Jollibee Style Spaghetti

Jollibee is the number one fast-food chain in the Philippines. It is one hundred percent Filipino owned and boast of having several dozen branches all over the world. It’s menu caters to the Filipino taste where you would find rice and noodles together with chicken and burgers in their menu items.

We do have Jollibee here in the Northeast but it’s location is not really accessible to us, you either have to take the NJ transit train and subway to NY city or sit through traffic at the turnpike and hope and pray that you can get parking once you get there. We visited a Jollibee branch in SoCal twice this summer when we were there for vacation. California has I think the most number of Jollibee location outside the Philippines given the number of Filipino Immigrants living there. My family had a taste of their spaghetti and liked it since it something different from what they are used to.

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Their spaghetti is very popular among kids and one of their bestsellers. Filipino spaghetti is sweet compared to western style spaghetti and has sliced hotdogs added to it. This may be off-putting for those not used to it but I guess this is just what makes it truly Pinoy.

This is my take on the Jollibee style spaghetti. Saute a medium sized onion and when translucent add a couple of cloves of minced garlic. Add a pound of ground beef and cook till brown. You then add 3 pieces of hot dogs sliced and cook until it’s kind of crisp around the edges. Pour a small pouch of Filipino style spaghetti sauce. I used this brand since it’s the only thing available at our local Asian store.

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Then add about half a bottle of marinara sauce. Simmer for 10 minutes. Pour your meat sauce over your cooked spaghetti and top with grated cheese.

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Cassava Cake

Cassava cake is a popular snack in the Philippines. It is one of the many traditional sweets often sold in street stalls and markets. It’s main ingredient is “cassava” or what we call in Tagalog kamoteng kahoy. Cassava is made into various sweets and delicacies like suman, nilupak, minatamis to name a few.

The first time I made Cassava cake was way back in college. I wasn’t sure exactly what I did wrong but it was a disaster. That put me off making Filipino sweets and desserts.

I finally mustered the courage to make it again after I got tired of eating less than average tasting cassava cake bought from our local Filipino eatery. I have to search for the perfect recipe because what are usually posted online are either too sugar laden or too rich for me.

To make this recipe you will need two packs of grated cassava which are sold in any Asian Store.

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To this you will add, 1 can of coconut milk, 1 can of condensed milk, 3 beaten eggs, 1 cup milk (the original recipe called for evaporated milk but I did not have any on hand) and 2/3 cup sugar. It also called for a can of coconut cream but I can’t find any at our local Asian store so I omitted this. Stir everything until well combined. Pour in a well greased baking pan and bake in a 350F oven for about an hour or until set.

To make the topping, set aside 1/3 cup coconut milk. 1/3 cup condensed milk and 1/3 cup coconut cream from your original ingredient list before mixing your batter. Add 3 egg yolks to this mixture and pour on top of the cooked cassava cake. Return to oven and broil until topping is bubbly and golden brown.

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Dim Sum Bento

You can make a no fuss bento lunch in ten minutes, if you have the right ingredients available and ready. I was already thinking about what to prepare for my husband’s bento the night before since I know I will have very little time in the morning. I have an early appointment to keep and I still have to drop of one of my girls at school for her SAT review.

I was going over in my mind what I have available in the fridge that will require little to no prepping at all. There were still some leftover steamed chicken buns, all I have to do was work on what I can add to it. I suddenly remembered I just bought a pack of frozen spring onion pancake ! This was how my dim sum bento came about.

I just microwaved two mini steamed chicken buns for 20 seconds. Took the frozen spring onion pancake and cooked it an oiled non-stick pan for a few minutes. While that was cooking, boiled a pan of water to cook my edamame. When the spring onion pancake was done, I cut it into small triangles and let it cool a bit. By that time my water was already boiling so I dropped the frozen edamame and let it cook for 5 minutes. Last step was just assembling everything in my bento box.

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Asian Potato Salad

I was meaning to make Japanese potato salad but I tweaked the recipe a bit to better suit my taste. Japanese potato salad is a bit bland and does not have an acidic or tangy flavor compared to American style potato salad. It also makes use of Kewpie, a Japanese brand mayonnaise. This has a thin consistency and is not that creamy compared to western style mayonnaise. One other thing that makes it different is the addition of cucumbers and carrots in the recipe.

To make, boil your potatoes (3 medium sized ones) and carrots (2 small ones) until tender then roughly chop into cubes and set aside. Thinly slice some persian cucumbers and onions and sprinkle with salt, let it stand for a few minutes then squeeze out as much liquid from it as you can. Combine your potatoes, carrots, cucumbers and onion in a bowl. Add about 1/2 – 3/4 cup of mayonnaise (I used kraft), 2 hard boiled eggs chopped, 2 small kosher dill gherkins finely chopped (because this is what I have on hand) and salt and pepper to taste. Mix everything up until all ingredients are well combined. Traditional Japanese potato salad are a bit mushy and mashed up. I did not do this since I want my potato salad to be chunky and have more texture.

I served this as a side dish for our dinner the other night.

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Chia Onigiri

This onigiri reminds me of the “Chia pets” and “Chia heads” that was popularly sold in TV shopping channels. My husband always bring his own lunch to work. I wanted to give him something other than his usual sandwich or salad, so this bento is for him.

This bento comes with the leftover roast chicken and tofu and mushroom stir fry we got from the Chinese deli. I just added some cucumbers and strawberries as fillers. My daughter asked why I made a mad looking onigiri. I said it’s for your dad, because it would be kind of weird if I gave him a cutesy rice ball to bring to work.

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Green Tea Frappuccino

Our family loves anything Green Tea, be it ice cream, cakes, chocolates, drinks, sweets or just plain hot tea. I believe the first time I had a green tea frappuccinno was at starbucks several years back when they only offer it during the summer. Nowadays, it is something that they serve year round. I seldom get this drink from them because of the high calorie content of most of these blended drinks.

