Today’s DIY: Wing Beans with Smoked Fish in Coconut Cream (Guinataang Sigarilyas with Tinapa)

Today’s DIY : In today’s (July 31) issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, my DIY recipe is for Guinataang Sigarilyas with Tinapa – Wing Beans in Coconut Milk with Smoked Fish.

Where I Got It: From Romulo Café, the restaurant named after Filipino statesman, writer, soldier and diplomat General Carlos P. Romulo.  The restaurant is owned by his grandchildren.

IMG_0945  Romulo Cafe's Rellenong Manok for Maya Kitchen

Lola Virginia's Chicken Relleno

At the Maya Kitchen and Culinary Center last Saturday, Alessandra Romulo Squillantini (granddaughter of General Romulo) and her husband Enzo demonstrated how to cook some heirloom recipes of the Romulo family.  These included:  Lola Virginia’s Chicken Relleno (chicken stuffed with a mixture of ground pork, cheese, chorizo, Vienna sausage, onions, peas, raisins, pickle relish and eggs),

IMG_0922  Romulo Cafe's Kare Kare for Maya Kitchen

Tito Greg's Oxtail Kare Kare

Tito Greg’s Oxtail Kare Kare (oxtail and tripe stew in a peanut-based sauce),

IMG_0955 Romulo Cafe's Adobo sa Gata for Maya Kitchen

Adobong Manok sa Gata (Chicken Adobo in Coconut Milk)

Adobong Manok sa Gata (chicken adobo cooked in coconut milk) and Tropical Turon (pineapple roll served with calamansi sherbet and lemon sauce). These dishes are all served in Romulo Café.

IMG_0932  Romulo Cafe's Guinataang Sigarilyas for Maya Kitchen

Guinataang Sigarilyas with Tinapa (Wing Beans in Coconut Milk with Smoked Fish)

And of course there was the guinataang sigarilyas.

I’ve never been fond of wing beans but this recipe has made me appreciate this humble vegetable more.  Simmered in sweet-salty bagoong and the rich, creamy taste of the coconut milk, the sigarilyas becomes transformed into a hearty dish.  It’s best eaten after it’s newly cooked—and with lots of hot, freshly cooked rice.

Grab the recipe:  Here’s Romulo Café’s recipe for Guinataang Sigarilyas with Tinapa.  To view my entire DIY column in today’s (July 31) Inquirer, see today’s issue (page C4) or click on this link:

Guinataang Sigarilyas with Tinapa

(Winged Beans in Coconut Milk  and Tinapa)

450                  grams sigarilyas (winged beans)

¼                     c cooking oil

¼                     medium onion, chopped

6                      small cloves garlic, chopped

½                     c flaked tinapa (smoked fish)

3                      tsp bagoong

1                      chicken broth cube

1                      c water

1 1/3                c fresh coconut milk (see tips)*

Wash the sigarilyas well.  Remove the seeds then cut the sigarilyas into 1 ½ -inch pieces. Set aside.

In a large sauté pan or skillet, heat the oil then sauté the onions and garlic. Add the tinapa flakes.  Stir in the sigarilyas, bagoong and chicken broth cube.  Pour in the water and allow to simmer.  When the sigarillas are tender, add the gata and continue simmering for a few more minutes.  Transfer to a serving plate and serve.  Makes 4 – 6 servings.

Cook’s tips:

  • For the tinapa, Romulo Café uses galunggong tinapa.  You can also use tinapang bangus (make sure it’s boneless).
  • For the coconut milk, use kakang gata, which is the first pressing of the coconut.  This is thicker than the second or third pressing of coconut and is also called coconut cream.
  • You can use freshly squeezed coconut milk (first pressing) or canned coconut cream.
  • If using canned coconut cream, shake the can well before opening.


  • Instead of tinapa, you can use small shrimps or dried shrimps (known locally as hibe).  If using dried shrimps, hydrate them first by soaking them in warm water for about 10 minutes before using.
  • For a spicier version of this dish:  Use spicy bagoong, or add some siling labuyo (bird’s eye chilies) after pouring in the water.

