Eggplant Omelet (Tortang Talong)

I was able to purchase a couple of Italian eggplants at our town’s farmers market. I already knew what I would do with it once I get home, make Tortang Talong ! Torta in the Philippines refers to an omelet made up of eggplant, ground meat or even just potatoes.

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Eggplant omelet is very simple to prepare. First, roast your eggplant. You can do this by placing it over the flames of your gas stove or broiling it in your oven. Cook until the skin is charred all over and softened. Carefully remove the skin of eggplant then split it in half and flatten the flesh a bit with a fork to create an oval shape. Make sure not to remove the stalk while doing so.

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Beat an egg in a shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper. Then dip your eggplant in the egg mixture until well coated. Heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a non-stick pan and fry your eggplant 1 minute on each side or until golden brown. We like to serve it with ketchup on the side.

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Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini and Summer/Yellow squash are a plenty during the Summer months. I usually grab a couple during my Saturday trip to our local farmers market. We usually just eat it grilled with a touch of olive oil or raw in salads.

This time around I decided to make fritters with it. I adapted the recipe from Epicurious but I added a small amount of minced onion in mine. This recipe reminded me a bit of the Filipino vegetable fritter Okoy also known as Ukoy which is made up of bean sprouts, grated squash or sweet potato and shrimps.

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To make, grate a combination of zucchini and summer squash (3-4 pieces) and gently toss this with 1/2 tsp of kosher salt. Let this stand for about 30 minutes in a colander. Then squeeze out as much liquid as you can out of it by placing it in a clean kitchen towel or cheese cloth. Then add 1 large egg, 1/4 cup all purpose flour, 1 tbsp. cornstarch, 1/4 of a medium onion minced and salt and pepper to taste. Gently mix everything until well combined.

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Take a non stick pan and heat around 1/3 cup of oil. Then by using a 1/4 cup measure drop your zucchini batter in the hot oil and cook until brown and crisp. Make sure to flatten your fritter or patty a bit to ensure a nice crisp texture. Place cooked fritter in a paper towel lined plate to remove excess oil.

Serve with a soy dipping sauce. Just combine 3 tbsp. rice vinegar, 1 tbsp light soy sauce and a dash or ground pepper or red pepper flakes.

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Lumpiang Hubad

Lumpia is a dish that was brought by Chinese immigrants to the Philippines. It can either be fried or fresh. It is popularly known as egg roll or spring roll. The Philippines has several lumpia dishes, the most popular is lumpiang shanghai which I blogged about here and lumpiang Gulay or Prito. There is also what you call lumpiang hubad literally translated as naked spring roll. The reason being it is served without a wrapping. It is a mix of different kinds of vegetables stir fried and served with a sweetish sauce.

Lumpiang hubad can either be served as is or cradled within a lettuce leaf. My mom and grandmother always served it in a lettuce leaf or letsugas in Tagalog. In my opinion you can choose whatever combination of vegetables you want. For this recipe I used the following, carrots, jicama, asian sweet potato, green beans, green onion and baby portobello mushrooms. You may also use bean sprouts, napa cabbage and ubod (heart of palm).

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To make, add 2 tbsp vegetable oil in a heated pan. Saute a medium sized onion sliced thinly, 2-3 cloves of minced garlic and 3 stalks spring onion cut into 2 inch length. Cook until fragrant. Then add 3 medium sized carrots cut into matchsticks, a small jicama and a medium sized asian sweet potato also cut into matchstick pieces. Stir and cover for a few minutes. Then add a handful of green beans cut at a bias and a small container of baby portobello mushrooms (around 8 pcs.) sliced. Season with salt and pepper or a knorr chicken bouillon cube. Cook until the vegetables are crisp tender.

To make the sauce, into a saucepan add 1 cup water, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tbsp. soy sauce. Cook until sugar has dissolved and let simmer. Then add 2 tsp cornstarch dispersed in 2 tbsp water. Cook until sauce has thickened.

