MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos are known for having the world’s longest Christmas season. It is the most wonderful time of the year.
In the Philippines, we usually start with Simbang Gabi, a series of novena masses that starts on December 16. We go to church at 4 am and after mass, we look for that flat but thick yellow rice cake called bibingka and steamed purple rice cake known as putobumbong. We have them for breakfast either standing up while we wait outside the church or sharing it with our loved ones at home. My family looks forward to the big dinner after the midnight mass on December 24 called Noche Buena.
As a chef, I have always been interested in different cuisines all over the world, but I am even more interested and passionate about our very own Filipino cuisine.
I have been privileged to travel all over the world and see beautiful places, including Europe, the US, Canada and other Asian countries, meet our kababayans and find out how Christmas is celebrated when you are away from family, and far away from home.
I have always thought not having the traditional Christmas we are accustomed to here abroad would be somewhere in between boring and sad but as I experience Christmas in other countries, I am fascinated by the fact that we Filipinos can adapt to a foreign culture and yet keep our identity as Filipinos and celebrate Jesus Christ’s birth in a traditional way… but with a twist!
This recipe was given to me by my very good friend Ednita, whom I – and many others she knows – fondly call Mama Bette. She is also the person behind my blog! Mama Bette is the first person who believed in my talent, and taught me to become an intentional learner.
When I made this recipe, I just loved the outcome of this bibingka, its texture is very moist, even if you keep it in the fridge for few days. This is a kind of recipe that you can share with your family, friends, or relatives abroad.
• Serves: 4
• Preparation time: 10 minutes
• Baking time: 45 minutes
• 1 Box (16oz) Mochiko Flour or any brand sweetened Rice Flour, sifted
• 4 large Eggs
• 1/2 cup Unsalted Butter, melted
• 2 cups Grabulated White Sugar
• 2 1/4 cups Evaporated Milk
• 50 grams Shredded Sweetened Coconut
• 20 grams Shaved or Gound parmesan cheese, substitute to queso de bola
• 2 pieces Duck Salted Eggs, put them on top of the bibingka in the middle of baking time, or serve them on the side, as some people doesn’t like the taste of salted egg
Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare a rectangular baking pan(13x9inches).
1. Beat the eggs and sugar together until creamy and fluffy.
2. Add the milk and continue mixing until well combined.
3. Fold in the Mochiko flour into the mixture.
4. Add the shredded sweetened coconut and parmesan cheese.
5. Pour the melted butter into the pan, and add the batter mixture. Pour some shredded sweetened coconut and parmesan on top. Place them in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes.
Hamon de Bola
Christmas ham is one of the most popular dishes during Noche Buena. It has to be cooked in a special sweet broth after being soaked to reduce the salt. This can be either baked or fried. As with the other dishes “localized” from foreign sources, the Philippine palate favors the sweeter variety of ham. And here is my personal take on our famous Hamon de Bola, without any preservatives.
• Serves 12
• Preparation Time: 30 minutes
• Cooking Time: 3 hours
1.5 kilograms Pork Leg or Pork Shoulder, with fat and without the bones
• 2 litres Cold Water
• 1 cup Kosher Salt
• 1 cup White Granulated Sugar
• 1 liter Water
• 4 cups Pineapple Juice
• 2 cups Brown Sugar
• 8 cloves of Garlic
• Zest and juice of 1 Lemon
1. Tie the meat with kitchen string; this will help to hold its shape upon cooking.
2. Prepare the brining solution. Mix the cold water, sugar, and salt in a big bowl, until sugar and salt are completely dissolve. Place the meat in the brining solution, and keep int the fridge for 12 hours. Brining makes cooked meat moister by hydrating the cells of its muscle tissue before cooking.
3. After brining, rinse the meat with water to wash of some of the saltiness from the meat. Pat the meat dry with kitchen towel.
4. In a large pot, heat the braising liquid, and put the meat into the pot, and simmer them in a low heat for 2 hours. From time to time pour some liquid on top of the meat.
5. Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius.
6. Remove the meat from the braising liquid, and reduce the liquid until coating consistency for glazing.
7. Place the meat in a baking tray, and roast it for 1 to ½ hours.
8. Remove the kitchen string from the meat.
9. When the meat is ready, glaze it with the reduced braising liquid.
What else could make us feel this good during Christmas other than tsokolate or hot chocolate! In the Philippines it is made from ground tablea or cacao chocolate discs/tablets. It is traditionally served on Christmas and New Year’s Eve, but it is something you can enjoy year round.
Native hot chocolate is rich, thick, and oh-so-chocolatey. Tableas are made from pure cacao nibs that are roasted, ground, and then mixed with a pinch of sugar. This is not something readily available abroad, so instead you can use pure dark chocolates in the supermarkets, I suggest getting the one that has 50%-70% Cacao content to get that similar aroma and taste like original tablea.
For single serving, heat the milk and pour them in your mug. Get 30-50 grams of the chocolates that you have, and melt them in your hot milk, and continue stirring until smooth. You can always add more chocolates, depending on your taste. Enjoy the spirit of Christmas! – Rappler.com
Sheilla Lopez is a cuisine and pastry chef, culinary instructor, chef consultant, food stylist, food photographer, recipe developer, food writer and a host of an online cooking show “Fridays with Chef Sheilla” for Breakfast Magazine. For more visit Sheilla’s website and Facebook page.