As a kid, I turned my nose up at the mere mention of tapioca pudding, despite the fact that I had never even come close to trying the stuff. I'm sure I'm not alone here. But for Marvin Gapultos, a warm Filipino tapioca porridge called tambo-tambo remains a favorite dessert. And why not? The tapioca pearls glimmer in a rich coconut milk broth, studded with fat, chewy rice balls and small pieces of sweet fruit. His version in The Adobo Road Cookbook is easy and fun to make (rice balls dough = tasty playdough), and his use of mango as a topping guarantees sweet success.
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For Marvin Gapultos, canned sardines in tomato sauce were the ultimate bachelor comfort food. These days, however, he has ditched the can for a fresh version featured in his new cookbook, The Adobo Road. His sauce is a perfect example of the melting pot of culinary influences in the Philippines: tomatoes from the Americas, smoked paprika and white wine from Spain, and fish sauce and calamansi lime juice from Southeast Asia. Fresh sardines quickly broiled atop the fragrant sauce are a step above the canned variety and just as effortless to prepare.
Kale salads and sauteed greens with chile flakes only go so far to satisfy my curious cravings, so I'm always looking for a new way to get my fix. Marvin Gapultos's recipe for Kale Greens in Coconut Milk is just the ticket: the greens are given a long-ish simmer in a potent mixture of thick coconut milk, shrimp paste, shrimp stock, and Thai chiles, emerging supple and succulent.
These lumpia, or Filipino spring rolls, are fried and filled with moist ground pork, carrots, peas, and bean sprouts. Fish sauce adds a layer of salty complexity, but otherwise these are simply straight-up, easy-to-eat, fried goodness.