Friday, December 28, 2012

What is "Mano Po" means?

Some young Filipinos right now especially those who grew up abroad might have limited idea what the “Mano Po” means. “Mano Po” is actually a Filipino tradition wherein elders give blessings to the younger person.  The one who is receiving the blessing would bow their head, take the right hand of the elder (of their right hand as well), and place it on their forehead.   It’s a sign of respect as well to the elder persons when someone younger than them asked for their hands to “Mano”.


"Mano po" literally means can I ask for your blessing?, and the elder may respond, “God bless you” or "May the Lord have mercy on you".  Mostly “Mano Po” is done when someone is leaving or arriving in the place, or sometimes in a wedding ceremony where the groom and the bride would ask for their parents’ blessings.

When I was a kid, we usually “Mano” on our parents, grandparents, uncles, aunt, and godfather and godmother (ninong, ninang).  When we arrived from school and especially from the church after attending the mass, we would do this gesture to “mano”.

Nowadays, this tradition is still in existence in the Philippines, and even those who are living abroad most parents would show their children how to value this tradition.  But of course there are also some instances where some younger generations don’t practice this tradition anymore due to change of culture when they moved to another place.

But we Pinoys are always kind at heart and full of love and care to our elders, that’s why I believed that this tradition must not be forgotten by many and we must push to continue its legacy to the newer generations.
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Thursday, December 27, 2012

What is a Dahon ng Saging?

DahonngSaging is a tagalog term for a “Banana leaf”, Dahon which means “leaf” and Saging which means “Banana”.  This is very abundant in the Philippines as we have so many plantations of bananas all over the country.  There are many kinds of banana breeds in the Philippines but there is no particular breed that is commonly used in food preparations.

The most common use of Dahon ng Saging is to wrap a food.  Mostly it is used to wrap in Suman, Bibingka, puto, putobumbong, and many more. Pinoys also like to use the Dahon ng Saging as a table cover when eating traditional foods with their hands (nakakamay).  I really like the combination of sliced kamatis (tomatoe), pritongtuyo (fried dried fish), itlognamaalat (salted egg), and of course a plain rice.

Suman sa Lihiya
I can’t resist but to have a mouthwatering feeling every time I see this photo (as a truly madly deeply pinoy, this is very delicious to me).

Aside from food preparation, there are also some helpful uses out of this leaf.  I would like to share to you one of my experiences with the DahonngSaging.  When I was studying back in High School, during rainy days, this leaf is very helpful for me. I used to put this on top of my head to cover my body from the rain and it was so amazing and helped me avoid getting sick and colds. How amazing was that!

What experiences do you have that you can share using a “DahonngSaging”? What kind of food do you eat using DahonngSaging as a plate? Please leave your comments and tell us know what good stuffs do you remember about a “DahonngSaging”.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What is a Kudkuran?

It’s very memorable for me to see this kind of tool that is commonly seen in kitchens in our old house when I was small. Until now this device is still available in our house and still giving ample help everytime we want to cook some recipes that require coconut milk. 

We call this tool as “Kudkuran”. I guess most of you could also remember those times where motor-driven coconut grater was not yet invented. But our “Katutubo” (ancient pinoys) had already invented this kitchen tool (Kudkuran) to scrape the flesh of the coconut from its shell.

The traditional ‘kudkuran’ has a sharp-edged metal spur (mostly used metals are cast iron and stainless) and its body is shaped out of a piece of wood for the seat as the picture shows.

I heard a story from my mother when I was still a teenager that traditionally in ancient times of courtships in the Philippines, young guys (binata) who likes to marry a young lady (dalaga), at their courting stage, the parents of the female used to ask the young guy to do hard labors at home to see to it that his love to their daughter is genuine. One of the hard labors that they used to request to a young guy (suitor) was to scrape a coconut meat (but remember, it was about 10 coconuts to scrape at a time or maybe more). So if he could finish them, then he would have a chance to court their daughter. How lovely is that!

Nowadays, there are many motor-driven kudkuran that you can find in markets. Although they scrape the coconut meat very easy but the traditional kudkuran is still my choice as it represents how my grandfathers (or ka-lolo-lolohan) show their love to my grandmothers (lolas).

So in the Philippines, the main term for this is Kudkuran (tagalog), Kagudan (bicol), Igad or pagigadan (Ilocano).

If you know what is the term used to call this tool in your own dialect, please leave your comments here:

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

How to Cook a Cheesy Chicken Recipe

What can be prepared for today? I know it’s very hard to think for a recipe that is easy to prepare. If I have a chicken and some cheese on my fridge and stocked vegetables such as carrots what could be a good recipe to start with this?

Let me introduce to you my cheesy chicken recipe. This recipe is very delicious and easy to prepare in less than an hour. The good thing with this is that the sauce is not that thick enough but it’s full of cheese a flavor that is deliciously paired with the chicken.

