Tropical JOE

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Buko Salad: Tropical Treat for All Seasons

Posted by Ireno Alcala on June 14, 2011 at 9:55 PM Comments comments (2)

Whether you believe me or not, that's my connotation about this tropical treat that is truly Filipino in origin. Oh, yes, I admit, Filipino cuisine have lots of influences, courtesy of the colonizers that started way back 15th century with the Spaniards, Americans and Japanese. Also worth-mentioning is the Chinese influences in th way we cook, way back the Barter Age or pre-Hispanic era and the Maharlikans (consisting of 11 datus from Borneo), Thailanders, Malaysians, Indonesians and the minority people who walked centuries ago through the road bridges, connecting this archipelago at the mainland Asia then settled here for good.

Just of late, I've made a special PANCIT BUKO out of it!!!

PANCIT BUKO with sardines & swamp cabbage

The usual quick refeshment from the  young coconut is it's fresh meat . The only tiring step is getting it from its tree, whether you'll climb or just cut it there with the help of coconut fruit cutter.

I'm still perfecting my form in climbing. It's still tough to climb!!!

And now, with our signature tropical dessert, that is, BUKO SALAD, we'll have to see how it is done.

After scraping the young coconut meat from its shell, you are now ready to add the additonal ingredients.

We're using the cold preparation here:

Just add:

  1. Kaong - this is also a coconut meat product

  2. Milk -Evaporated, since you already have sweet kaong

  3. Pearl Balls - of various colors to add color to the mix. Or you can omit it if you want only Kaong.

  4. Pinipig Crunch - Popped rice that is crisp to the taste. Also optional.

  5. Dairy Cream - to add more body to the mixture.

Sweet Kaong is also called Nata de Coco of coconut gel that underwent a thorough cooking process before the canning of this commercial product. (It has other colors like, red, green and yellow for colorful presentation)

You can also try cooking coconut gel by just following the simple steps of cooking young coconut meat with white sugar  then pouring extract of lemon juice to make it into gel-like form, then divide it like the one above. You can also buy it from the market in cube form then it's up to you to cut it into bite pieces.


BUKO SALAD...a tropical dessert!!!

Why you should own a Chef's Knife

Posted by Ireno Alcala on June 12, 2011 at 12:11 AM Comments comments (2)

Whoever designed and patented the Chef’s knife or the French knife became very rich. Why? Because it’s the most used utensil in the kitchen. The shape, the length, the blade…what more can I say. From cutting meat, making vegetable salad, designing garnishing or paring the core of an apple, it can function the specialties of other knives. You can even peel potatoes without looking for a potato peeler. From the handle to the tip, the flexibility of this knife is beyond compare. No doubt it’s the most sought after by kitchen personnel, from the chef to the mess man.

Let me refresh my mind about kinds of knives, from largest to smallest or vice versa. As an apprentice onboard ship in 2001, I’ve been cut, bruised and victimized by these knives accidentally while peeling vegetables, like potatoes; cutting pork or beef bones, even lamb carcass. So, how can I forget this set of dangerous tool in the kitchen?

Kinds of Knife

Bread knife - as the name indicates is used mainly on breads and cakes, cutting or slicing.

Cleaver knife - used to cut bony parts of meat. Chinese cleaver knife is the multi-purpose knife in Asia, especially in China but it‘s slimmer than the carbon-steel versions that are used to cut hard bones of cow’s meat or even lamb carcass onboard ship.

French or chef’s knife - This is the chef’s choice. Not too large, not too small. It can perform any task in the galley.

Boning knife - is used to de-bone meats.

Fork knife - My Greek cook used to puncture or prick the meat to let its juice out when baking.

Salad or table knife - as its name indicate is used when eating salads or cutting meat and other dishes into small parts. It is a part of prepared utensils in table setting.

Steak knife - is an optional knife to the dining table. I will change the setting of table knives into steak knives whenever I prepare beef steak as a meal.

Paring knife - is usually used when peeling fruits and vegetables. I became accustomed of this when peeling potatoes or apples.

Did I miss something? Well, help me out if I've forgotten something.


How To Use Knives

Kitchen knives can be fatal when used dangerously. To use it, you must know first the uses of it in the kitchen or galley. You will never make errors or commit accidents if you know how to use it properly. Let me just focus on chef’s knife.

  • Grasp the knife’s handle by putting your thumb at the front of the handle encircled by your forefinger and middle finger. The ring finger and the pinky will act as support encircled near the rear of the handle. It’s just like grasping a baseball. The first three fingers have the most leverage or force. It will also guide you how to infuse force on the meat or vegetable you’re cutting.

You’re other hand will help you grasp the thing you’re about to cut. You’ll not handle the meat or vegetable with protruding fingers. You’ll just put you’re hand (usually left) in closed position, only the knuckles will touch the meat or vegetables you’ll cut.

