Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pansit Canton (Stir-Fried Egg Noodles)

Pansit in any form (bihon, canton, palabok, luglug or habhab) is traditionally served during birthdays or any celebration in the Philippines. Pansit bihon is made with vermicelli noodles. Pansit palabok is made with rice noodles and served with sauce that is flavored with shrimp and smoked fish. Pansit luglug is similar to pansit palabok. It is usually served with more sauce and seafood toppings. Pansit luglug is made with miki or Shanghai style noodles and is served using banana leaf. Pansit canton is made with egg noodles.

My husband's favorite variety of pansit is pansit canton. The dish has its Chinese origins and quite resembles chow mein. -And since it is my birthday week, I'd like to share my pancit canton recipe:


  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 500 grams chicken or pork, thinly sliced
  • 2 pcs. chorizo, sliced (optional)
  • 1 cup fried tofu, cubed (optional)
  • 200 grams shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. oyster sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 head cabbage, chopped
  • 3 pcs. carrots, julienned
  • 1 cup snow pea or green beans (optional)
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 500 grams egg noodles or flour sticks
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped
  • sliced calamansi,  lemon or lime to garnish

  1. Heat oil in a pan over medium high heat. Saute garlic and onion for about 5 minutes. 
  2. Add chicken or pork. Saute until the meat turns brown.
  3. Add the chorizo and shrimp. Saute until the shrimp turns pink.
  4. Season with soy sauce, oyster sauce, salt and pepper. 
  5. Add all the vegetables except for parsley. Cook until the vegetables are still crisp about 8-10 minutes. Take the meat and vegetables out of the pan. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  6. Put in the noodles and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed stirting constantly.  
  7. Put the meat and vegetables back in to the pan and mix with the noodles.
  8. Add the parsley. 
  9. Garnish with sliced calamansi, lemon or lime. Serve hot.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Bistek Tagalog (Pan-Fried Steak)

Bistek Tagalog is a Philippine version of the western beef steak. The dish is made of pan-fried  marinated thinly-cut steak which is simmered afterwards in the soy-calamansi marinade.  The word bistek is a Tagalog slang for beef steak.  Bistek itself is a method of cooking. The meat used is not only limited to beef.  Pork is also used as well as bangus or milkfish.

I remember having bistek for lunch at school. My mom would marinate the beef or milkfish overnight. I remember getting up in the morning smelling the simmering bistek in the house. Bistek tagalog makes a good lunch at school. You can enjoy it for breakfast, lunch or dinner either hot or at room temperature. So here's my mom's Bistek Tagalog recipe:


  • 1 lb. beef sirloin, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 4 pcs. calamansi, squeezed (can be substituted with lemon or lime)
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion sliced into rings
  • 1 large potato, thinly sliced and fried for garnishing (optional)
  1. Marinate the beef in the soy sauce, calamansi and black pepper overnight. *
  2. Heat oil in a pan over medium high heat. Stir fry the onion rings. Set aside.
  3. Pan-fry the meat until brown in the same oil setting aside the marinade. Remove the meat from the pan.
  4. Pour in the marinade and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until the sauce thickens to the desired consistency. 
  5. Return the meat to the pan and simmer for 10-15 minutes. 
  6. Add the onions.
  1. Aside from beef, pork and milkfish can be used.
  2. The marinade* can also include the onion rings, but most people don't like the strong smell of raw onion.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Arroz Caldo (Chicken and Rice Porridge)

Arroz Caldo is one of the most popular comfort food in the Philippines.  It is a chicken and rice porridge flavored with ginger, garlic, onion and fish sauce. It is similar to a congee. The dish has Chinese origins but the Spaniards gave it the name arroz caldo which means hot rice. Other related dishes to arroz caldo are goto and lugaw. Goto uses tripe, gizzard and/or chicken blood instead of chicken meat  while lugaw is just plain congee.

