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RANDWICHES turned 3 today! Awwwwww.
RANDWICHES turned 3 today! Awwwwww.

RANDWICHES turned 3 today! Awwwwww.

And that’s it for my shoot with Lara Heintz! Next, MoMA PS1 salads with Trinh Huynh and random bits from this past summer. 

BRB, catering two weddings and starting a new job at Flipboard

Whole steamed fish

If you don’t have a bamboo steamer, try a rice cooker with a steaming basket.  The aromatics I placed below the fish were leek, lemon grass, ginger, garlic, and arugula. I simply rubbed our friend generously, inside and out, with salt.  I think it was steaming on medium heat for about 25-30 minutes, when the flesh could flake off with a fork. 

During the last 5 minutes of steaming, I prepared a platter with parchment paper on it as well as a hot oil wash. The way a lot of chinese restaurants finish a fish is to pour hot-ass vegetable oil over the skin to make it curl and crisp a bit. Because can you imagine trying to sear a delicate as hell fish on a pan without it falling apart on you?

Served up with steamed rice, crispy shallot and a side of suka.

Photo and gif by Lara Heintz

Sizzling sisig for beginners

Sisig generally refers to snacking on something sour. Over time, it’s been associated with this pork dish that is marinated in calamansi or for our purposes lemon. The more authentic versions use the entirety of a pig’s head (the oink, ears, you name it!) and liver. Boiled, chopped coarsely and broiled. In Filipino restaurants, you will most likely see sisig served on a hot cast iron platter, tossed quickly with raw onion and chili pepper.

Since we’re only learning about Filipino food and if you’re not quite ready for offal—use a pork loin, shoulder or butt. Boil it in salted water until it is tender. Chop it coarsely into cubes and toss with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Broil until the edges are a little brown. Let the meat rest for a moment while you prepare a chopped onion and chili peppers. 

instead of a small cast iron, I happened to get a giant flat top for my birthday this year. I put it in the oven on high for about 30 minutes. Yes, that’s gonna be pretty damn HOT. For extra drama, I decided to toss the sisig live on the dinner table (as seen above!). First the onion, then the meat, chili pepper and any drained liquid from the resting period for an extra poof of steam. If there was no sabow or liquid from resting, try a squeeze of lemon and a dash of soy sauce.

Get in there and scoop a healthy amount over steamed rice.

If you’re going to try this at home, I highly recommend laying down more than one set of pot holders under the cast iron because mine certainly toasted my table a little bit.

Photo and gif by Lara Heintz

Pinakbet, pakbet or steamed vegetables in shrimp paste
A big reason why I have a hard time with vegetarianism is that I grew up thinking that it was only an absence of visible meat. I posit that many Filipinos misunderstand or come off as insensitive to “omission diets” and allergies because it merely is not an option for survival in the 3rd world and the Filipino diet rarely exceeds a certain set of ingredients (soy sauce, fish sauce, shrimp paste, garlic, ginger and the range of proteins). This is why vegetarians have a frustrating time in some Asian countries where chicken broth, fish sauce or shrimp paste might not be denoted on a menu.
Pinakbet is the closest heavy vegetable dish that I can think of. Most others like sautéed spinach or solo vegetables can come off annoyingly as “sides” to a vegetarian. The original recipe for pinakbet calls for chopped vegetables like string bean, acorn squash, grape tomato, eggplant, bitter melon, onion and garlic. The contents are “steamed” by mixing a cup of water with a tablespoon of soy sauce and a tablespoon of shrimp paste. Place everything in a pot, cover it and cook it on medium until the squash is fork tender. Avoid any stirring so you don’t smash up the squash and eggplant. Instead, you hold the sides of the pot with towels and shake the pot side to side to toss the contents around. 
A vegan alternative to shrimp paste is an umami bomb: 1/8 cup ground up capers, a teaspoon of miso and 1/2 teaspoon ground seaweed. Dilute a little bit in water to taste it. Should be damn salty!  You’ll only need a tablespoon for a whole pot of pinakbet.
Photo by Lara Heintz
Pinakbet, pakbet or steamed vegetables in shrimp paste
A big reason why I have a hard time with vegetarianism is that I grew up thinking that it was only an absence of visible meat. I posit that many Filipinos misunderstand or come off as insensitive to “omission diets” and allergies because it merely is not an option for survival in the 3rd world and the Filipino diet rarely exceeds a certain set of ingredients (soy sauce, fish sauce, shrimp paste, garlic, ginger and the range of proteins). This is why vegetarians have a frustrating time in some Asian countries where chicken broth, fish sauce or shrimp paste might not be denoted on a menu.
Pinakbet is the closest heavy vegetable dish that I can think of. Most others like sautéed spinach or solo vegetables can come off annoyingly as “sides” to a vegetarian. The original recipe for pinakbet calls for chopped vegetables like string bean, acorn squash, grape tomato, eggplant, bitter melon, onion and garlic. The contents are “steamed” by mixing a cup of water with a tablespoon of soy sauce and a tablespoon of shrimp paste. Place everything in a pot, cover it and cook it on medium until the squash is fork tender. Avoid any stirring so you don’t smash up the squash and eggplant. Instead, you hold the sides of the pot with towels and shake the pot side to side to toss the contents around. 
A vegan alternative to shrimp paste is an umami bomb: 1/8 cup ground up capers, a teaspoon of miso and 1/2 teaspoon ground seaweed. Dilute a little bit in water to taste it. Should be damn salty!  You’ll only need a tablespoon for a whole pot of pinakbet.
Photo by Lara Heintz

