Sungka Board, photo by JMorton
Sungka – Filipino Mancala Game
I used to be obsessed with this board game when I was a little girl.
For whatever reason my mother used to discourage us playing sungka. She was really adamant that we should not play it. I think I heard her say that it was a game of the dead or something. She made it sound like there was something sinister about it.
But I’ve always had a mind of my own, and the more I was told ‘NO’ the more I had to do it; it was like a red rag to a bull to me, a fascination of the forbidden. 🙂 I was a tad naughty! LOL
Probably that was the reason I loved playing sungka. I used to ask a neighbour, Lagring, who was a year or two younger than me to play sungka. We did not bother with the wooden board; at my instigation we would just dig little holes similar to those in the wooden board on the ground under our mango tree. We would then gather little stones and away we play for what seems like hours. 🙂
My mother always knew what I was up to as I would come home with dirty hands and even dirtier finger nails. And of course those little holes which suddenly appeared all over our backyard! 🙂
In the end, knowing that I would not really listen, she just gave up on her embargo against sungka. Funnily enough as soon as the ban was lifted I moved on to another obsession, Jack’s Stone! 🙂
By the way the photo above was taken at late president Ferdinand Marcos childhood residence in Batac, Ilocos Norte. It seemed President Marcos used to play sungka as well. 🙂
Click here to see a quick tutorial.
I actually want one for Christmas, thank goodness they are easily available here.
Spare ribs, photo by Mae Mercado-Sanguer
Spicy Spare Ribs in Banana Ketchup
Banana ketchup has a very distinct taste. It is sweet and spicy.
Apparently this condiment was created during the second world war by a Filipina food technologist, Maria Y. Oroza.
This came about because there was a shortage of tomatoes but there was an abundance of bananas.
What does Maria have to do to assuage hungry tummies wanting sauce for their less than appetising meagre repast. Eureka! Banana ketchup!
Not before long, Mafran was mass producing the product and the rest is history.
Banana ketchup is not just a condiment for the dinner table. It has become a major ingredients in many a Filipino recipes such as in Filipinised Spaghetti Bolognese, omelette, etc.
Below is a spare rib recipe, which by the way can be made from beef or pork. To maximise the taste, it is advisable to leave the ribs to marinate overnight.
- 2½ lbs beef or pork spare ribs
- 1 can Sprite or 7Up
- Oil for frying
- 1 cup Banana Ketchup
- 4 cloves garlic, minced to a paste
- 3 tbsp butter or margarine
- 2 bird’s eye chillies (labuyo), chopped finely
- 2 onions, chopped finely
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
Method of Preparation:
- Wash the ribs and let it drain. Rub them with salt and then set aside for 15 minutes.
- Put the ribs in a large bowl and Pour the Sprite or 7Up over. Leave to marinate for half and hour.
- Using a mixing bowl, put together the banana ketchup, garlic, butter or margarine, chillies, onions, black pepper, bay leaf and caster sugar. Give it a thorough mix.
- Pour this to the marinating ribs in Sprite. Give it a good stir to cover the meat completely.
- Cover the bowl of ribs with cling film and leave in the fridge overnight.
- Heat the oil in a large pan or deep-fryer.
- Scrape off the juices and sauces from the ribs and carefully lower into the hot oil. Fry them in batches.
- Cook until golden all over.
- Pour the marinade into a pan and heat until bubbling hot.
- Serve this as a sauce for the ribs.
- Enjoy with some salad and boiled rice a la Filipino style. 🙂
Kilawing Puso Ng Saging by Rosie Reyes- Barrera
Kilawing Puso Ng Saging (Banana Heart Ceviche)
This recipe is one of my favourite. It slight sour taste makes for a good hearty meal.
- 1 banana blossom (a can of banana blossom from Asian supermarket)
- 1 cup coconut milk (fresh or canned)
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 50 g of cooked pork, sliced into thin strips (optional)
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp vinegar
- salt & freshly ground black pepper
Method of Preparation:
- Prepare the banana blossom (if using the fresh sort) by removing and discarding the tough outer layers. Then slice thinly crosswise.
- Soak the slices in salty water for 10 minutes. Then squeeze until most of the liquid had been drained out. The procedure is to remove any bitter taste from the banana heart (if only you can also do this with the human heart 🙂 lol)
- Rinse the banana heart slices in cold water and then set aside to drain.
- Heat the oil in a wok or a large frying pan.
- Saute the garlic until aromatic and golden brown, please do not burn, otherwise it will leave a bitter taste.
- Add the onion and the tomatoes to the garlic and allow to cook for 3 minutes until the tomatoes are softened and the onion translucent.
- Stir in the banana blossom as well as the pork (if using)
- Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add the vinegar and leave to simmer for 2 minutes.
- Pour in the coconut milk. Give it a stir and cook for a couple of minutes more.
- Remove from heat and serve immediately with freshly boiled rice.
Biko, photo by PH Morton
Biko From Alma’s Kitchen
My sister-in-law, Alma is a very capable woman. A good example of a decent human being. She is friendly, she is caring, she can’t do enough to be helpful to anyone.
She is well like by everyone.
Her abilities go on and on. What I like most about her is her cooking. She can really cook up a storm.
Her biko is to die for. Peter, my English hubby, who do not usually eat anything made of rice love’s Alma’s biko.
The above photo was from Alma’s kitchen. Doesn’t it look so delicious? And it was so yummy.
Click here for the recipe!
Biko a a favourite of mine. It reminds me of happy childhood and young adulthood in the Philippines. It reminds me of my loving family, cheerful, always ready for a laugh and adventure.
