Last Friday was my turn to host the neighbors’ monthly get-together.  Inspired by the Chinese New Year celebrated this year on January 31, I decided to make it a dim-sum night.  These are the items I prepared.

Beef Sio-mai on spinach wrap

Beef Siomai on spinach wrap


  • ½ lb ground sirloin, I purchased the pack with the lowest fat content
  • ¼ cup chopped water chestnuts
  • ¼ cup chopped bamboo shoots
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 t sesame seed oil
  • 1 T rice wine
  • 1 t sugar
  • ¼ cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • 25 pieces spinach wonton wrapper.  The package suggests to use this type of wrapper to make vegetable dumplings, but I thought it would add some color and I decided to use green peas to complement the  spinach wrap.

Mix all the ingredients and refrigerate for an hour to overnight to meld the flavors.

Chicken and Shrimp Siomai

Chicken and Shrimp Siomai


  • ½ cup boneless chicken breast, chopped
  • ¼ c chopped water chestnuts
  • ¼ c Chinese black mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1 T rice wine
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T sesame seed oil
  • 1 t sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • ½ t pepper
  • 15 pieces shrimps, shell and slice in the middle to remove the black vein
  • 25 Siomai wrapper

Mix all the ingredients, except the shrimps and refrigerate for an hour to overnight to meld the flavors.

Wrap the siomai using 1 T of chicken top with half the shrimp. Make a circle using the index finger and the thumb. Put the siomai on the hole and lightly grab the ends to make the siomai pockets.

Chicken Siopao

Chicken Siopao

I have posted the recipe for Chicken Siopao. For this occasion, I just made them smaller, about 2 inches diameter.

Turkey Dumpling

Dumpling with Turkey

This is actually called Peking Kuo-Tieh Dumplings.

Dough Skin:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 ½ cup boiling water
  • 5 T cold water

Sift flour in a bowl, mix in the boiling water. Leave for 5 minutes, then add the cold water. Transfer into a mixer or knead manually until it forms a soft ball.


  • ½ lb ground turkey
  • 1 T chopped  fresh ginger
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup chopped bamboo shoots
  • 1 T rice wine

Cut the dough into round the size of a pecan nut. Using a rolling-pin, flatten each and put 1 T of filling.  Make pleats on one side of the round and pinch on the other side to form the dumpling. This process really takes time but it is worth it.

Boil water in a pot. Drop the dumplings into the boiling water few pieces at a time. The dumpling will first sink into the bottom of the pan and then rise to the top when cooked. Scoop out each floating dumpling and set aside. Spray some oil to prevent from sticking to each other. Store in the refrigerator. This can be done the day before.

On the day of the party, fry the dumplings in a hot pan with little oil to prevent it from sticking to the pan. This takes about 3 minutes on each side.



Chicken Skewers With Philippine Inasal Flavor

Chicken Skewers With Philippine Inasal Flavor


  • 2  lbs boneless and skinless chicken thighs, If you buy the ones with bones, simply cut around the bones. Cut in bite-size squares.

Marinade overnight in:

  • ¼ c vinegar
  • 1 whole clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 inch fresh turmeric, finely chopped or 2  t turmeric powder if fresh is not available
  • ½ cup chopped lemongrass
  • 2 T salt

On the day of the party, put 3 or 4 pieces in small bamboo skewers.  With little oil to prevent sticking, cook the sticks in a pan for 5 minutes each side. Start with a really hot pan.

Egg Noodle Salad with Sesame Dressing

Egg Noodle Salad with Sesame Dressing


  • 1 lb egg noodles. udon noodles will work too
  • 4 pieces scallions, the white part only, slice lengthwise
  • 3 pieces of kirby cucumbers, or Persian cucumbers, or equivalent measure of English cucumbers
  • 1 sweet red pepper, slice into strips
  • 1 cup carrots, cut in sticks
  • Dressing: 2 t sesame  oil; 1 T peanut oil, 1 T peanut butter, 2 T rice vinegar, 1 T miso, pepper to taste .

Boil water in a pot and cook the noodles according to package directions.  Rinse and drain when done.

Make the dressing and toss everything. Serve immediately or keep cool in the refrigerator.

Siopao with Sweet Red Beans and Sweetened Coconut Filling

Siopao with Sweet Red Beans and Sweetened Coconut Filling


  • 1 can sweet red beans. I cooked mine using dried azuki beans, sweetened with little sugar
  • 1 cup  Philippine sweet coconut or macapuno, optional

Use the same dough as for siopao. Put 1 T filling inside and steam for 10 minutes.

