Cua Pao (Gua Bao) – Lovingly learned from my Mom-In-Law

I first tasted Cua Pao when my mother-in-law visited us in California and she made her own version.  From then on, because of the savory, sour, sweet and nutty taste of Cua Pao, it’s become one of the family favorites.  Cua Pao also known as folded steamed sweet buns with filling is an authentic “Chinese” recipe.  Similar to when you order Peking Duck, stewed pork belly cut in slices are placed in a steaming hot sweet bun. It’s very easy to make and it’s a sure hit to anyone who loves to explore authentic Chinese meal.  Definitely NOT a vegan recipe but it’s a classic hand-me-down family recipe 🙂

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INGREDIENTS:

  • Pork Belly
  • Soy Sauce
  • Mirin
  • Cooking Sake or Rice Wine
  • Ginger
  • Star Anise
  • Cilantro
  • Sour Mustard
  • Chopped garlic
  • Chopped peanuts with white sugar or crushed peanut cake
  • Folded white steamed buns

PROCEDURE

First, prepare the stewed pork belly.  In a large pot, boil pork belly with crushed ginger for 30-45 minutes making sure to remove the scum for a clear/clean broth.  The broth should reduce then mix in soy sauce, mirin, and sake.  Reduce for another 15 minutes.

In a wok, heat oil and brown the chopped garlic.  Mix in thinly sliced sour mustard and stir fry for 5-7 minutes making sure you squeeze out the water from the mustard before cooking.

Prepare cilantro leaves.

Steam store-bought buns for 10-15 minutes.

Assemble your cua pao… and enjoy!

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Pinoy Streetfood: Nilagang Mani (Boiled Peanuts)

Nilagang Mani (Boiled peanuts) is a very economical snack available everywhere in the Philippines.  Memories of traveling by bus with my Mom going to Pangasinan or Baguio City.. Mommy buys me a bag of boiled peanuts and boiled eggs to snack on during the long road trip.

It’s very common to see street peddlers in Manila selling these boiled peanuts.  Sometimes, they come in pre-packed brown bags and peddlers would quickly load a tour bus to sell to travelers for their long bus ride to the provinces.

Recently, my husband and I bought a small pack of these boiled peanuts from an Asian store and knowing that my eldest daughter loves to eat this too, I was inspired to make some from my kitchen in order to save money, control the saltiness of the peanuts and add more seasoning to make the boiled peanuts more aromatic and flavorful.

Street peddler posted online by Richard Macalino
Street peddler posted online by Richard Macalino

Here’s my very simple recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. raw Peanuts
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 5 pods of Chinese Star Anise
  • 1 tbsp. Garlic powder

Cooking Procedure:

Wash raw peanuts well.  In a large stock pot, add raw peanuts and cover it with water or fill the pot until it’s about more than half way filled.  Add salt and start boiling.  When the water in on a rolling boil, add star anise and garlic powder.  You can add more or put less depending on your taste.  Continue to boil covered for 2 hours.

Turn off the heat after 2 hours and leave the peanuts to cool down with the salted water.

After 3-5 hours, drain and your boiled peanuts are ready!  Enjoy!

It’s truly a healthy and fun snack for the whole family.  Making a big batch is a good idea.  It holds well in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, even up to 5 days.  You will find boiled peanuts from Asian markets but I think it’s more fun to just make some at home.

Raw peanuts soaked in water with salt ready for boiling
Healthy boiled peanuts great for snacking

NOTES:

Balikbayan Filipino Street Food at Centris Weekend Market

2014 was the year I feasted my eyes with local Filipino food at the Centris Weekend Market in Quezon City, Manila.  This is a place where my sister would go every early Sunday morning to get her produce and ready-cooked Filipino food for a simple weekend treat.

It was a super humid day but I forgot about my sweaty nape and back, just by staring at all the local delicacies and fresh Filipino vegetable varieties.

Without a doubt, I had to have my Taho (soybean pudding with brown sugar syrup and sago pearls), my cheese and ube (yam) flavored Sorbetes (local Pinoy “dirty” street ice cream — it’s NOT dirty, it’s just the way Filipinos got used to calling it), my coffee Barako (fresh local Batangas coffee) and my Lumpiang Sariwa/Ubod (Vegetable egg rolls from the heart of Banana palms wrapped in crepe, served with sweet sauce infused with fresh minced garlic and ground roasted peanuts).

This is a must-see, a must-visit and a must-experience place to go to for all the Balikbayans going to Quezon City.

 

Mamang Sorbetero. Order your ice cream on a cup, a cake cone or a bun!! Yes, a BUN!

 

Arurusip (seaweed) and Manila Clams

 

Local Roasted Cashew nuts
Wild Pig and Deer Tapas (Dried or Cured Meat)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugar-apple
Sugar-Apple or Atis in Filipino… Childhood memories eating this for snack.
Variety of Dried & Smoked Fish
Ready to eat deep fried snack varieties (Fish, Pork belly, Ukoy, etc)
Heart-attack in a tray (Deep fried Pork skin and fat)
Exotic roasted Calf
My favorite Filipino Pork Barbecue in a Stick!! A must eat for everyone.
Fried here, fried there, fried everywhere!!! Time to eat! Great with Spicy vinegar dipping sauce.

