Chicken Galantina


The fridge is still reeling from the holiday celebrations. A lot of things are still there that ideally shouldn’t be there anymore: ham glaze, ribs and the filling used for the galantina I made. I think I went overboard making sure that everything is in place, because I was being prudent and praning. Since we conveniently live near a wet market, I bought another chicken, deboned it (because it’s pretty cool to do it yourself) and repeated the process to make sure nothing is wasted. Well, there was still a small  mound of stuffing left that can’t be used to properly stuff a bird anymore so I just pan-fried and ate it with bread. It was delicious.

Is there really any difference between chicken galantina and relleno? According to the authors of Memories of Philippine Kitchens, Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan, “Filipinos, on the other hand, have sometimes used the terms interchangeably, assuming that the chicken relleno is a Filipino version of Spanish galantina using ground pork, canned sausages, sweet pickles and a boiled egg to stuff the chicken.” Good stuffed chicken is good stuffed chicken.


I’m spending the last few days of being home with a weird sense of nonchalance, like I’m just floating. It’s really uncomplicated. But I try to run to make sure I keep my sanity. Running almost every afternoon also keeps the blood pumping…that and I really don’t want feel the sluggishness as an adverse effect of eating a lot, because when I’m home, I eat sooo much.


I don’t intend to eat less or go on a diet this year. It’ll be the death of me. I don’t really follow through with my resolutions so at one point I’ve given up on listing things “I should do but eventually forget about after the first week”. But there are a few points I plan to continue this year and it involves a lot of things I should do “more often”: go to the gym, cook, blog and interact with other bloggers. In other words, it’s about putting myself out there. And balance, let’s not forget balance.


This is probably one dish you’ll be proud to put out there because it’s so darn purdy. It’s not really that difficult to make and it sure sounds fancy.

Once again, a happy 2013 to you all!

Chicken Galantina (serves 4 – 6)

I did away with the hard-boiled eggs but feel free to use it for your version.

adapted from Memories of Philippine Kitchens by Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan

  • half a garlic clove, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced fine brunoise (1/16th inch cubes)
  • 100 grams oyster mushrooms, diced
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 roasted red bell peppers, diced
  • 1/4 cup sliced black olives
  • 1/8 cup raisins
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 large egg
  • sliced onion rings (for roasting)
  • one 4 pound deboned chicken (try to get one that has been deboned whole, without any slits or slices along the back)
  • salt, freshly cracked black pepper, Spanish paprika for seasoning
  • melted butter
  1. In a pan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the garlic, onions and carrots and saute until softened, around 3 minutes.
  2. Add the mushrooms and saute until they release their juices. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and set aside to cool completely.
  3. Add the pork, chorizo, bell pepper, olives, raisins, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, flour and egg to the cooled vegetable mixture. Using clean hands, mix until well combined.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and paprika and place on a surface breast side up. Stuff the chicken with filling. Tuck the wings under the chicken (as if it looks like it’s taking a restful nap with its “arms” behind its “head”) and truss chicken with twine.
  5. Line a roasting pan with the onion rings. Place the chicken on top. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with salt.
  6. Roast for about 1 hour and 15 – 20 minutes. Discard trussing strings and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes to allow for carryover cooking (the heat will still continue the cook the chicken even if it has been removed from the oven). Carve and serve.


First feast


Now it can be told: my days whizz by when I’m in the kitchen. I mean, I could kind of remember the sun hitting my face when I opened my eyes and I found myself on the early morning flight back home. Then…everything was a blur. There were good snippets of course: hosting a dinner for my friends, two charity events with the same people, Christmas lunch, and the micro-feast we had this morning. In between these events I was cooking up a storm, making sure time was blurred. In a few days I’ll be back in Manila and I hope I can make the most of the borrowed time.

A neighbor died today, January 1st. I’d like to believe he died a happy 79-year old man. “Life is too short”, his wife told us when we visited. Amen. We might as well enjoy the ride.

In the thick of things I found myself hitting the stress button more than once this morning when a few things didn’t go my way. But all was well, and I still couldn’t believe I put together almost all of what was on the table. Yay me.


The spread:

Now I would consider this paella pretty fancy – with the arborio and saffron. But I still crave the one my Mama Eng usually makes with regular rice and malagkit/sticky rice, with that nice color that only cheap atsuete can give! Recipe here. For two years now we’ve had paella for New Year. Not too shabby!

Chicken Galantina

homemade ham – recipe here

The ribs look glorious if I do say so myself.