  • Backward sliding motion is the appropriate cutting direction of a knife. You will set the tip of the knife at an angle beneath the thing you’re about to cut then proceed the cutting motion, in and out, always going backward.

“Be careful with your hands,” my chief officer said. Well, I always remember what he said. It’s too painful to loose a finger or my whole hand.


Cooking Terminologies in Filipino Cuisine

Posted by Ireno Alcala on May 31, 2011 at 2:30 AM Comments comments (2)

Regional Dishes have local terminologies. Good thing is, the  regional chefs were able to put it into a national cooking book for everybody to know.

These are the most common terms in Filipino cooking that you should get familiar with. It is written in Tagalog/Filipino terms with corresponding explanation in English words.

So, read on, culinary enthusiasts. These will be a great help when you cook you specialties.

  • "Adobo/Inadobo" − cooked in soy sauce . It could also refer to just roasting on a wok, with light oil, garlic and salt, as in adobong mani (peanut) done more for snacks, while the former is more associated with viands.
  • "Babad/Binabad/Ibinabad" − to marinate.
  • "Banli/Binanlian/Pabanli" − blanched.
  • "Bagoong/Binagoongan/ – sa Bagoong" − cooked with fermented fish paste bagoong.
  • "Binalot" – literally "wrapped." This generally refers to dishes wrapped in banana leaves or even aluminum foil. The wrapper is generally inedible (in contrast to lumpia — see below).
  • "Binuro" − fermented.
  • "Busa/Pabusa" – toasted with garlic and a small quantity of cooking oil, as in adobong mani.
  •  "Daing/Dinaing/Padaing" − marinated with garlic, vinegar, and black peppers. Sometimes dried and usually fried before eating.
  • "Guinataan/sa Gata" − cooked with coconut milk.
  •  "Guisa/Guisado/Ginisa" or "Gisado" − sautéed with garlic, onions and/or tomatoes.
  • "Halabos/Hinalabos" – mostly for shellfish. Steamed in their own juices and sometimes carbonated soda.
  •  "Hilaw/Sariwa" – unripe (for fruits and vegetables), raw (for meats). Also used for uncooked food in general (as in lumpiang sariwa).
  •  "Hinurno" – baked in an oven or roasted.
  • "Ihaw/Inihaw" − grilled over coals.
  • "Kinilaw" or "Kilawin" − marinated in vinegar or calamansi,along with garlic onions,ginger, tomato and pepper.
  • "Laga/Nilaga/Palaga" − boiled, sometimes with onions and black peppercorns.
  • "Nilasing" − cooked with an alcoholic beverage.
  • "Lechon/Nilechon" − roasted over a spit.
  •  "Lumpia" – wrapped with an edible wrapper.
  •  "Minatamis" − cooked with sugar, or with other sweeteners such as panucha (panela).
  • "Pinakbet" − to cook with vegetables usually with sitaw (yardlong beans), calabaza, talong (eggplant), and ampalaya (bitter gourd) among others and bago
  • ong Paksiw/Pinaksiw" − cooked in vinegar.
  • "Pangat/Pinangat" − boiled in salted water with tomatoes.
  •  "Palaman/Pinalaman" − "filled" as in siopao, though "palaman" also refers to the filling in a sandwich.
  •  "Pinakuluan" – boiled.
  •  "Piniato" – peanut brittle.
  •  "Prito/Pinirito" − fried or deep fried. From the Spanish frito.
  •  "Pasingaw" – steamed, usually with a banana leaf.
  • "Relleno/Relyeno" – stuffed.
  • " Tapa refers to meat treated in this manner, mostly marinated and then dried and fried afterwards. Tinapa meanwhile is almost exclusively associated with smoked fish.
  •  "Sarza/Sarciado" – cooked with a thick sauce.
  •  "Sinangag" – fried rice.
  •  "Sigang/Sinigang" − boiled, usually with a tamarind base. Variant bases are: guava, raw mangoes, calamansi also known as calamondin, and almost any other sour fruit abundant in the locality.
  • "Tosta/Tinosta/Tostado" – toasted, as in polvoron or Mamon Tostado.
  •  "Torta/Tinorta/Patorta" – to cook with eggs in the manner of an omelette.
  • "Totso/Totcho" – cooked with fermented black beans. The name of both a cooking method and dish.

Preparing Beef, Lamb, Pork, Fish and Poultry for a Week's Menu

Posted by Ireno Alcala on May 31, 2011 at 1:01 AM Comments comments (0)

 A week's menu is to hard to plan if you don't have any idea how to  start. That's my first notion about it when I was starting Catering 101 classes in maritime school (Mariner's Polytechnic Colleges Foundation, Inc.) back  in our province (Baras, Canaman, Camarines Sur) in the Philippines. Thanks to our lady instructor. She (Maám Baby Lazaro) never tire of inspiring us to plan, cook and review our prepared menu for a week, although most of the guys were jesters ( to the max!) that often made her to go out the food laboratory room. But her perseverance  paid well; I was able to incorporate those theoritical knowledge in the actual working galley onboard a merchant ship.

