Posts Categorised: Food

It seems like every culture has some sort of comfort food. Here in the Philippines, it is no different. Ginataang manok is one of our comfort food. In this case, though, it also has superfoods as its ingredient. So you can have a delicious meal and feel good that you are filling yourself with high quality nutrition.

Ginataang manok is made with coconut milk, green papaya, and moringa normally. We call moringa “malunggay” in Tagalog. Malunggay is easily found here. However, it may not be easy to find in countries like the US or Europe. So in this recipe, I will substitute malunggay with spinach. Fortunately, they are both considered superfoods.



  • Chicken, whole chopped up;
  • Green papaya, small;
  • Spinach, bunch;
  • Onion, one;
  • Garlic, 4-6 cloves;
  • Ginger, 2 fingers;
  • Jalapeno, 3;
  • Thai chili peppers, 3;
  • Coconut milk, 14 ounces;
  • Coconut oil, 2 tablespoons;
  • Paprika;
  • Salt;
  • Pepper.


Slice the onion, dice the garlic, and cut the ginger into strips. Also cut the jalapeno peppers lengthwise. Adding the peppers is optional. If you don’t like the heat, you can omit them.

Heat the coconut oil in a big pot. You can check to see if the oil is ready by dipping in a wooden spoon. If you see bubbles around the spoon, the oil is ready. Add the onion, garlic and ginger. Stir fry for 2 minutes and add a couple of pinches of salt.

Add the cut up chicken and stir fry until the chicken is light brown. Don’t overdo this step otherwise your chicken will not be tender.

Pour in the coconut milk. I like to add about 3 ounces of coconut water too. Add about a teaspoon of salt. Add some pepper. Sprinkle in the paprika.

Let the coconut milk come to a boil, then lower the heat and let the chicken simmer for 30-40 minutes so that it will become tender. You may need more time depending on your chicken.

Add the green papaya and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the peppers and cook for 3 minutes.

Add the spinach, stir it into the pot, then turn off the heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot with steamed rice

Pinakbet Recipe in English

If you want to order a vegetable dish in the Philippines, it will invariably be pinakbet. It is a native Filipino dish that is made up of at least 6 vegetables. They are bitter melon, eggplant, string beans, pumpkin, tomatoes and okra. The base seasoning is something called bagoong or shrimp paste. To the non-Filipino, bagoong may appear very strong smelling, even pungent. But once you get used to it, bagoong adds great flavor to many dishes.

Bagoong comes in regular, sweet and spicy flavors. For this recipe, most people use regular.

Here is the pinakbet recipe in English.



  • Pork, ½ pound (optional);
  • Pumpkin squash, ½ pumpkin;
  • Tomatoes, 4;
  • Purple eggplant, 2;
  • String beans, 8 long strands;
  • Okra, 14;
  • Onion, 1 small;
  • Garlic, 4 cloves;
  • Ginger, 1 tablespoon;
  • Bagoong, 5 tablespoon;
  • Salt;
  • Pepper;
  • Coconut oil, 1 tablespoon;
  • Water, 1 cup


Cut the vegetables into small pieces as in the picture. Dice the onion, mince the garlic, and cut the ginger into small pieces. Slice the pork into small to medium size.

It is important to cook the vegetables in a certain order because they will take different amounts of time to cook.

Heat the pan with the coconut oil. Add the onions and stir fry for 1.5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt. Add the garlic and ginger and stir fry for 30 seconds.

Add the meat and stir fry for 4 minutes. Add the bagoong and stir fry for 30 seconds.

Add the tomatoes and stir fry for 2 minutes.

Pour in some water. Add the pumpkins. Stir fry for a few seconds. Let it cook for 5 minutes.

Add the the rest of the vegetables and stir fry for 1 minute. Add more salt to taste. Cover the pan and cook for 8 minutes.

Taste the vegetables to see if it is soft.

Serve with steamed rice and enjoy!

Pho is one of my favorite dishes. I like it because of the delicious combo of fresh herbs, rice noodles, and chicken bone broth. Pho is a popular Vietnamese dish. It is normally served with beef. That is called Pho Bo.  Chicken is the second most popular. It is called Pho Ga.

Normally you would need to go to a restaurant to enjoy a good bowl of pho.  However, it is not always convenient to make a trek to a pho restaurant here in Manila. So here is a recipe for easy pho ga that will show pho lovers to make it at home.


For the broth:

  • Whole chicken;
  • Cardamom, 1 seed;
  • Anistar, 4 stars;
  • Cloves, 1 teaspoon;
  • Ginger, 1 big root;
  • Lemongrass, 2 stalks;
  • Onion, 1;
  • Salt, 1 tablespoon;
  • Fish sauce, 4 tablespoons
  • Brown sugar, 1 bar or 1 tablespoon

For the bowl:

  • Rice noodles;
  • Cilantro;
  • Green onions;
  • Bean sprouts;
  • Basil;
  • Hoisin sauce;
  • Chili sauce;
  • Lime;
  • Jalapeno pepper, optional


It will take you about an hour to prepare the broth.  Boil about 12 cups of water in a big pot.  Add all ingredients for the broth to the water when it boils.  Make sure to use a container for the anistar and cloves so that it will be easier to strain later.  Simmer for one hour with the lid on the pot.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the ingredients for the bowl. Chop and slice the herbs to put into the bowl.

After an hour, take the chicken out of the pot onto a cutting board. Give it about 15 minutes to cool down.  Separate the meat into small pieces.

