Japanese Blend Stir Fry

It was one of those nights again, when I don't have anything in the fridge except frozen veggies and maybe a slab of meat. This is usually a sign that we need to go grocery shopping again. So I whipped up this stir fry with the "Japanese Blend" veggies I had - and it was delicious!

What you need:
  • 3 to 4 cups Japanese Blend veggies
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 pound kielbasa sausage, sliced 
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, coarsely minced
  • 1/4 of a Vidalia onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon corn starch dissolved in 1/3 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame seed, toasted

What to do:

Heat sesame oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Saute the garlic, ginger and onion for about 45 seconds, then add kielbasa sausage. Continue cooking for about a minute, then add the veggies. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring continuously. 

Season the veggies by adding the rice wine, hoisin sauce and beef broth (with corn starch). Turn the heat down to low and let simmer until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, ladle on plates and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. Use any vegetables you have! (I added the red bell pepper upon seeing that I had some in my fridge)
2. For a bit of spice, add a dash of red pepper flakes.
3. Substitute sesame oil with canola or vegetable oil.
4. Try it with chicken or shrimp instead of sausage.
5. Too sweet for you? Cut down the amount of hoisin sauce in half.


Mango Ice Cream


I miss our "mamang sorbetero" (ice cream vendor) who peddled his wares on our street. He would always ring his handbell in front of our house and shout "merong mangga!" which meant that he had mango flavor on that day. You see, it was always different - sometimes, it would be coconut, cheese, avocado, chocolate, ube (purple yam), strawberry... the list goes on and on. 

Photo credit:

They are called "dirty" ice cream because these vendors would sell it on the street, exposing it to pollution and other elements. It's not as creamy and smooth as branded ice cream, but it's cheap, and as a kid, it was all we could afford with our paltry allowance. 

Andrew Zimmern featured dirty ice cream on his show Bizarre Foods. He tried purple yam and cheese in a bun, which is normal fare to Filipinos, but is totally bizarre for Westerners. (Click here to watch the video).

Anyway... all this to say that I miss mango ice cream, hence I decided to make some. ;-)

What you need:

  • 2 ripe mangoes
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

What to do:

Slice the mangoes into smaller pieces. Save about 1/4 of the slices in a small bowl. Put the rest in a blender and puree it. 

Place the pureed mango in a bowl and add 1/4 cup of sugar. Mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 6 hours.

Beat the eggs until light and fluffy, incorporating the sugar by adding it in a thin stream while beating.

In a saucepan over low heat, scald the milk. Keep an eye on it - you have to remove it from the heat the minute it starts boiling. Pour the hot milk over the beaten eggs and stir well. Put the mixture back to the saucepan over low heat. Do not let the mixture boil - test the thickness by coating the back of a spoon with the mixture and running your finger across it. If it has reached the nappe stage (which is what we want), then it should hold and produce a clean line (like this). Remove from heat. Place in an airtight container and chill for at least 3 hours.

Add the mango puree to the milk mixture. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Pour into the cream maker and process according to unit's instructions. About 10 minutes before the set time, add the mango bits that you set aside. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze overnight.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. Add mango flavoring for a more stronger taste.
2. The liquid should be as cold as possible before putting it in the ice cream maker. Be sure to chill it.
3. If you want very large chunks of mangoes (instead of small bits), wait till the mixture is done churning and fold in the chunks.

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Saturday Morning Espresso

Oh Saturday - you are special for a number of reasons: we get to sleep in, eat breakfast without rushing, and best of all, enjoy our french press coffee.

Not that we don't enjoy drip coffee - it's a fast and great alternative, especially on weekday mornings when we don't have the luxury of time. But the french press, although more labor intensive, remains our favorite as it yields a more robust and full flavored cup o' joe. The lack of a paper filter, the fresh grind of the coffee beans, and the aromatic oils extracted from a long steep, are just some of the differences that make this so much better than most other brewing methods.         

It is very good, especially the few last sips, when you can actually feel the fine coffee grounds in your tongue, and taste the essential oils. 

