March 20, 2016

Pakbet with Lechon Belly Recipe

Pakbet with Manila Belly

PAKBET RECIPE by Chef Claude Tayag

Pakbet Sofrito: good for 1 kilo (2 lbs) mixed vegetables.
1/4 cup oil
1 pc medium-sized onion, peeled and chopped finely
8 pcs plum tomatoes, chopped finely
1 tbsp ginger strips
4 tbsp shrimp paste (bagoong alamang, fresh from wet market, not the commercial flavored type), washed and drained.
Knorr shrimp cube

1.  Heat oil in pan, sauté garlic and onion until translucent. Add ginger strips.
2. Add tomatoes, shrimp paste and let simmer for 1 minute.

10 pcs sitaw (yard-long beans), cut into 2-inch long pieces
1 pc 8” ampalaya (bitter gourd), cut lengthwise, remove white pith, and cut into 1” diagonally, or 6 pcs mini ampalaya, cut in halves and revove white pith.
5 pcs okra (Japanese variety, if available) cut in half diagonally
2 pcs eggplants, cut diagonally into 1/2” pieces
200 gms squash, peeled and cut into 1” wedges
Sigadillas/sigarillas – wing beans (if available)
Some green finger chilies
100 g Patani or broad beens (if available)
Some kalabasa (squash or pumpkin) flowers, buds and young leaf tips.

Cooking: Boil 2 cups water and add 1 tsp salt. Blanch each vegetable (except for the kalabasa flowers) separately as each one has different cooking time, using the same water (except for ampalaya, whose lquid you will discard.) Make sure not to overcook. Keep the remaining liquid. The flavor and nutrients of the veggies are in it.

In a sauté pan, heat the sofrito and add the remaining liquid from vegetable blanching. Allow to simmer till liquid has been reduced by half. Add the mixed vegetables and mix well. Serve immediately.

Optional: Top with chicharon, bagnet/lechon kawali, or boneless lechon, cut into 1” cubes. Another option is to top it with grilled or fried bangus, or boiled shrimps/prawns. Kalabasa flowers are for topping only. They can be served raw or made into tempura.

March 19, 2016

The Making of the Filipino Culinary Quilt by Chef Claude Tayag

Chef Claude Tayag’s talk during the launch of Food Crew PH

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard it all before. Why has Filipino cuisine not known internationally? But as every Filipino knows, ours is probably one of the best cuisines in the world. We love it, we are passionate about it, and we eat it every day. So, what gives?
But that question no longer holds true. We’re not the only ones raving about it. Back in 2008, Simon Majumbar, Cutthroat Kitchen and Iron Chef judge, told Metro Home magazine that he had “underestimated” Filipino cuisine. He called it “one of the few undiscovered culinary treasures left in the world, and if the people of the Philippines attacked the marketing (highlight mine) of their food with the same gusto that they apply to eating it, it could be the next culinary sensation.”

Anthony Bourdain wrote in his blog after the showing of the Philippine episode of No Reservations in January 2009 that sisig is “one of the world’s best beer drinking dishes,” whereas slow-roasted lechon from Cebu elevated the Philippines to the top spot in his Hierarchy of Pork. He also told Therese Jamora-Garceau of The Philippine Star that a tourism push could help the country become a food destination on par with Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. “It’s an unfair thing to capture in a few images and dishes the heart and soul of Filipino cuisine, but you promote that,” suggested Bourdain.

Andrew Zimmern, host of Bizarre Foods, told in 2012 that given a couple more years, Filipino cuisine would be “the next big thing.” In an interview with PEOPLE Magazine, he also ranked Filipino cuisine second among his Top 10 Food Trends of 2013. The Filipino food movement, he said, will one day be traceable to Paul Qui (a Fil-Am Top Chef winner) serving dinuguan (pork blood stew) at his restaurant Qui in Austin, Texas.
Last March 2015, we at Bale Dutung were in Singapore to join the World Street Food Congress organized by Makansutra founder KF Seetoh. We were invited to sell pork sisig at the 5-day congress, together with Dedet de la Fuente of Pepita's Lechon and Paul Qui selling his fish kinilaw and chicken inasal tacos in a food truck. Well, to jump ahead of my story, the three of us had probably the longest queues among the 24 vendors coming from different parts of the world. During the last night at the farewell party, Seetoh approached us saying: "Filipino cuisine is so good, man! Why are you hiding it form the world?"

