Cold Chocolate and Coffee Rice Pudding (Champorado) and a Cookbook Giveaway

chocolate on top
Breaking up the chocolate bar was easy. Before unwrapping, I just broke it apart with my fingers. No mess!

You might think me crazy for craving rice pudding in the middle of summer. But this past week or two, we’ve had a deluge of thunderstorms here in northern Virginia.

And we all know there’s nothing more comforting than curling up on the couch with a rich, creamy bowl of rice pudding as you listen to the pitter patter of raindrops and spy the occasional flash of lightning above the rooftops. Especially when it’s chocolate rice pudding!

Now rice pudding recipes are as common as golden poppies carpeting a California hillside, but I was delighted to find Marvin Gapultos’s Filipino champorado (Chocolate and Coffee Rice Pudding) in his new cookbook, “The Adobo Road Cookbook–A Filipino Food Journey–From Food Blog, To Food Truck, And Beyond” (Tuttle Books, May 2013). If you didn’t know already, Marvin is the voice behind the very entertaining  Burnt Lumpia blog. And if you haven’t visited his blog, you should!

Marvin's new cookbook is an exciting treasure trove of both classic and modern Filipino recipes.
Marvin’s new cookbook is an exciting treasure trove of both classic and modern Filipino recipes.

More mocha than chocolate since it contains coffee, this rice pudding uses a particular type of rice called “malagkit,” the Tagalog name for long grain glutinous rice. My last encounter with malagkit was when I was making suman with Gloria for my cookbook.

While I was making the champorado, I imagined Gloria standing next to me in the kitchen reminding me to constantly stir the rice. “C’mon, Pat, keep stirring.” I have to admit, without Gloria at my side, I was a delinquent student and only picked up the spoon maybe once every 10 to 15 minutes. Thankfully, the rice didn’t burn and meld to the bottom of the pot (well, at least very little did!).

You are probably thinking, “I’m not going to make rice pudding in summer.” Oh, but you should.

I don’t have a problem eating hot foods in summer–I grew up eating steaming noodles and hot dessert soups in 100 degree F weather. However, as Marvin mentions, you can refrigerate the rice pudding for a few hours and eat it cold. And when the rice pudding gets cold and thickens up a little, you can do fancy things with it.

Et voilà!

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Cold rice pudding is a nice change from same ole same ole mousse or panacotta. Add some fresh summer berries and you have dessert for your next dinner party.

Aside from giving you Marvin’s awesome champorado recipe, I’m also giving you a chance to win Marvin’s cookbook. Tuttle Books has generously donated 3 copies of “The Adobo Road Cookbook” so please leave me a comment telling me how you like your rice pudding and any special touches you add. Or just say, “hi!” 

The giveaway ends Friday, July 26, 2013. (Sorry, we can only mail the book to U.S. addresses.)

~~~

Chocolate and Coffee Rice Pudding (Champorado)

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Marvin writes in his book that Filipinos eat champorado for breakfast, and accompanied with dried salted fish. Being the modern Pinoy that he is, Marvin adds his own twist to with bacon. I, on the other hand, chose to eat it plain. Sorry, Marvin, couldn’t do it! Know that this recipe is so simple and so adaptable. If you prefer to eat rice pudding for an afternoon snack or dessert after dinner, then use decaf coffee. Or leave it out entirely (substitute with water) if you’d like to feed it to your kids. If you don’t have malagkit, use Japanese sweet rice (short grain glutinous rice) or any short grain rice like Japanese sushi rice. Even Arborio will do. You can also vary the type of chocolate. I used a bar of bittersweet chocolate instead of semisweet chocolate chips.

Makes: 4 to 6 servings
Prep: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes

3/4 cup (150 grams) malagkit
3 cups (750 ml) milk
1 cup (250 ml) strongly brewed coffee
1/3 cup (75 grams) sugar
Pinch of salt
1 (6 ounce) bar bittersweet chocolate, crushed, or 1/3 cup (250 grams) semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons coffee liqueur (optional)

Combine the rice, milk, coffee, sugar, and salt in a large saucepan over high heat. While stirring frequently, bring everything to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until the rice is tender and the mixture thickens, 30 to 40 minutes. (Be the better cook and stir more often than I did!).

Remove the rice mixture from the heat. Add the chocolate and stir until they are melted and thoroughly incorporated into the rice. Stir in the coffee liqueur if using.

Spoon the pudding into individual bowls and serve warm. Or cover and chill till cold and serve with fresh berries.

Notes: If you’d like to garnish your rice pudding with bacon, cook a couple of slices till crisp, in a pan or in the oven (my preferred method—no splatter). Crumble and sprinkle over your champorado.

Don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win one of three copies of “The Adobo Road Cookbook!”

