Salabat: Ginger Brew

Posted by on Feb 6, 2005 in Beverages, Spicy | 21 comments

It’s interesting how people get to this blog. Time and again, I get referrals for searches looking for a salabat recipe (ginger brew or tea). I didn’t bother to write down the instructions since all it takes is a pot of water, some ginger and brown sugar. As far as I know, in Manila salabat is that plain and I assumed this was the standard. They even sell it bottled and powdered in groceries nowadays and that has become the standard. It is all very convenient but the real thing for me is when one can taste bits of fresh ginger with every gulp, as I remember from days not too long ago.

A good part of my childhood memories are of Lola brewing salabat for us. It was perfect for cold weather, as ginger warms the body. It is also perfect for hot days as there is no better way to release heat than by sweating. We had to take the brew very strong if we had colds and if we were singing or reciting poems during school programmes. I wonder how many generations of children are made to do the same.

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My Lolo’s Spicy Chicken

Posted by on Oct 21, 2004 in Hocus Pocus, Poultry, Spicy, Stew | 32 comments


Having spent my childhood in the province and in Pampanga at that, I took for granted that everyone knew how to cook. It seemed to me that it was something instinctive, something naturally learnt, like speaking. In our family, even those who were not considered excellent cooks had very passable culinary skills. And even then, they also had excellent taste in food. My grandfather was probably one of them.

My maternal grandmother would always tell us stories about our grandfather’s slapdash cooking skills albeit in jest. One incident was when he was left at home with their very young children. Lola laughingly related how she was still on the street in front of the house when her children regaled her with how Lolo dropped a live fish into a boiling pot of soup. Lolo was also extravagant with spices, and I probably took after him, based on the number of times I was reprimanded for using a lot of cloves, oregano and laurel. Fortunately for Lola, I was born after my grandfather passed away, otherwise she’d have run out of spices very often.

Aside from Lolo‘s more down-to-earth cooking and his penchant for spices, he also loved to replicate dishes they had in expensive restaurants. He also experimented with original recipes. Below is one of them, which he called lutong Bombay, perhaps due to its curry-like flavour. Our clan never tires of this recipe. It is very simple to cook and most of the ingredients are usually available in any pantry.

Chicken, being the versatile meat that it is, soaks up the flavour of the spices. Garlic and ginger compliment each other, and gives it the decidedly Oriental aroma even from afar. The tomatoes lend some sourness that balance the hot-spicy flavour of ginger and garlic while the potato gives the sauce some body, even as it absorbs the flavours of the other ingredients.

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Tinola (Chicken Soup for the Hungry)

Posted by on Jul 29, 2004 in Poultry, Soup, Spicy | 27 comments

My blog statistics show that I get most hits from those searching for siomai recipes and I’m glad that I finally posted one. I also included a recipe for Chinese chilli paste after getting requests by e-mail.

From chats with friends, I’m asked for recipes and questions about certain dishes. Perhaps it would be a good idea to write them down so I can respond to them in an orderly manner. Thus, the Sensual Cook has now opened the floor for questions and comments from neophyte and not so neophyte cooks.

Below I’m posting a recipe for the easiest chicken soup in the Philippines. In some provinces, tinola can also be cooked using pork and fish but in Pampanga, it is usually with chicken. Every now and then frogs are also cooked this way.

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