There are two points I’m leading up to by citing these: One, it’s been a marketing problem from the start. Two, we need to serve our food the way it is. All 4 food writers – Majumbar, Bourdain, Zimmern and Seetoh – love it just the way it is. It doesn’t need to be presented the Western way or glossed over. Remain true to its taste and essence, just use better-quality ingredients, leaner cuts of meat, fresher produce, and make sure to adhere to hygienic practices.

Of course, the proverbial proof is in the actual eating, especially with the emergence of several upscale Filipino restaurants here and abroad. But which Filipino cuisine to push one may ask, given the cultural diversity of our archipelago?

The phenomenal rise in popularity of the Ilocano Bagnet, Pampango Sisig, Ilonggo Chicken Inasal, Cebu’s Boneless Lechon, or Cagayan de Oro’s Sinuglaw into the national culinary scene is a good illustration on how the best, or at least the most popular, of a regional cuisine actually takes part in weaving the quilt that makes up Filipino cuisine as a cohesive whole. Is it by coincidence that the DOT’s “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” logo has the Philippine map woven like our tightly-knit banig (mat), with its multi-colored mosaic representing the different regions/cultures that make up our nation?

The emergence of chef- and/or regional-centered Filipino restaurants is a clear proof that there’s a local market to sustain them. The Filipino diner has come of age: He goes out with an open mind and palate. There has been a rediscovery and appreciation of the sheer diversity of our cuisine.

If we were our own worst critics before, we could be our best ambassadors today. Filipinos have finally found pride in the sariling atinWe may be late bloomers, but we have definitely taken off for a long haul across the Pacific and the world.

The resounding success of the Madrid Fusión Manila held last year in April delivered the message loud and clear, not only to the Spaniards but to the whole world! We rose above divisiveness (sarili/self) and showed the world what we (bayan/nation) have to offer. And yet, initially, it was this sarili/self that was highlighted in each of the three days of the culinary conference – Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, each one given a day to showcase the best it has to offer, and it wowed the palates of the 1,400 foreign and Filipino delegates. There was cooperation, and most importantly, there was mutual respect of our differences. There was unity in diversity. It was from this heap the bayan/national cuisine emerged, and conquered the world by storm! It's a proud moment for us Pinoys.


The Ilocanos’ most popular contribution to Philippine cuisine is perhaps the pakbet (pronounced pak-butt, a.k.a pinakbet), for one can find it anywhere you go in the country. It has traveled the length of our archipelago brought about by the Ilocano migration to greener pastures. Yet, this seemingly simple vegetable stew elicits much debate as to what the genuine article is, perhaps much in the same way as adobo does. But what is “authentic” nowadays, as most traditional dishes have been transformed into different variants and interpretations, although each adaptation credits its origin by calling it by its original name. Much of Filipino dishes are cooked in conformity with the maker (to taste) and not to some codified recipe.

Ilocano tradition dictates how specific the veggies are cut, and the manner of cooking, placed in a palayok or earthenware pot in layers, doused with bagoong isda (salt-fermented anchovies), covered and steamed in its own juices. The pot is given an occasional shake. After all, its original name comes from pinakkebet, literally meaning “to cook till wrinkled, shrunken”. More often than not, the poor vegetables, small as they are, are all dull brown in color and wilted beyond recognition (much like ratatouille, perhaps?). And, if the gods are kind, chicharon (pork rind) or bagnet (lechon kawali or crispy pork belly) may be added.
Pakbet’s combination of vegetables may vary, from the bittersweet ampalaya, whose bitterness defines much of Ilocano cooking; the slimy okra; sitaw or yard long beans; sigadillas or winged beans; lima beans, green finger chilies; to the eggplant, having a pleasantly bitter taste (again, that Ilocano thing) and spongy texture, that, when eaten, leaves a somewhat biting sensation to the upper mouth.

