Chinese-Style Chicken and Pork Adobo

Oh, adobo. Filipino families across the world have such fond memories of you! And depending on the region, we will have different versions of adobo. My mother, who comes from Iloilo, makes her adobo dry, with mountains of garlic, crisp and crunchy and flavourful. My wife, who grew up in a Filipino-Chinese household, knows adobo for its salty-sour soy-based sauce and hard-boiled eggs.

For this particular blog, we whipped up the latter.

Ingredients

  • Half a kilo of pork belly, cut into bite-size pieces (approximately an inch wide per piece)
  • Half a kilo of chicken pieces, preferably drumsticks or wings
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • At least four cloves of garlic, chopped or just smashed (we like the skin on)
  • Five tablespoons soy sauce
  • Five bay leaves
  • Two tablespoons brown sugar
  • Six hard boiled eggs
  • Two cups water, or to preference

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large nonstick over medium high heat. Add chicken pieces, and cook until lightly brown. Add pork cubes and brown sugar, then sauté for another five minutes or so, until meat is cooked.
  2. Add soy sauce, bay leaves, and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium strength, and simmer until meat is tender, about 45 minutes. Add water if levels of sauce get low.
  3. About 15 minutes in, in a separate pot, put six eggs and fill with water until eggs are submerged. Add a teaspoon of salt, and bring water to boil. Once water boils, remove from heat and let eggs stay in water about ten minutes. Peel.
  4. When meat is tender, add hard boiled eggs to adobo. Simmer for about two more minutes, gently stirring, and transfer to a large bowl. Serve with piping hot rice.

“Jollibee Night” at Lolo and Lola

Last night, I took the family to Lolo and Lola, a popular Filipino restaurant here in Canberra. It was “Jollibee Night” for us, and the owners were serving up their spin on some of Jollibee’s most-loved classics, including Chickenjoy and Burger Steak.

It was the first time for my wife and me to take our kids, and we were concerned they wouldn’t appreciate this Fil-Aussie take on their favourite foods. But our fears were completely unfounded, because they enjoyed it immensely!

The regular-sized order of “Burger Steak” featured three large patties of delicious Australian beef cooked in a rich, thick mushroom sauce. Served with shallots atop the dish, Lolo and Lola‘s Burger Steak was a big hit with Nathan, who wolfed down two of the three patties.

This Canberra Filipino restaurant did its best to replicate the famous Chickenjoy fried chicken. The flavour was quite similar, not exactly the same, but very good. The regular-sized order had about eight drumsticks, of which about half were taken by Nicola, can you imagine?

Finally, a trip to Lolo and Lola wouldn’t be complete without their signature crispy bagnet. What makes theirs different from pretty much any other bagnet I’ve had is the brilliant skin, which expands to chicharon-size proportions. Crispy and delicious, this is always the highlight of our trips to this Filipino restaurant in Canberra.

The total meal cost us less than AUD60, not too shabby for a family of four, with several leftovers for takeaway. We’ve always enjoyed our time at Lolo and Lola’s, and highly recommend them for anyone in Canberra looking for a taste of Filipino cuisine at its homiest and most delicious.

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Lolo and Lola is located at 3 Watson Place, Watson ACT 2602. They don’t accept bookings, lol.

Kid-friendly tuna salad sushi

For my son’s lunch the other, I made tuna salad sushi. It was so easy to make, and a joy to watch him devour! LOL

Step 1. Prepare the sushi rice. Cook a cup of uncooked rice according to instructions. (I prefer one cup of uncooked rice to two cups of water.) While the rice is cooking, dissolve a tablespoon of sugar and a dash of salt in a third-cup of rice vinegar. Once the rice is cooked, transfer to a large bowl, and stir the vinegar into the rice until fully combined.

Step 2. Prepare the other ingredients. Combine canned tuna and mayonnaise to taste. Other ingredients in this sushi are shredded imitation crabsticks, basil leaves, chopped cucumbers, and cheese slices, cut into strips. Also, in a ramekin, combine soy sauce and a small amount of prepared wasabi paste, for dipping afterward.

Step 3. Assemble the sushi. On top of a sushi rolling mat (you can see it under the plate in the picture), lay a sheet of nori (Japanese seaweed). Imagine dividing your nori into three horizontal rectangles, and spread a thin layer of rice over the lower two-thirds. At the bottom of the nori, working your way up, layer the ingredients in a horizontal pattern. (I did mine: basil, tuna, cucumber, crabsticks, cheese.)

Step 4. Roll with it! Using the mat, start to roll the nori upwards, moving the mat underneath so it doesn’t fold with the sushi.

Step 5. Nomnom time! Dip in the soy-wasabi and enjoy!

