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Filipino Recipes - Kain Na! (Eat!)

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BBQ Skewers

Grilling BBQ skewers just like the titos at the family parties growing up.  Manila trucker hats on their head, slippers on the feet, a glass of crown on ice in the hand, and a round of pusoy dos between batches. Elbow on the knee, dipping things in vinegar, pinching ripe tomatoes in a mound of freshly cooked rice with my hands. Perfect autumn vibes.  This is the latest version of BBQ skewers I used at a potluck last weekend - based on a traditional recipe with a few additional ingredients like Dijon mustard and yuzu juice that I've had success in other grilling recipes that I wanted to bring into the fold!

Taghap Filipino bbq skewers, version 15


  • 7 pounds bone-in pounds pork shoulder, cut into cubes (the bone reserved for cooking beans or stock)
  • 1/2 can of sprite (or 1/2 cup Pellegrino, 1 tbsp honey, juice of 1 Meyer lemon)
  • 1/4 cup sweet soy
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp yuzu juice (optional)
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced thinly

Basting mix:

  • 3 tbsp Oyster sauce
  • 3 tbsp light Soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 5 Ketchup packets

Put everything except for green onions in a blender and pulse until well combined.  Add green onions.  Pour into ziplock bag with pork cubes.  Marinade overnight. Soak skewers in water. Put meat on skewers and grill over charcoal using high heat until internal temperature reaches 155 degrees. Mix basting mix and brush on skewers right before they're done so that the sugars caramelize just a little bit.  Serve with rice and beer!

A bubbling pot of beef caldereta kept warm in a slow cooker 

Short Rib Caldereta 

When I helped form a Filipino American Affinity Group at a cancer hospital in Seattle, we only had one event in mind to bring everyone together: A POTLUCK. We started with about twelve members for our first event, then over 120 the next!  I cranked out a really nice batch of short rib caldereta, a recipe I developed over the years. It specifically calls out Reno brand liverwust, black olives, a local IPA to deglaze and shallots instead of onions. With the meaty short rib instead of a chuck roast, it may seem a bit different at the start, but it finishes with all the rich flavors that remind me of home.

Short Rib Caldereta 
Serves four people 
1 hour active cooking time 
5 hours passive cooking time 

1 tablespoon cooking oil 
1.5 pounds English-cut short ribs (bone-in) 
1 tablespoon Kosher salt 
1 teaspoon crushed black pepper 
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil 
1 onion, sliced into quarters 
3 garlic cloves, sliced thinly 
1 large potato, sliced in 2 inch chunks 
2 large carrots, bias cut into 2 inch pieces 
1/2 cup tomato sauce 
2 cups chicken stock 
3 large bay leaves 
1 teaspoon crushed chili or red pepper 
½ cup liver spread  
⅔ cup whole black olives 
1 large red pepper, cleaned and quartered 
1/4 cup minced parsley 


Pat short ribs dry with a paper towel.  Season with salt and black pepper. Heat the cooking oil in a cooking slow cooker or dutch own. Saute beef until golden brown on all sides.  Remove short ribs and wipe down all but 2 tablespoons of rendered beef fat.  Add onion petals and cook for 5 minutes.  Add garlic and ribs back in.  Cook for another 5 minutes. Add potato and carrots. Add tomato sauce, stock, bay leaves and crushed red pepper, making sure the liquid is about halfway up the short ribs.  Slow cook for 4 hours or until short ribs are fork tender. 

 With a slotted spoon, remove all solids and place in a separate bowl.  Add liver spread to liquid and reduce gently by half. Add black olives and solids back in pot and simmer for another five minutes. Char or grill red peppers, slice into one-inch squares and set aside as garnish. 

 To plate, spoon all the vegetables on the bottom of a large shallow bowl. Gently scoop short ribs, bone side up on top.  Add rest of sauce. Top with red pepper squares and parsley.  Enjoy with rice! 

Longanisa and Eggs

Cooking longanisa from frozen means you can enjoy it anytime

How I Cook Longanisa from Frozen

Remember the first time you ate longanisa (and incidentally when you got your first batch of longanisa burps)?  THE BEST BEST BEST.

The sweet and fatty Filipino breakfast sausage is my favorite, but learning how to cook them from frozen just like mama used to make wasn’t an easy task for me at first. I think the earliest time I remember making them, I thawed ‘em overnight, then burned them on the outside but still managed to keep the inside raw. Not good!

