Category: Alma’s Kitchen

Halabos Na Alimasag (Steamed Blue Crabs)


Halabos Na Alimasag (Steamed Blue Crabs), photo by PH Morton


Halabos Na Alimasag (Steamed Blue Crabs), photo by PH Morton

Halabos Na Alimasag (Steamed Blue Crabs)

You do not need a fancy way to cook crab if they are really fresh.  The simpler they are cooked when really fresh, the more the natural sweetness of the crab meat would come out.


3-4 lbs fresh blue crabs, cleaned thoroughly
½ cup water
2 teaspoons salt


Pour water in a large cooking pot, a wok (some sort of a lid will be required). Add the salt. Let boil.

Now drop all the crabs. Cook by covering the pan or wok with a lid (this would ensure that the crabs are cooked by thei own oozing juices:) ) for 5 to 8 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Serve. share and enjoy!

Charcoal Grilled Tilapia

Tilapia, photo by PH Morton

Tilapia, photo by PH Morton

Charcoal Grilled Tilapia

I really find it very sad that tilapias have been having a bad press lately when in natural fact, they are one of the best tasting fish there is.

They are also very versatile, they can be cooked with just a bit of ginger and a few tablespoons of vinegar or can be fried, and be made into fish balls, etc.

Whilst growing up in Marag, where we had a farm,  tilapias used to grow naturally along the dykes that run in between our rice-field.

At lunch time we would go and catch them by hand or with the help of a rattan woven like a net.  After cleanign and de-scaling the fish, the would then be pushed into a bamboo skewer and set over an open fire to grill.

We then have a delicious lunch with boiled rice.  We also have a home-made sauce made from small amount of water, a dash of salt and a few siling labuyo (bird’s eye chili).


Spaghetti Bolognese a la Filipino

Spaghetti Bolegnase, Photo by PH Morton

Spaghetti Bolegnese, Photo by PH Morton

Filipino spaghetti bolognese is marginally different from what is the norm in Italy and the rest of the world. 🙂  We have put our own mark to our version, which is equally delicious as what is standard spagbol.  The difference is that SpagBol a la Filipino is rather sweet.  I will tell you this, once you’ve tasted it, you would want to try it again.

Good thing, it is very easy to do at home.  Below is the recipe.


  • 500g spaghetti pasta
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 2 – 3 jumbo Filipino-style hotdogs (in the absence of Filipino hotdog, frankfurters available in most western supermarket can be a good substitute), sliced diagonally
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 – 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 pound minced (ground) beef
  • 1 can plum tomatoes, pureed
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup banana ketchup (preferably sweet and spicy (buy from any Oriental shop selling Filipino products)
  • 1 beef Oxo stirred in 1 cup of water
  • 1  teaspoon sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese, grated
  1. In large pan, cook the spaghetti in boiling water according to packet’s instructions.  It could be al dente that there is still a bite to it.  Drain.
  2. Using a saucepan, heat the oil. Add sliced hotdogs (or sliced frankfurters) and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Using the same saucepan, add the onions and garlic and cook until the garlic is so fragrant, do not burn or it will turn bitter.
  4. Add the minced beef, breaking it into small pieces; cook for about 7 to 10 minutes until browned. Drain any excess fat.
  5. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, ketchup and beef broth. Stir in sugar. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer, covered, for about one hour or until meat is fully cooked and sauce is thickened. If sauce is getting too thick, add water in ½ cup increments as needed. During the last 10 minutes of cooking, add the hotdogs. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. To serve, spoon spaghetti sauce over noodles and top with grated cheese.

Recipe was adapted from:

Alma’s Kitchen: BIKO


Biko from Alma’s Kitchen
Photo by PH Morton


My sister-in-law, Alma is a very good cook.  Whilst in the Philippines she fed us non-stop with the most delicious food.  One of her specialty is biko, which was absolutely to die for.  Alma said that it was so easy to make and then proceeded to give me the recipe, which follows below.

