Welcome to adobo-down-under!

Musings. Family. Food. Stories. Cooking. Recipes. Eating. A recipe journal. From simple Filipino dishes to challenging recipes and exciting gastronomical failures. This is for my girls to look back on for comfort, memories, laughs, love and lots of food!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Coconut tapioca with mangoes

So.  I made this for an office birthday lunch Thai cuisine theme.  And everyone fell in love.

I have made this at one of our street BBQ parties and it was a hit.

Hubby loves this and eats portions of it every day when its in the fridge, slowly partaking of the sweet dessert controlling himself.  Otherwise he could eat it in one sitting.

I posted this on FB and was asked the recipe.

Sometimes, what seems easy can be complicated when specific details are amissed.  For example. A friend of mine in Manila asked me for the recipe and so I told her what I did - boil and cook the tapioca, warm the coconut milk and add sugar, mix the tapioca with the coconut milk, pour into pyrex or tray, chill then top with mangoes.

Seems easy, right?

Of course, I didn't realise that she buys the tapioca from the markets cooked already.   
Was she suppoesd to boil and cook them again?  
Of course, this will make things a little less starchy as cooked tapioca bought from the markets has been washed.

Nor did it occur to me that of course absolutely, fresh grated coconut is available and that she will squeeze the milk out of them to come up with, say... 400ml.   
How many cups per squeeze can you get from one whole grated coconut?  Does she use the first extraction or the second extraction?

If she had followed what I said, she would have missed a few points.  Lost in translation. Or in this case, lost in ingredient translation.

And in other news - we are on our way to a new parenting challenge in the guise of the HSC.  As migrant parents, we obviously did not go through the High School Certificate (HSC) in Australia and now that our oldest daughter is going to take it next year, there's a lot of learning and understanding that is going on in my head and hubby's.  With all the media attention during HSC and the unnecessary stress that is highlighted in the news, kids can get easily swayed into the axiety parade.  HSC is somewhat similar to the NCEE that hubby and me took in high school going to college.  This is now known as NSAT (National Secondary Achievement Test) which is a goverment initiated as well.  The difference is that the NSAT is a test based on all general subjects taken during high school which becomes a factor when applying for a place in university.  Whereas the HSC is a test for subjects which the students have chosen from a list by the Board of Studies including general subjects, and which they are preparing for from Year 11 to Year 12.  The HSC exams result per se, is not the be all and end all of the assessment.  The results is a 50/50 mark of 1) school based assessments tasks, and 2) examination marks.  It seems pretty straightforward, until they introduced another acronym called the ATAR - Australian Tertiary Admision Rank which is a basis for acceptance into some universities.  Or so I think....  as you may already noticed, we are still learning.  And HSC is part of it... learning to be Australian.

If you're a migrant like us, or a Filipino family with young kids, I'll keep you updated on what have we learned from the HSC as a family.   And if you're a parent who went through HSC, please send me some encouraging thoughts. 

For now, here's a fool proof recipe for this sweet and easy dessert.


1 cup mini tapioca pearls

10 cups water

 2 cans 400ml coconut milk

1 1/2 cups raw sugar

1 mango, sliced into thin strips


Boil 10 cups of water.  When rapidly boiling, add the tapioca pearls and continue to boil.

Once the tapioca pearls are half way through cooking - the outside part of the pearls are transparent but the middle part is still white, turn the heat to low and simmer the pearls until cooked through, stirring occasionally to prevent from sticking to the bottom.  This can take from 30-45 minutes on simmer.

Drain the cooked tapioca pearls through a sieve under cold running water.  Set aside.

In a medium sized pot, boil the coconut milk then add the sugar, stirring to make sure the sugar has dissolved.  Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly.

Add the tapioca pearls and stir distribute the pearls throughout.  

If the sauce looks too much, scoop some of the sauce into a bowl and set aside.  The pudding should have enough sauce to tapioca pearl.  Reserve the extra coconut milk mixture.

Transfer to a pyrex or dish and chill in the refrigerator overnight, or 8 hours.

Top the pudding with the mango strips and served.

Tips and tricks:

*If you are using already cooked tapioca, simply drain the store bought pearls before adding to the thickened coconut milk.

* If using freshly extracted coconut milk, use the first extraction and about half a cup of water added per whole coconut.

* If after chilling, you find that the pudding is too thick, add a half cup of the reserved coconut milk mixture at a time until you get the desired consistency and thickness.

* These can be served in individual cups or serving glasses like my previous post with papaya, topped with any fruit you prefer.

* Fruit topping should be tropical like mangoes, papaya, purple yam or pineapple to suit the dish.  As coconut works well with tropical fruits.

