At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Friday, April 04, 2014


The other day a facebook friend whom I also know in real life posted a recipe that was a culture-specific taste of home for Filipinos.
And, quite naturally, many of his friends who are Filipino promptly mouth-watered all over the comments.
As, mentally, I did too.

I've modified it slightly, but in the main, this is his recipe:


Eight to ten chicken thighs.
Half a cup of soy sauce.
One third cup of cider vinegar.
One and a half cups of coconut milk.
Bay leaves.
One or two sliced shallots.
One Tsp. whole pepper corns.
Eight garlic cloves, minced.

Prick the thighs here and there with a fork, marinate in soy sauce for half an hour. Drain, reserving soy sauce. Brown in a pan, and discard some of the grease. Add the sliced shallot and colour this slightly, then add everything else and simmer for half an hour or so, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking or burning.
Remove bay leaves.

Serve with steamed rice, and a little saucer of crushed garlic in vinegar on the side.

If you want, you can also add whole siling labuyo (wild chili) or siling haba (long chili) to the pan. Siling labuyo is sharper than siling haba.

And note that this type of soy sauce, vinegar, and coconut milk flavouring can also be used for adobo sa liyempo (pork belly adobo), as well as ginataan manok and ginataan hipon -- chicken or shrimp coconut milk stew, with the amount of vinegar reduced severely, even replaced with one or two tablespoons of strong tamarind water. The process is to simmer till the sauce separates. If using shrimp, don't add them till after everything else has been combined and cooked, then put them in to poach in the sauce. Shrimp does not require more than a few minutes of heat.

[To truly bring out the inner Filipino in big gushing buckets, also serve sinigang or sinampalokang alongside: chicken, pork, or seafood with vegetables in a broth made sour with tamarind water. Tamarind can be found in many Asian stores in block or paste form. Just add hot water till it is at the desired tanginess, and use that as the basis of the soup, with sliced onion and garlic, plus tamarind or pepper leaves, beansprouts, kangkong, tomato, scallion, leaf-greens, gourd, ginger, whatever. The protein component mustn't be overcooked, the green stuff should be toothsome.
It isn't complicated, but a sense of timing makes it marvelous. Add a squeeze of lime.

Sinigang is a little more soupy with the ingredients put in the broth to cook, sinampalokang requires that the meat be sautéed with ginger before any liquid is used.]

Adobo has a distinctive aroma, especially the versions that simply combine vinegar and soy sauce, without the coconut milk (water added instead). Usually coconut milk is not used.

Years ago, when visiting a friend several blocks south of here, I knew immediately that there were several Filipinos living in that building.
The fragrance of their cooking lingered in the hallways.
Touches of vinegar and soy.
A hint of bago'ong.

It was a drab and poky apartment complex in the Tenderloin, strictly for the lower income levels. Many of those places are depressing and like prisons, but the adobic vapour-echo countered that marvelously.

If you like adobo, the smell is evocative.


As a classic culinary signature of a time and place I could also mention balut late at night in Ermita, but most people will have as little recollection of that as of the estofado kambing (goat stew) that may have started their evening. It's a more localized set of memories, and might have involved copious volumes of San Miguel and Tanduy.
I never got wasted in the Philippines. In a tropical climate, over-indulging in liquor makes you stink ferociously the next morning. Which is not something most Australians, American, Brits, and Euries realize.
Intoxication is also not endearing to the locals.
Never get drunk where you aren't native.
It's a question of manners and sense.
I did once try balut, though.
Won't say what I think.
It's... special.

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All correspondence will be kept in confidence.



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