~~~

Full disclosure: I tested recipes for Marvin and my lovely quote also appears on the cover of his cookbook. Plus, I received a free copy. However, I am writing this post because I think it’s a great cookbook and you should buy it!

Rolling with Lola

“I’ll be making suman for my grandchildren tomorrow and I’ll save some ingredients to show you next week when you come,” Gloria Santos’s cheerful voice came through with a gentle lilt over the phone. Suman (sweet rice cakes rolled in banana leaves) are Gloria’s specialty, beloved by her grandchildren and her friends at her weekly prayer meetings.

Showing me into her tidy kitchen, Gloria went straight to business. She quickly set me to task, “You’ll help me stir the rice, ok?”

As Gloria wiped and snipped banana leaves down to size, I stood in front of the stove stirring the rice and coconut mixture, no skill required. Every once in awhile Gloria would peer over my shoulder and examine the rice mixture to see if it was done.

 

Once the rice attained the right texture, it was time to start rolling.

 

Gloria laid out a banana leaf parallel to her body, scooped a tablespoon of mixture onto the leaf and her dexterous fingers started rolling. In the blink of an eye the rice was neatly bundled in the banana leaf and she was on to the next one. “So easy, no?” After years of experience I’m sure it is, but my inexperienced fingers were not as nimble. Many torn leaves and misshapen bundles later, we were done. It was easy to tell my suman apart from Gloria’s. 

 

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Can you tell which suman are mine?

 

Gloria was born in 1923 in the Manila suburb of Mandaluyong, and her youthful countenance and feisty spirit belie her several decades on this earth.

Growing up in the Philippines in the 1930s, Gloria never cooked–nor did any housework for that matter–at home. Like many middle class families of the time, maids did most of the work. “I just looked at what my grandma was doing. I didn’t know anything.”

During World War II, things changed drastically. Gone were the hired help and Gloria, aged 16, was the one doing the cooking. With wartime rationing, food was hard to come by. She remembers congee (rice porridge) being on the menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And it wasn’t always made with rice. “Rice was very expensive and we used any substitute we could find. We even used corn and ground it.”

This was also when, out of necessity, Gloria learned how to make her signature sweet. “I made suman and sold it to people because of the hardship.”

Soon after the war, Gloria graduated from college with a degree in education, met her husband, Benjamin, and got married. She started teaching at the age of 22, and between her growing family and her budding career, she had no time to cook. “I would give the maid money to go marketing and when I came home from work, the food was ready.”

In 1968, Gloria and her husband, with their three teenage children in tow, moved to the U.S. to escape civil unrest in the Philippines. Here, she had to juggle a job outside the home–first devising patient menus at the University of Washington Medical Center, and then teaching English as Second Language (ESL) to newly arrived Asian immigrant students in public schools–and feeding her husband and three children. Fortunately for her, it wasn’t too difficult to recall the cuisine she grew up with. “I asked my friends how to cook this and that, and I remembered from watching my grandma. I put the two together and I knew what to do.” Of course, Gloria is now a pro at cooking traditional Filipino dishes like adobo, kare kare and chicken tinola.

