Roasted Pork Belly Roll (Cebuchon)

Merry Christmas everyone!

This is one of the dishes I prepared for our Noche Buena last night and a few readers have asked me how to make it, so I tried finishing it up today, in case you want to make it for New Year’s Eve. 😊

It is a smaller version of a roasted whole pig we used to have when I was little. Whenever there is a big celebration, like town fiesta or Christmas, our aunts would have a lot of food on the table, complete with a roasted whole pig. It was roasted all day on a makeshift pit big enough to accommodate it. When done, we would all fight over the crispy, crackly skin as that was the best part!

This size is much more manageable and practical, as a whole pig won’t fit in a standard US home oven. Not to mention I’m not sure where I could get a whole pig, not that I want to know. 😱

Unfortunately, I was busy preparing several dishes and cakes at the same time I was making this that I wasn’t able to take step by step photos.

This pork roll is easy to prepare but you’ll just need time and a couple of special ingredients.

First, is a big slab of pork belly with skin on. I got mine from a Filipino grocery store, Seafood City in Irvine, California. I got lucky since they just received a delivery when I shopped there. It was around 18 pounds, frozen solid. I left it in the refrigerator for a few days to defrost completely. I bought it Saturday night and prepared it Thursday.

Next, you’ll need some lemon grass. I grow several herbs in the backyard including lemon grass, but if you don’t, try any Asian grocery store or farmer’s market. The photo above was taken after I took most of it for this recipe, so it looks kinda scraggly. 😊

Other ingredients are only vinegar (I used kombucha vinegar because I had some), garlic, onion, salt, and pepper.

You will also need a good kitchen twine to tie this up and preferably, a husband or a wife or someone who can help with the tying process. I used the thick twine, the one on the left, to secure this pork roll.

To serve, you’ll need some lechon sauce. We use the Mang Tomas brand photographed above, you can buy it in Asian groceries.

And of course , you’ll need lots of time!

Hands on time is about 30 minutes the day before, to prepare the pork roll. Then you’ll need to chill this for at least 8 hours(but not more than 24 hours), and then the baking time is about 6 hours. Do a little math so you can have it ready by the time you want!

*note: To serve at 7 pm, I start baking at around 12:30pm as it takes about 6 hours or so to cook.*

So if you have all of those ready, here goes!

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Ingredients:

10-15 pounds pork belly with skin, defrosted

1/2 -3/4 cup kombucha vinegar (or white vinegar)

2-3 tablespoons sea salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 cup coarsely chopped garlic

3-5 stalks of lemon grass, tops and bottoms trimmed, then pounded with a meat tenderizer or back of the knife blade.

1 big red onion, peeled and sliced (about 1 cup)

Procedure:

1. Place the pork on a cutting board over the sink and pierce with a meat tenderizer (or fork or knife). Turn over and pierce the skin side too.

2. Pour vinegar little by little while rubbing it all over the pork. Turn the pork over and repeat with the remaining vinegar. Don’t worry about how much you’ll use as excess will just run into the sink. We do this to help dry out the skin and to help remove unpleasant odor. That in turn will make the skin crackly and crunchy and just delicious!

3. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the pork. Be generous as this is only flavoring the pork will have aside from the aromatics.

4. Turn the pork skin side down and place the lemon grass, onions, and garlic straight down the middle, horizontally on the long side.

5. Roll up the pork (I called my husband to help me), making sure the skin doesn’t overlap. It should touch in a circle, end to end – don’t make it into a pinwheel as the skin inside won’t be crisp.

6. Tie the pork in 1-2 inch intervals with kitchen twine. I held the pork roll stable and my husband tied it up. Team work!

7. Any onion or garlic that fell out, I pushed back into the roll.

8. Place the pork roll on a large baking sheet, uncovered, and chill around 8 hours (but not more than 24 hours) in the refrigerator. I prepare this at night and leave it in the fridge overnight.

9. Remove pork roll from the fridge and preheat the oven to 200F. Bake at 200F for 3 1/2 hours. This helps to dry the skin out thoroughly and start the cooking process slowly.

10. Increase temperature to 350F and continue baking for 1 1/2 hours. (*You can bake a cake together at this time since they’re usually baked at 350F).

