When COVID-19 canceled a festival, the ladies turned to the virtual

FOOD diplomacy takes center stage this month for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and The ASEAN Ladies Foundation, Inc. (ALF).

Because strict quarantine measures have restricted many activities, the annual festival marking ASEAN Month had to be called off. To fill in the gap left by the festival’s cancellation, the ALF commissioned a series of video tutorials that celebrate cuisines from ASEAN member countries. It also serves to benefit the people stuck at home throughout the varying degrees of quarantine. The videos can be seen on the Facebook page of the ASEAN Ladies Foundation (@aseanladiesfoundation.ph), as well as on YouTube.

Noraimi Rosli, spouse of Khairul Hazwan Mohd Nor, the Second Secretary of the Embassy of Brunei Darussalam, introduced the dish Ambuya during an online launch last week. The starchy staple is usually dipped in a sauce. The representative from Cambodia, Loy Chetana, a Cambodian national married to a Filipino, introduced their version of Steamed Fish Curry (called Trey Amok), and will also prepare it on the video.

Meanwhile, Linda Rahmanto, spouse of Widya Rahmanto, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Indonesia Embassy, and current president of the organization, talked about grilled chicken in rujak sauce (Ayam Bakar Bumbu Rujak), and Jamu Kunyit Usam, a herbal drink. The dish will be prepared in the video by chef Untung Taurut.

Over at Laos, they’re preparing a chicken salad (Larp Kai), while over at Malaysia, they’re making Amas Masak Merah (a spicy tomato chicken dish), with Iza Karmila Ramli, spouse of Mohd Nor Azrin, Minister Counsellor of the Malaysian embassy preparing the dish. In Myanmar, Myint Thandar, spouse of the Ambassador of Myanmar Lwin Oo, will prepare Mohinga, a popular Burmese noodle soup.

At the homefront, Maria Lourdes Locsin, spouse of DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin, is getting help from chef Myrna Segismundo to prepare Adobo sa Gata (Adobo with Coconut Milk). Singapore will offer a Hokkien Mee, a noodle dish, to be prepared by David Lee of the Defense Attaché’s Office in Singapore. Sirintra Ruangprateepsaeng, the spouse of Ambassador of Thailand Vasin Ruangprateepsaeng, will prepare a creamy Tom Yum Goong, and finally, Tran Hong Linh, the spouse of the Vietnamese embassy’s First Secretary Vu Anh Son, will prepare fresh spring rolls filled with fried chicken.

Asked why they chose those particular dishes to represent their nations, Mrs. Locsin spoke of her choice — “Can you imagine a dish that there are 100 versions of [it]? Aren’t you curious? I’d like to learn like 50 more. I chose adobo because of that. It’s the most common thing. I think in every household practically, adobo is cooked. In every Filipino restaurant, adobo’s on the menu.” Meanwhile, Mrs. Rahmanto said, “I think everybody knows about rendang, satay, and gado-gado. Grilled chicken is also popular in Indonesia. I know a lot of Filipinos here love grilled chicken. I want to introduce this version of grilled chicken.”

“Food brings people together,” said Mrs. Locisn. “We noticed that a lot of people have become creative and productive in the kitchen, especially during this pandemic. So we thought that creating cooking videos highlighting some of the most beloved dishes from our respective countries was a good way to share a little bit of home with everyone.”

The videos can be seen on YouTube via the DFA Special Projects Unit’s page (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGMYMRAtFH7JkCtKKpkQUaA), and on Facebook (@aseanladiesfoundation.ph ). The recipes themselves can be found in the online version of this story. 