For more information on Maya Kitchen’s cooking classes, call 892-1185 or 892-5011, local 108, or visit:

Romulo Café: 32 Scout Tuason, corner Dr. Lazcano, Quezon City, telephone: 332-7275.  Branches are also located on Jupiter Street, Bel Air, Makati (telephone 478-6406; and in Madrigal Business Park, Alabang (telephone 556-1443).

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Hot Dogs on Skewers and Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie

Here are my DIY recipes published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer the past two weeks.

Thursday July 10: Hot Dogs on Skewers. Now that kids are back in school, why not pack these skewers of hot dogs and vegetables for their lunch or snack?  It’s easy and it’s a sneaky way to make kids eat their vegetables too.

Here’s the recipe:

Hot Dogs on Skewers


4                      regular size or jumbo size hot dogs or frankfurters

1                      green bell pepper

4 – 6                 cherry tomatoes

1 – 2                hot dog buns

Nonstick cooking spray or cooking oil for brushing

1/4                   c melted butter

Ketchup or mustard or mayonnaise (as desired)

Also needed:  Bamboo skewers

Slice the hot dogs into one-inch or half-inch pieces, depending on your preference.  Cut a shallow slit on each side of the hot dog slices.  Cut the green peppers into one-inch squares.  Slice the cherry tomatoes in halves and scoop out the seeds. Cut the hot dog buns into one to two-inch pieces.

Brush the surface of a griller with cooking oil, or spray it with nonstick cooking spray.  Heat the griller to medium.  While the griller is heating, thread the hot dogs, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and hot dog buns into bamboo skewers, according to your order of preference.  Brush all with the melted butter.

Grill the skewers on the heated griller, turning them frequently to prevent any burned parts.  Cook until the hot dogs are warmed and the vegetables are slightly tender, brushing frequently with the melted butter.   Pack into lunch boxes.  If desired add some tubs of ketchup, mayonnaise or mustard for dipping.  Makes six to eight hot dog skewers.

Cook’s tips:

  • If desired, you can butter the hot dog buns before slicing them.
  • To prepare ahead:  The night before, slice the hot dogs, green pepper, tomatoes and buns and thread them into the skewers.  Wrap tightly and keep in the refrigerator.  Remove from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before grilling so as to bring them to room temperature.  Meanwhile preheat the griller and melt the butter. Grill the hot dog skewers as directed above.
  • To make the skewers more attractive, place them in disposable hot dog trays (as seen in the photo) then wrap tightly in foil.  These are available in the paper plate sections of supermarkets.

Thursday July 17:

My DIY recipe last week was for pecan pie with chocolate chips.  This delectable pie was served during the cooking class at the Marriott Hotel conducted by American chef John Havens.

IMG_0806: Pecan pie with chocolate chips at Marriott cooking class


Chef John Havens

Chef Havens is currently in Manila to take charge of the All-American Buffet that’s being served for dinner at Marriott Café from Thursdays to Sundays, until July 31.

The theme of the buffet is American comfort food, and it includes classic dishes such as:

IMG_0815:  Mac and Cheese Marriott Buffet

Macaroni and Cheese

macaroni and cheese (made with lots and lots of cheese)

meat loaf with a thick, brown gravy,

IMG_0824: Meat Loaf Marriott Buffet

Meat Loaf

country fried steak, gumbo soup spiced up with Louisiana sausages, plus a tortilla station with fixings of guacamole, tomato salsa, refried beans, jalapeno peppers, sour cream and cheddar cheese.

And then there’s the piece de resistance:  juicy, succulent US Angus rib eye steak, with sidings of baked potatoes, fresh corn, tater tots and mashed potatoes.

IMG_0811:  Ribeye Steak Marriott Buffet

Slices of Certified Angus Ribeye Steak, ready for grilling

Desserts include classic American pies:  apple pie with crumb topping, key lime pie with swirls of meringue and pecan tarts.

