Categories
dessert Filipino Instant Pot recipes

Mom’s Leche Flan (Instant Pot Version)

leche flan

My mom had a stroke 11 years ago and as a result, she hasn’t been able to do a lot of cooking since then, especially not something as fussy as making a leche flan. Last year (Christmas 2015), my mom said she wanted to make leche flan for Christmas. She tried to talk me through the process, but they didn’t turn out as well as she wanted, which frustrated and saddened her because making leche flan was one of her specialities.

As Christmas 2016 approached, I thought about making leche flan again, especially after seeing a sous vide version on Betty Ann Besa-Qurino’s blog. However, like many people in the last couple of years, I bought an Instant Pot on Amazon and have been fascinated with the cult-like community that has emerged. One of the first things I thought of doing when I got Instant Pot was seeing if you could pressure cook a leche flan. The answer is a definite “Yes,” and it’s so easy that making flan is no longer a chore.

I used my mom’s recipe, which I’ve modified since I originally posted it, and referred to Amy and Jacky’s Creme Caramel post at Pressure Cooker Recipes to figure out the timing. I used small ramekins to make this for Christmas, but you should be able to use any pan or mold that fits in the Instant Pot to make this.

Ingredients

7 egg yolks
1 egg
2 cups evaporated milk
1 tsp. lemon extract or lemon zest
1 cup sugar
Extra 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar to caramelize before adding the rest of the mixture

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and gently whisk (or use a hand or stand mixer on the lowest speed) to mix the custard together. To ensure the smoothness of the custard, you should strain the mixture while before pouring it into the baking dish or mold.
  2. Place extra sugar in a small pan and heat it over medium heat until the sugar melts and browns.
  3. Pour caramelized sugar into your baking pan or mold so it coats the bottom.
  4. Add custard mixture to your baking pan or mold on top of the caramelized sugar.
  5. Cover the baking pan or mold with foil and place it into Instant Pot on top of the trivet or steaming rack. I was able to fit 4 small ramekins in my 6-quart Instant Pot.
  6. Add 1 cup of water to the Instant Pot.
  7. Cook on High for 9 minutes and let it naturally release.
  8. Remove from Instant Pot and let cool on the counter. You can also refrigerate the leche flan after it reaches room temperature if you’re making this ahead of time.
  9. When you’re ready to serve, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the flan. Place a serving plate on top of the pan and invert it quickly. Be careful not to spill! When properly executed, the flan will be golden brown on top and yellowish on the bottom.
Categories
dessert Filipino street food

Puto Bumbong

Puto Bumbong is a Filipino delicacy that’s traditionally served during the Christmas season in the Philippines. It literally translates to steamed glutinous rice (puto) cooked in bamboo (bumbong), and it’s a staple at my best friend’s house, where we gather for Noche Buena at midnight on Christmas Eve. The purple color comes from the mixture of sweet rice and black rice (pirurutong), but I’ve seen recipes that call for purple food coloring, which is obviously cheating! Puto bumbong is served with butter, sugar and freshly grated coconut on top. I asked my friend’s mom if she would show me how to make puto bumbong, and she was happy to oblige.

Puto Bumbong
Dave Chappelle says “I want that purple stuff!”

Cooking puto bumbong is fairly quick but preparing the rice is a three-day process. On the first day, you take a mixture of equal parts of sweet rice and pirurutong and soak it overnight. On the second day, you take the mixture and grind it in a blender. (In the Philippines, you’d traditionally use a grinding stone of some kind.) Then the mixture is placed in a cotton sack (like a flour sack) for another day in order to drain any excess water. Since it’s generally warm at Christmastime in the Philippines, you’d simply hang the bag outside and let gravity do the work. With the colder winters here in the States, better results are obtained by putting a heavy weight on the bag to force the excess water out.

The rice mixture should be ready the next day, and it should be moist, not dry. The next step is to use your hands to mix it up and break up any clumps.

Purple Rice Mixture
Clumps are bad.

To cook the puto bumbong, you need a special steamer. This one has three holes on top so that the steam can escape and cook the puto in the bamboo. The cloth wrapped around the bamboo helps prevent burnt hands.