Hot boiling water in a kettle

2 cups water, room temperature

1 (or more) packet of ambulung (sago)


1. Bring the water in the kettle to a rolling boil

2. Pour 1 packet of ambulung (sago) into a bowl.

3. Add 2 cups room temperature water to the bowl and mix with the ambulung

4. Keep stirring until the liquid becomes firm and sticky.

5. Slowly pour the hot boiling water in a clockwise motion towards the center until you see white particles appearing.

6. Stir until everything comes translucent.

*Best served with cacah (a sour and spicy dip) and the following Bruneian side dishes:

a. Ikan rumahan (fried mackerel with asam jawa [tamarind])

b. Belutak (made up of salted minced meat stuffed into casings of cow or buffalo’s

small intestines)

c. Cacah binjai (made from Binjai and sambal)

d. Daging kunyit (beef with turmeric)

e. Udang Rabus (steamed prawns)


TREY AMOK (steamed fish curry)


For the curry paste:

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 large shallot bulb, finely chopped

3 stalks lemongrass (to use the inner tender stalk only, ends trimmed), finely chopped

½ inch galangal (Siamese ginger), peeled and finely chopped

2 Kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped (may substitute with lime zest)

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp light brown sugar, packed

1 tsp salt

2 tsp chili paste (like Sambal Oelek)

1 tbsp vegetable oil

½ tsp shrimp paste, optional (may substitute with anchovy paste)

1 cup coconut milk, well shaken

1 tbsp white sugar

1 tsp salt

½ kg firm fish, tilapia fillet or cream dory fillet

1 egg

1 tbsp fish sauce

1 tsp cornstarch

1 cup Chinese broccoli leaves, cut into ½ inch thick ribbons

For garnish (optional):

Sliced red bell pepper

Kaffir lime leaves

1 large coconut to use as bowl


1. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the first 5 ingredients to make a paste.

2. Add the remaining curry paste ingredients and pound until all spices are well incorporated.

3. Thinly slice the fish into ½ inch thick bite size pieces and set aside.

4. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the curry paste and cook for 1 minute.

5. Add the shrimp paste, coconut milk, sugar and salt, whisking to combine.

6. Turn the heat to medium and simmer for 2 minutes, whisking occasionally.

7. Add the fish, gently folding it into the curry sauce with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.

8. Let the amok simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through. Turn the heat off.

9. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and fish sauce. Add 2 tablespoons of the curry sauce from the pan and 1 teaspoon of cornstarch and mix together.

10. Pour the egg mixture with cornstarch into the saucepan and gently fold it into the curry.

11. In another pan, saute the Chinese broccoli leaves until a little bit cooked.

12. Put the Chinese broccoli into the coconut bowl first then put the fish amok on top of it.

13. Serve the amok in a coconut bowl with a spoonful of coconut cream (the thick cream that rises on the top of the remaining coconut milk)

14. Garnish with a few sliced red pepper and a sprinkle of Kaffir lime leaf ribbons or lime zest.


AYAM BAKAR BUMBU RUJAK (grilled marinated chicken in rujask sauce)


1500 grams chicken (ideally whole, but you may use cuts as well)

1 ⅔ cups bumbu rujak (a sweet spicy hot dressing; recipe is below)

1 tbsp salt

6 cups water

3 tbsp coconut oil


1. Clean the whole chicken and blot it dry

2. Butterfly the chicken

3. Pour cold water in a bowl

4. Add in salt and stir until dissolved

5. Place the chicken in the bowl and marinate it in the salt brine in a fridge for 20 minutes. This process helps to keep the chicken juicy while grilling and adds additional flavor to the meat inside

6. Take the chicken out of the brine and blot dry

7. Generously cover the chicken with the bumbu rujak, or use a ziplock bag and massage the bumbu rujak onto the chicken

8. Marinate for another 30 minutes or for more flavor, overnight

9. Preheat your oven at 350°F or start up your grill until the charcoal has no flame but is glowing

10. Take the chicken out of the marinade and brush lightly with oil

11. Place chicken on a grill rack and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or grill both sides over charcoal until golden brown

12. Brush the chicken with the bumbu rujak and place back in the oven or on the grill

13. Repeat the brushing of the marinade every 5-10 minutes

14. If using a grill, the chicken must be turned after every brushing.

15.  Serve with the remaining bumbu rujak and steamed rice, sliced cucumber and tomato and a lime wedge

For the Bumbu Rujak:

