Bicol Express

Bicol Express is one of the Filipino dishes that use coconut milk. Coconut milk or kakang gata in Tagalog is widely used in Southeast Asian cooking. I hardly ever cook with coconut milk since I grew up in a household that isn’t overly fond of eating food made with “gata.”

This dish is a favorite of my husband and he would always get this at the Cafeteria-style Filipino restaurant in our area. Since their Bicol Express is too spicy for me to handle, I made this so I can adjust the level of heat and amount of chiles in the dish.

Get a large saucepan and place over medium to high heat. Add 2-3 Tablespoons vegetable oil and saute 6 cloves of minced garlic. Once the garlic is fragrant add 1 medium-sized chopped onion. Cook until onions are translucent. Add 1 1/2 lbs pork butt cut into cubes. Stir and cook until no longer pink and has turned a bit brown on the edges. Place 2 Tablespoons “shrimp bagoong” and stir fry everything for about 2 minutes. Pour a 13.5 oz can of coconut milk and 1 cup of water, and let this come to a boil. Lower heat and continue cooking at a simmer for 35-40 minutes until meat is tender and coconut milk has thickened. Make sure to cook at low heat so that the coconut milk will not curdle. This will give your sauce a creamy consistency. Then add 1/2 cup chopped “siling haba” or Korean green chili peppers and 2-3 pieces thinly sliced Thai chiles or siling labuyo. You may add more if you want it spicier. Season with some salt and pepper to taste. Let this cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.



Gamjatang (Korean Pork Bone Soup)

This is my first blog post after more than a year of hiatus. A lot of things has or has not happened. Our lives may feel that it has come to a standstill at times because of the pandemic but we still continue to move forward and find ways and things we need to be grateful for.

I chose to start writing again at an urging of a loyal reader. She recently saw a photo of a dish I made on my social media and asked if the recipe is up on this website. I regrettably said no and then decided there and then I should really start doing something about it. Believe or not I have several drafts of recipes written over the past year that remains unpublished. I will eventually get to that later. But for now I will just take this time to fulfill a promise I made.

Since the weather is starting to get chilly, I have been making soup dishes for dinner for the family. I wanted to try something new and this is what I decided on. My girls love Korean food and this seems to be up their alley.

Start by boiling about 1.5 – 2 lbs pork neck in a big stock pot. I used pork collar which has more meat but I believe pork neck bones would yield a more flavorful broth. Let this boil for a few minutes to remove scum. Then drain and wash your pot before putting back your meat (make sure to clean the pork bones in running water before throwing it back in the pot). Fill the pot with water until it fully covers your meat. Then add 1 whole onion peeled and chopped in half, 4-5 cloves peeled garlic, thumb sized ginger sliced, 2 stalks of green onion, and 1 tsp. peppercorns. Let this boil until meat in tender which could take 1- 1 1/2 hours.

While waiting for the meat to cook, prepare your vegetables. Peel and slice about 2-3 potatoes and parboil it then set aside. Clean and slice some Napa cabbage. I used some yuchoy and crown daisy leaves since I think bitter greens goes well will spicy soup.

For the seasoning, place in a bowl 1 Tbsp. gocharu (korean chili flakes), 2 Tbsp. doenjang (Korean soybean paste), 1 Tbsp. gochujang (Korean chili paste), 1 Tbsp. minced garlic, 3 Tbsp. Korean fish sauce or soup soy sauce and 1 Tbsp. water. Mix well and set aside. You can adjust proportion of chili flakes, chili paste and soybean to your liking. I believe that this is really a matter of personal taste.

When the meat is tender remove the meat and place in another pot. Strain the broth in a sieve. You should have at least 5 cups. Then place it in the pot with your meat. Add your potatoes and seasoning. Let this boil for 5-10 minutes until potatoes are done. Then add your greens and cook for a few minutes. I like to add the crown daisy at the last minute on top of my pot.

Serve with a cup of rice.

Pork and Tofu Stew

This recipe is one the that is frequently seen on our dinner table and a favorite of my oldest sister. I must confess that I was really not that excited as a teen when this was served to us but now it reminds me of home. It was just made up by my late Ninang Aveling and is now comfort food for me.

This recipe is similar to the ground beef with bok choy I posted before. I just used cubed pork and added tofu.

To make, saute in 2 tbsp vegetable oil one medium sized chopped white onion until translucent, then add 2 cloves finely minced garlic and cook til fragrant. Add 1 lb. cubed pork butt and continue cooking until its has changed color. Season with ground pepper. Add water just enough to cover the meat and let it come to a boil. Add 2 Tbsp soy sauce, I used the Filipino brand Silver Swan. (I don’t recommend using Kikkoman or any Japanese soy sauce for this as it would drastically alter the taste). I also added 1 Tbsp. fish sauce for depth of flavor. You can totally omit this and just increase the amount of soy sauce if you want. Cook until meat is fork tender. Then add a package firm cubed tofu and continue cooking until it’s heated through. Throw in about 4 bunches of Bok Choy roughy chopped stir and cover and let cook for about a minute or so.

