Category Archives: Food

Recipe for Bisayan Kinilaw (Filipino Ceviche)

This is one of my dad’s favorite dish. Some people call it “the Philippines answer to Japan’s Sushi” since it is, basically, a dish of uncooked fish. Though, technically, it has more in common to Latin America’s ceviche since the dish is cooked by the vinegar marinade.


As far as my research went this is an Original Visayan dish and probably originated somewhere in the Island of Samar or that of Leyte, basing on the ingredients that are used and the folklore behind it.


The word “kinilaw” is derived from the bisaya term “kilaw” which means “eaten fresh”. The fishermen back then (and even till now) would fillet their fresh catch and would just deep it in sea water before eating it (now that is fresh!).

Fish is one of the most highly perishable foods; it starts to rot fast the moment the fish is hauled from the ocean. Since vinegar and salt are very good preservatives, the folks back then used it often in their cooking. Since firewood is very scarce in the islands someone must have had the insanely bright idea to not cook the fish at all. Good thing for us that they tried it first. I don’t want any experimenting when it comes to my stomach.


I tried researching some creation myths of this dish and found something mighty amusing. It goes like this:

Moro Datu and Wife early 1900s

A long time ago, there lived a Datu (Filipino Tribal Chieftain) who was an asshole and a gluttonous pig. He always wanted to satisfy his food cravings and always insists that his Cook must prepare some unique dish that will satisfy his voracious mouth. The cook always tries his best but the Datu is not satisfied.

“By tomorrow noon, if you cannot prepare a dish that is worthy of my royal stomach, then off with your head,” the Datu said.

The Cook, whose name is Law, was at his wit’s end, he had already cooked all the recipes that he knows of and yet the Datu is still not satisfied.

By morning the following day Law was already mad with worry. He did not know what to do anymore. It was too much already. He snapped.

“Fuck that Datu, if I am gonna die then he will die with me,” deliriously mumbled Law to himself. “That pig will die shitting himself.”

Thinking that an uncooked fish would be a sure way to go to cause uncontrollable shitting (one of the leading causes of death in the old days); he filleted some fish, put vinegar, salt, and some spices and herbs then served the dish to the Datu.

The Datu surprisingly ate it with relish and said “Kini Law” (This is it Law).


So here is the recipe:



1/2 kilo of tuna fillets (or any fish that you may have on the refrigerator)

1 good-sized hand of ginger, peeled and sliced (this is to get rid of the unwanted smell)

1  head of garlic, peeled and crushed

2 white onion, thinly sliced (or you could use red onion if you want it traditional)

5 green chili peppers, cut diagonally into 1/4-inch thick slices

(you may not use this if you don’t want it to be spicy hot)

1 red or green bell pepper, diced

2 cups of vinegar (if you have suka’ng tuba, or coconut vinegar, then it is preferable)

salt and pepper (to taste)

1/2 cup of kalamansi juice (lemon)

1 1/2 cup of kakang gata

(coconut cream, you could discard with this if you don’t have any)


Cooking procedure

Make sure that you fillet the fish moderately thin and without bones and skin. Then cut the fillet into cubes. Put it into a bowl and sprinkle with some salt and pepper, make sure to mix it well.

Pour in the vinegar, mix well, and put it in the refrigerator for about an hour or so.

Drain a little of the excess marinade. Put in the rest of the ingredients, mix well.

Put it back in the refrigerator and let it chill for about 30 minutes.

Serve it cold.

Balbakwa Recipe (Cebuano Ox Skin and Tail Stew)

Balbakwa (Cebuano Ox Skin and Tail Stew)


Balbakwa originated from Cebu, an island in the Visayas group of islands smack dab in the center of the Philippine archipelago.  The spread of this dish may be attributed to the penchant of Cebuanos to travel, added with Cebu being a hob of trade and commerce in the Visayas where many people from outlying islands would come to sell their produce.


There is something about the thickness and almost gluey yet savory consistency of this soup that just goes oh-so-well when nursing a hangover or when you are feeling melancholic while sitting by the window side and listening to the pitter-patter of raindrops falling on the roof. It even goes well for lunch! You can almost always find balbakawa being served on roadside eateries all over Cebu and anywhere there are Cebuanos hanging about.  If you are looking for food that will give you that almost dreamlike state of bliss and contentment, then you must try balbakwa!


