Lechon kawali and kai-lan (Chinese broccoli) in coconut milk

Think laing but not as mushy. Instead of taro leaves, there’s kai-lan and, instead of pork pieces so soft that they melt in the mouth, there are chunks of lechon kawali with the crackling-like rinds still crisp, contrasting vividly with the creaminess of the sauce. There’s heat from the chilis that blend perfectly with the natural sweetness of the coconut milk. What’s not to love?

And that’s a traditional Filipino dish? No, it isn’t. Lechon kawali is traditional, yes, but not the dish itself although vegetables cooked in coconut milk is a very traditional way of cooking a wide variety of vegetables in the Philippines. If I were a celebrity chef, this would be called a fusion dish. But since I am no celebrity chef, the usual snobs and purists will probably label this as bastardized Filipino cooking. But then who the heck cares about the small minds of snobs and purists? This is a delicious dish and worth making once, twice and over and over again. »

Bibingkang malagkit (sticky rice cake)

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It's like biko but better. Cook the glutinous rice in coconut milk. Spread in a greased baking dish, top with salted caramel, sprinkle with desiccated coconut and bake. It's so good. But to really do this sweet dish right, it's best to soak the rice … »

How to cook: Thai chicken curry

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Chicken curry is a dish that I grew up with. But the chicken curry of my childhood was just a coconut milk based stew made yellow with curry powder. Homey and really comforting but, well... it lacked fire somehow. Later on, when I learned to cook, I … »

How to make buko (coconut) and pandan jelly drink

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The term "buko pandan" can mean either of two things. The first is buko pandan dessert with coconut meat and cubes of pandan-flavored pudding (made with gelatin or agar-agar) mixed with cream and sweetened condensed milk. The second is an iced drink … »

How to cook: Bicol Express

Bicol Express

I've always wondered how Bicol Express could be cooked with lots of chilies but without making the dish too spicy that it practically scorches the mouth and throat. The answer was so simple I wondered why I never made the connection before -- scrape … »

How to cook: Grilled pork in lemongrass stalks

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A popular Southeast Asian hawker food, this dish consists of minced meat flavored with chili, cumin, crushed galangal, ground coriander, coconut milk and fish sauce, wrapped around lemongrass stalks and grilled. There are Thai, Malay, Indonesian and … »