When I went home for the holidays, my mom surprised me with a treat from my childhood—La Paz batchoy! It’s a delicacy from my mom’s hometown—a pork broth soup with homemade egg noodles, pork belly, liver, pork rinds, green onion and an egg that cooks in the hot broth. Her family kept this recipe, and she brought it to the big city when she moved when she was older. She opened a restaurant in Manila, and now she’s taking the recipe to the states—and voila! I was able to try it and it took me back to when I spent days tending my mom’s restaurant growing up. Thanks mom for the flashback!
Someday, I’ll learn this recipe, and let the tradition live!
Okay, this is WAY long overdue, but this summer I went to New York for a few days. Literally an eating marathon. Here were some of my favorites from that amazingly delicious trip!
My friend told me I had to come eat at a ramen house named Ippudo—and he even told me that I should expect at least a 20-30 minute wait because there’s always a line outside this place. We go as soon as they open, and we lucked out on having no wait line.
Now, you guys know how much I love Japanese restaurants. What you might not know is that I have always wanted to experience an authentic ramen house—like in Japan. And this place was very authentic—even with the Japanese shouting from the workers in the background, to the shared dining spaces. My dream came true that lunch.
The house special that night was too perfect to not order—their classic pork shoyu soup with black squid ink ramen noodles (which is a culinary feat of excellence by the way!) topped with pork slices, cabbage, “menma” which is bamboo shoot, a slice of “naruto” fish cake, and scallions. I’m telling you—I guzzled every bit, drank each drop, and licked that bowl clean. It was probably the best bowl of soup I have ever had. I’m telling you—you guys are missing out on a culturally immaculate experience if you haven’t had authentic ramen before.
This is about as comfort food as it gets. Growing up, my mom made this Filipino dish that was always the best remedy for any bad day. We call it “giniling" which is the Filipino term for the ground pork that you use in this dish. My boyfriend kind of described it as Filipino chili, but, you know, without the chili. Anyways, it’s a great soup or topping for white rice on a cold day. Here’s how you make it!
- Saute diced onions, minced garlic, and diced chayote - every grocery store should have this now. It’s like a light green pear-shaped squash that really works well with this recipe. It’s fleshy and gives more meat to the dish, without actually being more meat.
- When those have been cooked, put in your ground pork - feel free to try other proteins like ground poultry.
- When the meat has browned with the rest of the vegetables, add diced tomatoes if desired.
- After the tomatoes, add in your liquid - there are many choices for this. You can either use a broth cube, and then add a can of tomato sauce, and a little water to let it thin out. I didn’t have tomato sauce at hand, so I just used two broth cubes and water to make a clear soup. Either way works just fine!
- Finally, when it starts to boil, add in a can of quail eggs - it’s easier than buying fresh because it’s already hard-boiled. Putting them while it still cooks will help the eggs absorb the flavors of the dish.
When finished, serve on top of rice or by itself. If you wanted to spruce things up, add some rice noodles in it to make it a true comforting dish on a blustery day. Enjoy!
I know my mother would be so proud of me. Wanna know why? Well, it’s because… I finally learned how to make the classic Filipino soup dish “sinigang.” It is a sour soup, usually flavored by tamarind. And it is probably the one thing my mother makes at least once a week at my house. Finally, I mustered up the courage to get it done and attempt recreating my mother’s recipe.
So, I may have cheated a little bit. I don’t have every traditional ingredient for an authentic Filipino dish. But I think by using substitutions and cheap alternatives, I was able to make something that was more uniquely mine! All right, enough hype, let’s get this started.
Starving Actor Sinigang - Filipino Sour Soup with Beef and Bok Choy
- In a pot, add a little bit of vegetable oil. This is for browning your meat. Place your beef or pork, cut for stew meat size, in your pot and let this brown a little bit.
- When the beef is colored in all sides, throw in a half of an onion, chopped finely into half-moons. Let the onions soften a little bit.
- Add water—however much you’d like in the soup—to this, and let it boil, covered.
- When the water comes to a boil, reduce it to a medium fire, and add the secret ingredient: sinigang mix! I don’t have tamarind pods to grind up, so just get a sachet of prepackaged sinigang mix from any Filipino store, and you’re golden. I chose Mama Sita’s Sinigang Mix for my version.
- When the soup powder look to have immersed well with the soup, add tomatoes. Some prefer not to slive open their tomatoes. If you want a whole tomato in a serving, I’d suggest roma tomatoes since they’re smaller and cheaper. Cover, and let it boil and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Next, add the radish bulbs to the soup, and cover to let it cook.
- Finally, add your leaves of bok choy. Cover, then turn off the fire. If you like your leaves wiltier, you can leave the fire on for just a little bit more. If you can’t find (or not like the texture of) this particular type of Asian greens, you can also use spinach leaves.
- Serve with a steamy side of rice, and you are set!
One thing you should keep watching out for is that the meat might take a while to be soft and tender. So just keep checking it, and then use that to gauge your time into going into the next steps. Remember that the vegetables take almost no time at all to cook (except maybe for the radishes so they can soften) so use how your meat is cooking up to know when to move on. Use a knife to poke through them to see if they are tenderizing nicely!
A Family of Both Worlds.
My house is literally in between two worlds: the Filipino world and the American world. See, Filipinos are very easygoing and laidback. We eat the simplest of things and we cook them even simpler. We cook up some uga which to most Filipinos it’s called tuyo—basically dried fish that you fry up and eat with some rice.
My mother also made her very famous tinola recipe—a ginger-chayote-stew—that takes minutes to cook up but tastes like she slaved on it all day.
And for my parents, that’s a meal for ya. But I try to introduce more of the American lifestyle on them—like maybe some steak for dinner instead.
I made Laura Calder’s Beef Au Bleu recipe but with an added touch—I used that Brie& thyme sauce instead of the Bleu. And my family ate it up—with their hands and with rice, of course. I personally love being smack dab in the middle. I can enjoy learning foods from the new world, while at the same time maintaining my roots through tastes and techniques. So if you ever stop by dinner at our little family and you see us eating rice and steak with our hands—don’t judge.
Happy Independence Day, Philippines!