If you are a health conscious person, you can always remove the chicken skin before cooking them. Let us now start our delicious cheesy chicken recipe.

What you will need?

Chicken thighs (about 6-8 pieces – cut into 1 inch cubes, you can remove the skin)
3 large carrots (Slice into thick circles)
3 green onion leaves (Slice on an angle shapes)
3 tablespoons of butter
1/4 cup milk
1 cup chicken stock (or water)
3/4 cup medium cheddar, grated
3/4 cup Parmesan, grated
Salt to taste

How to cook the Cheesy Chicken Recipe

1) Heat a pan over medium-high heat and melt the butter. Swirl it in the pan until it turns brown (about 3 minutes) don’t overheat.

2) Immediately add the chicken thighs. Turn often and cook until browned on all sides.

3) Add the carrot slices and mix until they are all coated with butter.

4) Simmer the chicken and carrots for about 3 minutes.

5) Pour in just enough chicken stock (or water) to almost cover the chicken. Simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through – about 15-20 minutes. Let the stock reduce until halved.

6) Turn down the heat. Add the milk and let it heat but not come to a full boil. Add both types of cheese and stir until melted. Add some salt and to taste.

7) Just before serving, add most of the green onions and toss to coat. Reserve a few slices of green onion as garnish.

8) Now it’s done, serve hot with rice!

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

How to cook Bibingkang Kanin

Back in high school, I used to buy this delicious dessert called “bibingkang Kanin”.  I was one of the “suki” (regular buyer) of the rice cake in our school during “merienda” and I used to pair it with Sago’t gulaman.

Since this is one of my favorite merienda, I want to share to you how easy to cook this recipe. This food is perfect in all occasions as this is categorized as a dessert.  The main ingredients of this recipe are the “Malagkit” or the glutinous rice, and a coconut milk.

If you are living abroad, I am quite optimistic that these ingredients are available in your area.

I have a suggestion for those who don’t have a “kudkuran” or coconut grater. Don’t lose hope, If you have a blender, for sure there is a grinder unit sold as part of that machine, what you need to do is to break the coconut into halves and carefully detach the coconut meat from its shell by using a knife and drop those pieces of coconut meat in a blender/grinder and viola you’ll have a grated coconut instantly.

Now let’s start our recipe, the preparation time for this dessert is about one hour.

What are the ingredients of Bibingkang kanin:
400 grams - malagkit
220 grams - brown sugar
100 grams - white sugar
800 ml (3 1/4 cup) - coconut milk, divided 600ml and 200 ml
1 teaspoon - salt

How to Cook Bibingkang Kanin:
Preparation: 30 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins

1) Preheat your oven to 175 degrees C.

2) In a large non stick pot, cook the malagkit with 600ml coconut milk and the salt. Stir occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of pot.

3) Before it gets too dry, add the brown sugar and continue mixing until almost . Pour into a baking dish.

4) Mix the remaining coconut milk with the white sugar and pour over the rice mixture.

5) Bake for 30 minutes, or until the coconut mixture on top is dry.

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Friday, December 21, 2012

How to cook Pinaupong Manok

We have many ways to cook the chicken, whether it has a sauce or just plainly baked or fried. Due to lots of workloads of many of our kababayans we prefer to cook those easy to prepare recipe but also a delicious one.

Do you love chicken as I do? Well, what we will be cooking now is the Pinaupong Manok. Cooking Pinaupong Manok is easy, The chicken is cook in the combined steam generated from the water content of the salt as well as its own. It also absorbs all the natural flavor of the rock salt.

The old way of cooking this recipe was to use a palayok, but since palayok is not anymore mostly available, there’s nothing wrong with using any large, thick stainless steel casserole or any available in your kitchen.

Ingredients: For the chicken :

1kilo whole chicken
2 pcs. whole onions
4 pcs 1″ chunks of ginger
5-6 pcs peppercorns
1 pc. whole garlic
3 pc. Lemon grass
2-3 cups of rock salt
1/2 cup of olive oil or sunflower oil

For the sauce :

1 tbsp. of finely minced garlic
1 medium size of onion, minced
3 tbsp. of kalamansi juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup vinegar
salt to taste

Cooking Pinaupong Manok Procedure:

1) Peel the onions. Pierce the garlic in several places using a sharp, pointed knife. Rub the cavity of the chicken with rock salt.

2) Stuff the cavity with the onions, garlic, ginger, peppercorns and lemon grass. Rub the skin with rock salt. Make the bed of rock salt. Pour enough rock salt, about an inch high, into a large, deep stainless steel casserole.

3) Place the chicken on the bed of salt, breast side down, making sure that no part of the chicken touches the metal.