Arroz caldo along with goto and other noodle soups are popular entrees at carenderias (local eatery where customers choose from a selection of cooked  meals from a counter, pay and bring their food to their table) and tapsilogan (breakfast places usually open whole day) in the Philippines.

I think arroz caldo's appeal goes above and beyond. I remember when I took my husband (boyfriend then) to his first arroz caldo experience in the Philippines.  It was a rainy evening and he wasn't feeling well then. I told him mothers in the Philippines usually serve rice porridge to a family member when the latter is ill.  I wasn't surprised that he loved the arroz caldo! I remember asking for more toasted garlic for our arroz caldo bowls.

Anyway, here's the arroz caldo recipe I adapted from Zamboanga City's famous Amigos y Amigas carenderia:


  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 tbsp. ginger, some chopped and some julienned
  • 1 1/2 lbs. chicken, cut into serving pieces with skin and bone in *
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2 cups sticky rice *
  • 6-8 cups water
  • Pinch of saffron
  • Hard-boiled egg (optional)
  • Toasted garlic
  • Chopped spring onion
  • Sliced calamansi or lemon
  • Chicharon or pork cracklings (optional)
  1. Heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat and saute the garlic, onion and ginger.
  2. Add the chicken and lightly sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Season with fish sauce and continue cooking until meat is lightly browned.
  3. Add the sticky rice and stir until lightly browned. Don't burn the rice grains!
  4. Pour in water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30-45 minutes stirring occasionally to prevent rice grains from sticking at the bottom of the pan.
  5. Adjust seasonings (fish sauce, salt and pepper) to taste. Add saffron.
  6. Serve in a bowl and garnish with hard-boiled egg, toasred garlic, spring onion and calamansi/lemon.
How to make toasted garlic:
  1. Heat 1/3 cup of oil in a pan over low heat.
  2. Add 1/2 cup of minced garlic. Adjust the heat making sure that the garlic is not burning. The secret here is to slowly toast the garlic in oil over low heat. 
  3. When the garlic is golden brown, drain and spread on a plate lined with paper towel to absorb excess oil.
* Variations:
  • Leftover chicken adobo can also be used in arroz caldo. 
  • For a leaner arroz caldo, use boneless and skinless chicken breast. 
  • A half and half mixture of sticky rice and regular grain rice can also be used.
  • Instead of topping the arroz caldo with hard-boiled egg, chicharon or pork cracklings can also be used for a richer taste.
  • Arroz caldo is usually served with tokwa't baboy (fried tofu and pork slices) on the side.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Leche Flan (Creme Caramel)

Leche flan or creme caramel is the queen of all desserts in the Philippines.   It is a decadent smooth custard made from eggyolk and milk and topped with soft caramel. The difference between leche flan and creme brulee is the consistency of the caramel, the latter has a toasted caramel top.

The recipe that I will share is from my Aunt Lovina, my mom's elder sister. I believe this is the recipe that was passed on from my great grandmother to my grandmother.  I think Aunt Lovina makes the best leche flan!


  • 20 pieces egg yolk
  • 2 cups condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups or 24 ounces evaporated milk
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  1. Beat the egg yolk in a mixing bowl using a hand mixer or electric beater.
  2. Mix in the condensed milk, evaporated milk and vanilla extract thoroughly. Set the mixture aside.
  3. Heat the llanera or tin or aluminum mold over low heat. Spread the sugar on the mold. When the sugar has caramelized or has turned light brown in color, remove from heat and set aside for about 5 minutes.
  4. Pour the custard mixture in the mold and cover with tin foil.
  5. Steam for about 30 minutes. Insert a knife into the middle part to check for doneness. If it comes out clean, the custard is cooked.
  6. Refrigerate before serving.
  • Coffee or rhum can be added to the caramel for a more interesting flavor.
  • Vanilla can also be substituted with lemon extract.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Morcon (Meat Roll)

Morcon is a holiday dish in the Philippines.  It is a meat roll stuffed with sausage, cheese, egg, carrots and pickles. The dish is usually served during fiesta, Christmas and New Year.