To this day, Gloria still cooks family feasts at Thanksgiving and Christmas. She spends a week cooking and preparing enough food to feed close to 40 people. Although she acknowledges it’s a lot of work, she’s unwilling to leave the important task to anyone else. “If other people bring the food, they’ll be late and we’ll all be hungry!”

Gloria also loves to bake, and has amassed an entire store room of cake pans and decorating tools in her Kirkland, WA home. In fact, she’s been busy baking from the day her first grandson, BJ, was born. “For 34 years, I made cakes for BJ. I made him Mickey Mouse, and many others.” She has baked a cake for every one of her five grandchildren’s birthdays, and now she intends to continue that tradition with her great-grand-daughter. She never strays from her favorite recipe: mocha chiffon cake with butter cream icing “If I change the recipe, people are not happy.”

Sadly, none of her children or grandchildren are interested in baking or learning how to cook Filipino dishes. “They only want to eat!” Gloria declares with a sigh. “Lola (grandmother), lola, I want to eat!” they always say when they visit, usually demanding dishes like pork chops and hamburgers. She likes to tease them. “I ask them, ‘You want some tongue (beef or pork tongue is considered a Filipino delicacy)?'” she says, with a playful glint in her eye. Their response? “‘Eew,’ they say.”

Gloria’s Sweet Rice Rolls Wrapped in Banana Leaves (Suman Sa Gata)

Suman refers to any cake that’s wrapped in banana or coconut leaves, whether made from rice, grain, or root. The ingredients are few and the method simple, but it is one of the oldest and most popular Filipino snacks. In Gloria Santos’s version, the banana leaves imbue a sweet, tropical fragrance and flavor to the coconut-soaked glutinous rice, or malagkit as it is called in Tagalog. Wrapping suman is a skill in itself and takes years of practice as Gloria can attest to–she’s been making them for decades. Today, her family and friends always look forward to unwrapping these neatly-bound bundles and biting into the moist mound of sweet goodness lying within. Don’t be discouraged if yours take a while to perfect.

Time: 2 hours (1 hour active)
Makes: 30 rolls

2 cups white glutinous rice
One and one-half 13.5-ounce cans coconut milk (2 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 banana leaves, fresh or frozen

Rinse rice 3 to 4 times until water runs clear. Drain.

In a 14-inch wok or 4-quart heavy bottomed pot, combine rice with remaining ingredients except banana leaves. Bring to a boil over high heat and reduce to medium. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring constantly especially during the last 15 minutes of cooking. You don’t want rice to stick to the bottom of the pan and scorch. Reduce heat if rice mixture starts to burn at any point.

After about 20 minutes, expect the oil from the coconut milk to separate from rice mixture and coat wok with a thin film. The rice mixture will pull away easily from the sides of the pan. When done, rice mixture is shiny, almost dry and very sticky, like risotto. Let cool in the wok.

Wipe away any white residue on leaves with a damp cloth. Remove spine and trim to 4- by 7-inch rectangles with the longer edge going along the grain.

Place a banana leaf rectangle on a dry work surface with the smooth, matt side up (the shiny side has faint ridges) and longer edge parallel to your body. Drop 1 1/2 tablespoons of rice mixture in the middle of the leaf. Mold rice into a mound about 4- by 1 1/2-inches. Take the leaf edge closest to you and fold it over rice. Using both sets of fingers, tuck leaf edge under the rice and roll to enclose filling completely. Roll as tightly as possible into a compact cylinder. With the seam-side down, smooth your fingers across the cylinder to gently flatten and fold both ends under to form a snug packet. Place seam-side down directly in a steamer basket. Repeat until rice mixture is finished, layering packets neatly in a single layer and one on top of the other if necessary.

Set up your steamer.

Fill steamer bottom with a generous amount of water, about 2 to 3 inches, and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-high.

Place basket with rice rolls above. Cover and steam over medium-high heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour. You should see steam escaping from underneath the lid.

Cook’s tip: As steam circulates underneath the lid, water will condense and collect around the circumference of the basket. Drape a kitchen towel over the basket before covering with lid to prevent water from dripping onto the food.

