Malunggay Pesto Pasta with Longganisa

Malunggay a common backyard plant is now getting international attention and is acclaimed to be the next superfood. Aside from having high nutritive value studies show it has a lot of healing properties.

Malunggay is widely used in cooking not only in South East Asia but in South Asia and the Caribbean as well. Fresh malunggay leaves is hard to come by here in the Northeast, though I know that you can get these in most Asian grocers in California.

I chanced upon a bottle of Malunggay Pesto at Legaspi Sunday Market on our trip to Manila last year. The vendor gave a lot of suggestions on ways to use this pesto.


For this recipe, you only need a handful of ingredients. Your bottled pesto, spaghetti noodles, parmesan cheese, and longganisa.


Remove 4 sausage (Longganisa) meat from casings, crumble and pan fry in a non-stick pan until brown. Remove from pan and set aside. Sausage meat will render fat so it’s not necessary to add any type of oil during cooking.

Cook spaghetti according to package directions (I only cooked 2 serving portions). Remember to salt your water. Once cooked save a cup of pasta water then drain your spaghetti. Place pasta in a ceramic bowl, add desired amount of malunggay pesto and a handful of grated parmesan cheese and about 1/2 cup pasta water to begin with. Toss everything together until well combined. You will notice that the water helps the sauce to emulsify and become creamy. This is the secret to making creamy pesto pasta without the added grease.

Place your pesto pasta in a deep bowl. Top with more parmesan cheese and a generous portion of your pan fried crumbled longganisa. You can add a handful of baby spinach when tossing your pasta with the sauce for added texture.

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Tuna Pasta with Basil and Tomato

One of my favorites things to do in the Summer is going to our town’s farmer’s market. Tomatoes and Fresh basil are it’s best during this time of the year. I got a pint of cherry tomatoes for less than 4 dollars and a big bunch of basil for 2 dollars. The vendor suggested that I freeze the basil if I won’t be able to use most of it.



I already have pasta in mind when I bought all those produce from the farmer’s market. To make, cook a pound of spaghetti according to package directions, set aside about 1/4 – 1/2 cup pasta water.


In a heated pan pour about a quarter cup extra virgin olive oil and add 5-6 cloves of finely minced garlic. Gently fry until fragrant and be careful not to burn it. Then add your cherry tomatoes that is cut in half. Cook until softened and starting to release it’s juices. Then add one can of Hot and Spicy Tuna. I used Century Tuna label which is a Filipino brand, you can use any canned tuna in oil. Carefully stir then add your cooked pasta with the reserved cooking water. Season with salt and pepper. Last, add a generous amount of basil and gently toss. Serve immediately.


You don’t have to spend a lot to feed your family well. I spent less than 10 dollars for this tuna pasta dish which I served for lunch.



Chicken Mami

If Japan have ramen, the Philippines have mami. Noodles was introduced and was brought to us and Japan by the Chinese. As history has shown Filipino food is highly influenced by China. Noodles plays a big part in the Filipino food scene.

Chicken mami is considered merienda fare. Before burgers and pizza joints can be found in every street corner of Manila; chicken mami, lugaw, pancit are typically the choice for midafternoon snack.

Making the broth for chicken mami is very straightforward and not as complicated as the soup base for ramen. The traditional way of making the broth for mami is boiling bone in chicken meat in water with several aromatics and spices like onion, garlic, peppercorns and spring onion. I made my broth using leftover rotisserie chicken. First, get your chicken carcass and add about 6-7 cups water, then add 1 medium onion roughly chopped, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 Tbsp. of whole peppercorns. Let this come to a boil and then lower heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Strain stock, keep warm and set aside.

Take a pack of fresh egg noodles and cook it by boiling in water for about 4-5 minutes. Drain and rinse in running water if you are not using it immediately.

Place your egg noodle in a deep bowl. Then arrange some shredded chicken breast (I used the leftover from my rotisserie chicken), boiled eggs cut in half, some spring onions and garlic chips on top. I also added a tablespoon of garlic oil as I found it enhanced the flavor of the soup. Then ladle some of your chicken broth and serve immediately. Note: I seasoned my chicken broth with a little bit of fish sauce for some umami.




Pancit Molo (Filipino Wonton Soup)

I taught the girls how to make wontons a couple weeks ago. They made a lot and we were able to freeze them. Aside from steaming and pan frying wontons, you can also make it into soup. In the Philippines we call this molo soup.