11. Increase temperature to 450F and bake for 35 to 45 minutes more until golden brown and skin is blistered and shiny. (*You can bake a bread together this time as most breads bake at 450F for 30 minutes or so).

12. Remove from oven. Check that the internal temperature is at 170F – 200F. Let it sit for about 15 minutes before slicing.

13. Place on a cutting board, and carefully slice into rounds using a serrated knife. Be extra careful as the skin is crisp and your knife can easily slip.

14. Cut the rounds into bite sized pieces.

15. Serve with lechon sauce, or vinegar with garlic, salt, pepper, and slices of hot chili.

Enjoy!

Taho (Philippine Tofu Pudding)

“Taho….taho….taho….”

Early mornings in the Philippines, you’ll normally hear the man selling this warm, caramel tofu pudding calling out these words. He would have two metal pails balanced by a bamboo rod on his shoulders. Hard work for sure, but surely, it made our day.

Kids and adults alike would wait patiently, holding their little cups, glass containers, and tumblers, for the taho vendor to come by their home. I remember a few times our nanny got a whole Coleman cooler (a gallon one I believe) for us. It’s that delicious!

Everyone asks for extra caramel, as it is the highlight of this sweet dessert/breakfast in a cup.

So…it’s been a while since I’ve had that taho that you can purchase. Taho here in the US is mostly an anemic cousin of the real stuff, flavor wise and texture wise. What to do but make it yourself, right?

I had been making soy milk and sometimes tofu for a while now but I never made a super soft, silky tofu like taho should be. It literally disintegrates when jiggled. I tried to make it but it just curdled, not really forming any solid you could scoop up. Oh well…

My co worker Lisette gave me this tofu mix a few months back. She said they use it to make taho, and you just need the sago pearls and the caramel and you’re good to go. Since my “from scratch” tofu pudding failed, I reached for the box and tried it.

It worked beautifully! See my photo below! And it’s super easy to make!

All you’ll need are the following:

For the tofu pudding:

1 box (6.06oz) Tofu mix

10 cups water mixed

For the caramel:

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup water

For the tapioca pearls:

1/2 cup Tapioca pearls

5 cups water

To make the tofu pudding:

Mix 10 cups water with the tofu packet mixture in a large saucepan. That is the big envelope in the tofu box. Set over medium heat. Bring to a boil.

Stir constantly with a whisk. Lower heat and for 3 minutes.

Add the coagulant, which is in the smaller white envelope, into the mixture, slowly. Give it a quick stir. And stop.

Remove from heat. Cover. Set aside to set. Do not touch or move it while it is setting. I just left it to set in the saucepan I cooked it in. 😊

In the meantime, prepare the Caramel.

Place 1 cup dark brown sugar and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium low heat. When it comes to a boil, lower heat and simmer until the sugar is dissolved and the caramel is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool completely.

For the Sago Pearls,

Bring 5 cups water to boil. Add 1/2 cup sago. Simmer for about 20 – 30 minutes until translucent. Drain and rinse. Place in a bowl of water until ready to use.

To assemble your “taho”

Using a spoon, carefully scrape thin layers of the warm tofu pudding into a glass, cup, or bowl. You only want a few spoonfuls as we will be layering this with the other ingredients.

*If the tofu is getting watery, scoop out and discard the excess water.*

Next, place a spoonful or two of the cooked tapioca pearls in.

Then a spoonful or two of the caramel(I always add more when no one is looking! It’s super delicious!).

Continue layering until you fill the glass almost to the top. I am stopping midway as I might eat everything at one go.

Remember to wipe of any caramel that dripped outside the glass! It will be a sticky mess if you don’t!

You can eat this with a spoon, as we do, or stir itup and drink it like I saw some folks do.

Either way, it is a nutritious and very delicious breakfast/snack/dessert.

I hope you all like this!

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Electric Lunchbox #99: Mangoes with Sticky Rice

This is a very delicious dessert typically found in Southeast asian countries. Rice is a staple eaten 3 times a day in that part of the world – plus for dessert/snack too! Mangoes with Sticky Rice is a simple treat but truly memorable and I know that I crave it often, specially when I see ripe, super fragrant, mangoes at the grocery store.

