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.
Grilling is always fun. We usually have a family barbecue every Sunday. It’s lots of fun and a great way to catch up with each other after a busy week. One of the problems I run in to is finding new recipes to grill. (With recent lock downs and quarantines we’ve had to barbecue for those of us in the household, other family members barbecue at their homes to maintain social distancing. But hopefully soon we can all get together again for this family tradition!)
Sure hot dogs, burgers, and steaks are easy, but every now and then we need a change. That’s why I’m always in search of a new barbecue recipe. I like to try them out during this weekly family dinner, and if everyone likes it we make it part of our menu.
Last month I tried this new marinade, mostly because I had all the ingredients in the pantry. (Again with the pandemic quarantine we try to keep shopping trips to a minimum). But also because I love balsamic vinegar, which is the main ingredient to this recipe. I call it Beef Kabobs in Vinaigrette Marinade.
The best part about marinades is that it flavors your meat with very little work. It’s simple, just toss the ingredients together, soak the meat, and let the marinade do the rest of the work! I marinate my meat in the refrigerator overnight. The longer is marinates the more flavorful it will be, but you don’t want to marinate it more than a day or so, because when marinated too long the meat starts getting this tough jerky like texture and it may eventually spoil. If for some reason we don’t use the marinated meat the next day I freeze it, marinade and all. That way I just thaw it out when we’re ready to grill.
Just before grilling I skewer the beef cubes on bamboo skewers, but you can use metal skewers if you have them. We do have a bunch of pretty metal skewers we brought home from Turkey one year, but cleaning them after the barbecues is an extra chore I can do without. When you do use bamboo skewers remember to soak them in water for about 10 – 15 minutes before putting the meat on, it keeps them from burning when you pop them on the grill.
Another helpful tip when grilling is to not over cook the meat. Grill meat until it is just about done to the way you want it (rare, medium, well). In short remove it from the grill before it is the desired “doneness”. Place grilled meat in a covered pot or roasting pan and let rest covered for 5 minutes before serving. This allows the meat to finish cooking and to release its juices. Try it out! You’ll end up with tender juicy meat! It works for steaks too!
Having said that here’s my recipe for Vinaigrette Marinade! By the way you can use the same marinade on chicken, lamb, or shrimp. Just don’t mix the meats, make a separate batch of marinade for each type of meat or seafood.
3 Lbs. Beef Tenderloin cut in 1″ cubes (you can use your favorite beef cut)
1 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
2 Tbs. Finely Minced Garlic
1 Tbs. Fresh or Dried Rosemary
1 Tbs. Fresh or Dried Oregano
1 Tsp. Sea Salt
1 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper
1 Large Onions cut into large chunks
1 Large Green Pepper cut into large pieces
1 Basket Mushrooms, washed and patted dry
Combine Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil, and seasonings in a large ziplock bag. Seal bag and shake to combine all the ingredients together.
Add meat cubes to the marinade. Seal bag and shake to cover all the meat.
Refrigerate at least 3 hours, for best flavor marinate in the fridge overnight.
About and hour or less before grilling place meat, onions, peppers, and
mushrooms on skewers. Alternate meat with veggies.
Grill over medium heat until meat is just about done the way you want it.
Place skewers in a large pot or roasting pan with a lid. Cover and let stand 5 minutes to allow meat to finish cooking and release its juices.
Serve hot with rice, potatoes, and other sides.
Beef Kabobs in Vinaigrette Marinade
Tender, juicy, and flavorful grilled meat that's perfect for any cook out.
Last month during my visit to my daughter and her family in Georgia there was an epic snowstorm in the East Coast. My grandson, Devon, requested I make him some “Sinigang”. I was surprised that he even knew what it was, but it seems that one of their friends makes it. Of course I said yes, after all that’s what Nanas do, cook for the grandkids! This Shrimp Sour Soup is the perfect comfort food for cold rainy (or snowy) days!
This was one of my favorite childhood dishes and I was happy to find out that my grandchildren love it too. Like many Filipino dishes this soup is very easy to prepare. Traditionally my grandmothers used tamarind (sampaloc) or the small Filipino limes called “Calamansi” to make the soup sour. These days it’s so much easier, you can buy the powdered soup base at most Asian markets or even order it on Amazon! (Affiliate Link)
This dish is typically eaten with steamed white rice with a side of “Patis“, Filipino fish sauce also available at Asian markets and on Amazon. It can be made with fish, shrimp, or meat with assorted vegetables like spinach, radish, eggplant, tomatoes, onions, or string beans. This time I made it with shrimp, spinach, radish, tomatoes, onions, and jalapeno pepper. I like to add the pepper to give it a bit of spice, we all love spicy things in our family.