4 tbsp palm sugar

2 tsp terasi* (Indonesian shrimp paste)

6 pcs small bird’s eye chili

2 tsp salt

6 tbsp tamarind pulp

30g garlic

50g shallot

6 pcs Kaffir lime leaves

30g galangal

1 stalks lemongrass

½ cup water

* Bagoong or Thai shrimp paste can also be used, but the flavor of the dish will change slightly


1. Chop the palm sugar.

2. Toast the shrimp paste in the oven or under a salamander broiler.

3. Chop the bird’s eye chili, with the seeds for extra spice.

4. Peel the garlic, shallot and galangal. Chop finely.

5. Remove stalks of the lemongrass, and remove the outer layer. With the back of a knife or meat tenderizer, crush the lemongrass until the oils are extracted. Chop the crushed lemongrass.

6. Remove the stems of the Kaffir lime leaves and slice it finely.

7. In a mortar, grind the following ingredients in order:

a. Salt

b. Lemongrass

c. Galangal

d. Kaffir lime leaves

e. Garlic

f. Shallot

g. Toasted shrimp paste

h. Palm sugar

i. Chili

j. Tamarind pulp

1. Once all the ingredients are combined, add the half cup of water gradually.

2. The bumbu rujak may be served cooked or fresh/raw. If cooked, this may be stored in the fridge for up to a week; if served fresh, it must be eaten within the day.


JAMU KUNYIT ASAM (turmeric and tamarind herbal drink)


2 liters drinking water

4 pcs pandan leaves

4 tablespoons fresh turmeric

½ cup tamarind pulp

1 cup palm sugar

2 tsp salt


1. Pour water in a large pot.

2. Combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil over low heat.

3. Strain the liquid and discard the solids.

4. Set aside to cool.

*This drink may be served warm or cold.


LARP / LARB KAI (chicken salad)


½ kg chicken

3 tbsp banana heart, shredded

2 tbsp roasted rice powder

1 tbsp fresh red chili, chopped

1 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp lemongrass, chopped

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp fried red onion, sliced

2 tbsp fresh red onion, chopped

2 tbsp cilantro, chopped

2 tbsp spring onion, chopped

½ tbsp salt

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp mint leaves, chopped Cucumber


1. Sauté the ground chicken, liver and skin with a little oil, lemongrass and red onion until cooked, over low heat.

2. Once cooled, add the fish sauce, lemon juice, chili, and roasted rice powder and mix well.

3. Add the shredded banana heart and mix well.

4. Garnish with mint leaves, chopped cilantro and spring onion.


AYAM MASAK MERAH (spicy tomato chicken)


1 ½ kg chicken, cut into 8 pieces

20 dried chili, soaked

2 red onions

5 cloves garlic

2 ½ tbsp ginger

3 ½ tbsp galangal

5 pcs lemongrass, crushed

2-3 pcs star anise

4 pcs cloves

3 inches cinnamon

3 pcs cardamom

1 can tomato paste

300 ml coconut milk or evaporated milk

2 tbsp tomato ketchup

2 tbsp chili sauce or spicy tomato ketchup

1 tbsp oyster sauce

Salt, sugar and seasoning to taste

1 pc chicken cube or chicken stock

Vegetable oil for deep frying

1 cup peas, optional

1 onion, round-sliced

3 tomatoes, each cut into 4

Coriander or scallion for garnish


1. Prepare the chicken by rubbing it with turmeric and salt. Set aside for 30 minutes, then deep fry until golden brown. Set aside.

2. Roughly chop red onion, ginger and galangal then blend using a blender or food processor. Add in chili and garlic. Process until it turns into a paste.

3. Heat ½ cup of oil in a wok. Saute the following spices until fragrant: cinnamon, star anise, cloves, cardamom, and crushed lemongrass.

4. Add in the blended paste.

5. Cook in medium-high heat until the paste bubbles, then lower the heat. Let it simmer until paste is thoroughly cooked, fragrant, and the oil separates from paste.

