Filipino cuisine is a melting pot of several different types of cuisine, but it is said that 80% of Filipino dishes have been influenced by Spanish cuisine. The Philippines was a Spanish colony from 1521 to 1898. Almost 400 years of Spanish rule certainly left its mark, many Filipino specialties are local adaptations of Spanish dishes.
One of our family favorites is Escabeche, or a Sweet & Sour Fish dish. Escabeche is a common Spanish dish that is popular in Mediterranean and Latin American cuisine. Typically it refers to a dish of poached or fried fish that has been marinated in an acidic sauce before serving. It can also composed of other meats including chicken and pork, or vegetables. The Filipino version of Fish Escabeche is fried fish in a Sweet & Sour sauce. It is a favorite Filipino party food, specially when it’s made with a whole fish that’s artfully arranged on a platter and topped with colorful veggies and sauce.
I’ve made it the traditional way using whole fish, but my grandsons have difficulty with the small fish bones. To make it easier for them to eat I have started making Escabeche using fish fillets than have no bones. Any kind of white fish will work. We have used Tilapia, Flounder, Orange Roughy, and other white fish we find in the market.
Like many Filipino dishes Escabeche isn’t difficult to make, but it is “fussy” meaning its preparation requires several steps; in this case dredging, frying, chopping, and making the sauce. It takes about an hour or so tho cook so it’s not something I make very often, but when I do my family loves it!
6 – 8 Fish Fillets (any white fish: Tilapia, Flounder, Halibut, etc.)
1 Large egg – slightly beaten
1 Cup Flour
1 Tsp. Garlic Powder
1 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper
1 Tsp. Sea Salt
1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup White Vinegar
1 1/2 + 1/2 Cup Water
1/4 Cup Ketchup
2 Tbls. Corn Starch
1 Large Onion Sliced into strips
2 Medium Green Peppers Sliced into large chunks
4 Cloves Garlic roughly chopped
Mix flour and spices in a shallow bowl
Place egg in another shallow bowl
Pat fish fillets dry with a paper towel
Heat oil in frying pan
Dip fish fillet in egg, then dip in flour mixture, shake off excess flour
Fry in hot oil until both sides are cooked
Remove from pan and place on paper towel to drain oil
Repeat with the rest of the fish
Keep fried fish warm by placing it in the oven at about 200 degrees
Dissolve cornstarch in 1/2 cup water and set aside
Place sugar, vinegar, water, and ketchup in a medium pot and bring to boil
Stir in garlic, peppers, and onions
Make sure cornstarch solution is still dissolved, if not stir until it is
Slowly stir in cornstarch solution until you get desired thickness. Sauce should be the consistency of gravy.
Place fish fillets on serving dish and pour sauce over it
Serve right away. It goes great with steamed white rice.
Escabeche - Filipino Sweet & Sour Fish
Popular Filipino dish featuring fried white fish in sweet & sour sauce.
Combine flour, garlic powder, salt & pepper and place in a shallow dish.
Heat oil over medium - medium high stove.
Rinse fish fillets and pat dry with paper towel.
Dredge fillets in flour mixture and place in heated oil.
Fry fish until cooked and turns golden brown - about 4 - 5 minutes per side depending on the thickness
Remove from pan and place on a plate covered with a paper towel to absorb some of the oil. Set aside.
Combine sugar, vinegar, ketchup, and 1 1/2 cups water in a sauce pan and bring to boil. About 10 minutes.
Mix 1/4 cup water with corn starch until smooth.
Slowly stir corn starch liquid into the boiling vinegar mixture to thicken. Reduce heat to low and let sauce gently simmer. Keep an eye on it, you don't want it to get too thick. If it gets too thick add a bit of water to thin.
Saute onions in the oil you fried the fish in until it starts to turn a bit soft.
Add garlic, saute until cooked.
Add green peppers and cook until peppers turn slightly soft.
Return fried fish fillets to pan with veggies.
Gently stir fish mixture for about 3 - 4 minutes.
Arrange fish and veggies in a platter.
Pour sauce over all.
The most efficient way to make this dish is to start making the sauce while the fish is frying. Keep the sauce simmering over low heat while you finish sauteing the veggies. Stir the sauce periodically to keep a skin from forming on the top.