It’s essential to have a good broth as a base for this soup. Start by placing 2 split type chicken breast in a pot and add enough water to cover it, then add some pepper corns and a medium onion. If you want a richer and more flavorful broth you can add smoked ham hocks or ham bones in your stock. Let this come to a boil then lower the heat and cook for about 25-30 minutes or until done. Don’t forget to remove scum that floats to the top. Remove chicken breast from stock and shred the meat and set this aside. Strain your broth, you will use this later on.

In another pot, add 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil and saute one medium finely chopped white onion and 2-3 cloves minced garlic. Add your shredded chicken and continue cooking until it’s coated with the aromatics. Add your broth (around 6-8 cups) and let this come to a boil. Then drop in your wontons carefully and cook until it floats to the top and the wonton skins become translucent. Season with fish sauce to taste.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with some chopped spring onions and toasted garlic bits.





My girls wanted me to teach them how to make dumplings. I have been giving them cooking lessons the past several days which will come handy once they go back to University in the Fall.

I wanted to make dumplings that leans more to the Filipino palate. So I searched the web for several recipes and came up with this. The filling for this dumpling is similar to that of the Filipino Siomai.

To make you will need the following: 1 lb ground pork, 1 onion finely minced, 3 stalk spring onion minced, 1 T grated ginger, 2 T soy sauce, 1 T mirin, 1 T sesame oil, 1 T cornstarch, 1 T sugar, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper. Place everything in a bowl and mix all ingredients together.

To prepare dumpling, place a scant tablespoon of your filling in the middle of your wonton wrapper. Brush the edges with egg wash. Fold the wrapper in half creating a triangle. Take the bottom left and right corner and lift it up while carefullly crunching it together creating pleats. Repeat until you have used up all your wonton wrappers.


Place your wontons in a steamer and cook for 25 minutes. Served with a dipping sauce of soy and lemon.




You can also make this into soup. I let 4-5 cups water come to a boil and added 2 tsp dashi no moto. Then carefully dropped several wontons and cook until it floats to the top. I also added some yuchoy tips or any greens that you like at the end of cooking.


Spaghetti Napolitan

Spaghetti Napolitan is another popular Yoshuku (western style Japanese cuisine) dish. It was invented by Shigetada Irie, the head chef of Hotel New Grand in Yokohama after World War II. He got this idea from the spaghetti with ketchup that was part of US military rations. He did not use ketchup in his original recipe, but instead used tomato puree. This became so popular and was recreated by other restaurants in Japan. Since tomato puree and fresh tomatoes were expensive then, ketchup was used in its place.

The dish that I made was adapted from Rika’s Tokyo cuisine’s recipe for Napolitan pasta.


To make, cook spaghetti according to package directions (I used 330g pasta). Set aside 1/2- 3/4 cup pasta water.

Thinly slice I medium sized onion, as well as one bell pepper. Green bell peppers are traditionally used for this recipe but I used yellow bell pepper instead since this is what I have on hand. Then cut 2 hotdogs diagonally (I used 365 brand uncured hotdogs). I recommend using the Japanese kurobuta sausage if you can get a hold of it.

Heat a pan and add 2 Tablespoon butter. Add the onions and bell pepper and cook until softened. Add the hotdogs and continue cooking until a bit brown on the edges. Add 4 Tablespoon ketchup, 1 tsp. toban djan (chili bean paste), 1 tsp. sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine.

Add your spaghetti and toss everything until pasta is coated with the sauce. You can add some pasta water if the sauce is a bit dry. Place some pasta on a dish and top with a sunny side egg.



Wafu Pasta (Japanese Style Pasta with Shimeji Mushrooms)

Wafu pasta means Japanese style pasta. Simply defined it’s a pasta dish with Japanese ingredients. I was introduced to wafu pasta by my sisters during a visit back to Manila in 2013. They brought me to Yomenya Goemon, a Japanese/Western noodle house based in Japan. We ordered among other things a pasta dish with mushroom having a unique Asian flavor.

This recipe is my take on wafu pasta with Shimeji mushrooms. It’s not as good as the one served at Yomenya Goemon bit it will do for now.

You will need 1/2 lb. dried spaghetti noodles, 4-5 pcs. sliced baby portabella mushrooms and one bunch shimeji mushrooms separated into pieces, soy sauce, mirin, sake, butter and garlic.



First, cook your spaghetti according to package directions and set aside about 1/2 cup of pasta water. Heat a skillet and add 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil. Saute 2-3 cloves minced garlic until fragrant. Add your mushrooms and cook until just tender to your liking. Pour in about 1/4-1/2 cup pasta water, 1 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. mirin and 1 Tbsp. sake and let simmer. Add your cooked pasta and mix everything together. Finish the dish by adding 1 Tbsp. butter to make the sauce a bit creamy.



