Category Archives: Filipino Recipe

On Cooking: I Can Do That!

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For a couple of weeks last December, I had to take an unplanned trip to Manila.  My children were still in school, so I went by myself. Thanks to Apple’s Face Time, I was always in the loop.

The first night I was away, I got a detailed account of the children’s first morning without me:  At 6AM, a full hour before they usually wake up, they went to the kitchen and started cooking scrambled eggs.  My 7-year old was already plating his dish when my husband discovered what he was doing.  I was told that my daughter, 5, had her bowl of beaten eggs, and was waiting patiently for her turn to use the frying pan.  I heard that they were both beaming with pride!

After I calmed down from the initial shock of the children firing up the stove (it was electric), I thought about how thrilled they must have been of accomplishing a task without an adult. They were hungry, they wanted eggs, and so they cooked eggs. The excitement in their voices, when they told me about their accomplishment, told me that they were just as proud of themselves as I was of them.

They made a statement: They are independent.

I quickly thought about why they would think that they would be successful in cooking– they are comfortable working in the kitchen, and they know the safety rules.  I think that they attempted to cook on their own because they know they can.

Encouragement and support do play a huge role in fostering independence.  They are my proof!

Their cooking repertoire has expanded to include French Toast, and a bit more since then.  On weekends now, my two children take turns making breakfast.  My son would alternate between French Toast and Champorado (see earlier post for recipe) and my daughter would make pancake.

As long as the enthusiasm to cook is there, I will keep on encouraging them.  I would hate for this to turn into a ningas cogon (aka an interest that starts with great intensity, but fades quickly).  Sadly, a trait that Filipinos are known to possess.

French Toast

8 slices of any dense bread (challah or brioche works best)

1 cup milk

½ cup condensed milk

3 eggs

pinch of cinnamon(optional)

butter or cooking spray

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients except of the bread. Dip each slice of bread long enough to absorb the custard, but not too long that the bread becomes soggy.  Put on a well-buttered pan and cook on medium heat until golden brown.  Flip to cook the other side.

Serve warm with topping of cottage cheese, fresh fruits, and maple syrup.

What is Adobo?

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Adobo is a Filipino dish of which every Filipino family has a recipe. The basic recipe calls for cooking meat or vegetable in soy, vinegar, garlic, and pepper.  The way I cook my  adobo is a cross between how my Papa cooked it and how my father-in-law prepared his.

I love adobo for its versatility.  Leftovers are used for adobo rice, omelet, or as filling in bread dough.  My kids simply love the salty-sour-aioli taste. They eat adobo either with sauce, or dry and crispy.

In Manila where I grew up, we always ate adobo with boiled monggo (mung beans).  My children are not huge monggo fans, so I serve radish, their favorite, as a side dish instead.  They have no problem consuming a whole platter of brown rice with this combination.

Now the new tradition in my household is crispy adobo with labanos (radish) doused with vinegar and a pinch of salt.  Tomatoes, chopped cilantro, and salted egg is also an alternative side dish.


4 pcs of chicken breast

1 cup cane vinegar

1/2 cup light soy

1/4 cup water

3 heads garlic crushed

2 bay leaves

ground pepper

oil and 2 cloves of garlic for sauteing

Combine all ingredients in a pot. Simmer until the chicken breast is fully cooked, about 20 minutes.  Remove the chicken breast and save the adobo sauce.  Using 2 forks, flake the meat.  In a different pan, put oil and brown chopped garlic with chicken flakes.  Put the pan in a broiler oven to make the meat dry and crispy.  Serve the the adobo dry with sauce on the side.


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One of the things that my children may not experience while living in the United States is seeing and hearing a street hawker peddle his wares.  I think the closest street hawking experience that they will encounter is with an ice cream truck playing toddler music in a neighborhood park.

My room in the house I grew up in Manila fronts a relatively quiet street. I hear everything that passes by from buyers of old newspapers and bottles calling out dyaryo, bote, to a man on a bike offering to sharpen knives hollering has-a, to young and old entrepreneurs selling balut (duck eggs) and taho (sweet tofu).  My all time favorite is taho.