4) Cover the casserole and cook over medium-low heat for 1 hour.

5) If using a pressure-cooker, cook for 20 minutes counting from the time the valve starts to whistle.

6) Do not uncover during cooking time.

7) Meanwhile, prepare the sauce.

8) Mix all the ingredients and stir. Season with salt.

9) When cooking time is up, insert a long, large fork into the chicken cavity to lift it without breaking.

10) Transfer to a plate. Take about a tablespoonful of the olive oil and brush the chicken all over.

11) Serve hot and dip to a dunking sauce.

This is a perfect recipe this Christmas Season and any celebration such as birthday party.

Photo courtesy of marjmallow0528 
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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

How to Cook Puto Bumbong

It’s Christmas again, I can see many Christmas lights decorated everywhere and of course those wonderful Christmas carols and Parol.  Pinoys spend the spirit of Christmas as early as September, when “ber” starts Christmas songs were played on air and pinoys start to unpack Christmas trees and decorate them with the traditional Christmas design and its accessories.

As majority of pinoys are Catholics, Simbang Gabi will start in December 16, It’s a tradition mostly of Pinoys during simbang gabi to buy sweet delicacies after the mass, you can see many sweet delicacies where local vendors are selling on streets for church goers.  After simbang gabi you could buy many of these different foods from rice cakes, bibingka, and the most known one is the Puto Bumbong which is mostly available during Christmas seasons.

Puto Bumbong (Sources: kerlynb/philippinetravelouge)

What is a Puto Bumbong?
Puto means steamed glutinous rice and Bumbong means cooked in Bamboo, so Puto Bumbong is a steamed glutinous rice cooked in Bamboo. Why is it the color of this food is purple? Well, because the purple color comes from the mixture of sweet rice and black rice (pirurutong), but I’ve seen recipes that call for purple food coloring, which is obviously cheating! Puto bumbong is served with butter, sugar and freshly grated coconut meat on top.

How To Cook Puto Bumbong
As Puto bumbong recipe and preparation need expertise and right equipment such as lansungan (same equipment used by vendors), Thus, I prefer to have this recipe simple and use some equipments that are easily available in the kitchen. What I will write here is just the easy procedure that anybody can cook even those living abroad.

Ingredients for Puto Bumbong
Grated coconut meat
1 tbl spoon - margarine or butter
2 tbl spoon - muscovado sugar or panutsa (sugar cane sweet)
1 stalk - pandan leaves
½ cup - pirurutong or purple-brown aromatic sticky rice
1 cup - white sticky rice
4 cups - water
banana leaves (optional)

Notes: If pirurutong is not available, change the amount of white sticky rice to 2 cups, and use 2 teaspoons of purple food color.  If you have blue and red food color, just combine them together (80% blue and 20% red) to create a purple food color.

What do we need for Making Puto Bumbong
- aluminum foil for covering heavy-duty paper
- heavy-duty paper cut into circles and with a circular opening in the middle (opening should be big enough for a small-sized strainer to fit inside)
- large-sized mixing bowl
- medium-sized strainer
- muslin or cheese cloth
- pot large enough to hold water
- small-sized strainer

Preparations for Puto Bumbong
1) Wash the white sticky rice and pirurutong with water then drain.
2) When the white sticky rice and pirurutong are already cleaned, place them in a pot.
3) Fill the pot with water up to about one inch from the top surface of the rice.
4) Soak the rice overnight or for at least eight hours.
5) Place the soaked rice in a blender and blend until grainy.
6) Place the grainy rice in a muslin or cheese cloth.
7) Tie the cloth and place it on a medium-sized strainer.
8) Wait until most of the liquid from the rice in the cloth is drained. This should take at least four hours.

How to cook Puto Bumbong
1) Get the moist rice mixture from the muslin or cheese cloth and place it in a large-sized mixing bowl.
2) Crush the rice mixture by hand until its texture becomes consistent.
3) Put pandan leaves into a pot.
4) Pour water into the pot.
5) Place the heavy-duty paper covered with aluminum foil on the lid of the pot.
6) Apply butter or margarine on the small-sized strainer.
7) Fill the small-sized strainer with the rice mixture.
8) Fit the small-sized strainer into the hole at the middle of the heavy-duty paper.
9) Cover the pot and let the mixture steam for 60 seconds or up to two minutes.
10) Scoop out the steamed rice cake and place on banana leaves.
11) Flavor the rice cake with muscovado sugar or panutsa, butter or margarine, and grated meat of fresh coconuts.

Enjoy with your family loved ones during this Christmas Season anywhere you are.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What is a Pili Nut, and where do they mostly grow in Philippines?

Pili Nut

When we went to Bicol Region with my friends, there were lots of pili nut products that are sold to passengers on bus or in almost all bus stops.  I was curious at first what this kind of sweetened nut that is a bit long in shape and caramelized with sugar.  My friend told me that was a pili nut which is well known in Bicol Region.