When you drain the fried fish and set it aside keep it warm by placing it in a warmer or on the stove top. Don't cover the fried fish, it will get soggy.
When you replace the fish in the pan gently stir it so that the fillets warm up a bit. Transfer fish and veggies on to your serving dish (or you can keep it in the frying pan) and pour the hot sauce over all.
This dish is perfect served with steamed white rice.
My all time favorite Filipino dessert is Cassava Cake. What you may ask is Cassava Cake? It’s a sticky dessert made from the Cassava (Manihot esculenta) a starchy tuberous root widely cultivated in the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. It is a staple in the developing world. When it’s dried its to a powdery or pearly extract we call it tapioca!
In the Philippines cassava is grated and used as the main ingredient for desserts including Suman, a sticky dessert wrapped in banana leaves. I like that too, but my favorite is Cassava Cake the way my grandma used to make. This so called cake isn’t really a cake, at least not in consistency. It is not “cakey” or “spongy” at all, instead is has a sticky consistency similar to “mochi”.
I’ve had several versions of Cassava Cake, made by different friends hailing from other provinces of the Philippines. From what I have observed it seems that different regions prepare it differently. I like our version the best, the bottom part has that same sticky consistency, but it has an almost custardy top layer. My version is also pretty sweet, just perfect for my sweet tooth. I do have to say that Cassava Cake may be an acquired taste, some folks love it and others can’t stand it.
This recipe has been in our family for years! The only difference in we’ve “modernized” it. Back in the day my grandma and aunts would spend a day grating the cassava and coconut, then the evening soaking the grated coconut and squeezing out the milk. These day we buy the frozen coconut milk and grated cassava, so much easier. You can use canned coconut milk instead of the frozen one, but my aunt insists the frozen coconut milk is best. You can buy both the frozen grated cassava and coconut milk at most Asian markets. I hope you like it!
1 16 oz. bag frozen grated cassava, thawed
1 16 oz. bag frozen coconut milk, thawed
1 Can Evaporated Milk
1 Can Condensed Milk
1/2 Cup Sugar
6 Egg Yolks
1/2 Stick Butter, Melted
Mix all ingredients is a large bowl. Stir well to make sure sugar dissolves and milks are well blended.
Pour into 9″ x 13″ baking pan.
Place filled pan into a larger roasting pan.
Fill roasting pan with water until is reaches the half way point of the panning containing the cassava mixture.
Place both pans in a 350 degree oven and steam for about an hour or until the middle is set.
Are you a fan of hearty Italian cooking? Do you love pizza and pasta? Well we’re big fans of Italian cuisine and pizza and pasta are our favorites, specially those with marinara sauce!
Sure we have our favorite Italian restaurants both here and abroad. But nothing beats home cooking! And a bowl of spaghetti is comfort food at its best.
Pastas and pizza have 2 basic ingredients; dough in the form of noodles or crust, and sauce. So making it at home should be easy, specially since you can buy pasta, crust, and sauces dried, frozen, or bottled from any grocery store. But why settle for boxed sauces (or pasta or crust) when making it from scratch is so simple?
Ok maybe making pizza dough is a bit time consuming and so is making pasta, but the sauces, well that’s pretty easy! (If you want to make homemade pasta check out my review of the Philips Pasta Machine). Marinara
One of the easiest and most versatile sauces is Marinara Sauce. You can use it for pasta, think spaghetti marinara; pizza, think Margherita; sandwiches, think meatball subs; and as a dip, think fried mozzarella sticks!
So today I’ll share my Basic Marinara Sauce Recipe. Believe me it’s super easy!
I use canned Fire Roasted diced tomatoes to give it that homemade taste. Sugar cuts the acidity of all those diced tomatoes so don’t leave it out even if you think it’s weird. And lastly I add some spice with crushed red peppers, yes, the the stuff you sprinkle on your pizza; you can add the tablespoon or more if you like spicy or omit it if you don’t.
Lately I’ve been really loving these Dutch Babies! You might be wondering what exactly is a Dutch Baby. No, I’m not referring to those adorable blond haired blue eyed cuties one would expect to see in Amsterdam, I’m talking about these yummy dessert or breakfast pancake like creations topped which sweet or savory morsels of goodness.
