Guilty as pledged. It’s been quite a while having the time to nod hello to my blog. Spare me of my occasional laziness and I sure do not want to be mistaken for it, of not loving to write. I plan to give a highlight to my daughter’s birthday last July and here I am going to give you nothing about it but instead an entirely different genre from what I’m supposed to. Well, it’s no surprise, after all, I’m used to myself being that way.
I’ll be sharing a recipe of my mother and eventually being a favorite of my two boys while they were growing up and I need to mention my brother-In-law who fell in love with this dish the first time my mom cooked it for him.
The origin of this food came from Bicol where my Mother was born and raised.It’s a region in the Philippines where coconuts, taro leaves, and peppers are bountiful. Mama used to tell me so much about her childhood and the dishes she grew up cooking and eating.
My grandfather is Chinese and my grandmother is Spanish (that’s why it’s perplexing for me when I was little on “how on earth my grannies communicate with each other?”. So I guess it’s the dialect). Mama (how I call my mother) recalls having Peppers or Sili in Filipino, cooked in coconut cream. Most of their dishes are cooked in coconut milk or cream due to its abundance locally.
I learned to cook the dishes Mama has been serving us merely by just watching her doing it over and over again. I often see her hang the taro leaves upside down to dry before cooking it, I did not even bother to ask why. But she told me that while cooking it I must refrain from stirring because it will become itchy. Yes, you heard me right, Itchy in the tongue and throat when eaten. The coconut milk is then extracted from fresh grated coconut. The first extract is thicker (cream) and the second is thinner of course.
When my family was in Fujairah I am very lucky to find yam leaves in the supermarket to cook “Pinangat”. It’s taro leaves stuffed with either fish or meat and cooked in coco milk. I’m not a fish eater back then so Mama uses ground pork all the time. But she told me lately that she mixes in shredded smoked fish in it. I was Cheated!! good thing I did not notice it because it was so tasty.
Now that I’m here in Ruwais, being far away in the city of Abu Dhabi it’s rare oftentimes never can I find whole taro or yam leaves and certainly leaving me the yearning to cook it.
without further ado, here’s what I end up with using a replacement to the elusive Taro leaves.
> 1 head large cabbage (Holland cabbage is better)
> 2 whole cloves garlic
> 1 large onion
> shrimp (chopped) about a cup
> 1 large finely grated carrots (my version only to add more veggie)
> 400g ground chicken and/or pork
> 3 tbsp sauteed shrimp paste ( fish sauce to season if not using shrimp paste)
>4 to 5 cups coconut cream (i use Maggie Coconut powder)
> ground white or black pepper to taste
> chili flakes/ jalapeno peppers (use according to your liking of spiciness)
*** a cup young coconut meat shredded (optional) (Mama’s version)
Let’s do it:
Note: You must remember that it should have a balance of sweetness and saltiness. The carrots and young coconut meat is sweet and so the coconut cream. The shrimp paste is salty. For those who is unsure on how to balance the use of ingredients, you may omit carrots or young coconut meat.
> mix all ingredients in a bowl except the coconut cream.
> add a dash of pepper
> disintegrate the whole cabbage and trim the hard stem off gently to make it thin so it’ll be easy to roll
> fill the cabbage leaf a spoonful each or less depending on the size of the cabbage leaf
> Roll like you would in spring roll then arrange in pan folded side down.
> add the coconut cream and sprinkle the minced garlic.
> add in chili
** simmer covered over medium-low heat for 25 mins in heavy bottom pan, or til the coconut cream is reduced. taste and season according to taste using fish sauce.
*** Note: You may also use Pak Choy. Trim the stem and place it in the pan first before the rolled Pak Choy.
Well, let me know if you tried it and how it goes for you. In the meantime, I have to cook for dinner again. I went back to the kitchen to find a squeaky clean pan. “did I cook anything for Lunch?” .. 😀