Red-cooked Pork Belly

I must say, hopefully without sounding too smug, that I love living in Asia. I love living in a region others refer to as exciting, exotic, and mysterious. I guess, if I am completely and totally honest, I always wished I was a bit more exciting, exotic, and mysterious myself. Years and years of self-tanning, real-tanning (I’ve tried it all, from beer to baby oil), hair-straightening, starving, and quit a lot of tears are a testament to this quest. Thankfully, I've come a long way since then and have learned to accept that outside appearance (no matter how pale or round) does not have anything to do with inside fervor. So I’ve claimed my Asian-ness as something that is rightfully mine…down to the very bones and blood, by birth and by God-given right (as it should be seeing that I was bred, born, and raised here!).

I try to live it to the fullest measure – the beaches, the flip flops, the amazing fresh seafood that I can pick so to the bones with my hands that even a wily cat would have nothing left. The flavors that are brazen, brilliant, and not for the faint of heart. Piquant native onions. Sili labuyo – our tiny, native bird’s eye chili that can bring a grown man to his knees. More garlic than deemed decent. Knobs of ginger always (always!) present in our aromatics bowl. Wansuy (cilantro) – that bright, green, unmistakable herb whose smell can send me into a happy trance. Gata (coconut milk) – that lends a special creaminess to both savory dishes and desserts. Tanglad (lemongrass) – a hardy stalk that grows wild, with a unique lemony flavor all its own. Bagoong (shrimp paste) – Famous/infamous for its pungent bouquet. Patis (fish sauce) – Adds a savoriness that is much more robust than salt alone.

And that’s not even taking into account all the dazzling, colorful, and can’t-be-ignored flavors that hail from my other Asian neighbors – Kaffir lime, Thai basil, Vietnamese mint, Curry, star anise, sriracha, sambal, soy sauce. So many ways to be delicious.

Red-cooked Pork Belly
(Based on recipes here and here)
  • 700 grams pork belly, bone in and skin on
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 star anise
  • Ginger, 2 inches sliced
  • 1-2 cilantro roots or about 6-8 culantro leaves tied in a bundle
  • 6-8 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1/2 cup shallots (small native onions), peeled but left whole
  • Whole dried chili (depending how spicy you want it)
  • 2 long strips of orange peel
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Shaoxing wine
  • Water
  • Green onions, about 6 stalks, sliced
  • A small bunch of cilantro, torn
- Par-boil pork belly: Put the pork belly in a wok containing enough boiling water to cover the meat completely. Continuously skim off the scum as it forms on top of the boiling water. Boil for about 20 minutes then drain the pork belly and set aside to cool. The boiling liquid can be reused for the braising after straining through a fine sieve. When the pork belly is cool to touch cut it into pieces of about 1.5 inches cubes.
- Melt the sugar and the vegetable oil in a wok over medium high heat. Continue heating until the sugar is slightly brown, about 3 minutes. Add the cubed pork belly and brown it with the caramelized sugar, about 8 minutes. Be careful as it may spit and sputter and you don’t want any hot-fat-and-molten-sugar napalm to get on you.
- Add the star anise, ginger, garlic, cilantro root/culantro, shallots, chili, orange peel, and the green parts of the green onions to the pan. Brown a bit and let them pick up all the caramelized bits.
- Add soy sauce, shaoxing, and enough water (or par-boiling liquid) to almost cover the meat. Cover and stick in a pre-heated 350F oven until meat is tender, checking occasionally to make sure it is not drying out (and adding some of the par-boiling liquid if it seems too dry). This could take 2-3 hours. You want it meltingly soft with the fat relaxed and jiggly.
- When meat is tender, remove from oven and simmer rapidly, uncovered, on the hob until sauce has reduced a bit.
- Garnish with white and light green parts of the green onions as well as cilantro.

I love pork belly. It is an awesome cut of pork and so agreeable to a long, slow cook. It becomes unctuous and soft and oh so decadent. And it is the perfect canvas for Asian flavors. I especially like it when prepared in a way that renders it sticky, sweet, and spicy – all of which this dish does. I like to use it with the bone in and the skin on because this really adds body to the sauce. This recipe is based on the ones I found here and here. Caramelizing the pork belly in melted brown sugar is something I have never done but is so worth it. I like to finish it in the oven as I like using its gentle heat in dishes like this. We have this on a pile of steaming rice, but I think it would also do well atop a mound of egg noodles.

