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Philippino Cuisine Recipes

by Nancy Freeman

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Sinigang na Isda (Fish Sinigang)

Sinigang can be made with fish, pork or beef. Most commonly it is made with a fresh-water fish called bangus which is now available in many cities in the US. A medium sized fish, it is simply chopped in pieces and boiled -- head, tail and all. But bangus is bony, so for those who would rather do without, we recommend salmon or rock cod. This recipe is adapted from one used by the Sulo Restaurant in Alameda, California. Modify the degree of sourness to suit your own taste.

1/2 cup or more lemon or lime juice (to taste) (or 1 cup or more green tamarind*, crushed and cut into two or three pieces)
5 cups rice water, the water left over from washing your rice
1 cup finely sliced onion
1/4 cup fresh ginger julienned
2 cups sliced tomato
1 large or two small daikon* (Chinese radish), peeled and sliced thinly on the diagonal
2 pounds bangus, salmon or rock cod steaks or filets
2 Tablespoons patis* (Filipino fish sauce)
2 bunches of spinach, cleaned and stemmed
Chopped scallions for garnish

If you would rather not have the chipped shells and seeds of tamarind in the final product, tie the tamarind loosely in a piece of cheesecloth which you can remove later. Simmer wa ter, lemon or lime juice or tamarind, onion, ginger, and tomato lightly for one-half hour. Add water if it appears to cook away too quickly.

Add daikon and simmer for 10 more minutes. Add fish and cook for another five to 10 minutes, until the fish is cooked through. Remove tamarind bundle at this point and add patis.

Add spinach and cook just until soft. Garnish with chopped scallions. Serve with rice and a small bowl or cup for the broth. Pass additional patis at the table.

Lumpia Shanghai

There are many types of lumpia, the Filipino version of China's spring rolls. Some are heavy on vegetables. Others are made with chicken or fish. For our version of Lumpia Shanghai we turned to Vicki Valdez, owner of -- what else? -- The House of Lumpia in San Francisco.

3/4 pound lean ground pork
3/4 pound shrimp, finely chopped
1/3 cup water chestnuts, chopped
1/3 cup onions, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 eggs
30 to 35 lumpia wrappers*

In a medium bowl, combine pork, shrimp, water chestnuts and onions. Mix them well. In a smaller bowl, beat eggs. Add salt, pepper and soy sauce and beat again. Add to meat mixture and mix thoroughly until ingredients are well blended.

Separate wrappers. Place one tablespoon of mixture at one end of wrapper. Roll tightly halfway. Fold over left and right ends of wrapper and continue rolling. Brush end of wrapper with water to seal.

Deep fry in moderately hot oil for 20 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Drain on paper towels. If you wish to serve them in bite-size pieces, cut each lumpia diagonally into three pieces with a sharp knife. Serve hot with a sweet and sour sauce or garlic vinegar or a choice of either.

Sweet and Sour Sauce

1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
2 Tb. catsup
2-3 drops hot pepper sauce
2 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tb. water

In a small pan combine vinegar, sugar, salt, water and catsup. Boil for two minutes. Add hot pepper sauce and corn starch. Stir well to blend. Cook for 3 more minutes at medium heat.

Garlic Vinegar Sauce

1/2 cup vinegar, preferably coconut or palm
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
Salt to taste

Mix it all together and set it out for dipping.

Adobo Pork Chops

Adobo can be made with pork or chicken or a mixture of the two. Most home cooks use pork butt cut into bite-sized chunks and stewed. Nick Mendoza, chef/owner of the Banaue Restaurant in Daly City, California, likes to use pork chops because they are more tender and cook quickly. He leaves out the traditional bay leaf and peppercorn and substitutes lemon juice for vinegar.

8 pork chops -- 1/2" thick
2 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
1 Tablespoon onion chopped
Juice of one lemon
1/4 cup soy sauce

Pour just enough cooking oil into a large skillet to coat the bottom. Heat the oil and sear the pork chops, approximately 3 minutes per side.

Add garlic and brown lightly. Add onions, lemon juice, garlic and soy sauce, turn heat down and cover. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Reduce the sauce as much as you like. Nick likes his adobo dry; others like it with plenty of sauce to go with their rice.

Fried Chicken Manong Style

Emil De Guzman spent years living with and advocating the rights of the manongs -- the first generation of Filipino immigrants who worked the fields and filled service industry positions up and down the west coast. He learned their cooking secrets and his passion for food continued though times and careers changed. This is an adaptation of his version of fried chicken which includes rosemary and parsley - not exactly Filipino herbs. But with or without rosemary, you'll have to agree that Colonel Sanders would never recognize the dish.

1 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Juice of one lemon
2 generous Tablespoon ginger, sliced thin and lightly smashed
1/2 head garlic, peeled and minced
1 small bunch parsley, chopped fine
1/4 cup fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 chicken cut in pieces, skinned, washed and dried thoroughly

Mix soy sauce, sesame oil, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, parsley, rosemary and pepper. Place chicken in marinade using shallow bowl or plastic bag and turn the chicken to insure it is coated. Marinate chicken overnight, turning several times.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and wipe lightly to remove herbs, ginger and garlic. Heat approximately 1/8" to 1/4" of oil on high. Fry 8 minutes to a side to achieve a crispy brown layer. Lower fire to medium and continue frying for another 20 to 30 minutes keeping close attention to avoid blackening or burning.

*Available in Filipino and many Chinese grocery stores.

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