IMG_0853: Pecan Tart Marriott Buffet

Pecan Tart

The All-American buffet is served at dinner time at Café Marriott, Marriott Hotel, from Sundays to Thursdays until July 31.  For reservations, call 988-9999.

To view the entire DIY column of July 17, click on this link:

The dishes we learned during Chef Havens’s cooking class at the Marriott were:
grilled tuna encrusted with togarashi

IMG_0763: Tuna encrusted with togarishi in Marriott cooking class

Tuna encrusted with togarashi

and marinated grilled flank steak, which we had with tater tots and pepper and corn salsa.

IMG_0784 Steak served in Marriott Hotel Cooking Class

Marinated grilled flank steak with tater tots and corn and pepper salsa

Here’s my recipe for the chocolate chip pecan pie that we had during the cooking class conducted by Chef John Havens at the Marriott Hotel:

Pecan Pie with Chocolate Chips


Pecan pie with chocolate chips

For the crust:

1                      c graham cracker crumbs

1                      tbsp sugar

¼                     c melted butter

For the pie filling:

3                      eggs

½                     c sugar

1                      c Karo Light or Dark Corn Syrup

2                      tbsp butter, melted

1                      tsp vanilla

1                      c coarsely chopped pecans

½                     c semisweet chocolate chips

Make the crust:

Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter.  Press firmly onto the bottom of a nine-inch pie pan.  Set aside.

Make the pie filling:

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).  Beat the eggs in a medium bowl then stir in the sugar, corn syrup, melted butter and vanilla.  Add the pecans and chocolate chips.  Blend well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared graham cracker crust.  Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until pie firms up and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Let cool slightly before serving.  If desired serve with whipped cream or with vanilla ice cream.

Cook’s tips:

  • Aside from graham cracker crust, you can also use regular pie crust.
  • The pie may mound up in the center when you first remove it from the oven.  Just let it cool for a while –the mound will flatten by itself and be on the same level as the pie‘s surface.
  • You can also use semisweet chocolate chunks.

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This Week’s DIY: Salmon Sardines on Garlic Toast

My DIY recipe in today’s (July 3) issue of the Philippine Daily InquirerSalmon Sardines on Garlic Toast

Ariel Manuel in Maya Kitchen

Chef Ariel Manuel, a multi-awarded chef, at the Maya Kitchen and Culinary Center

Where I got it: This recipe comes from Chef Ariel Manuel, the multi-awarded chef of Lolo Dad’s Café. He held a cooking class recently at the Maya Kitchen and Culinary Center in Makati and this was one of the recipes he taught us.

About the recipe: Chef Ariel uses salmon fillets (NOT salmon steak, which has a different texture and flavor) to create an appetizing topping for garlic bread toast.  In Manila salmon fillets are available in Santis Delicatessen and in some branches of Rustan Supermarket.  Buy the fresh salmon fillets, not the frozen ones.

IMG_0315: Salmon Fillet Sardines of Ariel Manuel in Maya Kitchen

You can serve salmon sardines in small glasses or shot glasses.

To dish the salmon sardines, he spoons them into small glasses

or into ramekins, then threads slices of garlic bread into cocktail toothpicks.

IMG_0339: Salmon Fillet Sardines of of Ariel Manuel in Maya Kitchen

Salmon sardines on ramekins, served with garlic bread toast

The bread is then neatly arranged on the small glass or ramekin.  This is perfect for serving as an appetizer or a first course.

For the home cook, an easier way to present this dish is to use the salmon sardines as topping for the garlic toast.

IMG_0550: DIY Salmon Fillet Sardines on Garlic Toast

Salmon sardines mixed with a blend of tomatoes, onions and chives, served on top of toasted garlic bread

How it tastes: Definitely not like your ordinary canned sardines.  The bouquet garni infuses the salmon with a heady aroma while the mixture of tomatoes, onions and chives adds a fresh flavor.

Get the recipe: Scroll down below for the recipe and cook’s tips—and to see shots of the other dishes Chef Ariel prepared at the Maya Kitchen.

