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Showing posts with the label Filipino dishes

Suman

Suman is my all-time favorite Filipino dessert that the Mama made during the Christmas season when I was a kid. It is a decadent sweet rice concoction made from sticky rice (aka glutinous rice and sweet rice), brown sugar, and coconut milk.

The delightfulness about suman is the memory of it being made, usually on a cold, rainy day. I'm anywhere from age four to seven. The Daddy cracks open two or three coconuts, pouring the juice into a waiting glass. I have yet to taste coconut water as good as what I drank way back when.

The Daddy scrapes the coconut meat from the shell carefully and precisely on a a flat, round serrated scraper that he attached to a thick chunk of wood that he straddled. "I want to do it," I say every so often, as I watch the coconut transform into tiny slips of whiteness as it falls from the scraper into a large white metal basin with red trim. Eventually the parents let me sit on the homemade coconut scraper and try for a short bit. It is not easy,…

Chicken Bittermelon Soup!

Hurrah! I finally had chicken bittermelon soup yesterday. Slurp, slurp. Mmmmmm.

The day before we stopped at a Filipino market in Watsonville and almost immediately saying hello to me was a display of bittermelon (parria to me) and bittermelon leaves. I've been craving bittermelon for the last several months. Unless I grow it, we have to travel far and almost wide to purchase the vegetable.

The Daddy and the Mama grew bittermelon in their vegetable garden every summer. When I was a kid the Mama made chicken bittermelon soup at least once a week. Slurp, slurp. It wasn't until the Mama was 90 or so that I finally paid attention to how she made it.

Wash and drain the chicken in the cooking pot, then steam the chicken (no additional water yet) with ginger and garlic (how much is your choice). At that magical moment (just before the chicken skin burns in the pot) pour water to cover the chicken and then-some. Put the lid on the pot and step away from the stove. Let the concoction …

Yummy Pumpkin Bibingka

"I'm going to make bibingka," I said on Christmas morning.

"Do you know how to make bibingka?" asked the Husband. 

The Husband forgot that I've baked this Filipino dessert a few times before. Of course it was easy for him to forget since the Mama liked to make this cake treat nearly every Christmas and for any day she deemed special.  I don't know if I'll carry on the Mama's annual holiday tradition. It simply felt good to have some kind of warm sweetness enveloping the house on Christmas morning.

The tradition I will carry on is the Mama's like to experiment with recipes. I read a recipe for pumpkin mochi which I thought would translate quite well into pumpkin bibingka. Both recipes use sweet rice flour rather than wheat flour. Instead of condensed milk, I used a combination of coconut milk and lactose-free whole milk. I'd give you the recipe but I modified it as I was going and you know how that goes.

The result turned out pretty yum…

From the Archives -- Taboongow

Here's another post that I wrote for my first blog, Cu'Pie Bird Says Chirp. Chirp. FYI: I slightly edited the post for today. Tomorrow, I shall be back to regular posting. Maybe.

Gourds for the Eating (originallypublished November 20, 2008)
Several years ago, in the upcountry of Maui, I heard birds coo, “Ta-boong-ow. Ta-boong-ow.” I wondered if they were hungry for the gourd, and whether they wanted the long, bat-shaped ones or the ones that look like hourglass women.

Taboongow is the Ilokano word for upo, which is the Tagalog name for the gourd. (Please note that I’m phonetically spelling ta-boong-ow according to what my American ears hear.) Many people think of this vine-growing vegetable as an ornamental plant to dry and use for display or to make into crafts or musical instruments. Taboongow is also yummy to eat when they are still fresh. If you eat the gourd young, you can eat the center white part as well. Otherwise, you cut it away so you cook only the light-green part.

Ther…

A is for Adobo, Pork Adobo

The clatter of metal against metal and heady aroma of frying pork, garlic, and onions lured me to the dark, cool kitchen that hot summer morning. At the stove was the Daddy's young cousin who was staying with us while on leave from the Navy. One hand shook a large grey soup pot on a burner, and the other hand stirred the ingredients rapidly with a large silver spoon that made a rhythmic clang against the inside of the pot. His body swayed and seemingly danced. The sizzle of the meat and vegetables was his music.

I was maybe four or five years old. I don't recall the Mama being home, otherwise why would the handsome, dark-haired man with a sweet smile be at the Mama's stove. But, maybe that day the Daddy's cousin said to the Mama, "Let me cook." So that she could care for Baby Sister who Died too Early. Now that I think of it, that was more likely what happened.

The Daddy's cousin smiled at me as I came up beside him.  "What's that?" I ask…

Making My First Filipino Dish

The parents liked fresh meat and they believed it was cheaper to purchase a pig (or cow or chicken), slaughter and butcher the animal,  and freeze the parts for when you wanted to cook. Because the cost of purchasing a pig was high, the parents often bought it with one or more friends. They didn't bring the pig to the butcher though, as part of the pig-buying event was the camaraderie among the men as they slaughtered and butchered the pig in our backyard. A bottle, or two, of whiskey also figured into the festivity.

Every part of the pig was used. Everything. For instance, the blood was directly drained from the pig into a pot. The right amount of vinegar was added to the blood and it was beat with a hand mixer until it coagulated into a thick pudding. The blood was used for a pork dish known as dinardaraan, which the Filipinos would call Chocolate Meat as they served it to children or non-Filipinos.

Along with the whiskey, Daddy always  served his compadres a meal of the freshly…