Paksiw na Bisugo

Paksiw na Bisugo or Stewed Threadfin Bream in Vinegar is a favorite dish of mine. Unfortunately, this type of fish is not available here in my neck of the woods. In my 20 plus years of living in the Northeast I have yet to find this in any marketplace. So every time I go back to visit family in Manila, my mom never fails to make me this dish. This is a very simple rustic dish that also brings to memory lazy Saturday brunch with family eating longganisa and paksiw; that is our favorite paring mind you.

This was the one she prepared last September on my last visit. My mom said it is best to use a non-reactive pan when cooking food with vinegar or acid. That is why she prefers using a ceramic pot when making paksiw.

This is how my mom prepares it. Arrange about 4-5 pieces of bisugo on the bottom of your pot. Then add a thumb size piece of ginger sliced into slivers and a couple of pieces of siling haba or finger chili. To it add just enough water to cover the fish and about 1/4 – 1/2 cup cane vinegar. Season with 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt. Cover and cook over medium heat. Once it starts to boil uncover and let simmer for about 5 minutes without stirring. This will prevent your dish from having the raw taste of vinegar or being too sour when it’s done.

Then add one piece of Asian eggplant sliced then cover and cook until fish is done or for about 5-8 minutes more.

Paksiw taste better when eaten the day after. You can serve it room temperature or hot. I love to eat this with garlic fried rice and with a dipping sauce of patis (fish sauce).

Salmon Lumpiang Shanghai

Since the time we quarantined ourselves and stayed indoors as what our governor has told us to do more than a week ago. I had to make adjustments to how I prepare our meals. Having limited supply of fresh or frozen meat, I sometimes have to resort to using canned meat or seafood products. This recipe was born out of necessity.

I remember making Tuna Lumping Shanghai four years ago using canned albacore tuna. So I thought to myself canned salmon would probably work for this recipe too. I neither have green onions or carrots in the fridge so I really had to make do with what I have.

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To make, get a pan and heat about 2 tbsp. vegetable oil. Saute one small onion minced until translucent. Then add 2 small cans of boneless skinless Atlantic Salmon in water that has been drained. Break apart and cook until warmed through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. I added a handful of baby spinach that has been chopped for texture and color since I didn’t have any green onion or fresh herbs I can add. Allow the mixture to cool. Then wrap mixture in a spring roll wrapper. Deep or shallow fry until golden brown.

Serve with sweet chili sauce on the side.

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Okoy (Mung Bean Sprouts and Shrimp Fritters)

In my parents hometown of Navotas, Okoy is considered an afternoon snack. These are sold during the mid afternoon hours along with others treats like, Valencia (Turon goes by this name in Navotas), Maruya (banana fritter) etc. I remember older family members would eat Okoy with cold rice and a dipping sauce made up of vinegar, garlic and ground black pepper.

When I was growing up we would sometimes have this for breakfast during the weekends. This is one of my favorite dish of all time. Whenever I would come back home to Manila for a visit, this is my top most requested dish from my family.

I have tried dozen of times to make this for my own family here in the Northeast without much success. It will either fall apart during frying or become too soggy and not crisp as it’s supposed to. Thanks to this video I finally found the perfect recipe. Her technique or method is also similar to how I remember my Ninang Aveling and Lola would make it. The reason maybe because of the fact she  is from Malabon, the town next to Navotas which shares a culinary tradition and history.

To make, wash and drain very well a bag of mung bean sprouts. Cut one medium sized white onion into thin slices, and separate the rings or segments. If you have access to fresh small/baby shrimps, wash and trim it’s pointy ends or whiskers. You need not remove it’s shells when you are using baby shrimps. For this recipe I used dried pink shrimps as a substitute.

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For the batter mix the following ingredients in a bowl: 1 cup all purpose flour, 1 heaping teaspoon cornstarch, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 a tsp. ground black pepper. I just added annatto powder for color, this is totally optional since my aunt or Lola do not use this in their recipe. Slowly add about 1 cup water.  Batter should be thick but pourable.

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Take a small non stick pan and add about 1/4 -1/2 cup neutral oil and heat.

To make, get a small plate or saucer and sprinkle some sprouts until it just covers it. Next add some onion strips or slices then add a few pieces of shrimps on top. Then get a small ladle or big spoon and pour your batter until it just covers your vegetables and shrimp. I used about 3 small ladles of batter.

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Then quickly slide your fritter into the hot oil. It should slide easily if you added the right amount of batter. Cook until brown and crisp on both sides. Serve immediately with a dipping sauce of vinegar, crushed garlic and ground black pepper.

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Miso Glazed Broiled Salmon Head

Fish heads are considered a delicacy are are eaten by most people in Asian countries. Unlike North America and Europe where clean and boneless filets are the preferred choice. Most fish heads are just thrown and are considered scraps. I have never seen fish heads sold in American groceries.

Asians however don’t let anything go to waste and learn to use all parts of the fish. In the Philippines, we always serve fish whole and very rarely have I seen fillets. So I learned to appreciate to eat seafood this way.

Salmon heads are particularly meaty and tasty. Filipinos love to cook it in soups specially sinigang which is a sour kind of soup.

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This time I chose to broil it which is an easy and convenient when you are pressed for time.

