Tag Archives: Filipino food

Mango Sago

Whenever I look at the calendar on my wall, I always find myself shocked that it’s already August. Summer is nearly over, and for most of my friends (and my younger brother), school is starting in a matter of days. Not weeks or months—days.

The feeling of a waning summer hasn’t really set in for me yet, mostly because Stanford University, where I’ll be an incoming freshman this school year, follows the quarter system, so my move-in date isn’t until mid-September! (The flip side, of course, is that I’ll be taking midterms in May while everyone else is beginning their summer breaks.)

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It really has felt like an eternal summer for me. But even though the days have been getting shorter (technically) and everyone has been buzzing about going back to school, the mangoes are still sweet—summer must still be going in full force. Continue reading

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Lumpiang Gulay (Vegetable Spring Roll)

It sure has been a while. Since I’ve last posted, a lot has been going on in my family (more information on my personal blog), and it’s been an important reminder of the importance of family.

Family is an interesting concept. I could say my family is my mom, my dad, and my little brother Jude, but there’s so much more to the word “family” that transcends just a list of the people in my household. To me, family is just as much about heritage, traditions, collective experiences, and shared meals as it is about the people I live with. And one meal we’ve shared a lot is lumpia, a type of fried spring roll originally of Chinese origin but is now very common in the Philippines and Indonesia. (The word “gulay” just refers to the fact it’s made of vegetables, which is perfect for your Meatless Mondays!)

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Partially because I’m only half Filipino and partially because I live in the United States, I’ve always felt disconnected from my Filipino heritage even though it shapes a large part of who I am. That’s why I find it so important for me to continue trying new Filipino food, learning how to make certain recipes, and keeping these recipes documented somewhere. At the end of the day, even small recipes like these are a part of what makes up my family—a part of the heritage and traditions passed down through my mother’s side.

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My mom first introduced lumpiang gulay to me while I was in middle school, and when we decided to not eat meat for a period of time, it made for a great meal that fit our dietary preferences at the time. Even though I still do eat meat (although I may go vegetarian again once I leave for college next year), lumpiang gulay is still something we continue to eat in my home.

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Now that my grandma from the Philippines has been in town, I’ve also realized that she and my mom have very different ways of eating lumpiang gulay, a huge shock to me since I always assumed the way my mom ate it was the normal way. My mom likes to cut into the lumpia lengthwise and pour in the garlic sauce that way, whereas my grandma eats it the “normal” way—dipping it into the sauce and eating it like any other spring roll. I personally think the way my grandma eats it makes way more sense, but for some reason my mom continues to eat it the way she does.

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Continue reading

Mom’s Spaghetti

Ever since I was young, I’ve always thought that my mom makes the best spaghetti ever. And I do mean that very seriously—nothing compares to the orange heaven that is my mom’s spaghetti. A few years ago, a family friend from Italy invited us over for dinner. While she made some of the most delicious pastas I’ve ever had, my mom’s spaghetti still reigns supreme.

In the Philippines, spaghetti is seen more as a snack than a full-fledged meal, and it’s usually very sweet when compared to the spaghetti we eat here in the United States. That’s why if you go to Jollibee or a McDonald’s in the Philippines, you’ll notice the spaghetti will taste totally different! (And, yes! They have spaghetti!) My mom says that every Filipino person has a different way of making their spaghetti. Hers has more garlic, is less sweet, and uses bacon instead of hot dogs. But for what it lacks in sugar, it makes up for in flavor.

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In the summer before ninth grade, I took a cooking class as part of Senior DECATS, a selective summer program only available to academically talented students who attended a Catholic middle school. It was my first real exposure to cooking—and also where I learned I enjoy tasting food more than making it! For our biggest group cooking challenge, we had to prepare the best spaghetti we could.

Well, actually, we were told we needed to find one of the teaching assistants who had been hidden in the park across the street, with the first group getting to pick their ingredients first—much like a MasterChef competition. But that’s a story my thirteen-, almost fourteen-year-old self told on my personal blog, Kuya’s Notebook, after it happened, complete with blurry iPhone pictures and full recollections of middle school students trying to get out of cleaning for the day. Continue reading

Nutella Turon

Turon is one of the easiest, most delicious little desserts I’ve ever had. What’s turon, you ask? It’s a Filipino snack made of saging (banana), langka (jackfruit), and brown sugar rolled in spring roll wrappers and fried. Here in Dallas, it’s not exactly easy to get the jackfruit—or even the same bananas!—to make the truly authentic turon, which left my mom and I to experiment.

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Your Tagalog Word of the Week:

Saging

(Meaning: Banana)

My mom first showed me what turon was not too long ago… maybe a year? (Then again, I could’ve been eating turon all my life and just never knew the name of it, so I can’t be sure.) I was taken aback by the delicious, sweet taste of the saging and langka and I just. Wanted. More.

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Turon is one of my favorite desserts, behind macarons (which I have an obsession for). The sad part is I can’t have it all the time because you just can’t get the same type of bananas here in Dallas… and I can’t find that really good jackfruit! So when you can’t make it authentically, you just have to experiment.

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My mom called for me one morning yelling, “Josh! Josh! I have this great idea for the blog!” By now, I’m so used to her calling for me with some recipe she wants to make, and half of them don’t make it past that initial “I have a great idea!” phase.

“I want to make a Nutella turon!”

My eyes lit up. Really? Turon? Let’s do it! And that’s how our turon recipe got pushed to the front of our list—above everything else we’d been planning.

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Making turon is actually really fun. I rolled a few of the turon, and it’s actually really easy. Just make sure you wrap the banana and nutella in the spring roll wrapper very tightly, or it’ll look really bad and won’t hold together very well. Also, a little something I learned is that if the wrapper itself is not sticking together and becoming a roll, then just dab a little water on it, and the wrapper will stick to that.

Here’s a little step-by-step on how to wrap the turon.

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Have fun with this turon. If you’re skeptical, just remember that this one has Nutella. And it’s a well-known scientific fact that Nutella descended from heaven into Italy in the mid-twentieth century. By virtue of having Nutella in this recipe, it’s instantly good.

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Nutella Turon

Makes one individual turon. Obviously you’ll want a LOT more so just multiply this by the number of turon you want to make. One million is a good starting number.

  • 1 spring roll wrapper
  • 1/4 of a banana — slice it as if you were making a plus-sign (+) out of the banana. So slice it in half vertically, then again horizontally
  • sprinkle of cinnamon
  • dollop of Nutella

Place 1/4 of a banana on top of a spring roll wrapper. Then sprinkle a little cinnamon on the banana slice. Spread Nutella on the banana slice, and begin rolling the turon. (See the above slideshow for step-by-step instructions on how to roll the turon.) Add oil in a small pan and put over heat. When hot, fry the turon until browned on both sides. Serve with your choice of dessert—we used a dulce de leche ice cream with a Nutella drizzle.

For the Nutella drizzle

Add 2 tablespoons of Nutella and 2 tablespoons of whipping cream in a small, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, then mix well. Lightly drizzle over the turon (and possibly other desserts!) for maximum deliciousness.

Have any thoughts? (I know you do, don’t lie.) Feel free to share in the comment section below. I love to hear from you guys, especially if you made this turon! (Then please, please, PLEASE tell us how it went!)