Tag Archives: Filipino Food

Oriental Mart

14 Jan

The famous Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle is without a doubt a place where any food lover can lose herself or himself in;  it’s by far, one of my favorite places.  I could spend a day in Pike Place and it would feel like it’s my first time there all over again.  When I worked in DT Seattle, I would find excuses to walk to Pike Place; it wasn’t just a physical exercise, it was also a mental one.  The bustling market is filled with so many amazing sights, smells, and sounds, which change everyday: the locals and tourists, the food, and the musicians all play a part in making Pike Place Market a one-of-a-kind market.  If you love reading and you happen to enjoy children’s books, A Day at the Market by local author, Sara Anderson, is wonderful to read and view.

Pike Place Market Post Alley

In Post Alley of Pike Place Market, you’ll find shops and vendors with wares as unique as they are.  At Oriental Mart, you’ll find a mishmash of Asian groceries and knick-knacks, and the store also serves popular Filipino dishes such as chicken adobo, longaniza, and pancit.  The ladies behind the counter are amiable and put their customers at ease with their friendly chats.

Oriental Mart

After spending part of the morning at Benaroya Hall (me) and the downtown Seattle Library (The Hubby), The Hubby and I rejoined in front of the library then walked together to Pike Place for lunch.  Lunch was a shared plate filled with rice swimming in adobo sauce, pancit, longaniza, and chicken adobo.  To sum up our lunch, it was malinamnam (that’s yummy or “nom nom” in Tagalog).

longaniza, chicken adobo, pancit, and rice

The shop is also known for their salmon soup which was already nearly finished for the day except for the broth.  They were kind enough to give us a small bowl por gratis.  The broth had a pleasant sourness to it; if the soup was done to the style of sinigang, then tamarind was used to flavor it.  I can understand why the soup was almost done.  It’s cold here and it makes for a great winter soup!

salmon soup broth

Filipino cuisine uses down-home cooking, its ingredients are humble and it’s all about taste… I consider Filipino cooking as the soul food of Asian cuisines.  If you like Filipino food, or if you’re never had any before and you’re interested in trying it, give it a go at Oriental Mart.

Oriental Mart on Urbanspoon

Squid Adobo

27 Dec

Coming home for the holidays means spoiling myself with Mom’s home cooking, and for me that means mostly Filipino/Asian-Pacific Islander dishes.  My favorite requests are palabok and pansit bihon; and because I’ve been hankering seafood for many weeks now – and still am despite all the fish dishes I’ve eaten since arriving in California – I asked my Mom if she had any squid and if she could make a dish with them.  How fortunate that my mother happened to have squid in the freezer; she pulls foods out of the chest freezer à la Mary Poppins.  It’s pretty awesome how she always seems to be prepared to rescue her daughters’ food cravings; and between my sisters and me, we have many.

squid adobo on the stovetopSquid adobo, or adobong pusit as known in Tagalog, is stewed squid made with simple aromatic ingredients.  Since the main ingredient already has a strong flavor, spices or seasonings are not needed.  Cooking squid does produce a smell-of-the-sea (though unfishy) aroma, so make sure to have your kitchen window open and the stove fan going if you’re not a fan of ocean smells.

squid adobo

Squid Adobo

1 lb squid
1 medium sized or 2 small shallot(s), chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 roma tomato, chopped
1 bay leaf

  1 tbs vinegar
salt to taste

Sauté shallots until soft, then add the garlic and tomato.  Add squid and cook over moderate heat.  Stir; add vinegar and salt to taste.  When squid are slightly opaque, turn off heat.  Residual heat will continue to cook the squid.

Smile and serve over warm rice with calamansi or lime on the side.


1 Aug

It rhymes with burrito, and it also looks like one when still wrapped.  What could it be?

If you answered, “Embutido!”, you’re so right that you can’t get any more right.

Embutido is, in blanket terms (no pun intended), sausage in the countries influenced by Madre España, with the exception of its Pacific island child: the Philippines, in which embutido is steamed meatloaf and longaniza is an embutido.  (I hope you enjoy word play as much as I do, dear reader.)  Some recipes call for baking the cylindrical-shaped meat instead of steaming.  In my case, I used sous-vide to cook the seasoned ground meat by first shaping it in a plastic wrap, then wrapping foil over it.  Sous-vide is a cooking method that involves sealing the food in tightly-sealed plastic bags and requires a longer cooking time than usual because of its below normal cooking temperature.

For faster cooking, go with either steaming or baking.  Steaming begins at 100°C/212°F under standard temperature and atmosphere conditions.  Keep in mind that depending on the cooking method you choose, the taste will vary and also the texture: moist vs dry.  However, baking grants you a meat log (embutido is not exactly a “loaf”, is it) that’s a bit caramelized.  Quite tasty if you ask me.

Sous-vide particularly makes for a juicier result.  Because sous-vide is generally around 60 °C/140°F, it’s important to consider USDA’s recommended cooking temperatures for meat and to keep a thermometer handy in order to check the meat’s internal temperature.  I kept my water below simmering point, but still higher than the typical temperature used in sous-vide.  When it comes to cooking meats, I tend to be cautious.

