Chicken Paprika


I was gone from blogging for almost  two months. Put it this way. I was so busy with work and my other passion; the fighting arts. I couldn’t seem to insert a blog during those months. March break came and Easter went and unfortunately, I was still not able to scribble a noteworthy article for some recipes. I had them all in my camera for uploading; ready to be posted. Moreover, I recently switched into a new hardware technology format called the tablet. My netbook had had its time. I was so overwhelmed by the technology transformation, unknowingly making my life so much easier; and lighter.

I’m now in the beautiful city of Prague and I’ll be attending a cooking school tomorrow.  I’m extremely excited with this particular activity. I might as well learn how Paprika, pork, chicken and potatoes all come together in a traditional Czech meal. I have this belief that all cities have interesting tourist spots, but the activities make them a bit more special. I discovered this company online and never hesitated on participating. I needed to learn how to cook potatoes besides mashing, boiling and roasting them. It will help at work given potatoes are staples in North America.

This is Chicken Paprika done Czech style. I haven’t done this ever and saw the sauce turn into a velvety smoked, inviting, aromatic sauce which I had only seen here. This is as original and as traditional as can be as also taught by a Michelin trained Chef here in Prague.


Chicken Breast, seasoned with salt & pepper and paprika
Sunflower oil
Garlic, minced to a paste
Bay leaves
Vegetable Stock
Sour Cream
Fennel, grinded in a mortar & Pestle
Salt & Ground Black Pepper to taste

Sweat the onions with a massive amount of oil.

While sweating the onions, cut the chicken breast across the grain. Season with salt & pepper and with huge amount of smoked Paprika. Combine the breast with the onions and with the rest of the herbs or until the chicken is partially cooked. Remove the chicken breast from the pot and finish them in a 350’C oven.


Add more vegetable stock into the pot until a certain consistency is reached. Season further to taste. Blend using an immersion blender and thicken with sour cream.

Return the chicken from the oven and back into the pot. Let the pot simmer for another ten or so minutes. Remove the Chicken breast from the pot and garnish with Potato Pancakes.

Deep-Fried Smelts

DSCF7738 (640x427)Alright. I’m seeing fish in a different light. I turned my back to pork and beef and discovered a variety of fish I have never knew even existed in the oriental store.  I don’t buy those expensive steak cuts and salmon fillets as many Filipinos do (usually with salmon for Sinigang). I just can’t finish a steak cut or  an entire fillet in one sitting, and I’d prefer them sushi.  I’d buy a whole variety of fish with heads attached and have them cleaned and eviscerated for extra and rinse them again when I reach home.  They stay in my freezer up until I start my workweek on a Saturday when I start defrosting pulling out one package at a time.  Many Canadian supermarkets only display fillets in either fresh or frozen packages. They never sell them with the head on and with as much assortment as those found in Chinatown or in any oriental store for that matter.

The smelt really intrigued me. They are tiny and just perfect for snacking. I know they are also perfect for deep-frying, but cooking them to a crunchy and juicy bite is the challenge. Before the inception of this article, I’ve tried frying the same by dipping the fish in beaten egg first and into a cornstarch/flour dredging mix similar to what I did with the Curried Fried Chicken. However,  it didn’t turn out as crunchy as expected. That led me to try other kinds of batter mixture, and the tempura batter came to mind. The other ready-made Asian style batter mixes looked even more complicated than this one. I would have used a can of beer as replacement for water, but alcohol is off limits until the next holiday.  Butterflying the smelt was also an ingenious way of keeping the form and shape intact. Seeing them on the plate fried and butterflied was just so inviting.


  • Smelts, butterflied
  • Whole Wheat Flour (or White Flour)
  • Cornstarch
  • Cold Carbonated Water
  • Canola oil for deep-frying
  • Salt & Pepper

Mix a one to four ratio of cornstarch and flour in a bowl. Slowly pour the carbonated water and stir gently until smooth. Season with salt & pepper.