All this rhapsodizing is not to say I don’t get equally passionate about cuisines on the Western hemisphere…or the ingredients and produce you find there. I do! But there is something about the personality of Asian cuisines that is so disarmingly audacious, at the same time preciously familiar (to me), that it will always own a part of me. And I it.

Note: My column in the Yummy magazine August issue (already out in newsstands) also reflects my love for Asian flavors. I share my own version of Asian-style meatballs with noodles. The whole issue celebrates Asian food. If you are a fan of any Asian cuisine check it out! Lots to try :)


How I feel since being dropped back into London town.

Peaceful Porto.

Que bom haver realidade,
A luz, o calor, o cheiro
E estas pedras tão pequenas
A desenharem-se em chão.

Que felicidade
O mundo não ser apenas
O nevoeiro
Da minha imaginação!

José Gomes Ferreira

What luck to have reality,
light, heat, fragrance
And these stones so small,
making patterns across the floor.

What happiness
The world not being but
the thick mist
of my imagination!

Photobooth memories

Under the dictatorship of Giovanni, mari and I still managed to get up to no good in the kitchen.

English/Mexican kitchen dance off.

Last day with Raul. Things got psychedelic.

I dedicate this to a gaja boa:


Infinite respect.

Sweet Testing: Grasshopper Cake

I swear this isn’t another Baked cake. It has nothing to with Baked. It is a completely unrelated dessert that has absolutely no connection to a particular bakery in Brooklyn known for their mega super delicious treats. Okay, that’s a lie. It is, in fact, a Baked cake. I’ve been thinking of adding a Baked tag to all my Baked recipes because I’ve made so many of them. I can’t help it! They are always good! I was particularly happy with the way this one turned out. It’s like a thin mint cookie in cake form! Actually, it’s better than a thin mint cookie and I really like thin mint cookies. One person told me that it was the best cake that I had ever made, but I usually hear that from at least one person every time I make a Baked cake. I’m telling you, they are just that good!

You can find the complete Grasshopper Cake recipe after the jump.

Grasshopper Cake from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

Chocolate Layers
3/4 Cup Dark Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 1/4 Cups Hot Water
2/3 Cup Sour Cream
2 2/3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
2 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp Salt
3/4 Cup (1 1/2 Sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened
1/2 Cup Vegetable Shortening (I use butter)
1 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar
1 Cup Firmly Packed Dark Brown Sugar
3 Large Eggs, room temperature
1 Tblsp Pure Vanilla Extract

1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Butter three 8 inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper and butter this too. Dust with flour knocking out any excess. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl combine the cocoa, hot water and sour cream. Whisk together and set aside to cool.

3. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

4. Add the butter and shortening to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle and beat on medium until light, fluffy and ribbonlike, around 5 minutes. Add the sugars and beat for about another 5 minutes until light and fluffy.

5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. Give the sides of the bowl a scrape and give one last mix for 30 seconds.

6. Add the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the cocoa mixture, starting and ending with the flour.

7. Divide equally amongst the three pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 20 minutes before inverting out to cool completely.

Creme de Menthe Buttercream
2 1/4 Cups Sugar
1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour
2 1/4 Cups Milk
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
4 1/2 Sticks, soft but cool, cut into small pieces
2 Tbslp Creme de Menthe
2 1/4 Tsp Peppermint Extract
(if you don't have creme de menthe or don't want to use it substitute 1 Tbslp Vanilla Extract and 1 tsp green food colouring)

1. Add the sugar and flour to a medium saucepan and whisk together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat whisking occasionally for about 20 minutes until thickened.

2. Transfer the mixture to your mixer and beat, with the paddle, on high speed until cooled to room temperature. This might splatter a little so you may want to cover with a tea towel. Turn the mixer to low and add the butter beat on low until thoroughly incorporated and then turn the mixer to medium high and beat until light and fluffy.

3. Add the creme de menthe and peppermint extract and beat to combine. Put the buttercream aside while you make the ganache.

Mint Chocolate Ganache
6 Ounces Dark Chocolate (60 to 72% Cacao), coarsely chopped
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Tblsp Creme de Menthe
1/2 Tsp Peppermint Extract

1. Put the chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside. Bring the cream just to a boil and pour over the chocolate. Let the mixture sit for 2 minutes before gently mixing the chocolate and cream together until emulsified. Add the creme de menthe and peppermint extract and stir to combine.

