Category Archives: Ethnic

Simple sour Asian Soup

Simple sour Asian Soup

When we lived in the Philippines, we adopted a few “family” members. One was Lindsey whom we taught with, lived next door to and did life with for 10 months.   One way we forged a family was by eating dinner together almost every night for 10 months straight. Cooking dinner for 2 hasn’t quite been the same since.  Lindsey is an excellent cook and one of her signature meals was this soup which I am calling “Simple sour Asian soup.” She picked up the idea from a soup she had while living in Cambodia. One thing you should know about Lindsey is that she has an amazing sense of smell and taste.  She can taste/smell something and pick out exactly what flavors are present.  You can see one of our super cute family photos to the left. 🙂

I am calling this ‘simple sour Asian soup’ because Asia has many versions of sour soups. This is not exactly like any of those but a more basic version from which you could create many different things.  I like it in this simplistic form though. If you are looking for something with a bit more pizazz you could look into Tom Yum (Thailand) or Sinigang (Philippines).  What makes this soup sour is tamarind.  I had never heard of tamarind before I left America but apparently it is used all over the world: Africa, Asia, Mexico and the Caribbean. It is quite an unusual fruit. I was able to play with fresh tamarind while in the Philippines. Here is a picture:

TamarindWhen you buy fresh tamarind, it is a hard brown bean pod.  You soak it in hot water then take the outer pod off. Inside the pod is the soft sour flesh and a seed. You scrape the fleshy part off and use that.  It is very tart!

Today, living in America, I am using tamarind bullion from an Asian grocery. Although I would probably be using the bullion if I lived in Asia too. (It’s just easier.)

Here’s how to make the soup:


1 head bok choy

1 medium onion

3-5 cloves of garlic

2-4 stalks of green onion

1-3 tamarind bullion cubes

1 stalk lemongrass

1 cup white rice

optional vegetable or chicken broth



Dice a medium onion and 3-5 cloves of garlic

Wash and roughly chop bok choy leaves and stalk.

Saute the onion and garlic in oil and toward the end add the bok choy stalk and diced green onion.

Add 5-8 cups of water or vegetable broth and 1-3 tamarind bullion cubes. I add one at a time until it reached the level of sour that I wanted.

Add lemongrass. (leave as large pieces so you can remove it at the end)

Add leaves of bok choy.

Simmer for 20min. – 90min.

Make rice and serve soup over rice.

Sour Soup


The bok choy I got at the farmer’s market this week is hilariously large. So I had to share a picture of it. We’ve had a lot of rain so I’m hoping that is why this is so large and not that it’s pumped with fertilizer. Either way it was $2 and I’ll be making 2 large meals with it this week. So I’ll take it!

monster bok choy



Beef Tapa- Filipino Breakfast


In the Philippines we thoroughly enjoyed “Filipino Breakfast.” Generally Filipino breakfast is a fried egg and rice- often garlic rice and a choice of one of the following: Tocino (a sweet, cured pork) Tapa (a savory beef) Bangus (fish) or Loganiza (sausage). Our favorites were Tocino and Tapa. Here is a recipe for Beef Tapa. Here is a lovely picture of a Filipino breakfast at the Filipino beach hotel: Final Option. This plate has both Tocino and Tapa with garlic rice, egg and slice of tomato. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Beef Tapa
Ingredients :
1/2 lb. thinly sliced beef
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sugar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp. peppercorn, crushed
1 tbsp. patis (fish sauce)
oil, for frying
(Kitchen Measuring)

Cooking Procedures :
In a bowl, combine all ingredients except oil.
Marinate beef for at least 3 hours.
Stir-fry in a small amount of oil.
Makes 4 servings.

I didn’t have fish sauce in the house this time and it tasted pretty good without it (so I’d say it’s optional, but others may disagree.) If you want to use it be sure to only use a little and do not spill any- it smells awful- but it does add to the flavor of the dish- not a fishy taste though if you use the right amount.

Happy eating!

Japanese Sauces


While living in the Philippines we had the great pleasure of making friends with a Japanese family. They had us to dinner one night and taught us several japanese recipes. Here are a few different sauces to use with pork or chicken. I will also later post another meat recipe and a japanese salad recipe.

Ginger Fried Pork (or chicken)
“Shogayaki” show-guy-aki


Very thinly sliced pork- like a centimeter thick (about 1lb)
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
For the Sauce:
1-3 tablespoons grated ginger
one small yellow or white onion
one small apple – any kind
3-5 tablespoons Soy Sauce
2-4 tablespoons Sake- this is rice wine
2-4 tablespoons Mirin- This is syrupy rice wine, it is sweet.
-make sure to make enough sauce-
First flour, salt and pepper the meat lightly- just put flour directly onto the meat- no egg or anything.
Then make the sauce:
Grate the ginger, apple and onion into a bowl.
Add the soy sauce, sake and mirin
Mix and taste- see if you think there should be any more of anything.