6. Add in tomato paste, tomato ketchup, chili sauce, oyster sauce, chicken cube/stock and the cooked chicken pieces.

7. Bring up the heat to a quick boil then lower to a simmer until the sauce is thickened.

8. Add coconut milk and peas. Season with salt and sugar to taste.

9. Turn off the heat, then add round-sliced onions and tomatoes. Mix well.

10. Garnish with some coriander leaves or spring onion before serving.




⅔ cup oil

1 cup yellow chickpeas or garbanzo beans

500g catfish

½ salt

8 pcs shallots

2 pcs hard boiled eggs, sliced

3 stalks lemongrass

3 cloves garlic

2 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp turmeric powder

2 tbsp ginger

1 tbsp paprika powder

2 packs (500g each) of thin rice noodles

1 pc banana stem (around 6 inches)

5 tablespoon Rice flour

½ tbsp pepper


For the chickpea paste:

1. Put yellow chickpeas in a bowl. Add enough water and cook until soft and tender.

2. Add a pinch of turmeric powder and mix with the chickpeas. Sieve into the pot and boil for 10-15 minutes.

For the garlic and ginger paste:

1. Slice garlic, ginger and the remaining lemongrass (only the tender white part) and pound together until a fine paste is formed.

2. Heat oil in a pan over a medium-low fire.

3. Fry the pounded garlic and ginger paste until fragrant (2-3 minutes).

4. Add the paprika powder and a pinch of tumeric.

5. Add the shredded catfish and continue frying for another 5-7 minutes.

6. Transfer the catfish mixture into the soup pot. Add more water and bring it to a rolling boil.

7. Add the chickpea paste and pepper and continue boiling, removing any scum that rises to the top.

8. Add the shallots and the sliced hard boiled eggs into the soup.

9. Add more fish sauce (optional) and salt as required. Let it simmer for 15-20 minutes.

For the soup:

1. Peel the outer layer of the banana stem and cut into small pieces.

2. Crush garlic, ginger and 2 lemongrass stalks until you have a paste

3. Add 2 tbsp of fish sauce and a pinch of turmeric powder.

4. Boil the catfish, banana stem and the paste in 2 cups of water for 10 minutes.

5. Remove the cooked catfish and set aside to cool.

6. Remove the lemongrass from the pot.

7. Once the catfish has cooled, carefully remove the bones and skin.

8. In the same bowl, add about 6 more cups of water and bring it to a boil.

9. In a separate bowl, mix the rice flour with warm water.

10. Then, put the rice flour mixture into the soup pot and let it simmer uncovered

For the fritters:

1. Put the cooked chickpea in a bowl and add some flour, a pinch of turmeric powder, and 1 ½ cups of warm water. Mix well.

2. Heat a generous amount of oil in a pan on medium-low temperature.

3. Add one spoonful the fritter batter mixture at a time.

4. When the fritters begin floating in the oil, increase heat to medium-high temperature until the fritter turns golden-brown and crispy.


1. Put some rice noodles in a bowl and crush a chickpea fritter over the noodles.

2. Add the catfish soup mixture

3. Add coriander and chili powder on top (optional)


ADOBONG MANOK AT BABOY (pork and chicken adobo)


½ kg chicken, cut into stewing pieces

½ kg pork belly, cut into stewing pieces

½ kg pork shoulder, cut into stewing pieces

6 cloves garlic, pounded

½ tbsp cracked peppercorns

½ cup vinegar (cane, palm or coconut)

¼ cup soy sauce

2 pcs bay leaf

Enough water to cover meat

1 tsp annatto seeds diluted in ¼ cup water (optional)


1. In a wok, combine the chicken, pork garlic, peppercorns, vinegar, soy sauce and bay leaf. Let it marinate for 30 minutes.

2. Place wok over medium heat and add enough water to cover the meat.

3. Simmer the mixture for about 15-20 minutes until the chicken is cooked and the liquid has reduced into a thicker sauce.

