Filipino Tinola Halang Halang

Soup season is here. I love it. I might talk about soup two times a week, throwing out ideas, in hopes of making more soup. There is something about it. A bowl of pretty much the basic stuff, but there are always extras laying around to throw into the pot. Me? I’m hot sauce, herbs, chilies, fried garlic or shallots. Heck, sometimes an egg, a little more something, something. Who knows? That’s the great question about soup, and something that I always love.

I mentioned in the past about how much I love Filipino chicken tinola. It is a Pinoy recipe from what I know from my father-in-law, and one of pure comfort. The soup is a take on classic chicken soup in its basic form, but jazzed up a bit. This type of soup is what makes us happy and warms our body.  Coconut milk, Thai chilies, chicken? Ready?

This is (my take) Filipino Tinola Halang Halang.

Filipino Tinola Halang Halang
Filipino Tinola Halang Halang

Let’s get to it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 cup ginger, cleaned and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1 head garlic, minced
  • 1 whole onion, chopped
  • 1 russet potato, cleaned and cut into bite sized cubes (optional)
  • 1 whole chicken, breasts, legs, wings, and thighs, cut into pieces
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 cup of water
  • 15 oz can of coconut milk
  • 8 Thai chilies (preference 2 per bowl)
  • 1 whole lemongrass stalk, top part removed, trim tender bottom part
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp fish sauce, to taste
  • 1 bunch of spinach, cleaned and roughly chopped
  • jasmine rice, cooked

Start by heating the oil in your large dutch oven, or medium sized soup pot, on medium heat.

Next, add in your onion and ginger and give that a stir, cooking until it slightly begins to softens, about 4 minutes. Next toss in the garlic, and give that a good stir, cooking for about a minute.

Now add in your chicken pieces, moving the onion mixture around so that you are able to brown up some of the chicken skin. Cook the chicken for about 20 minutes, turning halfway through. After 20 minutes, add in the lemongrass, chicken stock, water, coconut milk, salt, pepper, and fish sauce. Add in the potatoes if you will be using them. Give this a good stir.

Filipino Tinola Halang Halang Ingredients
Filipino Tinola Halang Halang Ingredients

Cover, and cook this mixture on medium-low heat for about 30-45 minutes. Lastly add in the bunch of spinach, and Thai chilies, and give another stir. Cook for about 10 more minutes or until the spinach is wilted and cooked through.

Now it is time to serve. Ladle in the soup into your bowl, making sure you get pieces of chicken, potatoes, onion, etc. Garnish with more chilies should you desire or some fried shallots and get ready to dig in.

I like to serve mine with a side bowl of rice. This allows me to spoon some of that wonderful coconut broth and then chase it with some rice. This is everything you will love about Filipino tinola, but one with a twist. I mean you can’t go wrong with coconut milk, chilies, and chicken soup on a cool, Fall day. Hope you enjoy!

Crispy Pig Ears

Crispy pig ears, I know. Who the heck makes crispy pig ears? This dude does, that’s who. I forgot when and where I had these but were they ever awesome. They actually reminded me of a really good slimmed down chicharron. Crunchy, funky, and delicious. I tend to always look at this type of stuff when I shop at my local Mexican grocery store. They have everything, and granted there are some items that are not pleasing to the eye and I shun away from them rather quickly, there are others that really grab my attention. In particular these pig ears, and hopefully in the future, a cow or pig’s head. Who knows what I might make of those. Maybe some Filipino sisig, or maybe just braised and roasted to start digging into the cheek meat, etc. But these pig ears…. Those little suckers caught my attention and I knew I wanted to try to recreate those crispy, crackling things of beauty for my kids. Yes, my kids.

Crispy Pig Ears Recipe
Crispy Pig Ears Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of pig ears (mine came 4 ears to a package)
  • 2 cups of soy sauce
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • cooking oil

Start by rinsing off the ears with cold water. Once thoroughly rinsed, add them to a stock pot.

Add enough water to cover, and bring them to a boil, reducing the heat once boiling. Remove any and all of the scum that floats to the top and discard. This is much like cooking down bones for Vietnamese pho or any good stock.

After about 20-30 minutes, pour out the water, and give the ears another rinse, leaving them in the pot. Once rinsed, add the soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorn, and vinegar. Add enough water to cover the ears, then continue to cook over medium heat for about 2 hours.

How to make crispy pig ears
How to make crispy pig ears

After a couple of hours, pour out the liquid, and remove the pig ears, placing them in a bowl or plate to let cool.

Once cooled, slice them into strips, or chunks if you want. Whatever your desired bite is going to be.  Rub the teaspoon of salt all over them. Once sliced, and cooled, cover them and place them into refrigerator overnight.

The following day, heat enough canola oil on medium heat in a pan. NOTE: These will splatter a bit due to the fat content, so be prepared.

Once the oil is hot, about 350 degrees, pat the pig ears a bit before dropping them in, add the sliced pig ears in batches, and cook each batch until they are crispy.

A bit messy from the splattering, just a heads up.