Planned Menu

We usually eat breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday; others skip one of the human's eating routine. Some are complaining because they're on a diet. What's on a diet anyway? Meat products and fish are all sources of protein and other vitamins and minerals. So, let me share a sample of the usual menu that we follow in a week,whether at home or while at work in a restaurant, hotels or ships.

Day/s                         Breakfast                  Lunch                  Dinner

Monday                     Chicken                     Fish                    Pork

Tuesday                    Pork                          Beef                    Poultry

Wednesday               Beef                          Fish                     Lamb

Thursday                   Lamb                        Poultry               Beef

Friday                        Poultry                      Fish                     Pork

Saturday                    Pork                         Lamb                   Beef

Sunday                      Beef                         Pork                    Poultry

I just mentioned the kind of meat, fish and poultry that you are going to cook. The usual breakfast menu have little meat content, like chicken,  pork or beef sausages, boiled eggs or sunny-side up fried eggs or even lamb sausages. There are meat products combining  chicken, pork and beef for a sausage. (Wow!) Maybe, they do it for marketing, but the taste is not so good. You better make a special sausage at home. during lunchtime, prepared meat and poultry are usually stewed, made as soup, fried, grilled or roasted, bake or even boiled.

Stewed, Grilled, Fried, Baked or Boiled

1. Chicken - What I most like about cooking chicken is when I bake it. Baking time is the only period you'll wait until it is cooked (with all the indicators, like  the aroma that is pleasing to our sense of smell). Just don't forget to prepare the stuffing and the gravy (usually prepared from the drifted chicken fat in the pan with little flour and butter). I also boil it for chicken soup (good food for those who suffer nasal problems asin in colds and sinusitis). Just remove the bones, strip th fllesh and add mixed vegetable to enhance the taste of the soup.

You can fry the fleshy parts (drumstick or legs, thighs, breasts) and use the other parts ion making chicken soup or stock.

Stuffed turkey is a favorite during special Sunday gathering. It is usually baked and the flesh is carved into small parts.

2. Pork - You can separate the flesh from the fatty parts. You can stew the fleshor maket a steak out of it. You can boil the fatty parts with minced onion, garlic, with salt, pepper and vinegar; then fry it (like chicharon) as fingerfood. You can roast or grill the flesh with fatty part, (usually we, Filipinos, fry it as pork chop-marinated first in soy sauce, garlic, lemon, salt and pepper). You can also bake it or roast it. There are endless possibilities when cooking meat, like pork. Pigs are mostly hybrids today, so you can tend it at home for three months and you can have it butcher or market it later.

3. Beef - I like beef when stewed (as in cadereta) in tomato sauce or in liver sauce (as in mechado). Angus beef has soft flesh, which is ideal for roasted beef, whether it's rare (with blood), medium rare or well done. Beef strips is good for Korean beef soup (with lots of garlic and onion sprouts). Ground beef is ideal for beef loaf (usually cooked in bread pan).

4. Lamb - is idea for roasting or grilling. We usually roast it during Saturday party onboard ship. If you want to stew  it, you'll patiently remove the fatty parts, sauteed the  flesh in tomato sauce then simmer.   I personally like it roasted and with just a pinch of lemon juice, and hmm, it's heaven!

5. Fish -Boil, fry or grill it. You can make a simple vinegar-olive oil (or  vegetable oil) with salt and pepper fish sauce both for grilled and boiled fish. For sweet and sour fish sauce, you can saute  minced garlic and onion, julliened (cut into toothpick-like strips) carrots, ginger (julliened), with tomato sauce, vinegar, little sugar, salt and pepper.


Preserving Fish, Poultry or Meats

Since time in memoriam, early civilization deviced ways to preserve meat, poultry and fish. Usually, they dried it under the heat of the sun. Later, when they discover the use of fire, they smoked it for future use. So, it will stay much longer than the usual short period of consumption to avoid spoilage.

Nowadays, with the use of mixed chemicals and available ingredients from nature of at home, we can cure meat, smoke fish or store poultry easily.

1. Freezing - Meats, Fish and Poultry products can be frozen. For example, fishermen in a commercial ship have storeroom that freeze the catch or fish in a jiffy (fast). When pig, big or lamb are butchered, it will be frozen fast to avoid spoilage. The expiration of frozen foods will be indicated in the coverings of the product. The store or provision rooms for meats, fish and poultry have a -10 degree Celsius as the maintaining temperature. Frozen foods usually last foor a long time (like three years); as long as the handling and maintenance is well taken care of.

