahe, size is just right and is sweet when cooked.  Tiger prawns are bigger in size and is called sugpo in local language, I'm not a fan though because it taste bland compare to suahe (I'm speaking for myself here, don't take my word for it) and because of its size takes longer to cook and if overcooked, becomes rubbery and tough. Suahe, for me, is still the best.

You don't need much ingredients to make this dish I am about to share. Just make sure you buy add use fresh shrimps.  That is the key my loves - go for fresh shrimps I will not recommend buying frozen ones.


250 gms medium size fresh suahe, washed
1/4 cup butter (do not use margarine, it will affect the flavor of the dish)
1 medium size white onion or 1/2 cup when minced 
2 Tbps crushed garlic (or as much as you want)
1 stalk leeks or spring 1/4 cup spring onion cut into 2 inches in length
salt and pepper

1.  In a pan (frying pan will do) over medium heat, melt butter and add garlic.  Cook until slightly brown.

2.  Add onion, and cook until transparent and caramelized

3.  Now add your shrimps, salt and pepper. Careful on the salt.  If you use salted butter, you will need just a few dash of salt.

NOTE: Shrimp will release it's natural juices so no need to add water.

4.  Simmer shrimp (covered) for about 3 to 5 minutes or until it changes color to bright orange. Keep an eye on your shrimp as you do not want it to overcook.  Over cooked shrimps becomes tough and rubbery.

5.  Lastly, add your leeks or spring onion.  Mix and remove from heat.

6.  Serve hot and enjoy with steamed rice.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Basic Muffin Recipe...and how to be creative around it!

If you have been following this blog, you would know that I am not a baker (then) or maybe until now.  I just bake some goodies here and there but I'm not a pro, believe me, I'm far from being one. So if you are one of those who wishes to do some baking but is afraid to try, don't.  There are some recipes that are fool proof and easy to make.   A little push from a friend across the globe in the name of Elizabeth Quirino, owner of Asian in America, made me try to whip some butter and started to bake.  The rest was history.

My first baking creations were muffins.  You can't go wrong with muffins and this is one of those baked goodies you can be really creative on.  You can have sweet and even savory muffins - the possibilities are endless.

Aside from the ingredients you would put in your muffin, there is only one thing that you may want to achieve or probably be expert on - The Muffin Top. That is what you are looking for in a muffin, the dome shape top, right? A muffin, looks awful and sad if it has a flat top.  And yes, during my first attempts to bake muffins, I achieve that perfectly - the flat top, a number of times actually.  Now, how does one achieve that lovely top? The key to a gorgeous muffin top is shocking the mixture by having a high temp oven and then lower down the temp after 5 mins or so.  High temperature makes the mixture bubble thus creating that dome shape of the muffin. Cool huh?

So, from a number of muffins I did, I came up with this basic muffin recipe to which you can adapt and just be creative around it on - - what to add to the mixture or what to replace what with what.

(print this recipe)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk (fresh milk or full cream milk - room temp)
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 egg (room temp)
1/3 cup unsalted butter (room temp)


1.  Pre-heat over to 200C (390F) and line muffin tray/s with cupcake liners.

2.  Mix all dry ingredients together (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt). Set aside.

3.  In a separate bowl, using whisk or a mixer, cream butter and sugar.  Add egg, vanilla and milk. Mix well.

4.  Pour wet mixture to your dry ingredients and fold.  Do not over mix.

5.  Add your flavorings. (see below how for further instructions)

6.  Scoop batter in prepared muffin trays, about 3/4 full.

7.  Bake for 5 minutes then lower your oven temp to 150C (300F) and bake for another 10 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Yields 12 regular sized muffins

In this entry, I will feature three (3) variations to this basic recipe:

1.  Choco Chip Muffin
Step #5 - add 1/2 cup choco chip to the mixture


2.  Cheese Muffin
Step #5  - add 1 cup grated cheddar cheese to the mixture
Optional - add more grated cheese on top before baking

3.  Choco-Banana Muffin
Replace 1/2 cup milk with mashed 3 large ripe bananas (approx 1 cup)
Step#5 (optional) - add 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Friday, March 28, 2014

Pineapple Pork with Green Beans

In the absence of my used-to-be-full-packed kitchen in terms of ingredients, I was forced to make something of what I can find and created this simple yet appetizing dish.  More so to those who love sweet and salty tasting pork meal.