Not all the meals I’ll have this year will be grand (I might even skip a meal or two). But I intend to enjoy this year in the company of good people and even better conversations. Let’s put ourselves out there! Happy New Year everyone. 🙂

Peking Pork for the New Year

Seriously, my family doesn’t really observe Chinese New Year. I’m 1/8th Chinese but sadly the heritage hasn’t really been passed down. But when we talk about Chinese food appreciation, now that’s another story. I’m glad that the food culture is pretty much part of Filipino cuisine. It’s so pervasive that lechon (charcoal roasted pig) is in fact Chinese, but most definitely Filipino as well. (Yes, that’s why it’s more fun in the Philippines)

But since I’m practically in the kitchen and infront of my laptop most of the time, I’d like to honor my 1/8th by joining the festivities all around the world as people, Chinese or not, celebrate the year of the Dragon through food, festivities and everything in between.

I’ve already tried making a few Chinese dishes a while back (Five Spice Stew, Sweet and Sour and Fried Pork), and here I go again with another equally satisfying pork dish. What’s with me and pork, you may ask?

We go back around 16 years ago, when I was a scrawny little child with weak lungs who loved loved loved okra, malunggay and all the other vegetables conceivable.

Apart from really effective medication from the doctor that helped me gain weight and allay my asthma attacks, my mom just happened to introduce another important player in my eventual food pyramid: BACON. I have never looked back since. Ok, I still appreciate most vegetables (including ampalaya/bitter melon mind you), but as for okra, well, we’re not friends.

Pork has always been part of my diet. I don’t intend to stop my love affair, but maybe because I’m not getting any younger (says the 20 year old), I intend to lessen the consumption and offset indulgence with running/jogging (which I sorely miss).

Like I said, there’s nothing wrong with indulging. Peking pork…is indulgent. It reminds me of sweet and sour, it’s just that the former has a deeper and spicier flavor. It’s a perfect way to ring in another year because pork is a symbol for prosperity/abundance. It’s also a perfect weekend dish, so you won’t have to wait for Chinese New Year to enjoy it.

But nevertheless, Kung Hei Fat Choi!

Peking Pork (serves 6 – 8; adapted from Rasa Malaysia)

  • 2 kg pork belly or chops, cut into 4-inch long slices
  • Oil for deep frying


  • 3 eggs
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 teaspoons Shaoxing wine
  • 3 teaspoons iodized salt


  • ½ cup tomato/banana ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons chili oil
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 tablespoons vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • a pinch of Chinese Five Spice powder
  • 4 tablespoons water

Garnish: onion rings, chopped green onions (white and green part), chopped chives (optional)

  1. Pound pork slices with the back of a kitchen knife until tender. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, mix the breading ingredients, add in pork slices, mix well, and marinade for at least 30 minutes.
  3. In a medium saucepan, mix the sauce ingredients. Adjust the taste to your preference. Set sauce mixture aside.
  4. Heat a large wok with enough oil. In batches, deep-fry pork slices for 5 – 10 minutes, or until color changes to golden brown on both sides and slightly crispy. Once cooked, remove from heat and place on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil. Set aside.
  5. Bring sauce to a quick boil, add deep-fried pork (you may do this in batches), and stir until all the meat is well coated with sauce. When ready to serve, sprinkle the pork with chopped chives, onion rings and scallions. Serve over a bowl of hot steamed rice. Enjoy!

Peking Pork (Jing Du Pai Gu, 京都排骨)

Pork Barbecue

I’m still reeling around what we had on the table for our New Year’s lunch. I promise, this’ll be the last post about decadence. In a few days, I’ll be posting healthier recipes – like grass salad, steamed grass, grass on a bed of lettuce and more grass, plus a grass smoothie.

I take that back, I haven’t really tested the waters of healthier eating yet. And I’m operating around the forces of procratination and the love of all things pork. You get the idea. But what I do to make up for all the fat I consume is that I jog. I try to jog regularly and I’m proud to say that for three consecutive days I’ve devoted time to jog. Yeah I know it’s not much of a stretch but at least I’m trying to offset the guilt.

Well, it’s not really guilt. It’s simply that bad feeling I get after eating a whole lot of everything. But I don’t want to dwell on the bad. After all, food is meant to be enjoyed, savored and loved. Sure, sometimes you wish you had another external stomach to digest what you’ve eaten lest it adds to your already expanding curvature. The mantra “all things in moderation” came a little too late.

But at that precious moment of biting into your favorite dish, the universe doesn’t matter. That probably happened to me more than once during lunch when I had pork barbecue.