Egg Custard Tart

Egg Custard Tart


  • 1 ½ c hot water
  • ½ c sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 t white vinegar
  • Dissolve sugar in hot water. Allow to cool and add the remaining ingredients. Strain and set aside.


  •  1 ½ c all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 stick, plus 2 T cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t vanilla
  • Combine flour and sugar. Cut in the butter until it resembles coarse meal. Combine the egg and vanilla and add to the flour mixture. Transfer into a floured surface and knead for 1 minute.
  • Divide the dough into 18 or 20 pieces and press into 2 ½: tart pans. Since I don’t own the small  tart pans, I used the mini muffin pan.
  • Stir the custard mixture and pour into each tart. Bake in pre-heated 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Can be served hot or cold.

I offered different sauces to go with the dim-sums.

  • Soy-Vinegar.  ¼ cup soy sauce,  3 T rice vinegar, ½ t black pepper, finely sliced 1 scallion. Mix together. This is good for the dumplings. For variation, instead of scallions use, 1 T finely diced fresh ginger.
  • Hoisin-Sesame:  3 T hoisin sauce, 1 t sesame oil. Mix. This is good on Chicken Siopao.
  • Worcestershire: Also good used in the chicken siopao.

For drinks I served lychee juice,  jasmine tea and chilled sake.

Making each dumpling requires patience.  It’s been my habit to turn the TV on while I work in the kitchen. This time I tuned in to Netflix for my favorite old movies. I figured since I already saw the movies several times,  there is no need to pay attention much to the dialogues while making the dumplings.

Dim-sum night was a hit. My friend Isabel said to me, ‘this is over the top, you know I can’t match this’,  while her Italian husband said, ‘I am serving pizza on my turn!’.

To that I responded, ‘I would like that since I have been saying that the day I meet a pizza I like, is the day I become a true Floridian’.

Because right now, when it comes to food,  my heart still belongs to New York!

By the way, I completed the preparation of these good morsels while two of my favorite old movies played on the TV: School Ties and Last Holiday.  It provides me with the proper rhythm. Try it, it’s fun.


Shrimp Pad Thai

Shrimp Pad Thai

The ingredients I used in my Pad Thai are not the  exact vegetables called for in the traditional Pad Thai recipe. I don’t have bean sprouts  but I do have a substantial supply of Asian vegetables.

First is a visit at the backyard, our backyard is always a work-in-progress in my attempt to create an edible landscape here in the zone 10 region of Florida.

Anyway, I picked two kinds of beans, the bush beans and the Asian yard long beans.

Green Beans

Green Beans


Asian Yard Long beans. I have 2 varieties, the green and the purple. I used the two interchangeably.


This is my Key Lime which we like to squeeze on any noodle dish. (By the way, my husband also uses the lime juice and lemon juice as a natural deodorant.)

Scallions or Green Onions

Scallions also called Green Onions


Thai Basil

Thai Basil grows wild in my garden as they reseed. I have to say that this plant does not recognize the seasons here in zone 10. 


Based on what’s in the refrigerator and what I picked from the garden, here is the list of vegetables I came up with:

  • 3/4 cup sweet peppers
  • 2 cups sliced Napa cabbage
  • 1 cup sliced beans
  • 1 medium  sweet onion, sliced
  • 2 pieces of mini sweet pepper
  • 3 pieces of whole chili, optional
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cucumber, cut in sticks
  • a bunch of Thai basil
  • 1/4 cup course chopped cilantro
  • 2 stalks of green onions, sliced
  • 1 lb of shelled shrimps
  • 1/2 lb Pad Thai Rice Noodle. I used fresh Pad Thai noodles. If using the dry noodles, pre-cooked as directed on the package.
  • 2 T peanut oil
  • 1 T  fish sauce

In a wok, heat the oil. Add the garlic, and cook until lightly browned. Add the onion and  shrimps.  Stir fry until the shrimps turn pink. Do not overcook the shrimps.                                                                                                                                                   Push the shrimps on one side of the work or transfer to a plate and stir-fry the vegetables until slightly wilted.  Mix shrimps and vegetables. Season with  fish sauce. Transfer in a bowl.

Pad Thai Sauce. You may adjust the proportion based on personal taste. I’d like to point out that the Pad Thai’s salty-sweet-sour taste appeals to most Filipino palate.