Ladle in bowls and serve with rice.



Stewed Pork with Lily Blossoms

This stew is favorite of my dad. My family would used pork hocks when making this dish since it gives it a wonderful thick and gelatinous kind of sauce. Back home we would use dried banana blossoms, but it’s difficult to find it here so I substituted dried lily blossoms which is similar in taste and texture.

I wanted to make a healthier version with less fat so I used pork butt for this recipe. To make place in a thick bottomed pan 1 lb. cubed pork and add the following: 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/2 cup soy sauce, bay leaf, some peppercorns and about 1/2 cup water. Let this cook covered until meat is tender and liquid has reduced and somewhat thickened. You may add water 1/4 cup at a time when you think the dish is drying up too much.

I served this with some steamed Yuchoy and 7 grain rice.




Katsu Curry

Japanese Curry is a favorite of my girls. It’s a regular in our dinner menu back when they were in high school and I would also bring it frequently to their dorm during their college days. I have several blog post on curry on my site. This time though I added Pork Katsu to recreate their favorite dish (photo below) from Abiko Curry in KTown, New York City. Though Sapporo near Times Square also makes a mean one.


I don’t make curry from scratch but rely on those boxed mix from Asian stores. My favorite brand is Kokumaro Curry by House Foods. Just follow the recipe on the box and add your choice of meat and veggies. Though for this recipe I used a different brand the S&B Golden Curry which was recommended by my sister. I got this in Manila during my last visit. I omitted the meat and just added carrots and potatoes since I am already serving it with Pork cutlets. Again just follow the cooking directions from the box. When done keep warm.


For the pork katsu which is deep fried pork cutlets, I used pork loin chops which I sliced into about 1/2 – 3/4 inch thickness. These was then seasoned with salt and pepper. Then dredged in the following order: all purpose flour, beaten egg and panko bread crumbs. Deep fry and not pan fry at a relatively low temperature. Since the meat is somewhat thick and pork takes longer to cook than chicken you don’t want the panko browning too soon before the meat gets cooked through.

When you have fried all your meat let it rest for several minutes before cutting.

To serve, get a deep plate and place some white rice on one side. Then ladle your curry sauce on the other side. Place your sliced pork katsu on top of your rice and curry. Though some prefer that the curry sauce be poured partially on top of their katsu.




I try to find ways to stretch the meat we have in the freezer when prepping meals these days. I still have some thinly sliced pork belly that I used for our hot pot last week and this seems to be the perfect recipe for it. This was also suggested by my sister, a dish her family loves. Buta by the way is the term for pork in Japanese and Don comes from the word Donburi literally translated as bowl.

To make, place the following sauce ingredients in a bowl: 3 Tbsp. soy sauce (I used Kikkoman), 2 Tbsp. Mirin, 2 Tbsp. cooking sake, 1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar, 1 clove grated garlic and about 1 tsp. grated ginger. Mix well and set aside.

Heat a scant amount of vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet and cook the pork slices until browned. I used about a pound of thinly cut pork belly used for shabu shabu (hot pot). Season lightly with salt while cooking. Fry the pork slices in batches and do not overcrowd. This won’t take long.

When you have cooked all the pork slices, remove excess oil and return your meat to the pan. Pour the sauce mixture on it and cook until it’s thickened.

To serve, scoop some cooked rice onto bowls and top with your pork slices. If you have some chopped green onion you can sprinkle some some of it on before serving.

This recipe was adapted from this site.


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My Lola’s Almondigas

I have childhood memories of Sunday lunches after church services at both my paternal and maternal grandparents house. We would alternate Sundays between those two houses since both live in the same town. I would always get excited when my maternal Lola (Grandmother) would serve her almondigas. Filipino almodigas is just meatball soup with miswa. My Lola however adds minced shrimp in her meatballs which she says adds more flavor. She doesn’t stop there, she uses the shrimp heads and shells to make stock for the soup.

Almondigas is a favorite of my girls, but I would always omit the shrimp in my recipe even if my lola and mom would insists it’s not the same. I guess I was just being lazy and refuse to do the the extra steps. Last night, I made the dish exactly how my Lola and mom makes it and the shrimps indeed make a lot of difference.

This recipe serves two. For the meatballs, place the following in a bowl: 1/2 lb. ground pork, 1/4 lb. shrimp, 1/2 tsp. salt. 1/2 tsp. pepper, 1 egg. Mix well until well combined and form into balls, set aside.

For the stock, saute in a little bit of oil the shrimp heads and shells until it turns pink. Then add 2 cups water and let this boil for a couple of minutes. You can add aromatics and vegetables but I find this unnecessary. Strain and set aside. What my lola would do is just place the heads and shells in a blender add some water and let this whiz for a few seconds. She would then strain this and pour the shrimp juice straight to the pot.

