Yet Another Pork & Beans Recipe, Au Gratin

This recipe will shatter all misconceptions that everything cooked using a frying pan entails serious work. I assure you, once you have all four ingredients on hand, you’ll only spend ten minutes in your kitchen. Max.

Ever heard of pork & beans cooked with egg and topped with grated cheddar cheese? No? Ever tasted one? Then this is your lucky day! Took these shots last night while I was doing my late night dinner. Cost is under P50 if we apportion the cost of the cheese.

Here’s what you’ll need (aka, the Ingredients):

230g can of Pork & Beans1 Egg1/5 of a 180g block of cheddar cheeseground black pepper

The procedure is very simple.

Empty contents of a 230g can of Pork & Beans in a pre-heated frying pan.

Add 1 egg. Springkle mixture with a dash of ground black pepper. Stir thoroughly until egg is cooked with the sauce and the beans.

Take the pan away from heat transfer contents in a serving bowl. Top with 1/5 of a 180g block of cheddar cheese (or as much as you like) to taste.

Finished product (with more cheese than usual, I know). Best served hot. Serves one hungry bachelor. Grub away!


Paprika Pork with Paprika

paprika pork with paprika
No, that’s not a typo. I repeat paprika because this dish uses it in two forms– powdered and fresh. We usually think of paprika as a spice made from red bell peppers, usually from Spain or Hungary. But in some European countries fresh bell peppers are also called paprika. This is an easy dish to prepare, and it tastes even better when reheated the day after.


  • 1/2 kilo pork (preferably with skin), cubed
  • 1 garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 to 3 red bell peppers, julienned
  • 2 tbsp (or more) paprika powder
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • cooking oil (preferably olive)
  • water (or white wine, if you have some extra)
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp dried chili flakes
  • olives and ginger powder (optional)

1. Heat oil in a pan or wok over high heat (better to use a thick-walled wok for even heating). Use enough oil so that you can saute the vegetables and brown the pork. When the oil is hot throw in the chili flakes (I used a leftover packet of chili from Yellow Cab). You can also used coarsely ground black pepper.

2. Saute the onion and garlic until they start to soften. Add the bell peppers and continue sauteing for around two or three minutes, or until you get the temperature in the wok back up.

3. Add the pork and stir everything around. Continue cooking over high heat until the pork is lightly brown. Stir from time to time for even cooking.

4. After the pork browns add the salt, paprika powder, and lemon juice. Stir. This is also the time to add the ginger powder and olives. Mix well so that the spices are evenly distributed and the pork is coated.

5. Add enough water to cover everything and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium and let the pork braise for about an hour, or until the water reduces to a sauce. Stir occasionally (like during commercial breaks).

As it is, this sweet-spicy stew can be served with steamed rice and some greens. Serves three to four.

This dish, however, is best served after the flavours strengthen overnight in the ref. Place enough pork, vegetables, and sauce in a deep oven-safe dish and broil on high. When the top part browns and the sauce sizzles stir the pork around for even browning. Finally, chuck in a raw egg during the last few minutes of heating and continue broiling until the egg becomes opaque. The bland egg will complement the strongly-flavoured sauce.


Tingly for Thai

I am perennially frustrated looking for Thai food in Metro Manila. At the apex of the Thai food pyramid is Benjarong at the Dusit Hotel, but you have to be a druglord/gambling lord/member of the cabinet/Meralco director to be able to afford eating there on more than a semi-annual basis. That not being the case, what’s one to do? Our memories are littered with the empty shells of once-popular Thai restaurants that have disappeared.

The world’s just waiting for someone to write a book explaining how Thai food is really, the perfect health food because there don’t seem to be many obese or even pot-bellied people in Thailand, and yet they eat out a lot. I’ve written, too, on how we could learn a thing or two from the Thais about standardizing our food and making it appealing to tourists, but that’s another story.

For cheap Thai eats, there’s Som’s in Makati which is superior to Som’s on Tomas Morato, but both have the unfortunate tendency to be uneven and keep erring on the side of putting too much sugar in their curries (perhaps this has been noticed by others, hence the debate on authenticity), though I tend to like their green curry. The prices are delightfully low, but the portions also tend to me at times, microscopic (this is particularly irritating when it comes to the catfish and green mango salad).

So about two weeks back we ate ate at Silk, the Thai restaurant in Serendra (what is it with these disease-sounding Ayala Malls lately? Serendra sounds like it’s something you get from deranged howler monkeys while TriNoMa sounds like something that requires a barium enema to cure). It’s one of the prettier restaurants, the staff are efficient, the prices mmmkay…


Tom Yum avoided the sin of being sugary, and the shrimp wasn’t tough. This was a superior Tom Yum.