The history behind this dish seems to be shrouded in mystery and vagaries that only time and the inconsistencies of human memory could ever account for. But, to that unknown, forgotten, and unsung hero who first thought of making a dish out of over-boiled cow tail and skin, he will always be a hero in my eyes and has the undying gratitude of my entrails.


Anyway, have you ever heard someone say “it may be simple, but it’s darn hard!”? Well if you haven’t, try cooking this dish and I assure you sweat will pour and blood will drizzle. Not to mention the swearing. It will be intense, to a point that someone overhearing you will think that you are singing some new hipster-issshh rock song. Nah, just ribbing you. But, anyway, this dish is really labor intensive. So if you want to try cooking this make sure that you start it off with a calm head and be prepared to shed some sweat.


Just like any other superstar dishes in the galaxy of food, there are several takes on how to make balbakwa but they are all unanimous in saying that the best balbakwa is cooked over low heat for hours. Some of these balbakwa variants even feature pork and beans, and even peanut butter just like in Kare-Kare.


Here is the recipe that is, i think, as close to the original as i could get:



1  kilo ox tail (or ox feet) and skin, cut into small pieces

3 tablespoons of salted black beans

4-5 pieces of saba (also known as cardaba) banana, sliced into chunks

1/2 cup of boiled white beans

3 pieces star anise

1 piece (or a big finger) of ginger, minced

5 cloves of garlic, crushed

3 pieces of onions (the red one, not the big ones that are used for salads), quartered

Salt and Pepper

1/2 cup of thinly chopped spring onions (for garnish)

You can add MSG (monosodium glutamate) if you want to add more of that umami flavor


Boil the beef parts (skin, oxtail, ox feet) for about 3-4 minutes then remove the water, do this 3 times so as to get rid of unwanted smell

Note: start counting down the time when the water already starts to boil.


After repeating the first step three times boil again the beef parts but this time add the ginger and about 1 tablespoon of salt, let it simmer till the meat becomes tender and the broth starts to have a thick and sticky consistency.

Note: to be sure of the exact amount of water to use, the technique is to have all the meat almost completely submerged. Make sure also that you will be using medium heat and let the meat slowly cook so that all the flavors will be enfused to the broth. This may take some time so prepare to wait and make sure to stir it a couple of times every now and then to make sure that the meat will not be burnt in the bottom of the pot. Another secret to this recipe would be to add about a couple of grams worth of very small cut pure beef so that it will add to the meaty flavor of the broth.


In another pan, saute the onions and garlic until they become golden brown. Then add the boiled white beans and saute it with the onions and garlic.


Pour the contents of the pan into the broth. Add the black beans (do not include the brine water if you are using canned black beans).


Add the bananas.

Note: Make sure that the bananas will be fairly soft yet still partly firm before you turn off the fire. The end product of the broth should have a thick and sticky consistency and would have a greyish brown color.


Season to taste. And add the chopped spring onions right before you turn off the fire.




Filipino Kare-kare Recipe

Kare-Kare (Oxtail Stew with Peanut Butter)


Maybe some people will find this dish wacky in some ways, but this is a must try for those who want to sample, what is for me, one of the best stew’s you could ever have. And hey, maybe your kids would love it too since one of the essential ingredients in making this thing is peanut butter. Yeap! You read that right, peanut butter.


Kare-kare is a thick and savory beef stew and is made using peanut sauce made from peanut butter, assorted vegetables, oxtails with the cow’s skin still on, some offal’s or tripe. The resulting dish is actually quite mild to the taste and will suit the western palate pretty well. But since the Filipino taste buds are accustomed to a saltier range they usually accompany this dish with shrimp paste (called “bago-ong” in Filipino) as a condiment. Kare-kare and bago-ong: marriage made in heaven and consummated in the Filipino stomach.


Just like in the old saying “if you are famous, many will fight over you”; there are some conflicting claims as to where this dish first originated. The two most vociferous claims comes from the people in the Province of Pampanga in the island of Luzon and the Muslim Tribes in Mindanao. The Muslim tribes claim that this was a dish served for the Muslim aristocrats who lived in the area now known as Manila, way before the coming of the Spaniards.  Interestingly enough, this dish is very popular in both places.