Halfway through the cooking process, reduce heat to low and carefully take a peek at the water level and replenish, if necessary, with boiling water. Raise heat back to medium-high.

When done, turn off heat and wait for steam to subside before lifting lid. Lift it away from you to prevent condensation from dripping onto rice rolls or scalding yourself.

Carefully remove steamer basket and cool on a rack before removing rice rolls.

Cook’s note:

Banana leaves are available frozen in 1-pound packages (and sometimes fresh) at Asian or Latin markets. Partially thaw frozen packages first before prying the leaves open. Using a pair of scissors, remove what you need and refreeze the unused portion. Always remove dark brown edges and the tough spine. Before using, rinse under hot running water or dip into boiling water for 20 to 30 seconds to soften and make pliable.

Instead of folding the ends under, you can also tie the ends with kitchen twine or banana leaf threads torn along the grain to make a “sweet.”

The rice rolls keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. Do not refrigerate or they will harden.

You can find rice labeled “malagkit” at Asian markets, or substitute with mochi rice (Japanese sweet rice) if in a pinch.

Grandma says:
If the banana leaf tears while you’re rolling the packet, place another layer on the inside to “patch” the hole.

How meatloaf saved the day

hungry_hobbit, a.k.a. my husband, has been lamenting that all we’ve been having at home is Asian food (now c’mon, would you complain?). Well, with all the recipe testing that’s been going on, it’s not like I can help it.  

Then it came time to try Leah Tolosa’s Filipino-style meatloaf recipe, embutido.

hungry_hobbit stopped asking me what’s for dinner months ago but I volunteered the evening’s menu anyway. “Honey, we’re having meatloaf, but with a Filipino twist.” 

Ding! His eyes lit up! 

That evening, hungry_hobbit dined with a smile. The next day, he brought embutido to work for lunch and he ate it again for dinner! 

Thank you, Leah, your meatloaf saved the day!

Filipino-style meatloaf (Embutido)

I read online somewhere that embutido is traditionally wrapped with the skin of pig’s intestines. Does anyone have any input?

All I can say is that I’m thankful modern-day versions like Leah Tolosa’s are wrapped with aluminum foil. Embutido can also be served as a “cold cut.” Lightly pan-fry slices or deep-fry the whole log then slice. However, you choose to serve it, it’s delicious dipped in banana ketchup or Thai sweet chili sauce.

Time: 1 hour 30 minutes (30 minutes active)
Makes: 4 to 6 servings

2 slices white bread, cut into cubes (2 cups)
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped (3/4 cup)
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated (1/2 cup)
1/2 small red bell pepper, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 1/2 pounds ground meat of choice (chicken, turkey, pork, veal or beef) (2 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup sweet relish
1/2 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3 hard boiled eggs, each halved

Three (12- by 12-inch) square sheets of aluminum foil

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, soak bread cubes in milk until soft, about 5 minutes.  Mix in beaten eggs.

In an 8-inch skillet, heat oil over medium heat until hot. Add garlic and onion and cook 2 to 3 minutes, until onions are soft and translucent. Add carrots and bell pepper. Cook another 1 to 2 minutes until heated through. Cool veggie mixture slightly, about 5 minutes.

Add veggie mixture to bread mixture in the bowl followed by remaining ingredients except hard boiled eggs. Mix well.

To assemble embutido, lay a sheet of aluminum foil on the counter. Scoop one third of the meat mixture (about 2 cups) onto the center of foil. Shape into a 9- by 5-inch rectangle.

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Lay 2 egg halves, cut-side down, on top of meat mound.

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Lifting the 2 longer sides of foil, shape meat mixture into a log around the eggs and hide them in the center.

Wrap completely with foil, rolling back and forth into a tightly packed log about 2- to 3-inches in diameter. Secure by twisting ends shut. Repeat with remaining meat mixture and eggs to form 2 more logs.

Place wrapped logs on a baking sheet or pan and bake for 1 hour.