A word of warning, though. I have read that consuming too much french press coffee elevates the level of an amino acid in the bloodstream, which has been associated with increased risk of heart disease. But if you're a once-a-week drinker like us, I think you'd be fine.

So for now... I'll take one last long, slow sip... savoring the taste before I swallow... and begin counting down the time until the next brew.

Come to momma, cup o' joe!


Honey Ginger Duck Breast

Hubby fashioned this plate. As evidenced by the swoosh of a sauce, he has been watching too much Iron Chef.

For Thanksgiving, we decided to break away from the traditional turkey and got duck instead. Yes, we know that duck is fatty, but hey, fat is where the flavor comes from. Not to mention, duck fat is a healthy alternative to butter according to the Science of Cooking website. (Click the link if you want to read more about the benefits of duck fat).

No, the cooking part was not hard. It was the butchering of the bird that was the real ordeal. It took 2 people (me and my husband) to manhandle cut the 7 pound duck. And oh, the horror of cleaning up! All the cutlery and dishes that we used just to cook two duck breasts. But it was Thanksgiving, and compared to our turkey last year, this was by far a cinch!

The duck breasts were delicious! It was perfectly cooked, and the sauce went well with it. And in case you were wondering what happened to the other parts of the bird, it will be in my future posts. :-)

This recipe is from, tweaked to suit our finicky taste. Haha.

What you need:
  • 2 duck breasts
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine
  • 2 tablespoons wildflower honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch dissolved in 1/8 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon tomato sauce
  • dash of red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice

What to do:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Use a sharp knife to score the skin of the duck breast, about 1/4 inch per cut. Rub generously with salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper.

Hello, Mr. Duck.
Place a cast-iron skillet (or any oven-proof skillet) over medium-high heat. Put the duck (skin side down) and pan-fry for about 5 minutes. No need to add oil - the grease from your (well-maintained) skillet would suffice, plus the fat that the duck will render. Turn the breasts and cook the other side for about 2 minutes.

Heating the cast iron skillet. This baby is HEAVY!
Drain the excess fat, then place the skillet in the pre-heated oven. Cook for about 15-18 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the meat is 165°F. Make sure to drain off the oil every 5 minutes, so the duck isn't cooking in its own fat (we're roasting it, not making confit! haha). Save about 2 teaspoons of the rendered fat to be used in the sauce. After cooking, take the skillet out of the oven and remove the duck from the skillet. Especially if you are using cast iron, it holds a lot of heat and your meat will continue cooking if you do not remove it promptly.

It's getting hot in here...
Meanwhile, in a sauce pan, combine the chicken stock, soy sauce, honey, rice wine, grated ginger, tomato sauce, dash of red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons of duck fat, and lime juice. Whisk over medium-high heat. Add the dissolved cornstarch. Bring to a boil, then lower down the heat to a simmer. Cook until the sauce thickens, whisking occasionally. 

To serve, slice the duck breasts and pour the sauce on top of it. Enjoy!

Perfectly cooked. Yummy!

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. Don't like medium rare? Continue cooking until the internal temperature of the duck hits 180°F.
2. Using lemon instead of lime would give the sauce a hint of lemony sweetness. 
3. Substitute wildflower honey with regular clover honey. I used wildflower because it gives a deep, sweet taste.
4. Draining the fat off the skillet is crucial - the duck skin will not crisp up if you neglect doing it.
5. As usual, safety comes first. ALWAYS wash your hands (and other materials) with warm soapy water when working with poultry. We don't like cross contamination!
6. To clean your cast iron skillet (which is another ordeal), click here.

Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

"They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness." -Psalm 145:7


Snow Crab Legs

Another family favorite - steamed snow crab legs dipped in butter sauce. Oh, be still my heart!

What you need:
  • 3 pieces (or more) snow crab legs
  • 3 tablespoons butter (salted)

What to do:

Steam the crab legs in a steamer over medium-high heat for about 8 minutes. Let cool.

Place the butter in a microwave-safe dish and microwave for about 30 seconds. Serve with the crab legs.

Getting cozy in the steamer, eh?

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1.  If using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt.
2. Want more flavor? Add a dash of garlic powder or a spritz of lemon juice on your butter sauce.