Puto Bumbong Steamer

Simply fill up the bamboo with the rice mixture and put it on top of the steamer. You can tell when it’s done when the rice turns dark purple and kind of shrinks into the bamboo.

Three Different Stages of Doneness
Clockwise from top: almost done, just started (light purple), and finished (dark purple).

Before you remove the puto bumbong from the bamboo, hold the top of the bamboo over the steam to finish cooking the end that was farthest away from the steam.

Finishing the Ends...
Finish off the tip.

To remove from the bamboo, hold the bamboo in your left hand…then hit the pinky side of your left hand against your right palm by the base of your thumb. The puto bumbong should plop onto plate.

Puto Bumbong with Butter
Lots of butter is very important!

To finish, slather the puto bumbong with butter and then top it with freshly grated coconut and sugar (either white or brown). In the Philippines, puto bumbong is sold by street vendors after Mass during Christmas week and is wrapped in banana leaves so customers can take it with them. Since we normally enjoy these at home, we just eat it fresh from the steamer…no banana leaves required.

Thanks to my Tita Lety for showing me how this delicious Christmas treat is made. It’s always great going to their house on Christmas Eve for Noche Buena just a few hours after finishing our own Christmas Dinner.

Categories
Filipino pork recipes sandwiches

Homemade Pork Tocino

A few weeks ago, I got this urge to make my tocino, the sweet cured pork that’s a staple Philippine breakfast meat. It’s probably most commonly served as tosilog, which is portmanteau of tocino, sinangag (garlic fried rice), and itlog (eggs). (I discuss “silogs” in my Best Breakfast Ever post from a few years ago.)

Tosilog - Cherry Garden
Tosilog — the breakfast of champions (from Cherry Garden in Fremont, CA)

My first attempt at tocino used the simple salt/sugar/achuete cure from the book Memories of Philippine Kitchens by Chef Romy Dotoran and Amy Besa of New York’s famous-but-now-closed Cendrillon. but that recipe didn’t work for me at all. The tocino ended up being way too salty, and it was almost inedible. (There’s a good chance that the recipe’s failure was my fault, so I’ll have to revisit it one of these days.)

While discussing my tocino plans with a couple other food bloggers on Twitter, Mark Manguerra of No Special Effects said that he’d always want to try Simply Anne’s tocino recipe, so I decided to give it a shot. In short, the recipe is good and with a few adjustments, the tocino was exactly what I wanted.

Pork Tocino

(adapted from Simply Anne’s.)

3 lb. boneless pork shoulder roast
1¼ cups pineapple juice
½ cup ketchup
½ cup lemon-lime soda
1/3 cup light soy sauce
2 cups brown sugar
1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

  1. Freeze pork shoulder roast for an hour or so to firm it up so that it’s easier to slice. Cut 1/4-inch slices of pork shoulder and place in a one gallon zipper-lock plastic bag.
  2. Mix the rest of the ingredients in bowl and then add to the meat. Seal the bag, doing your best to remove excess air. Let the pork cure in the refrigerator for a 4-5 days, flipping over the bag every day or so.
  3. After curing, you can either cook the meat or portion them off into smaller bags and freeze them.
  4. To cook the tocino, add a little water, marinade and a few slices of meat to a skillet. Over medium heat, let the liquid boil off and then fry the meat for a couple more minutes to caramelize it. There’s a lot of sugar in the marinade so make sure you don’t burn the meat.You can also grill the tocino, which is my ideal method, by searing both sides on a grill over high heat and then letting them finish cooking over low or indirect heat. You can replicate this method indoors using a grill pan to sear and a low oven (around 250F) to finish.
Grilled Tocino
Pan frying tocino is traditional, but I prefer it grilled.

There’s a lot of tocino in that picture, isn’t there? I’ll show you what I did with it in my next post… :)

Categories
beef Filipino recipes

Making Tapa with Dad

Ready to broil...