To read the entire DIY column, see today’s issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, page C2, or click on this link:

Salmon Fillet Sardines on Garlic Toast

250                  grams salmon fillet

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 – 3                tbsp olive oil

1                      head of garlic, sliced

¼                     tsp Spanish paprika (pimento)

1                      bouquet garni (mixture of thyme, parsley, lemon peel, dill and peppercorns, tied

together in a piece of cheesecloth)

For the bread:

1                      loaf French bread (baguette), cut into 12 – 14 slices

3 – 4               whole cloves of fresh garlic

Salt and pepper

¼ – ½               c mixture of diced tomatoes, onions and chives

Fresh basil for garnish (optional)

Remove the skin from the salmon. Cut the salmon fillets into cubes and season with salt and pepper.  In a pan heat just enough olive oil to cover the surface of the pan.  Over low heat, sauté the garlic and paprika.  Be careful not to burn the garlic.  Pour in the remaining oil and increase the heat to medium.  Add the bouquet garni.  Lower heat and let the bouquet garni steep in the oil for about 20 minutes.

Strain the oil then pour it immediately over the salmon cubes. Cover the salmon at once with foil. The hot oil will cook the salmon (salmon cooks quickly).

Make the bread:

Bake or toast the bread slices to golden brown.  While the bread slices are still hot, rub the surface with whole cloves of garlic.  Season with salt and pepper.  Top each bread slice with the salmon.  Spoon some of the tomato-onion-chives mixture on the salmon.  If desired garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Or:  Spoon the sardines into small glasses.  Top the sardines with the tomato–onion-chives mixture. Thread the bread slices into cocktail toothpicks and arrange on top of the sardines.  Garnish with basil leaves if desired.

Cook’s Tips:

  • The hot olive oil cooks the salmon cubes only to the medium rare stage.  If you want the salmon cubes to be fully cooked, microwave them for several seconds after you’ve poured in the hot olive oil.
  • While slicing the salmon fillets into cubes, make sure to remove any remaining pin bones.

Now that Lolo Dad’s Café has closed, Chef Ariel Manuel and his wife Mia are focusing on food catering for private dining.  They also accept food orders.  Just call Mia at: (0908) 271-3008. The couple promises to open a new restaurant soon.

Here are the other dishes Ariel Manuel taught the class at the Maya Kitchen:

White onion soup:

IMG_0387: White Onion Soup of Ariel Manuel in Maya Kitchen

White onion soup, served with Parmesan-wrapped bread sticks

IMG_0346: Romaine Ceasar Salad of Ariel Manuel in Maya Kitchen

Romaine Caesar Salad

Romaine Caesar Salad, tossed with salad dressing that uses local anchovy, and served with cured ham, bacon and seven-minute egg.

Shellfish Open Lasagna:

IMG_0350: Shellfish Open Lasagna of Ariel Manuel in Maya Kitchen

Ariel Manuel 's open lasagna with shellfish

IMG_0396: Mediterranean Duck Rice of Ariel Manuel in Maya Kitchen

Mediterranean duck rice

And a heavenly Mediterranean duck rice.  It has three components of duck:  seared duck liver, strips of duck egg omelet and generous slices of duck breast over saffron-infused rice.

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This Week’s DIY: Boneless Chicken Adobo

My DIY recipe in today’s issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer: Boneless Chicken Adobo

IMG_0195: Shangri-La Hotel executive sous chef Gene Del Prado

Shangri-La Hotel executive sous chef Gene Del Prado

Where I got it: from Shangri-la Hotel’s executive sous chef Gene del Prado. He gave a cooking class on Filipino cuisine recently in conjunction with the hotel’s Filipino food festival and the celebration of Philippine Independence Day.  Chef Gene also showed us how to make (among other dishes) sinigang na lapu lapu sa miso at kamias, a gut-warming, comforting variation of the classic sour soup (for the recipe, scroll down further).