Then cut any excess/unwanted fat off the meat and cut some slits into it to prevent from curling up.
Cook meat over a medium heat in a skillet until mostly cooked. Then add sauce to skillet and cook about 2-3 minutes longer.

ginger fried pork


Pan-Fried Thick Pork with Onion Sauce
Pork with “tamanegi” sauce
about 1 pound of pork or chicken- tenderized (pound on it a bit with a knife or meat tenderizer)
salt and pepper
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
For the sauce:
1 small onion- diced
3-5 cloves of garlic- chopped
1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons soy sauce
small piece of chicken bullion cube- maybe 1/4 of the cube
Mix onion, garlic, water, soy sauce, and chicken bullion in a bowl.
Lightly flour, salt and pepper the meat and cook in a little oil in a skillet
Add sauce to the skillet and cook until done
Cut meat into chunks and return to the skillet to finish cooking.

onion pork

Green Onion Pork/Chicken
negi sauce accent on the I making e sound
1 lb of pork or chicken (generally pork butt or shoulder is used for this)
salt and pepper
For the sauce:
2 green onion stalks- sliced
2-4 tablespoons soy sauce
2-4 tablespoons vinegar
1-2 tablespoons Mirin (syrupy sake)
1-2 tablespoons sake
1 teaspoon chicken bullion
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Sauté meat in 2 tablespoons sesame oil
Cut up meat and return to pan with sauce and cook till bubbly

IMG_6084Green onion pork

I was impressed to see the wife cooking with chopsticks- so fun! Then after my husband wow-ed them with is skills at chopsticks we played a chopstick game! 🙂

Gimbop/Kimbop/ Kimbap! Korean lunch! ^ ^


I have to admit I did not like Kimbap at first. The only thing holding me back was the seaweed. It is so good for you, but I just hated it. Kimbop is a Korean staple. I think it should be spelled Kimbop but for some reason online it is most commonly spelled Kimbap. Koreans often spell it Gimbop as the K has a bit of a /G/ sound. I am going to spell it Kimpbop. Kimbop is kind of like sushi but not really. Everything is cooked and it is eaten as a picnic or lunch food. I’ve heard it called the “Korean PB&J”. It’s really a complete meal in a roll! After about 7 months in the Philippines I am proud to say that I have acquired a taste for Kimbop- I love it now! Well, I really like it anyway. I am not a fan of burping up the seaweed taste afterward. But if you don’t mind seaweed or are looking to try something really healthy and tasty- this is the recipe for you! If you like this, you’ll be happy to know that there are MANY versions of kimbop. You can use Kimchi, fish, different kinds of vegetables etc…


Cooked Beef Bulgogi. Make sure the beef is very very thin- like shaved. You could buy it at an asian store this way or partially freeze it then slice it thinly with a sharp knife.
-Imitation crab (you can buy it in strips at Asian stores or use what you can find and cut it how you want it.
– 1-2 cups cooked short grain asian sticky rice- remember rice doubles in size when you cook it… so you only need 1/2 cup to a cup of uncooked rice.
– 2 carrots cut into thin match sticks
2-4 eggs beaten and cooked into a flat piece- like you’re going to make an omelet
-Pickled radish strips- my favorite. I think you have to look for this at an Asian grocery in a refrigerated section.
-Steamed spinach (optional) we didn’t have it when we made it. I hear it is good but you have to eat it right away.
-Seaweed squares for Kimbop or Sushi. The Japanese Sushi seaweed tends to have a stronger flavor.
-Sesame oil
-2-3 tablespoons sesame seeds- roasted or roast them yourself.

Before you can assemble these tasty rolls  you need to do a lot of preparing.
1.Cook the rice. When it is done add a few tablespoons of sesame oil, a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of roasted sesame seeds.
2. Cut the carrots into thin matchsticks and sauté with a little oil, salt, garlic powder, and pepper.

3. Beat 2-4 eggs in a bowl then cook in a skillet like an omelet. When finished cooking, cut into 1/2 inch strips.

4. Prepare imitation crab as necessary. The kind we bought was in pretty thick strips and we peeled it in half.. like string cheese.

5. Arrange all ingredients that you are using- you can use more or less- depending on what you like and what you have. Steam or salute other vegetables if necessary.


My favorite part of Kimbop is the pickled radish. Sometimes they come pre cut and other times you need to cut them into strips yourself.

Then lay seaweed down on the table. Cover 3/4 of the way with rice.
Then layer the ingredients across the middle of the square.

Roll tightly. The seaweed will stick to itself at the end. You can put sesame oil on the outside to hold together but it will moisten itself if the rice is moist enough.
Finally cut into slices and eat!


Beef Bulgogi


Living here in the Philippines I’m actually surrounded by Koreans and I recently had the opportunity to learn some Korean recipes. I’ll share this recipe first as you may want to use it in the 2nd recipe.

