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Filipino Finger Foods

There are few things worse than hosting a party and realizing that you've run out of food to serve. Filipinos are the world's biggest foodies, and in this country, a party isn't a party without a table overflowing with food. And in a place where there are at least three major feasts to host every year, making sure everyone is fed can be a challenge.

Often, the problem is that we tend to choose traditional Filipino food recipes that take all day to make. These days, you can usually get away with serving a variety of finger foods instead of a bucket of rice and three or more viands. Not all parties have to involve a complete rice meal anymore. Unless you're serving at lunch or dinner hour, give yourself a little break and serve finger foods instead. Here are some tips and Filipino recipes you can try for your next big party.

Keep it simple

Finger foods don't have to be gourmet or expensive. In fact, it's better to serve simple dishes that your guests are familiar with. Since you're not serving full-course meals, your munchies should be filling as well as flavorful. If you serve unfamiliar recipes, they may not eat as much and they'll go looking for the usual Filipino food.

Simple doesn't have to mean unattractive or unremarkable. Just change the original recipe a little and you'll come up with something new and unique. Here's a simple recipe you can try out.

Baked Lumpia

Ingredients:
lumpia wrappers
½ kg ground pork
8 garlic cloves
1 onion
1 carrot
1 cup water chestnuts
1 cup bamboo shoots
1 tsp ginger, grated
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp black pepper
1 egg, beaten

Sauce:
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tsp cornstarch, dissolved in
2 tsp water
2-3 tsp ginger, grated

Procedure: Preheat your oven to 450oF. Mix together all the filling ingredients except the egg and wrappers. Wrap the mixture into finger-size rolls; you can cut the wrappers if necessary. Seal the edges with a dab of egg. Place the rolls seam side down in a baking dish or cookie sheet, then pop into the oven. Turn the rolls around after 20 minutes, then turn off when the wrapper turns golden brown.

To make the sauce, mix the sugar, soy sauce and vinegar and cook on high heat to dissolve the sugar. Add in the cornstarch solution and stir until the sauce is thick. Turn off the heat and add the ginger.

Go for variety

What's the point of serving 10 different finger foods if they taste pretty much the same? Have a little of everything-meat, vegetables and seafood; sweet, salty and sour. That way, everyone's tastes will be catered to and those with special preferences will have alternatives. Make a vegetarian roll for the weight-conscious and an all-meat wrap for the meat lovers.

Don't limit yourself to Filipino cuisine. Chinese and indian cuisine are great sources of party food ideas. They use much of the same ingredients, so they shouldn't be any trouble. Try this Indian recipe for starters.

Samosas

Ingredients:
3 large potatoes
1 onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pc ginger, minced
2 tsp black mustard seeds
2 tsp ground coriander
1 pc jalapeno chili, minced
½ tsp dried mango, minced
1 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp oil
1/2 cup water
small wonton/gyoza wrappers

Procedure: Boil the potatoes for 25 minutes or until cooked. Peel and dice into half-inch pieces, then set aside. Saute the mustard seeds in butter and stir for about 30 seconds. When they start popping, add the garlic, onion, coriander, and ginger. When the onion is soft, stir in the mango, chile and potatoes. Gently mash the potatoes while stirring. Turn off the heat, then mix in the cilantro and seasn with salt and pepper. Wrap the meat into small pockets and seal the wrapper's edges with water. Deep-fry over moderate heat until the wrappers are slightly brown. Add the water and cover; let it cook until the samosas are tender.

Do two at a time

Remember, you're going for variety, so make sure you have time for each individual dish. Stick to quick Filipino cooking recipes that you can make in less than 30 minutes. Look for those that can be steamed or fried at the same time, so you can have two or three dishes made in the time it takes to make one. Lumpia, fried siomai, and meatballs can all go together in the same pan, and cookies and sandwiches can usually be baked together. While they're cooking, you can set to work on a couple of Filipino desserts recipes. With a little time management, you can actually put the entire party together in an hour or less!

About the author:

Carlo Villamayor is the owner and co-author of the Filipino food blog, Kusina.ph at http://www.kusina.ph  A devoted cook, he makes it his personal mission to spread the joy of one of his Filipino food recipes at  http://www.kusina.ph/unique-filipino-fiesta-recipes/ with food lovers the world over.  Bon appetit!

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