Smokey grilled fish

 

Chinese Tsa/Cha misua and Misua birthday noodles

Special thanks to Mommy Dylebing 🙂 for being my teacher

Marrying into a Filipino-Chinese family was a life-changer to me.  Since childhood, I enjoyed learning about different cultures in Asia and now that I am older, food culture really catches my interest.  One thing me and my husband promised to one another is that after getting married, we will continue one special Filipino-Chinese tradition he grew up with.  That is, having a yearly traditional chinese birthday noodles called “misua.”

From day one of marriage we have always made this soup to traditionally serve first thing in the morning for our birthday celebrant in the family.

What does having misua soup or cha misua mean to the Chinese?  From what I read and what I learned from my mother-in-law, having this soup symbolizes several things – The long noodles symbolizes longevity.  It is said that for a traditional Chinese birthday, serving long noodles represent many more years to live.  It is a Chinese superstition that breaking or cutting the noodle will bring bad luck so every time we make this soup, the utmost care is observed to make sure the noodles are cooked well without breaking them.

Chicken to Chinese represents happiness, prosperity and if served whole, it means family reunion or togetherness of the family.   Eggs symbolizes fertility or fruitfulness.  And so on and so forth…

Now, I want to teach my viewers how to make this traditional Chinese birthday noodles.  I made two types of birthday noodles.  First is the Misua birthday soup and the next is the Cha/Tsa Misua or the stir-fried noodles which my husband always calls “tuyong misua” (dry misua) in Filipino.

MISUA SOUP INGREDIENTS:

1 whole chicken, boiled for 30-45 minutes (no salt)

Misua noodles

Hard boiled eggs (one per person), peeled and served whole

Minced garlic, browned in oil with a little salt

Chopped Green onions, for garnishing

Shred shards of chicken (himay in Tagalog or pull by hand) then set aside.  Reboil the chicken stock used to boil the chicken making sure to skim off any foam.  Upon boiling, add the shredded chicken meat and misua.  No need to put salt as the misua noodles are already salted.  Cook for 3-5 minutes depending on how you want your noodles done.  Serve in a bowl and top with one whole hard-boiled egg, sautéed brown garlic and chopped green onions.

INGREDIENTS FOR TSA/CHA MISUA

1 whole Chicken Breast, sliced thinly

5-10 pieces of medium-sized Shrimp, deveined and sliced in half

1/2 cup of good quality fish balls or scallops, sliced

Small piece of Pork, tenderloin or any tender part (boiled and sliced thinly)

Chinese long-life birthday noodles

4 large Eggs

1 bunch of sliced green onions, for garnishing

5-10 pieces dried Shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated with warm water for 1-2 hours

1/2 cup shredded Cabbage

1/2 cup sliced Crimini mushrooms

1/2 cup julliened Carrots

1/2 cup threaded and sliced Sugar snap peas

3/4 cup raw Peanuts with skin

1 bunch of fresh Cilantro, washed and roughly chopped for garnishing

Lots of Shallots, for garnishing

Oyster Sauce

Rice cooking wine

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

First thing I do is I always roast the peanuts on a hot frying pan.  It is done when the aroma of freshly roasted nuts, about 3-5 minutes of medium heat is fragrant in the kitchen.  With the same pan, using 2 beaten eggs, make a very thin omelet for garnishing later.  The other two eggs needs to be cooked in boiling water until hard-boiled, about 12 minutes.

In another shallow cooking pan, boil water and cook the long life noodles according to package instructions.  This will always depend on the kind of noodles you have available in your area.  Mine took 2-4 minutes to cook in boiling water.  After boiling, strain the noodles and quickly wash with cold water.  Before setting aside, put a little bit of sesame oil and mix the noodles well to prevent it from sticking.

In a large wok, heat olive oil to medium heat.  Cook the shallots until translucent then season with salt to taste.  Set this aside for garnishing.  I make lots of shallots because this makes the misua taste so good.

In the same wok, heat more olive oil to medium high heat.  Cook the drained shiitake mushroom until brown and fragrant.  Add the garlic, chicken, shrimp, pork and fish balls.  Cook until everything is more than half done.  Season with a little salt and pepper then stir fry with some rice cooking wine.  Next, add the rest of the ingredients – carrots, cabbage, sugar snap peas and crimini mushrooms.  Mix in 1 tbps of oyster sauce then cook and mix everything well.

To serve, put the noodles on a serving platter/bowl.  Top with the meat and vegetable mixture.  Garnish with sliced omelet, sliced hard-boiled eggs, roasted peanuts, chopped cilantro leaves and green onions.  Each person who eats will mix in their own fried shallots according to their preference.

VOILA!!!!  All done!