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Cool embudito completely before serving. To serve, unwrap aluminum foil and cut embutido into half-inch-thick slices. Arrange at an angle on the platter to show off hard-boiled egg in the center.

Adobo ahoy!

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Every Filipino family has their own adobo recipe. Lucky for the rest of us with none to claim as our own, these recipes are not a fiercely guarded secret. Just ask any Pinoy cook and they’ll be more than happy to share.

This recipe comes from Olivia Dyhouse (through her sister Juana Stewart), although I did sneak in a few more cloves of garlic. But that’s how it is with adobo: you can improvise and experiment to get just the right balance of flavors–especially sour to salt–that dances to the right tune on your tongue.

Here are some variations on adobo I’ve picked up from my research:
-Some cooks add coconut milk, either right at the beginning in the pot, or at the end when the cooking is done.
-For a thicker adobo, try mashing chicken liver to add to the mixture.
-I found a soy sauce-less recipe in “More Family Favorites” a community cookbook compiled by Lakeside Christian Church in Chicago in the early 1970s. Turns out that soy sauce is a later modification thanks to Chinese influence on Filipino cuisine. Traditionalists insist that adobo be seasoned with salt. Aunty Neneng only adds about a tablespoon of soy sauce to her adobo. “Just for color,” she explains.
-This same cookbook revealed a very interesting variation: Chicken Adobo a la Monta. It calls for adding 1/2 cup pineapple cubes, 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes and 1 tablespoon butter to the mix.
-Garlic-lovers will surely love this. Before pan-frying the chicken pieces (see recipe below), sauté more smashed garlic cloves in the oil first. Add one finely sliced medium onion and cook until soft. Set aside and add the sautéed garlic and onions to the finished dish.

Many Filipino cooks swear by Datu Puti brand vinegars–cane, palm or coconut–which are readily available at any Asian food store. Even if you can’t find it, never fear! Any distilled white vinegar and even apple cider vinegar (we all know apples and pork go super together!) work well. Or experiment with more non-traditional French sherry or Japanese rice vinegars for an adobo with your name on it.

Please drop me a comment if you have a special adobo story or recipe to share!

Chicken Adobo

You could call adobo the Philippines’ unofficial national dish, yet it’s more often eaten in homes than in restaurants. There are many types of adobo–chicken (traditionally the legs are used but you can use breast too), pork (loin, spare ribs), beef (stew beef chuck), and liver, too. The frying adds a crispy finish to the meat but you can skip this step if you are ravenous … or just lazy! Adobo keeps well and is one of those dishes that taste better the next day.

Time: 1 hr 15 minutes
Makes: 8 servings 

8 whole chicken legs (about 4 pounds), cut into drumstick and thigh sections
1-1/2 cups distilled white vinegar
1 cup water
6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 bay leaves
1/2 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, crushed  
3/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons oil
2 stalks green onions, cut into “O”s for garnish (about 1/2 cup, optional)

In a large (6 quart) nonreactive pot or Dutch oven, combine all ingredients except soy sauce and oil and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

Add soy sauce and stir to coat chicken evenly. Simmer, covered, another 20 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Transfer chicken to a plate, shaking off as much excess liquid as possible. Pat pieces dry with paper towels.

Raise heat to medium-high and boil sauce until reduced to about 1 cup, about 10 to 15 minutes. Let sauce cool. Remove bay leaves and skim fat from surface.

In a large (10-inch) skillet, heat oil over high heat until hot but just before smoking. Sauté chicken in 4 to 5 batches, turning pieces halfway, until browned evenly on both sides, about 5 minutes.

Transfer chicken to a rimmed platter, pour sauce over. Serve hot with sauce-drizzled rice.

Top 10 leftover turkey tips

Once thanksgiving has come and gone, and the food coma has dissipated (hopefully!), one is faced with the next big thing–leftovers.

Who doesn’t love turkey leftovers? I do! But having overdosed on one too many turkey sandwiches and turkey tetrazzinis, I’m looking for a turkey leftover makeover. My solution? Reincarnate the turkey in Asian-style dishes.

