Monday, October 5, 2009

Rooted in Filipino Food

The blessing we say before our evening meal

Growing up Filipino, food was always the center of everything. I remember family gatherings with tables groaning under the weight of sinigang (pork or fish in tamarind stew), pancit (stir fried noodles with vegetables) and lumpia (fried egg rolls) while my mother and her sisters were in the kitchen preparing even more. If it was a special occasion, lechon (an enormous roasted pig with an apple in it's mouth) would be served. Filipino food is my comfort food. It reminds me of the way my house smelled growing up. It reminds me of when my children were born and my parents would come to stay with us to help out and prepare our meals. It reminds me of family.

The rice cooker, a staple in every Filipino kitchen

I'm a bit ashamed to admit that I don't know how to cook traditional Filipino dishes. Truth be told, I'm not a very experienced cook at all. I didn't really start cooking regularly until I had children and even now, my repertoire is mostly comprised of dishes where the prep time doesn't exceed 20 minutes. So I am starting this edible journey called Food Week in the hopes that I can push myself out of my comfort zone and try some new things.

Today I decided to try the staple of Filipino Cuisine- Chicken Adobo, stew cooked with vinegar and soy sauce. I had a small problem in that my mother does not have any of her recipes written down. My source for the chicken adobo recipe? Ironically, Ivan's Family Cookbook... may I emphasize Ivan's FRENCH Family Cookbook? Ivan's lovely Aunt Jennifer married a wonderful Filipino man and she adapted the traditional chicken adobo recipe to be a bit lighter than what I had growing up (which is probably a good thing). It's a very simple recipe with ingredients that we already had at home. It took about half an hour total to prepare, but was very easy to do. I made a few adjustments to the recipe (sauteing the onions before mixing everything, crushing the garlic to emphasize the flavor), and I have to say, I was pretty proud of my first attempt at Filipino cooking. I think I may even ask my mom for a cooking lesson :}.

So tell me dear friends, what foods remind you of your childhood? Do you cook them now as an adult?

Chicken Adobo a la francaise, served with steamed asparagus

************ Aunt Jennifer's Chicken Adobo*************
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 cloves crushed garlic
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup vinegar
3 TB. soy sauce
4 chicken breasts (used skinless and boneless)
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. oil
2 bay leaves

Saute onions in butter until transparent. After mixing the rest of the ingredients into saucepan, add chicken.
Cook on medium flame until all liquid is gone and chicken is cooked

11 comments: said...

Love the words in the frame... We use the same saying here in Denmark...! We sing it before we eat... In danish of cause;o)
Where can I get a frame like that? Have not found it here in DK yet.

Tan Family said...

I love the picture of your food blessing! My husband is Filipino, so the smells of the traditional food remind me of the years we've spent visiting his parent's home. For me, the smell of cooked grape leaves reminds me of my childhood (a traditional Armenian dish). Although, now I am vegan, so all meat smells are tough to take! :) --Jennifer

Annie said...

Chicken adobo and pancit and lumpia all remind me of home. I grew up in an area with a large Filipino population so I had the pleasure of enjoying such foods on a pretty regular basis. I crave lumpia when I get homesick.

But the food that reminds me of my childhood and my mom's cooking is green chile chicken casserole and green chile stew--can you tell my mom is from the southwest? ;)

nicola said...

lovely words of gratitude for food. and thank you for the recipe!
childhood foods? anything with garlic, but especially italian pastas and polenta. lots of fresh foods and salad. this is making me hungry!

Traumkraut said...

The rice cooker reminds me of my time in Vienna ... when I shared flat for a few days with a girl from Sri Lanka. She had a similar rice cooker. And it reminds me of my time in South East Asia.

hmmm... what food reminds me of my childhood... well I grew up on a farm with my grandparents... because my Mom was working a lot those days. And my grandmother made a great meal each Sunday for the whole family. For my parents and me and the family of my Uncle. We sat together for hours and what I loved most was the desert. Some kind of vanilla cream with almonds and fresh strawberries. Yammi.

Anonymous said...

indian curries, lebenese beans, thai soup, homemade doughnuts, homemade muscadine grape jelly, cornbread, farm fresh milk, real ginger ale.

these are all things i eat today. my parents lived in a college town as my dad was in grad school. many of the dishes i grew up on were international. my mom tells the story of the wives (having been relocated to a small college town) would get together and teach each other the one or two meals they knew how to cook...and that was how my mom learned to cook. so it was very common to see a variety of dishes on our dinner table.

i cook this way and many of the same types of dishes are made in my home...although they are vegetarian versions with many nutritional adjustments for added nutrients.

great idea...this is fun!
we read that blessing too....although lately T has been wanting to say the blessing and there is just about no telling what she'll say. it's quite entertaining.


cat said...

i love your blessing..:)

food that reminds me of childhood is chicken and potatoes. my mom always made it just right with fresh corn. i always requested it for my birthday..:)

thank you for the recipe too! i will definitely be making that..

xoxoxoxo my dear friend

Marina said...

Thank you everyone SO very much for your comments! Cooking is so much out of my comfort zone, but I love hearing how certain food can bring you back to your childhood. I j really don't want take-out to be my boys memories of food at our house!

Smylerynker- how fun it would be to hear that blessing in Danish! I bought the frames from the Steiner College Bookstore:
they are very nice there and if you email them, may be able to send it to you. Email me if they can't and I'm happy to pick some up for you next time I'm there :)
Jennifer- how funny that you should be familiar with filipino dishes as well! I am trying to be sensitive to my non-meat eating friends by not putting the meat photos first as they often show up in thumbnail photos on blogrolls and really, meat isn't all that pretty either ;}
Annie- green chili casserole...mmmm.... yum, I may have to google a recipe
Nicola- you should have been at our house tonight when I made bruschetta. Ivan had to open all the downstairs windows because of all the garlic smells!
Traumkaut- what really wonderful memories of food! We love vanilla ice cream with strawberries at our house!
Hillary- I LOVE that you grew up in such a wonderful culinary community! It's funny to me that I hadn't tried Indian food until I was in my 30's! Lucky T to be introduced to such fantastic dishes so young!
Cat- ahhh, chicken and potatoes with fresh corn... yummmm... I think it's so sweet you had that as your birthday dish. I think mine was pizza;}

*erin* said...

Where did you get that wood frame? Beautiful! We say the same blessing, my almost 4yo enjoys saying it real fast and then he wants me to say it slow while I light the candle on our dinning table:)

*erin* said...

oh, I just saw your comment on where you bought the frame:) Thanks-

Once Upon a Parent said...

I wrote a simple blog post tonight, ( but included a note about making this recipe tomorrow night. I think this will be a perfect dish to serve my choosy eater. Thanks for sharing it and I look forward to keeping up with your blog.