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Vegan Dinuguan One of my grandmother’s specialties is dinuguan and I grew up eating so much of it that I have plenty of great memories surrounding this dish. When I lived abroad, most Filipinos call it “chocolate soup” or “chocolate stew” to trick others to give it a try. Traditionally, it is a stew of  pig innards cooked in pig’s blood with vinegar. It is beyond me how Nanay (my maternal grandmother) can make a pot of magic with pig carcass and its body liquids. Naturally, becoming vegan is not an impediment to enjoying this dish I loved eating growing up so I made my guilt-free pot last night. Replicating looks, taste and texture is front and center of every successful veganized dish and in this case, I needed a lot of  chew and substance. Taking the pig out of the picture and pulling out my vegan swaps, I used black beans for blood, reconstituted dried oyster mushrooms, fried tofu and pig-free pork belly (vegchon) for innards and dense vegetables for substance. Software: 2.5 cups dried black beans (soaked overnight and slowly cooked in 2 liters of water without salt until tender–I used a slow cooker for this as I cannot be bothered with tending a pot on a stove for hours) 2.5 nori sheets 500 g of extra firm tofu, cubed and fried 125-250g pig-free liempo (vegchon), cut into 1-1.5 inch pieces and flash fried (you can get this from The Real Happy Cow) 2 cups packed dried oyster mushroom, reconstituted and excess water removed then roughly chopped 2-3 sayote or carrots or potatoes, cut into small cubes 5 finger chilis 3 laurel leaves 1 stalk of lemongrass, bruised (white part only) 2 large red onions, roughly chopped 1 head of garlic, peeled and sliced 1 vegetable stock cube or 1 teaspoon mushroom powder 1/3 cup vegan patis 3/4 to 1 cup coconut vinegar (I used half coconut cider and half white vinegar) Cracked black pepper to taste *for those sensitive to yeast and mushrooms, replace with more dense vegetables and add more black beans *for those sensitive to soy, forgo the patis, you can use salt and/or coconut aminos *for the garlic and onion free, replace with asafoetida Procedure: 1. Blend beans with the nori sheets with the cooking liquid. Make sure the cooking liquid is double the amount of the beans, if not, add more water. 2. Saute garlic in a bit of oil until golden brown. Turn... read more


Laing is one of the regional Filipino dishes I “dread” cooking but is extremely fond of–I’d pick it over anything except for sinigang. Traditionally, I will always eat it but not make it. In fact, I never made it before until yesterday. I love it with hot steaming unpolished rice or rice noodles–laing pasta anyone? Armed by accounts of KK watching his Bicolana grandmother cook this time and time again, Tinkerbelle’s Bicolana mom’s instructions and a YouTube video of Bugnay (see below) as my guides, I set out the make the best meat-free laing my kitchen can produce. SOFTWARE: 1/8 kilo of dried taro leaves (give or take) Coconut cream (kakang gata) from 4 coconuts 4-6 cups of water 4 medium red onion, chopped 4 inch ginger cut into short julienned sticks 1 head of native garlic, chopped 5 siling pansigang or siling labuyo to taste (I happen to have only siling pansigang so that’s what I used but for a more authentic laing, labuyo is a must) 1/2 cup KNL’s Bagoong How did I make it? Just watch this video. I did not include any meat and that green packet of everything but good. How did it turn out? The kid who grew up with Bicolano cooking said, “This is very good, you are very close. Are you sure there’s no meat in this?” WOW! made my day! Who knew it’s not as hard as it seems?... read more

COOKIN’ RECIPE: Vegan Bagoong

One of my greatest frustrations going largely plant-based is the lack of bagoong. Bagoong (particularly the alamang type, exponentially salty, sweet and spicy) is one of my favorite condiments and stir-fry must have for local dishes. I experimented a few times and used recipes of people who have been on the path longer than I have. Close to throwing in the towel, I stumbled upon a copy of Yummy magazine and saw Marie Gonzalez‘s recipe and followed it to the letter. At the time, it was the closest I’ve come to achieving the depth of umami-ness only real bagoong can deliver. Along the way, I adapted the recipe and made changes to fine tune it to my preference. Yield: 2 cups INGREDIENTS: 1 cup shiitake mushrooms (for this recipe, I find brown mushrooms are better, particularly the dried type then reconstituted) 1 head of garlic, chopped 200 g tausi or salted black beans (reserve the brine) 6 roasted nori sheets 3 pieces of kombu, reconstituted in a little water (reserve the water) 2 siling labuyo or bird’s eye chilies (I like mine spicy) 1/4 cup coconut sugar 2 tablespoons achuete oil HOW TO: Using a food processor, blitz the mushrooms, tausi and nori sheets until everything is well incorporated and resembles a fine mince. In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat the achuete oil and fry the garlic until golden. Add the chilies. Add the mushroom mixture and saute for more or less 5 minutes. Add the kombu water and tausi brine. Sprinkle in the sugar, mix and season to taste. This is the first dish I made with the bagoong. This is also great with green mangoes and grilled vegetables. KNL currently produces this bagoong for those people who do not have time to make this. For inquiries and prices, please e-mail or contact us via our FB page.... read more

COOKIN’ RECIPE: The Best Bean-Only Chili

Chili bowl with all the trimmings One of the things I am getting better at is preparing food for my husband even when I’m on a fast. To me, preparing food  (raw or cooked) is very therapeutic and it alleviates any craving I may have for eating–weird, I know, but it works! In fact, most of the best food I made are developed and made when I am not eating. Deciding to outdo the “performance” of my old recipe for meat chili, I embarked on an ambitious journey with the goal of trumping it with an all-bean, hearty, plant-based, no-animal-product pot of chili. For starters, I did my due diligence. I took out my mental notes on my meat chili, what made it stand out? Learning how to make chili from my Mexican classmates back in college, the secret was chipotle chiles in adobo sauce. I searched high and low, no chipotle, no adobo sauce either (I mean Mexican-style adobo, very different from the Filipino adobo). So what do I do? I rolled my sleeves and set to work. After all, I am Filipino–ingenious extraordinaire is in my DNA. KK enjoying his bowl of chili Beans 2 cups dried beans  (I used black and white, you can use pinto, black-eyed, pinto, etc.) – soaked overnight 8-10 cups of water (for the beans) Cook the beans until tender. It will take approximately 1 to 1.5 hours. (I like using dried than canned because it’s tastier and  more economical). Do not add salt while cooking the beans, it will make it tough. The beans will be seasoned once the chili is put together. Makeshift Adobo Sauce 4-6 red and green bell peppers – roasted, skins and seeds taken off 1 jalapeño pepper – roasted, skins and seeds taken off 2 siling pangsigang – chopped 3 T ketchup 1 T cider vinegar (either coconut or apple) 1/2 cup water 2 cloves of garlic 1 teaspoon cumin 1.5 teaspoons oregano Blend until smooth. Set aside. All-Bean Chili All the cooked beans All of the adobo sauce 28 ounces crushed tomatoes 2 medium onions, finely diced 3 stalks celery, finely diced 3 cloves garlic, grated 1 T oil 2 teaspoons oregano 1.5 teaspoons cumin 2 teaspoons cacao powder or 1 tablea 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (more or less, depends on your preference) 2 teaspoons Bovril or Vegemite or Marmite (This is optional, you can use nutritional flakes instead) 1.5 T coconut aminos or 1... read more