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
Anthony Bourdain Filipino musings TV

Watch Bourdain Eat the Philippines on No Reservations

I know I’m probably the last Filipino food blogger to mention this, but the much-anticipated Philippines episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations is airing on the Travel Channel tonight at 10pm EST. For a preview, check out his travel itinerary.

Don’t pee here, Tony!

On his Travel Channel blog last October (on my birthday, no less!), Bourdain said this upon his arrival to the Philippines:

Of all the people who watch NO RESERVATIONS, it’s been Filipinos who have been consistently among our biggest fans and most vocal about our having yet to film in their country.

“You’ve been all over Asia,” I hear again and again, “…so WHY haven’t you come to the Philippines?!”

Well…I’m here. And the pressure is on…

All I can say is “Don’t worry. We’re NOT doing balut. Been there. Done that.” And privately think to myself, “Don’t screw this up … don’t screw this up … don’t screw this up.”

It’ll be nice to see a show that highlights Philippine cuisine without featuring balut because it’s such a cliche for “adventurous” eaters. Also, It looks like the silog segment got cut, but you can watch it here.

Even though I’m in Hawaii right now, it’s family dinner night so we’re staying in, and I’ll be in front of the TV watching. Will you?

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.

Categories
Filipino musings

Saveur Explores Christmas in Pampanga

I picked up the latest copy of Saveur mainly to drool over the cover story about filet mignon, but as I was thumbing my way to page 87, I caught a glimpse of a roasted pig on a spit and immediately stopped. As I started reading, I discovered that it was part of an article called “Days of Feasting” about the Christmas season in the Philippines, more specifically in the city of Arayat in Pampanga, an area known for their outstanding regional interpretation of Filipino food.

The author, Robyn Eckhardt of Eating Asia, stayed with the family of her friend and colleague Marc Medina during her stay in Pampanga, and she was introduced to the annual gorgefest that occurs all over the Philippines during the holidays. Eckhardt’s main connection to the cuisine was the Medina’s family cook, Lucia Mallari, who prepared most of the meals during her stay. Overall, it’s a good read and I suggest that you pick it up while it’s on newsstands since the article isn’t available online.

Four recipes accompany the article, including an Adobong Manok (chicken adobo) recipe that doesn’t include soy sauce (Mallari claims her recipe is the “real” one), Pinakbet (Philippine vegetable stew), Ulang sa Gata (prawns in coconut milk), and Ensaimada (Philippine-style brioche).

Seeing these recipes in Saveur, especially with their Tagalog names listed first, was really heartwarming because Filipino food hardly ever gets any attention from the “mainstream” culinary media. I’ve always thought that Filipino food could hold its own against other Asian cuisines and have often wondered what’s holding it back. It’s even more amazing when you consider that in America, Filipinos are one of the largest Asian populations in the country (approx. 4 million), but I’m willing to bet more people have eaten Thai food in their lifetime than Filipino food and there are only around 250,000 Thai people in the U.S.

Maybe Manny Pacquiao’s newly claimed worldwide superstardom is going spill over into food, and this Saveur story is just a happy coincidence that will ride the Pac-Man wave.

Blatant Manny Pacquiao cameoGratuitous Manny Pacquiao cameo.

Then again, Manny did eat at Nat’s Thai Food in Hollywood almost every day when he was training, which I thought was an odd aspect of his regimen, but I guess we have to give Thai food its props for helping power the Pacquiao Express.

Categories
beef Bistek Tagalog Filipino recipes

Bistek Tagalog 3.0 (Grilled Version)

Thanksgiving was at my cousin’s this year, and we both agreed we didn’t want to do turkey. I decided that I would make a big batch of Bistek Tagalog, only this time (and inspired by Marvin at Burnt Lumpia) I was going to grill it. Bistek is great as a traditional single-pan dish, but I was confident that grilling the steak would make it even better.

Grilled Bistek

Unlike previous versions of bistek I’ve made that used thinly sliced New York or sirloin steaks, I picked up some flap steak at Costco. Flap steak is very similar to skirt steak, cooks quickly, and is extremely tender. Again, you can use almost any cut of steak to make bistek, but I think that skirt, flank, or flap steaks might be the best cuts of meat for this dish.

I used the same methods as in Bistek Tagalog II (Kalamansi version). I got some more kalamansi from our family friend and ended up needing 60 of them to get almost 1.5 cups of juice. I mixed this with a cup of soy sauce (to ensure there was proportionally more juice than soy sauce) and four chopped garlic cloves to finish the marinade. The meat should be marinated for no more than an hour before putting them on the grill. (Make sure you save the marinade to make the sauce later).

Grilled BistekOn the Grill

I grilled them for about 5 minutes a side on a very hot grill and then rested the meat for 10 minutes before slicing it against the grain. The meat ended up being between medium rare and medium, which is exactly what I was looking for.

Grilled BistekSlice against the grain.