Beef Bulgogi
Beef Bulgogi
1lb of tender beef- sliced thin (slice thiner if you’ll use it for Kimbop- thicker if you’ll eat it as a main dish.)
about 4 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 Tablespoons sesame oil- recommended to use an Asian brand- should be able to find this in the Asian section or at an Asian grocery store.
2 Tablespoons roasted sesame seeds- You could probably buy these but I’ve also bought raw sesame at an all natural grocery (like Whole Foods) and toasted them in a skillet myeslf. Just put the heat on medium and shake the seeds around till they crack and pop a bit- cook a minute more- make sure not to burn them. 🙂
4 cloves garlic
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
2-3 green onion (or regular onion is ok too)
1-2 Tablespoons brown sugar
Mix up all the ingredients (expect the meat) and let it set about 5 minutes then pour over the meat to marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight if the meat is more tough.
Cook meat in a skillet till done. Then depending on how you cooked it, either make it into Kimbop or serve with rice.



About a month ago I discovered a new Filipino food- Siomai (pronounced kind of like“show-my”) .  I was hesitant to even try it as it was first described to me as “left over pork and shrimp parts steamed in a wrapper.”   Not exactly appetizing for someone as picky about meat as me.  However they convinced me to try it and it was amazingly good! I had never had Chinese dim sum- but apparently this is like a Filipino version. It is served with some roasted garlic and chili sauce and soy sauce.  I finally made it at home on the advice of my Filipina friend and neighbor.  This homemade version does not include the “leftover” parts…. Just the good meat and it is just as good.  We had some trouble with the wrappers falling apart, but with the help of a friend, we discovered a way to make it work and they turned out splendidly!

Siomai wrappers. If you can’t find these you could use dumpling wrappers.

1 lb ground pork

1/2 small yellow onion- finely chopped

3-4 cloves garlic- minced

1 egg

1-2 tsp salt

Finely grated carrot (optional)

Finely chopped green onion (optional)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl

Follow this process to fill each wrapper:

Dip wrapper in a little water (I find that it will not break or rip as easily if it is wet)

Put about 1- 1&1/2 tablespoon of meat mixture in one wrapper and fold up, then fold another wrapper around in the opposite direction.  I didn’t take pictures sorry.  It doesn’t matter too greatly how you wrap it- whatever you can get to work.

Assemble as many as you can or would like.

Use a steamer or steaming basket to steam the siomai for about 5-7 minutes each.  You can keep them warm in the over while the others cook.  I put a small dot of chili paste on top of some of mine- you could also roast or brown in some way chopped garlic to garnish- this garlic is usually crunchy and brown on top.  It is really good just plain with the sauce below. I also found a recipe online for a sesame oil, chili paste, calamansi, and soy sauce but I have not tried it.


The best thing to top these off with is a special soy sauce dip.  I learned it from a Filipino friend and it is my new favorite!  No measuring but I’ll do my best to guess.

1/4 cup soy sauce

1-3 small chilies (See picture)  I don’t know what they are called but they are a pretty basic little chili- can be really really hot or not too bad- depending on how much you crush it.

4-8 calamansi (like mini-limes here in the Philippines) Use 1/2 a regular lime if calamansi is not available at local international store.

To make the sauce you put the small chilies in a small bowl and make 1-4 cuts into them or crush them if you want it REALLY hot then squeeze the clamansi or lime and soy sauce over them. I don’t like it very hot so I use 1 or 2 chilies and only cut them once or twice then take them out of the sauce after a few minutes so they don’t permeate and get make it too hot. I like just enough to give it a tiny zip but you can’t make it to your own liking.  You can use this sauce on rice, pancit, spring rolls, dumplings whatever you like.  I like it on everything, especially this siomai.


Filipino Fish


Well I’ve now made 3 Filipino dishes in my new Filipino kitchen and all have turned out quite well. Today we had Bangus of milk fish for dinner. This is the national fish of the Philippines and very common throughout Asia (so I’ve read).  They are very bony but you can buy them de-boned at the market.  You can also buy lives frogs
(for eating), pig heads, fish heads, and pretty much any other animal body part you might be looking for at the local market.  That’s because in the Philippines (and many many other countries around the world)  food is food- you eat it all- no waste.  So when I asked for a de- boned, filleted fish- here is what I got.

Not exactly what I was expecting- but there were no bones!! 😀  Thankfully I have a good friend whom we eat all our meals with who is not bothered by fish parts and she was able to cut the head and tails off while I waited in the other room!!  I know- I ‘m pathetic!  I’m new to eating seafood though- so I’m still a bit squeamish about it.

So we made a lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper marinade and covered the fish in chopped garlic and sliced onions.  Then we put it in the oven to broil/bake for about 20 minutes.

I also baked some small potatoes in with the fish- but need to remember to put them in a good 15-20 minutes ahead of the fish next time, depending on their size.

Remember to grease the pan or put foil down if you want to get the fish out easily.  It worked out well for us though because when we went to get the fish out of the baking dish- the skin separated right off and we just got the fish.  Perfection.  (besides having to scrub fish skin off the dish later…)  If you want a greater variety of nutrients and dinner time fun – leave the head on and eat as much as you can!   The other parts of the fish are edible and provide other nutrients you don’t get from the rest of the fish.  Personally, I’m not there yet.