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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Sinigang na Lapu Lapu sa Miso at Kamias

I never thought I’d be able to cook sinigang sa miso (sour broth soup with fermented yellow bean paste), which is one of my family’s favorites.  The dish somehow seems so complex and mysterious.  But thanks to the cooking class conducted by Shangri-La Hotel’s executive sous chef Gene Del Prado, I learned how to make rich, comforting and  flavorful sinigang sa miso.

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

Shangri-La Hotel's executive sous chef Gene Del Prado

That recipe is the featured dish in my DIY column in today’s (June 19) issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.  Here’s my DIY column and Chef Gene’s recipe.  For additional tips, scroll down after the Cook’s Tips section.

Sinigang na Lapu Lapu sa Miso

During the recent Philippine Independence Day, Makati Shangri-La Hotel added to the festivities with its own fiesta of Filipino food. Served for lunch and dinner at the Circles Event Café June 9–15, the  Kalayaan Food Festival featured much loved Filipino dishes: kare kare, pancit palabok, sisig, kinilaw, lechon, sinigang, adobo, palitaw, sapin sapinall decked in the fineries of a five-star hotel.

It wasn’t just the presentation that gave these dishes their luxurious appeal.  With Shangri-La’s executive sous chef Gene Del Prado in charge of the food preparation, the dishes all exuded the classic flavors and aroma of old-fashioned Filipino cuisine, as though they had been cooked by a loving grandmother and her coterie of helpers in a place where patience was plentiful and time passed unnoticed.

IMG_0227: Pancit Palabok

Pancit Palabok

The kare kare, for example, was thickened with rice grains that had been toasted to brownness then processed to a fine powder.  The sauce for the pancit palabok was brightened by homemade achuete oil, its vermillion color extracted from seeds slowly simmered in corn oil.

IMG_0214: Sisig

Crispy Sisig (pork belly with garlic, ginger, chili and calamansi)

The pork for the sisig had been tenderly massaged with native coarse salt before being roasted in the oven until it became brown and crisp.

Impressive though all those efforts may be, for chef Gene, it was no big deal.  It’s just the way he has been cooking Filipino food since he started his career as a chef.  He learned many of these techniques from his own father, who was himself a chef at the restaurant of the old Jai Alai, and from a grumpy old cook who used to head the kitchen of a once popular Filipino restaurant in Makati.

I was lucky enough to attend the cooking class that chef Gene conducted at the Shangri-La last week. From him I learned how to make flavorful chicken adobo, sinigang sa miso, crispy sisig, as well as the aforementioned kare kare and pancit palabok.

The class also gave me some assurance that Shangril-La Hotel’s preparation of kinilawraw fish steeped in vinegar and spices—was methodical and hygienic.  Chef Gene made sure to wear clean gloves, for example, while handling the raw fish and bathing them in vinegar and when dousing the fish with the zesty seasoning of ginger, calamansi, vinegar, pepper, shallots and chilies.

When I saw the kinilaw on the buffet table at lunch right after class, I had no reservation about tasting a generous helping, knowing that the preparation of this raw fish dish met safety standards.

Here’s chef Gene’s recipe for sinigang sa miso, which I lost no time in preparing at home that evening.  The miso—fermented bean paste—tames the acidity of the sinigang mix and gives the dish a rich, mellow flavor.

Sinigang na Lapu Lapu sa Miso at Kamias

IMG_0193: Shangri-La Hotel's Sinigang na Lapu Lapu sa Miso at Kamias

Sinigang na lapu lapu with miso and kamias

1                      whole lapu lapu, about 1.2 to 1.5 kilos

2                      tbsp corn oil

1                      medium size red onion, chopped

2 – 3                cloves garlic, chopped

1 – 2                medium size ripe tomatoes, sliced thinly lengthwise

½                     c yellow miso paste (about 80 grams)

4                      c water

1                      medium eggplant, sliced diagonally into ½-inch pieces

3 – 4                stems string beans, cut into 2-inch lengths

1                      small radish, cut into rounds

4 – 6                pieces kamias, sliced into rounds

4 – 6                stalks kangkong (swamp cabbage)

2 – 3                long green chilies (siling haba)

½                     of a 40-gram or 60-gram pack sinigang powder mix (see PLUS tips)

1 – 2               tbsp patis (fish sauce)

Clean lapu lapu well then slice them into fillets. Remove any sharp bones (you can use tweezers to do this).

In a large casserole, heat the corn oil to medium heat. Sauté the onions until tender.  Stir in the garlic then add the tomatoes. Sauté until the tomatoes are wilted.  Add the miso paste and continue sautéing to blend the miso with the other ingredients.

Pour in the water and bring to a boil.  When the water is boiling add the eggplants, string beans, radish and kamias.  Lower heat to a simmer.  Let simmer until the vegetables are almost tender then add the lapu lapu fillets, kangkong and the long chilies.

When vegetables are tender, add the sinigang powder mix. Season with patis and continue simmering until the fish fillets are fully cooked (don’t overcook or the fish will disintegrate).     Serve hot with rice and additional patis on the side.  Makes 3 – 4 servings.

