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!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Cooking Class 1 - Pork Sinigang

One of our (family) goals this year is to pass on our (actually my) culinary knowledge to every member of the family. This involves extending our kids' cooking skills from making scrambled eggs (via the amazing microwave) to cooking real dishes. Frying hotdogs and sausages not included, or opening tinned food.

I know that with three 6yo's this is a daunting-leap-of-faith-massive task. But with a 12yo who just started Year 7 (high school by Australian standards) and a 41yo clueless-in-the-kitchen-aside-from-the-occasional-fried-rice husband, this should be an easy enough task. Yeah, right. Aside from the basic ingredients of salt and pepper, I shall need a little bit more patience, understanding, kindness, courage, tact, and less of being a control freak in the kitchen. So help me God!

The series shall involve weekend cooking lessons - either lunch or dinner, and shall also include some occasional baking for dessert and even pasta dishes. And will also cover familiarisation with kitchen utensils, gadgets and equipments and how to use them. "Yes honey, its called a garlic crusher!" Or even, "… meet the food processor!"

The first of a long series, we tackled this goal as planned, last weekend. The apprentices requested for a simple Filipino dish. A favourite in our home - the Pork Sinigang.

Pork Sinigang is a favourite Filipino dish, usually eaten with rice and may be served for lunch or dinner. It is a soup recipe, stewed with tamarind. The dish has the similiarity in preparation and some ingredients to the the Indonesian Sayur Asem, the Korean Canh chua and the Thai Tom Yam. The sinigang soup is characterised by the sour tangy taste, attributed to the inclusion of the tamarind. There is also the option for a bit a spice, by adding fresh long chillies or jalapenos in the preparation. The uniqueness of the sinigang recipe is the variety of preparation - as it can be prepared with pork, beef (meat cuts with bones are best used), fish and prawns. And in some restaurants in the Philippines, chicken sinigang is also offered.

With the innovations in food technology, a variety of mixes are now available to make most dish preparation much easier. In preparing sinigang, while some people still use fresh stewed tamarind, the availability of different brands of tamarind mixes such as Knorr, makes this an easy enough dish to start our apprenticeship. And while the mixes are solely Philippine produced, it is locally available in Sydney through the Filipino shops in Chatswood, West Ryde and more in the Western suburbs like Blacktown.

Our simple recipe involved:

1.5 kg pork neck bones (from the local butcher) I love more bones in my sinigang dish as it adds more flavour to the soup, and the kids love it too

2 25g sinigang tamarind mix

3 pcs tomatoes, quartered

1 large onion, quartered

1 bunch snake beans (sitaw)

1 bunch ong chai (Chinese kang kong), or if not available, we use Bok Choy which is equally lovely

First step is to boil the meat to make it tender, with about 2 liters of water. With the pork neck bones, it took about 45 minutes.

Once the meat is tender, put in the onions and tomatoes and bring to a boil.

When the tomatoes have softened, mash them using a fork.

When boiling, add the sinigang mix, stir and bring to a boil.

Add the snake beans and simmer for 2 minutes.

Turn off heat, and add the kang kong and cover.

Normally, I would add some long chillies (green jalapenos), but we did not have it in stock at the time. The chillies are added whole, so it does not really make the soup spicy. Otherwise the girls would not have enjoyed it so much.

There is also the option of including eggplant and taro (gabi), and sometimes leeks and radish like Marketmanila's recipe here (with lovely photos to match!) and more sinigang recipes in Filipino Food Recipes here, and Pinoy Mix here.

And so, our project is moving forward with the success of our first series. I look forward to next weekend for the 2nd series and hopefully continue on till the 52nd week of 2010. I'm planning to prepare the simple baked spaghetti in bechamel sauce this weekend. I just hope my apprentices are as keen and excited. Or else the Donald Trump in me might just holler - "You're fired!"

* This post is written in first person, compared to the usual 2nd person style in previous posts. Just think of it as Mum, thinking out loud.

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