2. Mix for a couple more minutes to help cool then let the ganache sit for about 15 minutes.


1. Place the first cake layer on a serving plate or cake drum. Trim the top if not level. Using a small offset spatula spread about 1/4 cup of ganache on top of the cake layer. Put the cake in the fridge for 1 minute to firm up. Spread about 1 1/4 cups of buttercream on top of the ganache. Top with the second round and repeat. Add the third layer and trim.

2. Crumb coat the cake and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Frost the the side and top of the cake with the remaining frosting and decorate as you desire. The cake will keep very well, if covered, for 3 days. If the room is not cool, you can keep covered in the fridge but remove the cake at least 2 hours before serving.

Breakfast #44: BLT with Slow Roasted Tomatoes & Egg

Have you been on Pinterest? It’s a virtual pinboard where you can “pin” any image that catches your eye. It’s a great place to tuck, or should I say tack, all those visual bits of inspiration we come across online. Awesome photos, luscious looking food, fabulous style pegs, anything, anything at all that appeals to your sense of gorgeousness.

Suffice to say, I am quite enamored. It’s an effortless way to quickly save any image that inspires me…and because of the endless amount of talent out there in the world, that’s a lot! On the site itself, there are other “pinboards” from all sorts of lovely people, brimming with brilliance. So as far as inspiration is concerned, there is a whole lot to go around. All of it, quite literally, at the tips of your fingers.

And it’s with thanks to Pinterest, and its wonderful members, that I’ve come to this BLT. Not just any BLT, but a BLT with slow roasted tomatoes and a fried egg. A BLT for champions.

Being a lover of porcine delights, it’s no wonder that the mighty BLT (Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato if your being formal) is one of my favorite sandwiches. I also happen to love slow-roasting tomatoes. And I love eggs. So when I came across these alluring photos on Pinterest the wheels were set in motion for my next breakfast BLT (because what better time to have bacon that at breakfast?).

This is not so much a recipe as a framework. You choose the quantities. Here is what I did: I slow roasted some tomatoesthis is the way I like to do that. You can do this in advance, in fact, it’s better if you do. Waiting a couple of hours for a sandwich can seem a bit surreal. When you are ready, fry your bacon in a dry, hot pan (I like to use a thickish honey-cured variety from a local deli) – let the fat render and cook exactly the way you like it (for a BLT I like mine just bordering on crisp). While the bacon is cooking toast the bread (I use my favorite whole-grain, sold at my neighborhood market, baked by a former French Foreign Legionnaire…or so they say). Slather on side of the bread quite generously with mayonnaise (or not, if that’s your preference). Arrange the lettuce leaves over the mayonnaise (I like to use arugula) and the slow-roasted tomatoes over that. When the bacon is done set aside on paper towels and fry the egg in the sizzling hot bacon fat, sprinkle the yolk with salt. The egg will sputter and may look quite frayed but that’s ok – take it out while the yolk’s still runny. Place the bacon over the tomatoes and the egg on that. Top with another slice of toast. Press down on the sandwich just enough so the yolk gently ruptures and wiggle the bread a bit so it spreads. Enjoy with abandon.

Inspiration is, truly, everywhere. It can come from a “pinboard” of someone half a world away, or right outside your window. It can come from your neighborhood market or a meal you are about to have. It can come from an ingredient you’ve never come across before. It can come from leftovers. It can come from something you just learned from someone you’ve known your whole life. The key is to always keep your eyes, your mind and your heart wide open to its possibility. It could change your life. Or at the very least give you a fantastic BLT.

I hope we all let inspiration find us this weekend! :)

Note: If you’re curious about what inspires me, you can visit my pinboards here. Aside from the obvious food, I also have pretty things for myself, my little one, and my home.


Ruffians, No good doers, scoundrels and all round good time boys. Pablo and Efecan.

The ever smiling Aroasia twins.

Mr Clees found in Lisbon.

Iberic and German sassy ladies.

The Slovak.

Maider 'Joder' Aierdi, the Queen of tortillas.

Mirella. Proof that the Spanish are born with fiesta spirit embedded in their DNA.

More characters to come.