A Dutch Baby is sort of a cross between a pancake, a crepe, and a popover. And before you can ask it did not originate in the Netherlands, in fact there is nothing “Dutch” about it. It is also called a German Pancake and in Germany is called an Apfelpfannkuchen and was originally served as 3 small pancakes with lemon squeezed on it and then sprinkled with sugar. Somehow it evolved into larger sized pancakes.
But back to the name, the story goes that a Seattle diner called Manca’s Cafe back in the 1900s to the1950s served the German Pancake called Deutche Pancake (Deutche is the German word for well German). The owner’s name was Victor Manca, and his young granddaughter could not pronounce Deutche, instead she called it Dutch. And so the Americanized German Pancake was born!
However it got its name it’s still a delicious addition to breakfast, lunch, or even dinner; remember you can top it with just about anything. I’m not a big pancake fan, but I do love crepes; unfortunately I seldom make them at home because I really don’t like standing at the stove frying either one, I find it tedious. That’s why I love a Dutch Baby! It’s not fried, it’s baked! Now that’s something I can definitely get behind!.
Seriously Dutch Babies are super easy to make, you just mix the ingredients together, pour the batter in a cast iron skillet, pop it in the oven and in less than half an hour your Dutch Baby is ready to be topped and served! Easy peasy nice and breezy!
I’m sharing this simple Dutch Baby recipe today. I topped my Dutch Baby with lemon curd and fresh berries, it made a great dessert! You can top it the same way; sprinkle it with powdered sugar; spread it with jam; or even top it with ham and cheese for a nice savory lunch or dinner. In short just top it anyway you want!
Now this recipe makes a large Dutch Baby, I made it in a 10″ skillet. You can adjust the recipe to suit your needs or if you like you can split the batter between two 5″ skillets and have personal pan Dutch Babies that each person can top the way they want. If you’re making the large version just slice it up into wedges like you would a cake to serve.
Contrary to it’s name French Toast did not originate in France. In fact it originated long before France was even a country.
French Toast is basically made with stale bread dipped in an egg and milk mixture then fried up for a tasty meal. Being that bread, eggs, and milk have been staples since they started to prepare bread in some form it makes sense that it’s been around for centuries. And of course back in the day people weren’t wasteful so turning stale bread into a meal using basic ingredients that were readily available makes sense too.
The first mention of a similar dish dates back to a cookbook attributed to Apicius back in 4th. Century Rome. It was then called Pan Dulcis, or sweet bread, and made pretty much how we make it today. The dish spread throughout Europe in the Middle Ages, specially the practice of using stale bread. In France it was known then as it is now as Pain Perdu which literally means Lost Bread. It is known by this name in Belgium, New Orleans, and other places where the French had some sort of presence. We call it French Toast for the similar reason we call fried strips of potatoes French Fries; simply because it was popularized in America by French immigrants.
French Toast has become a staple on diner and coffee shop menus. In fact it is one of my favorite breakfast foods mainly because not only is it easy to make and very tasty, I almost always have all the ingredients in my kitchen!
Now there are many fancy variations of this humble dish like the Crème Brûlée French Toast I make on Christmas mornings. Now that requires a bit more fussing. But the basic French Toast recipe is so easy that you can make it even on weekday mornings, or at the very least on weekends.
This year Valentine’s Day falls on a weekday so I know cooking breakfast is pretty much not on the top of your priority list. But wouldn’t it be super sweet to wake up just 15 minutes earlier this Valentine’s Day and surprise your sweetheart with a stack of French Toast?
Garnished with fresh fruit, powdered sugar, or whipped cream can dress up this humble dish and make it look like you’ve been up for hours preparing it! So go ahead, wake up your Valentine with the cinnamony aroma of fresh made French Toast! The kids’ will love them too! Here’s my recipe!
3 Large Eggs
1/2 Cup Milk
1/4 Cup Sugar
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Tsp Vanilla
6-8 Pieces Bread – any type will do, you can use day old or fresh, whatever you have on hand.
Garnishes like fresh fruit, powdered sugar, whipped cream, etc.
Beat eggs in a shallow bowl.
Add milk and sugar and stir well.
Stir in cinnamon and vanilla.
Melt butter in a frying pan.
Dip both sides of each piece of bread in egg mixture.
Place bread in frying pan and cook until both sides turn golden brown.
Place French Toast on serving dish and garnish any way you want.
You can place butter, syrup, and garnishes on the table so everyone can serve themselves.