* I have prepared this before in individual cups for my mom's 75th birthday party and topped them with purple yam / ube jam.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Prawn, chorizo and okra stew

Is there a dish or food that you've never ever eaten or tried because of some personal reasons?  Like it's wierd or disgusting?  Maybe you've seen balut? - the duck embryo that is a usual street food in the Philippines and  some parts of Asia?   How about frog legs which is a delicacy in Cantonese cuisine?  And lamb brains?  Ok, so as foodies, are we all supposed to be open to eating and trying anything and everything that is served us or is on offer when we travel ala Anthony Bourdain who has shown us in his TV series No Reservations where he tries fermented shark in Iceland (S1, Ep2), some nasty bits of sheep (S2-Ep1), and how we proclaimed the famou Cebu lechon in the Philippines (roast suckling pig) as the "best pig ever" (S5-Ep7). 

There are few that I don't eat because they are slimy (okra) and bitter (ampalaya or bitter gourd).  Hubby on the other hand, loves these two.  I usually buy them when available and then cook it, for him.  With okra, it is simply boiled then served as a side with some shrimp paste or fish sauce.  He loves them, and most any Filo I know as well.  Until recently, when I found a simple recipe on Food52 and thought why not expand his okra horizon. And also, start a long needed relationship with okra.  

And OMG!  Slimy!  But OMG!  Yum! So I'm hooked.  I love them, slime and all.  The soft texture when cooked complimented by the smoky chorizo and the fresh prawns was magical to the senses.  At first mouthful, I forgot all about the okra's fault (it's sliminess) and just fell in love.  I can't believe what I've been missing all those years!  So now, okra is my lobster (now that's not from Mr. Bourdain but from Phoebe Buffay from Friends S2, Ep14).

And oh, I forgot to mention no offense to anyone, but Vegemite is another one of those I least like.  One of those things we need to work on, learning to be Australian.

Inspired by the recipe from Food52, here's my simple version of 5 basic ingredients:


1 cup sliced chorizo

250g okra, sliced

2 tomatoes, quartered

2 cloves garlic, minced

500g fresh peeled prawns

dried chillies or flakes (optional)

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste


In a heavy based skillet, heat some olive oil covering the base

Add the chorizo and stir to cook, rendering the fat.

Add the sliced okra, season with salt and pepper and stir to cook the okra until soft and the strings from the okra begin to be visible.

Add the garlic, tomatoes and prawns and continue to cook on medium heat.

Turn off heat and add the chilli flakes if using.

Serve with steamed jasmine rice. 

Tips and tricks:

* You can add thyme while cooking for extra lemony taste. 

* I have used lemon rind and added it in the last minute of cooking.

* Add chopped parlsey for garnish.

* The recipe is a take off from the classic gumbo from southern Louisiana but will less ingredients to suit our preference.

Monday, October 06, 2014

The "Baked" gluten free brownies with raspberries

I'm a sucker for brownies.  And brownie recipes.  There can never be just ONE brownie recipe and I thought that I will never reach my limit for trying new ones.   Until I found this.  345g of pure dark chocolate goodness with some espresso mixed in and voila!  I've struck gold through my social network!

I only found this "Baked" brownie recipe through Selina who I virtually met on Instagram and makes these brownies by the hundreds.  Well, hundreds of squares that is.  The rich, dense, dark look of the brownies on the photos got to me.  And I could not stop thinking about these brownies until I actually bought some espresso powder and made them.  Now I don't just think of them, I make them every so often just to eat at home.  I use gluten-free flour which makes it even more dense and rich, and also add some raspberries for that sour factor.  It's sensational! 


1 and 1/4 cups gluten free flour*

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder*

345g dark chocolate 70% preferred, coursely chopped

250g unsalted butter, chopped into cubes

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

1 and 1/2 cups caster sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

5 eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups frozen raspberries (optional)


Preheat oven to 175*C

Grease and line the base and sides of a 9x13 pan with baking paper.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, salt and cocoa powder. 

Melt the butter, chocolate and espresso powder in a large bowl over a pot of simmering water.  Stir until the chocolate and butter has melted and the mixture is smooth.

Turn off heat but keep the bowl over the pot.  And add the sugars to the chocolate mixture and stir with a spatula or a whisk until completely combined.  Remove from heat.

Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and stir with a spatula until just combined. Add the remaining 2 eggs and continue to stir until eggs are incorporated into the batter.

Add the vanilla and stir.  Do not over mix.

Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture in 2 to 3, and gently fold with a spatula.

Pour onto the prepare tins. Scatter and press the raspberries on top of the batter (if using).

Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out with a few moist crumbs.*

Tips and tricks:

* If you prefer the original version, use equal amounts of plain flour.  I used the local (Woolworths) brand gluten free flour which is a combination of tapioca starch, maize, corn and rice flour.

* I usually don't test with a skewer but when the top looks matte-like (not shiny) I take them out of th oven.  


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