Giga Pudding

If you were to ask me, Hey, Erin, what is Giga Pudding, exactly? I would not be able to give you an answer. Apparently, it is a type of pudding. A type of pudding that comes in a bucket. A type of pudding that comes in a bucket and wobbles a lot. Quite frankly, Giga Pudding reminds me more of a toy, than something that is meant to be consumed, which is not surprising given that it's manufactured by a Japanese toy company. It's a food toy, not unlike the Easy Bake Oven of my youth, and I can see how it would appeal to kids. On the other hand, unlike the Easy Bake Oven, Giga Pudding seems to be marketed to adults as well as children, as you can see in this hilarious commercial. I will probably never actually eat Giga Pudding, unless it's on a dare, but I can watch this commercial over and over again. I do quite enjoy watching things wobble. To visit the Giga Pudding website, click here.


Beluga Lentils with Bacon & Balsamic Roasted Shallots

Beluga lentils. Where have you been my whole life? Really. Not around my parts as far as I know. I’ve lived without you for some 30-odd years, but I’m now determined to carve a niche for you in my heart. You’ve charmed me with you diminutive size, dusky color, and, certainly not the least of it, the way you remain perky when other lentils would have gone to mush – making you perfect for all sorts of salad-type preparations. Or just to have in the chiller, cooked and at the ready, for tossing into any impromptu lunch.

I found and procured these beluga lentils on a recent trip to Barcelona. I had seen them in cookbooks and other blogs but, as they are not readily available here, have never tried them before now. We have other lentils, mostly the brown types. You can also find puy lentils in some specialty stores. But beluga lentils I have yet to come across. When I saw a jar of them at the spice stall in La Boqueria I was torn. My suitcase was getting dangerously heavy and I didn’t have any kilos to spare. I looked at the lady imploringly and asked, in my broken Spanish, what was the smallest portion she would sell me. I explained about my living on an island (ok, group of islands) in Asia with no beluga lentils, about my suitcase bursting at the seams, about my wanting to just have a taste of these famous lentils for once in my life. Moved by my story (or desperate to stop the barrage of my horrific Spanish) she packed a 250-gram bag for me.

The most common use for lentils here is the Spanish dish lentejas, which is much like a soup or stew. For these little black pearls though I wanted a more delicate preparation that would highlight the beans more (as opposed to melting them away in a soup – albeit a delicious one!) and maintain their sprightly personality. I decided a more bean-salad type treatment would be ideal (as is really more popular with this type of lentils). And if bacon and balsamic roasted shallots are not quite so delicate, I think the deliciousness of this dish totally justifies the addition.

Beluga Lentils with Bacon & Balsamic Roasted Shallots
  • ¾ - 1 cup shallots, peeled but left whole
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup beluga lentils, cleaned and picked over
  • 2 1/2 water
  • 150 grams slab bacon, cut into lardons or strips
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed (through a garlic press)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • Optional: sun-dried or oven-roasted tomatoes, goat’s cheese or cottage cheese
- Place shallots in a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I don’t have exact amounts but enough to get the shallots good and coated. Season with salt and pepper. Place in a 350F oven and roast for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, tossing the shallots every so often so they brown evenly. You want them soft on the inside with sticky burnished outsides.
- While your shallots are roasting, place lentils and water in a pan, cover, and cook for about 25-30 minutes. Cook them just until soft, no further. Drain and set aside.
- While the shallots are roasting and the lentils are cooking, heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add the bacon and fry until some of the fat has rendered and the edges are toasty.
- In a bowl whisk together the garlic, extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste and whisk again. Pour dressing, parsley, and lemon rind over cooked and drained lentils and toss gently, taking care not to smoosh the lentils. Add cooked bacon (and some of the bacon drippings too!) and roasted shallots. Toss gently again. Top with sun-dried tomatoes and cheese if using.

I absolutely love the way beluga lentils hold their shape when cooked. They are ideal in a salad, although what you add is completely up to you and your imagination. I think beans and bacon are a magic combination (although I could be rightly accused of thinking that anything with bacon is a magic combination) and the balsamic roasted shallots, all soft and sweet and sticky, do well with the lentils' earthiness. You can pile a bit on a sundried tomato and top with some fresh white cheese for a tasty appetizer, or you can just toss the tomato and cheese with the beans as part of the salad. Goats cheese would be excellent, but my organic farmer gifted me with a circle of fresh cottage cheese that they have just started making so I used that instead***. I imagine this would also be good atop some brown rice with a splodge of garlic-herb yogurt.

Now, if only it was easy to find them here. If only I didn’t have to cross an ocean to obtain some! I remain optimistic however. I will search every specialty food store and delicatessen until I find these lentils. We will meet again my friend.

