Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Paella in 15 Minutes

The Philippines was under Spanish rule for 300 years which inevitably has left the country a rich culinary heritage. One of the most beloved recipes is that of Paella. There are many versions of this dish in the Philippines depending on the region where the locals have modified it according to the abundant ingredients.
My Paella recipe has been handed down to me by family and friends and I have made it my own by incorporating their suggestions, not only do I use saffron (which by the way, is very expensive that some cooks here have omitted it from their recipe) but I also use tomato sauce to enrich the color and taste.
Here is the recipe of my own version of Paella
4 tablespoons OLIVE OIL
2 cloves GARLIC, peeled and slivered
1 piece WHITE ONION, minced
1 piece BELLPEPPER, cut into strips
1/4 kilo SHRIMPS, deveined
1/4 kilo PORK BELLY, cut into strips
1 big piece CHORIZO DE BILBAO, sliced diagonally
4 cups RICE, uncooked
8 cups CHICKEN STOCK, boiling
250 grams TOMATO SAUCE
pinch of SAFFRON
salt and pepper
Preheat Paella pan over high heat, at the same time boil the chicken stock. It is important that the stock is boiling over high heat to speed up the cooking process. Pour oil in the paella pan and brown the chicken thighs and pork belly, add garlic and onion, saute until vegetables are soft but not wilted. At this point, the chorizo may also be added in the pan. Add in the saffron threads, stir. Add in the rice and make sure it is coated with oil, pour in the tomato sauce stirring until it coats the rice and the meats. Season with salt and pepper. Carefully add the boiling stock. Lay the uncooked shrimps and the bellpeppers on top. Cover with aluminum foil and let it cook at high heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, let it set for 5 minutes. Garnish with lemon slices and hard-boiled eggs before eating.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Crispy Pata 2 Ways

After 5 months of non-blogging...I am back! And what better way to celebrate my coming back than making the staple of all celebrations big or small in Philippine celebrations--the Crispy Pata!
This recipe is very easy but time-consuming although, it really is all worth it when you bite into the crispy goodness of the fat layer and tenderness of the meat.
6 pieces GARLIC CLOVES, crushed
4-5 pieces of BAY LEAVES, dried
300 ml SPRITE or 7-UP
2 tablespoons of BAKING SODA
2 pieces PORK HOCK (about 1 kilo each) cleaned and trimmed
enough water to cover
1/4 cup good quality FISH SAUCE (patis)
In a big pot, boil pork hocks with garlic, whole peppercorns, bay leaves and sprite or 7-up with enough water to cover the meat for 30 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda and cover. Boil for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until pork hock meat is tender. Drain meat and score with a knife, brush with the fish sauce. Cool and wrap in cling film--freeze overnight. In the morning thaw in the refrigerator.
There are two ways of cooking the crispy pata. The first one which is the traditional way of cooking it is to deep-fry it in a big pot of oil (enough to submerge the meat). The oil should have a temperature of 350 degrees farenheit or higher. This is to make sure that the skin is crispy. If the temperature is lower than 350 degrees farenheit, the hock will not cook properly and will be soggy inside because the oil will seep through the meat. The deep frying will take 15 minutes.
The other way of cooking it, which is what I did with mine is to cook it in the broiler for 40 minutes. I prefer it this way because the oil will drip down from the meat making it less "sinful". I found out that cooking it this way also produces a crispy skin.
Crushed Garlic, Dried Bay Leaves, Whole Peppercorns

Cleaned and Trimmed Pork Hocks

The Crispy Pata!