Before I created this dish, I really intended to make adobo but I realized that I do not have vinegar.  Well, I do not like vinegar very well.  I really don't know why.  And I must admit, I am not very much of a good cook when I have to deal with vinegar.  That is my kryptonite in cooking.  But I strive if I really need to use one.


250lbs pork belly, cut in cubes
2 gloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp cooking oil
2 tsps black peppercorns
1/4 cup pineapple juice or 115gms pineapple tidbits (juice included)
3Tbsp dark soy sauce (regular soy sauce is fine)
1 Tbsp fish sauce or 1 tsp rock salt
1 cup water 
100 gms green beans.  In the Philippines, we call this Baguio Beans; cut in about 3 inches; blanched and set aside.

1.  Marinate pork with pineapple juice, soy sauce and salt for at least 30 minutes
2.  Remove pork from the marinade.  Set aside but keep the marinade.
3.  Heat oil in a saucepan and saute garlic until golden brown.
4.  Add marinated pork to the sauteing garlic.
4.  Sear pork for about 5 minutes.  
5.  Add marinade, water and pineapple tidbits.
6.  Bring to boil then simmer for 30 minutes or until pork is very tender. Add water 1/2 cup at a time.  Adjust saltyness by adding fish sauce or salt depending on your preference.
7.  Serve hot topped with blanched beans.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Project Rice Cooker Cake: A Come Back

In the midst of so many things happening in my personal and professional life, don't ever think that I never thought of going back here.  Here where my passion and my creativity is nurtured and cultivated.

So yeah, I'm going back.  May not be as often as I used to but I will definitely find time to connect with you and continue where we left of.  Sounds like I am rekindling a relationship, huh?

It's been 7 months since I left  my 'used be home' and decided to live alone.  Yeah, on my own. You may think that since I am now living alone, I have more the time to cook.  You may be right, but then again, I do not have anyone to cook for.  Let alone eat everything I cook.  Plus the fact I got a smaller kitchen and lesser kitchen gadgets. But don't get me wrong, I am more than happy where I am now.

Rice Cooker Chocolate Cake
So, the course has been changed.  I am now in pursuit of easy, quick and good for one or maybe good for two dishes (Well, I have been cooking for two, haven't I?) And my first attempt is this project. Bake a cake using the rice cooker.  I do not have an oven yet and I miss baking.  Hell, I miss spending time in the kitchen, period!

During one of those laid back weekends (which comes rare now), I came across this collection of recipes you can make using your good-o'l-only-cook-rice kitchen appliance called the rice cooker.  For a foodie that I am, the article amazed me and told myself that I will make some of those one of these days. The things you discover in the internet!  21 Surprising Things You Can Make in a Rice Cooker

I used to do cakes and muffins (goodies I used to bake) from scratch. But for this project, I bought a pre-mixed chocolate cake to try on.

There is no exact recipe.  Just follow the instructions on the box, put the mixture into your rice cooker and wait for the magic to happen.
Chocolate Cake Mixture

Here are some reminders though when making this cake using this method:
1.  The power of your rice cooker will determine the length to which the cake will be done.
2.  It takes a while. Your patience is needed
3.  Remember that the cake will expand.  Make sure you have enough room for this in your rice cooker - about another half of the uncooked mixture.
4.  Check your cake after 20 minutes. Then every 15 minutes thereafter.  You do not want a dry and burnt cake, do you?
5.  Cake will be done in 1 hour 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.  In 'Keep Warm' mode.
30 minutes after

This was what happened when I 'baked' the cake - I burnt the bottom of it.  You know why?  I forced the rice cooker on the cook mode instead of let it sit on 'keep warm'.  Sometimes the impatient me is getting me into trouble. I have to remind myself that patience is a virtue (wink).

Here is what you have to do so as not to commit the same mistake I did.  Once you pour on the mixture of the cake in the rice cooker, press the lever or push the button - whatever your rice cooker tells you to do when you are cooking rice.  When it shifted to keep warm mode, LEAVE it that way and wait. Wait until center is soft enough to be eaten but not raw. REMEMBER, the heat of the rice cooker is enough to cook your cake.

