Email from the Philippines

This week Oren will pop up @ Abel’s House on Friday. If you would like to come, please contact me on 01286 669683, or via our new email adress orencaernarfon@gmail.com

A new email adress, yes. Last Friday hackers used my old email adress, to send around a hoax, telling all my contacts I was stranded in the Philippines after being robbed and needed them to send money immediately. Silly really. Most of my friends and customers know that I wouldnt suddenly hop off to the Philippines.  Never having mentioned it, they will also have been highly surprised of me being there as it is a total black spot on my holiday destination list.

Even as a culinary globetrotter I havent been to the Philippines. It is a  hiatus in my vast collection of cookery books, I can only think of some recipes in Madhur Jaffrey’s masterpiece ‘Eastern Vegetarian Cooking’. So in line with the email scam I thought I should blog this week as if I really had been to this pacific archipelago.

The first stall I try is Wikipedia. It says: ‘Counterpoint is a feature in Philippine cuisine which normally comes in a pairing of something sweet with something salty, and results in surprising combinations’. For example sweet cacao rice porridge with salted sundried fish. Wonder if this is one of the reasons you dont come across many Filipino restaurants in the west.

Next port of call after looking in my google guide is www.sunkist.com, because as a proprietor of an orange themed restaurant I am interested in what a citrus supplier has to offer. Not disappointed. They say:’ Filipino cooks just seem to have a talent for borrowing the best from other cuisines and turning it into something uniquely fresh and delicious’. Somebody just told me recently that a lot of cooks aboard ships are Filipino, because they incorporate easily western en eastern food in their cooking, handy for big ships with a mixed western/eastern crew.

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I also can taste an orange-flavored version of the Filipino national dish Adobo, an easy casserole in which chicken ‘speaks a tasty new language’. Now that might find its way to the Oren table!

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

3/4 cup palm vinegar or rice vinegar ,  1/4 cup soy sauce ,  1 tablespoon minced garlic , 1 bay leaf ,               1 teaspoon sugar ,   1/2 teaspoon salt ,  1/2 teaspoon black pepper ,  4 each chicken legs and thighs ,          3/4 cup water ,  2 tablespoons cooking oil  ,  zest & segments from 1 orange , 2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water

Getting Ready

In a 3-quart pan, combine vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaf, sugar, salt, and pepper. Add chicken and stir to coat each piece with marinade. Let stand for 30 minutes.

Cooking

  1. Add water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer until meat near bone is no longer pink when cut, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove chicken with a slotted spoon; pat dry with paper towels. Reserve sauce and discard bay leaf.
  2. Place a wok over medium heat until hot. Add oil, swirling to coat sides. Add chicken and orange zest; cook until browned on all sides, 5 to 6 minutes total.
  3. Heat reserved sauce. Add cornstarch solution and cook, stirring, until sauce boils and thickens.
  4. Return chicken to sauce; and orange segments and stir until chicken is well glazed.
  5. Lift chicken from sauce and arrange on a serving platter. Pass extra sauce at the table.

Adapted from Martin Yan’s Asia (KQED Books & Tapes) Copyright Yan Can Cook Inc., 1997

www.filipinorecipes.org is a restaurant with a very extensive menu. I learn a lot of good dishes there. Some more Adobo and  most interesting Kare Kare – braised oxtail with peanut sauce. Combination of fat but somehow does sound very appealing to me! But also Paella and Empanadas – after all this was a former Spanish colony, the only one in the Far East. There is also a Filipino version of a Spanish cocido, called Pochero. Meat & vegetables cooked together, and the Filipino twist is adding bananas and sweet potatoes at the end.

That brings me back to the 70’s when my student sister brought home a recipe for chilli con carne with banana, by  far the most outlandish dish my mother added to her repertoire of very well cooked traditional Dutch food. As a real holiday this virtual trip ends with evoking good memories.

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