2. Curing - is applicable to meats, like pork (as in tocino), or beef (as in tapa). For pork tocino, you can cure it with vinegar (as acid), salt, pepper and sugar or salitre. You can also put ground garlic for a distinct taste. Let it be cured for a night or for three days and you can cook it for breakfast by boiling until the liquid part dried. The same procedurre is applied when curing beef.

3. Smoked - Is best for fish, although our forefather used to have smoked pork or beef. I like tinapa or smoked fish here in the Philippines. Just fry it then have a tomato salad and hot boiled rice for breakfast. When smoking fish, you must select a grouper fish (medium sized), boil it first with salt, drain for at least 1 hour, then smoke it with wood. In our home, we usually have a native round winnowing bowl (used for rice harvest) that use in draining fish). Underneath it, you can let sawdust or wood chips smoke (avoid inflaming big fire). You can turn the fish one at a time until all parts become shiny brown.

4. Canning -  I didn't experience it personally for meats, poultry or fish but for fruit preservation (as in making jelly or jam), I had a hands on for it. We usually buy canned meats, fish (sardines in oil or sauce) commercially.

Food preservation will surely help you budget fooof consumption at home for a day, a week, months and the whole year round.





Preparing Potatoes, Rice, Pasta, Fruits and Vegetables

Posted by Ireno Alcala on May 31, 2011 at 1:01 AM Comments comments (0)

You have to be versatile if you want to be a good cook. The theories you’ve learned in catering school will be put to a test and you should avoid rattling in the kitchen if you want to be one. You don’t have to be afraid opening your recipe. It will come in handy once you forget any ingredients needed. To put you to an actual performance, you should know how to prepare to cook rice, pasta, potatoes, prepare fruits and vegetables.


PASTA: Make it Al Dente


When I heard this from my culinary instructor, I thought I can cook spaghetti noodles easily. First, you should boil the water mix with vegetable oil or olive oil and salt. The purpose is for the pasta noodles to stick to one another.

ou should be attentive when cooking pasta. Al Dente means “to the tooth” or “to the bite” because pasta is often hard to eat. One technique is that if you throw a pasta noodle strand on the wall and it sticks then slowly goes down, then it is already cooked al dente. Once you removed the water, immediately soak it to cold flowing tap water, then put vegetable oil or olive oil while draining it in a colander.

Preparing Rice


Well, for Asians, like me, we used to cook rice three times a day. In the morning, I’m used to eating it newly boiled or fried (with tidbits of carrots, corns, garlic and spring onions).

With the use of rice cooker, there’s a water level indicator for every kilogram or chupas of rice so that it will not be too sticky or too dry. In many barrios, they still have clay pot where the rice is cooked. They line it first with banana leaves, put the cleaned rice, add the water then let it boil until all the water evaporates. You can put pandan leaves for a more enticing aroma. We also mix the long or short grain rice with 1/3 of glutinous rice for a more savory rice. You can put salt or butter for a more nutritious meal. Rice is a good source of carbohydrate that makes one energized to start the day vigorously. Chinese people used to make lugaw or rice soup or rice congee with meat tidbits and soup stocks (mostly chicken) for a more tasty breakfast. Glutinous rice is also good when making champorado or glutinous rice congee with cocoa powder.

Meanwhile, in Japan, they have sushi rice wrapped in special leaves. I like jasmine rice, which is used in making sushi, with egg soup. Japanese cook soak it first for at least 6 hours then cook in in rice cooker with little water, replace the lid with towel until all the water evaporates.

Many westerners choose to cook parboiled rice. They like to top it with sauce from bean soup or mix it with corns, carrots and potato tidbits, just like the famed Java rice. I’ll say there are distinct styling when cooking rice around the world. It can be turned into street foods, like rice cakes (puto bumbong, bibingka, puto lansoy) and rice delicacies wrapped in coconut young leaves.



Potatoes are more popular in the west, like in the USA, Canada and Europe.

The most famous preparation is French fries. You can always prepare it at home or buy in a fast food outlet near you. Westerners never tire of eating it, just like Asians for rice.

Boiling it then mashing it can be very sumptuous, along with special sauce (butter, starch, chicken cubes and water) or béchamel sauce.

Greeks like to bake it. I always wash the potatoes thoroughly, make cross slits or “x” on one side of each potato with a sharp knife, lubricate with olive oil, wrapped in aluminum foil (upper side left open) and bake it. It took about an hour to do it at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Let it cool then unwrapped, pushing the two side of potato to cooked flesh pulsate upward. Or you can carve the flesh, preserving the potato shells, mash the potato with chopped ham, freshly chopped parsley, milk and topped with grated cheese.

Potatoes are also good extenders in making soup or casserole or dish with sauce, like pork menudo (with tomato sauce, bell pepper, garlic, onion, laurel leaf, pineapple chunks), pork mechado (with liver sauce) or beef soup (with chopped carrots, celery, leeks, bell pepper, garlic and onion). Or you can just roast it during barbecue party. You can also bake it, just like a cake.