Tapa is Filipino cured beef that is similar to beef jerky, and when I was home last weekend, my dad was raving about the homemade tapa he started making recently. He was eager to show me how it’s done, so I pulled out my camera and followed him step by step.

  1. Dad uses three pounds of thinly sliced sirloin tip steaks that he gets at the local Mexican supermarket and cuts it into equal-sized strips with scissors.
  2. Cut into Strips
  3. Next, he marinates it for 10 hours in a basic mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and sugar.

    Tapa Marinade
    ½ cup soy sauce
    ½ cup vinegar
    6-8 garlic cloves, chopped
    1 Tbsp. sugar

  4. Marinated for around 10 hours
  5. After marinating, the meat gets layered in a food dehydrator that will run for 12 hours. A dehydrator simplifies the process of making tapa, but if you don’t have one, you can always use Alton Brown’s box fan method, which Burnt Lumpia did when he made his tapa. I don’t have a dehydrator, but I do have a box fan, so I’m going to use this method next time.
    Dehydrate for 12 hours
  6. After 12 hours, the tapa looks like this…
  7. All dried out...If Lisa Lisa saw this, she’d say it was “all dried out.”
  8. My dad is insistent on broiling the tapa for two minutes a side because I think he’s averse to frying in general, but frying the tapa in a little oil is a great way to finish it off before serving. One of the most popular ways to enjoy it is for breakfast in tapsilog (tapa, garlic fried rice (sinangag) and eggs (itlog)), which is how I like to eat it.
  9. Homemade TapsilogTapsilog with Dad’s Homemade Tapa.

Last weekend I was home attending my high school reunion, so I’m not going to be home for Father’s Day this year. When I was a kid, it was my dad’s garlic fried rice that woke me up on Sunday mornings, and when I was out on my own, trying to replicate that simple dish was one of the reasons I started cooking. My mom had a stroke five years ago, and dad has been responsible for taking care of her—cooking all the meals, making sure she’s exercising and doing her therapy, and more importantly, keeping her smiling and laughing.

So this post is for you, dad. Happy Father’s Day, and I can’t wait to hear more of your culinary secrets.

Categories
Filipino hot dog recipes

Filipino Spaghetti 2.0 (Holy Trinity Version)

After my first post on Filipino spaghetti, I was pretty satisfied with myself and didn’t really have a desire to make drastic changes to my methods. But during my appearance on Kababayan LA last week, I told host Jannelle So that I had Martin PureFoods red hot dogs in hand and was ready to make a more “authentic” version of Filipino spaghetti. Over the weekend, I dropped by Island Pacific Market in Union City and picked up two more items—a bottle of Jufran banana sauce (ketchup, really) and a blue can of Kraft Cheddar “Cheese” (or as a reader called it…”Krap Chis”)—to complete the Holy Trinity of Filipino Spaghetti.

Holy Trinity of Filipino Spaghetti :)
Categories
Filipino hot dog recipes

Filipino Spaghetti

UPDATE: Check out my Filipino Spaghetti 2.0 post for another version of this dish)

Filipinos love spaghetti…so much so that it’s a staple at fast-food restaurants in the Philippines, including American franchises like KFC and Wendy’s. The Philippines biggest fast-food chain, Jollibee, offers burgers, fried chicken and spaghetti under one roof, and lucky for me, there’s a bunch of them here in California.

Filipino spaghetti is sweeter than a traditional Italian spaghetti, usually from the addition of sugar or banana ketchup to the sauce. It’s other defining characteristic is hot dogs, which sounds weird to non-Pinoys, but it acts as a salty counterpoint to the sweet sauce. (I always knew there was a reason I was partial to Spaghetti O’s with Sliced Franks when I was a kid.)

Filipino Spaghetti

I generally freestyle my spaghetti, but I always start with a plain sauce (like canned Hunt’s or Del Monte) to use as a base since other ingredients are going to be added. A friend who makes her own excellent version of Filipino spaghetti swears by Prego. I prefer using sugar as a sweetener instead of banana ketchup since it’s something I always have on hand.

