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, November 26, 2013

Mixed vegetable soba noodles salad with peanut sauce

Traditional Filipino cuisine does not have a lot of fresh vegetable salad dishes in its repertoire.  Most vegetables are cooked in soups or stews, some are steamed and served with a side of dip or some form of chutney or relish.  It's quite surprising because even with the warm tropical climate, cooked vegetables are almost always the only option in most homes across the island.  The reason is that while there are available salad vegetable varieties, they are pricey as they come from the upper north or the south where the climates are cooler.   

Growing up, I can't remember salads serve on the dinner table except for the usual tomato-onion-green mango that comes with a good barbeque, classic salads are only to be had when dining out in restaurants.  

Living in Australia has opened a lot of fresh green doors for me.  My kids are now accustomed to fresh salad and veggies on the table, lettuce in their sandwiches, cucumber slices in their lunch box... the works.  Especially as the season becomes warmer, fresh and cold salads are the best way to serve the day's healthy portions. 

Now the real hero here is the dressing, aka peanut sauce.  The soba noodles add the healthy protein touch.  This recipe is adapted from Pallavi Gupta through Honest Cooking.

To  make this salad just add vegetables which you are keen to eat fresh and raw - cucumbers, lettuce leaves, cherry tomators, grated carrots, slices of capsicum. You can just play around with the quantities.   But for this salad of 4 serves, I used:


60 grams organic soba Hakubakku brand, cooked according to packet instructions then drained through cold running water.
(I used 2 bundles from the 90g pack)

half capsicum, julienned

6 pieces cherry tomatoes, sliced in two

1 cucumber, sliced

1 carrot, julienned

1 brocolli, stems removed

2 stalks of spring onions, sliced

For the sauce:

1/3 cup smooth peanut butter

1 red chilli, finely diced

1 clove garlic, finely diced

2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

60 ml warm water (or less)

Combine the peanut butter, chilli, garlic, sweet chilli sauce and soy sauce in a bowl and whisk together.  Add the warm water a tablespoon at a time and continue whisking until you get the desired consistency of the sauce.

 Place the cold soba noodles in a large bowl, add the vegetables and toss together.  Drizzle the peanut sauce when serving.

Tips and tips

* You can add as many or as few raw/fresh vegetables in this salad.  Just make sure you slice them thinly (julienned).

* You can make the sauce as thick or as thin as you like, just add (or don't add) warm water as you prefer.  

* I made this a day ahead and it became think in the fridge.  I diluted it with a little bit of warm water and added a few more teaspoons of sweet chilli sauce to suit my taste.  

Perfect for the warm spring weather for a weekday lunch, entree or to accompany hot BBQ on a weekend.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Coconut macaroons - Filipino style

There are a few things that make the Filipino home.  Besides the rice cooker and on ready supply of soy sauce, rice and fish sauce, there are the usual things around the home that adds to the Filipino touch. 

There's the tabo in the bathroom, a framed art work of the Last Supper, wooden spoon and fork tandem on the wall and of course the magic mic - your ticket to endless hours of at home videoke. Filipinos do love to sing.  Well majority of us do.  Never mind if one can't hit the notes, karaoke at home is one of the Filipino's fave past time.

Now one of the traits that standout in the Filipino is resilience. We have had bouts with typhoons every year and corruption in the government, and all sorts of negativity that makes it a nation unattractive to some if  not a few.  With the recent calamity that wreaked devastation across the Southern part of the Leyte in the Philippines, properties and lives lost, Filipinos rise to the occasion.  I can't begin to write about how, seeing the horrific footages in the news both local and abroad has made me feel.  While our families and friends are safe away from the devastation, it is my home country and I felt so helpless that I'm so far away when I could be helping out there, on the ground.  I stopped using social media for awhile and have stopped watching the news.  I thought to give it a rest - posting food photos as a bit of respect for those who are going hungy in the typhoon savaged towns.  And while away, have organised a little fundraising donation drive in our little circle of family and friends.  Last weekend, we celebrated my mom's 75th birthday and asked guests to bring a can or two from their pantry to donate.  Sometimes we take it for granted that we have a full pantry with stuff we don't need and it put things in perspective.  Guests brought in more that just a can or two, they even shopped new items and the kids collectively donated lollies put in small ziplock bags with a message - "to the children affected by the typhoon, we hope this makes you smile."  I always say, no help is too small.  We delivered our donations this weekend through a Filipino-Australian community with their 48hr Response led and coordinated by Michelle Baltazar.  Thay have established a website Help after Haiyan and partnered with World Vision Australia to assist with the appeal.

While the devastation is horrific and rebuilding will be massive and will take years, the relief and help from all over the world is overwhelming!  It's heart warming!  It is touching!  So in behalf of the Filipino people, I'd like to say thanks!  Maraming salamat!  

Now back to blogging with this month's theme at the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop camp hosted this month by Nic Cooks with the theme "Say Cheese!" If you haven't read about Nic and her cooking adventures, you need to know that she loves cooking with cheese!  Why she makes her own cheese - check out her Cheesapalooza adventures!  And check out her Goats Curd Ice Cream for this month's SABH post!

So I thought I'd share the Filipinos love for cheddar cheese here.  I thought to make some Queso (cheese)  Ice Cream as its one of my fave store-bought from the Filipino shop, but time has failed me in between organising my mom's birthday party, family commitments, school, work, domesticity, yadda yadda yadda....   so instead, I am sharing a long forgotten post (in my drafts folder) for the a Filipino favourite cupcake - coconut macaroons.  Why it has cheese of course!  Which is supposed to be a secret ingredient, but I'm spilling it here anyway.

