Filipino Food night
My plate of food, starting from the bottom and moving clockwise, fried rice, lumpia (Filipino egg rolls), chicken adobo, sinigang bangus (milkfish tamarind soup).
The groceries I bought to prepare for the meal. I like to buy whole chickens because I get white and dark meat--a mix for less money. Note the moon cakes in the front right corner. Not Filipino--just a treat for me since I missed out during the Moon Festival. =)
Prior night's prep: baked bibingka, fabricated chicken, and cooked rice. The previous two, I made ahead of time to save time. The rice, however, makes a better fried rice if it's prepared the day before and refrigerated. It lets the outside of the rice firm up again after cooking, so when you cook it again, it doesn't get all mushy.
Bibingka--Filipino rice flour cake. I used Manang's recipe. "Manang" is like a sister figure, or a very cool blog, or both. They looked so bright and pretty!
It's soft, sweet, and moist--denser than Westernized cakes, but with a pleasant sweetness from the coconut milk. Funnily enough, I worried that my friends wouldn't like the texture. It can be a bit chewy, and sometimes threatens to cling to the top of your mouth. However, it was the first thing departing guests asked to take home in the doggie bags I made up for them!
The night before, make the rice for the fried rice. This is the tried-and-true method that Mom taught me for measuring how much water to add to the rice--water up to the first knuckle of my middle finger.
Simple fried rice--cooked rice fried in just a little oil, seasoned with garlic powder and garlic sauce, and just a little salt because you'll also add soy sauce for color and flavor. Then you add some veggies--I just use the frozen mixed veggies, since they're easy to keep on hand and contain all the veggies I like in fried rice--carrots, green beans, and corn. Some scrambled egg is also nice if it's on hand, and ham or chicken are tasty additions, too. Every family, and even every family member, has their own fried rice recipe!
I made Raymond Sokolov's chicken adobo again, since it was so tasty the last time. Again, the only real difference between his recipe and my mom's is that he uses white wine vinegar instead of plain white wine vinegar.
Lumpia and fried rice are two of my standards when introducing friends to Filipino food for the first time, but I wanted to push their limits. Bibingka was one way, and after seeing Marvin's sinigang, I knew I wanted to try making this soup, which my parents often had on our table. I used the traditional bangus--milkfish. I called my mom for tips, and I could hear my dad's warning in the background over the phone: "Careful! It's a bonefish!" My mom told me that I should've chosen another fish, but I was hoping all the bones would be gone. They weren't. I thought about just putting the fish in without portioning it, just using it to flavor the soup, but then I decided to just warn my friends about the bones, and they braved it. I was so proud of them! Seeing as how no one came away coughing and hacking like a cat with a hairball, I guess they successfully evaded all the bones! I just used spinach for the veggies that accompanied the fish.
Have your friends come over to wrap and fry your lumpia for you .
Overall, my friends and I had a great night, and everyone had food they'd never tried before. They braved the dishes and enjoyed the dishes I thought they'd have the most trouble with. My mom, who always shamelessly served these dishes to my friends when they'd come over for dinner, will be proud when I report the results to her!