Bringing To Life American Classic Meals: Philippines


I enjoy variety in my daily meals and I do not normally like eating the same thing twice during the same day.

A Fish Po Boy with Cole Slaw, Italian Spaghetti, Chili Dogs, Sloppy Joe, Buffalo Wings, Southern Fried Chicken are meals I had at home over the past week. Those are dishes I eat on a regular basis but not daily.

Awhile back, an American friend in Baguio, Harold, reminded me about Chicken a la King, so I made that a couple of times. A month or so ago, I made Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Napa Cabbage, Ground Round Beef and Brown Rice.

Today, I was thinking about bringing back a number of American Meals that I enjoyed in years past. All the ingredients are available in the Bacolod Area in local supermarkets. Hey, you can cook your favorites in Bacolod City!

A Few American Classic Meals

Homemade Hamburger Helper and Tuna Helper are EZ to make without spending P200 for a box of imported Hamburger Helper. Macaroni to make the Helper Meals, Hamburger and Tuna, is very inexpensive. Tuna Casserole with Egg Noodles are also easily made.

Locally sourced Bell Peppers are readily available and a great idea for me is to make Stuffed Bell Peppers.

Salisbury Steak and Hamburger Steak are American Classics to eat.


I do not care much for Filipino Chop Suey but I enjoy Chinese-American Chop Suey, served with Chow Mein Noodles.


Chicken & Rice, cooked together in one pot, remains one of my all time favorites. Another good dish is Shredded Chicken with Egg Noodles.

More recently, my wife made Chicken and Dumplings for he first time. She did an excellent job! She used boxed Bisquick to make the Dumplings.

My wife makes great Shepherd’s Pie and I will remember to ask her to prepare it soon.

We have not made Meatloaf in awhile, so I plan to bring that recipe back in the near future, with Mashed Potatoes. In Alabama, making a sandwich with leftover Meatloaf was always a treat.


I think I have just planned some of my meals in the days ahead.

It is time to get busy in the kitchen! Which meal should I prepare first?

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod!

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

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What’s For Breakfast?


I have read all the medical reports about how important the first meal of the day is…for years. For me, the first meal of the day is not usually Breakfast any longer but it is usually Brunch.

Cooking for one person is not fun for me, although I do at times. Only for me.

If I have leftover Pizza or Chili on hand, I will eat one or the other for Brunch. However, I do not have leftover Pizza or Chili on hand everyday.

Cooking Oatmeal or Poaching an Egg to eat on toast is a snap for me but I often do not want to. So, I constantly look online for the good Brunch Recipes. I also take a stroll down Memory Lane and think about what I ate for the first meal of the day when I was growing up. Usually somewhere in the Southern USA.

Many Brunch and Breakfast Choices

Pascual branded Greek Yogurt is available in our area and I can buy it by the case at the distributor, Asia Brewery. Greek Yogurt, Chickpeas and Feta Cheese is a recommended Mediterranean Breakfast or Brunch.

An Over EZ Egg Sandwich on an English Muffin or on your choice of Bread, with Cheese and Mushrooms is another suggestion.

Scrambled Eggs with Tofu and Curry Sauce does not float my boat! No, I will pass on that suggestion.

Avocado, Tomato and Cheese Platter for Brunch is something I can get into.

Hash Browns with Refried Beans and Egg of choice sounds good to me!

I like Steel Cut Oats and I like Rolled Oats but I do not want to eat those everyday over the long haul. Most of the Quaker Oats I see in our area are overloaded with Sugar. No thanks for me.

A couple of days ago, I had a Cheese Omelet on a split Croissant. It hit the spot!


In South Carolina, I had Deep Fried Catfish with Grits and Cornbread, Toast or a Biscuit more times than once. Always good and I wish I could eat it on Saturday! Also She Crab and Grits.

I like Eggs Benedict and I make it but I leave off the Hollandaise Sauce. Purists may not like it but I am the one eating the Eggs Benedict and they can prepare it the way they like it.

