(Tinadtad) Pounded Flank Steak with Bok Choy in Tamarind Broth

April 1, 2010

This post is dedicated to the memory of my beloved “mama Minda.”  When I was 6 to 10 years old I lived with my aunt (whom I called mama Minda), Antie Lourdes and five cousins (mama Minda’s children).  I remember having this dish often in that household.  I think it must have been one of mama Minda’s favorites and I have recently been yearning to be able to eat it again and more recently to be able to cook it myself.  I can’t think of any other time I’ve had this dish other than my Aunt’s household and when my mom have cooked it.  I tried searching for the recipe on the internet but wasn’t successful ( is it then maybe a secret recipe?) so I simply asked my mom how to cook it.  This is actually an amazingly simple but hearty dish.

1 1/2 lbs flank steak cut into strips then pounded with the dull side of a large chefs knife

3 shalots – sliced

1/2 onion diced

3/4 lb tomatoes cut into medium pieces

2 tlbs oil

1/2 head garlic

fish sauce

salt and pepper

Bok Choy – cut into bite size pieces

Tamarind soup mix – I bought mine from Buford Highway Farmers Market just past 285 OTP

Saute garlic, then onions, then tomatoes – season with salt and pepper to release flavors (approximately 10 minutes on high) I don’t have a good wok so maybe that’s why it takes me longer

Add beef, add water – bring to a boil (try to gauge how much liquid you would want in this soup – I ended up adding too much and it was a waste of the beef flavor and tamarind mix)

Lower heat, simmer for 1 hr or more to tenderize meat and release beef flavor into broth – skim any scum that rises (my steak was lean so I didn’t have to skim any oil)

Add bok coy pieces – cook until vegetable is cooked to your liking – but don’t overcook

My mom thinks that it may be unnecessary to use the tamarind mix but I decided to use it with some fish sauce and I added a little more black pepper.  If you didn’t want to use the tamarind mix(makes it more sour) then just use fish sauce or salt to flavor broth.


While traditionally eaten with hot steamed white rice, I ate it with my favorite high protein, high fiber super grain called quinoa(steamed-in a rice cooker – same amount of water).  I guess the two represent the perfect harmony between new and old, past and present.


Kare-Kare (Beef and Ox-tail in peanut sauce)

March 27, 2010

This was another first for me.  I guess we are learning together!  I know the picture doesn’t looks too attractive.  I couldn’t find any atsuete(annato seeds).  It is a colorant and I guess adds flavor too, so I think it would have looked much better.  Nonetheless, trust that it is one delicious dish.  A couple people have actually mentioned wanting to know how to cook this one (C&M).  I would have some things to do (tweaking) to refine this dish for sure.  I’m sure this is not the last time I will cook it so I will update you when the time comes. In the past, I didn’t think I would like peanut butter sauce with beef but for some reason the ox tail broth pairs very well with the peanut butter and makes some uncannily tasty sauce.  I’m amazed by how many things you can freeze.  The way I see it, if it is saucey or is a soup, it will freeze fine and this is one of those. Have fun and enjoy!

2 1/2 lbs oxtails

1 1/2 lbs bone in beef shank

sauteed shrimp paste on side

1 onion – diced

5 shallots sliced

3/4 head of garlic – minced

1 jar smart balance crunchy natural peanut butter

1/2 cup toasted brown rice – I used my magic bullet to make rice flour

1 lb shanghai bok choy – I think I should have used the regular bok choy instead

1 lb green beans – trimmed

4 asian eggplant – cubed (I was lucky to find Philippine eggplant at Buford Hwy Farmers market that day), if you must, use italian eggplant

2 tbls oil

Add oxtail in 6 cups water – boil, then reduce heat to medium low to simmer 1  1/2 hours to 4 hours ( I let it simmer about 3 hours, enough for the meat to fall off the bones). Skim any scum that rises to the surface, I also skim as much fat that rises to the top.  Set aside when done.

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Sautee garlic, then onions until golden brown, add rice flour, beef, oxtail and peanut butter, and  stock.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes

Add eggplant, string beans – (shanghai bokchoy cooks faster so I wait to add it until the other vegetables are almost done)

Serve with the sauteed shrimp paste on the side ( I would have put some of the shrimp paste whie cooking but I buy the premade kind that has msg which some of my tasters don’t consume 😦  ).I instead flavored the dish while in the pot with some fish sauce.  I ate this dish with quinoa substituting for rice.

Pork Blood Stew (Dinuguan)

March 16, 2010

Anthony Bourdain has awarded the gold medal to the Philippines in the “Hierarchy of Pork” category.  The Filipinos definitely have a talent when it comes to cooking pork, whether it’s the standard meat parts or the various innards.  The star of this recipe is pork blood.  This is the first time I have cooked this dish and it is definitely a challenge but I give myself a 9 out of 10.  I had a chance to let O” and S”, my foodie neighbors/friends taste it but I had a feeling that I had to let them try the dish before I told them what was in it.  Like with most recipes I tend to look for different recipes of the same dish so that I can pick and choose what methods and ingredients I liked and use the combination to arrive to my desired results. 