Now, I cook them from frozen and let the pan talk to me. If the pan says “blub blub blub” I’m like ok cool like 20 mins. If the pan says “crAkLe SiizzzlllLeee CraCKle” I’m like cool cool I’ll be right over. If the pan says nothing and things get smoky and the fire alarm goes off BEEEP BEEEEP BEEEEP BEEEEP then I’m like omg too late. Hopefuly these steps will help you out when you need some silog in your life. 


How I Cook Longanisa from Frozen

Get your pack of longanisa and pull from package. Add sausages to a high-sided stainless steel or cast iron pan and fill with enough water to cover 1/2” up the sausages.*

Crank heat to high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, drop heat down to a constant simmer, around medium low heat. Uncoil and get them in one layer. After about 10 mins, flip. Continue until water evaporates. At this point, your sausages should be 85% cooked.

Now, this is when you get some color. Let the sausages render out their own fat. The fat will now caramelize the sausages to a deep crimson. Flip so the other side gets good color. Pull the sausages and serve on a plate.

Take a beer or some more water and deglaze the pan over high heat, scraping the caramelized sugars from the bottom of the pan. Once the sauce has thickened slightly, pour on top of the sausages or directly on your pot of rice.

*If you buy fresh, use half the water and lower the cooking time by 5 mins each side.


I like it with tomatoes in my sawsawan (recipe below) and some kind of soft scrambled eggs (these have cheddar and roasted peppers).  This technique can also be used for any tocino lovers out there! 


Sawsawan is the easiest steak sauce.


By Herschell Taghap

My family used to have a Filipino grocery store in the northwest suburbs of Illinois. Some nights we brought home unsold packs of barbecue pork sticks with a plastic ramekin of my mom’s sawsawan, a dipping sauce primarily made with vinegar, soy sauce, and onions. The sourness punches the tongue’s taste buds near the back of your cheeks and cuts though rich and bold flavors.

Making sawsawan at home today, I keep it pretty simple. We eat it so often, my wife and son just call it “the sauce.” I love the always-in-the-pantry aspect of it; additions like chopped onions, scallions, spicy chilies or cherry tomatoes are also great, but not necessary. There’s nothing in there that really spoils; you can keep it in the fridge for a few days, but I prefer to serve it at room temperature. We make a fresh batch whenever dinner calls for it. Use what you have in the pantry already, then explore your local Asian market to discover your family’s favorite balance of vinegars, soy sauce brands, and accents.

Taghap Family Sawsawan
Active time: A few minutes
Total time: Same
Serves: A family of three for use with one main dish

3 SHAKES or ¼ TSP Tabasco
½ CUP vinegar, Datu Puti cane or Heinz white distilled 
¼ CUP soy sauce (We switch between Datu Puti or Yamasa usukuchi, a light Japanese soy sauce.)
¼  TSP freshly cracked black pepper
⅛ TSP or a small shake of onion powder
Mix it all together. Taste and adjust. Serve in a little bowl with a lip for dipping or pouring.

Sawsawan + #HellaRice, 4 Ways
This easy dipping vinegar goes great with…

GRILLED STEAK. A vinegar-forward sauce can balance the bitterness of lightly charred foods. If it’s a fatty cut of meat like a rib eye, the vinegar will cut through the richness too. Variation: add sliced green onions and slices of spicy pepper like serrano or habanero.

A CAN OF CORNED BEEF. Quick recipe: Heat half a diced onion and two minced garlic cloves with a touch of neutral oil in a nonstick pan for four minutes until barely soft. Add the corned beef and flatten with a wooden spoon. Cook until edges are crispity crunchy. Crack three eggs on top and broil until the whites have set. Adding quartered cherry tomatoes makes this combo a banger.

STEAMED SALMON. Go beyond parsley and a squeeze of fresh lemon. A calamansi-flavored soy sauce (toyomansi) can add a little extra citrus flavor that’s equal parts familiar and exciting. A grip of cilantro leaves and slivers of shallot can add extra freshness and crunch.

A SUPER RIPE HEIRLOOM TOMATO. Sawsawan, rice, and heirloom tomato was one of the only things my wife craved during her pregnancy with my son. It’s a memory that always rushes to my mind as he now feeds himself scoops of saucy rice.

