Nochebuena, (literally "Good Night"), is a Spanish word referring to the night of Christmas Eve. In Spain, Cuba, Latin America, and the Philippines, the evening consists of a traditional dinner with family. In the traditional Filipino household, this dinner is enjoyed right after the late evening Christmas Eve mass. Growing up, I always looked forward to celebrating Christmas. It meant seeing all my cousins, opening gifts and watching all the adults do their gift exchange. You could call it a mini family reunion. Crackly Christmas music would be playing on the turntable, which I would always seem to scratch...DJ in the making right! But, what I looked forward to the most was all the food waiting to be devoured on the dining table. The ham, lumpia, pancit, empandas, hot chocolate, and every dessert imaginable. What I also remembered was my uncles and aunts drinking their hot chocolate and coffee with fresh from the oven pandesal (pan de sal). The toasted buttery smell was very intoxicating and somehow made for a scent that would always remind me of the holidays.
I recently joined the Kulinarya Cooking Club which was started by a group of Filipino foodies living in Sydney who are passionate about the Filipino culture and its colourful cuisine. Each month they showcase a new dish along with their family recipes.This months theme and challenge, was to share a Noche Beuna dish. This was going to be somewhat of a challenge for me. How could I make just one dish and not feel bad about leaving the other delicious recipes behind? So, I went back and forth with my wife and brother in-law trying to figure out what we were actually serving for Noche Buena on the 24th. We really haven't narrowed the menu down as of yet, so the challenge was getting more and more challenging. This was my first post, so I wanted to have a good time with this one.
So I decided to combine two dishes into one, making a perfect snack for both young and old. If pandesal and pork adobo decided to make a food truck, this is what they would serve...naturally. So my offering for the Noche Buena challenge is pulled pork adobo on homemade pandesal, or pandesal sliders for short. I haven't attempted to make pandesal before but Jun Belen of Jun-blog, Vanjo Merano of Panlasang Pinoy, and Malou of Skip to Malou, provide enough inspiration to help guide any novice baker. Click on the links for their complete pandesal recipes. I decided to make my version with Splenda, to accommodate for the no-sugar dieters in my family. I was actually told by Amy Besa, co-author of Memories of Philippine Kitchens, that pandesal, from the Spanish pan de sal, means bread of salt and "should not be sweet. It is an aberration when people put a ton of sugar in it." Thanks Amy for the info. Now I feel better about making my version without sugar. But, I guess if you insist on the sweetness but can't have the sugar...my recipe is ok.
Pandesal ingredients (adapted from Panlasang Pinoy)
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup white sugar (I used Splenda instead)
- 5 tbsp butter, melted
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/4 cup fresh milk, warm
- 1 pouch rapid rise yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 1 piece raw egg
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
Combine the yeast, 1 tbsp sugar from your half cup, and warm milk and stir until the yeast and sugar are fully dissolved. Let it stand for 10 minutes. You should notice that the yeast is active if it doubles in size. Combine the flour then the sugar, salt, and baking powder in a mixing bowl and mix until you achieve a consistent texture. Now add the egg, melted butter, cooking oil, and yeast-sugar-milk mixture in the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients then mix again until a dough is formed.
On a flat dusted surface, knead the dough for 8 minutes to achieve a smooth elastic dough. Mold the dough into a round shape and place in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 1 hour. This gives you a chance to prep and start your pulled pork abobo. (continue to recipe below)
Put the dough back to the flat surface and knead it once more. Next divide into 2 equal parts and roll into rectangular sheets and then roll the sheet into a log, about 20 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. Now slice the dough into 1 inch thick pieces, place onto a cookie sheet cut side up, and sprinkle your bread crumbs onto your pieces. Make sure to leave enough space for the your your pandesal to expand.
Let the dough sit and rise for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 375 degrees
Pre heat the oven at 375 degrees fahrenheit for 10 minutes. After, bake your dough for 15 minutes. Pretty simple and definitely not a hard as I thought.
For the pulled pork adobo, I use a pressure cooker to make sure my meat is tender and separates nicely. My pressure cooker is electric and gets the job done very fast, so please adjust your times accordingly.
- 4 lbs of pork shoulder cut into large cubes
- 1 cup of low sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 cup of cane vinegar
- 1 tbsp ground pepper
- 1/3 cup of freshly cut garlic
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 tsp of powdered cumin
- 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil.
Directions (modify if you are using a traditional pressure cooker or pot)
Heat your oil for a few minutes then saute your garlic. Next, add your pork and brown for a few minutes. Now season your meat with the pepper and cumin and add your bay leaves. Last, add your liquids and cover your pressure cooker. After 40 minutes, your pork will be nice and tender.
Separate your pork from your liquids and pull your pork apart with your hands or by using two forks. Continue to separate until completely shredded. Keep your sauce on the side and add it to your pulled pork depending on how juicy you want your sliders.
Now if your timing is perfect, your pulled pork is finished, and your pandesal is ready. So slice into that freshly baked bread and generously add the adobo pulled pork to complete the ultimate Noche Buena Street food snack.
But Noche Buena would be complete without a few other dishes. Here are some of the other dishes that we will be having for Noche Buena:
|Crispy adobo wings|
I am so honored to be a part of the Kulinarya Cooking Club and can't wait to see what challenges 2012 will bring. Please make sure to visit the rest of the members blogs to see whats cooking in their kitchen. God Bless and have a happy New Year.
Resources and Credits
Kulinarya Cooking Club - Website