Tag Archives: Philippines

Filipino Specialties at Nipa Hut

Though Cleveland is much smaller than Chicago, we are always heartened to see how much diversity is really tucked away in the city and surrounding area’s restaurants. We had a craving for Filipino food recently, and were happy to find that there were actually two Filipino options in the Parma area: Nipa Hut (6775 W 130th St, Parma Heights, OH) and Mely’s Kainan (5382 State Road, Cleveland, OH 44134). We were craving Halo-Halo (pictured below), so we opted for Nipa Hut, since we saw it featured prominently on the menu (very scientific, I know).

Nipa Hut is primarily a grocery store, but also with a separate seating area to dine in, but it did not appear to be open when we went. Instead, during our Covid-era visit the only option was to pick up food from their ready made take-out selection. However, this restriction was not too big of a deal since the take-out section actually consisted a large number of refrigerated items, as you can see below. From these we selected: pancit bihon ($7.95), chicken afritada ($9.95), Laing (taro leaves in coconut milk), and we finished up with pickled papaya salad. Other options included chicken adobo (soy and vinegar marinaded chicken with thousands or variations), menudo (pork stew, different than the Latin American menudo, a tripe stew), fried sardines, palabok (noodles in a shrimp sauce) and kare-kare (peanut curry stew). We brought home our choices to reheat in the oven, and overall they held up very nicely. We were really surprised by the Laing, which we had never tried before – it was both tangy and creamy, with a nice shrimp paste kick – all complementing the slightly chewy, toothsome taro leaves. The pancit, a rice noodle dish, is one of our go-tos because its mix of stir-fried meat and veggies is so comforting (in this case chicken and bell peppers). The chicken afritada, a homey stew with a delightful savory sauce of tomatoes and spice, was surprisingly complex, and the chicken was fall-off-the-bone tender.

And now for dessert, which for us, was the main event. We ordered a halo-halo ($6.99) to go for each of us (and who wants to share?), which we enjoyed in the car before it melted. This dessert was made to order, and not available in the takeout counter. Halo-halo is a frozen Filipino sundae-like dish that means “mix mix” in Tagalog, and it is an idiosyncratic combination of lots of different sweet delicacies all contained in a single cup. No two places make it the same, though there are often common elements, like ube ice cream and jellied fruit. Our Halo-Halo contained: puffed rice, a scoop of ube ice cream, a slice of flan, shaved ice, condensed milk, jackfruit pieces, chickpeas (!) and bright-green pandan jelly. The beauty of halo-halo is that the combination of elements is more than the sum of its parts, trust us!

Nipa Hut was also connected to a sizable grocery store filled with any sort of Filipino grocery your heart could desire. We were also extremely intrigued by the large selection of ube frozen treats, including a frozen ube pie, which we really regretted not buying. Within the aisles of Nipa Hut, there was a staggering assortment of Filipino sauces, canned goods, and treats, and a selection of jellied fruits to make your own halo-halo! There were also more esoteric inclusions tucked away, including balut, a fertilized chicken egg. We highly recommend Nipa Hut if you are in search for Filipino ingredients, hearty comfort food, or even a little halo-halo as a treat.

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Making Angela Dimayuga’s Chicken Adobo

philippinesWe have been cooking our way around the world during quarantine, since we can’t go anywhere. So far, it has been helping our quell our wanderlust a little bit. A few weeks ago we tried to make Adobo, the de facto national dish of the Philippines. Chicken Adobo can be made a thousand different ways, but generally has a vinegary sauce base. Chef Angela Dimayuga shared her family’s recipe which includes soy sauce, garlic, and three types of coconut: coconut oil, coconut milk and coconut vinegar. You can find the recipe here on New York Times Food. This dish was super easy to make, and was deliciously savory and tangy. We especially loved the spicy pop of the whole peppercorns. This would be the perfect dish for entertaining (someday).

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What are Carinderias?

philippinesWe have been focusing a bit on the Philippines this week during our online food explorations, and have become enthralled by its diverse food culture. We are already itching to visit in person some day and try all the street food! One of the major restaurant types in the Philippines is the Carinderia, which is a combination of a street food stall and a buffet restaurant. The origin of the name is tied to the word kari, which means spice/curry. At a Carinderia, which is often open air and found street-side or in a market, you can select from maybe a dozen or more rotating local Filipino home-style dishes. Options vary by restaurant and region, and may include chicken adobo, lechon (roast pork), sisig (chopped pork and onions), Tinolang manok (chicken soup), pancit (fried noodles) and more. You can find Carinderia restaurants throughout the Filipino diaspora, from the US, to Australia to Bahrain. Mark Weins has a blog post and video a Carinderia he visited in Manila, giving insight into the various dishes. We also love the Carinderia crawl videos from the Filipino channel Coconuts.tv. Each video follows a different person visiting their favorite Carinderia and it is awesome to see the variety in both setup and food!

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Pastry Post-Doc: Filipino Ube Macapuno Cake

philippinesUbe is having a moment in US food culture. The sweet purple yam flavor seems to be popping up all over in the US, in cakes, ice creams and donuts, mirroring its popularity in the Philippines, where it is incorporated into any sweet treat you can imagine. Ube is truly, shockingly purple, so you definitely won’t be able to miss it. We first had ube-flavored desserts at Village Creamery in the Chicago burbs, and we were hooked. Ube is a traditional flavor in the Philippines, and one of the most popular uses for it is in Ube Macapuno cake (ube = purple yam, macapuno = preserved coconut), a light and fluffy frosted cake with tons of bright-purple goodness. It is getting easier to find ube itself in the US, and you can also find ube powder in some well-stocked Asian groceries. Macapuno, preserved coconut, may be a little harder to find, but the Phil-Am Foods site has both ube powder and macapuno for sale online. Bake Happy has a recipe utilizing Ube Powder (seen below) and Bakanista has a recipe for a cake made with fresh ube (in some places you can even enhance your recipes with McCormick Ube Essence).