Caprese salad hors d’oeuvres

The other day, I saw this beautiful picture from Jeremiah Bishop, and y’all, I was trigged.

I love me any good tomato dish, and the fresher the dish, the deeper the love.

I’d seen caprese salad work before, but the mozzarella that Jeremiah put atop his salad was ridiculous.

So I said to myself, I wanna make that.

Problem was, I didn’t have any large tomatoes. (As of this blog, though, Caths and I got some truss tomatoes, and I am STOKED.) All I had on the countertop where we store our veggies in winter was a box of cherry tomatoes.

So inspiration struck. I’ma make myself some hors d’oeuvres as a snack. Monica Geller and the French call ’em “amuse bouche,” which roughly translates “amuses the mouth,” into and trust me, my palate was tickled.

So what went into this caprese salad?

Cherry tomatoes, salami, feta, and capers!

That simple! Chopped up the tomatoes, layered the salami, feta, and capers, and topped with with buds of thyme. I rather liked it!

Mandisa, “Good News”

Contemporary Christian singer Mandisa has released the latest single from her album, “Out of the Dark.” Titled “Good News,” the song was birthed from Mandisa’s experience of sharing with the world the acceptance of Jesus Christ by her brother John as the latter’s personal Lord and Saviour.

The joy experienced by Mandisa is captured well in this ebullient praise party jam, written by the singer with AJ Prius and Matthew West. One of the outstanding tracks off Mandisa’s latest release, “Good News” bodes well for another Top 10 hit for the former American Idol alum.


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…and it’s been three weeks

Tomorrow, June 25, will mark three weeks since my kids and I flew into Canberra, Australia, to join my wife and start four years here while she pursues her second PhD (at the Australian National University).

In three weeks, here’s what I have learned about Australian life thus far:

1. Australian winters are brutal for islanders accustomed to tropical temperatures. When we arrived, it was a brisk 14 degrees Celsius; I awoke up this morning to -5 degrees. I knew it would be cold, but this is cold that I have never experienced in my life. Not even close. I mean, Seoul in 2012 gave us 4 degrees at its coldest. Even as I type this at around 1:30 p.m., it’s 11 degrees, while it’s 30 degrees in Manila, and I’m bundled up in a coat and thermal underwear.

For a Filipino used to 34 degrees, it’s rough. I feel my fat solidifying in my joints. My kids are adjusting well, but every day, my wife and I are bundled up in several layers of winter wear. It’s not the best recipe for staying incognito; most other Canberrans are lightly dressed while I do a Filipino version of The Mummy.

There are times when I miss the heat of the islands.

2. Getting around is a dream. The buses are on time and the city’s idea of traffic is a five- to six-car buildup. Between the accuracy of the transportation system–already fantastic, and a light rail transit will be operational by year’s end!–and the efficiency of reloading tickets, it’s fantastic, to be honest.

Also, about a week ago, we also secured ourselves a quality second-hand car. I like to believe that I’m a responsible driver, so upon thoroughly reviewing the ACT Road Rules Handbook, it took me a few minutes to get the hang of driving on the left side of the road and the right side of the car. I don’t do it often, but when I do, it’s such a pleasure to drive because the roads are level and the other drivers so considerate.

3. The city seems so clean and dust-free. I have to tell you that one of the best things about being here is how clean the city is. I look at the white buildings and I marvel at how they’re so white, with none of the unsightly streaks that often come with rain. I look at the sides of the roads and see no oil marks on the rain drains that often come with pollution. It’s shocking.

4. They really do shut down early here. A few friends told me that a lot of the shops close early, and they were right. By 6:00 p.m., most of the stores at the Canberra City Centre (a major shopping mall) were closed; the Canberra coffee shop I like to frequent closes at 2:30… in the afternoon. What this means is more time to do what we love, often with the people we love.

5. We love our home. For the past three weeks, and for the next three weeks, we’ll be staying at this lovely place in Watson, a district of the city. It’s so pretty. The picture at the start of this blog post is a pic of the backyard, where it’s just a great place to relax and enjoy time with your family or God. I love it.

Phil Wickham, “Great Things”

Contemporary Christian singer and songwriter Phil Wickham has released his new digital single, “Great Things.” In the past ten years, Wickham has consistently made singalong pop anthems that speak life to his fan base, including the number one hit, “This is Amazing Grace,” and his last carrier single, “Your Love Awakens Me” (off the album “Children of God.”

With “Great Things,” Wickham has crafted yet another catchy, radio-friendly praise track that sings of the great things Jesus has done. Easily singable and almost skillfully designed for congregational use in churches, “Great Things” continues to broaden Wickham’s crossover appeal, and is yet again another example why this journeyman remains to be one of Contemporary Christian music’s finest, if not underappreciated, male vocalists of his generation.

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