Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Escabeche (Sweet and Sour Fish)

Escabeche is a dish of fried fish (usually whole) cooked in "sweet" vinegar sauce that is seasoned with onion, garlic, ginger and peppercorns. The acidity if vinegar is tamed with the addition of sugar. The taste of the sauce is similar to the sweet and tart taste of the pickling juice used for acharang papaya or pickled green papaya. Carrots and sweet peppers are usually added to the dish.  Escabeche is served with steamed rice as a main dish. It could be served for lunch and dinner.

There are several varieties of fish that can be used like tilapia, tuna, snapper, carp or mackerel. The dish requires whole, round or drawn fish. Fish steak or fish fillet can also be used. The latter requires dredging the fish meat with flour before frying.

From our recent trip to the Asian store in Orlando where we got several whole tilapia, I decided to prepare escabeche for dinner. This is how my grandma and mom prepares the dish:


  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1-2 lbs. whole tilapia (cleaned and scaled)*
  • 1 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 thumb-sized ginger, sliced
  • 1 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large carrot, julienned or cut in florets
  • 1 medium sweet onion
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • parsley (to garnish)*

  1. Heat oil in a frying pan over high heat. Fry the fish until golden brown. Set aside.
  2. In a separate saucepan,  bring vinegar to a slow boil.
  3. Add garlic, ginger, peppercorns and sugar.  Cook for 2 minutes. 
  4. Add carrots, onion and bell peppers. Stir and cook until tender.
  5. Season with salt. 
  6. Put the fried fish in the pan and simmer for 3-5 minutes.
* When using fish steak or fillet of tuna and mackerel, make sure to dredge the fish with flour first before frying it.
* Chopped scallions can also be used to garnish the dish.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Kalderetang Kambing (Chevon Stewed in Spicy Tomato and Liver Sauce)

Kalderetang Kambing is stewed goat meat in spicy tomato and liver sauce. Kaldereta or caldereta is also a method of cooking which means to stew meat in a large cauldron (caldera in Spanish) or pot.  The dish is believed to have originated from Ilocos, a province in the Northern Philippines where dishes made with goat (kalding in Ilocano dialect) meat  are widely prepared.

Goat meat or chevon, lamb, mutton and beef are popular for cooking the dish. Exotic meat such as horse and carabeef (meat from carabao or water buffalo) can also be used. The sauce is seasoned with garlic, onion, tomato and chili peppers and thickened using liver pate. Vegetables include potatoes, carrots and bell peppers.

The dish is usually served with rice as a main entree. It is also served as an accompaniment to alcohol, hence making it pulutan or finger food. It is also a popular dish for fiesta, wedding, birthday and other holiday parties.

So to make Father's Day extra special,  I prepared Kalderetang Kambing for my husband last Sunday. I marinated the goat meat overnight and parboiled it before cooking it to eliminate the odor unique to goat.

To marinate the goat meat:
  • 1 tbsp. coarse salt, to rub the meat*
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 lime, squeezed
  • 1/2 lemon, squeezed
  • 1/4 tsp. black peppercorn,  crushed
  • 1 thumb-sized portion of ginger, crushed
  • 4 cloves garlic, slightly crushed


  • 1 lb. chevon, cubed*
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 chili pepper, chopped (substitute: 1/2 tsp. red peppers flakes)
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1/3 cup liver pate
  • 2 large gold potatoes, cubed
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1 red bell peppers, sliced
  • 1 cup green olives
  • 1 tbsp. sweet pickle relish (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Rub the meat with salt.  Rinse and marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight using the marinating ingredients. 
  2. Remove meat from the marinade and parboil it until tender. Rinse the meat with cold water. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a pot over medium high heat.  Saute garlic, onion and tomato for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add the parboiled meat and cook until it is light brown. 
  5. Add tomato sauce and pepper or pepper flakes. Cook for 3 minutes.
  6. Add beef broth and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30-40 minutes.
  7. Add the liver pate, potatoes, carrots and pickle relish. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  8. Add bell peppers and olives. Simmer for 5 minutes.
*  Use a non-reactive bowl when marinating the meat.
*  Meat with bone in is preferred as the bone adds flavor to the sauce. Boneless meat will be fine, too.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Ginataang Tilapia (Tilapia in Coconut Milk)

Ginataan is a method of cooking that uses coconut milk (gata) to poach or simmer food. This method is widely used in the Philippines to cook seafood, meat, vegetables,  rice and desserts. It was popularized by the Bicolanos. The addition of ginger, garlic, onion and pepper to the coconut milk makes the sauce so flavorful.  Bagoong or fermented shrimp adds saltiness to it. Vinegar might also be added and that makes the dish called "Paksiw sa Gata." The fish is not only limited to tilapia.  Tuna and other lean or fatty fish can also be used.  The fish is sometimes wrapped using banana leaves or green leaves such as bokchoy or pechay. Spinach and moringa leaves  can also be added to the dish.

Inspired by our recent trip to Atlanta and Duluth where we shopped at the Asian store, Super H Mart; we went to an oriental market last week to get ingredients for several Filipino dishes that I am planning to cook. My husband and I having been busy raising a toddler and a new baby felt like we're eating less Pinoy food these days.

Here's the recipe for Ginataang Tilapia, which I learned from my mom:


  • 2 whole large tilapia (cleaned and scaled; tilapia fillets can be used, too)
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 1 knob ginger, sliced thinly
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  • 2 banana peppers, sliced diagonally
  • 1 tbsp. shrimp paste (optional )
  • 1 tbsp. fish sauce 
  • 3 cups coconut milk
  • 4 cups moringa leaves (or spinach or bokchoy)
  • parsley, cilantro or wansoy to garnish

  1. Heat oil in a pan over medium high heat. Saute ginger, garlic, onion and chilies.
  2. Add shrimp paste and fish sauce.
  3. Pour the coconut milk. (If using vinegar, add it at this point.) Bring to a gentle boil with the pan uncovered.
  4. Add the tilapia. Cover the pan and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes. 
  5. Add the moringa leaves and simmer for about a minute.
  6. Garnish with parsley or cilantro and serve with rice on the side.
Number of servings: 2-4