Friday, July 1, 2011

basic bean fritter recipe

Everybody loves fried food. And one of the difficulties of shifting to ovo-lacto vegetarianism is looking for something fried to go with your breakfast of garlic rice and coffee. Here's an easy, basic recipe for bean fritters. the possibilities of this recipe are limited only by the variety of beans you can find.

1 cup boiled beans
1 large onion
1 egg
3 tablespoons cornstarch
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
vegetable oil for frying

(01) Mash the beans. if using mung bean (monggo), you need not mash.

(02) Cube the onion and add to the beans.

(03) Add egg, cornstarch, salt, and pepper.

(04) Mix thoroughly.

(05) Heat vegetable oil in a pan.

(06) Spoon the mixture into the pan to form fritters. Use about a spoonful of the mixture per fritter. Lower the heat. Fry until the fritters holds their shape. Flip them over to cook the other side.

(07) Remove the fritters from the pan and let them rest on a bed of paper towels to absorb excess oil.

It is best to cook one fritter first, so you can check for taste. this way, you can adjust the remainder of your mixture before cooking in batches. If you want to make things more interesting, you may want to experiment with other spices. Sometimes I add cumin, curry powder, cayenne, garlic, or chives. To make your fritter extra crunchy, you may want to add breadcrumbs.

In our kitchen, we often use this recipe for garbanzos, monggo, kidney beans, guisantes, cardiz, and balinswek (Yes, I'm using the Ilocano names of some of the beans; more information on these beans in future posts). But feel free to use any kind of edible bean. When I'm feeling lazy or I'm pressed for time, I use canned beans.

image courtesy of

Sunday, June 26, 2011

philippine spinach (talinum fruticosum) salad

Meet the Philippine Spinach (Talinum fruticosum). It is also called Ceylon spinach, Fame flower, Potherb Fameflower, Surinam Purslane, Sweetheart, and Waterleaf. It is cultivated as a leafy vegetable in Africa and South and Southeast Asia.

In the Philippines, it goes by the name 'talinum,' and is often dismissed as a weed. Because of this, talinum is practically impossible to buy in the country. So you don't have much choice but to grow it on your own. The good news is that talinum is easy to grow and propagate via seed or cutting, and it doesn't need that much space. It likes a lot of sun, though. I have seen talinum growing happily in recycled water bottles hanging from the kitchen window grilles of a friend's 14th floor apartment.

Talinum is a tropical herbaceous perennial plant rich in vitamin A and C, calcium, iron, and dietary fiber. The young leaves and stalks are used raw or blanched in salads. They are also cooked in a variety of ways just like spinach. In our kitchen, talinum is often used in salads, stir-fried greens, sinigang, and fried rice.

This is one recipe for talinum salad.

3 cups raw talinum
2 to 3 ripe tomatoes
2 shallots
water for blanching
salt to taste

(01) Pick young talinum shoots from your garden. The stalk should be easy to pinch off. If there's some resistance, it may already be too old. So move up the stalk until it breaks off easily.

(02) Wash the talinum thoroughly and remove any flowers and seeds. If some of the stalks are too hard, remove the hard portions. Detach the leaves from these hard portions. You can still use the leaves for this recipe.

(03) Boil enough water in a pot to blanche the talinum. You have to be ready with tongs or a slotted spoon to fish out the talinum as soon as they wilt.

(04) Remove the talinum from the water and dump them in a bowl of cool water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.

(05) Cube the ripe tomatoes. Set aside.

(06) Peel the shallots and slice thinly. Set aside.

(07) Mix the blanched talinum, tomatoes, and shallots in a bowl. Season with salt.

We often pair this talinum salad with chickpea or mung bean fritters. It also goes well with vegetarian barbecue. And it is a great way to make boiled eggs exciting.

By the way, according to most of what i've read, Talinum fruticosum and Talinum triangulare are one and the same.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

microwaved saba

One of the most noticeable changes when you shift to vegetarianism is the shorter time lapse between a meal and hunger pangs. So between meals, one tends to look for snacks. Nuts are always a good option. And boiled camote and saba are both nutritious and filling options. The problem with boiling, though, is that it's impractical to do it in small batches, so the tendency is to cook several pieces in one go. So what happens is you get stuck with more than enough boiled camote and bananas than you want to eat. And though boiled camote and bananas can keep, they don't taste very nice when not freshly cooked. the simplest solution to this is to microwave the banana. (NOTE microwaving camote has, so far, been an unsuccessful enterprise.)