There are several variations of this Sticky Rice in Asia.

In the Philippines where I grew up, my aunts would wrap the rice mixture in banana leaves then tie them up in pairs before boiling it until the rice is done. They would serve these “Suman” as our midday snack, dipped in sugar, topped with ube halaya, or fried and topped with more sugar. There is also Biko, which is sweetened sticky rice and coconut milk, baked in a pan and topped with caramelly coconut jam. Another of my very favorite sweet!

I tried it served as this recipe is, with a side of mangoes and decorated with an orchid flower, in Singapore. 😋

When there are ripe mangoes available, they are THE perfect partner to this simple Sticky Rice dessert. Just make sure the mangoes are perfectly ripe!

To add more ooomph to this already yummy dessert, I added a drizzle of some Coconut Rum just before serving. I personally do not drink alcohol but somehow I love baking with it! As is evidenced by this recipe, and my famous Rum Cake recipe: https://athomewiththeresa.com/2020/11/16/electric-lunchbox-bacardi-rum-cake/.

This dessert is something I’d gladly skip lunch or dinner for.

It is easy to make and sure to impress! I hope you try it!

*NOTE that this recipe uses regular sized measuring cups, NOT the tiny ELB cup, unless specified.*

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Ingredients:

1 cup sticky rice – I use Botan brand sweet rice🔝

2/3 cup canned coconut milk

1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large ripe mangoes, cut from the pit and scooped out

1 1/2 tablespoons coconut rum, more if desired 😉

Procedure:

1. Place measured rice in a fine strainer and rinse under cold water until water runs clear, running your fingers through it to help in rinsing it.

2. Place rice in a bowl, cover with plenty of water and let soak for 4-12 hours.

3. Drain rice and place in the big bottom bowl of your ELB. Place this bowl, uncovered, in the ELB base.

See the difference in size? The one on the right is straight from the bag and the one on the left is after the rice was soaked overnight.

4. Place 3 ELB cups of water in the base, cover and let steam for about 1 hour, until your lunchbox shuts off.

5. Carefully open the ELB and fluff rice with a fork. Cover loosely and set aside.

6. In a small bowl, combine coconut milk, sugar, and salt.

7. Mix until sugar is completely dissolved.

8. Pour mixture onto the hot rice.

9. Place the bowl back in the ELB, add 1 ELB cup of water to the base, cover and let steam until done, about 15 minutes more.

10. Carefully open the ELB and stir the rice. Check to see if rice is done by tasting some. The best part, right? Adjust sweetness if needed by adding more sugar if you like. A reminder though that the mangoes will add sweetness to the dish too.

11. Slice each mango half into thin, lengthwise pieces. ⬇️

12. Mound rice on a serving plate and arrange mango slices around it, or on top of the rice. *I used a small cup to shape the rice into a small dome. Just scoop some rice into a clean, dry cup, level the top while gently packing the rice in. DO NOT pack too much as you want it fluffy, just enough to hold its shape. You could also just scoop some rice onto the plate and top with mangoes. It’ll still be delicious!

13. Pour coconut rum over and serve.

14. Sit back, put your feet up, and enjoy every bite!

Maja Blanca (Philippine Coconut Pudding)

This is one of my mom’s most favorite desserts. Similar to the Hawaiian Haupia, it is made with coconut milk and cornstarch, but with the addition of corn. It is not baked, just cooked over medium heat until thick, then poured into a generously greased pan or bowl. Perfect for when you need something sweet and coconutty real quick!

In the Philippines, the addition of corn is a must. The browned coconut bits is a delicious complement, taste and texture wise, however, if you won’t have time to make the “latik”, some toasted desiccated coconut is an acceptable substitute. You can, of course, skip this all together too, like I do most of the time.

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For “latik”:

2 cups coconut milk

3 tablespoons sugar

For the “maja”:

3/4 Plus 3 tablespoons cup canned sweet corn kernels

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups thin coconut milk

Coconut oil for greasing pan

Prepare the “latik”: Boil coconut milk until oil separates from the solids. Pour off the oil. Add sugar to the solids and cook further until crisp and browned.

