Lumpiang Shanghai (mini meat filled spring rolls)

Lumpia is known to many as the Filipino egg roll. It is ground meat wrapped in this thin crepe like wrapper and deep fried. The preferred meat of choice for most Filipinos is ground pork, but I always make mine with either ground beef or chicken. Minced vegetables such as carrots, onions, scallions, water chestnuts are usually mixed with it in addition to spices. This dish did not originate in Shanghai as the name suggest, it was brought by Chinese immigrants from the Fujian province to the Philippines. Filipino food is heavily influenced by China as we were trading with them long before Spain occupied and colonized the country.

Lumpia is an old time favorite of mine as well as my friends’ here in the Northeast. It is one of the most requested dish every time we have a gathering.

Lumpiang shanghai makes use of spring roll wrapper and not egg roll wrapper. Egg roll wrapper is much thicker and would not yield a flaky and crunchy lumpia.
To make the meat filling you will need 1/2 lb of ground beef or chicken, 1/4 cup each of minced carrots, onions and scallions, 1 egg, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Mix everything together until well combined.

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Get a spring roll wrapper make sure the wrapper is positioned like a diamond when facing you. Place about 1 – 3/4 tbsp of the meat filling in the lower center and spread it evenly. Pull up the lower corner of the wrapper and bring it to the center. Then fold both sides up towards the middle. Roll it tightly from the bottom to the top. Make sure to moisten the tip with water and cornstarch or flour mixture to seal. I usually cut my lumpia in half before frying simply because I want it bite sized.

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Deep fry until golden brown. Serve with sweet chili dipping sauce.

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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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Tinumis

Tinumis is a stew of ground meat with the addition of pork or beef blood as it’s gravy. For non-Filipinos who are unfamiliar with this dish, I just have to say that the use of pork, beef or chicken blood in cooking for that matter is not totally unusual. A lot of countries and cultures have been doing it for decades and each have their own version/way of cooking it. I also find it similar to a Northern Thai dish Laap Meuang.

I’ve eaten and tried this dish countless  times but this is the first time I tried making it. It took me a while to get past the idea of cooking and handling blood. This blog, finally forced me to conquer my fear.

I  got the ingredients from my favorite Asian store. Ground pork or beef, white vinegar (Philippine brand white vinegar), pork or beef blood (they come frozen in tubs), long green chilies and spinach. Note: Tamarind is usually used in place of vinegar. If fresh tamarind is not available you can use tamarind soup mix.

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First, thaw the frozen pig/beef blood in your fridge. This may take the whole day.
Saute onions, garlic and tomatoes until softened. Add your ground meat and cook until browned. Pour about 1 cup of the pig/beef blood and 1/2 – 3/4 cup vinegar and stir. Let it simmer for 8-10 minutes. Season with salt or fish sauce. Add water if it appears to be too dry. Add 2-3 pieces of long green chilies. You can add your spinach towards the last minute of cooking. Chili leaves are traditionally used for this recipe but I substituted spinach since it’s not available here in the Northeast.

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Arroz a la Cubana (Filipino style)

Arroz a la Cubana is a popular rice dish in Spain. It did not originate in Cuba despite it’s name. It is made up of rice, tomato sauce and a fried egg sunny side up.

The Philippines has it’s own version, which includes ground meat and fried saba bananas (similar to plantain).

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To prepare, you will need steamed white rice. I used jasmine rice which is a personal preference. You can use whatever variety of white rice you have or like.

Start by sautéing onions and garlic in a little olive oil. Then add you ground beef and cook until browned. Add your diced carrots, peas, diced red bell peppers and raisins. Season with 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Add 1/4 – 1/2 cup water if the mixture appears to be too dry. Dash of pepper to taste. Cook until vegetable are crisp tender.

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Cut your saba banana lengthwise in half or thirds and fry in a non-stick pan. Set aside. In the same pan fry your eggs sunny side up.

To serve, scoop rice into a small bowl or cup and unmold on to a plate. Top rice with your fried egg. Arrange your fried saba bananas and ground beef around your rice.

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Tortang Giniling (Filipino Frittata)

Tortang Giniling is very similar to a frittata. The traditional Filipino way of cooking torta makes use of banana leaves. I believe our grandmothers did this because they did not have such a thing as a non-stick pan way back then. The banana leaves serves as a liner to help prevent food getting stuck on the pan and limit scorching. Plus, they add flavor and fragrance that’s makes the dish distinctly appealing. Filipino torta is mainly ground meat (giniling), pork is usually used. I prefer ground chicken or turkey when I make my torta.

Here in the Northeast, banana leaves are available in any Asian store. They come frozen in plastic packages. However, I did not use banana leaves to make my torta. I just used a thick bottomed stainless steel pan.

First, sautee onions and garlic in a little oil. Add your ground meat and cook till browned. Then add cubed potatoes and carrots. I did not have red bell peppers on hand but I usually throw some in towards the end of cooking. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are tender but not mushy.  Let the mixture cool.

Once it has cooled, add 5 eggs to the meat mixture and blend well. Note: do not beat the eggs before adding it in.

Heat a thick bottomed stainless steel pan then add your oil. It’s important to make sure your pan is properly heated and your pan well coated with oil. Add your meat mixture and spread evenly. Cook over medium to low heat until bottom is browned and appears to hold it’s shape. I cook this for about 2-4 minutes depending on the thickness of my torta.  Cook until just set and you can see bubbles forming on top.  Then transfer the pan to the oven and broil on high until cooked and the top is browned evenly. This only takes a few minutes so make sure to watch it while broiling. Note: You may use a non-stick pan but make sure it’s oven safe.

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Filipinos usually eat this with rice and ketchup. This would also be good served with a side of salad.

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Beef Nilaga

Beef Nilaga reminds me of the boiled “corned beef and cabbage” usually served during St. Patrick’s Day. Beef nilaga for me is the easiest Filipino dish you can prepare. It’s just boiling your choice of meat and adding vegetables.

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For this recipe I used “kalitiran” (top blade) for the cut of meat. You may also use beef brisket or shank as a substitute.

Start by boiling your meat with onions and ground pepper (whole peppercorns are preferable) until tender. Don’t forget to skim and remove the scum from the broth as it boils. Season with salt or fish sauce, the most commonly used Filipino seasoning. This is similar to the Thai “nam pla” or Vietnamese “nuoc mam”. Just a word of warning for those unfamiliar with it, this has a very strong and pungent smell. This will also give “umami” flavor to your soup.

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Add your choice of vegetables, for this I made use of bok choy (chinese greens), carrots and cucumber. As always I make do with what I have on hand. Some purist may cringe at the idea of adding cucumber to nilaga. My family has always used cucumber because it not only enhances the flavor of the broth but gives it a distinct fragrance. We also sometimes add squash for it renders sweetness to the dish.

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The commonly used vegetables in making nilaga are potatoes, carrots and cabbage. Hence, it’s similarity to the boiled “corned beef and cabbage”. Since moving to the Northeast I’ve learned to substitute ingredients to what we have locally. It not only makes for an interesting dish but challenges your creativity as well.

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My Beef Nilaga