Chef Miguel Trinidad is putting Filipino food on the map

The Dish: Chef Miguel Trinidad

Born in New York to a family from the Dominican Republic, Miguel Trinidad started working in the hospitality industry as a delivery boy but found his way into the kitchen, and went on to culinary school and jobs as an executive chef.

Then he met Nicole Ponseca, a Filipino native, and on a backpacking trip through her homeland, fell for its multicultural cuisine. They went on to open two critically acclaimed restaurants, Maharlika and Jeepney. Last year, they published "I Am A Filipino" named one of 2018's best cookbooks by the New York Times and other publications.

Here are some of Trinidad's signature recipes: 

Bibingka (coconut rice cake)

Ingredients

Butter or cooking spray, for greasing
1 banana leaf, washed and dried
1 cup (160 g) glutinous rice flour
1 cup (200 g) sugar
2½ teaspoons baking powder
¹⁄8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (240 ml) coconut milk
¼ cup (60 ml) whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted
butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 salted egg or hard-boiled egg, peeled and sliced
3 tablespoons condensed milk
½ cup (55 g) grated Edam cheese

Directions

• Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 9-inch (23 cm) cast-iron skillet or baking dish with butter or cooking spray and line it with the banana leaf. Trim the edges of the leaf so that it hangs over the skillet or dish by only an inch or two, then coat the leaf with more butter or spray.
• In a large bowl, stir together the rice flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
• In a medium bowl, beat together the coconut milk, whole milk, melted butter, and raw eggs until well combined.
• Slowly mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, making sure they are well incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared skillet or baking dish and top it with the salted egg slices.

Ukoy (vegetable and shrimp fritters)

Ingredients

1 cup (130 g) cornstarch
1 cup (130 g) cake flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1 cup (240 ml) shrimp stock (see Note) or water
1 Japanese sweet potato, peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
4 scallions, sliced lengthwise and then into 2-inch (3 cm) pieces
1 medium white onion, peeled and cut into matchsticks Freshly ground black pepper
¹⁄³ cup (80 ml) vegetable oil, plus more as needed
1 pound (455 g) raw small shrimp, peeled and deveined (see Note)
Maldon sea salt, for sprinkling
Pinakurat (page 34), for serving

Directions

• In a large bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, cake flour, and kosher salt.
Stir in the stock and mix well.
• In another large bowl, use your hands to mix together the sweet potato, carrot, scallion, and onion. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Add the vegetables to the batter, mixing so that the veggies are just coated. The batter should be thick but loose enough to coat the vegetables. If it is too thick, add a little water.
• In a large sauté pan, wok, or cast-iron skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat until it begins to shimmer, or registers 350°F (175°C) on an instant-read thermometer. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and set it nearby.
• Using two large slotted spoons, make the ukoy by mounding some of the batter-coated vegetables onto the bowl of one spoon. Use your fingers to tuck a few shrimp into the middle of the nest, then top it off with more vegetables. Invert the other spoon over the pile, and gently shake off any excess batter into the bowl.
• Working carefully, slide the ukoy off the spoons into the oil-it will be a little messy, but that's okay. Cook a few ukoy at a time, being careful not to crowd the pan, for 3 to 5 minutes, until the bottoms begin to crisp and turn golden brown. Flip and cook the ukoy for 3 to 5 minutes more, until crispy and golden brown on the second side.
• Remove the fritters to the paper towels, sprinkle the tops with sea salt, and serve hot or at room temperature, with a small bowl of pinakurat for dipping.

Note: Flavor the batter with shrimp stock of some kind, even just a stock made by soaking dried baby shrimp in hot water. You can also make a quick shrimp stock by simmering the peels and heads from the shrimp in 1½ cups (360 ml) water for about 15 minutes.

Sinangag (garlic fried rice)

Ingredients

1 cup (240 ml) vegetable oil
1 cup (135 g) garlic cloves, sliced paper thin
4 cups (800 g) freshly cooked jasmine rice, kept hot
Kosher salt 
2 to 4 large eggs, fried or sunny-side up (for serving)    

Directions

• In a medium saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat until the oil begins to shimmer. Line a plate with paper towels and set it nearby.
• Carefully pour the garlic into the hot oil and stir continuously until the garlic is just beginning to lightly brown. Remove the pan from the heat and use a slotted spoon to transfer the fried garlic onto the paper towel-lined plate; reserve the oil. Set both the garlic and the oil aside while you make the rice. (You can store the garlic chips and oil in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to a week.)
• Fluff the hot rice with a fork and toss it with ¼ cup (60 ml) of the garlic oil and ½ cup (40 g) of the fried garlic chips. (You will have leftover oil and chips for more rice; or try them on the pansits and soups on pages 167-169.)
• Season the rice with salt and serve right away or at room temperature, with the eggs, if desired.

