Pancit Malabon

This dish originated in the town of Malabon which is beside Navotas, the town where my parents and grandparents grew up. History shows that Navotas was originally part of Malabon, it was in 1859 that it became an independent town. Navotas is a coastal town located in the Northwest part of Metro Manila. It is known as the fishing capital of the Philippines. This dish incorporates a lot of seafood, as you would expect something coming from a fishing town. Pancit Malabon is not the same as Pancit Palabok as what most people think. Both have very different cooking techniques and ingredients. Wikipilipinas best described it as “Made with fat rice noodles that are first submerged in boiling water. The noodles are then tossed in a rich garlic-achuete oil sauce. Since Malabon is known for its seafood, in addition to some vegetables and hard-boiled egg, it is topped with oysters, squid rings, and boiled shrimps.”

Pancit Malabon is always served when we have family gatherings, celebrations and during holidays. Friends and relatives would sometimes request for this when they would come and visit. Most families in Malabon and Navotas have their own recipe or way of making this. This is the recipe of my maternal grandmother. Her recipe would call for ground pork in the sauce and for the toppings she would include shrimp and squid. My paternal grandmother on the other hand does not use squid but would add oysters instead and add chopped meat and not ground. For an extra special Pancit Malabon, it would include all three:shrimps, oysters and squid. I have seen how this dish is prepared in our kitchen countless of times as a child because I was fascinated by the way it was made. There really is no precise measurements, each ingredient is added by taste and feel or maybe just from experience. I learned to make this the same way with no measurements that is why for this blog entry there will be no recipe included.

Here in the Northeast, it is sometimes hard to get fresh seafood, I omitted squid and oysters from the recipe since I was not able to get a hold of these ingredients.

The recipe for this dish has been passed down to three generations already and I consider this a family heritage. This is the dish that our family is known for.

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Pasta with Italian Sausage and Spinach

An alternative for tomato based pasta, this recipe is really quick and simple to make.

First brown your italian sausage (mild) in large pot deep enough to hold several cups of broth. I used 4 italian sausage patties that I broke up while cooking. Then add a medium sized onion that has been diced and 2-3 cloves finely minced garlic. Cook until onions are soft and translucent. In the same pot, add 5 cups of water and 1 chicken bouillon and let it come to a boil (the original recipe called for chicken broth). Then add 1 box of pasta (I used penne) and cook until al dente. Stir once in awhile to ensure pasta does not stick together. After about 8-9 minutes much of the liquid would have been absorbed. Add 3/4 – 1 cup milk (the original recipe called for half and half) and cook until sauce is slightly thickened. Add a bag of spinach and cook just until the leaves are wilted. Top with some grated parmesan cheese before serving.

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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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Zaru Soba

Zaru Soba is a Japanese noodle dish that is typically served cold. We love to have this for either lunch or dinner during these hot and humid Summer days. It is a welcome change from either the cold sandwiches or salads that we usually have.

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Zaru Soba is made up of buckwheat. They are usually served in a bamboo draining tray called Zaru. I have seen some restaurants even serve Zaru Soba on a bed of ice. They are eaten with a dipping sauce “Tsuyu” which is a mixture of dashi (Japanese cooking/soup stock), soy sauce and mirin (sweet cooking rice wine). There bottled ready to use “tsuyu” available in most Asian stores, so you don’t have to make it your own.

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Finely chopped green onions and wasabi are usually added to the tsuyu. Nori strips are placed on top of the soba as garnish. My family likes to add Furikake and sesame seeds to the soba for added crunch and flavor.

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To make, cook the Zaru soba noodles according to package directions. Plate it on a bamboo tray, garnish with nori and set aside. Finely chop a couple of green onions and place in small plates. Pour ready made “Tsuyu” which can be brought at any Asian store in individual bowls. To eat, add green onions and wasabi (if you prefer) to your “Tsuyu”. Take a small amount of soba with your chopsticks and dip it in your tsuyu bowl. Enjoy !

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Spaghetti and Meatballs

Fridays is pasta night in our family. It’s just usually the girls who have dinner at home as Fridays is date night for me and hubby. It’s also the end of the week and I want to cook something quick and easy. Tonight I decided to make spaghetti and meatballs. I made the meatballs from scratch but I used my favorite bottled brand for the sauce. I did not have any canned plum tomatoes on hand so this will make do.

For the meatballs, add the following to your ground meat: a medium sized minced onion, 2 cloves finely minced garlic, chopped parsley, a handful of breadcrumbs, 2 eggs and salt and pepper. Mix well using your clean hands. Form the meatballs into golf size balls.

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Heat a pan and when it’s hot add your oil. Fry your meatballs until all sides are evenly browned. Do not crowd your pan and do not overcook as the meatballs will continue cooking in your sauce later. When all your meatballs are done, set aside.

In another pan sauté minced onion and garlic until soft. Add 2 cups of chicken broth and let it reduce. Add your bottled sauce (a can of plum tomato is better), basil, oregano and salt and pepper to taste and stir. Finally add your meatballs and let it simmer for about 25-30 minutes.

While waiting for your sauce, cook your pasta according to package directions and drain.

Arrange cooked pasta in a bowl add your sauce and top with desired number of meatballs.

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