Here are the ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds pork picnic (trimmed of as much fat as possible) cut into small cubes (substitute with pork ham if you like)

1 1/2 cups broth – made from simmering pork

1/2 pound pork liver – cut into small cubes

1/2 cup to 5 cups vinegar – depending on your taste ( I think I ended up using close to 5 cups)

4 cups pig’s blood

3 long chili peppers

1 head garlic – crushed and minced

1 onion, 5 shallots  – sliced thinly

1 thumb sized ginger – minced

4 bay leaves

3 tbsp fish sauce


ground black pepper

1 teaspoon sucralose

1 tbsp cooking oil

Sweat out the unwanted pork smell by heating a pan with very high heat ( don’t use oil), stir fry the pork until all sides are no longer red, you will notice that the unpleasant “pork/gamey” smell has left/vanished into the air, add water to cover the pork and simmer for 30 minutes to allow pork to tenderize, separate pork from broth and keep both.

Heat oil, add ginnger, sautee a couple minutes, add garlic, sautee 2 minutes, add onions, sautee until onions are almost transparent

Add pork, liver, bay leaves, fish sauce, sautee for 5 minutes

Add vinegar, bring to boil without stirring, lower heat and simmer uncovered until most liquid has evaporated

Add broth, simmer for 10 minutes.  Stir in blood ( I learned the hard way that the I should’ve processed the blood in a blender first to avoid clumps of blood – I had to pick the clumps out later to process them) and sucralose ( next time, I will try it without sweetener)

Add chili pepper and cook five minutes more.

This is the point where the dish becomes either just something to eat or something that is an “experience“.  I wanted this dish to “punch” me with flavor!  I kept adding vinegar until it had just the right amount of “tang” which is alot.  I honestly had to drive to the store in the middle of cooking becuase I ran out of vinegar.  In this case, I ended up using a not so hot pepper so I kept adding ground pepper until it was spicy enough.  I however, don’t like this dish salty (I don’t like anything too salty) so I’m careful in adding salt or fish sauce.  I think my dish ended up being a little sweeter than I wanted because I used two teaspoons of sucralose.  But overall, I was very happy with it.  I might delete the liver in the future.  I’m used to eating this dish with intestines in it so this is already g-rated (so to speak) as it is.  I am starting to shy away from intestines and tripe.  I had some steamed quinoa to go along with the dinuguan.  You should definitely eat this with a grain like brown rice or quinoa.   So what did “O” and “S” think, considering that they are “westerners” and not Filipino? They loved it!  “S” was happy I didn’t tell her that it was made out of pig’s blood before she tried it because she admitted she might not have otherwise tasted.  So there you have it…would you consider this a paradigm shift?  How applicable is this to the rest of our lives? just a thought..till next time…take care and always – think outside the box! 


The Filipino Spaghetti

March 11, 2010

The only meals I have had since Saturday when I cooked my Filipino spaghetti (other than the two breakfasts I eat during the weekdays) have been exactly that, my Filipino spaghetti.  That’s  4-5 days straight, eating it three times a day.  I only have one tupperware left and it’s for you, “E” (I used beef in consideration of u 🙂 or “H” – first come, first served 🙂 This is one of those dishes that will literally make you lick your bowl, I know because I do it often when no one is there to see me 🙂 This dish has a very special place in my heart and soul.  When I cook and eat it, I feel “right”.  I’ve met many Filipinos who say..Filipino Spaghetti, what’s that?  This dish is not exactly a secret, there is a version that is sold in Jollibee’s – the McDonald’s of the Filipinos.  I am confident to say that there is an ingredient that my family uses that is not found in most recipes : banana sauce or as I call it, banana katsup – this really gives the dish it’s unique “character”, in my opinion.  I haven’t done much research, but I “think” that banana katsup is uniquely Filipino.  This is the only ingredient in the dish that you will have to go to a major asian store to purchase.  Look for it in the sauce section of Ranch 99 or Buford Highway Farmer’s market ( there’s an aisle for Filipino ingredients).

Disclaimer: This is exactly how I made it, I cooked it with the intention of freezing the sauce for later use. It is a good amount of sauce that will offer many servings. If you prefer, you can cut the ingredients by half.


Barilla Plus thin spaghetti

1 spaghetti squash

2 1/2 pounds tomatoes – diced

18 ounces tomato paste

2 1/4 lbs 93/7  lean ground beef  ( traditionally we use pork, I”m sure you can substitute turkey or chicken too)

6-8 bay leaves – dried (came from the Atlanta Botanical Garden)

1/2 to 1 lb smoked fat free turkey hot dogs – cut into small strips

1 red onion, 1 yellow onion – diced

1 1/2 garlic heads – minced

1 green Bell Pepper, 2 red Bell Peppers

3 table spoons cooking oil

5 table spoons – splenda (sucralose)

1/2 bottle (tamis anghang) sweet and spicy banana sauce

1/2 bottle regular banana sauce

1 package of baby portabella mushrooms – sliced

some amount of regular katsup

1-2 tablespoons soy sauce

salt and pepper to taste

In a sauce pan or wok, heat oil,  sautee garlic, then add onions, sautee, add tomatoes, continue sauteeing until these ingredients start to look relatively cooked

Add ground beef, bay leaves, bell peppers, bring to a boil and let simmer until everything starts to look pretty well cooked( 10 minutes or more ( I chose more) , I didn’t want this spaghetti to be super “chunky”, I especially didn’t want chunks of tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers so these should be very soft where the onions and tomatoes pretty much blend/fade into the background.