Dried Fish with Rice, Instant Noodles, Rice with Corned Beef/Beef Tapa/Tocino/Longaniza/Hot Dog and Fried Egg remain popular among Filipinos in our area for their first meal of the day. Do not forget the Coffee! I also eat those, often referred to as Tapsilog in the Visayas to cover all, other than just Tapa.


I enjoy Lugaw and my wife makes great Lugaw. Yellow Rice with Boiled Eggs made into a Porridge or she will leave off the Boiled Eggs and add Shredded Chicken Meat. Both are good but my wife knows I never, never, eat Eggs and Chicken together.

Pan de sal with Peanut Butter is a local Breakfast that I enjoy. A Southern version would be Cornbread with Honey or Table Syrup…and Butter. What about Cornbread Apple Fritters?

I like the purple colored Salted Duck Egg with Sliced Tomato but my wife advised me not to eat this as the first meal of the day. I asked her why not and she just told me..It is not good for you!

I never had the Elvis Special, Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich, deep fried after being dipped in butter. Or so the story goes, as I never had breakfast with Elvis!

I think Southern Cuisine has some of the best Breakfast and Brunch dishes, at least that I enjoy. I will eat Sausage Gravy over Biscuits even at supper time. I also enjoy Grits any time of the day or night. There is also Bacon Gravy over Biscuits.


If I have Biscuits, I will have a good Brunch or Breakfast or for any meal. The Dixie Special is a large Cathead Biscuit with Ham, Sausage Patty, Bacon, Scrambled Egg, Sliced Tomato and plain White Gravy. Now, we’re talking!

Whatta bout Ham Steak with Red Eye Gravy, Biscuits and Fried Apples?

Of course, Waffles, Pancakes and Johnny Cakes, aka Hoecakes, are good to me. The Native Americans in Florida had Fry Bread available, Corn as well, often with Gator Tail, Turtle, Raccoon, Bobcat, Deer or Otter.

Have a great Breakfast or Brunch!

I hope to see you one day, somewhere….all around Bacolod!

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

Tenderizing Pork Shoulder Ribs


I am trying a new method of tenderizing Pork Ribs and other cuts of Pork. when suspected of being…tough.

I made a Brine to marinate a rack of Pork Shoulder Ribs in the ref, for 12 hours. Water, Coarse Salt, Black Pepper Corns, Brown Sugar, White Vinegar and Toyomansi Sauce.

I had bought 2 racks of Pork Shoulder Ribs at SM Supermarket. I marinated the first rack in Pineapple Juice and Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauces, however, not long enough. The Pork Ribs were not as tender as we like them.

I really do not like boiling Meat before Grilling. The slow cooker will take the Pork Ribs right off the bone, over- tender, and I like the Rib Bones intact.

The Sauce Makes the Difference!


I often make my own BBQ Sauce, however, I also buy several different flavors of Commercial BBQ Sauce, readily available in Bacolod City Supermarkets. Bulls-Eye Original BBQ Sauce is a personal favorite. I also enjoy Kraft Mesquite Smoke BBQ Sauce and Hunt’s Hickory BBQ Sauce. Basting Pork Ribs on the grill with a thick BBQ Sauce should be near the end of the grilling because it will burn if applied too early. A bit of blackening is alright but I do not like solid blackening. I greatly enjoy BBQ Ribs!


Due to a time constraint, I put the Pork Shoulder Ribs on the Grill last evening after 10 hours of marinating, instead of at least 12 hours. On a scale of 1-10, I rate using the Brine Marinade for tenderizing…7.5.

The Pork Shoulder Ribs were tender enough and I did not want them falling off the bone.

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

Leftover Rice?


Leftover Rice? My wife cooks extra rice each day because she mixes some of the rice with other food to feed our Belgian Malinois, Tasha. Tasha is our pet dog, of course, and she enjoys eating the Rice dishes much more than eating commercial dog food. No doubt, a full dog is a happy dog!

