Saturday, August 21, 2010

my love affair with phở

who doesn't love phở? i don't think i have met anyone who hasn't fallen in love with this dish.  the problem i've had is that some places will have amazing phở and some that is just ok, yet i know that even the subpar phở is better than no phở at all.  one day, we decided to venture and try to make our own phở and to make it as authentic as possible.  i think we succeeded and if i may say it came out as one of the best i've ever had even compared to the ones made by good vietnamese restaurants.  one thing i have to let everyone know is it take at least a minimum of 8 hours of simmering to get the flavors. 


ingredients for soup base:

3 lbs bone marrow
2 lbs oxtail
5 star anise
5 cloves
2 cinammon sticks
1 large ginger (smashed and cut 4 ways)
2 onions (halved)
1/4 cup fish sauce (this will depend on your taste and more can be added if necessary)

for the bowl:

1 1/2-2 pounds small (1/8-inch wide) dried or fresh banh phở noodles ("rice sticks'' or Thaichantaboon)
1/2 pound raw eye of round, sirloin, London broil or tri-tip steak, thinly sliced against the grain (1/16 inch thick; freeze for 15 minutes to make it easier to slice)
1 medium yellow onion, sliced paper-thin, left to soak for 30 minutes in a bowl of cold water
3 or 4 scallions, green part only, cut into thin rings
1/3 cup chopped cilantro (

optional garnishes :

sprigs of spearmint (hung lui) and asian/thai basil (hung que)
leaves of thorny cilantro (
ngo gai)
bean sprouts (about 1/2 pound)
red hot chiles (such as Thai bird or dragon), thinly sliced
lime wedges
hoisin sauce
sriracha hot sauce

  1. boil bone marrow and oxtail for about 10 mins.  discard the water and wash the meat.
  2. add new water and then add all the remaining ingredients and put to boil for about 5 minutes.
  3. let simmer at medium low heat for about 8-10 hrs.
  4. if water level goes down, add more water and taste to ensure it's seasoned well.  add more fish sauce or salt if needed.
this is really the extent of making phở, i normally check the simmer every 2 hours and taste to ensure it's seasoned to my taste.  if you feel it's missing anything you can always add more clove or star anise since i believe it's the base of this soup.  

i always make so much that there is left over.  i normally freeze the rest for about 2 weeks just in case i crave the soup again.

happy eating!!!


Saturday, August 14, 2010

sale on pork belly

i woke up today wondering what i should do with all the pork belly i bought on sale the other day...and i went back to what my dad used to make for us when we were kids. pork adobo kapampangan style (dry version).  i remember when my dad used to make this, i would literally salivate knowing that i would be eating all the fat and garlic and savoring the after taste of the vinegar.  i grew up eating amazing food. my dad was the best cook i knew growing up, so i wanted to share this really fattening dish that will surely clog your heart.  but oh well, it's so good, once in a while indulging in some fatty food isn't such a bad thing.  i will just have to run about 5 miles to burn it off :).

Pork Adobo Kapampangan Style


1 lb pork belly cubed (if you want you can use pork butt for less fat)
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
20 whole peppercorns
4 bay leaves
5 cups water
10 cloves garlic (coarsely chopped)
3 tbsp vegetable oil


  1. put all ingredients together in a dutch oven and boil high for about 30 mins till all the liquid is gone.  there will be a lot of fat from the pork. use this fat with the vegetable oil to fry the pork belly or  you can discard the fat and just use vegetable oil.
  2. change the heat from high to medium.
  3. cook in oil till the pork belly is brown. (be careful since it's fatty it will splatter) 
serve hot and it's best with freshly made steamed jasmine rice.  I also make a dipping sauce with fish sauce, lemon and thai chili. 

happy eating!


Friday, August 13, 2010

my love for bitter melon

i know most people can't stand bitter melon, but for some strange reason i love this vegetable.  the bitterer the better(er)! so i want to share my recipe that i stole from a cook in the philippines that made one of the best dishes of my childhood life.

Sauteed Pork Belly with Bitter Melon


3 large bitter melons (clean and remove seeds then cut about 1/2 inch)
1/2 lb pork belly (cubed)
2 eggs (scramble the eggs)
2 tomatoes diced
1 onion diced
3 cloves garlic minced
1/4 cup fish sauce (more depending on taste)
3 1/2 cups water
2 tbsp vegetable oil
black pepper for taste


  1. boil pork belly in about 3 cups of water till all the water is gone.  drain the fat and add about 2 tbsp vegetable oil and brown pork belly for about 5-8 minutes.
  2. add garlic and onions and saute with the pork belly (about 3 minutes).
  3. add fish sauce and saute for another 1 minute
  4. add tomatoes and mix well, cook for about 8 minutes
  5. add the other 1/2 cup water
  6. add the bitter melon and let simmer for about 5 minutes (depending on how tender you want it, i normally like it crispy)
  7. add scrambled eggs, let sit for about a minute and mix together with the bitter melon.
    this is best with steamed jasmine rice ... 

    happy eating!!!

    Tuesday, August 3, 2010

    what's for breakfast? ...

    i woke up today with my stomach growling ... but i really haven't had the time to shop for food since it's been a lot of running around the last week ... i went to my fridge and i had 2 eggs and some left over bacon from the weekend ... so i decided to make myself garlic fried rice with bacon and eggs ... 

    Garlic Fried Rice with Bacon and Eggs

    5 cloves garlic (or as much as you want)
    half a bulb of onion cubed
    2 eggs (for scrambling)
    3 tbsp milk
    5 pieces of  bacon (cut into cubes)
    left over rice (about 5 cups cooked rice)
    1 tbsp butter
    3 tbsp soy sauce
    3 tbsp vegetable/canola oil

    1. scramble eggs and add milk, salt and pepper (season to taste)
    2. in a frying pan heat up oil and cook eggs till done
    3. set aside
    4. heat up wok and cook bacon till crispy
    5. add garlic and onion, cook till you smell the aroma (about 2 minutes) 
    6. add left over rice and mix well
    7. add the cooked eggs
    8. and lastly add the butter, soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste
    i guess this has been my go to breakfast for a long time now since its really easy, tastes good and it has all the ingredients of a hearty good breakfast ...well it can also be heart clogging!

    happy eating!!!


    Monday, August 2, 2010

    my first post -- i became a grandma

    i thought it was fitting to finally start blogging now that there are some major changes in my life.  i became a grandma on july 29, 2010, my oldest daughter jaclene gave birth to a beautiful baby boy.  noah ryan benicio, 7lbs 4oz and 20 inches tall.  He has my signature dimples and such a wonderful looking kid.

    this is such an amazing chapter in my life since this is the first boy in my family, after 4 girls i was looking forward to having my grandson come and join our family.

    its true what they say, it feels so much better this time around.

    i love you my little noah ryan!!!