I may have a burnt bottom cake but the rest are good! Gooey and moist.  Good enough that I was not ashamed to share it with friends.  Not bad for an out-of-the-box, more so baked cake using a rice cooker!

Next thing I will do using this method of baking is an upside down cake.  You see, if you really want something, you will make it happen.  I just did!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Pork and Mushroom Siomai

I have always loved my mom's cooking. Who doesn't, huh? I mean, who does not love their mom's cooking? I bet everyone does.  No one is a greater cook than our own mothers, right?

Living away from her for years now, there are times wherein I wish that I will wake up in the morning with the smell of whatever it is that she is preparing for breakfast.  Sometimes, I miss the days when I will just have to ask what's for dinner and don't bother cooking them.  Well, these are some of the prices I have to pay for living away from her.

When those days are bugging me, I just replicate and cook things that she would normally serve me and my siblings.  One of which is this dish - Pork Siomai. Okay, I tweak it a bit and put some mushrooms for I just love them!

Siomai is a type of dimsum (food prepared in bit-sized portions) made from pork (usually) and other add-ons that you can find almost anywhere when you visit any Asian restaurant.  Siomai is traditionally steamed, though in the recent years, fried siomai has become popular as well in the local restaurants serving them. Pork, as the main ingredient of this dish is mixed with other ingredients like shrimps, mushrooms and the likes which results in different siomai "flavors".

Print this Recipe

1/2 kilo finely minced pork (not ground)
1 medium raw egg
2 medium sized dried shitake mushrooms
1 small or about 1/4 cup minced white onion
2 slices white bread
1/2 cup shredded turnip (singkamas), juice squeezed
1/4 tsp salt
dash of pepper
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 pack wanton wrappers (size depends on how big or small you want your siomai to be, I used small size)

kalamansi (Philippine Lemon) or lemon
soy sauce
store bought chili oil

1.  Soak shitake mushroom in 1/4 cup water for 10 minutes or until soft.  Keep water. Mince mushroom.
2.  Using all the water from the mushroom, soak white bread and mash. Set aside.
3.  Combine all ingredients including mushroom and bread except wanton wrappers. Mix well. Set aside for 15 minutes for flavors to develop.
4.  Should you wish, you may boil a portion of your mixture and taste.  Adjust the amount of salt if necessary.

Making siomai is an art.  For first timers, this may look difficult but it's actually not.  Just make sure that you are using fresh wanton wrappers so you won't have any problem breaking them in the process.  REMEMBER: wanton wrappers should be kept frozen, buy one that is stored in freezer.

This is how I assemble siomai.  You may have your own way of doing it so go ahead, no fuss :)

1.  Place a wanton wrapper on top of your thumb and forefinger.
2.  Scoop a teaspoon of the mixture and place it on top of the wanton wrapper
3.  Hold the siomai as if you are squeezing it (but don't) and with the use of a teaspoon, insert the sides of the wrapper in between the mixture so it won't fall off when steaming.
4.  Shape the siomai using your fingers while bottom is flattened on a surface.  This way, you'll have even sized siomai.
5. Do this until all mixture are used.

Place siomai pieces on a steamer lined with a cloth.  Make sure you have spaces in between since your siomai will expand while steaming.  You don't want to break your masterpiece when you are just about to serve them *wink*  Cover the siomai with the ends of the cloth before placing the pot cover.

You may be wondering, "What is the cloth for?"  steaming cloth or cheese cloths are use so your siomai won't be watery since the cloth will absorb the steam and any liquid.

Steam for 10 to 15 minutes.

You may put a drop of sesame oil on each siomai before serving for enhanced flavor.  Serve hot with condiments.

NOTE: You can make siomai ahead of time. Just make sure to store them in freezer. This can be stored frozen for a month but I won't recommend you store these goodies that long for they will lose the flavors.  A week inside the freezer is okay.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Babi Chin (Fragrant Pork) and Nonya Cuisine

What is Nonya Cuisine

I wonder too myself when  I saw this mini cookbook when I was browsing the rack of a bookstore nearby, which by the way was years ago, even before I started blogging.