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Dip the smelts into the batter and deep-fry one or two at a time. Pat dry with a paper towel and season with more salt & pepper before serving

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Pasta with Chicken and Mushrooms

DSCF7733 (640x427)And now, I’m eating like a pauper. My body sometimes can’t take the transformations by resorting to quick pizza slices (Vegan) and sandwiches (Turkey) while I’m out or just before my training. I’ve kept dimsum at bay, and the rich, creamy, spicy and buttery Indian muttons and the heavy Chinese soy and bean sauces only for serious celebrations.  From having a luxurious cut of beef or porkloin, I was moved down to a diminutive slice of chicken breast, a bunch of greens and a small heap of pasta; unfathomable! I had never thought I would switch to this diet, and I was caught off-guard.

I encountered this dish in a steakhouse last summer when a former HS classmate visited Toronto. We went to a steakhouse, and as American as he was, went for a good old fashioned cut of steak and nachos. I’ve had several encounters with steakhouses here in the city and seeing another cut makes me avoid it all the more; moreso now with the health scare. I’ve had done pub style nachos  a long time ago and wouldn’t or can’t even touch one.  Extreme exhaustion also got the best of me; coming from work and travelling  farther up north to the suburbs to meet him was menacing. Nevertheless, it had to happen. It had been close to 25 years since we had seen each other, thus, I didn’t really mind the long travel.  So, to bring my nerves down and put me on a relaxing mode, I resorted to a lighter meal and a bottle of beer instead.

This is my rendition of that dish.  It was originally cooked with Portobello mushrooms. I used regular white mushrooms and whole wheat pasta for a healthier alternative. Mushrooms are always on sale in the oriental store and I can never go wrong by adding either herbs, a pinch of salt & pepper or wine with any kind of mushrooms. The pasta is given; tomato, pesto or even with just a drizzle of an expensive olive oil does wonders. The end product almost always tastes delicious.

I marinated the chicken breast to my liking; heavy on Pimenton and honey. The one I had was tad bland, and just had a hint of wine.  I couldn’t remember though if it was seared or grilled. My former HS classmates stared at me when I turned the dish up and about and even around.  Told them it was work related.


  • Chicken Breast
  • Whole Wheat Spaghetti
  • Olive oil
  • Whiskey
  • Mushrooms, quartered
  • Garlic, minced to a paste
  • Onions, chopped
  • Pimenton Dulce (or Paprika)
  • Honey
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Truffle Salt
  • Condensed milk
  • Compound butter
  • Parmesan (condiment)

Chicken Marinade:

  • Pimenton Dulce
  • Honey
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Garlic

Marinate the chicken breast overnight. Pre-heat a sauté pan and sear the breast on both sides. Transfer to a roasting pan and finish off in a medium-high 350’C pre-heated oven ( really depends how big the breast is).

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Add a little more olive oil and sauté the onion and mushrooms.  Deglaze with whiskey and add a little chicken stock (or pasta water) to form a pan-sauce. Scoop a little minced garlic into the pan.

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Meanwhile, cook some spaghetti based on box instructions. Remove and set aside. Save some pasta water for the sauce.

Add the pasta (and water) and continue sautéing. Add a small amount of compound butter into the pan and finish off with condensed milk (or cream). Season to taste. Remove the chicken breast from the oven and let it rest, tinted (save the drippings to be added  into the pan-sauce).

Scoop the pasta into a dish and set the chicken atop the plate. Sprinkle with Truffle salt, and garnish with slivers of green onion.

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Torta (Filipino Omelette)

DSCF7727 (640x427)I was caught in a deep stupor for almost three weeks. I recently discovered that eating too much of somethings I love can be damaging. And, as that discovery broadens into a life changing moment (as Oprah would always say), so did my diet and nutrition.  Suddenly, my freezer became an isolated war zone; desolate, empty, frigid and bare.

It was the weird sensation I felt three weekends ago when my feet itched and my non-slip shoes and the freezing weather weren’t really the culprit. It must have been the Stewed Pig’s feet, which I ate for three consecutive nights, that triggered that discomfort. My work requires me to stand and to walk for long hours, and any kind of discomfort, specially on the toes, soles of the feet and the entire feet themselves, can be frightening.

I’ve avoided eating pork and beef altogether. My supermarket basket has been replaced by either fish fillets, whole fish, a bunch of fruits and a myriad of Chinese greens, and chicken. I’ve also cut back on salt (Soy Sauces and Bean Sauces included) and switched my grains to brown. Noodles have also become a staple.  It’s an entire recipe booklet folks, and it’s really very challenging.  I only know how to pan-fry whole fish as most Filipinos do, and steamed fish with soy sauce is now forbidden. I’ve set aside partaking on scrumptious beef and pork on an occasional basis now and on a limited amount or portion or  only when I’m on vacation.  I haven’t really had myself checked, but my doctor cleared me last year. I guess I’m due for another check-up anytime soon. I’m sure stress is also a factor, but that’s already woven in the culture and the city where I reside.

I found this recipe online while tapping on the types of food (never foods, please) I have to start eating and indulging myself into.  I haven’t had this in a long time; give or take 25 or so years. I ate Torta prepared by the household help and found hers too dry and plain. I know ketchup would have helped, but that was basically it. It was an omelette with ground meat inside.  Somehow, Torta became a Tortilla Espanola of Spanish descent turned into Filipino with all the pork and garlic cooked in the dish. I’m making it French, perfectly eaten alfresco and with a glass of wine. I turned the eggs into a crepe batter and made a grilled then mashed fresh tomato as condiment seasoned with fresh Thyme.


  • Ground Chicken or Turkey
  • Garlic, minced to a paste
  • Onion, finely chopped
  • Mushrooms, finely chopped
  • Potatoes, boiled and diced
  • Thyme and Thyme Sprigs
  • Compound Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Paprika (Pimenton Picante)
  • White Wine
  • Chicken stock
  • Cornstarch/flour for coating
  • Lemon Juice
  • Salt & Pepper


  • Whole Wheat flour
  • Eggs
  • Condensed Milk
  • Canola Oil
  • Salt/Pepper

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil on a sauté pan and brown the potatoes. Sprinkle with paprika or pimenton.  Set aside.

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Coat and season the ground chicken with cornstarch and flour.  Add more olive oil in the sauté pan and pan-fry until crisp. Set aside with the potatoes.

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Add another heap of olive oil in the sauté pan and sauté the onion and mushroom. Add some coarsely chopped Thyme followed by the minced garlic and a dab of compound butter. Deglaze with white wine, and dump the browned ground chicken and potatoes into the pan.  Continue stirring and pour a little chicken stock to prevent the meat from drying up. Squeeze some lemon juice and season to taste. Set aside.

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Season a non-stick pan and pour enough crepe/egg batter into the pan. Swirl the pan until the entire pan is covered with the batter mix and cook to low-medium heat. Flip the crepe and cook the other side until  brown spots start to appear. Do about two or three more crepes.

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Spoon a ground chicken mixture in the crepe and fold from both ends to form a roll.  Sprinkle with fresh Thyme (There are several ways of folding a crepe).

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Stewed Pig’s Feet (Pig’s Trotters)

DSCF7713 (640x425)My Sifu (Teacher) wore a classic black, V-Cut, step-in kung-fu shoes in last night’s training. Anyone who were born in the 60s or 70s would recognize and know how they looked like.  I haven’t seen those black velvet shoes (a V-cut at that!) in ages. The first time I was introduced to those was back in the 80s when kung-fu movies exploded in cinemas, and those shoes were part of the fighters’ wardrobe. It was an integral part of the fight scene and they accentuated the fighters’ artistry, make-up and style. Some shoe styles (boot-cut, both low and high) either portrayed a certain dynasty or a particular set of invaders (oh those English dubbed kung-fu movies). Some were made for peasants and others were worn for majesties and his foot soldiers.  All those shoes were as mythical as those theatrical kung-fu moves and weapons performed during that bygone era. In fact,  I bought a couple of pairs for myself on my first trip to Hong Kong (plain & V-cut–yup, that fanatic) when I was still growing up. I wore them for training, but I later learned that it was insufficient to absorb stomps and shocks as characterized by many kung-fu fighting styles. I gave them up and trained with runners or football shoes instead.  Those turned out to be more comfortable and had more traction and grip on the floor when high speed or burst training was necessary.

Like I said in my previous blog. It’s all martial arts training for 2014. I’ve foregone serious training for more than a decade, and I know it will never go away.  I missed about 15 years of regular training and there’s a lot of catching-up to do. My peers from the past are way ahead of me. I can’t even determine my skill level at this point. It has been an on and off training if it’s serious training at all.  Watching documentaries motivates me to train, learn and aspire harder, and during the course of this ‘seeking an aspiration moment’ this dish popped up. It was eaten by the producers of the film I was watching and that began my quest for the identity of the Pig’s Trotters. And here it is.

This dish doesn’t have as much spices like the Chinese Braised Beef or Braised Tendons. It’s, again, a Vietnamese inspired dish without the lemongrass (missed it in the oriental grocery. My mind wanders what’s my next meal without using chicken or beef-gasgas na kasi).  Sugar  was caramelized firsthand with aromatics before it was braised for three or so hours with spices. Simple. Easy. Artery clogging.


  • Pig’s feet, cut in bite size pieces
  • Patis (Nuoc Mam)
  • Dark Soy Sauce
  • Chicken Stock
  • Garlic, minced to a paste
  • Onion, chopped
  • Green onion
  • Ginger
  • Lemongrass (w/c I had forgotten)
  • Star Anise
  • Dried Chilis
  • Brown Sugar
  • Salt & Ground Black Pepper
  • Chinese Greens as garnish

Add sugar in a heated sauté pan with a little Chicken stock and continue stirring until the sugar caramelizes. Add the garlic and onion followed by the dark soy sauce and patis and stir further.

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Place the pig’s feet in the pan and add a little more chicken stock (just enough to cover the feet).  Start adding the green onion stalk, ginger, dried chilis, star anise, and season with salt and pepper.  Let it boil to simmer for about half an hour and skim the fat off as it boils. Cover and place in a preheated low-medium oven or let it braise on the stove stop for three hours.

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Remove the trotters from the pan and strain the sauce into a bowl or another sauce pan. Drizzle the sauce all over before serving.

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Roasted Quail with Honey and Garlic

DSCF7702 (640x495)2014 is dedicated to the diligent practice of the martial arts. The love of learning traditional fighting systems remains to be  an enigmatic artifact that have persistently followed me almost all my life; like a dark shadow lurking behind. It never left, and I think it wouldn’t so in the next 30 more years. It’s a hobby that I have loved and have endured almost a third of my life. It’s a  journey into the sometimes unknown and unforgiving battles within these make shift gymnasiums and dojos.  I got injured. I was deprived of information bounded by strict traditions, but never let-up.

I learned my fundamentals the hard way  in these rudimentary and creepy atmosphere back in the 80s.  I went as far as Manila’s Chinatown; taking the jeepney and walking the dangerous and dark streets of Doroteo Jose and Quiapo to learn a particular art. Those places were rampant for pickpockets, drunk and boisterous bystanders, hookers,  crack and rugby users, and whatever else one can imagine. All these hardwork have finally paid-off.  Took me more than a decade (and still learning) and through this martial journey met some new friends and brothers in the arts whom I would treasure all throughout my life.

Before blogging, I wrote with a martial arts magazine called RAPID Journal. That was the beginning of my passion for writing and interpreting the martial arts. It was as provocative and as enthusiastic as food writing. I continue my communication with this group to this day whenever I visit Southeast Asia and every visit feels like I was never gone; and every training is as refreshing and as awakening as fresh cold water in a hot summer’s day.

I am for martial tradition, and it shall remain that way. I don’t do it for sports, for trophies or cash,  tournaments or ring fights nor for some religious beliefs attached to its foundation. I have fervent wish to pass them on someday.  My training is for cultural cultivation and preservation of the arts and health. These, in my belief, are cultural artifacts meant to be appreciated and loved.  It’s also a form of  training in which I can clear my mind and see clarity towards a life’s path and to whatever challenges I may face in the future. It’s a difficult process: learning, re-learning and practicing and doing the same over and over again. That’s the challenge I enjoy facing  (and getting whacked while doing them). Moreover, I meet new people along the way, and that’s another facet of training; a social interaction with people of the same interest and passion.

This dish somehow took me back to an era when I was still beginning my martial training. I was fervently reminded of  those Chinese banquet celebrations where Roasted Pigeons were served to start.  I love those pigeons, and sometimes, when I’m invited into a Chinese banquet for New Year’s, Wedding or Grand Celebrations in the Martial World, I would munch and gobble-up the pigeon plate.  Many Filipino-Chinese, I noticed, went for the more expensive fish and beef entrees. I went for the bird. They had probably thought I was queer, but the smokiness combined with the sweet smelling and crispy gamy skin from the roast lingered throughout the night or day. The salt was the kicker.

