Dads Cook Good Food

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Archive for the tag “Filipino food”

Antonio’s Arroz Caldo

arroz caldo

Named after Daddy Robert’s son, this chicken rice porridge is a combination of simple ingredients: spring chicken, ginger, garlic, onions, safflower, salt and pepper. My idea was to keep the ingredients basic and all-natural and avoiding the addition of chicken bouillon or fish sauce.

Arroz caldo (literally hot rice) or lugaw (in Tagalog) is a well-known Filipino dish that serves as a complete meal, a merienda (snack), or as soup. It is a comfort food for Filipinos, usually during cold or rainy weather. It is an elixir for those who are feeling under the weather. Its preparation and ingredients are akin to the Chinese congee and other rice porridge dishes in Asia.

Antonio’s Arroz Caldo

1 whole young chicken (spring chicken)
½ cup medium grain sticky rice and ½ cup Milagrosa rice
4 cloves of garlic, chopped and minced
1 thumb sized ginger, cut into strips
4 hardboiled eggs
1 onion head, finely chopped
1 tbsp. safflower (Kasubha)
1 scalion, cut diagonally
Lemon wedges
Salt (kosher)
1 tbsp. ground pepper
3 tbsp. canola oil
6-8 cups of water

1. After washing the chicken, chop the chicken into appropriate serving portions.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium size pot over medium heat. Sauté garlic and ginger until light brown. Add chicken pieces and stir to allow the chicken to absorb the garlic and ginger. Add salt and pepper. Cook until chicken is golden brown.

3. Add rice and mix with the chicken and herbs until rice is well coated.

rice soup
4. Deglaze pan by adding water slowly. Once deglazed, add the rest of the water until chicken is covered.

5. Stir occasionally to prevent rice from sticking on the pot and until you get a smooth consistency. Do this for about 40 minutes.

6. Add kasubha for colour and flavour then add scallions and cook for 5 minutes.

7. Finally, add hardboiled egg. Serve with toasted garlic, lemon wedges, fish sauce and sprinkle with more scallions if desired. Enjoy!

*The secret to delicious arroz caldo is deglazing and good chicken stock. As mentioned earlier, I tried to maintain all-natural ingredients (salt, pepper and herbs) without having to add chicken bouillon or fish sauce. You can make the chicken stock in advance but for this one, deglazing the pot then slow cooking the porridge allows the flavours of the chicken and herbs to blend and gives the porridge a delicious taste.


Musings about Chicken Binakol and Ilonggo food

Namit gid (It’s really delicious!) was the first thought that came to mind when I saw the photograph of Chicken Binakol (Chicken Stewed in Coconut Water) from the recipe book, Kulinarya. I’ve cooked most of their soup-based dish but never dared chicken binakol. I was threatened by the thought of cooking it (not because it rhymes with palakol-Filipino word for ax! Lol 😀 ) and that it entails ingredients, such as young coconut, that may be difficult to find in temperate Canada. Also, having only worked and lived in Iloilo for ten months as a Jesuit volunteer (Jesuit Volunteers Philippines or JVP), my only attempt to break into Ilonggo cuisine was cooking batchoy out of memory (see previous article on Chicken Teriyaki). You see, I was a bit spoiled by the Jesuits of Iloilo,  because, unlike my co-volunteers, I had the privilege of having a cook prepare my meals. In fact, every meal turned out to be a culinary treat because I lived with Jesuit priests coming from Germany, the United States, China, Bohol and Bacolod so I also ate what they ate. 😀

Similarly, thanks to my Ilonggo colleagues, students and co-volunteers who brought me to places where food was delicious and affordable. I still pine for the lemon-grass flavoured chicken inasal (grilled chicken with lemon-grass and spices) with sinamak (spiced vinegar) of Joe’s Chicken Inato and Tatoy’s. And I distinctly remember the taste of seafood at Breakthrough or the afternoon snack of batchoy at Ted’s Oldtimer’s, which caused my blood pressure to shoot up. I recall enjoying the soft, tasty cheesebread of Tibiao’s with the barrio folk of Barrio Obrero. Finally, I remember munching some crunchy biscocho from Wewin’s or chewy butterscotch brownies from Biscocho Haus after having the best take-out pancit from Roberto’s on my birthday. Wow! All that gastronomic memories and excuses for not cooking chicken binakol!