To serve, place your vegetables on a plate and top with some fried onions or garlic and drizzle sauce around. You can also serve it on a lettuce leaf drizzled or served with sauce on the side.

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Asian Greens Yu Choy and Kai Lan

Our family has to have a side of greens or salad for dinner. Preparing Asian greens is one of the easiest specially during a school weeknight. One of the Asian greens I regularly serve my family is Kai Lan or Chinese Broccoli. I just usually serve this steamed without any sauce or any kind of seasoning. My girls like it simply prepared. I am fortunate that they are not picky eaters.

Last night I decided to jazz it a up a bit. I took a bunch of chinese broccoli and washed it thoroughly. Then I got a pot big enough to hold my greens and added water. Let this come to a boil. Then lower the heat to a simmer before adding your vegetables. I just blanch it for 1-2 minutes or until it turns bright green then I take it out of the pot. Place this in a serving plate and set aside. Take 2-3 pieces of lap cheong or Chinese sausage and cut it at a bias. Then fry this in a non stick pan until brown. No need to add oil as it will release it’s own grease when you fry it. When done place it on top of your greens and serve.

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Another Asian greens we love is Yu Choy or Choy Sum, it is similar to bok choy but has a slightly bitter taste. Again I usually just serve this steamed. Sometimes I stir fry this with garlic. To prepare, thoroughly wash your vegetable. Then blanch this until the leaves turn bright green and immediately take it out of pot. Heat a pan and add 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Then add 2-3 cloves finely minced garlic. Cook until fragrant and then add your yu-choy. Gently toss until everything is coated with oil and garlic. You can season this with a little salt before serving.

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Summer Strawberry Salad

I made this a couple of weeks back, after strawberry picking at a nearby farm.

I just put together some green leaf lettuce, a bunch of cilantro and a handful of sliced berries. This salad was meant as a side for our grilled pork ribs chops. You can add some walnuts and feta cheese or even grilled chicken to make a hearty Summer meal.

Make sure everything is chilled before serving. Drizzle with some raspberry vinaigrette or poppy seed dressing.

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Kani Salad

If you like California roll, this salad is definitely for you. It has the same basic ingredients which are: mango, cucumber and kani (crabmeat).

First, peel 2 medium sized cucumber and cut into julienne strips. I got this cool gadget from pampered chef which made my task a lot easier. It’s called the julienne peeler. Just scrape the whole length of your cucumber with it and stop when you reach the seeds in the center. Place the julienned strips of cucumber in a bowl. Next get 5-6 pieces of kani sticks or imitation crabmeat and separate it into thin strips. Set aside.

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Get a ripe Ataulfo or Champagne mango. Make sure you get this variety and not the Tommy Atkins mango which has a red and green skin because its flesh tends to be tough and not that sweet. Wash and peel the skin off your mango and cut the flesh into thin strips.

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Combine your cucumber, crabmeat sticks and mango in bowl and add a couple of tablespoons of Japanese Mayonnaise. Gently fold your ingredients together until everything is coated with your mayo. Place your salad in a bed of lettuce and serve immediately. As an option you may garnish your salad with nori strips or tobiko.

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Blood Orange Salad

I spotted some blood oranges at the grocery store last week. This is a seasonal fruit (usually from December – May) and are sometimes difficult to find. Blood oranges as the name implies has a deep red or almost blood colored flesh. It has a raspberry undertone aside from it’s citrus taste and is less sweet than a regular orange.

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To prepare, cut a bit of both ends of your orange. Stand the fruit on one end and remove the peel and pith by running your knife down the side as close to the flesh as possible. Then lay your fruit on it’s side and slice your orange into circles. Set aside.

Place bed of arugula on a plate, arrange your blood orange slices on it, add some thinly sliced radish and scatter some sliced almonds or whatever nuts you have on hand. Drizzle with vinaigrette dressing before serving.