P.S. If anyone has seen beluga lentils in Manila please let me know! :)

***SO excited that my organic farmer has started offering cheese! This batch was firm and creamy and perfect in thick slices atop warm toast with a drizzling of honey.

Cake Decorating For Kids

One of my favorite memories from childhood was when I was given a chance to design my very own dinner plate! All the kids in art class were given a white plastic plate and markers and told to draw whatever their hearts desired and then, wallah, through some magical process, our childhood art was turned into a dinner plate that you could actually use! Okay, I’m a little fussy on the whole process, but I remember my design like it was yesterday (a girl and a bird and the words “sing with me”)! It was the first thing that I thought of when I saw this wonderful child-designed cake from Soutine. It’s such a fun idea for a child’s bday…let them create the artwork for their own cake. You could allow them to draw directly on the cake with frosting or with food markers on fondant. You could also have them put their doodles down on paper and then let a professional recreate the design. Such a cute and clever idea! To see more from the Soutine Bakery (NY), click here.

Breakfast #43: Scrambled Eggs with Avocado

What a lovely weekend. Yes, it was a drizzly mess. Yes, I had to work a bit, and still do (which is why this post is going to be short but, hopefully, sweet). Yes, mum has flown off for my brother’s graduation down under and I’m staying behind.

But it’s also been full of smiles, love, and special times. A rainy market morning with less people and more time to meander and chat with purveyors. More micro arugula! A pause in the rains just enough to have swim class…and some vigorous kicking finally (notwithstanding the absence of, up till now, blowing bubbles). A nap (oh yesss)! A rollicking family dinner with fantastic food (the men in my family are awesome cooks) and catching up. An impromptu hubs-and-me Sunday breakfast. A christening of dear friends’ long-awaited little one, with C standing as one of the godparents. A new word for little C (“pata” for pasta).

And, although I am far away, my baby brother is graduating film school. My heart is bursting with the joy and pride of it.

And, of course, there is always, always, breakfast :)

Scrambled Eggs with Avocado
  • A pat of butter
  • A scant teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 quarter of an avocado, peeled and cubed
  • Sea salt flakes
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 slice of toast (preferably whole wheat or a nice grainy type)
- Beat the eggs lightly with a fork just until homogenously yellow.
- Heat the butter and oil in a non-stick skillet. When the butter has melted and the bubbles subside, pour in the egg.
- As the bottom of the egg sets, push gently with a wooden spatula towards the middle, letting the uncooked egg run underneath. Keep doing this slowly and methodically until you have very softly set curds of egg. I usually take my pan off the heat in the middle of all this to avoid overcooking the eggs. I like my eggs runny.
- When the eggs are partially set but still wet in places, add the avocado and fold gently.
- Take the pan off the heat (if you haven’t already) and pile the eggs onto the toast. Sprinkle generously with sea salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper.

When I saw this dish in the kitchn I knew I had to try it. It is luscious, creamy on creamy, cozy made edible…perfect on a rainy morning. Perfect on any morning truth be told. So easy to whip up that I’m a touch embarrassed I went and made a recipe out if it. Really, just make the scrambled eggs the way you do best and fold the avocado in. You won’t be sorry. Unless you don’t like avocado. Then try this instead.

I hope your weekend was full of special moments! Even if there’s rain, and sometimes especially when there is, the world can be full of silver linings. And good breakfasts :)

Braga, Porto, Lisbon

Did I photograph the beautiful churches that speckle every street in the city of Braga?

Did I take photos of the bizarre erotic cross stitch patterns one can buy there?
Oh yes.

Gatinhas a sonhar.

Old people paying their respects to St Cristiano.

Video of the day

Si a ti te gusta, a mi me encanta...

The Valencia Soundtrack to last last saturday's salsa, forror, break dancing, capoeira rave.

Dancing in the light of the lamp, the lamp, we danced in the light of the lamp.

Later we voyaged to Venezuela where we ate soup to the blasting sound of tecno beats.

Andaluz foot

London foot, in the Palacio de Freixo. A 5 star hotel with a wonderful collection of books about portuguese artists.

I sneaked a look into one of the palaces rooms.

Further up Rua de Freixo I spied (yet another) abandoned establishment.

Porto is a city of contrasts. A beautiful but nearly always, melancholy sort of place.

