Chef’s Night Off – Learning the Foods of the Philippines

As promised – my version of how the class went yesterday… This is definitely going to be a longer post than most Mondays, but worth it.


Though I was expecting 12-15 participants, we ended up with 7 (including my brother-in-law and myself), but that did not stop us from completing nine unfamiliar recipes and finishing nearly every bite (by the time we packed “to go” containers)!

I was joined by Hayley, an instructor in our Italian program, who was eager to help with all things culinary – she is frequently my partner in crime on my wanderings – an adventurous soul if I ever met one! My wonderful brother-in-law Benjie who helped me plan the beautiful menu, and supplied the research materials, his cousin Raqui, Luisa – a family friend who is always up for a food adventure with me, Ana Sofia a fellow blogger who writes one of my absolute favorite blogs, Hungry Sofia (see link section)and my beloved blogging instructor Steven Shaw (aka the Fat Man for all you eGullet fans out there – click that link for his fabulous posts about this class complete with much better photos!) .

Considering that 3 of the 7 participants were natives, the pressure was on to get my stories straight and my flavors as close to authentic as possible. In the end, I was graded a 10 out of 10 for effort and a 7 out of 10 for authenticity… good grades considering they’re pretty tough critics!


As I mentioned yesterday, we got a bit of a late start and did a bit of grazing along the way. Though we visited many markets and street vendors, here’s a few of my personal favorites.

  1.  Sun Vin Grocery, 75 Mulberry Street, near Bayard: This seemingly brand new store has an extensive supply of foods from the Philippines including all the frozen products (ube, cassava, coconut in various forms, and calamansi juice concentrate).
  2. Hong Kong Market, 68 Elizabeth Street, enter on Hester: This is my “go to” place for all things Asian. The fresh produce is limited but the fish market is beyond compare. The live fish selection is huge and includes turtles and large frogs as well. They will clean and gut the fish for you if you like. Same with their butcher shop. This Asian mega-store has a relatively large selection of foods from the Philippines. They also have a lower level with every houseware and gadget you might need.
  3. Tan Tin Hung Supermarket, 121 Bowery, near Grand: Right next door to the Century Café that I’ve written about in two previous posts. Great produce and a full line of brightly colored and creatively packaged prepared foods – One of these days I’m just going to taste my way through their “deli” case to see what these foods are all about.

The final menu looked like this:

  • Fish Sinigang (sour tamarind soup with grouper)
  • Kilawin (ceviche of golden pompano)
  • “Bangus” style trout
  • Crispy Pata (crispy fried pig trotters)
  • Chicken and Pork Rib Adobo
  • Rice
  • Water Spinach Adobong (adobo-style water spinach)
  • Palitaw (glutinous rice cakes with coconut & sesame)
  • Casava Bibinka (cake baked in banana leaves)
  • Ube Ice Cream (sweet purple yam ice cream)


05-30 & 31-09 015

05-30 & 31-09 023

 05-30 & 31-09 024

Here’s one recipe. For more, I refer you to the book I wrote about in a previous post – “Memories of Philippine Kitchens” it’s a beautiful book and most of the recipes we used were inspired by the ones in that book.

Next time, I’ll open the class up to the public – when that happens, you’ll be the first to know!


PALITAW (PALITAO) – Glutinous Rice Cakes

Adapted from the Food of the Philippines: Authentic Recipes from the Pearl of the Orient


 1 cup sweet rice flour (“Mochiko”)

3 cups water

3 cups grated fresh coconut

2 cups toasted sesame seeds

2 cups turbinado sugar


1. Combine the rice flour and water to make a smooth dough. This can be made earlier in the day and wrapped in plastic, left at room temperature.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath (half water half ice).

3. Roll the dough into 1 ½ inch balls then press them into patties. Drop into boiling water.

4. When the patties float, they are done. Transfer to ice water to cool. Drain.

5. Arrange three plates. One of sugar and sesame seeds combined, one of coconut, and one for the finished product.

6. While the rice patties are still moist, coat with sugar mixture, then immediately with coconut.

3 thoughts on “Chef’s Night Off – Learning the Foods of the Philippines

  1. Hello Annette,

    Unless you’ve already been introduced, I can put you in touch with the authors of “Memories of Philippine Kitchens”. Amy Besa and husband, Chef Romy Dorotan, used to run Cendrillon in SoHo which, after 13 1/2 years, recently closed shop.

    They will be opening a new restaurant, Purple Yam, in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn this month.

    Thanks for promoting Filipino cuisine.

    Keep in touch!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: