Tag Archives: adobo

Cooking with Michael

A few weeks ago, an acquaintance of mine named Michael sent me a message asking if we could get together and cook.

He wrote, “One of my favorite ways to get to know someone is to learn how to cook something.”

It was an unexpected and lovely invitation to connect.

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Filed under Filipino food

The Agony and Ecstasy of Adobo

When I first heard about Adobofest, I instantly knew it was an event for me.

First, it’s a community block party in my beloved Beacon Hill neighborhood in Seattle. Second, it’s hosted by Geo and Sabzi of Blue Scholars, one of my favorite hip hop groups. And finally, this event is all about adobo, a dish near and dear to my heart.

Adobo is the one dish that every Filipino should know how to make. It can take many forms—saucy, succulent or crisp—but all involve the Filipino trinity of vinegar, soy sauce and garlic and is traditionally made with pork or chicken.

The other thing about Adobofest that excited me was the adobo cook-off. Anyone could enter their favorite adobo recipe and cook it for the judges and everyone else attending Adobofest. The winner would receive bragging rights, a trophy, $100 cash prize, and an invitation to have his or her adobo featured in the “Jose Rizal” sandwich at Beacon Ave Sandwiches.

I really wanted to enter a vegan and gluten-free adobo so that my friends—and others—who have these kinds of diets would be able to experience this quintessential Filipino dish.


One of my vegan adobo attempts

I’ve made vegan adobo before, and while it tasted pretty good, it wasn’t competition grade. I tinkered with a few recipes, but with the contest deadline looming, I realized that none of my vegan adobos would withstand Filipino scrutiny (which can be TOUGH).

While I was disappointed not to enter, I look forward to tasting the other adobos (and refining my vegan and gluten-free adobo for next year). The top 3 vote-getting dishes chosen by the Adobofest audience will advance to a final round live-tasting where the winner will be chosen by a judges panel.

Adobofest is Sunday, August 18 at The Station coffee shop on Beacon Hill (16th Ave South, Seattle, Washington 98144) from 12-5pm. Prices are: $6 for 3 tastes and a drink, $10 for 5 tastings and a drink, or $25 for all you can eat and drink.

For more details, visit the Adobofest event page on Facebook.

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Filed under Events, Filipino food

Vegan Filipino food—not a contradiction in terms

My friend Helen, who is vegan, and I like to joke that Filipino food—the food that I grew up eating—is the least vegan cuisine out there. It’s meat with a side of meat and some rice.

However, Helen remained curious about Filipino food and is a perseverant cook. She surprised me by making her own karioka, which is essentially a set of Filipino doughnuts on a stick. It turns out that karioka is vegan.

That piqued my interest, and I started wondering if there were other vegan Filipino foods. One day Helen and I were chatting on Twitter about a recipe by Astig Vegan for vegan lumpia, one of the quintessential Filipino foods.

I was surprised to find that lumpia wrappers are vegan. I had been sure that there they were made with eggs, but they aren’t. This revelation opened up a world of possibilities.

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Filed under Filipino food, For the Glow, Savory, So right, Sweet

Food fails. Food saves.

After triumphantly declaring, “I think I finally know how to cook,” the food gods laughed, and I haven’t been able to make a successful meal since then.

Last week I had an epic food fail while making dinner for my husband and son. I was making a very basic meal that I’ve made dozens of times before–chicken adobo, steamed broccoli and white rice–and I got every single part of it wrong. My adobo was underseasoned, and the sauce had no depth. Worse still, I overcooked the chicken, so not only was the meat tasteless, it was dry. I left the covered pot of broccoli on the stove too long so instead of bright green, tender-crisp broccoli, I had barely edible mushiness. I couldn’t even handle using a rice cooker! I put too much rice in my small three-cup cooker and not enough water so it came out hard and undercooked.

Adobo has been called the national dish of the Philippines, and it’s the Filipino food that I make with any kind of regularity for my family. So I really hate when my adobo isn’t good, especially because it’s so simple. Put meat in a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, onions and pepper, and slowly cook everything on the stove.

How could I get this wrong?

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Filed under Essays, Filipino food, Savory

Food for Thought writing contest winner

Congrats to Juliette Kaplan, the winner of the Bumbershoot “Food for Thought” writing contest. Her poem below deals with food and identity and fitting in.

I was the kid
who brought her lunch
in sticky

Tupperware was not cool.

When people asked me,
“Where are your parents from”
Like a well-rehearsed robot, I would recite,
“My mom is from the Philippines,
and my dad is from the Former Soviet Union.”
I thought he was from the Ukraine
But I just said what I heard from my mom.
Needless to say,
they were foreign,
with no experience with lunch time protocol,
Operational standards,
Social responsibility,
Or Peanut butter and jelly.

Oh how I longed for gushers and handisnacks,
Dunkaroos and chex mix.
But no.
Why buy special food for lunch, when last night’s dinner waits to be re-warmed?

My food did not look like colorful plastic jewels,
or glorious, cheesy orange goo.
I wanted to eat commercials, my parents fed me…
Eyeroll, please!

My mother’s chicken adobo, that she marinated for days
in a recipe that endured Spanish colonization,
Japanese occupation,
and American immigration.
Babushka’s mashed potatoes and Russian meat patties
that lie somewhere between hamburgers and meatloaf…
“What are you eating Julie?”
The dreaded question.
“It’s called catletka, it’s this Russian thing,” I would grumble, as I bowed my head in shame.

Or maybe it was
Similar to a lychee fruit, it came in cans of heavy syrup
and was transferred to Tupperware
for me to carefully balance
so it did not leak,
and make me as sticky and unappealing to other kids
as my bulky Tupperware lunch was to me.

Oh how I longed for a nifty paper sack…
But why on earth would we buy paper sacks,
when we have plenty of plastic ones
from the grocery store?
Tupperware did not fit nicely
into nifty paper sacks.

Lines of children
with lunch boxes with Velcro
and Disney pictures and superheroes
and a plethora of nifty paper sacks!
And then me,
trying to hide
my crumply white plastic grocery bag-
The handles tied into… not even a friendly bow,
but stiff, alert rabbit ears,
conspicuous, and scared,
Giving me away!
So desperate, so uncool.

“There’s no microwave at school, DAD!”
A lousy and fruitless attempt to be sure,
How could they ever understand?
“That’s ridiculous!” he said,
“Is there a kitchen?
Then there’s a microwave!”

I hated my stupid Tupperware,
and my quick, covert trips across the cafeteria
with the regretful request
to reheat
my uncool lunch—
that was really last night’s dinner.

But at least I dodged
Direct exclusion
when the trading frenzy erupted—
Fruit-by-the-foot thrown across the table,
egg salad, on white bread
flying overhead.
My Tupperware-encased,
Preservative-free, non-English words, did not fly among these kids…
Oh Tupperware, you were the source of my social demise.

But I forgive you, Mom and Dad,
for the years of anguish I endured
in the closed mind of the American school lunch room,
unwelcome to aromas of heritage and love.
Because now I’ll take Tupperware,
With delicious delicacies from your respective homelands
over boring PB and J,
any day.

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Filed under Filipino food, Food and race