Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Candice's Cusina Chicken Adobo

Candice's Cusina's chicken adobo
I love making chicken adobo because it's a one-pot wonder! Simple ingredient list and really easy to cook. Plus it was the first Filipino dish I learned how to cook, taught by my Mom. 

Adobo is a national dish of the Philippines, a cooking method of braising meat, seafood or veggies in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves and peppercorns. So every Filipino family has their own delicious version. 

The one key ingredient in every adobo, is vinegar, introduced by the Spanish in the 1600s to help preserve food when there wasn't refrigeration.  
The vinegar helps to preserve the adobo and actually tastes better when the meat sits in the sauce for 1 to 2 days, so adobo is great for leftovers!

Here's my FOODIEO of how to make my version of chicken adobo. Enjoy!! xx


3lbs of chicken thighs & drumsticks bones-in 
3 tbsp of minced garlic
1 tsp of kosher salt
1 tbsp of whole pepper corns 
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups of soy sauce
1/4 cups of dark soy sauce
2 bay leaves
4 tbsp of coconut oil


1. In a 3-4 liter sauce pan, put the chicken, garlic, salt, peppercorns, sugar, vinegar, water, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and bay leafs. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring periodically. Remove any impurities that float up to the top of the stew.
2. Remove the chicken pieces from the pot, and allow any excess liquid to drain off them. The flesh of the chicken should be very tender and cooked.
3. Allow the stock to reduce by half.
4. Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan. Fry the chicken pieces until they are golden brown and crispy.
5. Transfer the chicken back into the adobo sauce and place onto a serving platter. Serve with steamed jasmine rice. Masarup!

Chicken adobo, masarup!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Going nuts for Mom's Kare-Kare (oxtail stew)!

Kare-Kare with bagoong
My Mom's kare-kare dish brings back delicious memories celebrating loved ones' birthdays, holidays and parties. It's a savoury melt-in-your-mouth oxtail stew braised in a smooth and rich orange peanut sauce packed with lots of hearty veggies like eggplant, long green beans and bok choi. Kare-kare's bold flavours are enhanced by pairing it with a heaping spoonful of distinctly Filipino flavouring, bagoong, sauteed fermented shrimp paste.

When my Mom taught me how to cook kare-kare, I soon realized why this dish is saved for special occasions. The cooking process is a labour of love, requiring hours to tenderize the oxtail in boiling water plus oxtail is pricey! Knowing how much time and money Mom would spend on kare-kare, makes me appreciate this dish so much more, thanks Mom;)

Similar to many Filipino dishes, kare-kare is considered comfort food but its origins is a complex meld of various cultural influences.

Depending on your source, there is a debate on where kare-kare originated from.  Some say it was introduced by the Spanish who brought in peanuts and annatto seeds when they brought in trade from China and South America. While there are those who claim kare-kare because of the thick peanut sauce looks like Indian curry or by the Japanese term kare (meaning curry) when they were doing business in the Philippines during the pre-colonial times.  Regardless of kare-kare's origins, the dish is uniquely Filipino with the oxtail and bagoong (fermented shrimp paste).  

Mom's awesome kare-kare
I'm also learning more Tagalog while cooking with Mom. Here are some phrases she recently taught me:
Mag luluto ako ng kare-kare. (I'm going to cook kare-kare.)
Sana ma gustu han ninyo ang akin ni luluto! (Hope you'll enjoy what I cooked!)
She's a strict teacher and said practice makes perfect...I'm guessing my Tagalog needs work, haha. It's actually a lot of fun cooking with Mom while she shares stories of growing up in the Philippines to how she taught herself to cook all the while keeping me in check with my budding culinary skills.

For over 2 hours in the kitchen, I was excitedly learning my Mom's kare-kare recipe because it has been lovingly prepared so many times so it's been tried, tested and true. So now, here it is for you!