Cold Fruits

Fruit compote or mixture of fresh fruits (grapes, orange, apple, etc.) is the easiest way to prepare available fruits in the kitchen.

You can also puree it if you want. You can mix fruit juices, like pineapple, papaya and lemon (to produce another drink as in princessa cocktail).

You can also freeze fruit juices for future use. You can also make cubes out of it, too for cocktail drinks or even iced flavored candies from fruits.



Vegetable have the most short shelf life in the provision room. Green leafy vegetables, like pechay, watercress, spinach, lettuce should be used immediately. Bulky types, like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower have longer shelf life but also prone to decays.

Lettuces, like the iceberg or romaine types, are used in making vegetable salads (as in Greek salad).

You can also frozen other vegetables, like tomatoes, parsley, dill weeds, spinach, string beans, etc. for future use, like in stewing.

Vegetables can be boiled, fry, be used as extenders (or verduras) in any meat casseroles, like potatoes in pork or beef stew,



Baking Breads and Cakes

Posted by Ireno Alcala on May 31, 2011 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (1)

Baking will test the flexibility of a good cook. Online cook bloggers will showcase their expertise in this culinary specialty. More and more mothers or even single women open their culinary businesses online. Whether it’s just a hobby or business, as well, it is important to learn the techniques behind the magic of baking.

When we heard the word baking, for many children, it will mean “cakes” and lots of it. Well, the question is: “What magic ingredient makes exquisitely decorated cakes in patisserie shop windows so enchantingly perfect?” “Is it real or just rubberized version?” You’ll be spellbound, I’m sure but the truth is that two human hands could conjure up such trickery or you can call it Sorcery in Cooking.



The Baking Magic


Cake-making is an alchemy of sorts. In France, these sweet specialties used to be called gastel (now gateau), meaning a delicate food that quickly spoils. This is still somewhat true today, although the spoilage often occurs before the cake is even baked.

I’m sure many bloggers, especially mothers, will always remember these pointers to ensure that cake-making at home will be a success.

  1. Care must be taken to ensure that all of the ingredients you intend to use are of the best quality. The flour must be sifted (even it is pre-sifted flour) to eradicate any lumps. Eggs must be removed from the refrigerator one hour before being used. If the recipe calls for separated eggs (the yellow and whites), separate them immediately after taking them from the refrigerator.
  2. Your recipe should be one that’s well-tested and you should follow it accurately - don’t attempt improvisation unless you completely acquainted with cake chemistry. But, most recipes are geared towards the oven that is in a home between sea level and 3,000 feet. If you are at a higher altitude, you’ll have to make a few allowances. Flour is drier and more compact, so you should use slightly less than the recipe calls for. Yeast should be used sparingly because its action is stronger at these heights. Baking should be increased slightly (about 10 degrees F or 2-3 degrees Celsius).
  3. Skill is needed to mix the ingredients to the right degree at the right time, so follow recipe directions closely. Always bake at the recommended temperature in a reliable oven. Times specified in recipes are only approximate because of the variables in the cake ingredients (freshness of leavening, amount of kneading, etc.). Cakes should be tested shortly before the end of the baking time specified. Use a cake tester, a toothpick or a wooden match which should come out clean. Or, press the cake gently with your finger - it should spring back quickly. If your finger leaves an impression on the surface, the cake is not done.
  4. Cool the cake on a rack so that the air may circulate around it. If placed on a solid surface, no air will get to the bottom an it will cool unevenly. Generally, let it cool for about 10 minutes, then loosen the sides gently from the pan with a spatula. Remove the rack from under the pan and place it on the top. Invert quickly and remove the pan. Let it continue cooling.
  5. Cakes should be stored in plastic wrap in the refrigerator after cooling because they’re extremely fragile. When splitting a cake for a filling, make a wide slash at the edge of the cake from top to bottom (used as guide when putting the cake back together) and put it on a flat surface. Using a long, sharp, knife, cut it in half or in thirds horizontally. Carefully lift the cut layers, spread your filling and put them back together, lining up the slash.
  6. Before icing or frosting a cake, brush it free of loose crumbs. Place it on a cake rack covered with heavy waxed paper. Choose a frosting that fulfills your requisites of color, flavor and texture. Don’t forget that its purpose is to give the final ideal flavor and sweet contrast to the cake.

For Cake Decorating

Aspiring cake decorators should keep a few tools handy: a long cake knife for cutting sponge cake, a long pallet knife for spreading icing and filling, and a French knife (like a paring knife) which may be used to cut marzipan or decorations, such as maraschino cherries. Also keep on hand different sizes of piping bags, large for meringue and small ones for trimming cakes. You can make your own bag for writing on cakes from rolled parchment paper. Rolled it into a tight cone and fold the open end down to hold it together. Tear off the bottom so that the hole is just large enough to hold the piping head required. Twist the middle of piping bags and use one hand to control the flow of the icing while the other pushes the icing toward the decorating tip. There are at least 50 different tips or piping heads available for cake decorating. The basic ones include: #2, #7, and # 22.

