Chilly nights call for something warm…

Another chilly Chicago night and so we opted for some soul-warming arroz caldo. I’ve made it earlier in the year but this time I added some mushrooms for a more earthy flavor.My arroz caldo with mushrooms recipe:

12-16 cups of homemade chicken stock
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 onion, chopped
1 cup white mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons minced ginger
oil for sauteeing
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 chicken bullion cubes
1 rotisserie chicken deboned
1 1/2 cups rice – sushi, jasmine or long grain
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 handful sliced green onion

— In large dutch oven, saute garlic, onions, mushrooms and ginger in cooking oil. Cook until onions are softened.
— Add chicken to pot and heat through.
— Add rice and stir to coat with oil.
— Add black pepper and bullion cubes.
— Add homemade chicken stock and stir.
— Let it cook over low to medium heat for about 30-40 minutes, stirring occassionally.
— Add lemon juice and sliced green onion about 5 minutes before serving.

Care for Tamarind Soup?

Okay, my apologies to those that were grossed out with the previous post on balut. But please don’t say I didn’t warn you! 🙂 Moving on to daily eats, here’s a filipino dish that’s true comfort food for us, sinigang. We made this for dinner since we were feeling lazy with the heat wave coming through Chicago.

Sinigang is a filipno dish famous for the variety of ingredients one can use as well as for its taste. Sinigang is typically sour and is most often likened to Thailand’s tom yum.

Sinigang often incorporates stewed fish, pork, chicken, shrimp, or beef. Sinigang’s characteristic taste is attributed to the ingredient that gives its sour taste, not to the meat’s flavor.

Pork sinigang, the most common variety, is usually prepared with tamarind, tomato, leek, taro, and onion. Other vegetables cooked in sinigang may include cabbage, okra, spinach, radish, green pepper and string beans. Naturally, vegetarians would love this dish since various vegetables lends itself nicely with the flavor of tamarind.

Another variety is prepared with guava and is less sour than those with tamarind. Raw mango, calamansi and kamias can also be utilized. Surprisingly, that sour flavor is not because of vinegar, which many people may confuse it as. Powdered soup base or bouillon cubes cubes for sinigang are also used in place of natural fruits.

Most filipinos here in the US don’t have the time to gather those exotic fruits to create that sour flavor that sinigang is used for. Instead, most people use the powdered soup base such as that above.This is not a hard dish to make – even for those who aren’t familiar with filipino food. Here’s a common recipe for Sinigang, which is even found on the back of the powdered soup base package…

1-2 lbs pork (or beef)
8 cups of water
your choice of green veggies – cabbage, asparagus, green beans, spinach
1 large tomato, chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 medium onion chopped

In a dutch oven or pot, add pork.
Cover with water and let boil until cooked.
Drain pork and run through cold water to rid of the “residue”.
Place pork back in clean pot and cover with water.
Add 1 package of sinigang soup base.
Add tomatoes, garlic & onions.
Let it come to a boil.
Depending on which vegetables you use, add the veggies that take longer to cook first.
Reduce heat and allow veggies to cook through.
Remove from heat and add other veggies on top.
Cover and let steam to cook.
Stir before serving over rice or eat as a soup.

This can be made vegetarian my omitting the meats and cooking up the veggies in the soup base.

WARNING: Explicit Pics!

Part of the enjoyment of tonight’s Pinoy Peyesta was the gathering of some brave souls who tried balut for the first time.

Balut is a fertilized duck egg with a nearly-developed embryo inside that is boiled and eaten in the shell. They are considered delicacies of Asia and especially the Philippines, Cambodia and Vietnam. Popularly believed to be an aprodisiac and considered a high-protein, hearty snack, baluts are mostly sold by street vendors at night in the regions where they are available. They are often served with beer.

Here is a pictoral of eating balut. My husband was kind enough to walk through the steps in shelling and eating balut. Warning – this is not for the faint and these men really ate these eggs! There are 4 parts to eating balut…

1. initial “broth” upon cracking the top, which is sucked out or taken like a shot
2. hardened calcium, which has a plastic like texture
3. yolk, which is full of veins and tastes like a giant egg yolk
4. underdeveloped duck, as seen in the last photos (not for those with weak stomachs)

Pinoy Peyesta!