What makes this barbecue special, aside from the taste, is that it’s skewered.

You must be scrunching your brows right about now. You see the only time we get to eat/make barbecue on a stick is during the New Year. That realization came when my dad and I had a conversation of why I needed to cube perfectly good solid pork. I told him that it’s the New Year, that’s the only time we get to do this. A  long second later he realized where I came from and said “Oo nga nuh?” (That’s a “yeah, that’s right” or something to that effect).

Now you hopefully understand why some laws of the universe don’t matter so much to me anymore.

This recipe is meant to feed a reasonably sized crowd. I mean it. I couldn’t really account how many sticks were produced but the point is it’s meant to feed a family of 12 with leftovers to boot. But you can easily cut this recipe by half and adjust the taste of the marinade to your liking.

I recommend buying whole cuts of pork and if your butcher can help you cube it, the better. Buying the pork whole gives you more control over the amount of meat and fat you want in your barbecue. A typical pork barbecue stick has around 4 – 6 pieces, 80% of which is lean meat while the rest is delectable fat. I used a combination of lean (shoulder) and fatty cuts (belly).

I’d like to believe this is really a Filipino barbecue. It’s sweet and salty the way our barbecues should taste. The usual components of a marinade include a mixture of ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar/kalamansi juice and sugar but I added a few other things to tweak the traditional marinade a bit.

The resulting pork-on-a-stick is full of flavor. Apart from the strong marinade to begin with, it was alternately brushed with garlic and ginger flavored annatto oil and a sweetened reduced version of the marinade to keep it moist.

This is so special I wouldn’t really think of doing this at any other random weekend of the year. This is a New Year’s barbecue. Enough said. But since you’re not me, you might want to try it this weekend, or the next, or the next time your father, mother, son or daughter comes home. Either way, this is great stuff. I hope you’ll love it as much as we did. And please, don’t feel guilty after eating a stick, or eight.

Pork Barbecue

  • 50 – 70 pieces bamboo skewers
  • 5 kg pork cubes (we used 2 kg skinless boneless pork, 2 kg shoulder, 1 kg pork belly, cut into cubes)
  • 1 ¼ cup vinegar
  • 1 ¼ cup banana ketchup
  • 1 ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 240 ml/1 can unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons chili oil
  • 2 tablespoons chili garlic paste
  • 1 cup brown sugar + 3/4 cup extra for the sauce
  • 1 whole garlic head, minced
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in ¼ cup warm water (for the reduction)

Annatto oil:

  • ½ cup margarine
  • Half a head of garlic, minced
  • one ¼ – 1/2 inch ginger slice
  1. Put the pork in a large colander and clean it by running it through tap water. Allow the water to drain and set aside.
  2. Combine the marinade ingredients (except the cornstarch and water) together in a bowl large enough to hold the pork.
  3. Adjust taste to your preference.
  4. Add in the pork and mix well. Leave it covered in the refrigerator preferably overnight.
  5. A few hours prior to grilling, skewer the pork pieces. Make sure not to overcrowd the skewer (We had around 4- 5 pieces per stick).
  6. 30 minutes prior to grilling, make the two basting sauces.
  7. For the annatto oil: in a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the margarine. Do not allow to burn. Add the garlic and ginger and toast until the fragrant aromas are released. Set aside.
  8. For the marinade reduction: In a medium saucepan, add the marinade and cook over medium heat. When it starts to boil, add the sugar and the cornstarch slurry. Cook until marinade reduces. Be sure to constantly watch over it because the boiling marinade might spill out of the pan. Set aside.
  9. When the grill is ready, add the pork skewers and grill until both sides are evenly cooked, slightly charred but not totally burnt.
  10. Alternately baste the pork with the reduced cooked marinade and the annatto oil, every 5 – 10 minutes. We baste only when one side starts to brown and sizzle.
  11.  When done, remove from the grill and baste with the remaining sauce. Serve warm and enjoy!




Spanish by origin, but definitely with a Filipino ‘soul’, Paella has always been part of my operational definition of a ‘celebration’. A New Year’s feast for me would always involve a plate of bright light orange sticky rice flavored with the broth of delicious seafood, filled with tasty tender meat.

I remember when I celebrated my birthday at my barangay’s (community) health center waiting for expectant mothers to pop, I brought paella along with a few other dishes to share with my dutymates and instructor, and paella was most definitely the runaway bestseller. Until now people have been raving about my Mama Eng’s paella. It’s that good. She’s that amazing as a cook.