Cook’s tips:

  • From Chef Gene:  Do not put too much water when cooking dishes such as sinigang and nilaga so as not to dilute the flavor.
  • Chef Gene recommends tenderizing the vegetables first before adding the sinigang powder mix because the acidity of the sinigang mix could prevent the vegetables from becoming tender.
  • To prepare this ahead:  Have the lapu lapu already cleaned and cut into fillets. Sauté the onion, garlic and tomatoes (it takes time to wilt the tomatoes).  Add and sauté the miso paste. Keep covered.  About 15 to 20 minutes before serving time, pour in the water and bring to a boil.  Add the vegetables and simmer until vegetables are almost tender (about five minutes). Add the lapu lapu, kangkong and the long chilies.  When the vegetables are tender stir in the sinigang powder mix and season with patis.  Continue simmering until the fish fillets are fully cooked.


  • Because this recipe uses only four cups of water, put in only one-half of a packet of sinigang mix so the broth doesn’t get too sour.
  • To save time and effort, when you buy the fish, have the vendor clean and fillet the fish for you.
  • Aside from lapu lapu (grouper), you can use maya maya (red snapper) and tanigue (Spanish mackerel).

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DIY Recipes: A Dish for Father’s Day; a Winning Recipe; and a Mango Relish to Make Before Summer’s End

Here’s my DIY recipe published in today’s (June 12) issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer: chicken wings with garlic soy sauce. This simple dish with a robust flavor is versatile too.  It can be simply simmered then served with rice, or grilled then served as an hors-d-oeuvre with drinks.

How about making this for Father’s Day this Sunday? A special occasion deserves a special dish and this could be it.

(For my DIY recipes of May 22 and May 29, scroll further down.)

Chicken Wings in Garlic Soy Sauce
IMG_0118: DIY June 12 2014: Chicken Wings in Garlic Soy Sauce

1 ½  – 2                        kilos chicken wings

½                     c sugar

1 ½                  c soy sauce

2                      c water

1                      tbsp liquid seasoning

1                      head garlic, pounded

½                     c chopped spring onions

Remove the tips of the chicken wings and discard them.  Divide the chicken wings at the joints.  Each wing should yield two pieces.  Wash the wings well and pat dry with paper towels.

In a large casserole, combine the sugar, soy sauce, water and liquid seasoning.  Bring to a boil then simmer until sugar dissolves completely.  Add the garlic and the prepared chicken wings. Stir to cover chicken wings completely with the liquid.

Let simmer until the chicken wings are fully cooked, around 15 minutes.  Stir in the spring onions and heat an additional one to two minutes.  At this point you can already serve the dish as is.  Serve as an appetizer or  transfer the wings and sauce to a serving dish and serve it with rice. Makes three to four servings.

However, if you want to grill the wings and serve it with a thickened sauce, follow these directions:

After the wings are cooked, remove them from the casserole.  To the sauce in the casserole, add:

2          tbsp sugar

2          tbsp hoisin sauce

1          tbsp freshly squeezed calamansi juice

2          tbsp cornstarch, dissolved in ¼ cup water

Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer.  Let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and smooth.

Brush a griller with cooking oil and heat the griller to medium.  Grill the wings about three minutes on each side.  Transfer the wings to a serving platter.  Serve with the thickened sauce as a dip.

Cook’s tips:

  • If desired, spice up the dish by adding some chopped chilies to the sauce while it’s simmering.
  • Be sure to have plenty of beverages on hand.  The sweet-salty flavor of the sauce induces thirst.
  • To take this to a picnic: The night before, cook the chicken wings in the sauce and thicken the sauce, following directions above.  Store in tightly covered containers in the refrigerator.  Before leaving for the picnic, pack the wings and the sauce in spill-proof containers. Grill the wings over hot charcoal on the picnic site.  Serve with the sauce.


  • Hoisin sauce is available in the sauces and seasonings section of major supermarkets.
  • A substitute for calamansi juice is lemon.

(To view the entire DIY column in today’s Inquirer, click on this link:

My DIY Recipes for May 22 and May 29

Apologies to my readers for the delayed posting of these recipes.  I had been so busy the past few weeks preparing for the launching of my book The Rice Book for Kids in Singapore’s National Library Building (about which I’ll write more in a future post).

Anyway, here are the recipes as published in my DIY column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.


Last May 1, 30 Filipino high school and elementary students  from overseas gathered at the Enderun Colleges in McKinley Hill, Taguig, for the first Philippine Schools Overseas (PSO) Culinary Competition.  These 30 contestants formed the teams that have hurdled previous elimination rounds conducted overseas.  They represented schools in Dubai, Bahrain, Oman, Doha, and Shanghai.

IMG_9183: Mama Sita Contest Winners

First prize winners in the PSO Culinary Competition were the high school and the elementary groups of the Philippine Overseas School in Dubai. In photo are the winners, together with the judges and Mama Sita Foundation president Clara Reyes Lapus (third from left).

Conceptualized by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO), and with the major sponsorship of Mama Sita Foundation, as well as the support of Banco de Oro, Land Bank of the Philippines, the Department of Agriculture, and media partner GMA 7 International, the competition  aimed to strengthen the cultural ties of the children of overseas Filipinos with their home country.

The first prize winner in the high school division was the Philippine School in Dubai. Continue reading

Posted in Articles, Main Courses, Meal Starters and Side Dishes, Recipes, Tips, Uncategorized, Updates | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment