Main Menu: A quick trip to the Philippines

Chicken adobo, a popular Filipino dish, is a hit with children too. PHOTO: Commons

It’s definitely November—cold, grey and dreary. As Canadians, it is the time we start dreaming of an escape to somewhere, anywhere, warm and sunny. You may not be able to fly to the tropics, but you can make a reservation for a warm evening of good fun and even better food. A week ago, a group of us made a quick escape to Casa Manila, a vibrant Filipino restaurant at 879 York Mills Rd. (416-443-9659). It was packed with happy families, celebrating birthdays or simply a Friday night out, with great food and fellowship.

It was my first opportunity to sample a Kamayan feast—an impressive meal consisting of rice adorned with chicken adobo, pork and beef stews, carrot and squash batons cooked in coconut milk and garnished with mixed peppers, lemons and limes served on a huge banana leaf and eaten with the hands. Yum!

You too can reserve at any number of restaurants or re-create a Kaymayan feast in your own home with these tasty recipes to share with your friends and family.

Consomme with Vegetables

This simple soup is a light appetizer designed to whet the palate and get the appetite ready for the feast to follow. Recipe can be doubled easily.

1 can (284 mL) consommé

1 1/2 cups (375 mL) baby bok choy, thinly sliced (about 2)

2 green onion, thinly sliced

1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh lemon juice

In a medium saucepan combine the consommé with 1 can of water, the bok choy, green onion and lemon juice. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes before serving. Serve piping hot ladled into soup bowls. Makes 4 servings.

Chicken Adobo

This popular Filipino dish is a hit with children too. While chicken is cooking, prepare a large batch of basmati or long grain rice to serve with the adobo, garnish with lemon wedges. Recipe easily doubles or triples.

2 tbsp (25 mL) vegetable oil

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut in half and trimmed of any fat

2 onions, chopped

2 large cloves garlic, minced


1/4 cup (50 mL) soy sauce

1/4 cup (50 mL) white wine or rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp (25 mL) liquid honey

2 tbsp (25 mL) freshly grated fresh ginger root

In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Brown chicken in batches. Remove from pan. Add onions and garlic; cook over medium-low heat stirring often or until golden and softened.

Meanwhile, in mixing bowl, whisk together soy sauce, white wine vinegar, honey and ginger root. Pour over chicken mixture; bring to boil; reduce heat to simmer and cook, stirring about 30 minutes or until chicken juices run clear when chicken is tasted. Makes 4 servings.

Garlic Shrimp

Filipinos live near the water and love shellfish. Shrimp plays an important part in the menu. This easy dish can be served both as an appetizer or a main course depending on the quantity served.

1 1/2 lbs (750 g) peeled, deveined large shrimp


4 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 cup (125 mL) olive oil

1/4 cup (50 mL) fresh lemon juice (1 lemon

1/2 tsp (2 mL) sea salt

Sprinkle chili flakes or fresh ground black pepper

Lemon and lime wedges for garnish

Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C). Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Thread 2 or 3 shrimp on skewers. Arrange skewered shrimp in single layer on baking sheet. In a mixing bowl, whisk together garlic, oil, lemon juice and salt.

Drizzle oil mixture over shrimp to coat. Sprinkle shrimp lightly with chili flakes or ground pepper.

Bake in pre-heated oven 10 – 12 minutes or until shrimp are pink and oil is sizzling. Serve at once on a platter with the rice and chicken adobo. Garnish with lemon and lime wedges.

Serves 6 – 8.

Halo Halo

Halo halo means stir stir. It refers to a favorite dessert which I think of as a Filipino version of a milkshake. It is quite delicious and specific to the culture.

You can create a similar taste by serving a platter of mixed tropical fruits: sliced mango, papaya, pineapples and oranges accompanied by scoops of mango and coconut sorbet. (Available in supermarkets)

2 each, mango and papaya, peeled and sliced

1 ripe pineapple, sliced

4 oranges, peel cut away and sliced

1 each, mango sorbet and coconut sorbet (2 cups /500 mL)

Serves 6, may be batched up to serve a crowd.


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