Fresh Lumpia is the perfect summer potluck that's delicious for everyone

Fresh Lumpia is the perfect summer potluck that's delicious for everyone.


by Herschell Taghap

7 years ago, I ran an event in Seattle where the team made 1,000 of these babies… with a sexy pork confit folded into the sawse. A few months ago, I made 20 served in a Pyrex for my coworkers for my first potluck at the new job. Even with the weekend to prep, I barely got it done. lol.

It’s a lot of knife work, but it’s a great way to show an approachable lightness of Filipino cuisine. 

Lumpia Filling:

  • 1 jicama, julienned
  • 1 ½ cup carrots, julienned
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (patis)
  • 1 lb cabbage, shredded
  • ½ cup hazelnuts, crushed
  • 6 pieces Lettuce leaves
  • 1 pack extra firm tofu, sliced in strips
  • 1 medium sized onions, chopped
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped


  • Pork confit (recipe here on
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp corn starch (diluted in 3 tbsp water)

Arrange all of the ingredients within an unfried lumpia wrapper.

For the sauce, bring water to a boil in a saucepan.  Add brown sugar, salt, soy sauce.  Dilute cornstarch in water and add to saucepan.  Bring to a boil and then simmer sauce until thick.  Fold in shredded pork confit.

Fold the wrappers and lay on the plate seam-side down.  Top with sauce & pork confit.  Sprinkle with hazelnuts.

Photo of pork stew with garlic, a Filipino dish called Adobo

Filipino Pork Adobo: Garlicky goodness in a savory vinegar-forward pork stew. 

Herschell's 40-Garlic Clove Adobo

by Herschell Taghap

The Stinking Rose is a (temporarily closed) restaurant in San Francisco that bases its menu around the pungent flavor of garlic. I had a really good meal there with some friends  and my mom once - like what, 20 years ago? After that visit, I started to make 40-garlic clove chicken in my small apartment in the Bay Area during culinary school. Then I applied the same flavors to my pork adobo recipe!

Anyway, I like garlic. I used to LOOOOOOVE it, but it irritates my skin whenever I cut it raw, so now I buy a big organic bag of peeled cloves and roast them in herbs and a mixture of olive and rice bran oil until they’re soft and squishy. I store it in a mason jar, making sure the cloves are covered in oil so it doesn’t spoil. So now, it’s just scoop and spoon instead of peel, crush, knife, scrape, spoon ITCH ITCH ITCH ITCH.

As for the adobo, I used big 3x3” chunks of pork shoulder, seared hard in a Dutch oven, then braised with 40 cloves of roasted garlic, soy sauce, sugar and vinegar. Super rich and delicious.

40 Garlic Clove Adobo

4 pounds bone-in pork shoulder, cut into 3 inch by 3 inch pieces

2 tbsp sugar

1/2 cup light soy

1/4 cup sweet soy

1 tbsp mushroom soy

1 cup apple cider vinegar

18 black peppercorns

4 big bay leaves

1tsp chili flake

2 c water

1 tap chili flake

40 cloves of roasted garlic (or like 10 cloves raw or like 1 tbsp of garlic powder)

Sear pork haaaard until golden brown. Work in batches if you need to. When all the pork has been seared, pour out all but 2-3 tbsp of rendered pork fat to save for later (roasted veg, sunny eggs etc). Add all of the other ingredients. Bring to boil, drop to low heat and cover.

Simmer for about three hours until fork tender. Cool overnight, then pull meat from pot. Remove as much of the solid fat as you’d like.  I remove about one half. Reheat broth with a little chicken stock and strain out peppercorns and bay leaf if you want. Taste and adjust.

Since it’s a such a vinegar forward stew, I like to like to roast two dozen mushrooms in a touch of oil (no salt and pepper until the end) at 425 degrees until golden brown. I fold the mushrooms in the mix as kind of like a food oasis for your tongue to take a break and be like “hey, you good?”

Serve with hot hot hot Calrose rice.  Enjoy!

Kare-Kare (A popular Filipino peanut stew with meat and vegetables)

A savory classic! Kare-Kare, a Filipino stew with meat and vegetables with a peanut sauce. 

16-Hour Filipino Peanut Butter Stew aka Kare-Kare

by Herschell Taghap

This is my favorite potluck recipe.  There's something so satisfying getting big chunks of tender meat from the bones. There’s a lot of prep involved, but the slow cooker does most of the heavy lifting.  Make sure to “mount” (or incorporate) the peanut butter with care as the stewing liquid can separate and break. Enjoy.