What About Me?

I use White Rice to make several dishes I enjoy. Red Beans and Rice with Smoked Sausage, Black Beans and Rice with Grilled or Roast Pork, Stir Fried Rice and Spanish Rice.

Early on when I began cooking for myself, years ago, I did not know to use Cold Rice from the ref to make Stir Fried Rice but I quickly learned my mistake by asking what I was doing wrong.

Some people use leftover Rice to make Dirty Rice but I am not one of them. When cooking the Rice with all the ingredients together, wow, the Rice really soaks up all the flavors. Chicken Livers and Ground Beef make a much more flavorful Dirty Rice than using Chicken Livers and Chicken Gizzards. Onion, Celery and Bell Pepper round out the ingredients. Garlic is optional.


Rice Pudding can be made simply with Milk, Sugar and Vanilla Extract. To kick up your Rice Pudding a few notches, add Raisins, a beaten Egg and bake in the oven.

Rice, Ground Beef and whatever you enjoy adding make very good Stuffed Bell Peppers. Mushrooms are a great addition.

Deep Fried Rice Balls require more prep but nothing major. Cold or at least chilled Rice should be used. One-three Eggs, depending on how many Rice Balls you plan deep frying, grated Parmesan, Mozzarella or Cheddar Cheese and Japanese Breadcrumbs are the ingredients. Make the Rice Balls by hand and deep fry.

Milk poured over Leftover Rice, with sugar added, makes a nice Rice Cereal. I ate this often in the South, long before I ever came to the Philippines.

Rice is nice, when I use it to make Rice dishes, however, I am not a fan of plain white Rice as a side dish. If it has, at the very least, Gravy over it, I am happy.

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

The Evolution of Sisig and Mayonnaise


For years in the Philippines, Sisig has been associated with drinking sessions, as Pulutan. Also, lesser known, nutrition for pregnant women in the Philippines. However, these days, Sisig is a staple at Filipino Restaurants, most often served on a sizzling plate.

On the home turf, Sisig was made with pig cheeks, pig snouts, smothered with onions and laced with red hot peppers.

Maybe foreigners would not like pig ears and pig tails any better than pig cheeks but it is a step up.

Sisig has now evolved. Ground Pork, Ground Beef, Chicken Liver, Chicken Gizzard, Tuna, Squid, Shellfish are all being utilized to create Special Sisig. Other ingredients include Calamansi, Pineapple Juice, Black Peppercorns, Salt, White Onion and Chili Peppers. The new chefs on the block recommend garnishing Sisig with Mayonnaise and an Over EZ Egg.

Mayonnaise

Kewpie is probably not the go to Mayonnaise to put on your Cold Cut Sandwiches but it is good with Asian dishes. Like Sisig! In China, where I was an English teacher for 9 years, that was the only brand of Mayonnaise available where we lived, unless you took the A-Train to Hong Kong for shopping.

For years in Bacolod, I bought Home Brand Mayonnaise, Product of Freedonia, NY, but this year, I am buying Kraft Mayonnaise since it appeared on the scene. Surprisingly, I never see Hellmanns Mayonnaise in Bacolod City.

I have never tried Best Foods Mayonnaise, which I see everywhere. I have tried Lady’s Choice Mayonnaise in a pinch and that was it! It is not bad but it is not my choice.

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

How to Make Homemade Bacon in the Philippines


The Bacon Purists may give me the ho, ho, ho, but I make Bacon by what I refer to as…Organic Method. It really makes nice Bacon, tried and true since we lived in China, where I began making my own Bacon.

I do not use Prague Powder, Curing Salt, Salt Peter or whatever else many others use to make Bacon. I do not like playing with Nitrates!

The ingredients I use for Homemade Bacon are as follow. Of course, Pork Belly with rind or skin intact. Do not slice the Pork Belly at this point, as you want to season the entire slab, regardless of size. Sea Salt or the local Coarse Salt, Black Pepper, Fennel Seed, 1 Garlic Clove, Bay Leaves and Honey. You may add things like Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme if you like but I do not. I want to make Bacon and not recreate Simon and Garfunkel.