I know it’s special and I can never cook it myself. These quails are Vietnamese by nature and I’ve only cooked this once before. It involves so much preparation despite the simple cooking procedures and steps.


  • A pack of Quails
  • Honey
  • Light Soy Sauce
  • Dark Soy Sauce
  • Sesame Oil
  • Patis
  • Brown Sugar
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • Garlic, minced to a paste
  • bunch of skewers (soaked overnight)

Split the quail down the backbone and rinse off the cavities with running cold water. Discard the neck bones, and lay them flat on the cutting board.  Cut the skewers in half and pierce the quails from the legs to the neck to form an X.

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Prepare the marinade. Whisk all ingredients in a mixing bowl and adjust to taste.  Marinade the quails overnight.

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Set the quails on a roasting pan and bake them in a pre-heated oven at medium-high or heat until the skin caramelizes. Baste the quails with the marinade every so often to prevent them from drying.  Flip the quails three-fourths of the way to cook the other side.

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Dipping Sauce:

  • Lime Juice
  • Garlic, minced
  • Sugar
  • Thai Chilis
  • Patis

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Albondigas (Meatballs in Tomato Sauce)

DSCF7685 (640x495) Isn’t it strange that a Filipino term for a Meatball is a soup bowl served with Chinese Vermicelli (a Misua)? I’ve asked a couple of my friends about Filipino meatballs and their basic and maybe only recollection of one is the popular ‘Misua.’  I had more or less the same reflection about Misua growing-up, and being served a meatball soup (in a bowl) as a starter.  Sometimes, these meatballs were eaten together with steamed rice and vegetables, and the Chinese Vermicelli with soup slurped with gusto and taken as the  starter. It’s an interesting food pair, but definitely of Filipino or Filipino-Chinese descent. Despite its oriental connotation, the term for the dish is definitely Spanish. I feel that’s the dish’s heritage. It’s Philippine history expressed on a bowl of soup (again, never soups, please), and just maybe, because of the need in those desperate era and times when the Spaniards were way above and beyond the food chain and were in command of the islands, a new ‘meatball’ dish  was reborn in the process.

Anyway, I extremely enjoyed preparing this dish. It’s a dish dating and going back from the Moors (as stated in the recipe) with ingredients like Cinnamon, Cumin and Nutmeg rolled and added with the ball and the sauce.  It is also considered as another kind of Tapas. Somehow, Albondigas crept through the Islands through Spain’s colonization of the Philippines.

I kept and stuck to the tradition of using Tomato Sauce for this blog, but before even doing that version, I’ve already prepared another  using wine or in wine sauce last year when I had fresh parsley on hand. Both were stand-out and star dishes.  I will present Albondigas in Tomato Sauce first.  I’ll start the other as soon as something comes up on top of my head that annoys me days on end and needs to be written down. It usually begins and ends that way when I write my blog (check my intro).

I must warn the readers though. This tomato sauce isn’t close to the Italian or Italian-American’s sour Tomato/Marinara Sauces nor the sweet and tangy Filipino Spaghetti/Tomato Sauce.  I would have taken these Albondigas with a glass of wine, but I already had my share for the New Year’s and I’ve already made a pact to myself to drink on an occasional basis only.


  • Ground Pork
  • Garlic, minced
  • Onion, minced
  • Eggs (beaten)
  • French Loaf (soaked in water)
  • Olive oil
  • Nutmeg
  • Cumin
  • Cinnamon
  • Ground Black Pepper & Sea Salt
  • Honey
  • Flour
  • Crushed Canned Tomatoes (I used Italian)

Combine the ground pork with garlic, onion, soaked French bread, beaten egg, cinnamon, cumin, ground black pepper and sea salt.  Form the ground pork into bite-size balls and roll into seasoned flour.

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Pan-fry each meatball in olive oil until golden brown. Transfer in a baking dish and finish them off in a low-medium pre-heated oven.

Saute  onion and garlic in the same pan (Add more olive oil if necessary).  Add the crushed tomatoes, honey and cinnamon and season further to taste.  Allow the sauce to simmer for a few minutes or have started to reduce and thicken.

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Remove the meatballs from the oven and transfer back into the pan with the sauce and serve in small plates.

I learned from Culinary School to soak the bread in milk or other milk products.  The French loaf was a leftover from the holidays, and a French bread itself has enough butter to add more flavor into the meatball.

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