Inspiration Board: Baked Alaska

Is it just me or has the Baked Alaska taken on a whole new level of gorgeousness lately? I know that I have definitely been obsessed with it these last few months. There’s just something about that beautiful round mound of meringue that gets me ever time. And the things people do with the ice cream/sponge cake fillings, the wonderfully creative colors and designs, just blow my mind! I’m sure if I were ever to tackle this classic dessert, it would not be quite so perfect as these pics, but a girl can dream, can’t she? {Pictured above: Baked Alaska by The Food Network}

Baked Alaska with Chocolate Ice Cream by Martha Stewart

Baked Alaska by Double Cream Single Sugar

Chocolate orange bombe Alaska with hot chocolate sauce by Nick Nairn/Good Food Magazine

Pensar en musarañas.

Uma vista da cidade desde uma janela muito especial.

The slovak and a punk puppy.

Investigating Hotel Favorita. My stylish neighbour.

The indoor garden veranda at Favorita.

I have almost officially moved into the cake shop at the Miguel Bombarda centre.

Some statues at Palacio de Cristal. This one is of a sardine seller. Muito português mesmo.

Some dancing was done this week.

Raul returning to the mothership.

Yes good music.

Pensar en musarañas = to daydream (or literally, 'to think about shrews')

Breakfast #42: Carabao’s Milk Oatmeal with Dates & Nuts

I have been asked more than once what my favorite local ingredient is. And more than once I have found myself at a loss for words, my mind a complete and shameful blank. It’s not that I don’t have favorite local ingredients. On the contrary, I love my local ingredients! It could very well be that I have too many favorites, so that when asked to name one, or only a few, my mind just closes itself to the (impossible) task of choosing.

It could also be that I am, simply put, not very good at interviews.

Whatever the case, I have decided that this blog is the perfect place to celebrate and share all my favorite local ingredients --- as many as I want, at my own pace. They are an integral part of my cooking after all and deserve a little spotlight as recompense for the deplorable way I fail to give them their due when asked.

One such favorite ingredient is carabao’s (buffalo) milk. Carabao’s milk has a much higher fat content than regular cow’s milk making it one of the richest and creamiest milks you can find. As such, when you substitute it for regular cow’s milk, it makes whatever you use it for that much more decadent. Even something as innocent as oatmeal.

Carabao’s Milk Oatmeal with Dates & Nuts
  • 1 1/2 cup carabao’s (buffalo) milk
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup dates, chopped
  • 1/4 nuts of your choice (I used cashews but I’m sure they would be splendid with pecans), roughly chopped
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons butter and 2 teaspoons dark muscovado sugar
- Set aside some of the chopped dates and nuts.
- Heat the carabao’s milk in a saucepan over a medium flame just until it almost starts to simmer. Add the oats, dates, and nuts, stir, and lower the heat.
- Cook over a gentle flame, with your pot semi-covered, stirring occasionally, until oatmeal is done, about 10-15 minutes. Make sure to keep checking, especially towards the end, to prevent it from sticking. Served topped with extra chopped dates and nuts.
- If you want to make this even more decadent: Melt the optional butter in a pan. When the bubbles have subsided, add the muscovado and swirl the pan until the muscovado is dissolved. Add the extra chopped dates and nuts and toss. Top each serving of oatmeal with some of the caramelized dates and nuts and whatever butter remains.
- Serves 2-3

Never had I tasted oatmeal that was this luxurious. It is so creamy that with each soft spoonful you forget about oatmeal’s healthy and fibrous reputation. The nuts add an earthy crunch and the dates a mild smoky sweetness. If you are going to go all the way with the butter caramelized date & nut topping, as I did, you may actually feel, for the very first time, guilt over oatmeal. This isn’t for lightweights. I would go as far as to say that this could very well pass for a dessert – pressed into a dainty cup and served in smaller portions, sort of the oat version of a rice pudding.

Carabao’s milk is a wonderful ingredient to use. It is also fantastic for rice pudding and cuajada. I am sure it would be equally stellar in custards and flans.

Here are some other favorite local ingredients I have talked about before:
- Filipino mangoes
- Lato (seaweed)
- Talbos ng kamote (sweet potato greens)
- Bagoong (shrimp paste)
- Tinapang bangus (smoked milkfish)
- Muscovado sugar
- Aligue (crab fat)
- Patani
- Monggo (mung beans)
- Kesong Puti (fresh white cheese)
I have also mentioned carabao’s milk here and here.