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29 March, 2006
Beef Potato Soup & Fish Fillet
This is what a typical Filipino dinner looks like, at least in my household. We love soups and stews, especially when it's cold and windy like tonight. They're usually paired with something fried or grilled.
I was in the mood for a quick and filling dish so I made a beef and potato soup called picadillo. This is different from the Latin picadillo which is a tomato based stew. Our picadillo is a simple soup of ground beef or pork sauteed in garlic, onions and tomatoes and simmered in a broth flavored with lemon or tamarind. Some chunky diced potato and a big jalapeño or hot yellow pepper cut in half are added during the last few minutes of cooking to add some kick.
The soup is served piping hot with steamed jasmine rice and fillets of bangus (milkfish) which happens to be the Philippines' national fish. Bangus (pronounced bang-OOS) has a sweet, mild flavor best heightened by frying or grilling. In this case, the fish was butterflied, quartered and marinated in a mixture of sugar cane vinegar, chopped garlic and salt and pepper before being pan fried. The big black strip on the fillet is the fish's fatty belly that Filipinos prize the most. For dipping, we turn to the ever trusty patis (pronounced pa-TEES) or fish sauce.
Picadillo, fried bangus and steamed rice: comfort food Filipino style.
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1 tbsp. tamarind paste [available at most Asian/Latin grocery stores, or at Amazon]
juice of 1 medium lemon
5-6 c. water
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
1 medium jalapeno or hot yellow pepper, halved (optional)
salt to taste
Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Saute the onions until translucent, about one minute. Add the garlic and tomatoes, sauteing for another minute. Add the ground beef and continue sauteing until the meat is no longer pink, about 3 minutes.
Pour the water in the pot and bring to a boil, skimming off the scum that rises to the surface. In a small bowl, slowly incorporate 1/2 c. of the hot broth in the tamarind paste until smooth. Slowly add this mixture to the pot, stirring the soup as you add. Note: If you don't want a very sour soup like we do, use tamarind paste according to taste.
Add the cubed potatoes and pepper halves, and let boil for three more minutes. Season with salt to taste. Makes 4-5 servings.
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