As I skim the pages, I found some interesting recipes to which I know I can easily make and since the cookbook is cheap, Php120.00 ($2.8), I bought one.

According to the book, Nonya Cuisine is simply a fusion of Southeast Asian herbs and spices with Chinese ingredients in a dish that is the culinary legacy of the Straits (or Peranakan) Chinese communities is Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia (Nonya Favorites, Periplus Mini Cookbooks, 2001). Interesting huh?  It was also said that even before the word "fusion" became popular in the culinary world, Nonya cuisine has been in existence.

Some of the common ingredients in any Nonya kitchen would be the following: lemongrass, chillies, belacan (shrimp paste) galangal, turmeric (in Filipino, luyang dilaw) and coconut milk.

If there is one dish that I have been cooking from this book for several times already is called Babi Chin or Fragrant Pork.  Such a simple name for a tasty meal. I bet you, the preparation to make this dish is as simple as 1, 2, 3.

I came to love this dish not only because of how easy it is to make but because of the flavors it has.  The spices used in this creation are made in heaven. Whoever invented this recipe was a genius. The flavors are not too strong, just right for you to have another spoonful for you can't get enough.  You know that feeling when you eat something and the flavors linger but at the same time gone and you want more?  Get what I mean?  This dish does that!

This pork entree gives justice to its name for your kitchen and the whole house will definitely have the I-want-to-eat-now feeling because of its aroma.

This, by the way, can be made in advance and reheat when needed.  Better actually to eat it the next day for by this time, the flavors have developed and is tastier than when you eat it right after cooking.  Trust me on this *wink*

Before I forget, another thing I love about this dish is it's eaten with steamed rice.

Babi Chin or Fragrant Pork
Print this Recipe

I used pork ribs when I made this last week (for photo) and I will never do it again, pork fats gives this dish more flavor

500gms pork belly, cut into cubes (2"x2") or any pork parts with fats
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup chopped shallots or red onion
6 gloves of garlic, sliced
1 Tbsp ground coriander
4 pcs star anise
8 large dried shitake mushrooms, soaked in water to soften, squeeze excess liquid then cut into strips
1 Tbps dark soy sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp rock salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper (black pepper will do if you do not have white)
1 liter water

1.  Over medium flame, heat oil in a sauce pan and fry shallots until fragrant, add garlic and saute for 1 minute.
2.  Add star anise and coriander.  Cook for another minute.
3.  Add your mushrooms and pork.  Fry for 2 to 3 minutes or until pork looses its outer pink color.
4.  Add soy sauce, sugar, pepper and water.
5.  Bring to boil then reduce to simmer.  Cook covered for 1.5 hours (or until pork is very tender) stirring occasionally to prevent from burning.

You can skip step 6 and 7 if you wish, though it's recommended you do.
6.  Set aside for at least an hour at room temperature for flavors to develop.
7.  Reheat and serve hot.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Suman sa Lihiya with Latik (Wrapped Rice Cake with Coco-Butter Syrup)

The last two months has been hectic and chaotic but I tell you was so much fun!

Even before the LEAP (the coaching program I am active in) ended, I told myself that I will share with you a delicacy that Filipinos love but are not making too often nowadays.  Their busy schedules may not permit them to. And maybe, just my theory, the old folks who used to do this, may not have the energy anymore to do them. 

Suman is a general term used to describe a rice cake or a sweetened root crop wrapped in leaves.  Commonly used to wrap these cakes are banana leaves though some varieties uses palm leaves. Some even got their names from the leaf they were wrapped in.  *wink*

The memory of this snack that I am about to share with you goes back to my childhood days when, during fiestas or big family celebrations, is always present.  Not nowadays though, for according to the one who used to do this for us, the process of making these is tedious. I did not argue, until recently.

Due to the length of time being consumed when making this suman traditionally, it's not everyday that someone will make it at home for personal consumption.  Why? Mainly because of the notion and belief that this is such a difficult thing to do. 

A friend of mine believed so as well.  In one of our road trips, she saw this type of suman in one of the stores and was eager to buy one. I told her not to and I will just make some for her.  You know what she told me?