Categories
Anthony Bourdain Filipino musings TV

Bourdain Rocks the “Land of Lechon”

I called my mom about 5 minutes before No Reservations: Philippines was going to air in California, and instead of greeting me, she said, “Are you watching No Reservations?” It wasn’t airing in Hawaii, where I was on vacation, for two more hours, but I did call her to make sure she was watching.


You know Bourdain was in the real Philippines because it said BAWAL UMIHI DITO
(translation: don’t pee here) on every wall. :)

If the Pacquiao/De la Hoya fight was the Filipino equivalent of the Super Bowl, I think this block of television devoted to the cuisine of the Philippines might have been our NBA All-Star Game. Granted, 44 minutes isn’t nearly enough time to do justice to the diverse cuisine of the Philippines, but I thought the show did a good job highlighting some of the great things about the Mother Islands. Bourdain is also a self-described history nut, and he had a lot of great questions about the cultural and historical influences on the Philippines.

I’m not going to recap the whole episode, but it was nice to see Bourdain fall in love with sisig and lechon, and then later declare that the Philippines is No. 1 on his “Hierarchy of Pork” on his Travel Channel blog.

Categories
Anthony Bourdain Filipino TV

Philippines Tops Bourdain’s “Hierarchy of Pork”

As the No Reservations – Philippines episode gets set to air, Bourdain’s latest blog post boldly declares that the Philippines is No. 1 in his so-called “Hierarchy of Pork,” ahead of Bali and Puerto Rico.

In his post, Bourdain had high praise for both sisig and the lechon he had in Cebu.

What we did get right, I’m quite sure, was making sure that the amazing, porky delights of “sisig” got plenty of camera time. If you’ve never had this divine mosaic of pig parts, chopped and served sizzling and crisp on one side on a screaming hot platter, then you’ve yet to have one of the world’s best beer drinking dishes. And speaking of pig? It can now be said that of all the whole roasted pigs I’ve had all over the world, the slow-roasted lechon I had on Cebu was the best.

First Manny Pacquiao and now No. 1 on Bourdain’s Hierarchy of Pork? All we need now is for Charice to become bigger than Celine Dion, and we can start our official cultural takeover of the world.

Categories
barbecue chicken Filipino

Filipino Barbecue Skewers

One of my most enduring food memories is grubbing on skewer after skewer of Filipino Barbecue, but it wasn’t until my friend asked me to cook for her son’s 2nd birthday yesterday that I even thought of making it myself.

Filipino BBQ Chicken SkewersChicken Skewers

Filipino Barbecue is usually made with pork or chicken. and the marinade is a combination of salty, sweet and citrus components. Many recipes call for 7-Up or Sprite, which works as a sweetener and tenderizer. I found a recipe that I liked and made some adjustments and additions to come up with this marinade. I’ll probably tweak this a bit more when I make it again, but here’s what I used yesterday.

Filipino Barbecue Marinade
1 cup soy sauce
1 head garlic, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons of kalamansi juice or lemon juice
1 cup of lemon-lime soda
2 cups of tanglad (lemon grass) for whole chicken
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper.
3 tablespoons of brown or white sugar

This marinade works best with a 2-3 pounds of chicken or pork cut into cubes. If you use chicken, my preference is for thighs, but breast meat should work fine if you don’t like dark meat. It’s best to marinate the meat for only a couple hours instead of overnight, and then skewer the meat and grill it until it’s done.

Categories
bacon Filipino musings recipes

Bacon-Wrapped Lumpia with Alfie the Lumpia Queen

My homegirl Alfie has been experimenting with lumpia lately and recently started wrapping them in bacon. Yes, that’s right…bacon-wrapped lumpia. It started with turkey bacon, but Alfie was apprehensive about whether or not real smoky pork bacon would work or not. I told her to go for it since I don’t acknowledge the existence of turkey bacon (I feel the same way about turkey SPAM also).

bacon-wrapped lumpia
Yes…that’s bacon-wrapped Lumpia.

Anyway, I wish I was back in L.A. to be one of Alfie’s tasters, and the more you read about Alfie’s Lumpia Project, you’ll wish you were one too.