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.
Mungo Guisado or Filipino Mung Bean Stew is a classic comfort dish, it’s one of my favorites. Mung beans in case you didn’t know are the beans that produce bean sprouts. That crunchy sprout commonly used in many types of Asian Cuisine.
In many Mungo Guisado recipes including the one my grandmothers used they would soak the dried mung beans, in Tagalog its called Mungo beans, in water for hours. My recipe doesn’t call for soaking the beans; skipping the soaking step in my opinion makes my recipe much easier as you don’t have to plan on making the dish hours ahead.
I love mungo guisado on cold rainy days. Eaten with freshly steamed white rice makes it a filling and comforting meal. I use bok choi, Chinese cabbage, in my recipe; but you can use any type of leafy greens such as spinach, bitter melon leaves, kale, or mustard greens.
Here’s my recipe, hope you love it as much as I do!
2 Cups Dried Mung Beans – available in the Asian markets
2 Tbs. Vegetable oil
1 Large onion chopped
1 Tbs minced garlic
1 Cup tomatoes diced
6+ Cups Water
2 – 3 Tbs Patis – Fish Sauce – adjust to suit your taste
1 Lb. Shrimp shelled and deveined
1 Large Bunch of Bok Choi or other leafy greens roughly chopped
Heat oil in large pot
Sauté onions until they start to turn translucent
Add Garlic until it starts to brown
Add Tomatoes and cook until they start to soften
Add dried mungo beans
Add at least 6 cups water and stir well
Bring to a boil then reduce heat and cover pot
Cook for at least an hour or until the beans are softened to your liking – you may have to add more water if the mixture is too thick – add water 1 cup at a time until you get the desired consistency
Stir in Patis and shrimp -you can adjust amount of fish sauce to your liking or leave it at 2-3 tbs and let everyone add more later if they prefer
Cook another 8 minutes or so until shrimp is cooked, they are pink
Binagoongang Manok or Chicken Sautéed in Shrimp Paste is a specialty from the Philippine province of Pampanga. It was originally made with small cubes of pork and called Binagoongang Baboy but the simple recipe has been adapted to include chicken or even just veggies.
I think it’s a great way to use up that jar of Bagoong or shimp paste that usually ends up shoved in the back of my refrigerator. I usually only use bagoong when having Kare Kare. So many times the bagoong gets too old and dehydrated. Recently I learned how to make Binagoongang Manok and it takes care of the open jar of bagoong sitting in the back of my fridge.
When I make Binagoongang Manok I use cubes of chicken, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and string beans. And I add fresh spicy chili peppers like jalapenos. You can also add cubes of eggplant if you like.
I love this simple dish because the bagoong gives it a sweet and salty taste and the jalapenos give it that pop of spicy heat. It’s the perfect comfort food and a perfect example of good old Filipino home cooking! Served over hot steamed white rice, it’s delish!
If you’re wondering where you can buy shrimp paste it’s available at any Asian market. It’s sold in a jar, buy the one that’s already been sauteed like the Kamayan brand or something similar.
Here’s my recipe! I hope you like it!
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Chicken Sauteed in Shrimp Paste - Binagoongang Manok
Sweet, salty, and just a bit spicy. These tender cubes of chicken sauteed in shrimp paste is a perfect example of Filipino home cooking.
We are always looking for egg, dairy & nut free recipes for my grandson Jett. He has many allergies making finding treats he can have a problem.
Here is a recipe I found from Sweet Little Bluebird, it’s called Crazy Cake. It uses no eggs, dairy, or nuts. She mixes and bakes it in an 8″ square pan, really easy! She has adapted the recipe to make different flavor cakes.
I used the basic chocolate cake recipe, but made cupcakes instead. Obviously I had to mix it in a bowl to make cupcakes, but the steps are the same, I just had an extra item to wash. The recipe will make a dozen cupcakes. You can frost the cupcake with Oh She Glows‘ 2 ingredient fudge frosting that’s also dairy free.
When making this cake it’s important to strictly follow the directions. Ingredients must be added exactly as described for it to work. I don’t know how it works, but incredibly it does. The cupcakes turned out moist and yummy!
Here’s the recipe!
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
Dry Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
5 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup water
Directions: You must follow them exactly 1. Place the 5 dry ingredients in a bowl.
2. Mix them well.
3. Make 3 indentations in the four mixture. 2 small, 1 large.
4. Place the vinegar and vanilla in the 2 small indentations and the oil in the large one.
5. Pour the water over all of it.
6. Mix until smooth.
7. Spoon into cupcake pan lined with cupcake liners and bake for 28-30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. (I use a toothpick to test for doneness)
Cool completely. Frost cooled cupcakes if you like. Click here for Oh She Glows’ 2 ingredient chocolate fudge frosting.
I make these cupcakes specially for Jett, but the family loves them too! To keep them I freeze the cupcakes in ziplock freezer bags and thaw them out and frost as needed.
We eat rice with almost every meal. Of course we do, we’re basically an Asian family in Hawaii and rice is an island staple. That’s why we always have cooked rice in the rice cooker! But even rice in the rice cooker gets old and dry after one day, so what do you do with left over day old rice? Why make Garlic Fried Rice of course!
Garlic Fried Rice is a popular breakfast starch in the Philippines and Hawaii. Yes, we have rice for breakfast. When we say “rice” we mean that somewhat sticky medium grain rice that’s steamed in a rice cooker; not long grain parboiled rice like “Uncle Ben’s” or any other type of long grain rice.
I grew up eating Garlic Fried Rice only we called in “Sinangag” which is the Tagalog word for fried day old rice. I know my mother and grandmother made it to avoid wasting day old rice; there is no greater waste in the eyes of Filipinos that wasting rice. But in my house Garlic Fried Rice isn’t limited to breakfast nor do we only use left over rice to make it. I sometimes make extra rice so that I can have some to turn into Garlic Fried Rice the next day for dinner.
The reason you must use day old rice is because fresh steamed rice is too sticky and if it’s really fresh somewhat damp. Garlic Fried Rice calls for dry cooked rice, hence it should be a day old. I’ve tried making it with fresh steamed rice, that did not go well.
The basic ingredients for Garlic Fried Rice is day old rice, minced fresh garlic or garlic powder, salt and pepper. But in our family we use soy sauce instead of salt.
You can add anything to the basic recipe depending on what you have in the fridge that you also want to get rid of. I usually add chopped green onions, eggs, peas, diced carrots, and minced cooked meats or shrimp.
To make Garlic Fried Rice you simply stir fry everything in a pan or wok with a bit of oil. If you’re adding minced or chopped ingredients you toss them in last and stir it into the rice just long enough for them to heat up. When I add an egg or two I usually toss it in last and scramble it in the pan while stirring it with the rice.
You can serve Garlic Fried Rice with fried eggs and breakfast meats for breakfast or as a side dish with lunch or dinner. If you have enough “stuff” to stir in Garlic Fried Rice makes a filling meal on its own. Really it’s a very versatile dish and very quick and easy to make!