Bicol is somewhere in the South of Luzon and it's the region number 5 of the Philippine Island.  If you are a bicolano, Pili is very familiar to you.  

Well, what is really a pili nut?
As you can see in the figure above, Pili nut is also called Canarium Ovatum. The fruit is enclosed in a hard shell which, when ripe, has a thick, dark skin. Although it was used mainly as a garden plant, until it was made as special ingredients into many different sweet food products and even in cakes.  Aside from this its health benefits were known to natives of the Philippines. 

What are the active ingredients of Pili Nut?
The pili nut contains all eight essential amino acids. It contains 302 mg of magnesium which is more magnesium than any other nut. The U.S. Department of Agriculture-recommended amount for men is 400 to 420 mg daily and for women it is 310 to 320 mg daily. The pili nut also contains 100 percent of the daily recommended amount of copper and manganese. It also has a complete protein content, vital electrolytes, essential fats and is rich in minerals, which are important ingredients in maintaining bone and muscle tissue, a healthy heart, and keeping your body functioning at its best.

What is the secret in cooking this nut and make the husk soft?
Don't you know that the Pili nut's husk is also edible and bicolanos like this by dipping the husk in sugar.  But they said, cooking the husk is not that easy if you don't know what is the procedure.

Well, according to them, in a pot put just right amount of water and estimate it so that if you will drop all pili nuts on the pot they are completely submerged.  Now heating the pot with water just until it becomes luke warm (Don't overheat the water, else the pili husk will become more hard).  Remove the pot from fire and drop all pili nuts into the pot and wait until their husk becomes soft and ready to eat.  

The picture above shows the shell of the pili nut once you removed already the husk.  They are hard and made like a shaped part of a furniture, but inside of it is the pili nut.

The photo above shows how bicolanos manually remove the pili shell.  They would use a bolo and the end tip of the bolo must touch the chopping board so that only the right amount of force is applied to the shell to break them.  If you fail, the pili nut will be cutted into halves and it would not look perfect for commercial use.  

As you can see in the picture below, this is the finished product of fried pili nuts with coated brown sugar. So sweet and delicious, perfect for snacks.

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Friday, December 14, 2012

The First Design of Philippine 500 Peso Bill (but not officially used)

This is an old Philippine 500 Peso Bill.

I guess even if you go to a bank, you can not find anymore this bill. The first 500 Peso bill was planned to be released in 1985 during the era of former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, but it was not officially used because of the snap election.

In February 1986, Due to the People Power movement, President Ferdinand Marcos was oust from the Palace and Miss Corazon Aquino became the president of the republic.  During Corazon Aquino administration, a new 500 Peso Bill (with "Ninoy" image (Benigno Simeon "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr.) was released and officially used until now.

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Gintaang Tambakol - Bicolano style

Bicolanos love anything cooked with coconut milk.  It's their tradition that if they want to have a dish with a little touch of sauce, coconut milk is the most perfect ingredients. May it be for fish or for veges, coconut milk always make the food so delicious.

In Bicol region (Southern part of Luzon), there are huge areas of coconut plantation that made them very popular ingredients in different  dishes.  In our recipe for today, we will be cooking Ginataang Tambakol.

Some people prefer that the Tambakol must be fried first, so that its meat will not break-apart when it's cooked, but what we will do right now is just to steam the fish (paksiw) using vinegar (suka) and the rest of ingredients.  Let's start now making their dish.  The picture below is the Tambakol Fish.

Ginataang Tambakol Ingredients:

-1 whole regular sized Tambakol (about 1kg) or half of a big size Tuna
-1 1/2 cup coconut milk
-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
-1 small onion, sliced
-2 tbsp. palm vinegar
-3 pcs green chilis
-1 pc. chopped red hot chili (optional if you want it extra hot)
- ginger (about an inch), sliced
- salt and pepper to taste (pepper must be the whole grain but ground a bit)

Cooking Ginataang Tambakol Instructions:
1) Clean fish by removing its gills and guts then slice to serving pieces. Season with salt.
2) Cook the fish by steaming them with vinegar (paksiw). In a cooking pan add the fish, garlic, ginger, onion, and vinegar, bring to boil in medium heat and continue cooking the fish in low heat for about 5 minutes until the meat is soft and fragrant.
3) Adjust the heat to high and add the coconut milk (don't stir too much - so that the fish will not break apart). Bring to boil, Simmer for about 5 minutes.
4) Adjust thickness of sauce by slowly adding water up to desired consistency. Drop the whole green chilies and the chopped hot chili. Adjust taste with salt and pepper.
5) Transfer into a serving plate and serve with hot rice and enjoy!

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