Adobo

Trays of Filipino food from a party at my mother's home. Pork adobo is in the foreground and chicken adobo is in the background with bell peppers.

Adobo is a common and popular Filipino dish.  “Adobo “refers to a way of preparing a dish in soy sauce and vinegar, usually meat (chicken, pork, frog legs, it’s only limited by the imagination!).  In my household growing up, pork was the meat of choice; however, outside of my family, most people I have come across prefer or are at least more familiar with its chicken variety.

Adobo is the first Filipino dish I learned how to make.  As a sophmore in undergrad, fresh out of the dorms and away from the dining halls at UC Santa Cruz, I wanted to be able to eat the food I had grown up with.  That was difficult in a town with no Filipino restaurants.  So, I had to learn how to make it.  My father had me shadow him during the summer in between my freshman and sophomore year.   My father made the best chicken adobo in the family.  He learned from his mother-in-law, my lola (grandmother in Tagalog), who immigrated from the Philippines to the United States in the early 1980s.

My lola loved my father’s adobo.  She always thought it was better than her own.  She would ask him, “How do you make your adobo so good, Kano?” (Kano is short for Amerikano and was my family’s endearing way of referring to my father, the American guy).

He would always respond, “I don’t know; you taught me.”

At our many house parties that filled my parent’s home in Long Beach, my father often contributed with at least 10 lb worth of chicken adobo.  Since my father passed away more than a year and a half ago, I have taken over the role of chicken adobo maker for my large extended family whenever I am at home.  It’s an honor to carry on his tradition of adobo preparation for my closest relatives and loved ones. Continue reading

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Quick Update

I apologize for the lack of updates.  In the last month, I moved back to Brooklyn and have been getting back into the swing of school.  Also, my camera unfortunately ended up in a friend’s car back to DC instead of to my apartment.  Posts without pictures would not be nearly as exciting.  Despite this mishap, I will have a new post in a couple of days.

Alla Bolognese

A shot of espresso at Bar Romano in Piazza Maggiore in Bologna

This past June, I spent two weeks studying international commercial arbitration at the University of Bologna.  It was an excellent opportunity to go back to Europe (as you probably saw in my post on Madrid) and eat some amazing Italian food.

Bologna is famous for its handmade pasta, in particular, its stuffed pasta.  It is said that in Bologna, they eat “la grassa.”  It literally means fat or rich.  In other words, they eat very well.  The pasta itself is made using only fresh eggs and type 0 flour (vs. 00 flour), which in other regions is often used for pizza preparation.  They mix the eggs together in a “fountain” of flour, slowly incorporate the flour, set the dough aside for about half an hour, and then carefully roll it out into sheets before cutting it.  I bought a book by Sorelle Simili, two elderly Italian women well known in the art of handmade pasta in Emilia Romagna (the larger region of which Bologna is a part), in the hopes of perfecting the technique this summer.  Unfortunately, I have yet to find time for it!  I still have about a month of summer left, though.  Whatever I learn from the experience, I will recount here.

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Pagan Restaurant

Pagan RestaurantI lived in San Francisco for three years before moving to New York.  I am back in the Bay Area this summer interning for a legal non-profit in Oakland.  Being back, I have been reminded of how great the Asian food is here.  Don’t get me wrong.  New York has some great food, but there are things that San Francisco does better.

One of those things is Burmese food.  My introduction with Burmese food was at a restaurant called Burma Superstar on Clement St. in the Inner Richmond district of San Francisco.  Burma Superstar is a reason for downtown dwellers to venture out “to the Avenues” for an evening meal.  As a result, you may have to wait over an hour to be seated.  I don’t know about you, but if I can get something just as good (maybe even better in some ways), I’ll go for the place without a wait.

Enter Pagan.  Pagan opened a few years ago on the corner of 33rd Avenue and Clement Street in the Outer Richmond.  It’s the last in a short series of restaurants and boutiques near the entrance to the Legion of Honor before Clement becomes entirely residential.  They have both a Burmese menu and a Thai menu.  Story has it that the owners, Burmese, stopped off in Thailand before making their way to the United States.  I’ve gone only for the Burmese.  When they first opened, the restaurant struggled with service, which prompted me to stay away for a while after a handful of visits.  I recently went back because my sister insisted on having Burmese while visiting, and neither of us wanted to wait at Burma Superstar.

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Tortilla Española

A piece of tortilla española at Alhambra Restaurant in Madrid

As I said in my last post, tortilla española is a common Spanish dish eaten in a variety of ways.  For that reason, any Spanish-themed meal or tapas dinner party ought to have some tortilla española.  Much like its short list of ingredients, the preparation is fairly simple.  The most daunting aspect is flipping the tortilla while frying!  If you follow the cooking instructions carefully, though, you shouldn’t have a problem.  When I lived in Madrid, my sister and I futilely tried to make this on our own without looking up a recipe.  We boiled potatoes in water and threw it into some beaten eggs.  We didn’t use enough oil, didn’t know to set the potatoes in the eggs or sear the tortilla and used a spatula while frying the tortilla.  It came out more like a potato onion mess than a tortilla.  After following Teresa Barranechea’s recipe, however, I’ve only made (mostly) beautiful tortillas since!  It continues to impress friends and coworkers to this day.

Last week, I made two tortilla españolas for a work picnic.  I usually use a 9-inch non-stick skillet to fry the tortilla.  I’ve never used a cask iron, but you’d probably get great if not even better results with one.  Unfortunately, I made them at my boyfriend’s place and he only had a 10-inch paella type pan.  I had to make do, but know that it’s easier with a nice long handle.  You’ll see why!  I also increased the recipe by 50%, so my tortillas came out bigger than they normally would with this recipe.  Anyway, off to the recipe!

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Bocadillos in Madrid

A sign outside a "cafeteria" in Madrid advertises their selection of bocadillos

I studied abroad in Madrid for a year during undergrad, and while my student budget did not allow me to try as many restaurants as I would have liked, I was still able to sample a variety of Spanish food.  A recent class in Bologna this summer gave me the opportunity to go stop off in Madrid and return to old favorite eateries.

Bocadillos are inexpensive sandwiches served on baguette-style bread and are often eaten during the day.  The meat or whatever they use inside the bocadillo is usually very simple such as sliced ham, anchovies, salt, and/or cheese with little to no sauce inside.  You can, of course, request a side of “mayonesa” (mayonnaise) if your heart desires but may find little else with which to lather up your “pan.”

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