Use an electric mixer to whip butter cream icing and make it “smooth and light, but not runny.” The icing will be firm and easy to work with. Use a wooden spoon or spatula when spreading icing. For decorating purposes, you can whip the icing on low speed.

When icing a cake, spread your icing in a swirling figure-8 pattern. Crisscross it with the flat tip of your pallet knife to break any air bubbles, then pull a flat implement across the icing to smooth it and make the edges neat. Decorate the sides first, then the top of the cake.


Pork Adobo

Posted by Ireno Alcala on May 30, 2011 at 10:38 PM Comments comments (0)

I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. I don’t think it will be considered as regional dish. I’m talking about adobo - the Philippine famous pork dish, beside lechon (roasted pig). Because of many Filipinos working and living overseas, and some of them are owners of fastfood-restaurants in other countries, this main dish of the Filipinos is the well-known food among others. Every region has its own version of this dish. Some have extenders (mostly vegetables or verduras) that can serve as side dishes.

When the Spaniards came to the Philippines in 1521 (headed by Portuguese explorer Fernando Magallanes), the natives offered them a sumptuous feast of dishes, featuring native wild boar (usually dark in color) which was usually roasted during that time. These European invaders contributed to the development of the distinct Filipino cuisine that is becoming popular around the world. That’s why we have embutido , menudo, kare-kare which have distinct Spanish influence.

Even when I went onboard a merchant vessel starting 2001, the Greek officers used to crave for adobo that I used to include in the menu of the crew, that were mostly Filipinos. Even they’re afraid of the cholesterol of the pork’s fatty parts, they still eat it because it is so good to the taste. My chief Greek cook, who’s a diabetic person, always ready his medicines after eating it. So, why not introduce it to my fellow hubbers, all are gourmets, who want to taste an authentic Philippine food? Too bad, I’ll not serve it for you personally, but the good thing is you can try this in your own home. So busy yourself in your kitchen and see and enjoy eating the result of your culinary expertise. Enjoy!




½ kilogram (kg) pork round (with little fatty parts), cubed about 1 inch

½ clove garlic, crushed

½ teaspoon black pepper, partly crushed

3 tablespoons vinegar (coconut vinegar) or

6 tablespoons lemon juice (usually the Mexican lemons)

Salt to taste



Combine the five ingredients in a casserole pan. In a medium heat, bring it to a boil, occasionally turning the mixture. Cover the pan until the fatty juice emerges. When the meat is turning brown, continue turning the mixture until half the fats are almost separated from the pork. Drain the meat immediately then cool. You can also store the fatty oil for other use (like sautéing or frying fish). Serves 4.

Note: You can also use beef instead of pork. It must be marinated first, then cook more slowly for a more soft meat to taste.



With the advent of soy sauce (made from soya beans), it becomes an additional ingredient to the ‘most wanted’ in the Philippines.

In many famous hotels in the cities of Manila, Cebu, Davao or Baguio, the chefs incorporated extenders like potatoes or quail eggs and sweet onion rings to cater to the demands of visiting tourists or dignitaries.

I will say this to you, that the authenticity of this adobo dish will be found in the far-flung barangays. I often argue with my mother when cooking this dish. I like adobo with soy sauce; she always maintain cooking it with just the five basic ingredients and she always wins. Really, my mother knows best when it comes to adobo.

My side dish with adobo will be the freshest vegetable available or you can also try sautéing or boiling mixed vegetables, usually packed from the farm and immediately frozen for marketing. It consists of sweet corn, green peas and string beans.

SAUTEED OR BOILED MIXED VEGETABLE - You can use the pork adobo fats for sautéing. Or the best will be boiling mixed vegetable, then glaze it with butter or margarine.


1 cup green peas

1 cup sweet corn kernels

1 cup cubed carrots

Simply boil the three vegetables.  Drain and glaze with butter or margarine.

These two (adobo and mixed vegetables) go along well with newly cooked white rice.

 Enjoy eating. Bon Apetit!!!


Filipino Cuisine - a Diary

Posted by Ireno Alcala on May 23, 2011 at 12:28 PM Comments comments (0)

I'm a writer-hubber-blogger rolled into one. I love recording details of what I do everyday, especial things that interest me.

Right now, I am sharing my experiences about our food, the Filipino Cuisine.With a retentive memory, at this moment, I'll record what I remember so that I can always go back to it and appreciate good things, even bad experiences I still can recall.

If you do not read it from my other site, I will share it for you here at Tropical JOE. That's me. So, read on....