To make, get a medium sized pot and sauté in a little oil 2 cloves finely minced garlic and 1 small chopped onion. Let this cook until aromatic and onions are soft and transluscent. Add your shrimp stock and let this come to a boil (you can add more water if needed). Then gently place your meatballs one at a time in the pot. Add one piece cubed sayote (Chayote) cover and lower heat. Cook until veggies are done and the meatballs float to the top. Skim your stock for impurities or scum. Finally, add some diced medium firm tofu, let this cook until just heated through then add one bundle miswa. Stir for a few seconds then remove from heat. Ladle into bowls and serve hot.

P.S. you can totally omit the tofu and sayote, I just added it for texture and as my own spin on almondigas.



Homemade Tocino

This has unintentionally become a breakfast series. I first started with a beef tapa recipe. It’s a meat dish that has become a Filipino breakfast staple because of the popularity of Tapsilog a coined term for Tapa, Sinangag (garlic fried rice) and itlog (fried egg). This then led to the many silog combinations such as Longsilog where long stands for longanisa (Filipino sausage); Tocilog – Toci is Tocino (a sweet savory cured meat usually made of pork); and spamsilog for spam the canned meat.

I made two versions of Tocino the first one only uses salt and sugar, while the other has pineapple juice as its sweetener.


For the first recipe. I used about a pound of pork butt that has been sliced thinly. Then I seasoned both sides of the meat with a combination of 3 Tbsp. kosher salt and 4-6 Tbsp. sugar. The proportion is that there should be more sugar than salt. Place in sealed plastic container and refrigerate for up to three days to cure.


The second recipe, I used about 1.2 lbs of thinly sliced pork butt. This is then marinated in the following: 2 Tbs kosher salt, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup pineapple juice and 1 tsp pepper. You will note that I didn’t add any garlic as most recipes found online calls for. I find this unnecessary because typical tocino shouldn’t taste garlicky. Again place in a sealed plastic container and let cure in the fridge for around 3 days.


Traditional tocino is reddish in color because of the addition of prague powder or curing salt. To add color to my tocino I used annatto oil to fry my meat. When frying make sure to use medium to low heat as the meat readily burns because of the sugar content of the marinade. Cook until browned and not burnt on both sides.




Skinless Longanisa (Filipino Sausage)

This skinless longanisa is so easy to make, you won’t ever buy the pre-made ones at the store. Making homemade lets you control the ingredients you put in your sausage thus making it a healthier option for your family.

I do have a recipe for longanisa which I used for my Filipino Burger, you can definitely use that too to make skinless longanisa.


For this recipe, I used 1 lb ground pork to which I added the following: 1 Tbsp. salt, 3 Tbsp. white vinegar or cane vinegar, 1 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1 tsp. ground black pepper, 4 Tbsp. sugar (you can adjust the amount if you like it sweeter) and 2-3 cloves finely minced garlic (again you can add more if you want it more garlicky). Mix everything until well combined.



Take a spoonful of the mixture and form into logs. Repeat until you use up all your ground meat. Wrap the longanisa individually in wax paper and place in freezer bags. Store in your freezer until ready to use.



To cook, get a non-stick pan and place over medium heat. Add a scant amount of oil, you don’t need a lot if you are using a non-stick pan plus the meat will release it’s own grease. Cook until brown on all sides while turning occasionally.

We like to serve it with rice, preferably garlic rice and a dipping sauce of vinegar, salt and pepper.

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Pork Adobo with Sitaw (Long Beans)

Pork adodo is one of my earliest blog post. It is one of the easiest dish to prepare if you have the right ingredients. For a heartier dish, most Filipinos would add hard boiled eggs to their adobo. In our family we do things differently, we always add sitaw or long beans. I grew up eating adobo prepared this way and loved it ever since. It pairs well with the flavors of soy and vinegar and gives you an extra boost of nutrients from the added greens.

You can get long beans in any Asian store . I still remember those times when this wasn’t readily available in our neck of the woods in the Northeast and I would just substitute green beans.

To make place a pound and a half of cubed pork butt in a pot. Add 1/2 cup Filipino soy sauce , 1/4 cup Filipino cane vinegar, 1/4 cup rice vinegar , 1-2 pieces bay leaf , 5-6 cloves garlic roughly chopped, 1 tsp or more of whole peppercorns . Let this come to a boil. Cover and lower heat and cook for about 40 minutes or until meat is tender. If to becomes too dry, add 1/4 cup water and continue cooking. Remove meat from the liquid and pan fry in a little oil until brown . Add your yard beans cut into 2 inch lengths and cook until crisp tender. Pour in the liquid/sauce from your adobo and simmer until it thickens a bit thickened. Note: I like using Lauriat brand Filipino soy sauce. I don’t recommend using kikkoman since it would drastically change the taste of your adobo. I also suggest that you use Filipino cane vinegar for this recipe.



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