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Kitchen Rescue

Mother Lily, Joey Reyes are cooking up something in my kitchen

By: - Columnist
/ 03:40 AM May 18, 2017
Christian Bables

Christian Bables

I have been blissfully busy with a new project with Regal Films—a dream come true for director Joey Reyes, who has been longing to do a movie that celebrates food.

“If I am going to do another romantic comedy, it might as well be of some importance,” he says. “So, let it then be for the enhancement and for the glory of Philippine cuisine. Our food is our identity. It is about time we give it value!”

The movie, “Recipe for Love,” is written by Raymund Barcelon, upon Joey’s prodding. It’s about a budding chef, Calix (actor Christian Bables), whose specialty is reinvented Filipino food. He inherited his passion for cooking from his father.


There is a sense of romance, a multisensory experience— Calix in his bustling kitchen, cooking, smelling, feeling, tasting, eating.

Culinary spectacle

It took a year for Joey to put the movie together, “to find the right people to do it,” he says. “I have gone so far as to handpick a production team that specializes in visually enhancing food.”

Even the choice of actors didn’t come easy. No one knew of Christian Bables until he won best supporting actor for “Die Beautiful” in the Metro Manila Film Festival.

As Joey puts it, “movies have a life of their own. It comes together when it is meant to. For this one, the time has come.”
In my kitchen, Mother Lily Monteverde, Roselle Monteverde-Teo, Joey and I have been brainstorming on how our delectable dishes should be projected on the screen in the most mouthwatering way.

Each time we meet, we echo the same tune and share a belief
—that we are in the glory days of Philippine cuisine.

I’ve also had the opportunity to mentor Christian for his role. Here is a sneak peak of some “Recipes for Love.”

Sinigang sa Pakwan with Crispy Tadyang


2 kg beef short ribs, cut into 1.5 inch cubes

2 tbsp sea salt


Cornstarch for dredging

Submerge beef ribs in enough water to cover. Add salt.

Bring water to a boil and simmer until beef is tender. Set aside ribs to cool.

Reserve stock. Make sinigang broth. When broth is ready, dredge beef in cornstarch.

Deep fry. Serve with broth on the side.


2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 slices of ginger

2 slices galangal

2 tbsp garlic

1 tbsp fried shallots (shallots, sliced and fried in oil until golden)

1 white onion, wedged

2 red onions, wedges

2 pieces tanglad hearts, bruised

¼ kilo kamias, sliced

2 c red seedless watermelon balls, scooped with a baller

1 tbsp panucha

1 tbsp sea salt

1 tbsp patis

1 green finger chili

Beef stock:

1 tsp whole peppercorn

1 small taro, peeled and cut into chunks

Vegetables to finish: some sitaw, bok choy, 1 cup watermelon balls

Heat oil and sauté ginger, galangal, garlic, onions, tanglad, kamias. When onions are soft and wilted, add fried shallots, watermelon, panucha, sea salt, patis, chili, reserved beef stock, peppercorns.

Bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add taro, cook for 15 minutes.

Add the rest of the vegetables and the remaining 1 cup watermelon. Season broth to taste.

Serve with crispy beef ribs and broth in watermelon shells. Serve sinigang with patis and labanos salad.
Dalandan-infused Chicken Inasal with sticky rice

1.5 kilos chicken quarters


4 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp white sugar

1/3 cup vinegar

1/3 cup pounded garlic

2 tsp sea salt

2 tbsp liquid seasoning

1/3 cup Sprite or 7up

1/3 cup dalandan juice

zest of 2 dalandans

1/3 cup Manille Dalandan or Orange Liqueur

2 tsp pepper

For basting:

Achuete oil

Score chicken thighs. Mix all ingredients for the marinade and taste. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Marinate chicken at least 4 hours or overnight in the fridge. Grill chicken over coals.

When half cooked, brush every 5 minutes with achuete oil until done.

Serve with kalamansi, chilies, soy sauce, vinegar, achuete oil on the side, with sticky rice.

Sticky rice:

2 tbsp achuete oil

1 tbsp garlic

¼ cup onions

2 thin slices ginger

2 lemon grass hearts, bruised

3 rice cooker cups glutinous rice, washed

3 rice cooker cups chicken stock

1 ½ tsp salt

1 pandan leaf, tied in a knot

Heat achuete oil. Sauté onions, garlic, ginger. Add rice, chicken stock and pandan leaf.

Cook until rice is done. You may cook this in a rice cooker. While hot, pour in coconut mixture and mix. Season to taste.

Garnish with salted eggs, kamias, red onion, green onions, cilantro, cherry tomatoes.

Coconut milk mixture:

¼ c kakang gata

¼ c second extraction

1-2 tbsp sugar

Salt, pinch

Combine ingredients in a saucepan and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Do not boil.

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TAGS: Christian Bables, Dalandan-infused Chicken Inasal with sticky rice, Joey Reyes, Mother Lily, Recipe for Love, Sinigang, Sinigang sa Pakwan with Crispy Tadyang
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