UbeCake

 

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Isla Pilipiana, new school Filipino in Lincoln Square

philippinesIsla Pilipiana (2501 W Lawrence Ave, Chicago, IL) has one foot in the old world and one in the new. The menu features classic Filipino dishes, but the menu itself is designed in an edgy, loopy hand drawn style (even with a reference to Eminem lyrics, see if you can spot them) – which seems to be the perfect summary of what Isla Pilipiana is all about. Isla Pilipiana is a small place with modern decor, and is located in a strip mall just off the main Lincoln Square drag, so you might miss it.

Isla

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All about Ensaimadas – Spain to Puerto Rico to the Philippines

philippinesFlag of Puerto RicospainWe first ate an ensaimada, a sweet eggy, yeast roll on a warm day in Puerto Rico, not knowing anything of its history, other than that it looked pretty tasty (it is actually called a Mallorca there). However, we did not put two and two together until we stumbled upon the same sweet yeast roll, with the same spiral top, on a cold winter day in Madrid, except this time it was called an ensaimada. When we got home, we did a little research and sure enough these two rolls, encountered an ocean apart, were actually the same pastry.

La Mallorquina in Madrid

Enaismada (center) from La Mallorquina in Madrid

Ensaimadas originated on the Spanish island of Mallorca, and gained their name from the pork fat used to make them, saïm. The pastry traveled with the Spanish around the world, and throughout the centuries have found their way throughout the Spanish speaking world to Puerto Rico, and to the Philippines, where they are particularly popular. Ensaimadas, due to their richness, are popular to eat around Mardi Gras time, before all the sweets and butter are given up for Lent, so why not whip some up now? Check out this Spanish-style recipe from Delicious Days, or a traditional Cabell d’àngel pumpkin jam-filled version from the Gusty Gourmet. Jun-blog has a recipe for Filippino ensaimadas, which are miniature-sized and made with butter.

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Filipino Ice Cream in Chicagoland: Village Creamery

Village Creamery
4558 Oakton Street
Skokie, IL

In honor of National Ice Cream Month, here’s another post about one of our favorite topics. We here at ETW are huge fans of ice cream, but it takes a lot to wow us. Village Creamery, is one place we were pretty impressed by, and the sheer variety of unique flavors was a real treat. Many are inspired by Filipino flavors such as Mangosteen and Lychee and others by American treats, such as those made with Girl Scout cookies or Donut pieces. The variety is truly astounding. If you don’t believe us, check out this complete flavor list on their website. Of course if you are in the mood for a more simple Vanilla or Mint Chocolate chip, Village Creamery has those, too.

HaloHaloIceCream

All of the ice creams are home made and the rotation of flavors varies from day to day. On the day we visited they had such eclectic flavors as Cheese (!), Crème brulee, Durian, Jackfruit and Halo-Halo Fiesta, a riff on a popular Filipino dessert. We figured the halo-halo was a good choice, so we ordered one cup, along with a cup of the more typical Mint Chip. The Halo Halo flavor consisted of vanilla ice cream with banana, pineapple gel, coconut gel, red beans, white beans, and Rice Krispies. Though the combination seems quite unusual, it really worked. Our friends that ordered more traditional flavors were also pleased. Along with simple scoops, Village Creamery also offers a range of sundaes, milkshakes, malts and even bubble tea. We highly recommend Village Creamery for your more idiosyncratic ice cream cravings and it is one of our favorite places in the burbs for a treat (there is also a location in Niles).

VillageCreamery

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Filipino food ABC

We are totally into Jun-blog, a blog focusing on Filipino food, coupled with some pretty amazing photographs. We especially like the Filipino Food ABCs feature, where a Filipino recipe starting with A-Z is featured. The blog is currently up to N. We are especially excited to try the E-Recipe: Ensaimada brioche rolls.

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A New Place for… Thai Groceries

Having just gotten back from Thailand we were eager to try recreating some of our favorite dishes at home. There used to be a store on Argyle appropriately called “Thai Grocery” but it closed semi-recently. Without any other obviously-named choices, we were pleased when we randomly saw a sign on a store on Dempster proclaiming “We now carry Thai Groceries”.

The aptly named Uni-Mart mainly sells Filipino food (both in a restaurant and grocery store), there was a healthy helping of Thai food mixed in. There was a huge selection of canned Thai sauces and bags of cookies, but what most intrigued us was the beverage selection. Happily, we found both of the items (both beverages) that we were looking for – Milo ($3.25), a powdered chocolate malt drink and loose Thai Tea ($1.85).

The Thai Tea was an especially fortuitous find since we like to brew our own Thai iced teas and all of the blends we had tried in America had not been up to snuff (Thai Tea is very fine, full of red dye and contains other spices like Vanilla and cinnamon). We are happy to report that it was worth many times the $1.85 we had paid for it. We are looking forward to visiting the Uni-Mart again to sample some more Thai groceries and hopefully try out some Filipino food too, a regretfully blank spot on our global food quest.

Uni-Mart
7315 Dempster Street
Niles, IL 60714

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Friday Foodie Links: Links Smorgasbord

There’s no theme this week. Just some interesting links and tidbits:

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