Grease an 8 inch square pan with coconut oil and set aside.

Prepare the “maja”: Grind 3/4 cup of corn in a blender and pass through a sieve.

In a saucepan, combine ground corn with cornstarch, sugar, coconut milk, and the remaining 3 tablespoons corn. Cook over medium heat until thickened, stirring constantly.

Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spoon. Cool until set. Refrigerate overnight, or at least 2 hours to chill.

Unmold and top with “latik”. Cut into serving sizes and enjoy!

Green Beans With Chicken

This an easy to make dish for weekday nights. You can serve it as a side or as the main dish. My boys like meat so this will only be a side dish tonight!

Try to cook the green bean only briefly so that it retains the crunchy texture that is perfect with the sauce. AND a lot of rice! 😊

1 tablespoon oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 onion, diced

1 chicken breast, cut into thin strips about 1 inch

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-2 inch pieces

2 – 3 tablespoons oyster sauce

1 cup water

2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water

1. Heat oil in a medium sized saucepan. Add garlic and saute until browned. Add onions and saute 5 minutes more, until soft and lightly browned.

2. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink, about 7 minutes. Sprinkle with ground pepper. Cook until lightly browned.

3. Add green beans, oyster sauce, and water. Stir to combine. Cover and simmer until chicken is cooked but green beans are still crisp but cooked, about 5 minutes.

4. Add cornstarch dissolved in water and cook 5 minutes more, until thickened. Adjust seasoning to taste.

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Electric Lunchbox #74: Pork Sinigang

Filipino hot and sour soup!

Growing up I remember our cooks boil fresh tamarind until soft and press it through a metal strainer to get the “sour” for this soup. I never had to do that as I always have this packaged “sinigang” mix to use. I think it tastes the same, plus I really do not know where to get fresh tamarind, nor do I have the time to boil and squeeze it. Convenience in semi-home made is precious in our busy lives. It gives me more time to sit and enjoy dinner with my family. ❤️

You can make this with beef too, but I happened to have pork so I used pork. You want the pork to have some fat to make the soup richer and more tasty.

Long green beans

The vegetables I used here are what I remember our soup had, and I LOVE picking out the taro (gabi)! Water spinach is rather hard to find unless I go to an Asian grocery store, and our Tita Naty used spinach when she made it one cold day in Virginia, so I used spinach. Radish, long green beans, onions, and a tomato rounds everything out perfectly. If you want, add 1 or 2 whole long green chili pepper. Do not bruise or cut it. You serve it with the soup, take it out and crush it with some fish sauce in a small saucer, then drizzle it over your soup and rice. Yum! You have yourself a delicious lunch cooked with very little effort. I hope you’ll like this dish!

*NOTE that this recipe uses regular sized measuring cups, NOT the tiny ELB cup, unless specified.*

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Ingredients:

155 grams (1/2 cup or so) cubed boneless pork

30 grams (3-4 pieces) long beans, cut into 1.5” pieces

60 grams (1-2 pieces) taro, peeled and cubed

95 grams (1/2) radish, peeled and sliced thinly

30 grams (1 small) tomato, diced

35 grams (1 tablespoon) minced onion

15 grams (a handful) spinach leaves

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 – 1 tablespoon “sinigang mix” (I used 3/4 tablespoon)

1/2 – 1 teaspoon teaspoon beef bouillon powder

3 ELB cups water for the base

Fish sauce, to serve (optional)

If serving with rice:

2 ELB cups rice, rinsed and drained

2 ELB cups water for the rice

Procedure:

1. In the large ELB bowl, place pork, long beans, taro, radish, tomato, onion, spinach , and water

2. Add the “sinigang mix”, bouillon powder, and fish sauce, if using. Stir to mix.

3. Place bowl in the ELB base. Add 3 ELB cups of water to the base.

4. If preparing with rice, wash and drain 2 ELB cups of rice and place in the small or medium ELB bowl. Add 2 ELB cups water and place on top of the big bowl if using the small bowl (or on the upper level for the medium bowl).