Just like grandmas and mothers everywhere are experts at improv in the kitchen, let your creativity run (turkey) wild. Hint: you can use leftover turkey in just about any recipe that calls for chicken bits.

Here’s my top 10.

10. Turkey stock

Place the turkey carcass in a big stockpot, cover with enough water, add some herbs and spices–I pop in a few smashed cloves of garlic, diced onions, a few ginger slices, peppercorns, and two to three stalks of green onions tied in a knot– and voila!

9. Turkey macaroni soup

One of my favorite comfort foods! Add shredded turkey, sausage slices (ballpark sausages will do) and a cup or two of frozen veggies to the stock above, and boil some elbows of macaroni . To serve, top with squares of Spam (you can fry them up first if you’d like), fried shallots and green onion ‘O’s. 

8. Turkey lumpia

Shredded or chopped turkey tastes yummy rolled into a lumpia or egg roll with all the usual accoutrements. Dip in plum sauce … mmm … turkey and plum sauce … mmm … Try this recipe from food blog Pinoy Cook.

7. (Curried) turkey salad

Ever heard of Coronation chicken? Well, neither had I before I lived in England. It’s basically precooked chicken mixed with mayonnaise, curry powder, nuts and apricots/or raisins, and served between two slices of white bread (duh, it’s a sandwich!) or on a bed of lettuce. I know it sounds funky, but it tastes really good. Have a go at a turkey version by improvising on the original recipe or trying this Allrecipes.com one.

6. Turkey with nutmegged kecap manis gravy 

This is a gravy my mum makes for Indonesian steak (basically the meat’s marinated in kecap manis or Indonesian sweet soy sauce) but I bet it tastes great with roast turkey too! 

Fry 1 finely minced shallot and two cloves of garlic, minced, in a couple of tablespoons of butter until golden brown and fragrant. Add about a quart of turkey stock (#10), 1 to 2 tablespoons of tomato paste (my mum uses tomato ketchup) and 1/4 cup kecap manis, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and add 1/4 cup milk. Stir and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (or to taste), and salt and white pepper to taste. Drizzle gravy over turkey slices and rice.

5. Turkey stir-fry with vegetables

Add bite size pieces of turkey to almost cooked stir-fried veggies. Give everything a good stir and serve.

4. Turkey sticky rice casserole

Pork is usually the staple in this popular Chinese dish but why not use turkey bits instead? Throw the turkey, lap cheong (Chinese sausage), water chestnuts, shrimp and sticky rice into a rice cooker and it’ll be ready in no time! Or if you are a stickler for tradition, cook it in a claypot.  Try this recipe from Epicurious.com.

3. Turkey Tom Ka Kai

Instead of chicken, add turkey (toward the end of cooking time though) to this yummy Thai sour soup made with coconut milk, galangal, kaffir lime leaves and  lemon grass. Replace the chicken stock with turkey stock (#10) too. This recipe was given to me by Rin Nedtra, owner of Sea Siam Thai Restaurant in Miami, FL.

2. Turkey noodle soup

Here’s that indispensable turkey stock (#10) again! Boil your favorite noodles–egg, rice, or mung bean–and serve in seasoned stock. Top with turkey slices and your choice of vegetables–I recommend bok choy.

And now for my #1 way with turkey leftovers … drumroll please …

10.Turkey congee

Using the turkey stock (#10), making turkey congee is as easy as 1-2-3 and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Light and filling, it’s the perfect antidote to the previous day’s gluttony.

Combine strained stock and rice in a stockpot (about 8 cups of stock to 1 cup of uncooked rice.) Bring to a boil and stir. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until consistency of oatmeal, about 1-3/4 hours. Stir frequently during last 1/2 hour of cooking, adding water if necessary. Season with salt or soy sauce. Ladle into individual bowls and serve topped with shredded turkey, and your choice of green onion ‘O’s, chopped cilantro and chung choy (preserved turnip.) 

