Sinigang, heavy on the ginger

This is a submission to the Kulinarya Cooking Club July 2011 challenge. The theme, “Sinigang” was chosen by Trissa of Trissalicious and Trisha of Sugarlace. For more information, visit the Kulinarya Cooking Club blog.
By the time this post posts I’ll be on my way to Zamboanga City, Philippines, for some family time.  It seems fitting, then, to begin blogging again with a Kulinarya Cooking Club challenge.   Especially with such a scrumptios theme.

A bowl of yummy on a rainy Friday evening

For a while there, soup was just not going to happen in the Kensington Kitchen.  No way.  No how.

When I woke up to a legitimately chilly breeze and grey overcast sky on Friday morning, though, my thoughts drifted towards this month’s Kulinarya challenge: sinigang.

Bok choy stalks are almost like celery in taste and texture - and they smell awesome while sautéing

Sinigang is yet another of those foods I neglected to learn the name of when I was a kid.  I ate it happily and  referred to it vaguely as “that soup with bok choy.”  The association between the two things – bok choy and soup – is strong.  The first time I saw bok choy at a farmers’ market in New Mexico I bought a whole pound for soup – sinigang, as it turns out.

That was the first and last time I made sinigang in the last eight years.

Fish chopped into bite-size pieces.

This week, I called my mom for a refresher course.  We went through the list of ingredients: pork or fish (essential), bok choy (essential), tomatoes (optional), ginger (essential), tamarind (optional), green onions or scallions (essential).

One of my favorite things about “bok choy soup” is that it’s a delicious meal filled with veggies that could easily fit into even a Food Stamps budget (I wish I’d remembered to make it when I was on the government dole).  I made a special run to the Hong Kong Supermarket in Chinatown on the way home from work on Friday, spent $8 and got enough food to make sinigang for 10 people.

Bringing the broth and firm veggies to a boil before adding fish always them to soften slighty

I went with mom’s deluxe version – fish, bok choy, tomatoes, ginger, green onions, tamarind, sea salt – and added some dried mushrooms and soy sauce to round out the broth.  The ginger is what makes the dish sing.  For me it hit home on a rainy night – I inhaled two bowls with rice.  Raphe proclaimed the broth “too fishy” and stopped after one.

Oh, well.  More for me.

Colorful and healthy with a final dollop of tamarind paste

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Fil-Am Pulled Hamonada Sliders

This is a submission to the Kulinarya Cooking Club April 2011 challenge.  The theme, “decadence” was chosen by Lala of This Little Piggy.  For more information, visit the Kulinarya Cooking Club blog.

Fil-Am Pulled Hamonada Sliders: Heaven on a Bun

When it comes to home-cooking there’s a fine line between decadent and wasteful.

It feels just heavenly to set out food for 30 when you have 10 guests. But what happens to the 3-layer devil’s food cake after the guests leave? What happens to all those expensive fresh herbs and vegetables that don’t make it in to the Easter roasts and salads? What happens to the 10 pounds of leftover ham?????

This hamonada sat in our fridge for 6 days. No way we were letting it go.

As it turns out, those leftovers can come together to create something even more delicious, something even more visually stimulating, something to satisfy cravings for salty, sweet, bitter, sour and savory all at once.

Let’s go back to the beginning.

Remember this bad boy?

Last weekend we shared a lovely hamonada with new friends and old. You see, if all we wanted was savory, sweet and caloric we could have stopped there. What’s not decadent about a rich, fatty cut of ham, slow-roasted in sweet pineapple and apple juices? What’s not indulgent about chunks of fall-off-the-bone tender pork served over rice and drizzled with a syrupy fruit juice reduction?

Adding ketchup makes the pineapple BBQ sauce

But we wanted more. More flavor. More texture. More heat. More pineapple sauce dripping down our palms with each rich, tangy bite.

We wanted… a sandwich.

We turned that leftover hamonada into pulled pork in pineapple BBQ sauce by adding our homemade ketchup and Habanero oil for heat.

Halfway between pickles and cole-slaw. No mayo. Extra ginger.

We raided the last of the red cabbage and carrots (previously seen in our Easter lumpia) and marinated them in rice vinegar, sugar and ginger for tang and crunch.

Not-quite gluten-free rolls.

We rolled out a glorious bunch of golden rice-flour buns with tender crumb and crunchy crust.

Pretty. And pretty spicy.

Then, we sent these sandwiches over the edge with just a few crumbles of creamy bleu cheese and Habanero slices soaked in olive oil.

This, my friends, is the making of decadent and, dare I say, orgasmic, Filipino-American Pulled Hamonada Sliders. Not only are these delicious, but they required absolutely no additional grocery shopping and made effective use of what was already sitting in the fridge.

80% re-purposed leftovers and pantry items. 99% homemade. 100% decadent.

Yes. I ate six of these for dinner.


  1. As this isn’t our usual kind of “from scratch” recipe, we don’t list local sources for some of the items below. Instead we’ve provided links to our inspiration or previously posted recipe.
  2. Yes, the bleu cheese is necessary.  It’s the bleu cheese and hot peppers that tie the sandwich together.