Kare-kare ingredients
- 1.5-2lbs fresh oxtail, chopped into 2" pieces and washed
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 medium Asian eggplant (talong), sliced into 2"  long x 1/4" thick sticks
- 20 pieces of long string beans (sitaw), cut into  2" long strips
- 8 pieces of medium bok choy, cut into quarters lengthwise
- 1 large yellow onion, medium diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 cup smooth organic peanut butter
- 2 tbsp rice flour
- 1 tbsp annatto powder
- 1 tsp tumeric
- 2 tbsp fish sauce (patis)
- salt & pepper to taste

1) Add 3.5 litres of water to a large pot and bring to a boil. Submerge chopped oxtail and boil for 2 hours or until tender. If you cook the oxtail a day before, place in the fridge to continue cooking the following day.
Tip: Since tenderizing the oxtail takes time, Mom recommends that you prep the oxtail (2 hours in boiling water or 6-8 hours in a slow cooker), a day in advance. This way, you can also skim off the fat from the broth the next day for a leaner kare-kare sauce!
2) While the oxtail is cooking, to a heated large sauce pan, add the oil and saute the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt until translucent. Cook the eggplant, green beans and bok choy with oxtail broth, saute until tender. Remove veggies from pan and set aside.
3) Add peanut butter to sauce pan where you cooked your veggies. Stir in 8 cups of oxtail broth until peanut butter is runny and dissolved into liquid. Meanwhile, cook rice flour in a small pan until lightly toasted. Add toasted rice flour to peanut sauce and stir until sauce thickens. 
4) Place tenderized oxtail and veggies into peanut stew and stir. Once oxtail and veggies are coated with sauce, serve with Mom's bagoong with steamed white rice. Masarup!

Mom's bagoong
Mom's bagoong
- 1 tsp of vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup tomatoes, chopped
- 1 cup sauteed bagoong (recommended brand: Barrio Bagoong)
- 1/2 tsp of fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup of water
- salt & pepper to taste

1) To a heated medium sauce pan, add the oil and saute the onion with a pinch of salt until translucent. 
2) Add the garlic and tomatoes and saute until tender, 5 minutes. 
3) Stir in the bagoong, lemon juice and water to heat through. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Singapore Galore - Nasi Lemak

Nasi Lemak
Continuing on my Singapore Galore series is another one of my many favourite dishes I grew up loving, the hawker centre's darling, Nasi Lemak.
Did you know: Hawker Centres are open-air food courts in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong with passionate vendors selling local inexpensive street food where patrons can eat al fresco. Hawker Centres are conveniently located near transportation hubs.
An iconic national dish from Malaysian, Nasi Lemak is relatively simple to make but involves a few key ingredients to ensure the presence of its authentic flavours. The main components include creamy rice steeped in coconut milk and knotted pandan leaves, crispy fried anchovies, rich eggs, refreshing cucumber slices, roasted peanuts and spicy chilli sauce.

Pandan Leaves
Pandan leaves are indigenous to Southeast Asian cuisine and embodies a complex flavour profile that I find hard to describe. The tropical plants' long green leaves can be pounded into a paste, steeped in coconut milk or used as a wrapper to transfer its unique floral and nutty aromatic flavours to dishes.
Coconut pandan rice
Did you know: Nasi Lemak means rich or creamy in Malay to represent the cooking process where the rice is steeped in coconut cream and steamed.
Like many national dishes, Nasi Lemak has been adopted and flavours improvised to suit taste buds from the Chinese adding more sweetness to the chilli paste to reduce the heat to Filipinos replacing the fried anchovies with crispy chicken.

There are so many reason why I love this dish, mainly for its tropical flavours that remind me of my childhood in Singapore and how easily I can replicate it at home! For those who haven't tried it, it's so simple and easy to whip up while its presentation is still impressive in all its delicious glory served up in a fragrant banana leaf!

Banana Leaves
Did you know: Use banana leaves, easily found frozen in Asian grocery stores, to serve or even package your Nasi Lemak like how it's traditionally done. The leaves' oils impart a wonderful aromatic fragrance marrying all the yummy flavours while being an eco-friendly serving ware!
Nasi Lemak
Serves 2

- 3/4 cup coconut milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 (1/2 inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- salt to taste
- 2 pandan (or screw pine) leaves, knotted
- 1/2 cup long grain rice, rinsed and drained

- 2 eggs, fried
- 2" cucumber, peeled & sliced
- 1/4 cup oil for frying
- 1 (4 ounce) package white anchovies, washed
- 1/2 cup raw peanuts
- 2 banana leaves, used as plates

Chilli Sauce:
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoon chilli paste
- 1 (4 ounce) package white anchovies, washed
- 1 tsp white sugar
- 1 tsp lemon juice