Drop me a comment if you have any other un-Thanksgiving leftover recipes to share!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Pancit Parade

Fellow food blogger Marvin of Burnt Lumpia lamented that I made no mention of Filipino noodles in my article Oodles of Noodles. So I dedicate this blog post to him–Marvin, this one’s for you!

Now, no two Filipino families make pancit the same. In fact, there are several different types of pancit: pancit miki, pancit Malabon, pancit luglug, pancit sotanghon, etc. In the Filipino vernacular, pancit simply refers to noodles. 

And for fear of a Pinoy uprising, I’d like to clarify that I’m not saying this is the definitive way to make pancit. This recipe below is actually an amalgamation of two recipes, one from Aunty Neneng, and another from my friend Tisa Escobar’s mother.

Here are some other variations/tips on cooking this popular dish:

  • Instead of using both vermicelli and egg noodles, either or is fine too.
  • Boil the chicken first and then shred it, adding the cooked chicken in at the end. The stock can be used as below.
  • Instead of pre-cooking the noodles, after the meat and veggies have browned, add chicken stock followed by the uncooked noodles and cook them right in the wok.

  • Use any combination of meat or seafood you like: everything from shrimp to lap cheong (Chinese sausage).

  • Same goes for the vegetables–bean sprouts, long beans, snow peas, etc., all work well in pancit.

  • If using fresh egg noodles, blanching in boiling water and draining removes most of the salt and excess oil.

  • Not everyone uses toyomansi (see below) which is soy sauce combined with calamansi (also spelled kalamansi), a citrus fruit native to the Philippines. Read Marvin’s ode to the fruit here. You can use plain soy sauce and/or oyster sauce.

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If you have some pancit tips, please drop me a comment!

Hybridized Pancit 

Time: 35 minutes
Makes: 6-8 servings

8 oz dried vermicelli (rice noodles) (1/2 package)

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8 oz pancit canton noodles (you can also use Chinese egg noodles)

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2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I like canola)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped finely (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 pound chicken breast or thigh, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup toyomansi (if you don’t have toyomansi, use 1/2 cup soy sauce and squeeze in 1 to 2 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice to taste)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 head small cabbage, shredded (about 4 cups)
2 large carrots, peeled and shredded (about 1-1/2-2 cups)
2 stalks celery, trimmed and chopped
2 stalks green onions, cut into ‘O’s (optional for garnish)

Soak rice noodles in warm water for 10-15 minutes until soft, then cut into 4-inch lengths. Place the egg noodles in a large heat-proof bowl. Pour boiling water to cover. Let stand 1 minute. Drain and set aside.

In a wok or large skillet, stir fry garlic and onions in oil until fragrant and onions are translucent, about 2 minutes, over medium-high heat. Add chicken and fry until no longer pink. Add toyomansi and soy sauce. Toss to coat chicken. Add vegetables and stir fry until cabbage wilts. 

Add noodles and keep stir frying until well coated and heated through. I know it looks very unprofessional but I recommend using the two-handed method to evenly toss the noodles like below.

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Add water or stock a few tablespoons at a time if noodles are looking too dry. Test rice noodles for doneness. Scatter green onions for garnish and serve.

Universal Fried Chicken–A Recipe for Filipino Fried Chicken

I’m convinced. Fried chicken is universal.

In the U.S., we’re most familiar with Southern-style fried chicken–thanks (or perhap, no thanks) to ubiquitous fast food chain KFC–but Southerners weren’t the first people in the world to fry their chickens. Just about every country has their version of fried chicken: Vietnam has ga chien (marinated with fish sauce of course) while Italy has pollo fritto. And then there’s the tongue tickling Indonesian fried chicken*s*–yes, there’re two different types–my mum made when I was growing up. One was ayam goreng kalasan (sweet chicken) made with coconut water, palm sugar, bay leaves, and galangal among other herbs and spices; while the other, ayam goreng kuning (yellow chicken), is seasoned with lemongrass, ginger, and turmeric which gives it its ochre hue. Both chicken dishes have to be braised together with the herbs and spices first before deep frying.