Notes: You can also make sinangag using rice left over from your meal from the previous day. Just heat the rice in a pan with a tablespoon or two of garlic oil. When the rice is hot, add 2 tablespoons of the garlic and a drizzle of garlic oil.

Add eggs and the sweet Filipino cured meat called tocino or the garlicky sausages called Lucban longanisa for a silog; it's an excellent breakfast. Include the Classic Ensalada (page 122) or cucumber relish (see page 123), too. 

Leche flan

Ingredients

1 (14-ounce/415 ml) can condensed milk
1½ cups (360 ml) coconut milk
5 large eggs
1 cup (200 g) sugar 

Directions

• Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
• In a medium bowl, beat together the condensed milk, coconut milk, and eggs until well incorporated. Set aside.
• In a medium saucepan, melt the sugar over medium heat, stirring continuously with a spatula or wooden spoon until it begins to bubble and turn golden brown, about 5 minutes. Pour the caramelized sugar over the bottom of a 9-inch (23 cm) deep-dish pie pan or baking dish, making sure it coats the entire pan.
• Pour the milk-egg mixture over the caramelized sugar. Set the pie pan into a large baking dish and fill the baking dish with water to come halfway up the sides of the pie pan, being careful not to get water in the pan. Carefully transfer the baking dish to the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until the center of the flan is set and no longer liquid.
• Remove the pan from the water bath and let the flan cool slightly, then refrigerate for 4 hours or up to overnight before serving. (The flan will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.)
• To serve, gently invert the flan onto a serving plate and cut it into wedges. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Kare Kare 

Ingredients


5 pounds (2.3 kg) oxtails, cut into 2-inch (5 cm) pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
7 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more as needed
2 red onions, cut into large dice
2 celery stalks, cut into large dice
1 carrot, cut into large dice
½ bunch fresh thyme
4 cups (1 L) red wine (about 1¼ bottles), like a Cabernet Sauvignon
1 cup (240 ml) Chinese Shaoxing cooking wine or sherry
4 to 6 cups (1 to 1.4 L) stock, preferably beef
1 pound (455 g) Chinese long beans or green beans 
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound Japanese eggplant, thickly sliced
1 pound baby bok choy
2 cups (480 ml) natural creamy peanut butter
¼ cup (60 ml) soy sauce
Sugar
½ cup (120 ml) Achuete Oil
4 to 6 cups (800 g to 1.2 kg) cooked white rice 
Bagoong 

Directions

• The goal of the long cooking here is to make the meat very tender, though it looks best when you serve the oxtails whole-meaning don't cook them so long that the meat totally falls off the bone. If you can't find Chinese long beans-they're exactly what they sound like: long green beans grown in Asia-use green or yellow snap beans.
• Preheat the oven to 375°F (190ºC). Season the oxtails well with salt and pepper.
• In a Dutch oven or large, heavy-bottomed oven-safe pot, heat 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil over medium to medium-high heat. Brown the oxtails on all sides, then transfer them to a plate. (You may need to do this in batches to avoid crowding the pan.)
• Remove all but a tablespoon or so of the fat from the pot and reduce the heat to medium. Add the onions, celery, and carrot and cook until they are soft and aromatic, 3 to 6 minutes.
• Stir in the thyme, letting it just soften, then add the red wine and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
• Return the oxtails to the pot and add the Shaoxing wine and enough stock to cover the meat. Cover the pot, transfer it to the oven, and cook for 2½ to 3 hours, or until the meat is fork-tender but not falling off the bone (see Notes).
• While the oxtails cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and fill a large bowl with ice and water. When the water boils, add the long beans and cook for 1 minute, or just until they turn bright green. Immediately plunge them into the ice water and stir until all the beans feel cold to the touch. Drain and set aside.
• In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, just until it begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is soft, about 10 minutes, then transfer the eggplant and garlic to a bowl and set aside. Wipe the skillet clean and heat 2 tablespoons more oil over medium heat. Add the bok choy and a pinch of salt and cook until bright green and tender yet firm, then set it aside on a separate plate.
• When the oxtails are tender, remove the meat from the liquid in the pot and set it aside on a plate. Strain the braising liquid and discard the solids, then return the liquid to the pot and simmer over medium-high heat until it has reduced by half.
• Reduce the heat to low, add the peanut butter and soy sauce, and stir until the peanut butter is incorporated and the sauce begins to thicken, 2 to 3 minutes. Taste and add sugar, if desired, then stir in the achuete oil.
• Return the meat to the pot and cook until it is heated through, a minute or two. Serve hot, with the vegetables, rice, and bagoong on the side.