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Beef Pares / Mami Pares

"Pares" is literally "pairs" in Tagalog. This dish is called such, because when eating, it is paired with rice, or more commonly, noodles. It takes a long time to cook, as you have to ensure that the beef is perfectly soft and tender, but I promise you, it is worth the wait!

What you need:

2 to 3 lb boneless beef chuck roast
a splash of vegetable oil
3 bay leaves

2 star anise
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 cinnamon sticks

1 1/2 tbsp rice wine
1/4 cup soy sauce
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 to 3/4 cup beef broth

For the sauce:
3 tbsp (or more) light brown sugar
a dash of Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 cup water
a splash of sesame oil

salt and pepper to taste

What to do:

Add around 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a pan and brown the beef on all sides. Meanwhile, put the cinnamon sticks, bay leaves an
d anise in your crock pot or slow cooker. Put the browned beef on top of it. Mix the remaining ingredients together (except the sauce ingredients) and pour it on top of the beef. Cover and cook for 7 to 8 hours.

After such hours have elapsed, remove the spices by straining it, and putting the sauce in a separate bowl. Remove the grease by putting it in a fat separator. Boil the grease-free sauce. Adjust the taste to your liking usi
ng the sauce ingredients. When it comes again to a soft boil, turn off the heat and add a splash of sesame oil.

Transfer the beef in a serving platter and pour the sauce on top. Serve with steamed rice. Enjoy!

Tips, Tricks, and Tweaks:

1. Add dried orange peel in the crockpot for a hint of citrus flavor.
2. Don't have a fat separator? See the Tips, Tricks and Tweaks section of this recipe to make an improvised version of a fat separator.
3. When adding the cornstarch-water mixture,
do so in a slow stream while stirring.
4. The leftovers are perfect for mami-pares! Just shred the meat or cut in small cubes. Use beef broth and egg noodles, then garnish with hard-boiled eggs, roasted garlic and chopped green onions.

5. You can also make it as a filling for siopao (steamed buns). The possibilities are endless!


Pancit Canton

Hubby loves noodles! We always stock our pantry with an assortment of it... oodles of noodles, so to speak.

Noodles are a staple in the Philippine kitchen, especially during festivities. The long strands symbolize "long life" and as such, a person celebrating his or her birthday would always have pancit (noodles) on their special day.

Pancit Canton is noodles made of egg or flour. You can cook it dry or a bit soupy. We prefer it somewhat in the middle.

What you need:

  • 25 - 30 pcs. of shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1/4 kilo of pork tenderloin, sliced into bite-size pieces
  • 1/4 of a big onion, sliced thinly
  • 8 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 small carrots, julienned
  • a handful of cauliflowers, blanched
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • dash of pepper
  • splash of sesame oil

What to do:

Heat a wok or skillet and pour in the oil. When hot, add in the garlic and onion. Stir for a few seconds, then add the pork and carrots. Continue stirring, then add shrimps and blanched cauliflowers. Cook until the shrimps turn orange. Pour in 2 cups of broth, and season with soy sauce and pepper.

Meanwhile, add the cornstarch to the 1/4 cup broth. Stir well and add to the vegetables in the wok. Put in the oyster sauce as well. Bring to a boil. Add the noodles and mix well to distribute ingredients evenly. Adjust seasonings, if necessary. Remove from heat and add a splash of sesame oil. Transfer to a serving dish and enjoy.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. Use different vegetables - cabbage, snow peas, celery, etc. Whatever is available in your fridge.
2. If using chicken instead of pork, be sure to boil and shred it.
3. For a soupier variety, add more broth.
4. To make more out of your shrimps, cut it in half lengthwise.
5. Remember NOT to thaw your shrimps by leaving it on the counter. Put it under cold running water, instead.
6. Allergic to shrimp? Substitute it with Chinese Chorizo or shredded scrambled eggs.
7. Before serving, squeeze lemon or lime on it to give it a little tang.


Plush Gang Funnies

Skip-Bo, anyone?


Camaron Rebosado (Breaded Shrimp)

Camaron Rebosado literally means "overflowing shrimp." How it became breaded shrimp, I can only guess. Lost in translation, perhaps? However you call it, this dish is something you won't get enough of. Instead of the traditional flour and cornstarch breading though, I used Panko to give it a twist.

Panko is Japanese breadcrumbs. It gives a c
rispy coating to fried foods, such as tonkatsu. American-made Panko are also available (such as those made by Progresso). The difference, I noticed, is that Japanese Panko is a bit finer than the coarse American ones.

I also included the sweet-sour dipping sauce in this recipe. Hubby loves it so much, that he puts the shrimps in it and ladles it like a soup.

What you need:

  • Around 25 - 30 pcs of shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • seasoned flour
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

For the sauce:

  • 3 tbsp. vinegar
  • 6 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Garlic Chili sauce
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • Sesame oil

What to do:

Put flour in a shallow bowl. In another bowl, be
at together the egg, milk and dried parsley. Put Panko in another shallow bowl. Position the three bowls like an assembly line - flour, egg mixture and Panko. Dredge the shrimp in flour first, shake off the excess flour, then dip in the egg mixture, and finally coat with Panko.

Heat some vegetable oil in a skillet. When hot, add the coated shrimp in batches so as to not overcrowd them in the pan. Fry shrim
ps until golden, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to drain the oil.