1 ripe saba banana
1 fork
microwave oven

(01) Wash the saba and pierce the skin with a fork. I like to pierce it once on each side.

(02) Place the pierced saba in the microwave and cook on regular setting for a minute.

(03) Allow the saba to cool for about another minute before peeling.

I have microwaved up to five pieces of saba in one batch using the same setting and cooking for one minute.

Microwaved saba has the same texture as the boiled version, but the taste is sweeter.
photo by Carole Cancler

Sunday, June 12, 2011

tvp adobo

Today is Philippine Independence Day, and I am posting a recipe of a dish that quickly comes to mind when you think of Philippine cuisine. Today's simple vegetarian recipe is adobo using TVP (textured vegetable protein).

TVP, also known as textured soy protein, is made of soy flour and is a by-product of the soybean oil extraction process. It is rich in protein, and it looks a bit like dry dog food. It is readily available in vegetarian and chinese grocery stores. Since I'm often in the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, I usually buy my TVP from Likha Diwa, a vegetarian restaurant on C.P. Garcia.

this particular adobo recipe requires the following ingredients.

2 cups dry TVP
2/3 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 to 4 cloves garlic crushed
1 bay leaf
1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns
cornstarch dissolved in cold water
water for hydrating tvp and for adobo sauce
vegetable oil for frying
salt to taste
sugar to taste

Begin by hydrating the TVP in a large bowl filled with hot water. Let the TVP soak for about 30 minutes. You will know the TVP is ready because it has more than doubled in size and no longer has any hard sections. Pour out the water and squeeze the TVP dry. I rinse the TVP in another bowlful of water and squeeze the TVP dry once more for good measure. The TVP is now ready for frying. If the TVP seems too large, you may choose to slice it into smaller chunks.

(1) Heat enough vegetable oil in a pan to deep fry the hydrated TVP.

(2) Fry the TVP until golden brown and place them in a dish lined with paper towels to soak up excess oil.

(3) Remove the oil from the pan, taking care to leave about a serving spoonful of oil.

(4) Saute crushed garlic just until fragrant. You want the garlic to remain white.

(5) Return the fried TVP into the pan.

(6) Pour in 1 1/3 cups of water, 2/3 cup vinegar, and 2 tablespoons soy sauce. at this point, do not stir the concoction at any cost. you may only stir the mixture AFTER it has boiled. Cover the pan and wait for the liquid to boil.

(7) Add black peppercorns and bay leaf. Be sure to crush the bay leaf in your hand before throwing it into the pan.

(8) Season with salt and sugar depending on your taste. You may omit the sugar if you want to.

(9) Allow the whole thing to simmer for a few minutes and let the liquid reduce.

(10) If you want the adobo sauce to be thick, pour in some slurry made of cornstarch dissolved in a little water.

(11) Once you are happy with the taste and consistency of your adobo, remove from heat and serve with steamed rice.

I usually pair this adobo with lots of ripe tomato slices and salted duck eggs or a nice atchara (vegetable chutney). It also goes well with a leafy salad with tomatoes and shallots.

Now here's an even easier version of the recipe above. When I'm in a hurry, I use Mama Sita's adobo mix. Follow the recipe up to Step 5. Then add the adobo mix prepared according to package directions. Cover the pan and wait until the sauce has boiled and has reduced.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

moondish laing (all veggies)

When I first discovered this product at the grocery, I was skeptical. I read and reread the label, and I couldn't believe that I was holding a Philippine canned product that was vegetarian-friendly. According to the label, a can of MoonDish Laing (All Veggies) contains coconut cream, taro leaves and stalks, ginger, salt, red chili pepper, and garlic. MoonDish's vegetarian take on the traditional Bicolano laing proved to be quite delicious. And to this day we keep several cans handy in our pantry for when nobody has time to cook or when one of us craves laing.

Aside from the laing being quite delicious, it also is relatively inexpensive. If memory serves, a can retails at under 40 pesos.

MoonDish Laing (All Veggies) is best served with steamed rice and fried tofu cubes. I also use it as a topping for fried bread.

Be careful when buying MoonDish Laing (All Veggies), though. You have to read the label carefully to make sure it's the All Veggies variety that you're buying. They have a "traditional" laing with fish paste and one with tuna flakes, and the packaging is basically the same except for the color band. All Veggies is green, Traditional is red, and Tuna Flakes is blue.

photo by Jen Valmonte

moringa (malunggay), squash, camote soup

Meet the moringa (malunggay in Filipino). Because we are Ilocano, my sister and I eat the fruit and flower of the moringa aside from the leaf. Most Filipinos limit themselves to the leaf.