Concerning the Salt, since it is Pork, I do not use Kosher Salt on Pork but to give you an idea, that is the texture of Salt you need to use when making Homemade Bacon. The Salt ratio I use is one Tablespoon per each 1 lb of Pork Belly. It is better than Chemicals, in my opinion.


Rub all the seasoning on the Pork Belly, place it in a Zip Lock and put it in the ref. Turn the Zip Lock on the other side once per day. Seven days later, you have Bacon.

It is best to remove the Pork Belly on the 8th day and roast it in an oven at 200F degrees for at least one hour. Two hours if you like but not longer than 2 hours. If you have a meat thermometer, the Pork Belly should reach 150F degrees when roasting and then you are finished.

Once cooled down, the Pork Belly is ready to slice and Fry Up as Bacon. If you are not ready yet, put it back in the ref in a fresh, clean Zip Lock or Tupperware container until you are ready for Bacon.

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

Essential Pantry Items

pantry
For me, having a well stocked pantry and ref is not only essential but is like having money in the bank.

A friend recently asked me, what are the essential pantry items available in the Philippines. I told him what is essential to me may not be essential to him. We are all different. I cannot really think of any item I cannot buy in Bacolod, which I enjoy, within reason, of course. I will most likely never see Martha White Flour but the local White King Flour works great for me.

The Basics

There are a few basic items that I keep on hand at all times in the ref. Home Brand Mayonnaise, Crystal and Trappey’s Bull Original Louisiana Hot Sauce, Lea & Perrins Worcestershire, Heinz Chili Sauce, Morehouse Prepared Horseradish, Heinz 57, Morehouse Mustard-The Official Mustard of the LA Dodgers/French’s Mustard as backup, Any brand of deli peppers in a jar, Dona Ellena Olives, Kweichow Chili & Garlic Sauce, Parmesan Cheese, Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Hunt’s Hickory BBQ Sauce and Barrio Fiesta Sweet Bagoong.

We are not big on using salt but sometimes, it is required. Nowadays, I buy McCormick Iodized Salt. I also use Morton’s Kosher Salt but it is not Iodized and I do not use it in pork dishes.

I also keep the more common spices on hand. Black Peppermill, Sage, Thyme, Oregano, Italian Seasoning, Chili Powder, Turmeric, Bay Leaves and Cajun Seasoning of any brand. McCormick Cajun Seasoning is usually in stock at SM.

Canned Goods

Every kind of canned beans and peas that I see, I have in my pantry. Garbanzos included. The locally grown Mountain White Beans, famous in Hinoba-An Negros Occidental, and the White Sitao Black Eye Pea are the only dry beans we had much luck with, concerning coming out soft enough to my liking.

Tuna, Salmon, Sardines, imported Corned Beef, Vienna Sausage, Spam, Stewed Tomatoes, Sauerkraut, Imported Spaghetti Sauce in jars, are other items I keep on hand.

Misc

Misc Items are several kinds of Vinegar, including Spiced Vinegar, Soy Sauce, Patis Fish Sauce, local Molasses, Brown Sugar, Onions, Garlic, sometimes Ginger, Vegemite, Jif Peanut Butter, Smucker’s Strawberry Jam, Canned Peaches & Pineapple Rings and Corn Meal.

In the freezer, I always have Ground Round Beef and different Sausages. Also Fish Fillets, Wings/Leg Quarters Chicken, Pork Chops/Pork Steaks. Rarely Beef Steak these days.

I buy Marca Leon Vegetable Cooking oil, product of the Philippines but keep a bottle of Dona Ellena Olive Oil on hand.

Although I do not drink Red Wine often, I try to keep one unopened bottle on hand. Of course, cold beer in the ref at wholesale price. I never buy whiskey/spirits to keep on hand but on occasion for friends.