This recipe is adapted from Filipino Food Recipes. To make these coconut macaroons.


2 cups dessicated coconut

1/2 cup (60g) plain flour

80g butter, softened

1 cup (200g) caster sugar

2 eggs

1 395g can condensed milk

1/2  cup grated tasty or cheddar cheese

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 180*C.

Line 2 cupcake trays (12 1/2-cup capacity) muffin tray or a 24 mini cupcake tray with liners.
In a bowl, mix together the flour and dessicated coconut with a spatula.  Set aside.

In a bowl on a standmixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and creamy in texture.

Add the eggs one at a time and continue beating.

Add in the condensed milk and cheese and continue mixing. 

Add the dry ingredients (flour and dessicated coconut) and mix on slow speed until incorporated.

Spoon into prepared cupcake trays 2/3rds full,  and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden.

Place in a cooling rack to cool for 10 minutes.

Tips and tricks:

*  You can add another 1/2 cup of grated cheese to the mixture like I do, as I like it really cheesy. This will not affect the texture of the macaroons.

* Do not overbake as they will be hard as a rock if you do.  When they're golden on the top, take them out of the oven and onto cooling racks.

 * These tastes even better the day after they're made.  They can keep at room temperature in an air tight container for a week.

* These are great as homemade gifts too!


Tuesday, November 05, 2013

In my kitchen - November

I am joining this month's series of In My Kitchen hosted by Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.  It's a welcome break from the cooking and baking challenges and hops that I join and always a fun and lovely way to meet other kitchen enthusiasts.  Thank you Celia for hosting and hopefullly, I can continue on to join the challenge from here on.  

In my kitchen this month...  are these lovely smoked olives I got from the markets.  They don't have a brand or a name but they are made by a family who knows about smoked foods.  They also have smoked salmon fillets and they were divine!  I caught them at the North Sydney markets one weekend.  Their claim - these are the best taking olives in the galaxy!  I couldn't agree more. 

In my kitchen... is this tiny box of Ceylon tea fresh from Sri Lanka from an office colleauge who recently did the off-the-beaten-track road trip from Sri Lanka to India.  Food gifts are the best, don't you think?

In my kitchen... is this handsome fast and furious juice extractor.  I got sucked into it while browsing through the TV channels and I'm loving it!  I have a glass or two of nutriblasts a day!  Have you seen this on TV?  Or maybe you already own one?

In my kitchen.... are these two new ingredients I got from this wholesale shop I discovered just recently Oriental and Continental Foods.    This vanilla extract was only $4 and the tahini sauce is $3.  I got so many more stuff but these are worthy of mention.  And oh, they also have more than a dozen varieties of sea salt flakes - from pink Himalayan to citrus infused flakes.  

In my kitchen... is this lovely French wire basket/tray I scored from the local Scouts car boot sale recently.  I do love a good bargain when I see one. 

In my kitchen.... are bunches of these kale.  Not grown but bought from weekend markets.  Kale has been making its way in our kitchen since we bought the Nutribullet.  Well, kale and lots of the other green good stuffs.

In my kitchen... is this kneading mat. Something I bought ages ago but never used.  But since I've been making empanadas lately, finally this mat has seen the light of day.  More use of this in the next months.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Barbecued pork belly cooked in capsicum paste


I love a good make ahead recipe.  Especially when it's something that can be used for grilled dishes (like my version of chermoula chicken)  and when it takes me outside of my (Filipino) comfort zone - where the usual marinades consists of soy sauce, vinegar and garlic.  This one caught my eye from the get-go - the small photo in the October 2013 issue of The Sydney Magazine of Mark Jensen's barbecued pork spare ribs was enough to leave me drooling and craving for this dish!  And when that happens, off to kitchen I go.

Red capsicums are a plenty at my local green grocer and they're cheap as! Although they came in different sizes.  But size and shape does not matter that this was on our table for a weenight dinner. It helps that I only work 3 days a week and Mondays and Tuesdays are quiet days to ponder and domesticate myself while the kids are at school and hubby at work. So I prepared the paste a day ahead.

Vibrant red!  They're so pretty!

Oh. The. Smell!  It was divine!!

Now the hero of this dish is the capsicum paste.   You make it a day ahead and it keeps in the fridge for up to 2 weeks (according to the recipe). 


125g of red capsicum, washed

2 heads garlic

2-3 pieces red chillis

salt and pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


 Preheat oven to 220*C.  

Place capsicums and garlic on a baking tray and roast for 20-30 minutes or until the capsicum skins have blackened.  

Place a rack and leave to cool.

Peel the garlic skins off and place the flesh in the food processor.

Peel and seed the capsicums and add to the food processor with the chillies, salt and pepper.

Process to a smooth paste.

Spoon into sterilised jars and top with olive oil.

Keep in the fridge until ready to use. 

Poured into a sterilised jar and topped with olive oil!

On the ready - to brush onto the pork pieces!

To make the barbecued pork ribs or belly:

1.5 kg of pork belly, sliced 1/2 inch thick strips

Generously rub on pork pieces and leave to marinade in a glass bowl, covered with cling wrap in the fridge - minimum 1 hour (or up to 4 hours)

Heat the BBQ grill or pan-grill and cook away.

Chop into small bite size pieces.

Enjoy with some coriander for garnish.  Serve with a slice of lemon or lime.  Best eaten with lots of rice.


* In the recipe, Mark suggested to place the roasted capsicums in a plastic bag for 15-20 minutes.  I guess this makes the skins peel off easily.

* The recipe called for julienned ginger and chilli slices for garnish.


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