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
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.

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
beef Bistek Tagalog Filipino recipes

Bistek Tagalog

UPDATE 11/29/08:
I made a grilled version for Thanksgiving. Check it out!

UPDATE 11/2/08:
While this recipe is still good, I have a different version that I like a lot better. I’ll leave this recipe up for archival purposes, but for better results (IMO), see the newer post.

Bistek Tagalog (Filipino Beefsteak) is one of my favorite dishes, and it’s so easy to make that I’m actually disappointed in myself for not making it before. Traditionally, it’s a simple marinade of soy sauce, kalamansi juice and garlic, and you can use almost any cut of steak. Kalamansi is a musk lime that’s native to the Philippines, but I only had lemons on hand, so I used those. Next time I make this, I’ll see if I can get my hands on some kalamansi. Otherwise I’ll use the regular supermarket limes or maybe mix lime and lemon juice.


Bistek Tagalog

Many recipes I saw called for chuck, flank, skirt or sirloin steaks, but I used some thinly sliced New York steaks that I found at Safeway. I also saw some recipes that used red onions, but I’m used to either yellow or white onions in this dish. Use whatever you prefer. You can also plate this however you like. I like to mix the onions and sauce up with the rice, so that’s why they’re separate on the plate.

Categories
chicken Filipino recipes

Chicken Adobo a la Cendrillon

I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, but one thing I really wanted to do this year is cook more Filipino food. I’ve never really cooked Filipino food, aside from attempts at chicken adobo in college or simple breakfasts of eggs and garlic fried rice with whatever meat was lying around (hot dogs, corned beef, SPAM, etc.) that reminded me of waking up on Sunday mornings to my dad’s cooking. Since I left home, my main connection to Filipino food has been at family parties around Christmastime or some of the restaurants that are all over the Bay Area.


chicken adobo

Adobo is the one Filipino food aside from lumpia and pancit that most non-Filipinos have heard of or tried, and it’s considered the national dish of the Philippines. There are so many variations on adobo and every Filipino’s experience with it is so personal that it’s impossible to have a definitive recipe. Sometimes the protein changes (chicken, pork, squid), the soy/sauce vinegar ratio is a matter of personal taste, and you can either cook off most of the braising liquid (like my dad) or leave plenty of sauce to spoon onto your rice (my preference).

A couple months ago, I picked up a copy of Memories of Philippine Kitchens, an excellent and beautiful cookbook written by Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan of Cendrillon, a Filipino/Pan-Asian restaurant in New York City. While purists may be put off by Cendrillon’s fine dining and fusion pedigrees, the book is a comprehensive overview of Filipino cuisine and its diversity throughout the various regions in the Philippines.