Add tomato paste and banana katsup, salt and pepper, continue to simmer to allow flavors to assimilate (possibly 10 minutes or more, I chose more)

Add splenda, hotdogs, mushrooms

At this point it should be cooked, but you can let it simmer until you think the flavors and texture have really come together to your liking.  This is also where you can taste and adjust as needed with more banana sauce or regular katsup, soy sauce, salt & pepper (have extra tomato paste handy just in case).  I’m pretty much eating it at this point with all the tasting to get it perfect 🙂

When you’re satisfied, you have your sauce ready.

I use Barilla Plus thin spaghetti because it has extra protein, omega 3 and fiber and still tastes great – I preferably to eat the spaghetti with this until 6 p.m.

After 6pm or so I would eat the sauce with spaghetti squash!! Why? because it’s low carb and super healthy and still delicious!  After 6pm (really after 4pm, I guess) your metabolism slows down.  Cut squash in half, take seeds out,  microwave 3 minutes per pound and bake about an hour.  You should be able to pull the spaghetti strings out with a fork.



 “amazing Filipino spaghetti, who’d have thunk it? amazing, I practically ate the bowl too, best spaghetti I’ve ever had” according to  “S” (she’s an independent food writer for various publications in Atlanta)

“I have to agree, this one impressed even me, I think it’s divine.” Yours Truly, Mark Castillo

Supper Club 03/02/10 at O’s

March 7, 2010

Read the rest of this entry »

Castillo’s Mung Bean Stew with Shrimp & Pork

February 28, 2010

This dish is pretty much healthy as it is but by using fatless pork ham meat and olive or smart balance oil, it becomes unfallibly healthy!  It contains loads of fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients and virtually no carbs (what’s up my gays, gals, metros, ?!? let me hear it wut wut)  Sorry about that but it is definitely something to be excited about. 

You will see on the following the basic recipe I used to prepare this dish.  In this particular dish I decided to add shrimp (I didn’t come up with this on my own, shrimp is included in some recipes).  What most recipes leave out is making the broth.  You don’t particulary need a broth but I find it necessary when making any kind of soups or stews.  For this dish you can either make a pork broth from bones or shrimp broth from the head and shells or both.  In this case, I only went with shrimp broth.  I bought the shrimp with the head and shells.  I de-shelled and deheaded the shrimp, boiled the shrimp heads and shells in some water with salt.  I then mashed it and strained it.  I add the peeled shrimp before the spinach.

An interesting thing that comes up when making this dish when I was a child was the fact that there is an opportunity for dessert embedded in the cooking process!  After boiling the mung beans, you can take a cup’s worth, cool it in the fridge, add milk of some sort and sugar and Voilà, a tasty high fiber/protein dessert.  I did just that tonight but instead used unsweetened soymilk and splenda – what a wonderful life indeed!

Without further adieu:


  • 1 cup munggo (mung beans)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 lb. pork, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups water or broth
  • 1 tbsp. patis (fish sauce)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 cup ampalaya leaves (bittermelon)  or substitute spinach or watercress



Cooking Procedures :

  1. Boil mung beans in water until soft and easily mashed. Set aside.
  2. In a pan, heat oil. Cook pork until it turns slightly brown.
  3. Add garlic, onions and tomatoes. Sauté for a few seconds until tomatoes wilted.
  4. Pour in water or broth and add boiled mung beans.
  5. Season with patis and salt to taste. Bring to boil and let it simmer until thick.
  6. Add ampalaya leaves or substitute with spinach. Cover and remove from heat. Serve hot.

This dish is tradionally served with rice, most particularly white rice.  Personally I try not to eat white rice because it is no longer a whole grain.  Lately I’ve been using 1 to 2 ratio of quinoa to brown rice mix as my grain.  I am so happy that my fabulous neighber S was able to enjoy the meal with me and give me her thoughts.  She called it “homy” and “healthy soul food.”  I agree S!  I didn’t think it was appropriate to use that as the title of this particular post because I’m hoping that you will find that all of it is “healthy soul food.” I also call it traditional yet refined.  I hope one day to be able to serve you meals like this in Atlanta and other cities.

Welcome to MCastillo’s!

February 28, 2010

Hi there!  Thanks for visiting my cooking blog!  This blog is about my menu for my “someday” restaurant coming together one meal at a time.  You will witness how I turn classic Filipino dishes to it’s healthiest and most delicious best.  Read on to hear about my first dish…