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To make, rinse and pat dry your fish heads with paper towels and place in a foil lined baking sheet. In a bowl combine 1 Tbsp. miso, 2 Tbsp. mirin, 2 Tbsp. cooking sake, 1 tsp. soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. of organic brown sugar. Generously spread this mixture on both sides of the salmon head. Broil on high for about 15 minutes in total, flipping or turning once or twice. Cook until it’s nicely browned and caramelized on top. Serve with a squeeze of lemon.

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Oven Broiled Butterfish

We love fried fish, what stops me from making it is the smell and the spatters it leaves my kitchen. What I do when we have the craving is use the fry service our local 99 Ranch.

Recently I discovered oven broiling is the perfect solution to my dilemma. You can achieve the taste and texture of fried fish without all the hassle.

Turn on your oven broiler to high. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels your butterfish (I had it cleaned and gutted at my local Asian store). Then score both sides of the fish. Lightly coat with canola oil before seasoning with kosher salt. Line your baking tray with heavy duty foil. Lay your fish on pan and place under broiler. Cook until brown and crisp on both sides. Note: I flipped and turned it occasionally during cooking to achieve the crisp texture I want.

I served it with rice and a side of kale salad and kimchi.

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Broiled Pompano

This is one of the easiest seafood recipe that you can make and with only three ingredients required. You will need a whole pompano, that has been thoroughly rinsed and patted dry with paper towels, salt and canola oil.

First, lay your fish in a cutting board and score it at a bias to create a checkerboard or crisscross pattern. Repeat on the other side.

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Turn on your oven broiler on high.

Place your pompano in a baking sheet covered with foil and coat both sides of your fish with 2 tbsp of canola oil. Next liberally season it with salt.

Place your fish under the broiler and cook until brown and crisp. Carefully watch your fish while cooking to prevent scorching or burning. You may need to turn your fish more than once to make sure it’s cooked evenly.

Serve immediately with a dipping sauce of lemon and soy sauce.

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Shrimp Tempura Taco

This was an accidental recipe. I was really set on making grilled shrimp taco for dinner tonight but dropped the bowl of marinated shrimp as I was about to grill it. I cannot salvage those shrimps since it was covered with ceramic shards from the broken bowl. I don’t have time to prepare a different kind of meal so I quickly thought of a good substitute for my grilled shrimp. I then remembered the frozen shrimp tempura I have in the freezer. I got this from Costco and it does not take long to cook. You just put in the oven for a few minutes until golden brown. However, I discovered that using your toaster oven for this purpose works just as well.

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To assemble you will need the following. Tortillas, thinly sliced red cabbage washed and drained, diced tomatoes seeded, avocado slices and cilantro.

Warm your tacos quickly in the microwave for a few seconds. Then take a tortilla and place some shredded cabbage on it. Add your shrimp tempura, diced tomatoes, avocado slices and cilantro. How much you add really depends on you. Drizzle with some sriracha mayo before serving.

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Spanish Sardine Rice Bowl

There are days when you just want food that reminds you of home. Sardines is one of them. Canned sardines is a staple in the Philippines proven by the numerous brands/varieties available. It practically takes up a whole aisle in the grocery store. It’s convenient and doesn’t cost much hence its popularity. It’s also an economical way of feeding a family specially when sautéed in garlic, onions and tomatoes. I associate canned sardines as an emergency food when there are power outages during typhoon season in Manila. Our family always have a couple of cans in the pantry for this purpose. Sardines doesn’t need cooking and you can eat it straight out of a can. That is why sometimes I get a craving for it during rainy days.

This Spanish sardines is the bottled kind in olive oil. There is really no cooking involved in making this dish. Just a matter of putting everything together.

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First, scoop some rice onto a bowl, add some thinly sliced lemons, layer with some avocado before finally topping with some Spanish Sardines. To take it up another notch, I heated a couple of tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a pan, then added a squeeze of half a lemon and a sprinkling of chili pepper flakes. I then used this mixture to drizzle on top of my sardines before serving.

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Seafood Doria

This dish is best described as a rice casserole topped with béchamel sauce and cheese then browned under a broiler. Story goes that this dish was invented by an Italian living in France. But wherever it originated it became widely popular in Japan. It is considered Yashoku or what you call modern Japanese cuisine or western influenced Japanese cooking.

I used this recipe to make this dish, the only difference I made is using frozen seafood mix instead of just plain shrimps.

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You can bake it in individual serving dishes or a casserole pan.

Salmon Baked in Foil Packets

This is one easy and fool proof way of cooking salmon fillets. Clean up is a breeze too since there are no pans to scour or scrub.

Pre-heat your oven to 400F.

Take a heavy duty foil and place some lemon slices in the middle, then place your salmon fillet on top. Season fish with salt and pepper and then add 2 tbsp of butter on it. Sprinkle generously with chopped dill, I added a lot since I love dill. Then pull the sides of the foil together and do a double fold to seal all edges. Repeat with all remaining pieces of your salmon fillet. Place your packets in a baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes. Note: you can add vegetables like asparagus, green beans, snap peas etc to the side of your fillet before sealing it.

To serve, Gently remove salmon from packets (remember steam can burn) and place on top of quinoa salad. I just mixed arugula, sliced persian cucumber, avocado and 1/2 cup cooked quinoa tossed with 1 tbsp. each olive oil and lemon juice.

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