1. 1971-1978 - The first seven years of my life...There were workers sleeping in our homestead (my father was the assistant or caretaker of the hacienda). Everyday there were sumptous meals being prepared in the kitchen by several household help. I first tasted pork adobo, chicken in coconut milk, pork sinigang, chopsuey, even exotic foods like cooked  non-poisonous snake and monitor lizards. Everytime I woke up in the morning, fried rice with tuyo or dried fish with estrellado or sunny side-up egg and carabao's fresh milk tickled my palate. I was a child full of curiousity, that even accidentally eaten the siling labuyo (hot small peppers) anticipating the it's red coloring means sweet flavor.Tomato enchiladas always accompany every Filipino breakfast. Longganisa and beef tapa were also an enticing morning treat to me.

Most of our dishes in Bicol, Philippines is normally cooked with coconut milk. During fiestas, my relatives will always come and help prepare festive dishes like kare-kare or beef oxtail  in peanut sauce, mechado, menudo, afritada, igado, and of course, dinuguan.

Being a child, then, lured you to eat most of the sweets, like cassava rock n'roll, leche flan, buko salad, maja blanca, bukayo or sweetened young coconut meat.

2. 1979-1988 - I was introduced to other Filipino dishes in school cafeterias and restaurants. I became acquainted with many kinds of noodle delicacies. Rice cakes or puto with pork blood or dinuguan compliments with each other. I was appreciating the influence of  Chinese cuisine in our cooking. Pancit bihon, pancit lomi, miswa, canton  are still my favorites. I learn to use chopstick when my friends frequent the local Chinese restaurant fusing Chinese cooking into Filipino dishes.

I will not forget my favorite snack in high school, banana cake  or nilupak and of course, halo-halo!

3 1988-1999 - College and Radio days... Pancit loglog and beef bulalo or kinalas were among my usual dish for breakfast and lunch. I balanced it with chopsuey or Chinese vegetable platter. Lechon or roasted pork, lumpia and other regional dishes were my next discovery then. I began tasting other Filipino dishes due to some parties and social functions I attended as a mediaman.

4. 2000 - onwards - Working in a Filipino-Chinese fastfood chain gave me an inspiration of pursuing my other interest, in cooking. I've trained and worked as food service crew and cook trainee in  Chowking (Edsa-Taft, Pasay City, Manila). After three months, I was called to be the resident cook at the seaman's center of my first shipping company (UNLAD Ship Manning & Management, Inc.). I continued learning about food purchasing, food preparation and victualling. Almost all the recipes we cooked were Filipino dishes. Until my first contract as a seafarer in 2001. I stil cook Filipino dishes onboard ship. They prefer Lutong Bahay  or Filipino Country Cooking because it helps most of the Filipino seafarers to be at home inside the ship and eases the burden of homesickness.

Exposing myself here, according to the foods that I savored and enjoyed for the first four decades of my life, is a satisfying one.

Learn a thing or two about my food stories. It can have similarities from you, too!


Revisiting my Culinary School

Posted by Ireno Alcala on May 23, 2011 at 8:35 AM Comments comments (0)

It was March 4, 2011: I was going home but I requested my friend, who's driving the motorcycle,  to leave at the gate of the school, Mariner's Polytechnic Colleges Foundation, Inc. (Baras, Canaman, Camarines Sur, Philippines). It's an important date for the maritime institution as it celebrated its 34th foundation anniversary.

I heard the maritime band playing marching hymn. I passed the gate and made a salute at the quarter deck infront of the school's premise. I met  my former instructor at the culinary department and other school's staff.

I've seen how the institution grow fast since 1999 when I graduated as a Gold Tray awardee in Culinary Arts with special awards in Bartendering.

Going back to my Alma Mater felt like just yesterday, when I was still cramming for my projects and juggling my time to meet the demands of my job on the radio and still maintaining high grades on maritime subjects, especially culinary subjects.

After hearing the morning Friday mass (I helped prepared some items at the altar) and exchanged pleasantries with the bigwigs, especially Commodore Dante La. Jimenez, I proceeded at the Food Expo of the Culinary Department. My former instructor , Ms. Tita Lazaro, toured me at the new culinary building and introduced me to the  new instructor whom I already knew, Sir Roli Ancha, former columnist of Bicol Mail and a cook as well on board ship.

What I like about food exhibit is the Foods itself. Who else can deny their palate once they've seen the attractive presentation of the show? I think no one; although,we should control our urge to consume more sugar than your body can take.

Anyways, I enjoyed appreciating the food items that have been displayed from the breads, macaroons, brownies, cakes and all!

Let's enjoy it once again. Feast your eyes with these.............

And the star of the show.......

All and all, it's a successful anniversary since some alumni revisited the school and enjoyed the activities.

I was one of them.

Tropical JOE's Cooking

Posted by Ireno Alcala on May 19, 2011 at 2:37 PM Comments comments (1)

I consumed too much time writing about everything for the first five months of 2011. I momentarily forget that my Food Blog still exists. Thanks tothe staff of freewebs for allowing it to float momentarily, as if sleeping for quite awhile.