  • 2 cups glutinous rice (also known as pudding rice, sticky rice or malagkit in Tagalog)
  • 1½ cups water
  • 2 cups Demerara sugar (brown sugar)
  • 4 cups coconut milk
  • ½ tsp salt
  • lightly toasted sweetened coconut flakes (optional but really tasty when added)
  1. Wash the rice and then drain.  Using a large pan, preferably heavy bottomed one, combine the sticky rice and water in and cook until the rice is ready, i.e. when the water had evaporated. 🙂  Ensure that the rice is not burnt.
  2. As the rice is cooking, mix the coconut milk with brown sugar and salt using another pan, a large flat bottom frying pan is ideal.  Cook under low heat until the texture becomes thick. Stir constantly.
  3. Once the rice is cooked and the coconut milk-sugar mixture is thick enough, add the cooked rice in the coconut milk and sugar mixture then mix well. Continue cooking until all the liquid evaporates.
  4. Transfer the cooked biko in a large serving plate;  flatten the surface.
  5. Sprinkle generously with sweetened coconut flakes if using.

Enjoy this recipe from Alma’s kitchen to yours!

Talbos Ng Kamote Salad

Talbos Ng Kamote (Sweet Potato tops), photo by PH Morton

Talbos Ng Kamote (Sweet Potato tops), photo by PH Morton

Talbos Ng Kamote Salad

I did not realise how much I have missed talbos ng kamote (sweet potato tops) until Alma, my sister-in-law, put it on our dining table during our recent holiday in the Philippines. I think it turned me into a bit of a goat as I just could not have enough of it. I just want to chew and chew on the green young shoots of sweet potato tuber.

I wonder if it is easy to grow sweet potatoes in a UK garden?!!! I would like to harvest the shoots rather than the sweet potatoes, although when I was a young girl, we planted a lot of sweet potatoes on our farm in Marag, Philippines. I remember digging out sweet potatoes when they were hardly ready and eat them straight from the soil. I loved the newly formed sweet potatoes, they tasted crisp and sweet. OMG, I was wild; I was feral! 🙂

Apparently, sweet potato tops are great for making smoothies and juices as they contain a lot of healthy nutrients that naturally cures ailments of the body.

Be that as it may, I want my potato tops made as a salad.

Talbos ng Kamote (Sweet Potato tops) Salad:



1 large bunch sweet potato leaves, tougher stem removed and discarded
2 large ripe tomatoes, sliced
1 large red onion, sliced

The salad can be made with different types of sauces. Perhaps what is already in your food cupboard.

It can be half a cup of cider vinegar or red wine vinegar seasoned with salt.

it could also be a spritz of a whole lemon again seasoned with salt.

It could be a more exotic fish bagoong that can be bought from any oriental supermarket selling Filipino or Thai products.

Though I love any sauces from the above, I would tend to use fish sauce (patis) and calamansi/lemon as I always have a patis in my fridge. 🙂


Boil some water in a sauce pan.

Blanch the sweet potato tops by plunging in the boiling water and leave for a couple of minutes.

Remove from the water to drain.

Using a large bowl, combine the sweet potato tops with the tomatoes and onion.

Drizzle generously with your choice of sauce from the above list or with your own favourite sauce.


Tahong With Dahon Ng Sili

Tahong With Dahon Ng Sili

(Mussels with Chilli Sprouts)

Mussels with Chilli Sprouts, Photo by PH Morton

Mussels with Chilli Sprouts, Photo by PH Morton

This was so delicious.  I think it is the best recipe for mussels.

The mussels were very fresh and the dahon ng sili (young leaves of Chilli plants) complemented the dish thoroughly.

Peter loved it so much, he had a bowlful all to himself.

Alma, my sister-in-law, cooked it for us on our last day in the Philippines.

She said the secret to the recipe is the freshness of the tahong (mussels) and of course a proper preparation by cleaning them thoroughly.  The soup that has all the goodness of the mussels will fresh and so tasty.

Below is the recipe, which is easy to follow.


1 kg of tahong (mussels), washed thoroughly, remove any gunk on the shells.
1 clove garlic, finely minced
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 whole onion, peeled and sliced
2-3 thumb size ginger, skinned and julienned
3 cups of water
Patis (fish sauce) to taste
1 bundle chilli leaves (dahon ng sili), washed and separated from stalks, discard the stalks

Method of Preparation:

Using a large pan, heat the vegetable oil.

Sautee the garlic, onion, ginger.

Stir in the tahong.

Season with the patis (fish sauce); try a tablespoon of it first and just add more according to one’s taste.

Cover the pan and let it simmer under low heat for 5 minutes to allow the mussels to soak in the spices and seasoning.

Check that the mussels have opened;  add the water, increase the heat to bring the water to a boil.