Fil-Am Pulled Hamonada Sliders
makes 16 sliders with leftover meat and cabbage (delicious over rice)


Pulled Hamonada in Pineapple BBQ sauce
1-2 lbs leftover hamonada (recently posted here)
1 cup hamonada pineapple sauce (cooking liquid from the same post)
1/2 c. ketchup (we recommend homemade or low sugar, like Trader Joe’s)
Hot pepper oil to taste (once again, we recommend homemade, like this one from Ms. Adventures in Italy.)

Ginger Red Cabbage Slaw (inspired by Munch+Nibble)
1/4 large red cabbage, thin sliced
1 medium carrot, grated
1/2 c. rice vinegar
2 T. sugar
1 T. minced garlic
2 t. powdered ginger
1 t. salt

Pulled Hamonada
Bleu cheese, crumbled or sliced
Habenero slices in oil
Rice flour rolls

1. Bake Rolls

2. Make Red Cabbage Slaw (inspired by Munch+Nibble)

  • Shred cabbage and carrots. Mix vinegar, sugar, ginger, garlic and salt.
  • Pour vinegar mixture over cabbage. Mix well.
  • Refrigerate until needed.

3. Bake pork

  • Combine pork, sauce and ketchup in an 8×8 baking dish. Bake at 300 for 1 hour.
  • Pull pork apart with forks.  Mix well with sauce.

4. Assemble Sandwiches

  • Slice rolls. Layer pork, then bleu cheese, then slaw.   Top with Habanero slice and oil.

Red Cabbage Lumpia

A testament to tastiness: we devoured more than half of them before I remembered to take a picture.

The best part of growing up in multicultural family is the exposure to so much delicious food.  Family holidays always include the classic American roast turkey or ham, but are never complete without my mom’s “egg rolls.”  Mom would make dozens – sometimes even hundreds – of lumpia depending on the size of the gathering. 50 for an intimate Easter. 100 for a large family Christmas. 200 for my little sister’s high school graduation. Regardless of how many she made, they would all disappear and the crowd would clamor for more.

To recreate the experience, Raphe and I had a few folks over to taste test a traditional non-traditional Easter menu

  • Hamonada (pineapple braised pork)
  • Rice
  • Vegetable lumpia (spring rolls)
  • Super-experimental sweet potato fritters (inspired by ukoy)

The lumpia, as usual, stole the show.  We decided to keep them vegetable only to balance out the large hunk of meat sitting in the oven.  My mom’s lumpia (Filipino fried spring rolls) are filled with seasoned ground beef, garlic and (usually) vegetables. Occasionally, she’ll make all-meat lumpia. For some reason, I embraced an all vegetable version when I started experimenting in my own kitchen.   This does not, however, mean that they are vegetarian. I slipped in a little fish sauce and bacon grease to round out the flavor.

American influence or no, this is Filipino food we’re talking about.

Ready to go into the fryer

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Reubens and Re-Runs

Reuben and Friends

Thanks to Netflix, I’m about 5 years behind on my television. Well, it’s more thanks to my lack of television since leaving for college, combined with the recent discovery of Netflix streaming. I just finished the first season of Heroes. Raphe recently introduced me to a certain addictive animated science fiction sit com that we end up watching at least 3 times a week. (By the way, one of the main characters hails from our part of Brooklyn).

As it turns out, old TV show episodes via streaming can be even better than staying current with new “shows.” There’s less of that agonizing anticipation of the next episode (a week? wait a whole week?? how did you people do it the first season of Heroes??), more ability to pick and choose-skipping over crappy episodes and returning good ones and no cable bill. There’s even more freedom to create your own perfect evening of vegging out in front of the television. How else can we watch Futurama, followed by The Universe, followed by more Futurama?

Leftover food is like that, too. There’s no long preparation time, little additional cost and you can take elements from two separate meals, pair them with some pickles you made last summer and create a whole new meal.

Reuben Undressed

Like our Netflix stream, our refrigerator is overflowing with leftovers. Mardi Gras leftovers (gumbo). St. Patrick’s Day leftovers (corned beef, cabbage and onions). Post-GRE celebration leftovers (cassoulet, baby spinach and chevre). Leftover pickled vegetables from the summer’s pickling craze.

We can’t really complain. We love leftovers like we love streaming “re-runs.” Leftovers keep our bellies content and the grocery bill low. Leftovers keep us from cart food, $1 pizza slice corner stores and black holes for cash masquerading as lunch spots. Most importantly, though, leftovers give us an opportunity to mix and match leftover food with leftover condiments and pickles.

This week, the gumbo and cassoulet will be frozen in individual portions for lunches. The baby spinach and chevre is destined for salads and maybe an omelet. The corned beef and cabbage, though, they have a special fate. A fate more wonderful than corned beef and cabbage alone:

Homemade Reuben sandwiches.

Homemade Reuben sandwiches with homemade mustard and pickles.  Yeah, they’re not as flashy as the big deli sandwiches from places like this.   They have a quieter type of charm.  The humble braised corned beef gets a tangy kick from the horseradish mustard and spicy pickles instead of sauerkraut.  The sautéed cabbage and onions lend a little carmelized sweet.

Accompanied by a little beer, a little bourbon and a couple nerdy re-runs, I think we’ve created a perfectly low-key evening at home.

Meet Reuben

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