I recently found out that this is really easy to make and you can make a healthier version by using almond milk and limiting the amount of sweetener you add in it.

You first have to get really good quality matcha (green tea) powder to make this drink. I got mine at H-mart my go to Asian grocer. I’ve used this to make green tea cupcakes and it tastes really good and gives a vibrant green color.

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To make just place a cup of ice in your blender, add 1 – 1/2 cups almond milk depending on the consistency you want, 1 tablespoon of matcha powder or less depending on your taste and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Blend until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and top with whipped cream (which is optional).

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I also made a variation of this drink which is the Green Tea + Red Bean Frappuccino. This is a starbucks creation which is exclusively sold in China and the Asia Pacific.

It is green tea frappuccino topped with sweetened red beans. Sweetened red beans or azuki beans is a very popular ingredient for making desserts and treats in Asia. Green tea and red beans go very well together.

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Filipino Burger

Filipino food is beginning to gain recognition and popularity in the U.S, particularly in New York City. There are several Filipino restaurants that have been featured in magazines and newspapers here in the Northeast citing that it is the “Next Great Asian Food Trend”. Recently Jeepney restaurant in NYC won the Time Out New York’s 2014 Battle of the Burger . This is my take on this Filipino style burger.

This burger is a combination of ground beef and longganisa (Philippine sausage). For this recipe I made my own longganisa by mixing 1 lb of ground pork with 1-2 tbsp. finely minced garlic, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp, ground pepper, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1-2 tsp. paprika and a splash of white vinegar. Let this cure in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.

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Instead of layering the beef and longganisa into a patty, I decided to mix the two together. Take a pound of ground beef and combine this with your longganisa that has been curing in the fridge. Mix well and form into patties. Grill until browned on both sides to your desired doneness. To make it truly Filipino I used Pan de Sal in place of traditional burger buns and Banana sauce instead of tomato ketchup.

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To assemble spread the lower half of your Pan de Sal with banana sauce, add your cooked burger patty and top with tomato and lettuce. If I had some on hand, Kesong Puti (A kind of Philippine cheese) would be a great addition to this burger.

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Mung Bean Stew (Guinisang Monggo)

Mung or Monggo Beans is a widely used ingredient for sweet and savory dishes in Asia. In the Philippines Mung Bean stew is associated with Lent as it is commonly eaten on Fridays when religious Catholics would abstain from eating meat. However, this dish is so popular that most households make this as part of their regular meal or diet.

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This dish can be made vegetarian without adding any meat but I prefer mine with shrimps on it, pork or chicken are also favorite add ons.

To make you will need to boil 1 cup of mung beans in about 5 cups of water. Cook the the beans until soft and set aside. Saute onions, garlic and tomatoes until vegetables are softened. Add shrimps and cook until it turns pink in color. Remove the shrimps and add your cooked mung beans. Season with fish sauce or salt which ever you prefer and pepper. Let it simmer for 5 minutes (I do not like to cook this for too long as I don’t like mushy beans), add a bit of water if you think the stew is a bit dry. Return your shrimps to the pot and add a bunch of spinach. Cook just until the spinach wilts.

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Before serving you may top the dish with pork crackling bits for an extra layer of flavor, this is entirely optional.

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Adobo Onigiri

I have been making onigiri for my daughter’s bento lunches for a time now. This time around I decided to make the filled and nori wrapped onigiri. Traditional onigiri, are usually filled with umeboshi, salmon or tuna.

This onigiri is what you may call fusion food as I filled my onigiri with Adobo, a Filipino pork dish. I believe that you can be creative in making onigiri and put whatever you want or have on hand.

Onigiri is simple enough to make, you just need cooked white rice, nori sheets and your preferred filling. You can make this by hand or by using a rice mold like I did. First, dampen your rice mold with a bit of water so that the rice would not stick when you unmold it. Fill it halfway with rice and put an indent in the middle with your thumb. Place your filling and top with additional rice.

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Place the other half of the mold and apply gentle pressure. Remove cover and unmold the rice. Take half of a nori sheet and place your onigiri in the center. Wrap your onigiri by pulling the nori sheet up on both sides and folding the corners up and over it. You may dampen the nori sheet to seal and create a neat and smooth finish.

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Salted Duck Eggs

When I saw that H-mart carries fresh duck eggs in their store, I knew I had to make “Itlog na maalat” (salted duck eggs). I rarely buy pre-made made ones since I am wary of buying food products that are made in China, with the food safety violations and controversy you hear in the news lately it is wise to be cautious.

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Salted duck eggs and tomato salad are usually served as an accompaniment to fried or grilled meat/fish in the Philippines. It is available in almost any grocery store as it is a popular food item. It is also used as a topping for local delicacies like puto and bibingka (rice cakes). The Chinese on the other hand eat salted duck eggs with congee (rice porridge) and use it as a filling for mooncakes and steamed buns.

It is also great just to eat with rice, sometimes the simplest of food are the best. I would say this is one of my favorite comfort food.

To make, place 5 cups water and 1 cup salt in a saucepan and heat over medium to low heat until salt dissolves. Let the mixture cool. In a container, arrange your duck eggs and pour the brine over it. To ensure that the eggs are submerged in the liquid place a weight such as a cup or ziplock bag filled with water. Cover the container and keep in a cool dry place for 21 days.

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When 21 days are up, remove eggs from the brine and rinse with cold water. Boil the eggs for 20 minutes or until cooked, these take longer to cook than regular eggs. Keep or store in the refrigerator until use.

I served this by chopping some roma tomatoes and adding the diced salted duck eggs as an accompaniment to grilled pork chops.

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