When you try cooking this you should use homemade peanut butter, for that authentic Filipino flavor; homemade peanut butter is less sweeter and more oily than what you could get off the shelf. If you are in the Philippines you could easily buy homemade peanut butter in the local markets, but if you are in the United States or some other western lands, good luck with that. If you can’t buy any homemade peanut butter you could make your own; don’t be a lazy sod, twiddle those fingers and get that ass off the chair once in a while.


I really don’t know what the word “kare-kare” means, so I won’t try explaining it to you and don’t ask me, alright?


Here is the recipe for an Authentic and Traditional Kare-kare:


½ kilo of beef, cut into cubes

Note: for a more traditional and authentic Kare-kare try using beef tripe instead or just use only oxtail. Or you could just a combination of beef, beef tripe, and oxtail.

If you want to use only oxtail in your kare-kare make it 1 kilo.

½ kilo oxtail (cut 2 inch long)

3 cups of peanut butter

1/4 cup grounded toasted rice (for more thick & sticky consistency, use sticky rice)

3 heads of garlic, minced

3 onions, diced

4 tablespoons, atsuete oil (for that authentic yellowish color)

Note: if you don’t have one you could use yellowish food coloring.

4 pieces eggplant, sliced 1 inch thick

1 bundle of string beans (sitaw), cut to 2 inches long

Note: one bundle of string beans may contain from 7 to 16 pieces.

1 bundle Bok Choy (Pechay), cut into 2 pieces

Note: one bundle of Bok Choy may contain from 2 to 4 pieces.

1 banana bud (puso ng saging), cut into one inch strips,

1/2 cup vegetable oil

8 cups of water




Blanch in boiling water the banana bud for about 2 to 4 minutes. Drain and set aside.


In a stock pot, boil beef and ox tail in water for an hour or until cooked and the meat is very tender. Strain and keep the stock. Make sure that there is enough water and that the fire is not burning too high. The key to a good karekare- is to have the meat slow cooked to have all those wonderful juices extracted from the ox tail and that the meat and skin is very tender and could be cut with a fork.

Note: the key to having enough water for the stock is that before boiling the water level should almost cover the meat and when already cooked the water level should be at about 1/2 of the original level.


Remove the scum that may rise up to the surface. And reserve the stock.


In a big pan or wok, heat oil and atsuete oil.

Note: if you do not have the atsuete oil, you could mix your food coloring with some vegetable oil and use it in this step.



Sauté garlic and onions until it is golden brown, then add the stock, toasted rice, beef, ox tail and peanut butter. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Add salt based on your taste.


Add the eggplant, string beans, pechay and banana bud. Cook the vegetables for about 2-4 minutes. Do not overcook the vegetables or they will become too soggy.


The resulting product should have a thick consistency and somewhat mild to the taste.


Serve shrimp paste (bagoong) on the side and hot steamed rice.





Filipino Dinugu-an Recipe (Pork’s Blood Stew)

Dinugu-an (Pork’s Blood Stew)

The word Dinugu-an roughly means “with blood” or “added with blood”, the said word comes from the root word “dugo” which is Filipino for blood. To better picture out dinugu-an, think of it as a savory stew with pork’s blood and meat (the most authentic Filipino dinugu-an uses pigs offal’s instead of choice meat) cooked with spicy chili, garlic and vinegar. I don’t know what is behind this Filipino fascination for vinegar, but vinegar is always present on the dining table as a condiment and is usually used in Filipino dishes.


To better understand how this dish came to be, it is best to look back into the Philippine history. During the olden days meat is a very expensive commodity and mostly only those with deep pockets could well afford them.  Most often than not folks those days could go for weeks, even months without any meat. So, when an opportunity comes where a pig is butchered any part of it that is edible is used.


During the Spanish era when western culture started to influence the Filipino palate, the blood and the other unwanted parts like the intestines, stomach, ears, etc. are usually just thrown away or are sold cheap by the butcher. So these parts are usually the things bought by the poor Filipinos who could not afford to buy the choicest parts of the pork. Some ingenious Filipino cook, whose name was lost in the passage of time, decided to put all this unwanted bits together in one dish, thus Dinugu-an was born.


