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Celebrate International Hot & Spicy Day With These Fiery Tsinoy Recipes

Chilies do more than just give heat to your dishes. They bring in a whole new world of flavor that will wake up your cooking, giving wonderful new nuance to tired old recipes. To show you how easy it can be to incorporate chilies into your everyday cooking, I’m sharing these Tsinoy-inspired recipes that I tweaked using different types of chili. Why Tsinoy? Because I’ve really been into Tsinoy recipes this past year, and the deeper I dug into this part of Filipino culture, the more I realized how rich it is. In every culture where Chinese immigrants reside, there have always been ingenious adaptations of classic Chinese dishes, maybe borne out of creativity or even necessity. This is my homage to that. I drew from classic Chinese and Tsinoy favorites and added touches of Filipino culture and ingredients.


Lu Rou Fan


This Taiwanese classic has a Tsinoy version, which I like to call Chinese adobo. I’m adding spiciness because I think the dish could be more interesting with another flavor dimension. Use green finger chili or siling mahaba, which goes well with Filipino dishes like Bicol express or pork sinigang. If you can’t find green finger chilies, use a smaller amount of siling labuyo or even jalapeños. Instead of pork, try this recipe with chicken, beef or even tofu!

Serves 4

  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1/2 kilo pork liempo (belly), cut into small pieces
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 small onion, minced?
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 siling mahaba (green finger chilies), sliced thinly at a diagonal
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 teaspoons five-spice powder?
  • 1 star anise?
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Shaoxing wine?
  • 2 cups water?
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce?
  • 4 cups cooked rice?
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced, for garnish?
  • cilantro leaves, for garnish

1. In a pot with oil, brown the pork seasoned with salt and pepper.?

2. Add onion, garlic, chilies and ginger. Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes.

3. Add five-spice powder, star anise and brown sugar and toast for 1 minute.?

4. Pour in Shaoxing wine and reduce for 1 minute. Then pour in water and soy sauce.

5. Simmer for 1 hour or until pork is very tender.?

6. Top braised pork on cooked rice. Garnish with hard-boiled egg slices and cilantro leaves, if desired.


Efu Noodles with Chili Garlic Oil?


I’m very familiar with efu noodles because my sister-in-law is allergic to seafood so these are the only noodles she can eat in Chinese restaurants. I love the simplicity of these noodles, made flavorful with mushrooms, but?I also think adding a little heat gives it great balance. I used dried chili flakes, as they are the best when making chili oils. In a pinch, you can even use dried labuyo or even cayenne pepper to make the chili oil. Experiment with a number of different vegetables like Napa cabbage, zucchini, squash or even green beans. The key is to give the dish some crunch and sweetness from the vegetables.

Serves 4 to 6

  • 1/4 cup chili garlic oil (recipe below)
  • 1 small carrot, sliced thinly or julienned
  • 8 large shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 cup cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce?
  • 1 cup water?
  • 4 cups cooked Chinese egg noodles (pancit canton)
  • chili flakes, optional

1. In a wok or kawali, heat chili garlic oil and stir-fry the carrots, mushrooms, red bell pepper and cabbage for 1 minute.

2. Pour in the oyster sauce and water. Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes or until half the liquid is reduced.

3. Add the noodles and stir.

4. Serve noodles with chili flakes sprinkled on top.


HOMEMADE CHILI GARLIC OIL (makes about 1 cup):?

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped siling labuyo or 1/2 cup chili flakes

1. Cook oil, garlic and siling labuyo or chili flakes over low heat until garlic turns slightly brown.

2. Remove from heat, cool, then strain.?

3. Keep the chili garlic oil in a bottle and make sure to use it within ten days.


Honey XO Wings


I love chicken wings! Lately, Asian-style wings have become popular because of their balanced flavor. Instead of a simple soy honey glaze, I wanted wings that are spicier and loaded with umami, hence the XO sauce, which I use here with dried scallops and chili. The combination makes a great source of umami and spice. The ingredients are easily available in grocery stores, but if you can’t find them, a simple mix of chopped chilies and dried scallops will mimic the flavor. You don’t have to be limited to chicken wings either—feel free to cook this with fried fish or pork.

Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons XO sauce
  • 1/2 cup honey?
  • 1/4 cup water?
  • salt and pepper, to taste?
  • 8 chicken wings, cut into 2 pieces each?
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons five-spice powder?
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • oil, for frying?
  • minced green onions, for garnish?

1. In a pot, combine XO sauce, honey and water. Bring to a boil and reduce until it becomes a glaze, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Toss the wings in flour, five-spice powder, salt and pepper.?

3. Fry the wings in hot oil for 7 to 9 minutes or until fully cooked and crispy. Let rest for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

4. Toss the wings in the glaze. Sprinkle with green onions and serve immediately.


A longer version of this article appeared in FOOD Magazine, Issue 2, 2017

Photos by Paulo Valenzuela

Styling by Tina Concepcion Diaz