I hope you are also keeping your pantry well stocked. Shopping for food is one of my favorite hobbies.

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

Recipes Expats Should Know In The Philippines

chinese noodles
How about an EZ noodle dish?

I still have most of the contents of the package of Ma Mon Luk Chinese Egg Noodles. Product of Quezon City. Today, I was looking online for a new recipe. Not much luck with anything earth shattering but I put together a few ideas from what I read. A little bit of this, a little bit of that and that’s no lie! I may have come up with the Perfect Fried Chinese Egg Noodle dish. Well, maybe not a Monster Recipe.

I learned the recommended way to prepare Chinese Egg Noodles from Sun Ting Wong. No joke! It is best to boil the noodles until they are halfway done. Drain the noodles, set aside and toss with a little olive/peanut/vegetable oil to prevent sticking. You choose the oil of your choice. Next, the fun begins, as you get creative. There are really hundreds of ways to go next. There is a sign post ahead and you may be entering the Twilight Zone. Or the No Spin Zone. Regardless, have fun!

I decided to go with shredded pork, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, yellow onion and beaten eggs. I thought about shredded chicken but I do not ever eat scrambled eggs and chicken. Or any kind of eggs and chicken. No Bola Bola Chicken Sio Pao for me, thank you. I enjoy scrambled eggs in most of my noodle dishes.

I prefer stir fried pork with noodles. BBQ pork is also good with noodles.

Take It To The Limit…One More Time

It does not matter if you are listening to the music of the Eagles or listening to the Flying Burrito Brothers, you can do this! The Sky is the limit with your seasoning, herbs and spices. I like ginger, garlic, fish sauce and soy sauce. Stir fry the noodles and add the rest of your ingredients. For kicking it up and turning up the heat, I prefer Kweichow Chili Garlic Sauce from Taiwan. Sriracha will work and so will Red Pepper Flakes. As well as whole Chili Peppers and Jalapeno Peppers. All are available to buy in Bacolod City.  If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen! Joke only. Everyone does not like hot & spicy, so forget about it…if that is you.

Nutz! What are the best nuts to add to the noodle dish? I like cashews and fried garlic peanuts. I think just about any nut would work but maybe not redskin peanuts. Beer Nuts are always great! You could also make your own peanut sauce and leave off the whole nuts.

Have fun with your noodles.

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

What’s For Breakfast?

Biscuits-Gravy
Expats living in our area still enjoy their Fruit Loops, Cherrios and other breakfast cereals with milk. I do not remember eating those past being a teenager. As I got into young adulthood, that type of breakfast no longer appealed to me. Our son eats several brands of the American style breakfast cereals but he prefers the ones made locally, by Milo and Nestles. He is 10 years old.

I like variety at every meal but I know some people, foreigners included, who can eat the same thing day in and day out for breakfast. I am not the traditionalist who must have ham or bacon and eggs for breakfast. Unless we are traveling, breakfast is always at home.

The cover photo of my article is Biscuits and Gravy. My all time favorite breakfast and brunch. I sometimes make Sausage Gravy to eat over biscuits but plain gravy is fine with me! Anytime.

I keep tortillas in the freezer and I enjoy a breakfast burrito but not every morning. I do not always include meat in the burrito. I am fine with scrambled egg, cheddar cheese, onion and tomato, with salsa.

sos-on-toast
SOS is another old time favorite that my dad taught me how to prepare many years ago. My version in the Philippines includes deli corned beef because I have not run across chipped beef. Sometimes, I follow the World’s Greatest Navy Recipe and I use ground beef, tomatoes and onions to make SOS.

Rolled Oats is a simple stand by, with fruit. I pay less than P100 per bag for Australian Harvest Rolled Oats at SM and at Lopues. Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats are now almost P300 per bag. Forget that. When they were first introduced at Metro, they were much cheaper. I recently bought a bag of Golden Oats for P48. I tired it once and did not like it. At least it came with a free plastic drinking glass with a lid.