If you want to try making dinugu-an, eat it hot with puto (Filipino rice cake) or with hot steamed rice.


If you don’t eat pork, you could use beef and cow’s blood instead.


Dinugu-an, like any other popular dishes out there, comes in many styles and forms, but since I am kind of a purist I will be giving you the most basic form of dinugu-an.  I don’t know if it is the original recipe, but it sure is the simplest out there.




1 kilo of pork cut into very small cubes

(NOTE: for authentic dinugu-an, use the pig’s ears, intestines, stomach or combinations of all of it. However, if you are quite squeamish, you could use pork belly instead.)

¼ kilo of pork liver, diced

2-4 cups of pigs blood, frozen (use the higher range if you want a thicker and more savory stew)

3 jalapeno chili peppers

2 heads of garlic, crushed and minced

1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, minced

3 onions, halved and sliced thinly

1 bay leaf

2 – 4 tablespoons of sugar (to counter the sour taste of the vinegar)

1 cup vinegar


1- 2 tablespoons of cooking oil

2 – 3 tablespoons of pepper (optional)



Boil the pork until tender and cut into desired sizes. Save the broth.


Heat a heavy casserole. Pour in the cooking oil. When the oil is already hot add the garlic and ginger. Sauté until the garlic begins to turn brown and fragrant.


Add the pork pieces and cook over high heat until the liquid evaporates and the fat in the pork is rendered and the edges of the pork start to turn slightly brown.


Add the onions, chili peppers, bay leaf and continue cooking until the onions are transparent. Season it with a small dash of salt and pepper.


Pour in the vinegar and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes. Make sure to uncover the casserole so as to allow the liquid to evaporate. However, also make sure that it does not become too dry or else you will burn it. Do not stir.


Pour in the broth that you saved in the first step (about 2 ½ cups full of it. If your broth is not enough you could use water instead). Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.


Take the pigs blood out of the refrigerator and then transfer to a clean bowl. With your hands, mash solid masses to a pulp. Pour the mashed blood and the liquid into the casserole. Add the sugar and the jalapeno peppers. Bring to a boil.


Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken. Stir continuously to prevent the blood to coagulate.


Add the minced liver and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until mixture is thick.


Add more salt if necessary or to reach desired taste.



The resulting dish should be thick and should taste a little sour, but not too much. If your dish would taste bitter to the taste then you had overcooked it.

You could also add a little corn starch or flour to help thicken the dish.

Original Bisaya Recipe for Humba


Humba is a Bisayá recipe (Bisayá refers to the people residing in the Visayan Islands as well as on most parts of Mindanao, in the Philippines) and is a common dish found on most tables during special occasions in a Bisayan household and during town fiestas in the southern parts of the Philippines. Ask any Bisayá for his top favorite food and, most often than not, humba will be one of the things he will mention. In fact, this is my favorite Filipino dish and will recommend this dish to anyone who wishes to have a taste of authentic Bisayá comfort food.


Just like adobo, humba was made due to the need for the meat to last longer. Humba lasts for several days without spoiling due to the vinegar present and especially if it is immersed in oil. Surprisingly enough, it even tastes better the longer it’s stored.  There are some versions why this dish is called such, some would say that it is from the phrase “HUmot nga BAboy” with the first two letters of the first and the last words joined together. Humot is a word in the Bisayan dialect which could be roughly translated to mean “sweet smelling”, “fragrant”, or “with delicious smell”. Baboy, on the other hand, is Filipino for pork or for a pig (it could be interchangeable depending on the usage). Some argue that it really means “HUmok nga BAboy”, since the meat, due to the way it is cooked, becomes very soft and tender. Humok means “soft” or “tender”.


If you want to try some humba eat it with some hard-boiled egg.  I assure you that it is a very tasty combination; the richness, luxurious flavors of the humba mixes very well with the mellow yumminess  of the egg.


There are several variations of this dish present out there, but I will provide you with the most common recipe being followed by the Bisayá. This may take some time in cooking for it is best to properly tenderize the meat in slow fire for better flavor.




