Thursday, June 19, 2014

Filipino Chicken Adobo

This is another Filipino dish I remember seeing at family gatherings, courtesy of my great uncle's  lovely Filipino wife (aka my great aunt).  Not her recipe, as she doesn't measure, she eye-balls everything during cooking.   But a very good one. 

The 5 most basic ingredients of Chicken Adobo (aside from the oil) are usually chicken, garlic, pepper, bay leaf, and soy sauce.  This recipe adds a bit of sugar and some onions, for a sweet/savory taste, which is also common.   But I have heard of people using other sweeteners such as fruit juice or even honey.   And some use no sweeteners at all.  It really is a very simple and basic dish though.   Easy to cook and delicious!  

Traditionally, it is served with steamed white rice and fresh tomato slices on the side. 

Filipino Chicken Adobo


1/2 cup vinegar, (optional, you can also use water or broth) 
1/2 cup soy sauce
5 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper (ground or whole)
1 tbsp sugar (brown or white)
2 pounds cut-up chicken parts in serving size portions
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6 to 8 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
1 medium onion halved and cut into thin slices.


1.  Combine vinegar, soy sauce, bay leaves (break them in half to release flavors), black pepper and sugar in a large bowl. Add chicken, stir to coat with marinade.  You can cover this marinade in refrigerated it for 1 to 4 hours, or cook it right away, if you wish.
2.  Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic.   Cook until onions are just soft, but not brown, stirring frequently.  

3.  Add the chicken and all the marinade juice to the pan.  Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until chicken is tender, about 45 minutes. Uncover and cook until sauce has reduced slightly, about 10 minutes.  Serve hot with white rice and fresh tomato slices.


Some people add a large, chopped potato to the pan while cooking the garlic and onions, then add the chicken and marinade juice over the top to finish cooking.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Asian 5 Spice Mix

 This spice mix is great for when you are making home made Asian food.   Its my favorite go-to blend.  Add this to any Asian dish as you cook, and your kitchen will smell like an Asian restaurant!   Its easy to make and stores well.  I highly recommend buying the "Badia" brand of spices, usually found in the hispanic foods section-- most grocers carry it, and they are 1/2 to 1/4 the price of other spice brands.  You can also find some of these in dollar stores.

Asian Spice Mix:


  • 1 tsp. ground Szechwan pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground star anise
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground white pepper

Place all ingredients into a bowl and blend well.  Store in a tightly sealed (labeled) container.

Filipino Lumpia Recipe

Hot, crispy and delicious!   This is a recipe for Filipino Lumpia (Filipino Egg Rolls).  I have a lovely Filipino great aunt who married into our family (and thus a few Filipino cousins too), who usually brought these scrumptious goodies to family events.   These never lasted long though, because they are soooo addictive!  But this is how our family became so familiar with them.   

Most of the basic, traditional Lumpia recipes will contain at least ground meat, onion, garlic and carrot.  Regardless of the changes people make to the recipe, those are almost always the base ingredients they start with.   

But there are just as many variations of the recipe, as there are Filipino families!  Some of them much more common than others, of course.

This is a basic recipe, with a few very common extras—but also a few ideas (which are optional) for anybody looking to jazz-up the mixture to make it different each time, for variety.  

There are 2 ways of cooking Lumpia—by pre-cooking the meat mixture before stuffing the wraps, or by leaving the meat raw and letting it cook during frying.  The choice is yours.  Both methods work well, and come out great!  

But for my recipe, I’m going to be using the “pre-cook the meat” method, because that’s how my aunt and cousins do it.   Less risk of uncooked meat, and cooks faster.   Freezes better too.  This recipe can be doubled, tripled, etc. for however many people you are feeding.  

Filipino Lumpia Recipe

Meat filling:
2 lbs ground beef, chicken, turkey or pork
1 cup shredded carrot
¼ cup minced red or green onion
1.5 tsp salt
2.5 tsp black pepper
6 cloves minced garlic
1 packet (1 tsp) powdered / crushed chicken or beef bullion
1/8 cup soy sauce
1.5 tablespoons sugar
1 tsp Asian Seasoning (equal parts cinnamon, cloves, ginger and white or regular pepper)
1 pack (16oz.) spring roll / lumpia wrappers

Other Needed Items:
2 egg yolks whisked together and set aside (for sealing the wrappers)
½ cup vegetable or canola oil for frying (or enough to fill the pan with ½ inch of oil)

OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS-- as promised, here are some other ingredients you can add for variety.  It’s recommended you DO NOT add more than 2 of these extra ingredients, otherwise your mixture will be too “bulky” with not enough meat.   But of course if you are a vegetarian, feel free to splurge!  Its best to use ½ cup of any addition, minced:

Shredded cabbage
Water chestnuts
Green beans
Bean sprouts
Bell pepper
Or 1 tsp mushroom seasoning, or orange zest


1.       In a large skillet over medium heat, add the meat and vegetables.  When meat begins to brown, add the garlic and let the flavor sweat out for about one minute.  Then add (one at a time) the bullion, soy sauce, sugar and Asian seasoning.  Blend well.   Cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring frequently so the spices don’t burn.  Remove from heat and allow meat mixture to cool until you can easily handle it.
2.        Peel lumpia wraps apart slowly, don’t tear them.  You can keep them between 2 damp paper towels (rung out very well) to keep them from getting dry as you work.   Cut wraps in half corner to corner, creating 2 triangles. You can make more lumpia with fewer wrappers this way. 

3.        Take 2 tablespoons of meat mixture and spread it out horizontally, along the widest edge of the wrap.   Secure the meat by folding the wrap around it like a skinny tube, tucking in the ends.  Roll it up the rest of the way, and secure it closed at the end, with egg yolk.  Set aside, folded side-down.   Repeat until all the mixture is gone.

4.        Heat the oil in a large skillet, over medium heat.   You want your oil to be hot enough to make the lumpia wrapper golden and crispy, but not too hot.   Basically, the oil should not be smoking.   If it’s too hot, turn it down.   Otherwise, your lumpia will burn on the outside very quickly.  
5.        Place as many Lumpia into the pan as will fit comfortably, leaving about 1/2 inch of space between the lumpia.  Do not crowd the pan, or they may stick together, or take longer to cook.  Turn the lumpia as they begin to brown, so that all sides of the wrap will become golden.  Fry for about 2 to 4 minutes, depending on your pan, until golden.   Don't forget to turn them!

6.        Remove lumpia from oil and let drain on a clean kitchen towel, or paper towel.   Serve hot with sweet chili sauce.    

TIP:  You can make lumpia in bulk ahead of time.  Uncooked lumpia rolls can be frozen for up to 2 months.   When it comes time to cook them, simply let them sit out (spread apart) for about 30 minutes, and then cook as usual.