Avocado with an egg and toast is a good breakfast to me.

We have a 2 sided waffle iron and we can make both pancakes and waffles on it.

I have not completely shut out the Filipino style breakfast. The only fish I like for breakfast is fried catfish with grits.

Arroz Caldo, Lugaw, Pan de sal with Peanut Butter or Pineapple Jelly, Corned Beef with over EZ egg on rice, Tapa or Tocino with egg and rice, all work for me…but not everyday. I do not really care for the local Chorizo or Longaniza that I have tried. Not very much but I will eat it. It seems like the sweet Longaniza I used to buy in Manila was much better. In our area, the Negrense Chorizo is more popular than Longaniza. Often times, it contains too much fat for my liking. The Chinoy Longaniza is too hard and too salty for my taste.

I am no stranger to eating chili or fried chicken or pizza for breakfast. Tuna Salad on Toast was today’s breakfast.

Crispy-Hash-browns
Potatoes for breakfast is a favorite! Hash Browns, Home Fries, Rosti, Potato Rounds with fried Onions. I like them all. Tater Tots have been out of stock at K-Mart for several years now. I like them as well but I doubt I will ever see them again.

While growing up, my Mom would sometimes prepare breakfast food for supper. I thought it was cool. We had to be the only family who ate scrambled eggs, bacon, fried potatoes and biscuits for supper. That was my thinking back then.

Regardless of what we eat for breakfast, it is best not to skip it.

If you have any unusual or unique breakfast dishes that you enjoy eating, I would like to hear about it. I am always looking for new things to eat for breakfast. Or anytime for that matter.

Don’t forget…eat your breakfast.

I hope to see you one day, somewhere….all around Bacolod.

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

Fila-Terranean Menu

mediterranean
The heat index is certainly up there this summer. Before going to the supermarkets 2 days ago, I checked online at Chow Hound to kick start my memory and to get some fresh ideas for cold foods during hot weather. All the ingredients to make these dishes below, can be purchased in Bacolod City.

At the public market, my wife loaded up on pineapples, mangoes, avocados, pears and apples. We are set to fly with our Fila-Terranean Menu.

Let’s Begin The Good Food!

My wife did most of the preparation but I threw out a few ideas, such as adding raisins to the cold Macaroni Salad. I prepared Ham Salad, using leftover Ham from an imported canned Ham, which I had actually forgotten about being in the freezer.

Chickpea & Pasta Salad is another good idea that I found, served chilled.

Cold Chicken Salad is always good to me on a hot summer day. I was reminded about this one when I read an article on the Bacolod Food Hunters about Roli’s Restaurant is open again in Bacolod. Roli’s first opened in the 1940s and their Chicken Salad Sandwich on toast is the best found in a restaurant in our area. Thank you for the tip, Martin!

I have yet to see fresh artichoke in our area but the canned version is available. Cold Pasta Salad with Artichoke is another great idea to beat the heat.

Filipinos may not like this one but it works for me. Cold Tuna and Rice Salad. Yes, the rice is cold, right from the ref. Throw in a few green olives and sliced tomatoes to kick it up a few notches!

How in the world could I forget about Gazpacho, the ultimate cold soup? This is a great one.

Salmon Salad. I have 1 can of Bumble Bee Pink Salmon on hand. Add chopped celery, chopped red onion and chopped dill pickles.

There isn’t a type of noodle that I recall, which cannot be made and served cold. Robin Hood Noodle Manufacturing Company is in Bacolod City. I buy their Hokkein Noodles at Metro, which are already in their ref showcase. These are fresh noodles, not the instant style, also called wet noodles.

The first time I had a cold noodle dish was in the airport in Tokyo, about 30 years ago. It was either Soba or Udon Noodles. At first, I was turned off because I was expecting a hot noodle dish but the more I ate, the more I liked it.

Have fun with your hot summer cold menu!

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~