4. Remove the chicken from the wok and spoon out most of the adobo sauce and set aside together with the chicken.

5. Increase the heat and fry the pork in the remaining sauce until nice and brown, then add back the chicken and pour the sauce into the wok.

6. Gently toss the meats in the sauce while scraping off the toasted bits on the sides and bottom of the wok and stir them into the mixture.

7. Stir in the annatto water. (Optional)

8. Serve warm.


ADOBONG MANOK SA GATA (chicken adobo in coconut milk)


½ kg whole chicken, cut into stewing pieces

6 cloves garlic, pounded

½ tsp cracked peppercorns

½ cup vinegar (cane, palm or coconut)

2 pcs bay leaf

1 cup fresh coconut milk, 2nd extraction diluted with water

2 pcs finger chili

1/2 cup fresh coconut cream, 1st pressing

1 tbsp rock salt

1 tsp annatto seeds diluted in ¼ cup water (optional)


1. In a pot, combine garlic, peppercorns, vinegar, bay leaf and chicken, and marinate for 30 minutes.

2. Place pot over medium heat, then add the coconut milk and finger chilis and allow mixture to simmer for 10-15 minutes.

3. Stir in the coconut cream and stir constantly until the cream is incorporated smoothly into the sauce.

4. Season with salt.

5. Serve warm.




1 kg Hokkien noodles (yellow noodles)

600g Bee Hoon (rice vermicelli)

6 to 8 eggs

1 ½ cup pork lard

8 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup Chinese chives (gu chai)

Fish sauce to taste (optional)

Calamansi limes

Sliced chili

Pork and Prawn Stock:

1 kg prawns (deshelled and deveined, the prawn heads should be retained.)

3 pcs squid

300g pork belly

Pork bones


Rendering the pork lard

1. Render the pork lard by adding the lard cubes to the wok under medium heat, until the lard cubes become crispy and brown. This will take approximately 30 minutes.

2. Strain the melted lard from the lard cubes and set aside.

Preparing the pork and prawn stock

1. Bring a pot of water to boil and add the pork bones.  Boil for 5 minutes to remove the impurities from the bones and discard the water.

2. Add water to the blanched pork bones and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and continue simmering for at least 1 hour. You can add pork bouillon cubes to enhance the flavor of the stock.

3. Heat up another soup pot, and add melted lard from Step 2 to oil the pot. You may also use cooking oil instead of melted lard.

4. Sauté the minced garlic and add in the prawn heads. Stir-fry the prawn heads until cooked (reddish-brown).

5. Crush the prawn heads to bring out the flavour and the roe.

6. Add the pork stock from Step 4 and more water to cover the prawn heads and boil for 1 ½ to 2 hours.

7. Once the pork and prawn stock starts to simmer, blanch the prawns and squid in the stock. The prawns should turn red in colour while the squid will become white and no longer translucent. Remove from the stock and let cool.

8. Add the pork belly into the stock and cook for 8 minutes. Remove the pork belly and let cool.

9. Once cooled, slice the prawns, squid and pork belly and set aside.

Stir-frying the Hokkien Mee

1. Blanch the Hokkien noodles with warm water, then rinse with tap water. Drain and set aside. This will get rid of excess “kee” (alkaline) smell.

2. Heat up the wok and add ½ cup of melted lard.

3. Add the eggs and scramble.

4. Add the minced garlic and fry until fragrant.

5. Add the Bee Hoon and toss together with the eggs in the wok.

6. Add the Hokkien noodles and stir-fry together with the Bee Hoon and the eggs. Try not to break the noodles in the process.

7. Add fish sauce to taste. (Optional)

8. Add sufficient pork and prawn stock to cover about ¾ of the noodles. Cover the wok and allow to simmer for a few minutes.

9. Add prawns, sliced squid and pork belly and chives and toss together with the noodles to mix.

10. Serve with sambal chili, calamansi/lime and pork lard cubes.


Instead of making a pork and prawn stock, you can replace the pork with chicken.

Cooking oil can be used in place of pork lard.