In most Filipino households this shrimp soup is made with whole shrimps, meaning shrimps with shells and heads on. I’m not a big fan of shrimp heads so I use shrimps with shells on. You can also use prawns if you have any handy.
Pancit Molo is a Filipino soup dish that makes you wonder why it’s called pancit. Pancit refers to noodle dishes, and this dish doesn’t have noodles at all. It uses wonton, soimai or molo wrappers. Not to mention most of the pancit recipes are dry while this pancit molo is a soup.
Pancit Molo is a soup dish composed of a mixture of ground pork wrapped in wonton wrappers, shredded chicken meat, and shrimps. This dish is a well known Filipino dish that resembles the Chinese dish called wanton soup but the finest ingredients and flavor makes this dish stand out.
Today I will give you my version of this dish, I’m sure you will love it.
1 onion, peeled & sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, peeled & minced
1 tbsp. cooking oil
10 cups homemade broth
1 tbsp. fish sauce
1 pc. green onions, ends trimmed and chopped
1 cloves fried garlic bits
½ tsp. salt to taste
¼ tsp. pepper to taste
For the Homemade Broth:
3 pounds bone-in chicken parts (wings, thighs)
12-13 cups boiling water
1 onion, peeled & chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled & minced
1 tsp. pepper corns
1 tbsp. cooking oil
2 pcs. bay leaves
1 tbsp. salt to taste
For the Wontons:
2 pounds ground pork
1 pack (30 pcs.) wonton wrappers
1 small carrot, peeled and shredded
1 tbsp. soy sauce
½ cup green onions, finely chopped
½ cup water chestnuts, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tsp. salt to taste
1 tsp. pepper to taste
For the Homemade Broth:
Heat oil in a deep pot over medium heat then add onions and garlic and cook until limp and aromatic.
Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4 to 7 minutes or until chicken changes color. Lower heat, cover, and cook for about 17 to 20 minutes or until chicken releases its juices.
Raise heat to high and add boiling water.
Add bay leaves and peppercorns, season with salt.
Lower heat and return to simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
With a slotted spoon, remove chicken pieces from broth.
Allow to cool to touch. Remove meat from bones and shred.
Set aside chicken meat and keep warm. Break bones to expose marrow and return to pot.
Continue to cook at barely a simmer, uncovered, for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until liquid is reduced and concentrated. Using a cheesecloth, strain stock to remove bones and aromatics.
For the Wontons:
In a bowl, combine ground pork, water chestnuts, green onions, soy sauce, carrots, garlic, salt and pepper. Gently stir until well-distributed.
Separate wrappers into individual sheets. Spoon a heaping tablespoonful of meat mixture on middle of wrapper and then gather sides to form a cup around mixture.
For the Final Pancit Molo:
Heat oil in a pot over medium heat.
Then Add onions and garlic and cook until aromatic.
Add broth and bring to a simmer.
Add fish sauce and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes then season with salt and pepper.
Add wontons and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes or until cooked through.
Add chicken and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes or until heated through.
Divide wontons, shredded chicken and broth into serving bowls.
Mansaf, Fatiyeh, or Fatihah this traditional middle eastern lamb stew in yogurt sauce is a big part of Arabic cuisine. It is a favorite dish for large gatherings including weddings and engagement parties. In short it plays a large part in Middle Eastern hospitality.
In my experience folks in the Arab world are very hospitable and generous. Rolling out a huge tray of Mansaf is a sign of respect and welcome to anyone visiting an Arab home whether it be in Jordan, Dubai, Europe, or America.
But of course this traditional dish has several names depending on the country or even city one is in. In most countries like Jordan and Lebanon it’s called Mansaf; it’s the same dish Palestinians from the West Bank call Fatiyeh or Fatihah and those who hail closer to the larger cities call Mensaf. Whatever it’s called it’s basically the same dish with a few regional additions to the toppings.