I was awakened to continue the exploration in my kitchen and discover the essences of local ingredients where I can make an enticing entrees out of it.

I decided to condensed the food articles that I've written on several sites.  It mostly consists of Tropical Cooking where you can also enjoy trying what I've done inside my kitchen.

Let's start with this one....

1. Tropical JOE's Cocoa Drink:D

I love a cup of cocoa in a cold morning, a good coffee alternative. It is proven to have flavanoids, more than you can imagine that hasten our cadiovascular system.

Cacao trees abound in our backyard, although I have to to our old place at the middle of the farm to harvest the ripe cacao pods.

Most of us here, including my dog, enjoy the taste of the soft flesh of its seeds (the white cottony flesh). Don't throw the seeds, it will be sun-dried for a day or two, then roast it until the aroma signifies that it's ready to be pounded into cocoa powder.

Remove the burnt coatings of cacao seeds, to avoid bitter taste of your drinks. If you have mortar and pestle, you can start pounding the roasted one, like I did.

Strain the pounded seeds, mix with brown sugar, add little water, enough to coat and form into balls that you can grasp closed by your hand.

If you're in a hurry, you can make your cocoa drink once you pounded adn strained finely the first batch of cacao seeds.

I still have an Aztec feeling for this one. Indian people in Central and South Americas have used the magic of its taste. The civilized world just followed their example and brought the cocoa drink and its products (chocolate, ice cream, etc. ) to light!!!

Most Filipinos enjoy their morning sipping coffee, usually the locally grown 'barako' (male) type or roasted coffee beans. They just grounded it then boiled; old folks usually add sugar molasses (tangguli in Bicol dialect - Philippines) during olden times.

Nowadays, you can easily buy sachets of instant coffee mix with sugar and milk powder at the sari-sari store in the neighborhood.

My mom used to roast a handful of rice in a pan then boiled it with water, strain and make a rice coffee while preparing for breakfast.

"How about a FROZEN COFFEE?":| Hmmnnn, maybe when afternoon comes.....;)


Right now, after eating a hearty breakfast of fried rice (sinangag) boiled egg and drink the boiled cocoa, my tummy felt heavy. I might as well sample the Fruit Selection that I've gathered prior to the Cocoa Drink drama.

A heavy breakfast is a good way to start a day. It's the time where metabolism works fastest in our body.

Too much activities just happened for the first three hours, since 7:00 AM; it's time to prepare for lunch. I'm preparing for just three mother, eldest deaf-mute sister and me.

The ingredients are all there outside, in the backyard. I can get the mature coconut, first; the gabi leaves while cooking rice.

I might as well prepare other ingredients. My mom already fried the fish as taste enhancer for my main dish this lunch...

2. Laing (Dried Gabi or Taro Leaves)

Tropical Cooking always use coconut milk. It's beneficial because of its good choleterol or saturated fats. It has no free radicals.

I grated the coconut, prior to the plitting (by hand) of dried gabi leaves. The first coconut extract should be pure milk. The next one will be diluted with little amount of water then boiled fopr the dried leaves to loosen up.

Don't forget to put minced garlic, onion and lemongrass. Halfway to being cook, put the cleaned fried fishes, splitted into small pieces.

"What a sumptous meal!":P "Don't forget the Vegetable Soup!":D

"You might as well, try this sweet GELATIN as your DESSERT!!!"8):lol::D

Afternoon comes, most of us will have catnaps or siesta and be active again around 3 in the afternoon.

What do I have in mind, then? Well, the same as yours!" It's time for an afternoon snacks!

Some young enterpreneurs, children of the mothers who made local delicacies are vending Sweet Choices like these:

"Or I might settle for my personal -delight-!":roll:

"Or this one...a Frozen Coffee or FroFFEE!";)

More often than not, rural folks in the country will just settle for rootcrops as snacks. We also eat it during breakfast or when the going gets tough.

"This humble SWEET POTATO is a saving grace!":)

The completion of a particular day will be a comfortable dinner. It should always be light and should also consist of fruits for easy digestion.

My mother insisted that I should catch the native chicken because it laid eggs everywhere; I found some at the roof of my waiting shed; then some on the nest.

We used to call it "kiskis kawali" or pan-skinned. With the usual shrieking and struggling, that particular evening was concentrated on making a Chicken Stew with green papaya as vegetable extender (also a good meat tenderizer, if you don't have a pressure cooker).

"The Chicken Drama didn't stop here....":roll:

On a high note: During BREAKFAST - Eat like a KING; at LUNCH - a PRINCE and DINNER, a BEGGAR."

Everyone of us should follow this GOLDEN RULE when it comes to EATING HABITS in order to stay FIT and HEALTHY all the TIME.


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