I remember my mother going to market and coming home with biko, which we would share and enjoy.
I remember my grandfather coming home with ‘pasalubong’ of biko, amongst others, when he goes out.
Biko is a symbol of halcyon days for me!
Sinangag, Photo by JMorton
Sinangag Breakfast , Photo by JMorton
Sinangag (Garlic Fried Rice Filipino Style)
Filipino fried rice called sinangag is the easiest fried rice recipe to do.
It is so tasty because of the addition of fragrant garlic. It gets even tastier if the oil you fry it in was from the oil you fried your meat of dried fish in as it absorbed all the tasty residue of the meat or fish.
Fried rice are better cooked from left-over rice or at least rice that has been cooked a day or night before. A day old rice has a a better texture as it had ‘dried’ up as it sits on the fridge. A fried rice from a freshly boiled rice tend to yield a rather soggy mess.
Sinangag cannot be simpler. It can just be from left-over rice, onion and garlic. This is because it is often eaten with separately cooked friend eggs, salted eggs, hot-dog sausages or the best there is – tuyo or danggit. (See above photo.) All washed down with a hot strong milky coffee.
2 cups leftover rice, even out the clumps
4-6 garlic, peeled and chopped or minced finely
1/2 onion, chopped finely
salt & pepper to taste
1 tbsp cooking oil
Heat the oil using a wok or a large frying pan over medium to high heat.
Fry the garlic, then quickly add the onion. Stir-fry until fragrant.
Add the rice. Fry vigorously until the grains absorbed all the oil giving off a fragrant breakfasty aroma. 🙂
Serve immediately with any of your favourite meaty or fishy breakfast.
Sapin Sapin, Photo by Arnold Gamboa
Sapin Sapin Recipe
Sapin sapin is a dessert made up of colourful layers of glutenous rice.
Salty Tomato, Photo by JMorton
Vine tomatoes, photo by JMorton
Just Tomato & Salt
There is some truth about the best things in life are the simplest things.
Like this recipe for instance. A few ripe tomatoes, sliced and then drizzled with a bit of salt is delicious with boiled rice and some fried fish.
Sometimes though, this salted tomatoes is a complete meal with a plate of fried rice.
I remember when we were still children, my mother would serve us rice with some viand of vegetables and fish and this recipe of salty tomatoes. I would watch her not bothering with a knife to slice the juicy ripe tomatoes. With dexterity she you would pull a tomato apart with just one hand and it was the loveliest memory of delicious childhood.
I have to say that when I first came to the UK, the tomatoes did not taste like the Philippine tomatoes. They looked the same but the UK ones are bland.
It was some few years later that Sainsburys started selling flavoursome tomatoes. It tasted slightly like the good tomatoes of the Philippines. But why has a tomato has to be flavoursome to taste like the real thing?
Ripe firm tomatoes, sliced
a pinch of salt
- Sprinkle the salt to the sliced tomatoes.
- 🙂 Yummy
Grilled Lapu Lapu in oyster sauce, photo by Ruben Ortega
This recipe is quite easy to make and perfect for an outside barbecue.
It is cooked wrapped in banana leaves (these can be availed in the frozen section of Oriental supermarket), which gives a delicious and ‘fresh’ taste to the fish beloved by Filipinos.
The fish wrapped banana leaves is then re-wrapped in tin (aluminium) foil for two reasons: one, to prevent the banana leaves from burning and two, the foil would ensure the fish to stay soft and moist as it cooks.
- Whole lapu lapu (grouper fish), cleaned, descaled and gutted
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 sweet red peppers, sliced
- 2 shallots or small onions, diced
- 1/2 inch ginger, julienne
Method of Preparation:
- Arrange the banana leaves to be enclosed over a larger tin foil (see photo above)
- Place the fish on top of the banana leaves.
- Drizzle it with olive oil, drop the garlic all over the fish, do the same with the red peppers, shallots or onions as well as the ginger.
- Spoon in the oyster sauce.
- Wrap the fish fist with the banana leaves, enclosing all the ingredients onto the fish.
- Then securely wrap the banana leaves parcel in tin foil.
- Put the tin foil directly into the barbecue and cook for 20-30 minutes. Ensure to turn over at foil parcel on the barbecue as it cooks.
- Serve with some green salad and buttered bread.
Sinabawang Ulo Ng Tuna, photo by Ruben Ortega
Sinabawang Ulo Ng Tuna
Awww the air is getting colder as we head towards autumn or rainy season in some other parts of the world. What better way to cope and ‘try to’ enjoy this change than by having a heart-warming delicious soup. Sinabawang ulo ng tuna is a recipe which uses the head or jaw of tuna fish. There are a lot of goodness in the tuna head/jaw alone and just perfect for some soupy recipes like the one below.
2-2½ lbs Tuna head, sliced
1 tbsp vegetable oil
6 cups water
1 onion, decoratively cut into rings
4-6 tomatoes, sliced
1 teaspoon ginger strips
1/2 head Chinese cabbage, roughly cut or 2 heads Pechay (bok choy), leaves separated
some chili fingers
2 tablespoons fish sauce or salt to taste
1. Using a large casserole pan, saute the ginger, onion and tomatoes in oil.
2. Quickly add the fish head, then add the water and bring to a boil, when boiling reduce the heat to simmer, this might take 20 minutes until fish is cooked.
3. Increase the heat, add the Chinese cabbage or pechay and chilies.
4.Season with fish sauce or salt according to your taste. Simmer for another minute and it is ready to be enjoyed with some freshly boiled rice.