Soft shell crab, deep fried, with a tamarind and mango sauce, if I recall correctly. Absolutely and unqualifiedly delicious! That was a happy bunch of molting crabs, I can tell ya. This dish alone made the restaurant visit worth it.


The cholesterol special was some sort of tamarind-infused pork rib thing. This is what inihaw, which normally leaves me cold, should aspire to. This pig must have been a happy camper, too. I generally dislike inihaw because it tends to leave the meat or fish or whatever tasting like it was incinerated on coals and I end up wondering if consuming so much charcoal will lead to colon cancer one day. But these ribs were, to start with, fatty, flavorful, tender, not too charcoal-infused, and with a delicate tamarind flavor that was quite charming.


Alas, the green curry was… uninspired.

This is a place with promise, I think it requires a second visit before a permanent verdict can be rendered. I’m not sold on the idea of Thai food being suitable for a date place (too many accidents waiting to happen) but it seemed to me the most romantic-looking restaurant in Serendra.



How to fortify soup

If all else fails, have soup. There are times, however, when you want to fortify your soup, so that it fills you up even better. In most cases, this is best done by means of frying a piece or two of bread in butter and dunking it in your soup. But if you aren’t in the mood to bring out the frying pan (or you’re out of butter), then something else will have to do.

Actually fried bread in soup is best when it comes to creamy soups. When your soup is more along the lines of a stew, then you’re better off finding another way to fortify your soup.

Here’s a simple technique which also adds texture to your soup.

De-can your soup, pour into a bowl.


Heat the soup in the Microwave.

Get a packet of crackers.


Get a wooden spoon or somesuch implement. Smash the crackers.


Take the soup out of the Microwave, open the packet, pour crispy smashed goodness into the bowl.


Get your handy-dandy essential Vietnamese (actually, from what I understand, Thai) style hot sauce*, which is superior to Tabasco because it’s not vinegary and so doesn’t make everything you eat taste more like Tabasco than what you’re eating, and dribble a little bit into your soup. Hot sauce eliminates the taste of the can.


Stir and enjoy.


*Together with Kewpie mayonnaise, a basic food group, along with deli mustard, ketchup, Worcestershire and A1 sauces and Italian dressing.


Only Slightly Sinful Mandarin Oranges

Dessert is a problem, specially if you don’t want to gain too much weight. And if you don’t want to actually cook anything. Otherwise consuming a 1 pound bag of peanut M&M’s is the easiest solution to late night dessert requirements, but past the age of 19 no one can get away with consuming a pound of candy in one night.

Fruit’s always good for you but if you live alone, it’s difficult to store fruit. So the best solution is canned fruit.

Since weight is also a state of mind, if you buy things that say “Light,” ergo, they and you will be lighter, if not physically, then psychologically, and after all, maintaining morale is half the battle. This recipe is full of light ingredients -fruit in light syrup and light whipped cream (or whipped dairy product). I’d even say this is a health food recipe!

Ingredients are simple:


I don’t know if this brand’s better than any other canned Mandarin Oranges brand, but I enjoy reading what it says: “Mandarins from China, Enjoy y [date]”.



It says it’s light so it has to be healthy, non?

Spoon the Mandarin Oranges out of their container, trying not to include any syrup.


When you have placed the right amount, proceed to step two. Cover the Mandarin Oranges with whipped cream.








Enjoy again.

You are way better off than having consumed one pound of Peanut M&M’s!


Poaching Eggs Is Easy

We’re used to two ways of having our eggs – boiled (either soft or hard-boiled) or fried (whether scrambled or sunny-side-up). Taste-wise, people usually prefer fried eggs, but due to the relatively unhealthy preparation, most people actually hesitate to have it as often as they want. There is one way where one could get a consistency close to fried egg and it is through poaching. Poaching is not really big outside of the culinary world and is virtually unheard of in the Philippines. Poaching combines the best of both worlds, you get the light and delicate feel of an egg that has been while keeping your breakfast relatively oil-free.

Here’s how you poach eggs:

1. Prepare about 400-500 mL of water in a deep sauce pan. Put it on a stove set to medium.
2. Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar.
3. Crack one egg and place it in a small bowl.
4. Once the water is almost boiling lower the setting slightly and ever so gently drop the egg as near to the water’s surface as you can. Let it simmer.
5. You’ll know that your poached egg is done when all the white has sort of solidified (fancy term: congealed).
6. Season with salt and pepper.

