Category Archives: Recipes

2013-04-02-06.52.53

Seared Catfish Over Spaghetti

I love pasta with the simple flavors of olive oil and garlic, which was exactly what I did for this dish. I had been craving a light seafood pasta for a while and we had an extra fillet of catfish I intended to include in one evening’s paella, but it turned out to have too many toppings already. So I set it aside for another day. I wanted to make a quick dish with the catfish and decided on laying it over a bed of pasta.

I sauteed some garlic and added Salsa Amaya (you can replace this with bits of dried fish, sardines or anchovies in oil) and tossed it with the pasta and some chopped fresh parsley. The parsley adds a zest and great color to the pasta. I set the seared catfish (salted and cooked in oil and high heat for three minutes on each side) on top of the pasta. I served it with a slice of lemon for good measure. The wife loved the creation! Being able to make these dishes at home makes it incredibly hard to commit to going out for dinner. Continue reading

Mussels in Wine and Garlic

How easy and inexpensive is this to make? I love this dish because it’s the best way to use some leftover wine. The broth it produces with the mussels is excellent for dipping a baguette. A bag of mussels in relatively cheap and when this is served in a large bowl as a communal dip-and-eat appetizer, it’s really a lot of fun.

Mussels in garlic and wine

Mussels in garlic and wine

Continue reading

Tapsilog – A Breakfast Time Machine

When I moved to New York from Manila, one of my biggest concerns was whether my then-girlfriend (now wife) ate Filipino food, or if I had to eat pancakes for the rest of my life. A Pinoy breakfast is always heavy with the protein of meat, fish and eggs, and a big helping of garlic fried rice. On occasion some pickled papaya might grace the plate, but for the most part this breakfast is everything a farmer would need to make it through the day.

I was relieved to know that she was every bit a Filipino food hound as myself. The only problem was that the closest decent Filipino restaurant was a car ride away, and we didn’t have a car. And nobody made tapsilog the way I liked it. So I had to make my own.

Tapsilog - a Filipino farmer's breakfast of beef, egg and garlic rice.

Tapsilog – a Filipino farmer’s breakfast of beef, egg and garlic rice.

Tapsilog is short for tapa (cured beef), sinangag (garlic fried rice) and itlog (egg). The suffix “silog” is added to many protein sources such as ham-silog, hotdog-silog, daing-silog (daing – marinated milkfish) and longsilog (longganisa – sausage). Technically beef tapa is supposed to be air-dried beef, but I’ve been able to achieve the same result by just marinating the beef in a mixture of soy sauce and lemon. Continue reading

Paella For Two

When I was first displaced from my homeland, I learned that the best way to relive and return to a geographically inconvenient location is by cooking its cuisine. This is how I learned to cook Filipino dishes and replicated the aromas of kitchens back home. Smell is, after all, the strongest trigger of memory. And it’s my weapon of choice for homesickness.

Homemade paella! I can never get tired of it.

Homemade paella! I can never get tired of it.

Of course, paella isn’t exactly Filipino. But, but, but if you’ve done your homework at all then you would know that paella graces many feasts in the Philippines, more festive and complex than regular mainstays like noodles and fried or roasted pork, and often too delicate to successfully make for a large party.

Mmmmmmm….

Plus you know how I love Spain. :) Let me count the ways: Continue reading

Baked Chicken And A Dog Named Vishnu

Baked whole chickens are just about the simplest thing you can make with limited time and resources and still come out with a creation that would merit the reaction “Wow!” I made it first in high school under the direction of a teacher who also taught me how to make lasagna.

Doesn’t it look amazing? So easy!

Many years later while broke and jobless in a house in Quezon City, Philippines, we gathered our resources to buy a whole jumbo chicken which I marinated and baked. We ate it for Christmas dinner and proceeded to cocktails and guitar playing. And then our dog named Vishnu quietly reached up onto the dining table and grabbed the rest of the chicken, prompting our screams as she ran out the door. Vicoy, an uncle figure in that household, chased after Vishnu and pulled the bird out of her mouth and brought it back inside. We then asked what he planned on doing with a carcass that had already been inside a dog’s mouth and on the ground. Disgusted, he threw it back out for Vishnu to feast on for her best and last Christmas. (Poor dog died the folowing year shortly after nursing her only litter.) But again, I digress.

This gravy is so simple but so rich with the flavors of rosemary, oregano and garlic.

Serving a whole roasted bird with shiny brown crispy skin could be just as rewarding as serving a labored-over lasagna. But the difference in prep time and the versability of a baked chicken is hard to beat. I hope you enjoy one of my favorite dishes to make and I hope you also get the WOW you deserve. Continue reading

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