Plate into bowls and top off with some thinly cut nori strips. Note: you can actually buy pre-cut nori strips at Asian groceries.



Pancit Canton

Filipinos almost always serve noodles in any celebratory occasion. This is most associated with birthdays, since noodles are symobols of long life and good health. There are several types of noodles Filipinos use to make pancit (stir fried noodles). The following are the most common ones: miki (made with egg), bihon (rice), sotanghon (mung bean) and canton (wheat).

For this recipe I used Canton noodles which are sold dried in plastic packages. The most popular brand is Excellent which is my Lola’s brand of choice .


First, make some chicken stock by boiling 2 pieces chicken leg in 6 cups water, a sliced onion and some peppercorns. Let this come to a boil then lower heat and cook for about 40 minutes until chicken is done. Don’t forget to skim off the scum. Remove chicken pieces and when cool enough to handle, shred off meat from bone and set aside. Strain the broth and also set this aside.

Heat a wok or wide enough pan and add 2-3 tbsp. vegetable oil. Saute 1 medium sized diced onion and 3-4 cloves minced garlic. Let this cook until fragrant. Add 1 small carrot that has been julienned, a handful of chicharro (snap peas) and about half a cup of sliced dried shiitake mushrooms that has been dehydrated in water. Stir everything until well combined, then add half of a white cabbage that has been shredded. Cook until vegetables are crips tender, then remove from pan. In the same pan fry 2 pieces of Chinese sausages that has been sliced at a bias and cook until brown around the edges, then add your shredded chicken and cook until just heated through. Take sausages and chicken out of pan and set aside.

Pour about 6 cups of chicken stock that you have set aside earlier and let this come to a boil. Then season with 2 heaping spoonfuls each of soy sauce and oyster sauce. I used the ceramic Asian soup spoon to measure my seasonings. Then carefully add one package of pancit canton noodles and let the noodles soak in the broth. When the noodles are soft enough to handle stir the noodles and add your vegetables and meat. Make a cornstarch slurry to thicken the broth a bit and make for better gravy for your noodles. Carefully mix until everything is well combined and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Serve hot with lemon slices on the side.



Pasta with Ham and Peas

There is a limit to just how much sliced ham you can eat during the Holiday season. As always we have a lot of leftover honey baked ham day after Christmas. I’ve always tried to think of ways to add it to various dishes or create new ones with it.

This time, I made creamy pasta with ham, peas and mushroom.

First, cook your pasta (spaghetti) according to package directions, drain and set aside. Note: Add 1/2 cup frozen peas in the last 2 minutes of cooking.

Heat a pan and add 2 tbsp. olive oil and pat of butter and saute one medium chopped white onion and cook until translucent. Then add a handful of sliced white mushrooms and continue cooking until it has released it’s juices. Remove from pan and set aside. In the same pan, add a cup of honey baked ham cut into thin strips and fry until just brown on the edges and set aside.

Get a medium sized skillet and heat 1/4 cup butter until melted. Stir in 1/4 cup all purpose flour and cook for 1 minute until bubbly. Then gradually whisk in 2 cups milk. Continue cooking under low heat until sauce has thickened. Season with salt and white pepper. Add in your mushroom/onion mixture and your ham and stir until well combined. Place your cooked pasta with peas into the sauce and gently stir everything together.

Arrange pasta into serving bowls and grate some parmesan cheese on top before serving.




Pasta with Garlic Oil and Tuyo

I wrote a blog post on tuyo awhile back. As I have mentioned Filipinos almost always eat this with rice. However, in the past decade Filipinos have been very open and adventurous when it comes to food. Pasta tuyo is nothing new, have seen restaurants back home offering it on their menu and housewives making it in their own kitchen.


This recipe was adapted from epicurious. I made some changes on the ingredients and measurements used.

Cook spaghetti according to package directions (I used half of a lb box). Drain pasta and set aside about a quarter cup of pasta water.

Heat a pan and place 1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil. Then add 2-3 cloves thinly sliced garlic and 4-5 pieces of dried herring. Stir and break your fish a bit using your wooden spoon, cook until garlic is fragrant. Then add 1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley and about 1 tsp. red pepper flakes and stir until just combined. Remove from heat. Note: I did not add salt since tuyo is already salty as is

Add your cooked pasta to your garlic oil and stir until pasta is coated with the sauce. You can add your reserved pasta water and continue stirring until everything comes together and sauce becomes a bit creamy. I place the pot back on medium heat just to help the sauce set.

Arrange your pasta in a wide bowl and sprinkle some freshly grated parmesan cheese and lemon zest on top. Note: I also recommend a squeeze of lemon over your pasta before serving as this helps brighten the taste/flavor.