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It’s the last weekend before Christmas, and if you haven’t planned your holiday menu yet, here’s an easy Coconut Meatballs with Sweet Sour Sauce to put on the table. Thank goodness for friends who write Filipino cookbooks. Just like my fellow culinary enthusiast, Regina Tolentino Newport who recently launched Coconut Kitchen Appetizers and Main Dishes.
I’ll admit I am nowhere near completion for my Christmas goals. The tree is up. The Filipino capiz parol (lantern) is lit and glowing. The outdoor lights have been put up by my husband. But that’s it. If your house is like mine… gifts not yet wrapped, in full view laying on the couch, rolls of wrappers and ribbons strewn around…then don’t fret, you are not alone. If you’re like me, with the Christmas cards stacked up on your desk, waiting to be written on and mailed…then don’t panic. And most of all, if you’re like me and haven’t gone food shopping yet, stay calm and breathe. It’s the holidays. We are all supposed to enjoy each moment and the festivities around us.
While Regee was writing and creating her cookbook a few years ago, she asked if I would contribute my Adobong Dilaw recipe (page 104). I was honored and delighted. When her cookbook finally released this fall, I purchased a copy from Regee when she returned to America, after a successful launch in the Philippines.
How wonderful it was to browse through the Coconut Kitchen cookbook, which will now be my new kitchen helper. There are over 128 pages of recipes from appetizers to main dishes, all coconut-based. Regee calls the coconut the “tree of life” and adds “because all the parts of the tree – from top to bottom—are used to sustain human life. The Philippines is among the top coconut-producing countries in the world together with Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Brazil.”
When I get my hands on a new cookbook, I immediately bookmark the recipes that look easy and doable for my busy life. In Regee’s cookbook, I found numerous recipe options, so I will be cooking from it for a long time. The recipes range from vegetables, seafoods, beef and pork, chicken and duck to dressings, dips and sauces. The first half of Regee’s cookbook has recipes from contributors – all friends, family and colleagues in the Philippine culinary world. The next half consists of Regee’s own recipes she developed.
What I liked about this recipe I picked: Coconut Meatballs in Sweet Sour Sauce is that I had all the ingredients in my refrigerator and pantry. The versatile ingredient, coconut, in this case, shredded coconut meat was mixed into the ground meat with the rest of the seasonings. The slivers of coconut meat gave the meatballs its succulence plus a distinct savory flavor. While the meatballs were baking in the oven, I got busy making the sweet-sour sauce. Since I am familiar with making this agrio-dulce sauce the way Filipinos love it, it was a cinch from there.
Plating the entire dish on a bandejado (oval platter) and pouring the glistening, bright red, sweet sauce over it gave me so much satisfaction because it had been a straightforward process from start to finish. The garnishings gave the dish the festive touch. I knew right then and there this would be a superb entrée to add to our traditional Christmas dishes.
No need to panic. You’ve got this season all worked out. In no time, you’ll have your feet up, a drink in your hand, listening to Christmas carols and savoring every minute. That’s what Christmas should be like.
Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
Did you like this recipe?I have more Filipino Instant Pot recipes in my newest cookbook Instant Filipino Recipes: My Mother’s Traditional Philippine Cooking in A Multicooker Pot by Elizabeth Ann Besa-Quirino. I also have more classic recipes inspired by my mother’s cooking in my popular cookbook: My Mother’s Philippine Recipes. If you’re learning how to cook Filipino food or a fan of Philippine cuisine, buy my cookbooks and books on Amazon.com sold worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.
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