Pork Binagoongan (Pork in Shrimp Paste)

This dish brings me back to my high school days, when I would go to an eatery near our school and have this for lunch whenever it was offered. I just love the sweet, salty, spicy flavor that marries well with the savory pork. 

I made this dish dry, but you can add other ingredients that would make it a bit saucy. Maybe I'll try it next time.

 What you need:
  • 1.75 lbs pork, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorn
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 small yellow onion
  • 4 tablespoons cooked shrimp paste (sweet variety)
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 finger chili, sliced into small pieces (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

What to do:

Boil about 6 to 8 cups of water in a large pot over high heat. Add the pork, vinegar, bay leaves and peppercorns and cook for about 30 minutes, or until pork is tender. Remember to lower the heat when the water is already boiling. Remove the pork from the liquid and set aside.

In a wok, heat canola oil over medium-high. Saute the garlic, onion and finger chili. Add the shrimp paste and pork. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often to distribute the shrimp paste. Serve with hot steamed rice.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. Some people add coconut milk to make it a bit saucy.
2. Don't like the heat? Skip the finger chili.
3. Make sure NOT to touch your eyes after handling the chili. Remember, the smaller the pepper, the hotter it is!
4. You can also use the spicy variety of shrimp paste.
5. If using raw shrimp paste, make sure to cook it first by sauteing it in garlic and vinegar.


Gobbler Cookie

Made these "Gobbler Cookies" in school with the kids. They enjoyed making it, but moreso devouring it. Watch out, turkey. We're coming to get ya!

What you need:
  • regular round cookie
  • chocolate frosting
  • Hershey's Kisses chocolate candies
  • pastry decor (for feet)
  • candy corns
  • mini M&M's candies

What to do:

Ice the cookie with the chocolate frosting. Place a piece of Hershey's Kiss in the middle, pressing it well so it would stick. Put about 6 pieces of candy corns around the back side to make it look like turkey feathers. Get 2 pieces of yellow mini M&Ms and put a small amount of frosting on it that would serve as the "glue". Stick it on the side tips of the Hershey's Kiss. Get another M&M (red) and add frosting, then stick it on the middle bottom side of the Hershey's Kiss. For the feet, stick 2 of the pastry decor (they are actually fall leaves) on the bottom side to have the appearance of feet. Enjoy!

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. Instead of candy corns, you can also use M&Ms for the turkey feathers. 
2. Try peanut butter instead of chocolate frosting.
3. Eat immediately as it might get soggy from the frosting.

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Somen Noodles with Beef and Broccoli

Oh, the perennial noodle. We always have them in our pantry so trying out different dishes with them is a must . Somen is Japanese noodles made of wheat flour and is usually served cold. I have used Somen in cold dishes, but I think I like hot meals better.

What you need:
  • 2 bundles of Somen
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 lb beef, cut into strips
  • 8 oz baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2  cups steamed broccoli
  • toasted garlic, for garnish

What to do:

 Cook noodles according to package instructions.

Heat sesame oil in a wok over medium heat. Saute the garlic and ginger for about a minute. Add the beef and cook till brown. Put in the mushrooms and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the soy sauce, wine, mirin, oyster sauce and beef broth. Turn down the heat to low and let simmer for around 15 minutes or till the beef is tender. If it dries out, add more beef broth, about 1/4 cup at a time.

Add the somen and steamed broccoli to the wok and cook till heated through, about a minute. Ladle on bowls and garnish with toasted garlic before serving.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. You can also use udon noodles for this dish.
2. Try other veggies like baby corn or water chestnuts.
3. Skip the garnish if you don't like the taste of toasted garlic.
4. Chicken or shrimp can also be used instead of beef.



I am amazed at how the Lord blesses my garden with beautiful things. 


Pork Embutido

Hubby was craving embutido this week so he "requested" that I make one. I happily obliged, of course, as I was craving it too.

Embutido is Spanish for sausage. Makes sense, cause it is shaped like a sausage, and the ingredients are almost the same too. What I love most about these embutido rolls is the hard boiled egg slices in the middle. It balances the "meatiness" of the dish. 