1) In a saucepan over medium heat stir in coconut milk, water, ginger, salt, pandan leaves and rice. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until rice has absorbed milk and is fluffy. Remove the pandan leaves before serving.
Roasted peanuts
2) In a large wok, heat 1 tbsp of sunflower oil over medium-high heat and stir in peanuts and cook briefly, until lightly browned, season with salt. Remove peanuts with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to soak up excess grease. 
3) Heat 1/4 cup of oil, add one package anchovies; cook briefly, turning, until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels. Discard oil. Wipe out skillet.
4) Heat 1 tbsp of oil in skillet and fry eggs. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Place lid on top of skillet to cook eggs, 2 min.
Chilli Sauce
5) Heat 2 tbsp oil in the skillet. Stir in the onion and garlic; cook until fragrant, about 1 or 2 minutes. Mix in the chilli paste, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in salt, sugar, and lemon; simmer until sauce is thick, about 2 minutes.
6) Serve the warm rice on a banana leaf top with peanuts, fried anchovies, cucumbers and eggs with the chilli sauce on the side. So good, la! (Singlish) 
So good la!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Singapore Galore - Curry Puff

Malaysian Curry Puff
It's been over 20 years since we've moved from Singapore so I'm challenging myself to recreate the authentic delicious food I grew up eating. Starting my Singapore Galore food series is the heavenly golden Malaysian curry puff! 

Did you know: The origins of the Malaysian curry puff are said to be influenced by the British Cornish pasty, the Portuguese empanada and the Indian samosa. Wherever it came from, thank goodness because they're delish!!
My memories of growing up in Singapore during the 80's take me back to a time when leaving cash at the nook of our front gate meant it was for the bread man and no one thought twice of taking it. Every week my Mom would leave just enough for bread and the delivery man who would in turn carefully place  a loaf of delicious white bread in our gate. If we were lucky, my Mom left just a little extra for a half dozen freshly handmade curry puffs! 

Oh, how I miss having crispy curry puffs! These half-moon shaped pastries are a meal by itself, little purses carrying golden tender spicy chicken that would stain my fingers yellow because of they were packed full of yummy curry goodness. 

Curry Ingredients
Makes 24 curry puffs

2 cups boneless chicken breast or thighs 
1/2 large onion
1/2 large potato 
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp water
2 curry leaves
2 tbsp sambal oelek 
1tsp sugar
1tsp salt
1tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup sliced green onions
3 hard boiled eggs
  1. Dice the large onions.
  2. Cut chicken into small pieces/ cubes.
  3. Add curry powder into the water and mix into a paste.
  4. Peel and cut the potatoes into small cubes of about 0.25" squares and bake in 350 oven for 20 min.
  5. Heat 2 tbsp of sunflower oil. Saute onions until translucent. Then mix in sambal olek and curry paste.
  6. Add curry paste, salt, sugar, chicken & curry leaves. Fry for another 10 minutes. Towards the end, add the potatoes and stir/mix. The filling is done. 
  7. Hard boil the eggs and cut into segments.

Curry Puff Butter Crust

Outside pastry
1 cup all purpose flour 
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cups cold water

  1. Mix, knead flour. Add the water bit by bit as you knead.
  2. Separate into 2 balls 
Inside pastry
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter

  1. Mix, knead flour
  2. Separate into 2 balls 
Making the pastries
  1. Flatten outside pastry, just wide enough to wrap around one ball of inside pastry ball.
  2. Wrap around inside pastry ball.
  3. Flatten both then roll up tightly and flatten about 3 - 4 times.
  4. Once flattened then roll dough into long tube.
  5. Cut roll into 1/2" width pieces.
  6. Flatten individual pastry pieces into rounds to place curry and one sliced egg in the middle.
  7. Close pastry over ingredients and crimp the sides by folding over to seal puff.
  8. Lightly flour cookie sheet and place completed curry puffs until ready for frying.

To Fry
Heat clean frying oil like canola or peanut oil to 375 degrees F in a large pot until gentle bubbling. Then slowly insert curry puffs into oil without overcrowding. 
Frying fresh curry puffs take 2-3 min until light golden brown.
Frying frozen curry puffs take 3-6 min to ensure warmed through all the way.

Let cool for 5 minutes and these little golden curry pockets are ready to eat!

Did you know: These puffs are suitable for freezing. Place puffs freezer ziplocks and place in freezer, to be fried (no need to defrost) just before serving.