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Welcome to the San Francisco Bay Area. Welcome to My Bay Kitchen!

Growing up in Baguio City, Philippines, I learned most of my cooking from my late mother,  just watching her in the kitchen.  She had no recipe books or cheat sheets, just the skills and knowledge  gained from my grandmother and great grandmother. I honestly believe that the best dishes are probably the ones that are passed on by word of mouth and practice, perfected not by measuring cups or kitchen timers, but by intuition and the pouring of one’s heart into the cooking. I have personally tried each of the recipes in this blog, injecting my own tweaks to make them more healthy and easy to prepare. More

I hope you will enjoy cooking the recipes as well as the story that goes with each of them. Select from the Category drop down menu  or visit this site’s pages by making a selection from the top menu bar. You can also use the search button to look for recipe key words.

Oh, and keep coming back for a second serving!

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Sweet and Sour Bola Bola (pork meatballs)

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I can understand why meatballs should be called ‘bola’ in the Philippines.  ‘Bola’ literally means ‘ball.’  But why they’re called bola bola is beyond me.  But then, Filipinos are fond of repeating words to describe persons and things:  Bongbong, Tonton, Chingching; maraming marming salamat, magandang magandang umaga.

I grew up eating bola bola.  My mom cooked the most delicious sweet and sour pork meatballs or fried in tomato and egg sauce.

The ones served at Chinese restaurants are also exquisite in a comfort food contest.  But when cooked with green and red bell peppers, the meatballs come alive and appear so festive.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 lb lean ground pork

1 small white onion, minced

1 egg

Salt and pepper to taste

Flour for dredging

1 medium onion, quartered

1 small red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into 1/2-inch squares

1 small green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into 1/2-inch squares

1 medium tomato, quartered

3 cloves garlic peeled and crushed

1 tbsp white vinegar

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

2 tbsps Olive oil

1/2 cup water

DIRECTIONS

In a mixing bowl, combine ground pork, minced onions, egg and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Make 1 1/2″ balls. Dredge each ball with flour and set aside.

Heat Olive oil in al medium pan over medium high heat. Add meatballs and cook until nicely and evenly browned.  Remove meatballs from heat and set aside.

In the same pan, saute garlic and onions until fragrant. Add back meat balls and cook for about two minutes.  Add vinegar, sugar, chilli and water and bring to a quick boil.  Reduce heat and add in bell peppers and tomatoes.  Cover pan and let simmer until the bell peppers are cooked but still crisp.

Remove from heat and serve warm over steamed rice.

Pepper Beef

591DB0DD-DAE1-4C5C-8F75-4B7992A9FA06.jpegIs it the black pepper or the red and green bell peppers that this dish takes its name from?

Does it matter really? What matters is the end result when you combine tender beef strips with black pepper and bell peppers.  It’s a combination chefs and household cooks cherish especially for important occasions.

It’s Christmas eve and I had a craving for beef meat and the first thing that came to my mind was this recipe, appropriate for the season.  As you can see, the bright red and green bell peppers exude the dominant Christmas colors!

Tired of honey-baked ham?  Then you’ve got pepper beef for your holiday table fare.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 lb. beef steak (or tenderloin) cut into bite-sized strips

1 large green bell pepper, seeded and cut into one-inch squares

1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into one-inch squares

2 small white onions, peeled and quartered

3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

1 stem green onion, cut into two-inch pieces

1 tbsp Olive oil

2 cups water

1/3 cup soy sauce

2 tbsps brown sugar

1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper (or more to taste)

DIRECTIONS

In medium pot or pan, add the  beef strips  to the water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer for at least one hour, making sure the water doesn’t dry up.  Set aside. In a medium pan, heat Olive oil. Add garlic and onions and sautéd until fragrant. Add the beef and sauté for about three to five minutes.  Add soy sauce and sugar and the remaining liquid used to boil the beef. Add bell peppers and green onions and continue to cook until the beef strips are nicely browned.  Stir constantly until ready to remove from heat.  Transfer to a serving platter.  Add salt and pepper as needed.

Crispy-fried, Salted Egg Fish Skin

D9BBCED8-AEEB-440C-BDC3-6B0828536B35It’s become a craze in the Philippines. Not only do those visiting Singapore bring back packets and packets of this delicacy, but franchise stalls are now springing up in Metro Manila malls.

Who can resist crispy-fried fish skin? Not just fried fish skin, but salted egg fish skin.

They can cost quite a bit, especially those branded packets imported from Singapore.

But why spend hundreds of pesos when you can make them in your own kitchen for a fraction of the cost?

For this recipe, I combined salmon and tilapia fish skin, deep-fried them and sautéed them in salted duck egg yolk and butter. No other condiments needed.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup fish skin, sliced into bite-sized strips
2 salted duck egg yolk
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsps Olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Heat Olive oil in a medium pan. Add in the fish skin and fry until  nicely browned and crispy. Remove from heat and place on a plate lined with paper towel to drain excess oil.

In a separate pan, sauté the salted egg yolk until they start to crumble. Add the butter and continue to cook for about 2 minutes.

Add back the fish skin, making sure they’re evenly coated with the egg yolk and butter mixture.

Remove from heat and place on a plate lined with paper towel.