Once they are crisp, remove them with a slotted spoon and onto a paper lined plate to remove any excess oil. Add the sliced ears to a small bowl and season lightly with salt. Repeat.

These pig ears are sticky from the gelatin the ears contain, crispy, and an overall unique experience that my kids (with the exception of one) actually enjoyed. Would I make them again? Probably. But in the future, I will have to hunt down where we had them and go from there. Have you ever cooked crispy pig ears, and if so what were your thoughts?

 

Vietnamese Caramel Chicken Po Boy

As you probably are already aware, I have a few different ethnic cuisines that are my all-time favorites. Mexican, Thai, Indian, and well pretty much anything Asian. That includes Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian, and Filipino. With hope, I pray that my kids who I cook for everyday grown up to realize that when they grow older. I’m not that guy who is serving up the same jive every week, rather I’m the dude who is serving them dishes, family style, from all over the world. I typically always do a take on this particular recipe as my entire family totally loves it, however it goes so fast that you wish you would have quadrupled the recipe or simply told the kids to slow down a bit. It’s that good. It’s Vietnamese caramel chicken, but instead of serving with a side of rice and some thinly sliced cucumbers, I made this into a po boy. I mean it’s the best of both worlds, right?

Vietnamese Caramel Chicken Po Boy Recipe
Vietnamese Caramel Chicken Po Boy Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients for the chicken and marinade:

  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp canola oil

Ingredients for the sauce:

  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • pinch of salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup of water

Ingredients for the sandwich:

  • Your favorite baguette
  • mayonnaise, optional
  • cherry or roma tomatoes, optional
  • head lettuce, thinly chopped
  • fresh cilantro, chopped, optional
  • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced, optional

Sounds like a lot, but it’s really not as the ingredients for the marinade and sauce are essentially the same.

Start by combining all of your chicken and marinade ingredients into a mixing bowl or sealable plastic bag, and let this marinade for a at least a couple of hours in the refrigerator. Take the chicken out and have it come close to room temperature before you are ready to cook.

During this time, mix the sauce ingredients, and if you want, go ahead and prepare your sandwich ingredients. NOTE: The chicken cooks quickly, very quickly.

Vietnamese Caramel Chicken Po Boy Recipe
Vietnamese Caramel Chicken Po Boy Recipe

Get a large skillet out and heat it to medium-high heat. Let it heat up for a minute or two then add in the chicken. Don’t mess with the chicken. Let it do its thing for a couple of minutes, then start stirring it around. Cook the chicken for about 7 minutes, then turn on your kitchen vent and add in the sauce. Stir, coating the chicken and cook quickly. The sauce will thicken and get nice and sticky. Once that happens, remove the skillet from the heat.

Whatever you do, don’t start eating the chicken yet. It’s so darn addictive that you may end up not having enough to make a sandwich!

Now it’s time to make the sandwich. Lather both sides of your sandwich with mayonnaise. to the bottom, add the shredded lettuce and tomatoes. Top with a bunch of the caramelized chicken, then top with cilantro and jalapenos. Almost a banh mi style without the pickled elements. Fold, push down on the sandwich, and open wide.

This sandwich is awesome. Sticky chicken packed with great Asian flavors really knocks this one out of the park. Hope you enjoy!

Thai Peanut Butter Toast

I have no idea why I don’t eat peanut butter more often because every time I do I totally love it. My kids probably eat peanut butter once a day. I don’t know if that is due to convenience or the fact that they love it as well. So one early afternoon I decided I wanted to have lunch. I wanted something Thai, but nothing that would take too long, plus my appetite was not all that fierce due to the cancer treatment I have been going through. Looking through the pantry, I noticed some really good and hearty bread that I had bought for my wife, that delicious creamy peanut butter, some Thai infused honey, and then some Thai bird chilies. I knew that I would get the best of everything by creating what I call Thai Peanut Butter Toast. Whoa is this every good.

Thai Peanut Butter Toast Recipe
Thai Peanut Butter Toast Recipe

I could have stopped at just peanut butter toast with a drizzle of that honey but I wanted to go further, and boy was I glad I did.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 slice of your favorite bread, toasted
  • 2 tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp Thai infused honey
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 whole Thai bird chilies, chopped (seeds removed is optional)
  • 1 tbsp roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 lime, squeezed

It doesn’t get any easier to make. Take your peanut butter and lather it onto your slice of toast. Sprinkle on the peanuts, Thai chilies, cilantro, and honey, and squeeze the lime juice over the top.

Thai Peanut Butter Toast Ingredients
Thai Peanut Butter Toast Ingredients

Plate and serve.

The result is everything I love about warm toast and creamy peanut butter. You know… when it drips down your hand? Then you get these pops of awesome spice from the chilies, freshness from the lime and cilantro, and that texture from the roasted peanuts.

Thai Peanut Butter Toast Recipe
Thai Peanut Butter Toast Recipe

This is a real winner, especially if you like a bit of spice. Feel free to reduce the chilies to one if you desire, or remove the seeds from them, but the balance of flavor is a tough one to compete with on this awesome snack.