Your main concern would be the vinegar, right? The vinegar does not lend anything to the dish flavor-wise. The acidic properties of vinegar simply ensures that the egg won’t break apart and just diffuse in the water. Boiling water might create a similar effect of breaking apart the eggs so it’s important to keep it at a particular temperature just below boiling.

You may also poach eggs using a microwave. Simply use a microwaveable container and estimate when the water is about to boil. Then in one quick go, open the oven door, drop the eggs and wait for it to cook! The result may not be as pretty as the ones you’ll make on a stove but your palate won’t really be able to tell the difference.

There you go, guys. Poached Eggs! That was easy, right?


Festive Cheesedogs

Later that night I had Festive Cheesedogs.


The cheesedog is all about faith. Faith in its really being made out of meat (you just don’t want to think too hard about what kind of meat, or if you do, not to discuss too thoroughly what offal consists of), and that it also has cheese. However, the cheesedog is handy, and can be consumed without the benefit of bread.


You must consume cheesedogs two at a time. Eating only one leads to feelings of deprivation which will only make you want to eat something else, leading to a dangerous food spiral which may result in you becoming morbidly obese by the next morning. Eating three or more cheesedogs in one sitting, however, is overdoing it and will not result in a food spiral but possible late-evening indigestion.


Being a processed meat product, and one priced to appeal to the quantity over quality market, the cheesedog has to go through various procedures to look like a real sausage, which it isn’t -not quite, anyway. For example, the type of cheesedog illustrated above, is encased in a kind of industrial plastic condom, which should be eased off the cheesdog prior to cooking. It is quite possible to cook the cheesedog while it’s still in its industrial condom, but it makes removing the condom more difficult prior to consumption. It is also possible, theoretically, to eat the industrial plastic sheathing but I don’t see why you’d want to do that. The cheesedogs, post de-sheathing, and the discarded plastic sheaths, are illustrated above. It’s a good idea to pierce the cheesedogs several times with a fork, if only to prevent their becoming deformed during cooking.


Microwave on High for 1 minute. Remove from the Microwave. Marvel at the oily goo that has leaked out of the cheesedogs during cooking. The fussy consumer, at this point, could add to the pile of dishes waiting to be rinsed, by moving the cheesedogs to a plate, to divorce them from the oily goo. But the goo’s actually tasty and at 2 a.m., it’s not worth doing the degooing.


And so, apply liberal amounts of tomato ketchup and Kewpie Japanese mayonnaise*, for that festive look and added flavor! Enjoy by piercing one cheesedog with your fork and swirling it around your festive sauce. Repeat until everything’s consumed.

*Kewpie Japanese mayonnaise is a basic bachelor food group, in the league of essentials such as tomato ketchup and hot sauce.


Beantastic South of the Border Vienna Sausages

The advantage of anything canned is that if you maintain a minimal level of vigilance (if the top’s bulging, you know there’s a risk of Botulism, so don’t consume the contents of that can), you can derive a maximum of eating convenience. Back in 1995 I had fun writing Canned adobo and other S&T adventures, showing how before the war, being able to can Adobo was considered a highlight of Filipino scientific achievement.

The problem with something canned, though, is that it’s a set recipe. You could turn the canned item into something else by making it part of a recipe, but that defeats the purpose of having handy, canned food, doesn’t it? The point of bachelor living is you have better things to do than actually fuss around the kitchen.

So, the easiest thing to do, requiring minimal effort, is to combine one canned thing, with another canned thing, and warm it up in the Microwave.

Last night’s piece de resistance was Beantastic South of the Border Vienna Sausages. Amazingly easy!

All you need are:

DSC00015#1.JPGA can of Chili Beans with Beef. Usually, this is too spicy to eat on its own, unless you have it with rice, but if you don’t have any rice to eat it with, then you need something to cut the spice.

DSC00016#2.JPGAnd a can of Chicken Vienna Sausages. Actually, I prefer normal Vienna Sausages but these were on sale.

Open each can. Pour the Chili Beans with Beef into a microwave-safe bowl.

DSC00017#2.JPGPour out the broth from the can of Vienna Sausages, then plop the sausages over the Chili and Beans.

Heat on high in the Microwave for 30 seconds.

DSC00018#2.JPGSprinkle some Kraft Parmesan Cheese (grated Cheddar would be better, but since it doesn’t come pre-grated in a can, it’s too much of a bother to be grating at midnight) over the whole thing. Let it sit happily for a couple of minutes so the sausages absorb some of the sauce, and consume!