But I digress. I thought that the best way to overcome my craving for Ilonggo food (and yes, fear!) for cooking chicken binakol is to try cooking it. Thanks to a nearby Asian supermarket, I found most of the ingredients I needed. And the best part of preparing binakol was, after 1 ½ hours, we all had a delicious and warm meal after a busy day at work! Namit gid!

*Iloilo, for your information, is one of the bigger island provinces of the Visayas group of islands in the Philippines.

CHICKEN BINAKOL (Chicken Stewed in Coconut Water)
1 500 gm. chicken breast, bone in
1 bunch of spinach
1 ½ cups of chicken broth*
¼ teaspoon peppercorns
¼ cup fish sauce (Patis)
2 stems of spring onions, chopped
1 knob of ginger, sliced
2 stems of lemon grass, bulbs crushed
1 can of young coconut, sliced
2 cups of coconut water


        1. Prepare all ingredients.

          2. Pre-heat a pot over MEDIUM heat then add oil and sauté garlic, onion, ginger, and lemon grass.

          3. When the onion starts to glaze (or turns translucent), add the chicken breast and peppercorn. Toss and mix the sautéed herbs and spices on the chicken for about 3 minutes then add the fish sauce. Let it stand for about 3 minutes until the chicken’s skin turns a bit brown.

          4. Add the chicken broth then the coconut juice to the sautéed chicken.

          4. Cover and let the soup boil for about 30 minutes (or until the chicken meat is cooked).  Remove the excess fat and scum that rises to the surface** to ensure a clear soup+.  Reduce to LOW heat to allow the broth to simmer.

          5. Remove the cooked chicken breast quickly from the pot and carve the chicken into bite-size strips.

          6. Return the chicken strips to the pot and add the young coconut strips. Bring the broth to a boil and finally, add the spinach leaves and spring onions.

          7. Serve* and enjoy! This recipe is good for 4-6 servings.

+Kulinarya suggests cooling the soup and refrigerating until the excess fat from the chicken forms on the surface.

**I used Knorr Chicken Bouillon for this one so be mindful when adding fish sauce to avoid having a salty soup. However, for a tastier soup, you can use chicken broth made from boiling chicken bones, salt and pepper.

*If you have time and extra money, you can serve the soup on a young coconut nut 🙂 . In North America, some Asian supermarkets sell young coconuts for a reasonable price.

I Want Pinoy Fried Chicken…FAST!

Last week, I was caught in a dilemma as to how I can cook a quick meal within an hour without compromising its quality and taste. I was already more stressed by the thought that I had a telephone conference in an hour and finding myself with no choice but to cook frozen chicken fast! The tap’s hot water was not enough to thaw the chicken so I can move on to the next step: marinating the chicken.

Then it dawned on me that I can speed up both thawing and marinating in just one easy step! I thought of boiling the chicken in herbs and spices before frying it! Fellow dad/cook, Robert, mentioned that boiling chicken in buttermilk will make it tender and tasty. And so, in 50 minutes, I had the fried chicken ready for my two kids while I had time to prepare for my teleconference. Kain na (Let’s eat!)!


1 pack of chicken thighs ( about 6 pieces of frozen or thawed chicken)
Warm tap water enough to cover the chicken
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp. Kikkoman soy sauce
Vegetable oil and/or olive oil

1. Wash chicken thighs and slit the center with a knife*.
2. Place chicken thighs in a pot filled with warm water. Add salt, pepper and garlic to taste.
3. Set the stove on high and boil the chicken for 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is half cooked.
4. Remove the scum from the broth and continue boiling for 5 minutes.
5. Once the broth is clear, remove the chicken pieces immediately and place these on a shallow dish. You can keep the broth for later use.

6. Pour 2 tbsp of Kikkoman soy sauce on the cooked chicken and rub the sauce for about 10 minutes. This will ensure that the flavor will be absorbed by the chicken. Be careful not to scald your hands!

7. On a separate deep fryer or large skillet, pour the vegetable oil and set stove on medium high.

8. Deep fry the half-cooked chicken in vegetable oil until golden brown for about 10-15 minutes. The water in the half-cooked chicken will somehow temper the heat cooking the meat evenly. You can add the garlic from the broth for extra taste.