I love cooking this for my family.   Even our children had their first misua soup on their first birthdays and still does every year as their birthdays are celebrated.  As for me, my family makes it for me when it’s my birthday and that what makes our celebration very special.  It’s not the gifts, the cakes, balloons or ice cream – it’s our birthday misua soup that we enjoy as a family together first thing in the morning on our special days.

Enjoy!!!

Samgyetang (Korean/Chinese) Ginseng Chicken Soup

Samgyetang (Ginseng Chicken Soup)_4604902853_l

I’m sure most of you will like this recipe because it’s one of the easiest, nutritious and delicious soup of all time.

I consider this as one of our family’s comfort-soup aside from our classic Sinigang and Tinola.

This soup is made with Ginseng or other Traditional Vegetable Root Tea available in your Asian Market. It is believed by a lot of Asians to help cure and prevent ailments.

If and only “IF” your closest Asian Market do not have fresh or dehydrated ginseng, you can also use a couple of pure ginseng tea bags as a replacement.

Here’s how to make Korean/Chinese Ginseng Chicken Soup:

INGREDIENTS:

1 Whole medium size Chicken (or large cornish hen)

2 Stalks of Green Onion

1/4 cup of Garlic Cloves

1/3 cup of Glutinous Rice

7-10 pieces of Red Dates (Jujube)

Ginger

Ginseng (Fresh or Dehydrated)

5 pieces of Chestnuts

Cold Water

Salt and Pepper (optional)

Prepare all ingredients. Soak Glutinous Rice for 5 hours or overnight.

Wash your chicken and remove any excess fatty skin. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the soaked glutinous rice, some garlic, half of the dates and chestnuts and some ginseng. Don’t forget to crush the ginger and add it as well.

Close the opening of the chicken with toothpicks. If you don’t have toothpicks, you can keep it open but place the chicken in a big pot carefully. Put in the extra garlic, ginseng, dates and chestnuts with the whole chicken then pour water enough to cover all the ingredients.

Start to boil for 20 minutes with a foil on top of the pot to cover. When boiling, make sure to remove all the scum to keep the soup clean and clear. Add more water if necessary. When it boils back, cover again with foil then simmer the soup for another 40 minutes to an hour on medium to medium high heat (depending on the kind of pot you’re using).

Before serving, you may add some freshly ground pepper and sea salt and some minced green onion.

Enjoy each slurp of this nutritious soup and each bite of the ginseng, dates, chestnuts, and tender young chicken. I love to eat the garlic on this soup because it melts in your mouth 🙂

If you have questions, feel free to comment and I will be glad to help answer your question/s so you can make your own version of this recipe.

Thanks for reading!!!

Stuffed Squid

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more about “Stuffed Squid “, posted with vodpod
STUFFED SQUID IS ONE OF MY HUSBAND’S FAVORITE DISH.  WE USED TO EAT THIS AT A SMALL OUTDOOR CHINESE RESTAURANT IN AN AREA AT QUEZON CITY, MANILA ALSO KNOWN AS DELTA.  FUNNY I JUST ASKED MY HUSBAND NOW AND HE STILL REMEMBERS THE NAME OF THAT PLACE, “ONGPIN’S DELIGHT.”  I WONDER IF IT’S STILL IN BUSINESS TO DATE.
WE USED TO EAT THERE DURING OUR LUNCH BREAK FROM OUR WORK AT WEST AVENUE.  THIS WAS AT MY FIRST JOB AFTER GRADUATING FROM COLLEGE, AND THE PLACE WHERE MY HUSBAND AND I FIRST MET 🙂  ANYWAY, THIS IS MY VERSION OF THE STUFFED SQUID:
INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 MEDIUM TO LARGE SIZE SQUID (DEPENDING ON HOW BIG YOU WANT IT)
  • BUNCH OF GREEN ONIONS
  • FLOUR
  • EGG
  • COLD WATER
CLEAN THE SQUID.  REMOVE EVERYTHING INSIDE.  FOLD THE GREEN ONIONS IN HALF AND PUSH THEM INTO
THE SQUID.  MAKE A TEMPURA BATTER WITH FLOUR, ONE EGG AND COLD WATER.  DO NOT OVER MIX THE BATTER.
DIP THE ENTIRE STUFFED SQUID AND FRY IN OLIVE OIL ON MEDIUM HEAT.  MAKE SURE ALL SIDES ARE WELL DONE
BEFORE SERVING.  SLICE THE COOKED SQUID AND TOP WITH YOUR FAVORITE SAUCE.  NOTE THAT I DO NOT PUT ANY SALT BECAUSE I ALREADY PUT SOY SAUCE INTO MY CLASSIC BROWN SAUCE COOKED WITH CRISPY FRIED GARLIC, WATER, SOY SAUCE, SALT AND PEPPER, SPLENDA (OR SUGAR) AND CORNSTARCH WITH WATER TO THICKEN THE SAUCE.
THIS RECIPE IS VERY EASY TO MAKE AND REFRESHING TO EAT.