I love using moringa because it is nutritious, and it has a delicious taste. And it lends itself beautifully to soups. And for those shifting to vegetarianism, one of the frequent problems is finding vegetarian soup. We think it's difficult making vegetarian soup because we are have been conditioned to use meat stock.

Here is our recipe for moringa, squash, camote soup. it's so easy to make, even a those who can't cook can't possibly mess this up.

2 cups moringa leaves
1 wedge squash peeled and sliced thinly
1 medium camote peeled and sliced thinly
half an onion sliced
3 cloves garlic crushed and peeled
salt to taste
vegetable oil for sauteing
5 cups water

(01) Heat vegetable oil in a pot.

(02) Lower heat and saute onions until they start turning brown.

(03) Add the garlic and saute until they become fragrant.

(04) Add squash and camote slices and stir.

(05) Pour in water and increase the heat.

(06) Boil the camote and squash until tender. We want the squash and camote to start disintegrating. you can help them along by mashing the squash and camote with the back of a spoon.

(07) Add moringa leaves and simmer for two minutes.

(08) Season with salt.

moringa illustration from Fray Blanco's Flora de Manila

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

poqui-poqui: ilocano eggplant frittata

Meet the poqui-poqui, an Ilocano dish made of eggplants, tomatoes, onions, and eggs. It's so easy to make and is simply delicious. When we were kids our mother told us it was called pongky-pongky. We found out only recently that it was just us that called it such. Mommy was apparently too modest to use its original name.

To make poqui-poqui for two people, you need the following:

2 or 3 medium eggplants, sliced (see directions below)
two ripe tomatoes, sliced into wedges
half an onion, sliced (use red onion if you want it sweeter; you can also use shallots)
2 or 3 medium eggs (I read somewhere that laying large eggs causes the chicken discomfort)
salt to taste
vegetable oil for sauteing

To cook poqui-poqui the traditional way, you have to grill the eggplants until their skins are charred. Charring causes the skin to crack and it becomes easy to peel off. It also gives the eggplant a nice, smoky flavor. Others have simplified this process. Instead of grilling, they choose to boil the eggplants. Once cooked, the eggplants are sliced into inch-long pieces and set aside.

Our recipe simplifies the process even further.

(01) Halve the eggplants lengthwise. Then slice each half into half circles about a quarter of an inch thick.

(02) Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan.

(03) Add eggplants, sprinkle some salt, and cover the pan (you want the salt and steam to help along in the cooking). Uncover from time to time to stir the eggplants to ensure even cooking. We want the eggplants to become soft and mushy and slightly caramelized. You're done cooking the eggplants once they start browning and disintegrating when mashed.

(04) Mash the eggplants in the pan with the fire on. Then lower the fire.

(05) Create some space in the pan and saute the onions until translucent.

(06) Add the tomato slices and stir these into the eggplant-onion mixture. Cook until the tomatoes are soft and mushy.

(07) Add the eggs one by one, and stir them into the eggplant-onion-tomato mixture. The idea is to blend the eggs with the vegetables.

(08) Continue stirring until the eggs are no longer runny. Remove from heat and serve with steamed rice or fried bread.

photo by jlgavino

our reason for being

This is the blog of two ovo-lacto vegetarians who turned away from meat because we love animals. And we're here to help out those who want to make the shift, too.

We start with this blog's reason for being. it's pretty simple, really. We want this blog to be a source page for people who want to turn ovo-lacto vegetarian. Our belief is this: shifting from a carnivore diet to ovo-lacto vegetarian is doable, simple, and inexpensive. As our blog title suggests, this blog is all about an inexpensive Filipino ovo-lacto vegetarian lifestyle. We will feature recipes of traditional Filipino favorites that we prepare in our kitchen. We will also have articles on nutrition and vegetables, fruits, and other foodstuff; reviews of vegetarian products, groceries, and restaurants; and profiles of Filipino vegetarians.

We decided to come up with this blog because we have noticed that many people get discouraged from turning vegetarian because it seems complicated and expensive. And others are worried it means eating only Indian and other "exotic" food. Some others get discouraged because quite a number of the high-profile vegetarians and vegetarian places in Metro Manila are "too New Age" and "too strange they're like aliens." This blog aims to address these concerns and help carnivores transition to vegetarianism and stay there.