• ampalaya guisado close up
    Heirloom Recipe,  Ulam | Main Dishes

    Ampalaya Guisado | Sautéed Bitter Melon Recipe

    When we were growing up, both my husband and I were not fond of  ampalaya.  I guess it is—like okra and cilantro—a taste that you acquire as you grow older.  As grown-ups we like the bittersweet taste of ampalaya, and find it quite cooling and therefore refreshing to the mouth.  Bitterness also has its place in the diet, according to traditional principles of Filipino cooking.  In my teenage years when dysmenorrhea was part of my monthly experience, my elders discouraged me from taking pain-killers.  Instead I was made to eat ampalaya to expel as much unwanted blood as was causing the pain.  Today ampalaya (Momordica charantia) is a BFAD-approved anti-diabetes food and drug supplement whose efficacy is beginning to…

  • Pork Humba Image
    Heirloom Recipe,  Ulam | Main Dishes

    Humba Recipe | Braised Pork

    Humba (whom BAH) is a braised pork dish from the Eastern Visayas provinces of Samar and Leyte, where pork belly is used. In the Tagalog provinces, however, Humba is predominantly pata, pork hock. At first glance, Humba and Paksiw na Pata look alike. The former uses tausì (salted black beans) and tajurê (fermented beancurd) and peanuts; the latter, bananas and banana blossoms. As a little girl, the distinction was completely lost on me, and I called them both Humba. This is one of my father’s favorite dishes. Humba surely originated from the Chinese settlers because of the use of black beans, fermented beancurd, and peanuts—as well as the name which…

  • arrozcaldo detail
    Heirloom Recipe,  Kanin at Pancit | Rice and Noodles/Pasta,  Ulam | Main Dishes

    Arroz Caldo | Chicken Congee Recipe

    Arroz caldo—from the Spanish words “arroz” for rice and “caldo” for broth—is the Filipino version of Chinese congee that was adapted to the tastes of the Spanish peninsulares. Filipino congee comes in three basic forms: lugaw is plain rice broth; when tripe is added, it becomes goto ; but when chicken is used instead, it is called arroz caldo or pospas. A hot and hearty bowl of lugaw, goto, or arroz caldo is pure comfort on a rainy day. But to nurse a cold or a fever—or when you’re just feeling under the weather—the best food to eat would be arroz caldo. The ingredients that go into arroz caldo suggest everything restorative in nature: calming rice for an upset stomach, chicken and broth…

  • Goto tripe congee image
    Kanin at Pancit | Rice and Noodles/Pasta,  Heirloom Recipe

    Goto | Tripe Congee Recipe

    No trip to Malolos is complete without a pit stop at Citang’s Eatery in Sta. Isabel, a stone’s throw from the old church, to refuel and to buy various kakanín to take back home. Citang’s offers a variety of native snacks to eat and to-go, but our all-time favorite is the goto. The goto of my childhood used isaw (small intestines) from carabao. It was soupy, rather than thick, with a generous sprinkling of golden toasted garlic (and an overload of triglycerides and cholesterol). It was so good, squeezing kalamansî and patís into it was unthought of. Mamang used to order goto in bulk from a neighbor, Ka Edeng, who also made the best Lumpiáng Sariwà and Empanada (the flaky fried ones).…

  • biko top view
    Heirloom Recipe

    Biko/Sinukmani | Sweet Rice-Cake Recipe

    Despite the distance between Manila, where my parents-in-law lived and their hometown Quezon Province, they made it a point to bring home some rice at every harvest. My mother-in-law taught me how to cook the family’s favorite rice cake. Sinukmani (see NOOK mah knee) always tasted better using the family’s malagkit than any commercially bought ones. In Malolos and Pasig, sinukmani is called biko (BEE koh). My husband’s grandmother, cooked biko on Good Fridays. He and his cousins couldn’t wait for her to pour the cooked biko into a banana-leaf lined bilao (flat round basket tray) so they could scrape the burnt rice that stuck to the bottom of the pan. Sweet and crispy, the tutong, was the…

  • Texas BBQ chicken image
    Heirloom Recipe,  Ulam | Main Dishes

    Texas Chicken Barbecue à la Lea & Perrins Recipe

    After this post, I received a message from my brother in WA: “You mentioned on your blog about a cookbook you once had called ‘Dishes Men Love.’ I have a booklet called “Dishes Men Like” also from Lea and Perrins. I bought it at a garage sale years ago when I was still in Hayward. Is this the same one?” and attached a scanned photo of the booklet. My heart was pounding as I eyed the thumbnail image of the blue booklet—I could recognize even a pinhead image of it. It was the cookbook I had been looking for in the past 20++ years. I even wrote Lea and Perrins a couple…

  • meatloaf image
    Heirloom Recipe,  Ulam | Main Dishes

    Meatloaf Recipe

    Meatloaf is a dish whose visibility is considerably higher in real life—especially in North America and Britain—than in cookbooks. (Maybe because it doesn’t have a French name?) The use of “loaf” is particularly appropriate as most recipes include bread, usually in the form of soft breadcrumbs. Also, it is shaped like a loaf and is usually baked in a bread/loaf pan.  A worthy dish, meatloaf embodies the sort of rusticity which the word “peasant” evokes rather than the kind of refinement associated with haute cuisine. Well it is, as meatloaf evokes country home goodness, a dish that grandmothers and mothers cook on a day-to-day basis rather than for special occasions. My…

  • grilled lamb chops image
    Heirloom Recipe,  Ulam | Main Dishes

    Grilled Lamb Chops Recipe

    It wasn’t until after my grandmother passed away in 1962, that my father found it in his heart to work outside Malolos. (Earlier he declined a lucrative job opportunity in Liberia because he could not leave his mother behind.) When I was in 6th grade, Tatay left his job at the Voice of America/ United States Information Service (USIS) in Malolos to join the Manila Observatory which had just moved from Baguio to the Ateneo campus in Loyola Heights in Quezon City. In the first few months he commuted to work, by bus, but eventually moved the family to a rented apartment in Quezon City. (For the next 4 years…