Through another Chicago foodie community I’m active with,, had a Filipino Dinner event provided by a fellow member. Being Filipino myself, I wanted to attended… nothing beats home cooked Filipino food!

Sharon & Dan, the hosts of the event, prepared a bountiful feast that included the following Filipino dishes:

salty vegetable dish of bittermelon, calabasa squash,
tomatoes, garlic, onions, eggplant, green beans,
okra, pork and shrimp paste (alamang)
pork blood stew of pork, frozen pork blood and jalepeno peppers
Mango & Tomato “Salsa”
with shrimp paste (alamang) & onions
fried pork rinds with a
sawsawan of vinegar, chopped garlic and black pepper
Filipino eggroll filled with shrimp, ground pork,
water chestnuts, green beans, bean sprouts, and carrots

Lechon Kawali
deep fried pork belly with a liver sauce
Shrimp Chips
shrimp flavors wheat flour chips
Kare Kare
peanut butter based stew with oxtails, long beans, eggplants, tripe
Chicken Adobo
~ which I made and brought to the party ~
(this was not pictured because it was eaten up before I had a chance to take a pic!)

Familiarity Brings Us Home

My husband grew up in the Philippines and moved to the United States when he was about 7 years old. Despite having lived a majority of his life in the US, he keeps his culture and heritage very close. Tonight’s dinner was one that brought him back to his childhood days in the Philippines, as “tocilog” filled our bellies.

Tocino is a cured meat product native to the Philippines. It is usually made out of pork and is similar to ham and bacon. It’s often reddish in color and has a sweet taste. Tocino is often eaten with rice and a fried egg. This meal is often called Tosilog” or “tocino, sinangag at itlog, which literally means tocino, fried rice and egg.

I cheated and used a tocino seasoning packet for my pork, and despite the easy way out, it as pretty good. Next time I’ll attempt to do it from scratch.

Jolly for Jollibee!

Jollibee is a fast food restuarant chain based in the Philippines and also has locations in the United States (California), Hong Kong, Vietnam, Indonesia, Dubai and Brunei. Jollibee is also the name of Jollibee’s mascot, a large bee in a blazer, shirt and chef’s hat. It is an American style fast-food restaurant with Filipino-influenced dishes. It specializes in chicken, burgers, and spaghetti.

I haven’t had Jollibee since I was in the Philippines a few years ago… such fond memories! And since there isn’t a Jollibee anywhere close to Chicago, I had to take advantage of having my fix while in Daly City! Here’s what we had for dinner:

Palabok Fiesta ~ a meal of pancit palabok, which is rice noodles
smothered with a thick, golden shrimp sauce or other flavored sauce,
and topped with shrimp, ground pork, green onions and egg. Chicken Joy ~ a fried chicken meal served
with steamed jasmine rice and gravy.

Pretty Pancit Palabok

In light of my asian cooking trend, I made Pancit Palabok for dinner. Its a favorite Filipino rice noodle dish of ours that I made with the help of some help of palabok sauce packets.

Pancit Palabok is also known as Pancit Luglug and are essentially the same dish, with the difference being primarily in the type of the sauce used. Both types of pancit use a round rice noodle smothered with a thick, golden shrimp sauce or other flavored sauce, and topped with:
– Shrimp, (the size and shell-on or shell-off depending on preference)
– Crushed or ground pork rind (chicharron) for toppings
– Hard-boiled egg (sliced into disc or quartered lengthwise or chopped)
– Freshly minced green onion

Palabok is a communal comfort food, and can be found at nearly all Filipino potluck parties. They are best made and eaten in batches for they are easily consumed.

Here is my recipe for a simplified Pancit Palabok:1 package pancit luglug noodles

1 pancit palabok sauce packet
water as directed on sauce packet
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, sliced
1 lb roasted pork, diced
1/2 lb frozen seafood mix (includes shrimp, mussels, calamari, crab, scallops)
2 stalks green onion, sliced
1/2 cup chicharon
hard boiled eggs, sliced
lime wedges

Cook the pancit luglug noodles in boiling water until softened.

Drain noodles and set aside.
In a pan, heat oil and add garlic & onions.
When softened, add pork and seafood mix.
Cook thoroughly.
Add sauce packet & water as directed on package.
Let pan come to a boil and add noodles.
To serve, top with sliced green onion, chicharon, egg and lime.