3/4 tablespoon ground black pepper 

25 grams dried banana

1 kilo pork belly or, if you want, the meat from the leg or thigh part, cut in desired portions (medium sizes are preferred)
2 to 3 regular size garlic, crushed and diced
2 regular size red onion; chopped
2/3 cup vinegar (palm vinegar or cane vinegar are preferred for a more authentic taste)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup white sugar or brown sugar

(most folks now use Sprite or Coca Cola instead of sugar, if you use soda 1 1/2 cup of it would be plenty enough)

6 bay leaves

7 star anise

1 cup of rice water (if you do not have rice water, good old water would do)

blossoms (optional)
½ cup of salted black beans (you could get this in cans and it is best to drain most of the sauce/juice and only use about 2-4 tablespoons worth of the sauce/juice)
Cooking oil

Salt (add this to taste)



Separate the meat that contains huge chunks of fat from those that are leaner. Put the fatty chunks on the pan and add about half a cup of water then put a lid on it.  Allow it to boil. Do this till the fat is already reduced to oil and the meat has started to brown. Stir every now and then to avoid burning. Do not throw away the oil from the fat.


Boil the rest of the pork in 1 cup rice water in a separate pan (put more rice water if what you put on is not enough to submerge 3/4th of the way); add 1 table spoon of salt. Allow it to boil till the meat is tender and the stock is reduced to half of its original volume.

Saute garlic and onion using the pork fat oil until it is brown. Add all the pork together in the pan with the oil. Stir fry for a few minutes until the meat is slightly brown. If by this time there is too much oil in the pan, you could remove some of the oil.

Add the water remaining that was used in boiling the pork (see above instruction). Add ½ cup of the soy sauce, the brown sugar, the bay leaves, the ground black pepper, and the black beans with its sauce. Then bring to a boil until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Add vinegar but do not stir. Add the dried banana blossom. Boil for a few minutes (2-3 minutes).  Simmer until a saucy consistency is achieved. Taste it to make sure that it is more sweet than vinegary. If it is too sour, add more sugar until the desired taste is achieved. Adjust seasoning and soy sauce according to taste.

Original Filipino Adobo Recipe





Considered a National Dish in the Philippines and due to its popularity almost all tribes, clans or families have their own style and recipe for cooking this dish. It is usually cooked using either chicken meat or pork, but nowadays various meats are used. Since the Philippines is a tropical country meats are usually hard to preserve and are very prone to spoiling even if cooked. By cooking the meat as adobo it helps lengthen its shelf life due to the antibacterial properties of vinegar.


The word “adobo” comes from the Spanish term which means “marinade, sauce, or seasoning” however the term adobo for Filipinos is more specific. For Filipinos, adobo is cooking the meat slowly in vinegar with crushed garlic and other seasonings and then added with soy sauce to give more color and flavor. The said cooking practice is already widely prevalent throughout the archipelago way before the coming of the Spaniards.


Adobo now comes in many styles and forms. If you want to try cooking original adobo here is the recipe for you:



2 head of garlic, minced
2 small cups of vinegar (or you can put more vinegar or less depending on your taste)
1 small cup of water
2 small cups of soy sauce (or you can put more soy sauce or less depending on your taste)
1  tablespoon of salt
1  teaspoon of black pepper
6  leaves of laurel (bay leaves)
2 kilos of pork or chicken cut into pieces


First put in your pan the pork meat that has fat in it and add a small dash of water, if you are not using pork then you can skip this part. Do this till the fat is already reduced to oil and till the meat is brown. Stir every now and then to avoid burning the meat. This is done to reduce the fats in your pork and you can use the pork’s own oil for cooking.


Turn over to low heat, add the minced garlic and sauté it in the pork fat oil. After the garlic has turned slightly brown add the rest of the pork or chicken meat. Add in the 1 cup of water, 2 cups of soy sauce, 2 cups of vinegar while stirring to prevent the meat from sticking to the pan. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste, then add the bay leaves. You can turn up the heat to bring it into boil and simmer until the meat has turned brown and tender, OR you can maintain the low heat for slow cooking and more flavor for about an hour.


Some people prefer their adobo’s slightly crispy with no sauce left. You can do this by allowing the sauce to dry up and then pan fry it afterwards. (WARNING: too much frying can make a bitter adobo so don’t overdo it)