I’ve always had this preconceived notion that making paella would be intimidating, in the same way I find my grandmother’s Arroz Valenciana complicated. Semantically speaking, Valenciana doesn’t involve coloring the sticky rice, and her version has meat and no seafood. On the other hand, it’s not paella without the orange color and the flavor of seafood. Wikipedia might give additional definitions and interpretations that may vary from what I understand, but this is how our family deals with sticky rice.

I pestered Mama Eng to teach me how to make paella for our New Year’s celebration. I didn’t want my judgement to be clouded by another recipe that might confuse me. Her version is simply ‘the one’.

If your family has your own version of paella, you might find that her methods might stray from the conventional method of using a paellera. (We only use the paellera that my mom bought from La Tienda, a delicatessen and specialty store here in Zamboanga, as the serving container, sorry. ). She cooks everything separately then combines everything together in a large wok. A really large wok.

It’s elaborate, yes, but it ensures that everything is cooked thoroughly. Nobody wants to bite into crunchy, raw rice after all.

It’s not really a weekday dish. It’s more like a “lazy weekend with the family plus with more hands to help, the better” sort of thing.  Sure, paella is a dish you have to devote time and patience on, but the result is worth it.

The end product is really a thing of beauty. Really.

Mixed Paella (serves 10 – 12)

  • 3 cups uncooked malagkit/sticky rice
  • 3 cups uncooked white rice (whatever kind of rice you eat on a daily basis)
  • 8 – 10 cups water (use warm water if you’re using dried annatto seeds; fresh seeds can “bleed” in cold tap water)
  • ¼ – ½ cup annatto seeds
  • Seafood: crabs, shrimps and clams (it’s up to you how much of these you want to put in)
  • Enough water to cook the seafood in
  • ½ kg pork belly, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 whole garlic heads, divided, minced
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 1 medium carrot, sliced
  • 2 medium-sized potatoes, diced
  • 10 – 15 pieces green beans, cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

There's nothing like freshly cooked clams



  1. In large pot, add the crabs and shrimps. In a separate pot, add the clams.
  2.  Add enough water to cover the bottom of both pans and halfway to 3/4ths up the pile of seafood.
  3. Sprinkle a little bit of salt into the pot. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to allow the broth to simmer and cook the seafood until pink (for the crabs and shrimp) or until the clam shells open. Discard any unopened clam shells.
  4. Do not allow to water to completely evaporate by adding in water from time to time. By the time you’re done you should be left with a concentrated broth.



  1. In a wok, combine the pork with the soy sauce, 1 minced garlic bulb and fish sauce.
  2. Cook over medium to high heat until liquid evaporates and fat renders.
  3.  Toast the pork in its rendered fat until crisp but not burnt.

Rambutan this isn't; it's the fresh atsuete/annatto fruit


  1. Combine annatto seeds with the water.
  2. Allow the annatto seeds to “bleed” in the water until a distinct dark orange color is achieved. Add more seeds if desired.
  3. To remove the seeds, run the water through a fine mesh strainer and into a large pot/rice cooker pot.
  4. Wash and clean the rice. Add the rice into the pot with the annatto water.
  5.  If you’re using a rice cooker, turn it on and allow the rice to cook, covered. If not, cover the pot and cook the rice over medium heat. Visual here
  6. Minimize frequently removing the lid from time to time to ensure that the rice is cooked thoroughly. End product visual here

We used our prehistoric (traditional) stove top but a normal stove top would do

COOK THE VEGETABLES: In a pan over medium heat, fry the carrot and potatoes until cooked thoroughly. Visual here


  1. In a large wok (large enough to hold EVERYTHING), toast the remaining garlic and onions.
  2. Add the pork and green beans. Toast for a minute until green beans are coated with oil.
  3. Reserve a handful of clam shells.
  4. Add the remaining seafood into the wok together with 1 – 2 cups of its broth. Add more if desired
  5. Add the fried vegetables.
  6.  Combine everything together and season with a dash or two of salt and pepper.
  7. Taste the broth to ensure that it is seasoned well. If not, add more of the seafood broth.
  8. Add the cooked rice and using two long spatulas, stir everything together and let everything cook one final time for 2 – 3 minutes.
  9. Remove from heat and garnish with clam shells. Serve warm and enjoy!

It’s nice to start off my 2012 posting a slightly challenging recipe. I’d like to believe it’s an indicator of things to come for me: more challenges but sweeter, tastier success (fingers crossed).