  • 3 T  fish sauce
  • 3 T  brown sugar
  • 3 T tamarind liquid (this is available in Asian stores. In place of the first 3 ingredients, you may use the bottled Pad Thai sauce also available in Asian food stores. I stay away from Asian flavor mixes because they usually include MSG.)
  • 1 T peanut oil
  • 1 cup chicken broth

Using the same wok, add the first  three ingredients  and  1/2 cup of chicken broth. Boil until it thickens. Add the noodles and stir to coat with the seasoning. Check the noodles, add more broth to cook, if necessary. Since I used the fresh noodle, I ended up using all of the broth.

Transfer the cooked noodles in a serving platter, pour the shrimps and vegetables on top. Add the chopped green onions and cilantro and Thai basil leaves.  In a separate platter, arrange more  Thai basil, cilantro and cucumber sticks. My husband and I like eating the Thai basil fresh so we add the leaves just before eating. We also like a squeeze  of lemon or lime on the Pad Thai, actually we like it on all of our noodle dish.

It goes without saying, be bold. Play around. Substitute. Sometimes it’s OK to use a cookbook as an idea book and not as a cooking bible.

And now as we say in Tagalog, kain na! Let’s eat!

Whole Wheat Penne with Shrimp Limoncello

Purple sweet potato, Hawaiian taro, Philippine purple yam, lavender, macadamia nuts, key lime, Meyer lemon, limoncello and dark chocolate. As the song goes, these are my favorite things, to cook with that is, but not necessarily in that order. I am always on the lookout for recipes using my favorite ingredients and I am also always trying different ways to use them.

I am happy that I started this blog,  as it inspires me to record what I have been cooking and crafting. I don’t plan family menus. I don’t measure ingredients except when it involves baking. Hence it was very difficult for me to teach my daughter how to cook. With the blog, I am now conscious of measurements. Most of the dishes I make at home depends on what we have in stock and chances are, the dish will not be repeated again, at least not exactly the same. I like to wing it, so to speak. As I was about to finish cooking this, I thought that since the dish has citrus flavor, maybe a shot of limoncello will accentuate the citrus flavor even more, so I reached for my Italian Limoncello stash. Back in the Philippines, I had eaten shrimps cooked unwashed  and alive just moments after they were caught from the family fish farm, the salt came from the sea water  and the shrimp was just naturally sweet. The limoncello added a subtle sweetness to the shrimps.  I was pleasantly surprised and I remember  the sweetness of fresh shrimps back home.

These are what I used.

  • 1 lb head-on shrimps. Remove the shell, leaving the head-fat on and the last tail segment. Slit the back and de-vein. It is convenient to use the supermarket shelled shrimps but it will not produce the reddish sauce from the shrimp fat.
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/4 c parsley, chopped.
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lime and 1 lemon, squeeze to produce 1/2 cup
  •  1/2 c pasta water
  • 1/2 c limoncello
  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 box whole wheat penne

Cook the pasta according to the package instructions.

  • Heat a pan. Add the oil and garlic. Saute the garlic until lightly browned.
  • Keeping the heat on high, add the mushrooms, shrimps  and parsley, reserve some for serving. Stir until the shrimps are slightly pink.
  • Add the citrus, pasta water and limoncello. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. Remove the shrimps to avoid over-cooking.
  • Add the cooked pasta, stir and let it absorb some of the liquid.  Serve immediately topping with some parsley.

This is an easy and quick summer pasta.

Fish in Sweet and Sour Sauce

This is a Filipino dish that clearly was influenced by the Chinese. In the Philippines, this becomes a festive dish depending on the kind and size of the of the fish used. I think this is a festive dish judging by the color alone!

Here I used a red snapper about 8 inches long and perfect for 2 people, which nowadays is all that I cook for.

First, season the fish with salt and pepper  including the inside of the fish. Chop 1 clove of garlic, quarter size ginger and 1 scallion. Fill the fish cavity with this mixture and stick with a toothpick to prevent from spilling out during cooking. This filling can be skipped.  Put 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 t paprika in a plastic bag, put the fish and shake gently until the fish is fully coated. Fry in well heated oil.