Naked Lumpia: Sautéed Heart Of Palm

Lumpiang Ubod, or fresh eggroll, is a Filipino delicacy usually reserved for special gatherings.  A crepe-like wrapper is used intead of the usual eggroll wrapper.

There is another way to enjoy lumpiang ubod. Naked. Yes, you heard that right.  But calm down, it simply means you serve it without the wrapper.

Heart of palm is a vegetable harvested from the inner core and growing bud of certain palm trees. It is usually available canned in most Asian groceries, but fresh, sliced ubod may also be found in the market.

For this recipe, I skipped the peanut sauce and simmered the ingredients in coconut cream. I chose to pre-boil the ubod  to make it a little more tender.

 

INGREDIENTS

2 cups, sliced (julienned) heart of palm (ubod), pre-boiled

1/2 cup julienned carrots

1/2 cup pork belly, cut into tiny cubes

1 thumb ginger, peeled and julienned

4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

1 small red onion, sliced

2 finger (or Thai red) chilies, thinly sliced

1/2 cup coconut cream

Fish sauce to taste

1 tbsp. Olive oil

1/2 cup water

Green onions, chopped, for garnish

 

DIRECTIONS

Heat Olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add garlic, onions, ginger and chilies and cook for about two minutes.  Add in pork cubes and cook until nicely browned. Add fish sauce and mix well.  Add in carrots and cook for two minutes.  Add ubod  and water. Bring to a quick boil before reducing to a simmer.  Add coconut cream and continue cooking until the mixture starts to dry up.  Remove from heat and transfer to a serving bowl.  Garnish with green onions.

 

 

Ox Feet, Pata Tim Style

B9496C9F-86AB-42EB-A935-F96AC65A6878If you’re a fan of oxtail (especially that sumptuous oxtail soup from one of my favorite restaurants in Hawaii, Zippy’s), you will also appreciate a different part of the cow — feet! Especially if you cook it pata tim style. With some patience with cooking time and the appropriate mixture of soy sauce, whole peppercorn and sugar, you’ll enjoy this dish in a tender and juicy form — so unlike the raw feet that you initially got rom the supermarket.

I complemented this dish with potatoes simmered in the same sauce prepared for the ox feet, and fresh, blanched bok choy.

INGREDIENTS

1 pc (about 2 lbs.) of ox feet, pre-sliced by your butcher

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 beef cube

1 tsp whole black peppercorn

2 dried basil leaves

2 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered

Small bunch of bok choy, leaves separated

6 cups water

DIRECTIONS

In a large pot, bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add in ox feet, basil leaves, and beef cube and cook for about three hours over medium heat, or until the meat becomes tender and is almost separated from the bones.  Leave about 1 cup of the broth in the pot (reserving the rest of the liquid for soup at a later time). Add soy sauce, peppercorn, brown sugar and potatoes.  Bring to a simmer and continue cooking until the potatoes become tender. Remove from heat and transfer to a serving plate. Add blanched bok choy.

Fried Garlic Chips Fish Steak

3D3AD7AE-11CA-4AAE-B16C-00BFC7C2B1F3I cannot be more happy for discovering bottled toasted garlic chips in my hometown of Baguio City.  Ever since, my pantry is never without a bottle or two. The possibilities are endless!

For this recipe, I experimented on preparing fried fish steaks, adding garlic chips to the breading.

Any kind of fish steak will do for this recipe, but it is best to use fish that will not easily crumble or flake when cooked.

I used Imelda (local carp) fish steaks and garnished the finished product with steamed vegetables.

INGREDIENTS

2 pieces, fish steak

1/2 cup garlic chips

1/2 cup bread crumbs

2/4 cup flour

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil for frying

Your choice of steamed vegetables for garnish

 

DIRECTIONS

Wash fish steaks and pat dry with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper to taste. In medium bowl, combine flour, garlic chips and bread crumbs.  Mix well. Heat Olive oil in a medium frying pan.  Dip each fish steak in the breading, making sure both sides are fully coated.  Place the breaded steaks in the pan and cook until nicely browned on both sides.  Remove steaks and place on a plate lined with paper towel to drain excell oil.  Transfer to a serving plate and garnish with the steamed vegetables.

 

Fried Frog Meat

5BD74392-ABDC-4689-AB9D-C8E621D34B17.jpegFried Frog Legs, a famous Creole delicacy in the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana, seems to be a favorite of Barack Obama.  Whenever I think of frog legs,  I always recall this photo of the president that I saw on the Internet.

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I absolutely love this delicacy except that it is not always available at specialty restaurants, and it is even more difficult to find fresh frog meat at supermarkets.

So you can imagine my extreme excitement when I saw frog meat being sold at my favorite supermarket.  Not just legs, but whole frogs! It was a rare treat!

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 lb frog meat, already cleaned

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1 egg, beaten

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil for frying

DIRECTIONS:

Wash the frogs and pat dry.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Roll each frog meat in the flour then dip in the egg. Roll in the bread crumbs to fully coat.  Heat Olive oil over medium heat.  Fry the breaded frog mean in batches until they turn brown and crispy. Remove from heat and place on a plate lined with paper towel to drain excess oil.  Serve warm.