What you need:
  • 2 lbs ground pork
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper + 1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 can Vienna sausage, sliced lengthwise
  • 1/2 of a Vidalia onion, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 to 8 pieces hardboiled eggs, sliced into wedges
  • 3 tablespoons pickle relish
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons raisins
  • tin foil (11" x 11" squares)

What to do:

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients, except the hard boiled eggs and sausage. 

Get about a handful of meat and spread it on the tin foil. The amount will depend on the thickness and length you want. Flatten it out using a spatula. Lay down a wedge of egg and sausage on the length of the meat. Finish the sausage by rolling the foil and forming a cylinder. Seal the ends by twisting the extra foil or folding it. Repeat until you have used up all your ingredients.

Place the embutido logs in a steamer and steam for an hour. Enjoy with ketchup or sauce! (Recipe follows)

Embutido Sauce

What you need:
  • 2 tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 Vidalia onion, sliced
  • 8 cloves garlic, coarsely minced
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 block pork bouillon
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1/8 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons banana ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • dash of black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

What to do:

In a pan, heat the canola oil and saute the garlic, onion and tomatoes. Add water and pork bouillon, then the rest of the ingredients. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drizzle on top of embutido or serve on the side as a dipping sauce.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. Feel free to add more pickle if you like its flavor.
2. Use hotdogs instead of Vienna sausage for more flavor.
3. Wrap the embutido in cheese cloth and boil it instead of steaming. (I might do this next time!)


Fire Truck Cookies

One of our homeroom mommies made these Fire Truck Cookies for the kids. They ate it after our visit to the fire station. :-)

What you need:
  • graham crackers
  • cream-filled cookies (Oreo or any other brand)
  • gum drops
  • Twizzler candies
  • vanilla frosting
  • red food coloring

What to do:

Cut one edge of the graham cracker to make it seem like the front of a truck. Tint the frosting red, the deeper the better. 

Frost one side of the crackers and place two cream-filled cookies on the bottom like tires, then the Twizzlers like a ladder (sorry, my ladder rungs fell out) and the gum drops to form a light. Set aside for a few minutes for the frosting to harden and the candies to stick. Enjoy!

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. You can also use black shoestring licorice candies for the ladders.
2. Be as creative as you can be!


Spicy Fried Wings

If you are a Food Network fan (like me), the name Pat Neely would probably ring a bell for you. He and his wife have a show called "Down Home with the Neelys" which features great grilling and BBQ dishes/recipes. Their Southern recipes are great, and this Spicy Fried Wings is an excellent example. 

I tweaked the recipe a bit to tone down the heat and give it an Asian kick. Fried chicken lovers will find this dish yummy and finger-licking! 

What you need:
  • 10 whole chicken wings, cut in half at the joint
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons red pepper flakes, divided
  • 3 teaspoons black pepper, divided
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons Sriracha
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • canola oil for frying

 What to do:

First, make the seasoning mixture. In a bowl, whick together the salt, dried thyme, 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons black pepper, 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper, Old Bay Seasoning, and lemon pepper. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the mixture in a separate bowl.

Place chicken wings in a shallow baking dish. Rub the seasoning mix on the chicken wings, making sure you have enough to coat all the wings. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge for at least an hour.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, Sriracha, 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper into a medium-sized bowl. Set aside. Put the flour in a separate bowl.

In a deep fryer or large pan, heat enough canola oil to deep fry your chicken.

Dredge chicken wings into the egg mixture then into the flour. Place wings 3 at a time into the hot oil and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until cooked through and golden brown. Drain on a cooling rack. Sprinkle the wings with the reserved seasoning for extra spiciness.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. If using fresh thyme, use 1 tablespoon.
2. No Sriracha? No problem. Substitute with chili-garlic sauce or tabasco.
3. Make sure your chicken is rinsed properly!
4. If you don't like touching raw meat, just sprinkle the seasoning on the chicken instead of rubbing it.
5. DO NOT undercook chicken! Ever. Nuff' said.



