The Happy Home Cook: Tahong Especial

The Happy Home Cook: Tahong Especial

Here's a simple pulutan recipe using mussels from formerly incarcerated officers and soldiers.

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The Happy Home Cook: Beef, Tripe, and Ginger Soup with Bitter Beer (IPA Papaitan)

The Happy Home Cook: Beef, Tripe, and Ginger Soup with Bitter Beer (IPA Papaitan)

Hailing from the Ilocos region of the Northern Philippines, the bracingly bitter soup known as Papaitan is a source of local pride, and what many consider to be the ultimate Pulutan. In fact, it was a favorite of my late grandfather, Juan, who usually drank a can of Keystone alongside his Papaitan.

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Raw Yellowtail with Calamansi and Vinegar Dipping Sauces (Kinilaw na Isda)

Raw Yellowtail with Calamansi and Vinegar Dipping Sauces (Kinilaw na Isda)

Kinilaw is an indigenous Filipino dish of incredible freshness, usually (but not always) featuring morsels of raw seafood quickly bathed in native vinegar, citrus, or both, and then garnished with any number of sinus-clearing, palate-awakening aromatics and spices including ginger, onions, and chilies.

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The Happy Home Cook: Rhubarb and Fish Sinigang

The Happy Home Cook: Rhubarb and Fish Sinigang

The Philippines has invented dozens of variations on sinigang. Every region uses the souring agent that’s most available there — from kamias to sampaloc, calamansi to mangga. If Iceland were one of the Philippines’ 7,000 islands, sinigang sa rhubarb would surely be a familiar variation. The hardy plant does well in Iceland’s arctic weather and has been cultivated there for hundreds of years.

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The Happy Home Cook: Inihaw na Baboy (Grilled Pork)

The Happy Home Cook: Inihaw na Baboy (Grilled Pork)

The traditional cut of choice for this is liempo, the pork belly.  But here, thick bone-in pork chops were chosen as a leaner alternative. Having them french cut by the butcher makes for an elegant presentation, while also offering the option to eat the inihaw neatly with your hands. 

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The Happy Home Cook: Pabellón Criollo 

The Happy Home Cook: Pabellón Criollo 

Always in search of interesting dishes to prepare for dinner, I research international cuisines for recipes that I can adapt and add my own personal touches to. One such dish is Pabellón Criollo, the national dish of Venezuela.

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The Happy Home Cook: Orange Spareribs

The Happy Home Cook: Orange Spareribs

Another mouth-watering recipe from culinary legend Nora Daza

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The Happy Home Cook: Calderetang Kambing (Goat Stew)

The Happy Home Cook: Calderetang Kambing (Goat Stew)

The soldiers’ take on Calderetang Kambing.

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The Happy Home Cook: Buko Fruit Salad

The Happy Home Cook: Buko Fruit Salad

There are many Filipino words relating to coconut, each describing a particular variety or stage of development. Buko is the generic term, and refers to the nut when it is young but ready to eat. The young coconut needed for the salad should be thick but still tender, or malakanin (six- to seven-month green coconut).

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The Happy Home Cook: Vegan Nilaga

The Happy Home Cook: Vegan Nilaga

If I have to name a dish I’ve cooked the most, that would be a Filipino soup called Nilaga.  Often times I want a dish that I can cook fast with ingredients I already have in hand like celery, carrots, cabbage, and squash. When I’m feeling generous, I’ll add quinoa too. And once I put the vegetables to a boil and mashed the squash into the broth, I’ll turn off the heat and enjoy a hot bowl of this nourishing soup. Just like that, it has become my go-to favorite.

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