Lucky Seattleites can savor my mum’s signature fried chicken at Julia’s Indonesian Kitchen. Others will just have to wait until I blog about her recipe :).

Or you could try this very tasty and oh-so-simple fried chicken recipe christened Chicken Joy! (exclamation point included). I asked Aunty Neneng, who gave me this recipe, why it’s called as such. She couldn’t tell me but once my teeth sank into the crisped skin of a freshly fried drumstick and I chewed on the moist flesh beneath, I knew the answer. The smile on my face must have spoken of pure joy. (An aside: as a child I used to love chicken wings, I especially enjoyed gnawing on wingtips till they lost their flavor but drumsticks have since overtaken as my favorite chicken part.)

Aunty Neneng is Filipino (and not really my aunt, see here for explanation) and I was a wee bit surprised that she offered up this fried chicken recipe which I thought very “American.” When she was showing me how to make it, I was hoping at every step that she would “Asianize” the recipe, perhaps with some chilies or tamarind juice. No such luck.

Then it came to me. Considering the Philippines was under U.S. rule (1889-1935) and then dominated by heavy U.S. military presence (the last military base closed in 1992) for almost a century, it’s not surprising that fried chicken is common. And like the advent of Chinese-American restaurants (though much tastier and more authentic I’d hope), it’s inevitable that Asian home cooking in the U.S. evolved to include dishes from the adopted homeland or fusion dishes amalgamating both near and far. In a similar vein, many former colonies have embraced offbeat hybrids into their culinary vernacular–Filipino spaghetti and my mum’s spam Mac and Cheese come to mind.

Besides, the recipe differs from traditional Southern fried recipes in that it doesn’t use milk or buttermilk, and the chicken is mixed in with the flour as opposed to dredged in it. And instead of the usual biscuits, coleslaw, or mashed potatoes with gravy, Chicken Joy! is more often than not, eaten with rice. Tell me if I’m hanging on by a thread here …

Regardless of where it originates or how it’s made, we can all agree on one thing–that fried chicken should be eaten with the fingers.

If you have a cross-pollinated home cooked dish to share, do drop me a comment!

Chicken Joy!

 

Aunty Neneng says her Chicken Joy! is a favorite at children’s parties and fiestas to celebrate the days dedicated to patron saints. But this scrumptious crispy on the outside, succulent on the inside fried chicken (also known as yummy yummy chicken to Aunty Neneng’s grandkids) is perfect anytime you’d like a bite of comfort food. Frying always makes a mess and isn’t the healthiest of cooking methods, so if you don’t feel like dealing with kitchen splattering, artery clogging oil for one day, you can always bake the chicken in the oven at 375F for about 45 minutes. It doesn’t turn out as juicy but still tastes pretty good. Tip: younger chickens, broilers, fryers, and game hens are best for frying.

Makes: 6 servings

3-1/2 to 4 pounds of chicken pieces: drumsticks, wings, breasts, thighs, etc.

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt, divided

1 teaspoon black pepper

Juice from 2 small lemons, (about 1/4 cup)

2 eggs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3 cups (or more) of canola oil for frying

Wash chicken pieces.

In a large bowl, combine chicken, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper and lemon juice. Mix well. Set aside and marinate for at least 30 minutes up to an hour.

After 30 minutes, crack eggs into bowl. Add flour and 1 teaspoon salt and mix until chicken is well coated.

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Heat oil in a wok or heavy skillet over high heat until temperature reaches 375F. Reduce heat to medium. Use tongs or cooking chopsticks to lower chicken into the fat, one piece at a time.

Chicken should be completely immersed in oil and do not crowd the pan.

Fry chicken until golden brown and tender, turning the pieces, if necessary, so they brown evenly, about 10 to 15 minutes. When done, drain on paper towels. Use a slotted spoon or a wire mesh strainer to remove any debris from the oil then continue frying the rest of the chicken.

Serve hot with banana ketchup or Thai sweet chili sauce. Mmm…