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Grandma's Kitchen:   Filipino Party Foods

Food Picture by Alicia deLeon Torres

Filipinos are known for many things: Diversity... artistic talents... having children who grow up to be doctors, nurses, lawyers, and engineers (or at least who studied those majors)... pianos in the house with tinkling wood sculptures hanging close by (usually next to the wooden forks and spoons)... and partying, to name a few. My family is no different in these respects. (I took the majored-in-something-that-could-get-me-into-law school route.) However, if I had to choose what is the one thing that ALL Filipinos have in common, it would be the love of food. Party food is even better.

Party time is the best time to eat at ANY Filipino house! It's better at my mom's because she has this "thing" about fattening up "skinny" looking grandchildren, MINE in particular! My 3-year-old daughter, of course, indulges my mom’s need to fatten people up by eating... and eating... and eating!

"Grandma, Grandma! Make me some noonoos for the party!"   Noonoos?
The following recipes are my daughter’s favorite Grandma party foods. Including the recipe for Noonoos (Pancit Bihon).
Main Dish – Pancit Bihon
Rice Sticks     Serves 15


  • 1 head of garlic, crushed
  • 1 large onion, cut in small pieces
  • 6 celery sticks (leaves and all), french cut
  • 3 medium carrots (no leaves), french cut
  • 2 chicken breasts, boiled and flaked
  • 3 - 4 cups of chicken broth, you will know how much by the consistency of the saute
  • 1 lb. shrimp, deveined if you like
  • 2 lb. bihon (rice sticks), skinny kind
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • Lemon juice or calamans (tiny lemon-orange fruits)

Quickly saute all the vegetables in a large pan. Woks work great! Add flaked chicken and shrimp. Mix in chicken broth and soy sauce. Bring to boil. Throw in rice sticks. Mix ingredients thoroughly. Lower fire to medium. You will know when it is ready by the consistency which is somewhere between "al dente" and "it's about to stick together."

Garnish with lemon wedges of calamansi (tiny lemon-orange fruits). Squeeze lemon juice or calamansi juice onto serving before eating.

Side Dish – Fried Lumpia
The Party Kind That You Dip in Sweet-Sour Sauce     Makes 60

Filling Ingredients
  • 2 lbs. beef (preferably lean because it is better for your health)
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
  • 2 celery stick, finely cut
  • 2 medium carrots, finely cut
  • garlic salt to taste
  • ground pepper to taste
Wrapper Ingredients
(Recipe for Brave People)
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup oil

Put the flour in a large bowl, preferably one that you can cover to save some mix for later. Add water. Slowly add oil. Mix thoroughly. Consistency is that of a bouncy, heavy pancake batter. (We used to call it a "boing-boing," as in slinky toy, consistency.)

Use a flat skillet for cooking – like the kind used for tortillas. Take a cup of batter in your hand and CAREFULLY spread batter on the skillet to form a medium-sized THIN pancake. When the wrapper starts curling up (about 28 seconds), peel off and turn over (about 25 seconds).

Place on a dish with wax paper to prevent sticking.

For the person on the go, lumpia wrappers can be bought at most Asian stores in San Diego County. They can be found in the freezer section.

Wrapping and Cooking Lumpia

After wrappers cool, place one teaspoon of filling in the center of the wrapper and wrap like a burrito.

Fry in vegetable oil until golden brown.

Dessert – Palitao
"The Tongue Looking Part"
  • 1 box Mochiko (rice flour) water "This much"
  • 1 freshly grated coconut

Mix 4/5 box of Mochiko with water - "enough water to make it the consistency of cookie dough." If the dough keeps sticking to your hands, add remainder of box... you have added too much water.

Shape dough into "tongue" looking things, the size of your fist. Drop "tongues" into boiling water. "Tongues" are done when they float to the top.

When cool, roll "tongues" in freshly grated coconut. Do NOT use store bought grated coconut. Dip in sesame/sugar mixture.

Best when eaten warm.

The Dip


  • About 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 box sesame seeds

Toast sesame seed in frying pan until golden brown. DO NOT BURN! When cooled, place in a plastic bag and roll lightly with a rolling pin. You should be able to hear popping sounds (like Rice Krispies). Mix with sugar in a decorative bowl for dipping or roll the "tongue" part in the mixture for that ready-to-eat look.

Grandma’s Cooking Tips

If your grandchildren want to help, let them! But tie their hair back, otherwise the hair may become a main ingredient in the dish. And always cook with a smile - this the best ingredient!

Alicia deLeon-Torres has been selected as Woman of the Year for her services and commitment to young people in San Diego.

Other recipes from Grandma's Kitchen:

Soybean Magic
Fiesta – Filipino Style
Chinese Kitchen Medicine
Healthy Summer Eating
Vietnam’s Chicken in Lemon Grass
Korean Homestyle Cooking
Prosperity for the New Year
The Fine Art of Korean Cooking
The Ever Pan-Tropic Bamboo and Indonesian Soup
Tofu Bubble and Chinese Cabbage
Shrimp Hui Tofu
Fighting the "Baby Fat" Blues with Asian Food
Connie's Cuisine
Eat Drink Man Woman - Starring .... Food
Asian New Year's Recipes
More Asian New Year's Recipes

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