To make the dipping sauce, just combine all t
he sauce ingredients except the sesame oil in a sauce pan. Set over medium-high heat until it thickens and the cloudy appearance disappears. Remove from heat and add a few drops of sesame oil before serving.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. Unless you are sure that the shrimp is freshly caught, use frozen shrimp.
2. The best way to thaw shrimps is to put them in a colander and let cold running water run through them. NEVER thaw using hot water (as it will partially cook the meat) and NEVER let them thaw on your cou
nter as temperature above 40 degrees F is not safe for raw food and might harbor bacteria.
3. When dredging shrimps, some flour and egg mix might create a build-up on your fingers. Don't be apt to wash it away so quick
ly as it may serve as "gloves" that would protect the tips of your digits when you put the shrimps in the oil (holding the tail, of course). You can use tongs too, but chances are, the metal tongs will scrape the coating off your shrimps.
4. Panko burns easily, so make sure your heat is not super high, but not super low either.
5. You can use fresh chopped parsley instead
of dried ones.
6. Place papers under your cooling rack to catch the dripping oil.


Buckwheat Noodles with Egg

If you have ever played the farming game "Harvest Moon" on the Wii, the title of this recipe might ring a bell for you.

Soba is native Japanese noodles made of buckwheat flour. Of course, we didn't know that when we saw this authentic-looking noodle in our local Asian store. But, you learn something new everyday!

What you need:

  • 1.5 oz dry Soba noodles
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • dash of red pepper flakes
  • 3 stalks of green onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • eggs, fried

What to do:

Bring a pot of water to a boil, add salt and the noodles. Cook until soft, around 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat small pan and add sesame oil. When it starts to get hot, add the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Saute for a few seconds, then add the soy sauce. Remove from heat, pour over noodles, add the green onions and stir to coat. Top with the fried egg. Enjoy!

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. If you can take the heat, up the measurement of the red pepper flakes to 1/4 teaspoon instead of just a dash.
2. Do NOT undercook the egg. We don't want Salmonella, right? However, do not cook it till it dries up, either. The runny yolk will help cut the heat of the dish.
3. If using powdered ginger, use only half a teaspoon.
4. Wash the green onions (aka scallions) thoroughly. Did you know that they are one of the dirtiest foods?


Slow-Cooked Korean Beef Ribs

Every once in a while, I like to cook these kinds of dishes just to make sure my Crock Pot is still working. Not to mention, I love Korean beef!

What you need:

  • 2 pounds beef short ribs
  • 3 stalks chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tsps. minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tsps. minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds, toasted

What to do:

Cut ribs in single segments, then place in sl
ow cooker. Combine green onions, soy sauce, broth, brown sugar, ginger, garlic and pepper in a medium-sized bowl. Mix well and pour over ribs. Cover; cook on low 6 to 7 hours or until ribs are fork tender.

Remove ribs from cooking liquid and cool slightly. Let the liquid stand 5 minutes to allow fat to rise. Skim off fat. Stir sesame oil into the liquid and return to the slow cooker. Cover and cook again for around 15 minutes or until the mixture is hot.

Serve with rice and garnish with sesame seeds. Enjoy!

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. Make sure your cleaver or knife is sharp before cutting your meat. It is always better to slice meat that is partly frozen so you
get clean cuts and better grip of the meat.
2. If you don't have broth, substitute with water.
3. If you have tamari in your pantry, use it instead of soy sauce. (Tamari is made with more soybeans than ordinary soy sauce, resulting in a smoother, better flavor).
4. It is easier to skim fat using a fat separa
tor. But if you don't have one (like me), just put the liquid in a ziploc bag, seal tightly, and cut a tiny hole on one of the ends. As you pour it, the fat will rise and you'll get all your liquid - minus the grease.

Yes, this is the amount of fat I got from that seemingly innocuous slab of meat!

5. If you have more green onions, garnish the meal with it before serving.
6. Do not garnish a meal with something that you won't eat (i.e. decorative flowers, etc), nor with anything that won't enhanc
e the flavor of the food.
7. Not fond of rice? Serve this dish with pasta instead!

This is how I had mine!


Sesame Chicken Salad in Wonton Cups

This is chicken salad with a twist! Aside from making it look like they're in miniature purses, the baked wonton wrappers also gave added texture and crunch to it. The mango garnish also provided a tangy contrast to the savory salad.

Despite the elaborate (bah!) appearance, this appetizer (which turned out to be our dinner) is very easy to prepare. Son even helped in making the wonton "purses."

What you need:

  • 12 (3-inch) wonton wrappers
  • 1 tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 1 large boneless chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup fresh green beans, cut diagonally into 1/2 -inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tsps honey
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/8 tsp ground red pepper (Cayenne)
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Strips of fresh mango (for garnish)
  • Green onions, chopped (for garnish)

What to do:

Boil the chicken for around the 10 minutes. Keep time, as you will need to add the green beans approximately 7 minutes after the chicken. Afterwards, drain, let cool and finely chop the chicken.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray miniature muffin pan with cooking spray. Press 1 wonton wrapper into each m
uffin cup, and spray again lightly with cooking spray. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack before filling.

First picture is before it went in the oven. The bubbly and wet stuff on the muffin pan
is the cookingspray. Second picture is when they were cooling on the rack

Place sesame seeds in a pan and toast on low heat for around 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it starts popping, take it out off the pan immediately.

Place the finely chopped chicken in a medium bowl. Add green beans and remaining ingredients, and mix lightly. Spoon lightly rounded tablespoonful chicken mixture into each wonton cup. Garnish with mango strips
and green onion.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. Don't throw away the broth - it could be a delicious base for soup!
2. When adding honey, spritz your measuring spoon with cooking spray so it won't stick on the surface of the spoon.
3. Avoid using a cooling rack that you use for non-pastry items. It is better to have a rack that you use solely for pastries.
4. You can bake the sesame seeds instead of toasting it in a pan. Just put it in a shallow baking pan and stick it in the oven for 5 minutes.
5. Chopped fresh cilantro can also be used as a garnish!

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