So what is Mansaf? It’s a dish typically made with Lamb that’s simmered in a yogurt sauce made from reconstituted “Chisitch/Kishk/Jameed” (fermented or dried sheeps’ milk yogurt.) Then the meat and sauce are served on a bed of torn unleavened bread like Shrak or pita and rice. The whole dish can be topped with fresh parsley and sprinkled with toasted pine nuts; or as I’ve been taught by some of my Palestinian husband’s friends a ring of fried onions and tomatoes.
Really the secret ingredient, or not so secret, is the Chisitch. Okay it’s not the easiest thing to get your hands on. I usually get the dried balls of Chisitch from my husband’s relatives who travel to and from the Middle East or my sister-in-law who actually makes it! I’ve also been able to buy it from a market in Oman during one of my trips there. But you might be able to find it at a middle eastern market where it’s usually called Kishk or Jameed. It’s available in liquid or powder form. Or you can believe it or not order it from Amazon by clicking this affiliate link!
If all else fails and you simply can not get a hold of Chisitch/Kishk/Jameed then use Buttermilk! Yes the carton you find in your grocer’s diary section. Good old fashioned buttermilk, the stuff you can use to make Buttermilk pancakes and biscuits!
If you’re using balls of chisitch from where ever you must reconstitute it – meaning soak the balls in water overnight, then place all of it in your blender until it is liquified. You might need to add water to the blender to get the liquid you need.
If you’re using powdered kishk or jameed then dissolve it in water. Obviously the easiest one to use would be liquid jameed or buttermilk.
Whichever one you use the real secret is to keep the jameed or kishk liquid from curdling when you add it to your meat. To do that you must temper it by slowly stirring the liquid into a little bit of lamb broth. This brings the temperature of the jameed up to the temperature of the stewed meat.
So if you want to try this yummy dish at home scroll down for my recipe. It’s pretty fussy, it takes me a whole afternoon too make it! This recipe is for a fairly small tray, you can double or triple it if you need to make a large tray for more people.
By the way Mansaf or Fatihah is traditionally eaten with one’s fingers right off the serving tray. The polite and proper way to eat this dish is to use your fingers to take bite-sized portions from the tray and pop it in your mouth. You take portions only from the meat and rice that is directly in front of you; respect other diner’s tray space. That’s how it’s traditionally eaten; at our house it’s served family style with a serving spoon used to spoon a portion on to each person’s plate and we uses forks and knives.
Place meat in large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil.
While meat boils fat will come to the surface. Skim off fat and discard. Continue this process until fat stops forming on the surface.
Strain meat and set aside while you thoroughly wash out the pot. Dry pot before proceeding.
Heat 1 Tbs. Olive Oil in pot and add 1 portion of chopped onions. Cook onions until they start to soften.
Add meat and Lebanese 7 Spices Mix and stir well. Cook until onions become translucent.
Add beef broth to cover meat. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer covered for 2 hours.
Meanwhile you can prepare other parts of the dish.
Heat remaining Olive Oil in frying pan and add remaining chopped onions. Cook until onions start to soften.
Add garlic to pan and cook about 1 minute stirring constantly.
Add chopped tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are soft and juices start to come out. Salt & Pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
Melt 2 Tbs. Butter in saute pan and toast pine nuts until they start to turn golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
About 30 minutes before stew is cooked prepare rice by first melting remaining butter in pot.
Add Vermecelli and saute until pasta starts to turn golden brown.
Add dry rice and saute another minute.
Stir in about 4 cups of water to cover the rice. Cook covered over low heat for 20 minutes or until rice is cooked. Let rest at least 5 minutes to absorb any remaining water.
Check you meat. It should be tender and falling off the bone.
If meat is cooked turn down heat very low.
Remove about 1 cup of broth from pot to temper your jameed or buttermilk.
Slowly pour liquid jameed or buttermilk into that broth. Stirring only in one direction as you add the jameed. This is tempering the jameed. It is very important that you stir as you combine the liquids and stir only in one direction to keep the jameed from curdling.
Once the jameed is tempered using the same procedure slowly add the tempered jameed into the pot of stew.
Simmer on low heat for about 20 Minutes.
Meanwhile prepare your serving tray. Break up the bread into pieces and place pieces on to the tray.
Cover bread with rice.
Place meat on the rice. Pour yogurt sauce (liquid you cooked meat in) over the meat and rice.