Strain the broth of everything. The final broth should be free of any ingredients.

Bowl a pot of water.  Put the rice noodles inside the pot of water and cook for 30 seconds. Take the noodles out and put it into the bowl with the herbs.

Add the chicken pieces to the bowl. Squeeze some lime into the broth. Serve hot and enjoy!

If there was a dish that represents Filipino food, it would arguably be Chicken Adobo. This dish is very easy to make and tastes delicious. Some people have said that this dish came from the Spaniards. Others have said that the native Filipinos actually made this dish long before the Spanish colonists. Either way, it is a dish that most Filipinos eat often. You can also make it with pork but chicken is the more popular meat.

Normally, chicken adobo is fried in oil as part of its preparation. This is the unhealthy part. I have a Healthy Chicken Adobo Recipe that does not require frying the chicken. The best part is that it is just as yummy if not more. I also don’t use sugar in the recipe.


  • Whole chicken, chopped into pieces;
  • Soy sauce, ½ cup;
  • Vinegar, ½ cup;
  • Garlic, 6 cloves, chopped;
  • Ground pepper;
  • Ginger, optional;
  • Bay leaves, optional;


Place the chicken pieces into a large pot. Pour the soy sauce and vinegar into the pot. Put the ground pepper on the chicken. Put a lid on the pot and bring the sauce to a boil. Then simmer the chicken for 40 minutes. The longer you simmer the chicken, the more tender the meat becomes.

About 10 minutes before you finish simmering the chicken, heat your oven by setting it on broil.  After 40 minutes, remove the chicken from the pot and place the pieces on an oven safe tray. Leave the sauce in the pot. We will use it later to drizzle on the chicken.

Place the tray of chicken into the oven. Broil it for about 10 minutes or until the skin becomes crispy.

After the chicken is done, take it out of the oven. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.  As a healthy bonus tip, serve it with raw spinach.  Drizzle the sauce from the pot on the chicken, the rice, and the raw spinach.  

Enjoy your healthy Chicken Adobo that is baked instead of fried.

When you visit the Philippines, you will undoubtedly see fruits and vegetables that you are not accustomed to in your country if you are a Westerner. One vegetable in particular will appear very strange looking. It is shaped like a large cucumber. It has many bumps like melted wax on a candle. It is called “ampalaya” in the Philippines. The English word for it is bitter gourd.

Yes, it is not an attractive looking vegetable. Yes, it tastes bitter, especially if you don’t prepare it properly. Yes, we eat it here. Yes, it is tasty. Yes, it is really good for your health. Research has shown that ampalaya helps with diabetes. You can read more about that in this research report here:

Now, let’s proceed to making a popular dish here in the Philippines called Ginisang Ampalaya.

You will need the following ingredients:

  • Ampalaya, 2 or 3
  • Tomatoes, 3 or 4
  • Onion, 1
  • Garlic, 3 cloves
  • Eggs, 3 or 4
  • Coconut oil, 1 tablespoon
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste

Here is how to prepare the ampalaya so it will be less bitter. This step is really important for an enjoyable dish.

  1. Cut the ampalaya into big chunks. Use a spoon to remove the core of seeds. You should be left with just the hollow hole.
  2. Wet the ampalaya chunks then rub salt on the outside and the inside of the vegetable tube.
  3. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes on a plate or cutting board.

While the ampalaya is being treated with salt, slice the tomatoes and onion. Mince the garlic. Beat the eggs like you are going to make scrambled eggs.

Rinse the ampalaya so that you will remove the salt. Slice it into thin wedges.

Using a wok or frying pan, heat the coconut oil.  Add the onions and saute it for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add the ampalaya and saute for 5 minutes. Season with salt. Move the ampalaya to the side of the wok to make a hole in the middle of the wok. Add the  eggs. Let it cook for about 3 minutes. Add some salt to the eggs.  Then mix the eggs up by stirring it quickly. Mix it up with the ampalaya. Add the tomatoes and mix it up with the ampalaya and the eggs. Stir fry for 3 more minutes.

Serve it hot with rice. Yummy and good for you!

Laos food is similar to Thai food but less varied. One popular dish that they share in common is Laos larb.  If you haven’t tried it, you are in for a treat. In essence, larb is the balanced mixture of cooked meat with cool herbs. The combination just works.

Because Laos is landlocked, the traditional larb recipe uses buffalo meat or fish.  Pork, chicken and beef are luxuries.  Here we will use pork or chicken or fish since they can readily be found in the supermarket.  I haven’t seen buffalo meat offered much here.


  • Ground pork, chicken or fish, 200 grams
  • Roasted and ground sticky rice, 1 tablespoon
  • Fish sauce, 1 tablespoon
  • Lime juice, 1 tablespoon
  • Chili powder, 1-2 tablespoon
  • Finely chopped shallot, 1 to 2
  • Chopped mint leaves, 5 to 7
  • Chopped spring onion, 1 stalk
  • Chopped coriander, 1 stalk


  1. Boil meat for 2 minutes and drain water. Place in mixing bowl.
  2. Add all ingredients to meat in the mixing bowl and mix well.
  3. Serve with fresh slices of cabbage, lettuce, cucumbers and leafy herbs.

Serves 1-2

About Maria

Maria Peña is people connector. She created Real Pinay to connect foreigners with authentic Filipinas for friendship, romance, and perhaps even marriage.





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