I had a bit of trouble getting the onions onto skewers, so I just put them directly on the grill. I lost a bit of onion this way, but for the most part it worked well. I’m sure you could fry up the onions in a hot, dry frying pan or grill pan if you want to maximize your onion yield. :) When you’re done cooking the onions, mix it up with the meat.

While the meat rests, take the remaining marinade and cook it down to your desired consistency to make the sauce. You might find that you don’t even need the sauce after you try the meat, but it’s always good to mix it in with your rice, too. We ended up pouring the sauce into a gravy boat so that people could just pour it on the meat if they wanted.

Of the three different bistek’s that I’ve made, this one is by far my favorite. Grilled meat always trumps pan-fried in my book, and the flap steak was also the ideal cut of meat to use for bistek. A pan-fried flap steak would also be excellent, but if you have access to a grill, by all means use it.

How did it go over at Thanksgiving? The bistek was the first platter to be finished off, and I also got several compliments on it, so it went very well. :)

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend…now it’s time to focus on Christmas dinner!

Categories
beef Bistek Tagalog Filipino recipes

Bistek Tagalog 2.0 (Kalamansi version)

We’ve been cooking a lot for my parents this week, and when my mom showed me the bags of kalamansi (Philippine musk lime) she got from her friends, the first thing I thought of making was Bistek Tagalog (Filipino Beefsteak).


Bistek Tagalog

The first time I wrote about this, I only had lemons on hand, but kalamansi is the traditional ingredient.

Kalamansi

Kalamansi are really small, and I think I used at least 30 kalamansi (I lost count) to get 1 cup of juice. The kalamansi juice is mixed with soy sauce and minced garlic and used to marinate the steak for about 30 minutes.

My mom said that the bistek she grew up with a had a strong citrus flavor, so instead of the 1:1 citrus/soy sauce mixture that I used before, I reduced the amount of soy sauce to let the kalamansi juice come to the forefront.

When my mom tried my bistek, she said it reminded her of home, which was the ultimate compliment.

Categories
bakeries bread Filipino

Toasted Pan de Sal and Peanut Butter

My parents usually have a good supply pan de sal in the house, so I’ve been getting my fill of my favorite snack, toasted pan de sal and peanut butter.


Pan de Sal and Peanut Butter

Pan de sal is a Filipino bread roll that’s normally eaten at breakfast. Its name literally mean “salt bread” but it’s generally on the sweet side. The Filipino store near my parents gets their pan de sal from Valerio’s Bakery, which is pretty well known both in SoCal and the Bay Area.

I cut the bread in half and then to toast mine to the “medium” setting on the toaster oven so that it gets nice and crusty. This ensures that the outside of the pan de sal will have some crunch when you bite into it, but the rest of the roll should be soft, fluffy, and warm.

You can use any peanut butter you want, but I lean towards creamy because I love the sheen of the peanut butter as it starts to melt when it hits the hot bread.

So how do you like your pan de sal?

Categories
barbecue dessert drinks Filipino pork reviews sandwiches Southern California

The Oinkster

The OinksterWhen I’m home in SoCal, heading out to Eagle Rock isn’t normally on the agenda, especially for food. But when some friends told me about The Oinkster’s house-cured pastrami sandwiches and ube milk shakes, Eagle Rock started sounding mighty nice.

The Oinkster is the brainchild of Andre Guerrero, a Filipino American chef who’s a veteran of the Southern California restaurant scene. His other restaurant, Max in Sherman Oaks, offers contemporary Pan-Asian fine dining that’s a stark contrast to The Oinkster’s laid-back, order-at-the-counter vibe. (We also took my parents to Max for a Mother’s/Father’s Day dinner, so basically it was an Andre Guerrero weekend.) We ended up going to Oinkster twice in four days and were able to try a good cross section of the menu.

The Oinkster Pastrami sandwich is a thing of beauty—pastrami with Gruyere and a red cabbage slaw. The pastrami is cured for two weeks (the old-fashioned way) according to a recipe Guerrero developed over a period of two years. It’s not a melt-in-your-mouth pastrami like they have at Katz’s in New York, but it’s definitely the some of best pastrami I’ve had on the West Coast.


Oinkster Pastrami

Aside from the sandwiches, the pastrami also tops the Royale burger, and it’s also featured in their excellent chili. If you’re from Southern California, you’ve likely had a chiliburger at one of the many Original Tommy’s hamburger stands that are down here. Tommy’s chili is legendary in L.A., so it may be blasphemous of me to say this, but…The Oink’s chili is so much better. In fact, I don’t know what I really saw in Tommy’s chili other than the novelty of it. I went back to Tommy’s with my wife a few months ago, and on its own, the chili reminded me of dog food. It really needs to be paired with fries or a burger. The Oink’s chili can definitely stand on it’s own, and it has a freshness that you’ll never get from Tommy’s chili.