Archive | February, 2012

Pork Menudo

20 Feb

Who is your first crush?

And what dish reminds you of said person?

That is this month’s Kulinarya Cooking Club Challenge.

Kulinarya was started by a group of Filipino foodies living in Sydney, who are passionate about the Filipino culture and it’s colourful cuisine.  Each month we will showcase a new dish along with their family recipes.  By sharing these recipes we hope you find the same passion and love for Filipino food as we do.

Instantly, I had visions of the 80’s – acid washed jeans, mile-high bangs, flouro shirts and *big pause* MENUDO!

Yes, I am not ashamed to admit that my first ever ever crush was Ricky Martin of Menudo. I remember, he was 12 and I was 6, he was a member of the biggest boyband at that time and I can’t even carry a tune (even now… really shames me when people ask me if I’m a good singer coz I’m Filipino.. anyhoo!), he was travelling all over the world promoting his album while my furthest destination was my school via the school service… but despite those differences we still found ourselves madly in love with each other – okay so it was a one-sided relationship which is (obviously) mainly from my end.

Once my brother caught me watching their music video (with Lea Salonga, I think that was) on TV wide-eyed (and probably with my mouth hanging open and a bit of drool on the side) and being the big brother that he was proceeded to tease me. I remember crying and walking out, but quickly coming back once I saw that the coast was clear.

Years later our paths crossed again… this time I was already in College and he a solo star. Although the love was still there, unfortunately, it wasn’t as strong as when we were younger. This, however, didn’t stop me from taking Spanish as an elective so I can impress him with my linguistic skills (if and) when we meet. Completely ignoring the fact that he speaks perfect English but whatever!

So now I present you my dish, one that I never made until now. See I’m not a big fan of tomato based stews so my poor husband has to wait until we go home for Christmas so that he can eat his (according to him) one of his favourite dishes (top three he said) menudo.

Having never made this dish, I dialled (or texted) a friend – otherwise known as my mom. She quickly replied with her basic instructions, so again all the measurements on this dish were just done by feel.

I started by browning pork belly cubes in a bit of oil, once they’re done I sauteed chopped onions and then added the minced garlic once the onions were soft and transparent (segue to.. I once heard Kris Aquino – man I hate her – say that she learned that when sauteing you should start with onions as the garlic burns and becomes bitter, so much as I hate her, this tip actually made sense and I’ve been using it since then). Then I added quarter pieces of tomatoes. Once everything was nice and mushy, I added some sliced chorizo (in replacement of hotdogs as we don’t have tender juicy or tender meaty here and the red hotdogs aren’t really that good.. so I thought it’s a Spanish dish might as well add a Spanish hotdog eeer sausage) I placed the pork back and added strips of red bell pepper, green peas, cubed potatoes and cubed carrots and covered everything with just enough tomato sauce. Simmer until nice and bubbly and then added raisins (or sultanas as we call them here) and strips of pork liver. Just leave it simmering for a few minutes more until the liver is cooked. Of course, season season season as all those TV chefs would say.

Above is my attempt at plating (needs more practice I think!)

Husband was really happy that I made menudo and knowing that I never really liked this particular dish was extra curious as to why I cooked it. I didn’t tell him the truth as it might hurt his feelings (he thinks he’s my first love.. haha!) but was happy to eat it nonetheless.

Some little points re : making this dish – chorizo is actually a good replacement for hotdogs, but since most of the chorizo sold here is fresh (i.e soft and not smoked) I would drop it in last minute along with the liver next time as some disappeared into the sauce. Also, my mom mentioned garbanzos (or chickpeas) but I didn’t include it as I’m not a fan. And another thing, I know that I said menudo is a Spanish dish, but then I remember eating Mexican menudo in the US – different though as it had offal and wasn’t sweet-ish like the Filipino version.

Noche Buena Meal – Morcon

16 Feb

Like all things, my post is mega-delayed (hmmm…)

I came back from my “extended” Christmas holidays in Manila, wishing it was longer and regretting that I haven’t eaten some chicken inasal *sigh*.

Something that I look forward to is the end of the year; since I moved to Australia, I’ve spent six of my seven Christmases in Manila. Nothing (and I mean nothing) compares to a Filipino Christmas – you can feel it everywhere you go; Christmas and it’s undeniable presence! From the traditional Simbang Gabi, to the extended mall hours (bad for the budget!), to the foodie markets and tiangges and of course, my favourite Puto Bumbong and Bibingka (there’s no way I’m going to miss out on any of these!) More importantly, my family are all based in Manila and Christmas won’t be the same if my Christmas Eve dinner wasn’t spent with them.

Well, this month Kulinarya’s theme (which I’m co-hosting! *slaps wrist* – bad host!) is Noche Buena – more specifically a Noche Buena menu.

Kulinarya was started by a group of Filipino foodies living in Sydney, who are passionate about the Filipino culture and it’s colourful cuisine.  Each month we will showcase a new dish along with their family recipes.  By sharing these recipes we hope you find the same passion and love for Filipino food as we do.

I have been thinking about my mom’s morcon a few months before Christmas, coincidentally my brother has been as well! So I nagged (and guilted) my mom into making one for us. Morcon was always a Christmas food for me, it was one of those things that only pop up during this season, along with embutido actually.. but for a long time, we haven’t had any for Christmas. I think the last one that I had was way back in College, and that was 11 years ago (man I’m old!).

So here’s my mom’s morcon recipe, (I don’t have measurements, sorry coz as you know these things are made by “feel”):

First off is to marinade the beef (like a long flat one so it can be rolled after, dunno what the cut is, should have asked) in soy sauce, vinegar and pepper. Afterwhich, you layer on raisins, pickle relish, cheddar cheese, hotdogs, boiled eggs, ham, chorizo de bilbao on the beef and then roll everything in. You then secure everything with a string (believe me this takes patience). Once it’s ready you brown it on a pan, remove and on the same pan saute garlic, onion and lots of tomatoes – which you then bring to a boil until the tomatoes turn into a sauce. Place the morcon roll into the sauce and simmer until tender.

Looks easy huh? Well, apart from the string issues, everything is actually quite easy to do. Like most things, this tastes better a day or two after cooking. Of course, you remove the string and then slice them up (in my case chopped) before serving.

Now, as the challenge actually calls for a whole menu and not just a dish, what would I pair this with? For selfish reasons, I asked for this challenge as I’m not good with food pairing and thought I could get some ideas from other Kulinarya members. I, however, know what I want to eat so.. my ideal Christmas menu would be : first off my mom’s morcon, my tito’s (famous) crispy pata, roasted chicken, crabs in garlic and oyster sauce that my mom also makes and Max’s pancit canton (oh I love it, even more than the chicken itself!) and of course, leche flan – lots and lots of it! I know my ideal menu can also cause a mild heart attack a few hours after consuming but what the heck? It’s Christmas and what better way to go than to have all these delicious dishes beforehand?