Active time: 1 hour 30 minutes / Total time: 18 hours / Serves: Two small families (6 adults and 4 kids)

First slow cooker cycle:

  • 3 lbs. oxtail  (I prefer 80/20 ratio of big to small pieces)
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. rice bran oil
  • 6 cups dashi  (Any recipe from the Internet will do, hondashi/instant will work in a pinch.)
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped into quarters 
  • 1 clove dried black garlic (If regular, use three whole cloves.)
  • 1 thumb-sized knob of ginger, sliced lengthwise

Second slow cooker cycle:

  • 4 gabi (taro root), peeled and cut in halves

To finish:

  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter (We’re a Jif family)
  • 1 lb sitaw (long beans) cut into 2-inch pieces
  • ¼  cup annatto water, annatto seeds soaked in a cup of hot water and strained
  • 2 tbsp toasted ground rice


  • ¼  cup whole roasted peanuts, lightly crushed in mortar and pestle
  • A FEW SHAKES of sweet smoked paprika
  • ½  cup  bagoong or Filipino shrimp paste

Season all sides of the oxtails aggressively with salt and pepper. Preheat rice bran oil in a pot (or in your Instant Pot) and sear meat until all pieces are golden brown. Set aside.

Dab excess cooking oil in cooking vessel with a paper towel and deglaze your pot with with dashi, scraping up the flavorful brown bits at the bottom of the pot. If you’re using a slow cooker, this would be the moment to pour the contents of the pot into your slow cooker vessel.

Add oxtails back in pot with onions, ginger, and black garlic clove. Cover and slow ck on medium-low for eight hours.

Check tenderness. Add gabi and run another eight-hour slow cooker cycle. Meat should easily pull away from the bones. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper.  

Once the meat is ready, add sitaw and simmer for an additional 10 minutes until tender. Add the peanut butter to a handheld mesh strainer and work it into the broth with the back of a spoon for full incorporation.

Add toasted ground rice and water from the annatto seed mixture (it gives the stew a rich color). Stir. Gently simmer for five to seven minutes. If you bring it to a boil, the sauce may break.

In a nonstick pan, heat shrimp paste over medium-low heat and warm until it splatters a bit. Serve on the side as a salty condiment to cut through the richness of the peanuty sauce.

Scoop kare kare in a huge bowl, big bones in the middle and smaller ones near the edge.  Add gabi and sitaw on the sides and ladle sauce over everything.  Add ground peanuts and a few shakes of smoked paprika. Place a large empty bowl in the middle of the table for your family to discard naked bones to make room for more, more, more!

Squash stew with coconut milk

A squash recipe your Lola (grandma) used to make! Guinataang Kalabasa is a savory vegetable forward recipe with vegetables and shrimp with coconut milk.

Ginataang Kalabasa (Stewed Pumpkin Squash with Coconut Milk) 

By Herschell Taghap

This saucy vegetable-forward dish takes advantage of the last seasonal winter squash before it begins to warm up for spring in March. I love peeling and eating shrimp with my fingers, chasing it with perfect handfuls of squash, rice and rich “sabaw” or broth.

Serves four people / 15 minutes preparation time / 25 minutes cooking time 


  • Squash: 
  • 2 large delicata squash, cut and cleaned (you can use pumpkin or butternut squash here too) 
  • 1 tablespoon Filipino shrimp paste aka bagoong (found at most Asian markets) 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed black pepper 

Coconut sauce: 

  • 1 lb raw shrimp, preferably shell-on 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed black pepper 
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly 
  • 1 medium yellow onion, julienned  
  • 1 cup minced kale 
  • 2 cups coconut milk 
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce 
  • 1 lemon or lime, sliced in half 


Slice delicata squash into rings. Toss with bagoong, Kosher salt and crushed black pepper in a bowl. Place on baking dish lined with parchment paper.  Roast at 450 until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust salt seasoning levels. 

Preheat oil in pot over medium high heat. Toss shrimp in salt and pepper. Add shrimp cook for 3 minutes until golden on one side. Remove from the pot and set aside in bowl. Drop down to medium heat and saute the garlic, onion and kale until the onion becomes soft, about 10 minutes. Add coconut milk and fish sauce. Stir and bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes to reduce. Sauce should coat the back of the spoon. Put the shrimp back in the pot. Stir and cook for a minute.  

Add squash into bowl. Spoon sauce on squash.  Top with shrimp.  Squeeze with lemon or lime.