I love mochi (the real ones, not the yogurt types that you can buy in a cup)! And azuki (red beans) is one of the best. :-)


Garlic Pork with Blackbeans and Tofu

Another "beans" entry... we can't seem to have enough of these delicious and healthy legumes (hello, arthritis and gout!). Paired it with pork and tofu for a yummy dinner.

What you need:
  • 8 oz black beans (canned)
  • 1 pound pork, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 block firm tofu
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 8 cloves garlic, coarsely minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tablespoon canola oil + more for frying
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine

What to do:

Heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook, stirring occasionally, until brown. Set aside.

Using the same wok, drain the oil but save about 1 tablespoon. Saute the garlic and ginger for a minute, then add the black beans and water. Lower the heat and simmer until almost dry.

Meanwhile, pat dry the tofu using paper towels and cut in 1 inch cubes. Heat some oil in a pan and deep fry the tofu. Drain on a cooling rack.

Add the rice wine, soy sauce, and oyster sauce in the pork/black beans mixture. Add the drained tofu. Stir well. Cook for an additional minute or two. Serve hot.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. Remember to stir the wok/pot every once in a while so the ingredients won't stick on the bottom of your pot.
2. Love beans? Double the amount in the recipe.
3. Smashing the beans would make the dish thicker.
4. You can also use dry black beans in this recipe, just soak it overnight before using.


Pancit Bihon Guisado

I have been wanting to make this dish for the longest time, but just couldn't find the right chance to do so. But when I couldn't take it any longer and my cravings got the best of me, I just decided to do it. :-)

On a more serious note, I have been eating pansit (noodles) all my life, but I just recently found out that the word "pansit" is from the Hokkien word "pian i sit" which means "something conveniently cooked fast." And I have the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism website to thank for that bit of meaty info (pardon the pun).

All that to say, try making pancit! It is fast, easy, healthy, and oh so yummy! (Did I mention that it was healthy?)

What you need:
  • 1 bundle (8 oz) pancit (rice noodles)
  • 1 pound pork, cut into strips
  • 2 pieces chorizo, sliced
  • 1/4 Vidalia onion, sliced
  • 8 cloves of garlic, roughly minced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1/4 head of cabbage, shredded
  • 1 can (8 oz) water chestnuts
  • 1 pack (8 oz) baby bella mushrooms, de-stemmed, caps sliced
  • 1/2 cup snow peas
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

What to do:

Soak the noodles in water for at least 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a wok, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Saute the garlic and onion for about a minute, then add the mushrooms, pork, and sliced chorizo. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, or until the pork is no longer pink. Mix in the rest of the vegetables and saute for about 2 minutes.

Add the soaked noodles and chicken broth. Lower the heat to medium and cook for about 15 minutes. If you prefer your noodles soupy, add more broth. Season with the oyster sauce and soy sauce. Serve with lemon on the side.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. You can add other veggies like celery or scallions.
2. Not a big fan of pork? Use cooked chicken instead.
3. Adjust the amount of broth depending on your preference.
4. Garnish with hard boiled eggs. 


Red Beans and Rice

This creole dish is a family favorite. We just love piling up the garlic and bell pepper to add flavor to the beans, and of course, the sausage! Yum! Yellow rice goes well with it, but actually, any kind will do!

What you need:
  • 1 pkg (14 oz) red beans (dry)
  • 1 pound kielbasa sausage, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 cups beef broth
  • 1 head of garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 Vidalia onion, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt, to taste

What to do:

Soak the red beans in water for at least 2 hours (overnight is better).

In a pot, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil and saute the garlic, onions and green bell pepper. Add the sausage and cook for about 2 minutes. Put in the soaked beans (drained of water) and bay leaves. Add the beef broth and reduce heat to low and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours, or till beans are tender. 

Season with salt, onion powder and garlic powder. Stir and cook for around 2 minutes. Serve with yellow rice. 

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. If your red beans dry out while simmering, add more beef broth.
2. No beef broth? Use water.
3. Use Andouille sausage, or ham.
4. Traditional red beans from Louisiana uses pork bones from ham to make the dish tastier.
5. For the rice - I just used a package of Vigo yellow rice and cooked it as per package instructions.

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