About the recipe:  I never liked cooking chicken adobo because small parts of chicken bones tend to disperse in the sauce due to the long simmering process.  These bits of chicken bones could be inadvertently swallowed, thereby posing a health risk to all concerned.

But because the chicken he uses is boneless, Chef Gene does away with that risk.  Now I can add chicken adobo to my repertoire of adobo recipes. And because the chicken is boneless, it cooks faster too.

More on the recipe:  A little bit of cornstarch dispersed in water then added to the sauce after the chicken is cooked holds the sauce together and keeps it from scattering on the plate.

IMG_0210: Shangri-La Hotel's Chicken Adobo

Boneless chicken adobo, as cooked by Shangri-La Hotel's executive sous chef Gene Del Prado

How it tastes: Hearty, flavorful. The little bit of sugar added to the marinade (which subsequently becomes the sauce) cuts the acidity of the vinegar.  Yet the dish is still sour enough to retain the classic flavor of adobo.

Tip from Chef Gene: When cooking chicken adobo, do not add water.  Chicken in itself contains some water, which gets released upon cooking.  Adding more water dilutes the flavor of the sauce.

Get the recipe:  Scroll down below for the recipe.  To read my entire DIY column in today’s (June 26) issue of the Inquirer, click on this link:

For additional tips, see the PLUS section after Cook’s Tips:

Boneless Chicken Adobo

500                  grams chicken legs or thighs

¾                     c vinegar

¾                     c soy sauce

2                      bay leaves

½                     tsp sugar

¼                     tsp peppercorns

¼                     cup + 1 tbsp corn oil, divided

1                      head garlic, crushed

1                      tsp cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tbsp water

Remove the bones from the chicken legs or thighs and discard the bones.  If using large chicken thighs, slice each thigh in half.  Combine vinegar, soy sauce, bay leaves, sugar and peppercorns. Pour over the chicken. Let the chicken marinate in the mixture for at least one hour (keep in refrigerator if marinating longer).

Heat one tablespoon of the corn oil in a large sauté pan or casserole.  Sauté the garlic until it turns light brown in color.  Pour in the chicken and the marinade. Bring to a boil then lower heat to a simmer.  Let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked and tender.

Remove the chicken from the pan but leave the sauce in the pan.  In a frying pan, pour in the remaining ¼ cup corn oil and brown the chicken pieces quickly, removing each piece as it browns.  Add the dissolved cornstarch to the sauce and bring to a simmer.  Return the chicken to the sauce in the pan and heat through.  Serve immediately. Makes about 3 – 4 servings.

IMG_4043: Grilled Bananas

Grilled ripe bananas (you can use the native lakatan or the Cavendish) variety.

Serving suggestion: This is best served with steaming hot rice.  Also goes great with a side dish of chopped tomatoes, mangoes and cucumbers and with sweet, ripe bananas.

Even better, grill the bananas before serving (it caramelizes the sugar in the bananas and heightens the bananas’ natural sweetness.  Get the recipe for grilled bananas in this blog’s recipe section, under the heading “Desserts”).

Cook’s tips:

  • Chef Gene says chicken adobo must be eaten right after it’s been cooked.  Otherwise the chicken will get mushy.
  • Chef Gene adds the cornstarch just to thicken the sauce slightly.  For this only a small amount of cornstarch (one teaspoon) dissolved in water is needed.  It helps to hold the sauce together and keeps it from spreading when put on a plate.
  • Because of the vinegar, use only nonreactive pans (not aluminum) for marinating and cooking the chicken.
  • You can use also use deboned chicken wings for this recipe.


  • When deboning the chicken, make sure no bones remain in the chicken flesh.  Or you can just buy chicken thigh fillets which have already been deboned.  These are available in chicken stations in the supermarkets and in some wet markets.
  • Because the oil can spatter when you brown the chicken, it’s best to use long-handled tongs, which puts some distance between you and the pan.
  • Remove the bay leaves before serving.
  • Chef Gene doesn’t recommend using chicken breasts because these tend to get dry.

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