I remember when my mom used to say, "What do you want to eat? Morcon?"  This is her standard response when she sees her kids' reaction to her vegetarian dishes.  My mom is the only vegetarian in the family. The dishes that she prepared were awesome, but as a kid, you'll get tired of eating meatless dishes most of the time.

The morcon recipe that I will be sharing with you is the one I learned from my Aunt Valentina who used to just cook whatever dish she wants regardless of the occasion. I lived with her for some time when I was in college and I have fond memories of her in the kitchen.  


  • 2 lbs. flank steak or sirloin, 3/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • juice from 1 lemon or 6 pcs. calamansi
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 4 pieces sausage (beef franks)
  • 1 medium carrot, battonet cut
  • 2 pcs. pickled cucumber, quartered lengthwise
  • 3 pcs. hard boiled egg, each quartered lengthwise
  • 3 ounces cheddar cheese, battonet cut
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 6 pcs. bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp. flour, for the sauce

  1. Marinate the beef in soy sauce, lemon juice and ground pepper for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  2. Lay the beef flat on a chopping board or large plate and arrange the sausage, carrot, pickles, egg and cheese on one side. 
  3. Enclose the fillings by rolling the meat and secure with cooking string.
  4. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. 
  5. Roll the meat rolls on flour and fry until it turns brown about 2 minutes on each side. 
  6. Transfer the browned meat to a deep pan and pour in the broth, half of the marinade, vinegar, bay leaves and season with salt. Simmer until meat is tender, about 2 hours.
  7. Fry the simmered meat. Remove the strings and slice into 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick slices.
  8. To make the sauce, thicken 2 cups of the cooking liquid with 2 tbsp. of flour. Bring to a rapid boil then simmer for 5 minutes or until it thickens.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Pansit Palabok (Noodles in Shrimp, Smoked Fish and Annatto Sauce)

Pansit palabok is my favorite noodle dish in the Philippines.  I would say it is the queen of all pansit or noodle dishes. It is made of vermicelli noodles that are either boiled or soaked in hot water and topped with annatto sauce flavored with shrimp, smoked fish and other seasonings. The toppings range from shredded smoked fish, pork cracklings or chicharon, hard-boiled eggs, fried tofu and vegetables.  Just like any other noodle dish, the secret to a great pansit palabok is the sauce. I learned making the sauce from scratch from my mom.

Ingredients and Procedures:

  • 1 lb. vermicelli noodles (soaked in hot water for 15-20 minutes or until tender but not soggy) If using the thicker palabok noodles, follow instructions on package.
Shrimp broth:
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shrimp, chopped
  • 6 cups chicken broth or water used to boil shrimp for toppings
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat oil over medium high heat. Saute garlic, onion and shrimp for 5-7 minutes. 
  2. Add broth and season with salt and water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.

Palabok sauce:
  • 1/4 cup achuete or annatto seeds soaked in 1/2 cup hot water
  • 2 cups shrimp broth
  • 1/4 cup smoked fish, minced
  • 6 tbsp. all-purpose flour dissolved in 1/2 cup water
  • Juice from 6 pcs. ripe tamarind, peeled, deveined and soaked in 1/4 cup hot water
  • Fish sauce or salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine juice from soaked and drained annatto seeds with shrimp broth in a sauce pan over medium high heat. 
  2. Add smoked fish.
  3. Add flour and water mixture.
  4. Add tamarind juice and season with fish sauce/ salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for 8 minutes or until the sauce is thick.

  • smoked fish, shredded
  • 1 cup fried tofu, diced
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, each quartered
  • 1 cup pork cracklings or chicharon, pounded
  • 1 cup boiled shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 2 tbsp. toasted minced garlic
  • 1/2 head of lettuce, shredded
  • spring onion, chopped
  • calamansi or lime