5. Cover the ELB and let steam until it shuts off, about 1 hour.

6. Carefully open the ELB and check the meat and rice for doneness, adding more water to steam longer if necessary.

7. Serve hot and enjoy!

Electric Lunchbox #73: Pork Menudo

Menudo is a staple dish in fiestas, birthday parties and everyday lunch and dinner in the Philippines. See my stovetop version and introduction here: https://athomewiththeresa.com/?s=Menudo

I make it a lot at home so, like most of my staple recipes, I decided to make an ELB version.

You can add peas, garbanzo beans, and pork liver if you want.

Like I always say, use my recipes as a guide and add more or less of any ingredient you like or not like. I do encourage you to try it my way at least once though. Then make your adjustment after you taste it.

Hope you’ll try it soon and as always, I hope you’ll like it!

*NOTE that this recipe uses regular sized measuring cups, NOT the tiny ELB cup, unless specified.*

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Ingredients:

200 grams pork, cubed

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 hotdog, cut in half lengthwise and cut into small semi circles

1 tablespoon chopped onions

1 large tomato, diced finely (1/2 -3/4 cup)

1 potato, peeled and diced (about 1/2 cup or so)

5 baby carrots, diced (1/3 cup)

1/4 each of green and red bell peppers, diced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon raisins

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon bouillon powder

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

3 ELB cups water in base

Procedure:

1. Season pork with salt and pepper.

2. Place pork, hotdogs, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, carrot, and bell peppers in the large ELB bowl.

3. Mix in tomato paste, fish sauce, raisins, water, bouillon powder, soy sauce, and cornstarch. Stir to mix.

4. Place bowl in the ELB base and add 3 ELB cups of water in the base. Cover and let steam until it shuts off, about 1 hour.

5. Carefully open the ELB and check the meat for doneness. Add more water to steam if necessary.

6. Serve hot and enjoy.

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Filipino Menudo

This Menudo recipe is a Filipino dish that makes it’s appearance on everyday lunch and dinner tables to fiestas and special occasions. It is tomato based and has a little sauce that make it perfect with white steamed rice, and LOTS of it!

You can use cubed chicken breasts or pork meat in this dish. I have not tried nor heard of a beef version though. Please let me know if you know of a Filipino menudo recipe made with beef!

When I was a kid, I remember this dish having *chopped liver when served, but I do not really like liver nor is it easy to find where I live now, so I left it out. If you want to add it, of course feel free to. I’m sure it will taste closer to the authentic version my aunts used to cook!

I usually add *sliced hotdogs to this dish too. My son loves hotdogs (I mean, all kids do right?!) so if I have it, it definitely goes in the recipe too. I just didn’t have any on hand this time.

Ingredients:

5 tablespoons canola oil, divided

1 pound pork or chicken breasts, cubed

3 potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 carrots, peeled and diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 Onion, diced

1/2 cup Tomato sauce

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons soy sauce

*1 cup chopped liver, optional

*1 cup sliced hotdogs, optional

1 bell pepper, sliced

1/2 cup frozen peas

1/4 cup raisins

Salt and pepper

Procedure:

1. Season cubed chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Set aside.

2. In a wok or saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and let cook until lightly browned about 4-5 minutes, without stirring. You want that caramelization as it adds so much flavor to the dish. Give it a quick stir and let sit again until most of it is lightly browned.

3. Remove chicken pieces to a plate and set aside.

4. Add another 2 tablespoons oil to the pan and heat up. Pan fry the potatoes and carrots until lightly browned. Remove to a plate and set aside. *You can skip this step but my Tita Saning who showed me this recipe did it this way, so I am sharing this step too. Kind of like honoring her memory. I miss those times. ❤️

5. Heat up the last tablespoon of oil and saute the garlic until fragrant. Add the onions and saute for about 3-5 minutes, until golden.

6. Add in the tomato sauce, chicken broth, and soy sauce and bring to a boil. Add the chicken pieces, potatoes, and carrots. *If using liver and hot dogs, add them too*

7. Let simmer over medium-low heat until meat and potatoes are done, about 20-25 minutes. Taste, taste!

8. Add the bell peppers, peas, and raisins and simmer until heated through, about 5-10 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

9. Serve hot over freshly cooked rice. Fish sauce on the side is optional, but highly recommended! 😋

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