6 pcs prawns

2 cups of water or chicken stock

3 pcs Kaffir lime leaves

2 stalks lemongrass

2 pcs galangal

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 ½ tbsp fish sauce

3 pcs tomato cherries

1 can straw mushroom

1 tsp sugar

4 tbsp evaporated milk

2 tbsp chili paste

Coriander leaves

Fresh chili (optional)


1. Place the water/chicken stock in a pot and bring to boil.

2. Add lemongrass, galangal, and Kaffir lime leaves.

3. Add fish sauce, sugar, tomato, mushroom, prawns, and lemon juice. Stir to combine then turn off the heat when shrimp turns red.

4. In a separate bowl, mix the chili paste and evaporated milk.

5. Add the milk mixture to the soup.

6. Garnish with coriander and serve.


GOI CUON (fresh spring rolls)


For the spring roll:

300g pork belly

200g shrimps

200g vermicelli

15 pcs Rice Paper

Lettuce, fresh mint leaves, cilantro, chives, cucumber

For the dipping sauce:

1 tsp oil

1 tbsp minced garlic

5 tbsp Hoisin sauce

5 tbsp broth from the boiled pork belly

1 tbsp peanut butter

1 tbsp sugar


1. Boil the pork belly with 1 tsp of salt. When it boils, turn the heat to medium-low and cook for 25-35 minutes more. You can test to see if it is well cooked by piercing through the meat with a chopstick — if no red water is coming out, then it is ready.

2. Soak in cold water after cooking to avoid blackening. Keep the broth for later use. Cut the pork into thin slices.

3. Next, fry the prawns without oil in medium heat for 2-3 minutes or until they turn orange. Peel and devein. Cut into two halves vertically.

4. Boil and cook the rice noodles for 3-5 minutes and drain.


1. Dip the rice paper into the warm water to soften it, then shake gently to get rid of the excess water.

2. Lay the rice paper on a flat surface. Place the vegetables in a row in the center, leaving a gap of 2-3 inches on each side.

3. Place 2 cucumber slices (cut vertically, around 2 inches), 2 slices of pork, and 2 shrimp halves (keep the orange side of the shrimp facing down).

4. Roll once or twice, then fold both sides inward. Continue rolling the rice paper gently but tightly. Repeat for the remaining ingredients.

For the dipping sauce:

1. In a heated pan, fry garlic in oil until golden brown.

2. Add Hoisin sauce, leftover broth, peanut butter and sugar.

3. Stir well and let it simmer until thick. Around 1-2 minutes.

4. Transfer mixture into a small bowl and top with fresh chili and crushed peanuts.




500g ground chicken

150g bean sprouts

50g glass noodles

10g wood ear mushrooms

1 carrot

1 egg

2 onions (about 150g)

3tbsp fish sauce

½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

30 rice papers

1 tsp cornstarch



1. In advance, soak the mushrooms in water for 1 hour. Remove the foot of the mushrooms once ready.

2. Hydrate as well the glass noodles while preparing the ingredients

3. Finely chop onions and mushroom

4. Grate the carrot

5. Drain the glass noodles and cut them into 2-3 inch sections.

6. To make the filling, mix in a bowl the ground chicken, onions, mushrooms, bean sprouts, carrot, glass noodles, salt, pepper and egg, fish sauce

7. Dilute the cornstarch with 1tbsp of water

8. Briefly soak the rice paper in warm water, drain and lay it on the towel.

9. Put 1 tbsp of the filling near the edge of rice paper, and wait about 10 seconds before handling the rice paper.

10. Fold both sides towards the center, then start rolling the rice paper tightly.

11. To seal the roll, stamp the top edge of the rice paper with the diluted starch. This will prevent the roll from opening up during frying.

12. Fry the spring rolls at 150°C heat for 5 minutes. After, remove and let them cool. Freeze them first before the second frying. This will make the rolls crispy.

13. For the second frying, fry the rolls in 160°C heat for about 4 minutes. Drain after.

Joseph L. Garcia