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Asian Potato Salad

I was meaning to make Japanese potato salad but I tweaked the recipe a bit to better suit my taste. Japanese potato salad is a bit bland and does not have an acidic or tangy flavor compared to American style potato salad. It also makes use of Kewpie, a Japanese brand mayonnaise. This has a thin consistency and is not that creamy compared to western style mayonnaise. One other thing that makes it different is the addition of cucumbers and carrots in the recipe.

To make, boil your potatoes (3 medium sized ones) and carrots (2 small ones) until tender then roughly chop into cubes and set aside. Thinly slice some persian cucumbers and onions and sprinkle with salt, let it stand for a few minutes then squeeze out as much liquid from it as you can. Combine your potatoes, carrots, cucumbers and onion in a bowl. Add about 1/2 – 3/4 cup of mayonnaise (I used kraft), 2 hard boiled eggs chopped, 2 small kosher dill gherkins finely chopped (because this is what I have on hand) and salt and pepper to taste. Mix everything up until all ingredients are well combined. Traditional Japanese potato salad are a bit mushy and mashed up. I did not do this since I want my potato salad to be chunky and have more texture.

I served this as a side dish for our dinner the other night.

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Mung Bean Stew (Guinisang Monggo)

Mung or Monggo Beans is a widely used ingredient for sweet and savory dishes in Asia. In the Philippines Mung Bean stew is associated with Lent as it is commonly eaten on Fridays when religious Catholics would abstain from eating meat. However, this dish is so popular that most households make this as part of their regular meal or diet.

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This dish can be made vegetarian without adding any meat but I prefer mine with shrimps on it, pork or chicken are also favorite add ons.

To make you will need to boil 1 cup of mung beans in about 5 cups of water. Cook the the beans until soft and set aside. Saute onions, garlic and tomatoes until vegetables are softened. Add shrimps and cook until it turns pink in color. Remove the shrimps and add your cooked mung beans. Season with fish sauce or salt which ever you prefer and pepper. Let it simmer for 5 minutes (I do not like to cook this for too long as I don’t like mushy beans), add a bit of water if you think the stew is a bit dry. Return your shrimps to the pot and add a bunch of spinach. Cook just until the spinach wilts.

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Before serving you may top the dish with pork crackling bits for an extra layer of flavor, this is entirely optional.

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Ginisang Ampalaya (Sauteed Bitter Melon)

Ampalya or Bitter Melon is a seriously Asian vegetable. You either love it or hate it ! As the name suggests it has a very bitter taste. As a child I was not really fond of eating ampalaya, but was taught to eat what was served at the dinner table. I remember trying to drown it’s bitter taste by eating more rice than ampalaya or taking a sip of water for every spoonful of it. Now that I’m an adult I have learned to love it and regularly makes this dish for my family.

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Ampalaya is grown widely in Asia, Africa and the Carribean. The Chinese believes that it has a cooling property and is commonly eaten in the Summer. It’s also known for it’s medicinal qualities. In the Philippines studies have shown that it can help control sugar levels for those with diabetes.

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There is a way to somewhat lessen the bitter taste of ampalaya before cooking. To do this, first cut the ampalaya in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon, try to scrape off as much of the pith as you can and rinse with water. Slice the ampalaya into thin wedges and place in a bowl. Add water and a handful of salt let the ampalaya soak in this solution for 15-30 minutes. After soaking, you then drain and rinse it well and try to squeeze as much liquid from it as you can.

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To make this dish, heat a pan and add 1-2 tbsp of oil. Saute minced garlic, finely chopped onions and diced tomatoes until everything is softened. Add your ampalaya and give it a few stirs. Add 1/2 – 1 cup water depending on how much sauce you want in your dish. Season with salt and pepper or in my case I add I tbsp of fish sauce to give it more depth in flavor. Cover and simmer until vegetables are crisp tender, do not overcook. Add a beaten egg on top and stir to scramble the egg and coat the vegetables. You can serve this as a side dish or main course.

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