9. Serve the fried chicken with steamed rice, buttered vegetables, mayonnaise
or ketchup. Enjoy!

*My wife told me that this speeds up the cooking process.
+ Incidentally, one may add lemon/ calamansi or vinegar to the marinade. I chose not to do this because my kids wanted to keep the seasoning limited to soy sauce, salt and pepper.

I Miss Quekiam!

Quekiam (or kikiam) is a dish made from ground pork and shrimp wrapped in bean curd sheets.

It’s actually Chinese in origin adopted into Philippine cuisine. It’s delicious and has a unique

taste. Quekiam can be served as an appetizer, a viand or pansahog (an ingredient or garnish to other recipes).

I miss quekiam! My mom used to ask me to go to an esquinita (alley) where a quekiam

house was located to buy a few of rolls of quekiam. I remember that all I did was to sniff the

smell of this delicious, warm and freshly cooked rolls while walking back home. I don’t recall eating it with rice,

but my mom always adds it to the pancit (noodle) recipes that she used to make.

The recipe I am sharing in this blog makes about seven rolls. You can store unserved rolls after steaming,  just

by freezing them in sealed bags then thaw and fry them later if you wish. The most popular dipping sauce for quekiam

is sweet and sour sauce, but you may also use any dip you wish. So here’s to quekiam! Enjoy!


2 lbs. ground pork

1 lb small shrimp, chopped

1 carrot, peeled and chopped

3 pcs. scallions, chopped

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp white sugar

1 tbsp Chinese five spice

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 pack taupe (bean curd sheet)


1. Soak taupe for about 30 minutes to soften

2. In a big mixing bowl, combine all ingredients (except taupe of course)

3. Mix with 2 hands thoroughly.

4. Lay a sheet of taupe and put 3 big spoons of the mixture.

5. Roll and set aside.

6. Steam the rolls for about 25 minutes. (I prefer to use a bamboo steamer for this one.)

7. Let cool for 30 minutes.

8. At this point, you can freeze and store the quekiam in sealed bags  or fry them in oil until golden brown before serving.

Presentation matters so don’t forget to slice quekiam nicely. 😀

Pancit Palabok: My Favorite Comfort Noodle Food

Pancit or pansit is the term for noodles in Filipino cuisine. Noodles were introduced into the Philippines by the Chinese and have since been adopted into local cuisine. The term pancit is derived from the Hokkien pian i sit which means “something conveniently cooked fast.” Source: Wikipedia.

The pancit palabok has become my favorite comfort noodle food because it’s easy to prepare (thank God for the Mama Sita mix) and I like everything that’s in it. The smell or shall I say aroma that’s unique to it, always reminds me of the times when my mom used to take me to the market. We would stop by the little stalls that sell food and eat merienda (light meal), and the only smell that I have always remembered was that of the palabok’s. Enjoy!


(serves 8-12)

1 bag of palabok noodles (in Filipino stores)
2 pouches Mama Sita’s palabok mix
1 lb. ground pork
1 lb small shrimp
1/2 pack ground chicharon
3 hard boiled eggs, cut in wedges
1 tbsp. minced garlic
2 tbsps. cooking oil
2 1/2 cups chicken/pork stock
1 lemon, cut in wedges
3/4 cup scallions, chopped


1. Soak noodles in water for 30 minutes.
2. Cook noodles in boiling water for 15 minutes and drain. Set aside.
3. Dissolve palabok mix in stock & set aside.
4. Drop shrimp in boiling water, drain and set aside.
5. Saute garlic then the ground pork.
6. Add the shrimp.
7. Add the mix and let simmer until liquid thickens.
8. Add noodles to the sauce and mix.
9. Put on plate and add ground chicharon.
10. Garnish with egg, lemon wedges and scallions.

A perfect dessert for your noche buena!

