Maruya or Banana Fritters


As a little girl growing up in Cebu, I often spotted vendors near our home, selling maruya or banana fritters. This is my favorite snack and I read that it is also incoming president Rodrigo Duterte’s favorite midnight snack. The most common variant is prepared by coating thinly sliced and “fanned” saba or plantain bananas in batter and deep frying them. Don’t confuse Maruya with Pinaypay. According to The Freeman Lifestyle, “while pinaypay (meaning “resembling a hand fan”) and maruya (meaning “deep-fried”) are both made from plantains or bananas that are valued more as a vegetable, like kardaba or saba, there is a difference in their respective preparation.” Not all pinaypays have to be dipped in batter; there is a simplified pinaypay that just goes straight into deep frying without the batter. For its part, maruya is not limited to bananas.”

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Shepherd’s Pie, a dish of ground meat topped with mashed potato

It was Sandy Daza’s Home Cooked Meals at The Maya Kitchen a few weeks back. Sadly I could not join as I had to attend to something that Saturday. Maya Kitchen shared me the recipe though. Let me share Shepherds’ Pie which is so easy to prepare, no-fuss cooking and a must-have dish at home if you are bored with Pinoy cooking.

I often prepare this at home and it is always a hit with my family. Shepherd’s pie is basically a traditional dish of ground meat under a layer of mashed potato. They say the dish origins came from ways to use “leftover roasted meat of any kind, and the pie dish was lined with mashed potato as well as having a mashed potato crust on top.”

Sounds yummy so let’s start.

Here is the recipe.


3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 cup chopped onions
½ kilo beef, ground
1/3 kilo pork, ground
1 cup chopped button mushrooms
2 teaspoons basil leaves
ÂĽ cup catsup
1 beef cube
3 tablespoons seasoning sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon sugar

400 grams, potatoes, boiled and mashed
1/2 cup all purpose cream
ÂĽ block salted butter
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Let’s get cooking:

1. Sauté garlic and onions in olive oil.

2. Add in meats and sauté until brown. Add all other ingredients and simmer until dry. Lay on baking dish.

3. Prepare mashed potatoes: Combine potatoes, cream and butter. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Mix well and top over ground meat. Pipe out decoratively on top of Sheperd’s pie, top with cheese.

5. Broil until top is brown.

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Kulawong Talong1

Kulawong Talong: grilled eggplant with burnt coconut cream

Let me share this unique recipe from Filipino food advocate, author and restaurateur Amy Besa at The Maya Kitchen cooking demo. Amy Besa relates the origins of Kulawong Talong.

Amy Besa of Purple Yam

“My first introduction to the concept of a kulawo was in 2003, when I visited Ugu Bigyan’s home and pottery studio in Tiaong, Quezon. Visitors could call ahead and arrange to have lunch in one of his beautiful gazebos, where they would savor his signature dish, the banana-heart kulawo.

In Laguna, a neighboring province north of Quezon, it is the kulawong talong that stirs many nostalgic food memories among the locals. Both versions are tart because vinegar, instead of water, is used to extract the milk from freshly grated coconut singed with a hot coal. Interestingly, if one travels further south, the Bicolanos’ burnt coconut cream is not vinegary at all, since water is used as the prime medium of extraction.

The use of burnt coconut cream has been one of my most treasured discoveries in Philippine cooking, and I have never stopped wondering why I never encountered this while growing up in Manila, which is just a two-hour drive from Laguna and Quezon.

We would like to thank Nicholetta Labellachitarra, a Filipino chef working in Boston, who shared her memory of this dish —grilled eggplant with burnt coconut cream—with Romy, inspiring him to create a version of his own.”

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Try cooking Kulawong Talong:

Burnt Coconut Cream:

Makes 2 to 3 cups

Two 16-ounce packages frozen grated coconut
1 cup coconut sap or rice vinegar
2 cups canned coconut milk
5 cloves garlic, peeled
One 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2 shallots, peeled and sliced
2–3 bird’s-eye chiles (optional)

Grilled Chinese Eggplant:
8 Chinese eggplants
Sea salt, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Defrost the coconut and mix with the coconut sap or rice vinegar, kneading to extract as much cream from the coconut as possible. Wrap the coconut-vinegar mixture in cheesecloth and squeeze the coconut milk into a bowl until all the milk has been extracted (this should yield approximately 21/2 cups of liquid). Set the extracted coconut milk aside.

2. Spread the squeezed, grated coconut evenly on a baking sheet and bake, stirring every 15 minutes, until it is dark brown, about 50 minutes. Turn on the broiler, and place the baking sheet under it for another 5 to 10 minutes to slightly char the coconut—but be careful not to burn it too much.

3. In a saucepan, combine the extracted coconut milk, half of the pan of burnt coconut, the canned coconut milk, garlic, ginger, shallots, and chiles, if using. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes. Strain through a very fine-mesh sieve, using the back of a big spoon to squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Return the liquid to the saucepan and keep warm while grilling the eggplant.

4. Place the eggplants on a stovetop grill or under a broiler and cook until the skin is charred and the interior is soft. When just cool enough to handle, peel the eggplants and use a fork to spread and flatten the flesh a little. Season to taste with sea salt.

5. Arrange the eggplants on a dish and pour the warm burnt coconut cream over them.

S e r v e s 8

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Menudo Sulipena1

Menudo Sulipeña (Oxtail Stew)

Menudo Sulipena1

Ever heard of Menudo Sulipeña , a slow simmered dish of oxtail, ham and Chorizo Bilbao with a dash of brandy . Cooking menudo at home is just plain pork, potatos, carrots with a sprinkling of raisins. Yes, Menudo or “little stew” refers to a common, everyday dish of slow-simmered bits of a variety of meats. Some use tripe (in Mexican menudo), or ground or cubed pork mixed with potatoes. In Pampanga, common menudo is never complete without tidbits of liver or heart. Menudo Sulipeña however, is an oxtail stew or braise decadent enough to grace a banquet. The dish reflects the extravagance of that time though it carries the “humble” name, menudo.

Purchase the oxtail from a reputable dealer because strong, undesirable odors are often present in improperly cleaned or processed oxtails.

Chef Gene Gonzalez’ shares one of the culinary Gems from Old Pampanga at a recent demo at the Maya Kitchen.

~1 kilo oxtail cleaned and washed
~ 2 tablespoons butter
~ 3 tablespoons olive oil
~ 1 head garlic, chopped
~ 1 medium onion, chopped
~ 1 red pepper, seeded and roasted
~ 1 green pepper, seeded and roasted
~ Dash of paprika picante
~ ½ cup ham, cubed
~ ½ cup sliced chorizo Bilbao (Spanish sausage)
~ 1 cup tomato sauce
~ 1 tablespoon tomato paste
~ 1 tablespoon cooked garbanzos (chick peas)
~ 1 tablespoon Spanish brandy
~ Salt and pepper

1) Pressure cook oxtail 20-25 minutes or simmer with enough water to cover until tender. Debone and cut into ½- inch cubes. Set the stock aside.

2) In a casserole, heat butter and olive oil. Sauté garlic and onion, then add red and green peppers and paprika. Stir fry 2-3 minutes. Add oxtail, ham, chorizo, tomato sauce and tomato paste. Add stock and simmer over low fire about 10 minutes. Add garbanzos and brandy. Season with salt and pepper.

Serves 6

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Pinoy Cooking, Filipino Food and other Food Recipes