" You are not a normal person.  Sumans are bought, not made at home!"

I told her I am serious and she swore, that indeed, I am weird.  She loves me, huh? I forbid her to buy and yes, I made one for her and for my friends when we returned home.  She still believes I am an alien while devouring in the freshly made Suman sa Lihiya right from my own kitchen.

So, here is the modern and easy recipe for a sweet and bring-me-back-to-childhood suman. I learned this by the way from one of the cooking classes I attended to...I put some twist of my own of course *wink*

Suman sa Lihiya with Latik (Wrapped Rice Cake with Coco-Butter Syrup)
Print this Recipe

For the Rice Cake
2 cups glutinous rice (malagkit)
2 cup whole grain rice
water for soaking rice
4 cups water
1 Tbsp Lihiya or Lye (food grade)
1 cup coconut cream
1 cup brown sugar (segunda in Filipino or the partially refined sugar)

For the Coco- Butter Syrup
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup muscovado sugar or raw sugar; you can also use grated panucha or hardened sugar
1/4 cup salted butter
1Tbsp glutinous rice flour

fresh banana leaves, cut into about 6"x10", about 16 pieces, have extra just in case one or two tears apart
16 pieces cotton strings cut about 14 inches in length.
grated coconut meat (optional)

Prepare the Rice
1.  Combine the two types of rice, rinse twice and drain. Put enough water just to cover rice and soak for at least an hour.

TRIVIA: Soaking rice before cooking is a traditional way of preparing this grain.  Rice grains absorbs water that makes cooking time shorter and gives a good texture to it as well.  

2.  After an hour, drain rice and add 4 cups of fresh water.  Add the Lihiya (lye) and mix well.  Water will turn pale yellow.

WHAT IS THE LYE FOR? : lye gives this suman a distinct flavor plus lye gives rice cakes it's gooey texture or in Tagalog "kunat"

3.  Cook rice about 30 to 35 minutes.  If using rice cooker, let the equipment time itself  *wink*

Prepare the leaves
In an open flame, run over your banana leaves one at a time to wilt and steam it a bit.  We do this so leaves will not break when we wrap the rice later. Set aside.

Prepare the Syrup
1.  In a sauce pan, combine all ingredients except for the butter.  Mix well until lumps from glutinous rice flour are gone.
2.  Under low flame, simmer mixture until thick, about 5 minutes. Careful not to boil.  Why? We do not want the coco milk to coagulate, do we?  we are looking for a syrupy texture just like that of a maple syrup *wink*
3.  Before your 5 minutes ends, add the butter and mix well.  Set aside.

Let's go back to the rice.

1.  Once rice is cooked, remove from heat and add coco cream and sugar.  Mix well until well blended.  Careful not to burn yourself.
2.   Measure 1/2 cup of prepared rice and place them on the lighter green side of the banana leaf.  Wrap it up like you would your sandwich.  Do this to the remaining rice.

 3.  When you are done wrapping everything, let's tie them up together.  Why? So they will not burst and keep their shape.  Get two pieces and place them together where the flaps of the leaves are in between the two suman.

4.  Using the cotton string, tie one end and then the other.  There is no exact science here, just tie it up however you want, although it's suggested you use a knot where it can be pulled off easily later on.

5.  Do this to the rest of the suman.

Do you see the one lone ranger there? I intentionally did that for later use (whispering) photo *wink*

Let's finish this up!

Using a steamer or a make shift one, it does not matter as long as you can steam these babies, steam the suman for 10 minutes.  Make sure to give room for the suman to expand, for it will. Just a few centimeters apart.

After 10 minutes, remove suman from heat and allow to cool a bit.

Unwrap a suman and pour over coco butter syrup on top.  You may also serve this with grated coconut meat as an option.

Makes about 8 pairs or 16 pieces of suman by the way *wink*

You may be wondering, "Why did she say modern way?".

It is because, traditionally, you soak rice with the lye for at least 2 hours. Wrap the uncooked rice (harder to handle than the cooked one) with the banana leaves and boil them in water for at least two hours or until rice is cooked. 

Traditional or modern?  Your choice :)

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