Anathema to the purists is the use of bagoong alamang or shrimp paste, which is preferred by the non-Ilocanos, to be sautéed with onion, garlic and tomatoes (pls. refer to pakbet sofrito). Kalabasa or squash in pakbet is also a big no-no, but then included in most pakbet outside Ilocolandia. Ginger strips are also added after sautéing the garlic and onions, which this author subscribe to, to somehow neutralize the fishy smell/taste of the bagoong, of either fish or shrimp.

In the runaway bestseller cookbook Kulinarya (now on its fourth printing, available in National Bookstore and Powerbooks nationwide), the vegetables are blanched separately as each one has a different cooking time, to ensure they are cooked but remain firm. A little salt is added to the boiling water for blanching to help retain the veggies’ natural color. Blanching the ampalaya also lessens the bitterness. Kulinarya aims to inspire today’s kitchen practitioner the best practices in the selection of ingredients, its preparation, presentation and understanding of Filipino cuisine. To paraphrase an old cliché, the proof in the adobo/pakbet is in the consistency and presentation. 

March 18, 2016

The Launch of Food Crew PH

Food Crew PH was launched last March 12, 2016 at The Cookery Place in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City. The event started with an introduction of what Food Crew PH is about. Afterwards, Guest Speaker Chef Claude Tayag, talked about the Philippine Culinary History and Trend. He linked his presentation with the Pakbet dish he demonstrated using Knorr Cubes. After the dish has been cooked, the Digital Food Influencers were grouped and were asked to style their own plates provided by Boqueria Lifestyle Market along with slices of Lechon Belly from Manila Belly. 

The styled dishes were served during lunch together with Manila Belly’s Roast Chicken, Seafood Aligue Fried Rice and Mango Coconut Panna Cotta. 

Guests also went home with gift bags containing the following: Knorr Cubes, Knorr Sinigang Mixes, Knorr Meal Makers and Knorr Liquid Seasoning; Lady’s Choice Mayonnaise and Sandwich Spreads; Selecta Ice Creams; Quaker Good Start; Nestle All Purpose Cream; Eden Cheese; Cadbury’s Chocolate; and Vita Coco.


The Philippines has a growing base of internet users. According to the latest data gathered 2015, out of the population of 100 million, 44% are active internet users and 40% of those are active on social media. Filipinos spend 6 hours online and 4 hours of that are being spent on social media. These statistics alone can already give us an idea of how digital media is fast becoming a powerful tool of communication and one of the platforms that are growing its presence in the digital world is social media. Creating, sharing, and exchanging information on different social media channels allowed food brands and public relations agencies to look into finding quality and reputable online food influencers to work with. That’s where Food Crew PH comes in.
Founded by B’ley R. Villones and Seanta P. Reyes and just recently launched last 12 March 2016, Food Crew PH is here to build a community of Digital Food Influencers. With the mission of gathering likeminded individuals who have the passion for creativity in helping to promote and market the ever-growing Philippine food industry, Food Crew PH aims to give more value in creating and sharing information to the world. Another objective of Food Crew PH is to provide continuous learning to the Digital Food Influencers by implementing workshops and trainings to elevate their creative skills.

Food Crew PH is the first step in realizing the bigger goal of creating Food Network PH, an online food platform that aims to bring Filipino food lovers together in supporting the Philippine food industry through digital social media. Food Network PH will be composed of different channels such as Food Buzz that talks about food news and events; Food Recipes that acts as a repository of user-generated recipes; Food Places that includes restaurant directory, menu, and reviews; Food Market that does e-commerce; and Food 7107 that supports food tourism in the Philippines. With all of these plans in the pipeline, it’s going to be an exciting ride for everyone! 