The dialogue between the peddler and customer is quite unique.   The peddler walking down the street shouts in a deep baritone voice,  taho-o-o-o-o.  The prospective customer who is indoors shouts back at a slightly higher pitch, taho-o-o-o-o.  The last syllable is a bit higher in pitch almost sounding like a question. At this time, the peddler tries to look for the person who just echoed what he said. If the peddler can’t see who is trying to get his attention, he will stop and repeat his call. The customer then repeats his response while trying to run out in the open to establish eye contact.  It is a very interesting process to say the least!  My children had lots of questions when I tried to explain the whole process of buying taho in the street.

I can’t have my taho from our suki in Melchor Street, but I can get a whole tub for $1.89 in an Asian grocery store. I can also make my own taho from soymilk nuked in the microwave for about 7 minutes (depending on the amount).  It will have a custard consistency which I am not a fan of that’s why I seldom do it.  If your Asian store does not carry taho, then nuking soymilk is your best bet.

I like my taho warm with lots and lots of sago (tapioca balls) and just a hint of simple syrup made with brown sugar.  I make my own sago, so I make it chewy and not so sweet.  Both my children can’t get enough of this.  We usually have it for snack when we get home from school, but we have eaten it for breakfast too.

Homemade Taho (Sweet Tofu)

Measure a cup of soymilk and put in a deep bowl or a tall glass.  During the heating process, the soymilk may overflow so choose a deep bowl.  Microwave for 5 minutes and check consistency.  If still runny, continue to cook checking every minute. Cooked taho would be about 1/2 cup.

Sago (Tapioca Balls)

In a pot of briskly boiling water (approx 6 cups), add  2 cups tapioca balls.  Reduce heat to medium and cook for 2 1/2 hours.  Add brown sugar and cook for another 30 minutes.  I only use 1/2 cup of brown sugar but you can add more.

Cooking with Chocolate

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Everyone who knows my family well knows that my son’s favorite breakfast is champorado.  It is made with sweet sticky rice, water, and chocolate.  Everything is boiled together until porridge consistency.  Depending on the kind of chocolate used, sugar can be omitted or added.

I can’t remember when I first cooked it for my son, but I am sure he had it even before I allowed him to eat sweets.  I would let him eat as many bowls of champorado as he wants, and yet I would not allow him to eat a single chocolate bar.  It does not make sense, I know.  I was convinced then, that by allowing him to eat champorado, I was helping him create a memory of enjoying a Filipino dish that would last him a lifetime.

If we were in Manila, we would eat champorado with crispy dried fish–tuyo, danggit, or sap-sap (my favorite).  The contrast of the saltiness of the fish compliments the sweetness of the chocolate meal.  Although I could find a variety of dried fish in the local oriental store, I have yet to try one processed in California.  Instead, I use another complimentary side dish–Bacon!   I broil applewood smoked bacon to a crisp.  It offers that same balance in taste as the salty fish (obviously, with more cholesterol).

I have used Antonio Pueo’s tablea and Bohol Bee Farm tablea.  Good friends who know that champorado is a favorite of ours have brought tablea from Palawan and Davao as pasalubong (thanks, Raquel).  But if in a bind, I use plain and simple chocolate chips (Ghirardelli, Hershey’s, Trader Joe’s).  They work just as well.


1 cup sweet sticky rice

4-5 cups of water

2-3 pcs of tablea or 6 oz of chocolate chips (dark or regular)

In a pot, bring everything to a boil.  Stir regularly to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot.  Once rice is cooked (approximately 20 minutes), turn off heat.  Because of the glutinous rice, the mixture will become very thick (malapot) after it cools.  Mixing a little bit of milk will help with the sticky consistency. Condensed milk is perfect to be used if tablea is the chocolate preference.  Otherwise, use regular or non-fat milk.

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