Sep 15, 2010

Minatamis na Saba

What is your comfort food?

In the 1990s, when I was still in college, my grandmother made sure she had my favorites waiting for me when I came home for the weekend.  I would always squeal in delight finding the minatamis na saba in the refrigerator, especially earmarked for me.    She always picked the Sabang Tagalog in the best level of ripeness, in vanilla-laced brown sugar syrup until they were makunat.  The best part about it is that she did it especially for me, either as a reward for good grades, or as a salve for the wounds I sustained in my love, er academic life. :)  

And that is probably why, Saba, any which way it is cooked, will always be, will forever be, my No. 1 Comfort Food.

The addition of sago in this recipe is a concession to my son, Jam, who is head over heels with sago.


What's In It?

10 fingers Saba, peeled and sliced crosswise diagonally
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup water 
1 tsp. vanilla (optional)
1 c sago (tapioca pearls) blanched with boiling water

Kitchen Conjugations:

Combine water and brown sugar in a pot and heat to boil over medium heat.  Add in bananas and vanilla when mixture boils and turn heat down.  Allow to simmer for 5-7 minutes or until the liquid is reduced and becomes syrupy.   Add in sago and simmer for 2-3 minutes more.

Note: Do NOT boil over high heat as this will burn the sugar.  As you probably know, anything burned becomes bitter and unpleasant. :) [And I mean that both literally and figuratively!]

Aug 25, 2010

Ginataang Langka

My husband is predominantly a fish eater, and we have fish in the house everyday.  Having fried fish means there should be an accompanying vegetable dish, either in soup, stir-fried, steamed, sauteed, or in this case, stewed in coconut milk.

Back when I was a little girl, cooking anything ginataan was a tedious process, primarily because all of the ingredients had to be processed first by hand: the langka needs to be peeled, cored, seeded and then sliced; the coconut peeled, grated and then squeezed for its milk.

Making Ginataang Langka now is  a lot simpler and faster.  Sliced/shredded langka is available from the public market and major supermarkets; coconut milk and cream are now available in cans or in powdered form. 

The best part of it is when it's langka season,shredded langka costs only P30.00 per kilo, which would actually feed a family of six. That's a cheap P5.00 per person!


What's In It?

1 kilo shredded langka (unripe), washed and then preboiled until fork-tender
1 can coconut cream
2-3 cups tap water
1 onion, peeled and sliced
50-100 grams dilis (optional)
3-5 green chili fingers (optional)
1 pork broth cube (optional)
50-100 grams chicharon (crispy pork rind), pounded into small chunks
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
a knob of ginger, pounded
1-2 tablespoons cooking oil
half a head of garlic, peeled and pounded

Kitchen Conjugations

Heat wok or medium saucepan.  Add in cooking oil, and saute ginger, onions and garlic until fragrant but not burned.  Add in half of the coconut cream, stir from time to time until the mixture boils.

Add in the shredded langka, the dilis, pork broth cube and the chilis.  Let boil then pour in water.  Stir to combine and let boil for 3 minutes, then bring down heat to simmer.

Let the mixture simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring from time to time to avoid curdling, until the langka is fork tender.  Add in salt and let simmer for another 5 minutes.  Adjust seasonings if desired.

Sprinkle or stir in the chicharon granules before serving.

1.  I use JnEm coconut cream, which costs only P38.50 at South Supermarket (compared to Thai Heritage's P41.00.)  The cream is thicker than that of Thai Heritage.

2.  Shredded langka is best cooked the same day of purchase.  It discolors and spoils in 2-3 days, even when refrigerated.  I have not tried freezing it though. 

Feb 23, 2010


I don't know if I translate it right, but Pinakurat (a Cebuano term) translates roughly to "made more interesting."

Pinakurat is fermented coco vinegar that is really spicy. Apart from the spice, what makes things interesting are the other flavors melded in the vinegar.  It has actually a unique tang.

The label says that it's great with lechon, barbecue, etc.  For me, the etcetera was Fuji apples. Yes, Fuji apples dipped in Pinakurat when I was infanticipating with Mika. :)

The Pinakurat bottles in the pictures are gifts from our good friends Rel and Jeng, all the way from Cagayan de Oro, but I later learned that Pinakurat is now also sold in major supermarkets. 

Feb 22, 2010

Seafood Medley

I've been asked many times about how I can find time to cook when I really have a lot on my hands. The truth is, I actually DO NOT have extra time for food blogging.  But I MAKE TIME for it because writing for me is a release, and cooking is my unwinding.  At the end of the day, if I don't spend some time in the kitchen, I'd probably go nuts.  Although admittedly, there are days when I'm actually worked to the bone and already nuts and cooking is out of the question.  On those days I rely on my friendly neighborhood food joints, running the gamut from barbecue, goto, porkchop, batchoy, chinese fried chicken, etc. 
Anyhow, when I'm pressed for time but have to cook something out of the ordinary, I turn to stir fries.
With stir-fries, preparing eats a bigger chunk of time than the actual cooking.  The chopping and the slicing takes more time than the actual stir-frying, which can be done in less than 10 minutes, especially if you're working with seafood.  To work around the heavy preparation time I prepare things in advance  (usually as I watch TV)-- sliced onions, pounded garlic, sliced veggies, sliced meats -- so that all I need to do during crunch time is whip up my wok, fire up the stove and stir fry away. :)
What's In It?
150g. squid slices
150g. fish fillets, sliced (here I used mahi-mahi fillets)
150g. prawns or shrimps, shelled and deveined
1 medium-sized green bell pepper, cored and sliced
3 stalks leeks, sliced into 1" strips
1 medium-sized red onion, sliced
half a head of garlic, peeled and pounded
1 thumb of ginger, peeled and julienned
4-5 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced into wedges (or flowerettes)
4-5 tablespoons cooking oil
Kitchen Conjugations:
Heat oil in wok or frying pan.  Saute onions, garlic and ginger.  Add in fish fillet slices, stir fry for about minute or until the fish is half cooked (no longer pinkish, already whitish but still juicy).  Sprinkle black pepper. Add in prawns, stir fry for 30 seconds, then add in bell pepper, leeks and carrots. Let simmer for one minute.  When the prawns turn orange, add in the squid slices, followed by the oyster sauce.  Stir fry for one minute more, then serve with steamed rice.
1) You may add a little brown sugar (about 2 tbsps) or a teaspoon of hot sauce, or both, to make things more interesting. ;)
2)  Instead of seafood, you may use beef, chicken, even pork.  Be sure to choose the tender parts however, and add a 2 - 3 minutes to the stir frying time if you're using pork or beef strips.
3) Ginger strips work wonders in removing fishiness (lansa) from the dish.