March 12, 2016

Mediterranean Chicken with Mango Salsa Recipe

Recipe serves: 4     Prep Time: 2 to 4 hours (with marination)     Cooking Time: 20 minutes 

Mediterranean Chicken
600g Chicken Breast
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Chicken Cube, crushed
2 tsp Oregano Powder
1 tsp Cumin Powder
1 tsp Chili Powder
2 Tbsp Lime Zest
Salt and Pepper

Mango Salsa
2 cups Mango, chopped
2 cups Tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup Green Pepper, diced
1/2 cup Onions, minced
1/4 cup Parsley, minced
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mediterranean Chicken
1. In a saucepan, add all the ingredients. 
2. Marinade chicken with the mixture. Chill for 2 to 4 hours.
3. Remove chicken from refrigerator. Grill until cooked on both sides.
4. Slice chicken before serving.

Mango Salsa

1. Mix all ingredients.
2. Adjust taste by adding salt and pepper.

March 4, 2016

Wolfgang's Steak House in Manila!!!

Fortunate to be part of the pre-opening dinner of Wolfgang's. The son's owner, Peter Zwiener, hosted the Media dinner. Peter is Wolfgang's Steakhouse's President and Managing partner. He's the one in-charge of the brand's global expansion. 
Rated as one of the best steakhouses in New York with nine branches across the United States, three in Japan, one in Seoul, Wolfgang's Steakhouse opened its first branch last February 2016 in Manila at Newport Mall at Resorts World.
The steakhouse is named after Wolfgang Zwiener, who opened his eponymous restaurant after having worked as a head waiter at the legendary Peter Luger's steakhouse in New York for more than 40 years. It was during those years where he gained extensive experience in the dry aging process of USDA Prime quality beef as well as the steak high temperature broiling preparation process - key elements which would eventually evolve into Wolfgang's unique philosophy for excellence.

The menu was carefully selected so that we can have a preview of their best-selling, best-tasting dishes. While waiting for appetizers, they served us with bread which I truly a adored. I tried all of the appetizers and my personal favorites were the Tuna Tartar, Wolfgang's Salad and the Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail.

Tuna Tartar
Prawn and Pomelo Salad
Crabmeat Cocktail
Wolfgang's Salad
Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail
Beverly Hills Salad
Part of the appertizer, was this yummy housemade Bacon!!! Champion!!! Oh my, oh my, it was soooo gooood!!!
For seafood dishes, we had fish and lobsters.  Definitely, the lobster is a must-try!
Norwegian Salmon
Yellowfin Tuna
Red Snapper
3lbs Jumbo Lobster
For the steaks and chops, we had Porterhouse, Ribeye and Lamb Chops. They all tasted superb, meat was so flavorful and tender, cooked perfectly.
The restaurant offers strictly USDA Prime beef which is dry aged on its own proprietary designed aging room under a controlled temperature and humidity environment for an average of 28 days. Dry aging is a process which enhances tenderness and flavor in beef. During the process, the beef's natural enzymes break down the connective tissue in the muscle which leads to more tender beef. At the same time, moisture is evaporated from the muscle, creating a greater concentration of beef flavor and taste.
USDA Prime Porterhouse

USDA Ribeye

Lamb Chops
You can also add these side dishes to your Mains such as Creamed Spinach, German Potatoes, Mashed Potatoes, Onion Rings and Sauteed Mushroms. All of the sides were delicious. But my personal favorite was the onion rings!
Sauteed Mushrooms
Onion Rings
And to cap off a great superb meal,  I had tea and desserts. 

Chocolate Mousse, Creme Brulee and Pecan Pie
Apple Strudel
Wolfgang's Steakhouse Manila
2/F Newport Mall
Resorts World Manila
Pasay City, Manila
+639208219247 and +639956102361