Adobo - Filipino Stew

I've been meaning to post this for a while but February has been a hectic month in our house, with lots of birthdays and family get-togethers. Although I made this a few weeks ago I’m only now finding the time to write it up (I am ignoring the mountain of washing and bits of spaghetti that Hugo catapulted at the wall at lunchtime).

‘Adobo’ is a classic recipe from the Philippines, held in similar, traditional regard as the British Sunday roast - it's delicious and always goes down well when I make it for people. It is a rich meat stew, traditionally using pork or chicken gently cooked in soy sauce and vinegar, the tang of which is balanced with a bit of sugar, and served with fluffy, white rice. My mum liked to bulk it out with potatoes and serve it with a soft boiled egg, which I highly recommend.

Like most Filipino recipes it uses simple, inexpensive ingredients to create something wonderful. As a stew it is perfect for warming your bones on a cold, winter’s evening and is even yummier the next day after the flavours have had time to deepen.

Get it in your tummy.

Adobo

Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 onion, sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely sliced

Roughly a tsp ginger, finely chopped

300g diced pork (belly pork or lean, depending on if you like fat) and/or chicken - I like to use thigh, keeping the skin on for flavour while cooking and removing before eating, but you can use breast too

2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped

4 tbsps light soy sauce

2 tbsps dark soy sauce (or just use light soy sauce if you don’t have both)

2 tbsps cider vinegar

1 tbsp palm sugar (brown or white sugar will do)

1/2 to 1 cup of water

1 soft boiled egg (optional)

Handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Method:

  1. Fry the onion in oil in a saucepan until soft, add the garlic and ginger and fry for a minute or so. 
  2. Add the meat to the pan and fry until browned all over.
  3. Add the potatoes, soy sauce, vinegar, water and sugar and stir to combine. The ingredients should be just covered in the liquid.
  4. Bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer gently for around 25 minutes, by which time the meat and potatoes should be cooked and the sauce reduced and thickened slightly.
  5. Taste the sauce and balance with more soy or sugar. I usually add a bit more sugar to mine.
  6. Serve with rice and green veg (such as broccoli, green beans, pak choy), and optional adornments of a soft boiled egg, and a sprinkling of fresh coriander.

* If you want to make larger quantities, the ratio of soy sauce to vinegar should always be 3:1, and the less water you use the more intense the flavour.

 

Chocolate Avocado Mousse

The idea of going out for dinner with my husband on Valentine's Day for an over-priced meal, surrounded by couples forcing themselves to be romantic makes me itchy with awkwardness. Luckily he feels the same so instead we like to celebrate by staying well away from any restaurants.

This year we are having dinner with lovely friends (fellow Valentine's Day cynics) and I am making dessert. I have found a recipe so mind-blowingly brilliant that I am seriously considering eating only this for the rest of my life; Chocolate Avocado Mousse. It is such a revelation that it is making me feel giddy as I type. I love avocado but even if you don’t it doesn’t matter because this tastes only of soft, silky, creamy, scrumptious, chocolatey mousseyness, and yet contains one of your five a day… or more, depending on how much you eat in one go. It is also vegan, which in my book makes it a superfood.

Anyway, make it, scoff it, fall in love with it - Happy Valentine's Day!

PS I've used cup measurements as I love the ease of them, but you can easily find conversions online.

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Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Serves 4 - 6

Ingredients:

1 cup dark chocolate

4 ripe avocados

1/2 cup agave syrup (or you can use honey or maple syrup)

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/3 cup almond milk

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup cocoa nibs (optional - gives it lovely crunch. You could use nuts or chocolate chips instead)

raspberries (optional)

Method:

  1. Place the chocolate in a bowl and melt in the microwave (30 secs at a time and stirring in between to prevent burning). Let the melted chocolate cool slightly.
  2. Put the chocolate and all the other ingredients apart from the cocoa nibs into a food processor and blend until smooth. 
  3. If you are adding cocoa nibs/nuts/choc chips stir these into the mousse.
  4. Spoon into ramekins and put in the fridge to set for at least 3 hours.
  5. Serve as it is, or with a few fresh raspberries.

*To make it more chocolatey, just add more melted choc at stage 2.

Tortang Talong - a recipe for veggie January

My husband Billy and I are going tee-total and vegetarian for January; extreme measures, I know, but it feels like the right thing to do after all the face-stuffing over Christmas. We did it last year and, although it was hard going for the first couple of weeks (I kept accidentally buying sausages, which my daughter Betsy was delighted about as they are her absolute favourite thing), once we had got into the swing of it we actually enjoyed cooking and eating vegetarian recipes. 

As well as discovering alternatives to meat (Quorn, tofu, lentils, all the cheese) I also found that often you can just cut the meat out of a recipe and it will still taste delicious. We continued to eat fish, which made things easier as it was a dramatic enough change to our usual diet to cut out meat and wine. By the end of the month we felt healthy and energised, we had both lost weight (an unexpected bonus, considering all the cheese) and we had spent less on our food shopping.  Since then we still eat meat but less of it, and we are more mindful of it when we do. 

‘Tortang Talong’ is a Filipino aubergine omelette where you keep the aubergine whole so that it looks all spectacular on the plate. If you are a fan of aubergine, like me, you will love this. It is quick, cheap and easy to cook and uses just a few ingredients. It is traditionally served with steamed rice and a splodge of banana ketchup - a staple Filipino condiment, like normal ketchup with added zing. Look out for it in your local Asian supermarket. I followed a recipe (which I tweaked and added ingredients to) from a beautiful book called ‘7000 Islands; A Food Portrait of the Philippines’ by Yasmin Newman, an anthology of Filipino recipes with stunning photographs and stories about the Philippines

I hope you likey-like, and please share your photos and thoughts if you have a go at cooking it yourself.

PS Be strong fellow Dry January people, the end is in sight! And a big slap on the back for those doing it for charity. 

TORTANG TALONG (serves 1)

Ingredients: 1 aubergine, 1 egg, 1/4 red onion thinly sliced, small garlic clove finely chopped, squeeze of honey, 1 tbsp olive/coconut oil, bit of thinly sliced spring onion and/or some fresh herbs

  1. Place the aubergine over an open flame and slowly turn until the skin is charred and starting to blister - about 5 mins. I stabbed a fork into the stalk end which saves burning any fingers and makes it easy to rotate. Allow to cool a little then peel off the skin, which should come away easily.
  2. While you're doing this season and fry the onion and garlic with a blob of honey until it starts to brown and caramelise. On my first attempt I used raw onions, but fried ones are much yummier.
  3. Beat and season the egg and pour onto a plate, then, holding the aubergine by the stalk, place it onto the egg and squish it down with a fork so that it fans out but still remains whole. 
  4. Spread the onions onto the aubergine, and spoon some of the egg on top of it all.
  5. Heat the oil in a frying pan and tip the aubergine, and all the eggy-oniony mixture in with it, trying to keep it on top of the aubergine rather than spreading out too much. This is a messy step so don't worry if it doesn't look too pretty yet.
  6. Fry for a few minutes on each side until golden. 
  7. Sprinkle with any herbs that you have (coriander works well) and/or some finely chopped spring onion, and a big pile of steamed rice. 
                                                          TA DA - TORTANG TALONG

                                                          TA DA - TORTANG TALONG