Let it simmer for 3 minute.

Correct the seasoning, add a smidgen of salt if needed.  At this point add the dahon ng sili, which cooks immediately.  (By the way, spinach is a great substitute for dahon ng sili).

Serve immediately with freshly boiled rice.

Fruit Salad – Jean & Marilou Recipe

When Marilou, my sister, and I were still young, single and living at home in the Philippines, we used to help our mother prepare the food for celebratory events like fiestas, Christmas and the New Year.

One of our specialties was the fruit salad.

It was so easy to make and yet tasted so delicious and refreshing, a perfect dessert after tucking in on richly, delicious food for the holidays.

To make a classic Filipino recipe, most of the ingredients can be bought at any Oriental food store selling Filipino products.

I shall, of course, be making this fruit salad this year and serve it as a treat to my London Family.

Fruit Salad – Jean & Marilou RecipeFruit Salad Photo by PH Morton
Fruit Salad
Photo by PH Morton

Sago at Gulaman @ Pritil Market Photo by PH Morton

These are the usual ingredients to a fruit salad.


Sago at Gulaman @ Pritil Market Photo by PH Morton


2 large cans  fruit cocktail
1 can pineapple chunks
1 can Nestle cream or 1 medium size double cream
1 can condensed milk
1 jar  nata de coco
1 jar kaong
1 cup buko (young coconut) or 1 jar macapuno

1. Drain the juice thoroughly from the fruit cocktails and pineapple chunks; by the way one of the cans of the fruit cocktail can be substituted with small cans of peaches, pears and mandarin, drain.
Leave them in a colander for up to 15 minutes to drain completely.

2. Using a beautiful large glass bowl, pour in the drained fruits. Add the nata de coco, kaong and buko/macapuno; mix lightly.

3. Add the condensed milk as well as the cream and mix these thoroughly and evenly with the fruits and other ingredients.

4. Chill in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours before serving.

5. Enjoy!

From Alma’s Kitchen: Pork Kilawin

Alma’s Kilawin

I watched my sister-in-law, Alma, adeptly mixed and stirred a very delicious pork kilawin into a wok.

She made it look easy.

Right below Alma’s recipe were the photos taken by the very industrious, Peter.


1/4 kg pork meat
1/4 kg pork liver
1 cup water
1/2 cup vinegar
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 large onion, chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 large daikon (labanos), julienne
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
salt and pepper to taste


1. Cut into thin strips the pork and the liver.

2. Heat the oil in a wok and saute the garlic, onions, tomatoes, pork and liver.

3. Add the vinegar and water.

4. Bring to a boil.

5. Add the daikon/labanos pieces.

6. Leave to cook for 5 minutes, then add the bell pepper.

7. Season to taste by adding salt and ground black pepper.

8. Simmer for 3 more minutes.

Enjoy with freshly cooked boiled rice and a side of fried tilapia.

Ginisang Tahong sa Luya (Sauteed Mussels in Ginger)

This mussel recipe is from Alma’s Kitchen. Alma is my sister-in-law, who is a very accomplished cook. She can make the most mundane recipe to taste like cordon bleu.

This Ginisang Tahong sa luya is a true gourmet delight. The ginger adds such a piquant taste to this soupy mussels recipe.

Ginisang Tahong sa Luya (Sauteed Mussels in Ginger)Ginisang Tahong From Alma's Kitchen Photo by Ellah Mae Wamil
Ginisang Tahong From Alma’s Kitchen
Photo by Ellah Mae Wamil

1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium onion
1 1/2 inches root ginger, peeled and cut into strips.
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 kilo Mussels (tahong)
1/2 cup Chinese red wine
1 bunch young chilli leaves (dahon ng sili)
1 small pocket Magic Sarap
1 cup water
1 tbsp fish sauce (patis)


1. Using a large sauce pan, saute garlic, onion and ginger in oil.

2. Add the cleaned mussels. Stir occasionally for about two minutes.

3. Add the Chinese red wine and cover for a minute or two.

4. Add water, fish sauce and the pepper. Bring to the boil. Add the Magic Sarap and give it a good stir to incorporate this to the mussels. Cook until all the mussels have opened. (Do not overcook or the mussels will contract and toughened.)

5. Add the sili (chilli) leaves; give the mussels a good stir and remove from heat.

5. Serve with steamed rice.