Embutido requires some creativity from the maker as the various recipes out there always include different types of aromatics along with vegetables and fruits, and even chopped sausages and whole eggs.  As the maker, you can either keep it simple and use your favorite seasonings and spices, or go all out and do a version of turducken using all ground poultry, of course.


1 lb ground meat
1/2 cup minced onions
1/4 cup diced bellpeppers
1/4 cup raisins
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp salt
dash of paprika

If baking, set the oven at 350°F.  If steaming or using sous-vide, begin heating your water to reach the recommended temperature.  Mix all the ingredients together and set aside.  Tear out 4 sheets of plastic wrap and 4 sheets of aluminum foil about 12-inch width.  Prep the wrappers by placing a plastic wrap sheet on top of a foil sheet.  Repeat three more times.  On top of the plastic wrap put a quarter of your mixture and form the meat mixture into a log.  Tightly wrap the mixture with the plastic sheet and tuck the ends.  Repeat the wrapping method with the foil.  Repeat three more times.  If you prefer a smaller shape, size your wrappers to 6-inch width and form about 1/8 of the mixture for each wrapper.  To cook, sous-vide, steam, or bake.

Smile and serve with your favorite condiment.

Ono Big Island

29 Oct

In the Hawaiian language, ono means delicious, and it’s the perfect word to describe Hawai’i nei.  Ryan and I have traveled to Hawai’i separately during our youth, but this is our first trip to the island together.  The motivation for our trip was a friend’s wedding.  Arthur, Ryan’s college buddy, gave us the honor of being a groomsman at our wedding, and Ryan returned the honor by being a groomsman at his wedding.  Suffice it to say that now, we’re all equally honored. 

Ryan and I began our island vacation at the Big Island and stayed in Hilo with my Dad’s very welcoming cousins.  The “aloha spirit” is genuine and contagious.  It’s indeed world-class, top-notch hospitality.  I suppose when one lives in a tropical island surrounded by beautiful vistas and beaches, filled with colorful flora and fauna, where the residents are relaxed and laid-back, and where good food abounds, it’s hard not to feel good. 

Speaking of good food there are a few people worth thanking whose ono cooking and/or ono local food and eatery suggestions were a godsend.  My Hilo relatives: Aunt Betty, “ate” Beth, Aunt Jocelyn, “Lola” Levry, “Lola” Nita, Aunt Tina along with Aunt Evelyn, and Aunt Marisol are all great home cooks.  Then there’s Uncle Pepe who harvested ‘opihi for us.  I should also mention two Washington State resident friends, LeAnne and Bryce, who are both Big Island locals whose food stories of their hometown subconsciously influenced our own opinion of Hawaiian cuisine – not that we didn’t love it already.  Then there’s my O’ahu relatives: Aunt Lisa, Lola Carr, and Aunt Digna who put together a dinner for us and gave a tip for a good malasadas joint.  As for eatery suggestions, our sources are: our friend Chris T., an O’ahu local  living in Seattle; Derek, a Californian foodie on a business trip in Hawai’i, who we met in Chinatown while we were food window shopping; and our friend, Arthur, who talked about Macky’s at North Shore as if it’s the best shrimp truck.  And it is.  I’d be remiss if I don’t mention Aku of Aku Eats.  If there’s a guy who knows O’ahu’s food scene, he’s definitely the kaneMahalo nui everyone!

Hawaiian local cuisine is wonderful and diverse, just like the people of Hawaii.  It is indigenous Hawaiian foods happily intermingling with Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, and Portuguese foods.  Incredibly ono.

So… Aloha and explore the diverse gastronomy of the Big Island and O’ahu with my relatives and friends.

October 7, 2010

Our food exploration of local cuisine started at Aunt Betty’s and Uncle Jeffer’s home, where my father’s relatives put together a welcome dinner for us.  We had an early afternoon arrival, with a flight from Seattle to Honolulu then to Hilo, and not getting a chance to eat a proper lunch, we were starving when dinnertime came around .  Dinner for the night consisted of: Meat and Vegetable Chow Mein, Fried Chicken, Chop Suey, Beef and Broccoli, Beef Stew, and fresh-from-my-aunt-and-uncle’s-garden Papaya.  Most of the dishes were take-out except for the beef stew and the papaya. 

The food was delicious.  But the shining star was the papaya.  Hrmm, how to explain its rich, sweet, buttery, fruity goodness…  Excellent.  I just did.

October 8, 2010

Yet another family dinner.  But who’s complaining, eh.  The dinner was held at Aunt Marisol and Uncle Randy’s place.  After a day touring Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park and the Macadamia Nut Factory, we were ready for a serious sit-down meal.  My relatives do not disappoint.  With Aunt Marisol at the helm, another local eats feast was prepared.  On the table were:  Lumpia, Grilled Mackerel, Milkfish, and Tilapia, Chicken Stew with Green Papaya and Bitter Melon Leaves, Pansit, Seafood Stew, and Steamed ‘Opihi seasoned with shoyu.    