It’s Noche Buena tonight and you may want to consider preparing a quick and easy dessert: cassava cake! This dessert is one of the two of my favorite desserts, along with biko (glutinous rice cake cooked in coconut cream and sugar). My mom used to call it pudding. I love the top part of the cake with a little bit of burnt sugar. What makes this dessert extra special is when I prepare this for my family and friends, I top it with macapuno (sweetened young coconut).- Robert

Robert’s version of this cassava cake is the best I’ve ever tasted. Initially, my wife and I were a bit hesitant about eating cassava cake (Have you seen the indie film, “Kamoteng Kahoy?” ) but after hearing how he prepares the cake and how his family loves it, we conceded.  Incidentally, the picture below is the actual cassava cake that came from Robert’s kitchen in NY and delivered by my sister all the way to our dining table in Ontario!  -Jay

Have a hearty noche buena and Merry Christmas to everyone!

Daddy Robert’s Cassava Cake (Pudding)
2 packs grated cassava (about 2 lbs total weight)
1 can coconut milk
½ can evaporated milk
2 pieces raw egg
1 stick of butter, melted
6 tbsp cheddar cheese, grated
½ cup condensed milk
14 tbsp sugar (1 cup minus 2 tbsp for topping)

1 can coconut milk
2 tbsp sugar
½ cup condensed milk
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp cheddar cheese, grated
1 big jar of coconut string

Cooking procedure:
A. Preparing the batter
1. Combine the grated cassava, butter, condensed milk, evaporated milk, cheese, sugar, and
eggs in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly
2. Add the coconut milk in the mixing bowl where the mixed ingredients are. Mix again.
3. Grease the baking tray then pour-in the batter (ingredients that has just been mixed)
4. Pre -heat oven for 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes then put-in the baking tray with
batter and bake for 1 hour.

B. Preparing the Topping:
5. Combine the sugar and flour and put-in the heated saucepan.
6. Pour-in the condensed milk then mix thoroughly.
7. Add the cheese while stirring constantly.
8. Pour the coconut milk and stir constantly for 10 minutes.
9. Turn off heat when it becomes thick enough.

C. Setting the Cake:
1. Put coconut strings on the baked batter
2. Pour the topping over the macapuno strings and spread evenly.
3. Broil the Cassava cake, moving the pan to make sure all areas have some burn on them.

A True Pinoy Dish for the Holidays: Lechon Kawali!

If most Canadians and Americans go for turkey on Thanksgiving, Pinoys would still opt for spit roasted suckling pig.  For the Pinoy, a lechon on any special occasion makes a lot of difference.  The lechon would even have a special place at the buffet table where a server will chop the lechon to smaller pieces and serve it with liver sauce.

Interestingly, the lechon has spun off some forms or variations.   Other than lechon de leche, lechon kawali, lechon paksiw (roasted pork cooked in liver sauce and vinegar) and lechon Cebu (stuffed with lemon grass, onions, garlic, green onions and so on that gives it a distinctive, unique taste), there have been entrepreneurs which have restyled (or repackaged lechon). There’s the prichon which are finely chopped lechon wrapped in pita wedges, giving lechon, as my dad would say, a cultured look.  For those who don’t go for pork, you can indulge in lechon manok, lechon pabo and prichopabo (prichon using turkey).

But if you’re still pining for a real lechon and you’re on a tight budget, here’s an excellent alternative offered by fellow dad Tony Ducepec.  Other than being a media specialist and a web designer, Tony is also a great cook who loves to cook for his family.  He added that he’ll send us more of his kitchen-tested (and kid-tested) recipes!

Daddy Tony Ducepec’s Lechon Kawali


2 kilos of pork liempo (about 6 x 10 inches in size)

Salt and pepper to taste

Bay leaves

Enough water to cover the pork


1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for five minutes.

2. Boil liempo for 30 minutes with salt, pepper, and bay leaves.  Check if the meat is tender.

3. Once meat is tender, place the pork belly/liempo on a wire rack and baking pan.

4. Bake^ liempo for about an hour. Note that after the first 30 minutes, the temperature should be 350 degrees Fahrenheit then the last 30 minutes, the temperature should be increased to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Ensure that before increasing the heat that the pork has enough moisture. This will allow the pork’s skin to pop.

5. Serve with warm rice and Mang Tomas’ lechon sauce. Enjoy!

* To save time, you may want to boil the liempo in advance, say the night before you intend to bake it.  Then remove the broth, put it in a sealed container and store it in the refrigerator.

^Some ovens have a broil setting, which automatically sets the temperature to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Tony advised that it is best to reduce it to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ginataang Tilapia

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