Pinakbet, pakbet or steamed vegetables in shrimp paste

A big reason why I have a hard time with vegetarianism is that I grew up thinking that it was only an absence of visible meat. I posit that many Filipinos misunderstand or come off as insensitive to “omission diets” and allergies because it merely is not an option for survival in the 3rd world and the Filipino diet rarely exceeds a certain set of ingredients (soy sauce, fish sauce, shrimp paste, garlic, ginger and the range of proteins). This is why vegetarians have a frustrating time in some Asian countries where chicken broth, fish sauce or shrimp paste might not be denoted on a menu.

Pinakbet is the closest heavy vegetable dish that I can think of. Most others like sautéed spinach or solo vegetables can come off annoyingly as “sides” to a vegetarian. The original recipe for pinakbet calls for chopped vegetables like string bean, acorn squash, grape tomato, eggplant, bitter melon, onion and garlic. The contents are “steamed” by mixing a cup of water with a tablespoon of soy sauce and a tablespoon of shrimp paste. Place everything in a pot, cover it and cook it on medium until the squash is fork tender. Avoid any stirring so you don’t smash up the squash and eggplant. Instead, you hold the sides of the pot with towels and shake the pot side to side to toss the contents around. 

A vegan alternative to shrimp paste is an umami bomb: 1/8 cup ground up capers, a teaspoon of miso and 1/2 teaspoon ground seaweed. Dilute a little bit in water to taste it. Should be damn salty!  You’ll only need a tablespoon for a whole pot of pinakbet.

Photo by Lara Heintz

MAKE IT STOP. MAKE IT STOP.
MAKE IT STOP. MAKE IT STOP.
MAKE IT STOP. MAKE IT STOP.

MAKE IT STOP. MAKE IT STOP.

Beef tapa

An easy way to think about this dish is to imagine you are making jerky. The key extra step in Filipino cuisine is to pan fry it after you’ve air-dried the beef. 

The beef can be sirloin or tenderloin, sliced against the grain into thin 3” long pieces. You can pound them if you’re in a rush, but account for steeping in a super strong marinade for at least 12 hours. Per pound of beef, I really like 2 to 1 ratio of soy sauce to white vinegar (SOAK ‘EM!), a whole head of garlic, a teaspoon each of sugar, salt and black pepper. 

After its salty bath, prepare a rack over a sheet pan and air dry the slices of beef for two hours (or use a fan). Save the drippings or sabow to cook down as a gravy if you’d like. Pan fry the beef in vegetable oil and serve with suka or slices of lemon and a healthy serving of steamed rice.

Photo by Lara Heintz

Suka or spicy vinegar 
It starts as a standard pickle brine with garlic, chili peppers, pepper flake, salt, a little sugar and vinegar. Simmered so it infuses and kept in a jar for an eternity. It’s a daily condiment on pretty much anything that needs a little kick. I use spoonfuls of it over rice and dunk fried chicken in it. Fried fish, too. It’s pretty much like a North Carolina BBQ sauce but with less sugar and more focus on the chili peppers.
As I use up the jar day to day, I keep adding sliced garlic, chili and enough vinegar so everything stays submerged. The acidity level should keep it from molding, but if a piece of garlic gets stuck to the side and is growing furry friends — get rid of the whole jar!
Photo by Lara Heintz
Suka or spicy vinegar 
It starts as a standard pickle brine with garlic, chili peppers, pepper flake, salt, a little sugar and vinegar. Simmered so it infuses and kept in a jar for an eternity. It’s a daily condiment on pretty much anything that needs a little kick. I use spoonfuls of it over rice and dunk fried chicken in it. Fried fish, too. It’s pretty much like a North Carolina BBQ sauce but with less sugar and more focus on the chili peppers.
As I use up the jar day to day, I keep adding sliced garlic, chili and enough vinegar so everything stays submerged. The acidity level should keep it from molding, but if a piece of garlic gets stuck to the side and is growing furry friends — get rid of the whole jar!
Photo by Lara Heintz

Suka or spicy vinegar 

It starts as a standard pickle brine with garlic, chili peppers, pepper flake, salt, a little sugar and vinegar. Simmered so it infuses and kept in a jar for an eternity. It’s a daily condiment on pretty much anything that needs a little kick. I use spoonfuls of it over rice and dunk fried chicken in it. Fried fish, too. It’s pretty much like a North Carolina BBQ sauce but with less sugar and more focus on the chili peppers.

As I use up the jar day to day, I keep adding sliced garlic, chili and enough vinegar so everything stays submerged. The acidity level should keep it from molding, but if a piece of garlic gets stuck to the side and is growing furry friends — get rid of the whole jar!

Photo by Lara Heintz

Slow roasting... You must be hungry. I'm still hungry, dude....!