All were delicious and I’d have gone for a third plate were it not for feeling full from eating too fast.  I normally eat slowly, except when I’m really hungry.  The dishes that moved me were the chicken stew (because I love bitter melon leaves!) and the ‘opihi.  Harvesting the simple-shelled mollusks takes some skill since it can get quite dangerous.  ‘Opihi can be found on the underside of rocks along the shore where the waves crash and pound.  You can only imagine how able-footed and careful one has to be when gathering the tasty limpets.

Coolest activities ever: Touring National Volcanoes Park and walking through a lava tunnel. 

October 9, 2010

The way to Kona from Hilo takes about two hours.  For the locals, that is a pretty long drive.  On the day that we planned to visit with Aunt Tina (who is also my younger sister’s godmother), Ironman Hawaii was happening.  Traffic was diverted and getting to Kona was next to impossible.  Eventually, we did arrive at our destination, but along the way we stopped by breathtaking scenic points, visited Akaka Falls State Park and Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, purchased a cup o’ joe at Royal Kona Museum and Coffee Mill, got inspired by the Ironman athletes, and had a light lunch of Saimin, Loco Moco, and Malasadas at Tex Drive In, the only eatery Ryan and I checked out in the Big Island. 

Tex Drive In and Restaurant: 45-690 Pakalana St Highway 19, Honokaa, HI 96727
Why eat out when the relatives kept preparing ono meals for us.  Though we had to try Tex Drive In since it happens to be a big hit with the relatives and a popular restaurant with the locals.  I got a saimin and the Hubz got a loco moco; both hit the spot.  But it’s the malasadas that got my attention.  Delicious, fluffy goodness.  Plain or filled, it is a heavenly bread.  I do believe the archangel was over my shoulder wishing and hoping I’d share.  Get your own, Gabriel.  Not sharing my malasadas is worth going to hell for. 

Aunt Tina, with the help of her niece, Evelyn and her husband, prepared Lumpia, Sautéed Shrimp, Filipino style Grilled Eggplant and Tomato warm salad, Grilled Beef, Kare Kare (a Filipino beef curry stew),and Pinakbet (a stew made with okra, squash, bitter melon, and long beans flavored with garlic and fish sauce).  Suman, which are sticky rice cakes steamed in banana leaves, were brought by Aunt Betty.  We were tired by the time we arrived at Aunt Tina’s but the food was good and gave us second wind.

Coolest activity ever: Watching Ironman.

October 10, 2010

On our last night at Hilo, my relatives pulled out all the stops and cooked a feast of Filipino dishes that nearly made me cry.  The women are such fabulous cooks and Ryan and I are honored to have been the center of attention and be the reason behind the yummy spread that they put together. 

During the day, ate (pronounced ah-te which means older sister in Tagalog) Beth took us to the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center at University of Hawaii – Hilo.  From October 5th until the 10th, ‘Imiloa showcased 50 digital planetarium films for their first Fulldome Film Festival.  We were lucky to catch the tail-end of the event and to watch a film called “We Are Astronomers”,  narrated by the talented David Tennant and also a collaboration of respected British universities (UCL, my recent alma mater, among them) provided content for the film.  Thanks to ate Beth’s membership, we got to watch three films which we chose from a list of 8-10.  After ‘Imiloa, we went to a small open market at downtown Hilo where tables and tables of beautiful produce attracted our attention.  We then parted ways with ate Beth, but her husband, son, and Aunt Betty’s daughter, Jebe, took over the duty of showing us around.  We all ended up going to a grocery to buy sandwiches, ahi poke, and a six-pack of (wait for it) a Northwestern brewed blueberry-infused beer.  Ironic?  You betcha.  We should have picked up a Kona Brewing Company beer, but noooo.  Instead we opted for the one with a slutty-looking blue hippo on the packaging.  We had lunch at 4 Mile Beach and after we downed the goods, we changed to our swimsuits and went for a swim.  That’s right superstitious folks, we violated that fundamental rule of “never swim after eating”.  Some rules are meant to be broken.  Because we smelled of food, we attracted the sea turtles and they ventured towards the shore and swam along us.  I joke about the reason why the sea turtles came towards the shore, but no joke about swimming with the sea turtles.  And no, we did not touch them.  The sea turtles are protected under Hawai’i law and touching them is forbidden.  Consider it kapu.  Swimming with the honu was such an amazing experience.  To think that we had an unexpected meeting while others pay to swim with aquatic animals at marine parks – it makes our experience even more awe-inspiring. 

The evening began with an amazing dinner of Mung Beans with Greens, Chicken Stew with Green Papaya and Bitter Melon Leaves, Fish Stew, Kare Kare, Miki (a noodle dish reminiscent of curried udon), Katuday Salad (which are flowers from scarlet wisteria a.ka. S. grandiflora with tomatoes and seasoned with fish sauce), and Achara which is a pickled salad made with grated green papaya, carrots, and onion).  On the side was Karyoka/Karkason, which is deep-fried rice flour dough dusted with sugar.  Dinner was followed by a couple of fun hours of karaoke and then packing.  At an ungodly hour the following day, we left for O’ahu.

Coolest activities ever: Watching the planetarium films and swimming with the honu.


Stay tuned for our O’ahu sojourn stories…