What you need for the sauce are the following:

  • 1 cup of unsweetened pineapple chunks
  • 1/2 c pineapple juice
  • 2 sticks of celery, sliced
  • 1 small sweet red pepper, sliced
  • 1 small carrot, sliced
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 tomato, cut in wedges or 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 T catsup, more for color than taste
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 whole jalapeno pepper
  • 1/2  t sea salt
  • pepper
  • 1 T cornstarch or tapioca flour diluted in 1/4 c water to thicken the sauce

The sauce cooks in about 10 minutes. In a pan, with 1/2 T oil, saute the garlic until lightly brown. Add the onion and the rest of the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Add the pineapple juice and catsup.  The vegetables are good when slightly under cooked. Add the cornstarch mixture and let boil to thicken the sauce. Adjust the salt according to taste. Enjoy while the fish is crispy!

Crabs In Fish Sauce (Pinatisang Alimango)

I grew up in the fishing town of Malabon in the Philippines. My grandparents owned acres of fish ponds where milkfish, shrimps and crabs were raised. This crab recipe is one of many my grandmother cooked using the crops from the fish ponds. I wish I had made notes or took pictures even when my grandmother was in the kitchen. All that I have of her now is  in my memory.  Wonderful memories that always bring tears.

Here’s what you need.

  • 1 dozen female live crabs
  • 1 head of garlic, minced
  • 1 big onion, cut in half, then sliced
  • 1/4 c white vinegar
  • 1/4 c Patis or fish sauce
  • 1 T Canola oil

Here in the US, I use the blue crabs from Maryland as pictured but should be live.  I always make a big batch of this dish because this is one of those dishes whose flavor improves after a day or two, that is, if you happen to have leftovers. The crab apron tells you which is the male and which is the female.  I found this website: www.lpsteamers.com/sex.html.  It’s funny how the apron is described. Female apron looks like the dome of the Capitol Building whereas the male’s is shaped like the Washington Monument.

For this dish, the female crab is favored because they have more tamale which is what makes this good.

Preparing the crab for this dish is the hard part! It is a cruel process and you just have to get passed it, just like preparing for the broiled lobster. As they say, somebody has to do it.  I guarantee no one will think of this process once they taste the dish.

  • Using a kitchen tong, take a crab and lay it upside down on a chopping board and with a cleaver, cut it in half crosswise.
  • Clean each half  by removing the bottom, discard.
  • Separate the shell from the body. Discard the gills or plume-like white part.
  • Taking the shell, discard the antennae and the eyes.
  • Wash each piece in running water being careful not to wash out the tamale.
  • Save any tamale that falls off in the process.

Now you cook.

  • In a big pan or wok, heat the oil. Add the garlic and saute until light brown.
  • Add the onions, cook until wilted.  I really put a lot of Vidalia or sweet onions on this.
  • Add the saved tamale and saute for about 2 minutes or until it turns orange.
  • Add the crabs, vinegar and fish sauce.
  • Cover and cook for  15-20 minutes, turning over to get the fish sauce-vinegar flavor onto all the crabs. This will produce water from the steaming but you may add water for more sauce, if desired.

That’s the basic. You can create another dish using this: Crabs in Coconut Milk. Following the Filipino love for coconut, you can add a 14-oz can of coconut milk and some sliced jalapeno peppers. Simmer until the sauce thickens.


New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp

My family was introduced to this dish back in the late 80’s when we vacationed  in New Orleans. It had since become a family summer favorite. Somehow we didn’t find this dish appealing during the other Northeast seasons. Maybe because our brains are trained to think that barbecue is a  summer dish, though this is not a real barbecue per se. Or maybe because this dish is a messy eat, messy good, that is! But now that we live in Florida, maybe my family’s discerning taste will accept this as a year-round dish. This is my own interpretation of this dish and this is how my family likes it. Traditionally this is baked but I find that cooking it in stove top is easier and renders the same result.


  • 2 lbs large shrimps, heads on and uncooked. Using a pair of scissors, remove  the long whiskers. Drain after washing. 
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled
  • juice from 3-4 lemons. Include the zest from 1 lemon for a more intense lemon taste.
  • 4 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dried oregano or a handful of fresh leaves. I like using fresh oregano as it is always a part of my herb garden. Either Italian or Greek oregano will do.
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp Tabasco or according to taste
  • 1 T sea salt
  • Soft French bread to mop-up the sauce.


  • Put all the ingredients in a shallow pan. Cover and cook over medium heat, let boil for  about 10 minutes or until the shrimps turn pink.

No need to set the forks, just be sure to wash your hands thoroughly.

Then listen to the family as they eat in silence but for the sound of the sucking of the shrimp shells and fingertips!