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In the Kitchen with Anne Hewitt and Filipino flavors

April 18, 2010|By TIFFANY ARNOLD
  • Filipino cuisine fuses Asian, Spanish and American food traditions to give the food from the Philippines a distinctive flavor profile. Shown clockwise from left, pancit, lumpia with chili sauce and adobo.
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Anne Hewitt moved to the United States when she was 24, bringing her food traditions with her.

Hewitt, 54, of Hagerstown, grew up in Cagayan, a region in the northeast part of the Philippines bound by the Cordillera Mountain, Balintang Channel, Pacific Ocean and what is known as the Babuyan Group of Islands.

Recently, Hewitt was a willing guide to Filipino comfort food during a visit with The Herald-Mail. She said she moved from the Philippines because she was recruited to work as a nurse in Washington D.C.

During our visit, Hewitt served lumpia, something like a spring roll or Chinese egg roll but in a lightly fried wrapper with a filling of vegetables and meat. She served the lumpia with a store-bought sweet chili sauce.

She also prepared a heavily sauced meat dish called adobo, and pancit, a noodle dish made of seafood, meat and fresh veggies.

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The end result is lots of good-looking food.

"It doesn't take long to cook this," Hewitt said.

For the lumpia, most of the labor comes from chopping up the food, cooking the meat and wrapping the lumpia. A master wrapper is consistent and neat, Hewitt said.

She uses a store-bought wrapper similar to phyllo dough, only it's thicker and not quite as flaky. She said the lumpia wraps better if the filling is frozen or cold.

Once filled and wrapped, the lumpia are fried in oil until the outside is lightly brown and crisp.

Filipino cuisine fuses Asian, Spanish and American food traditions as a result of its geography and lingering influence of its prior colonizers.

Hewitt, the oldest of six children, described her hometown as a "compound" of many family members. She said the aunts did the cooking, preparing mostly seafood and vegetable dishes with Spanish-sounding names.

She uses family recipes handed down from her mother, the late Donata Mallonga, who died two years ago at age 80. During The Herald-Mail's visit, Hewitt presented an adapted lumpia recipe hand-written on an index card, with splotches of yellow on its front and its edges dented due to heavy use.

"If you see all my cards, they all look like this," Hewitt said, smiling, returning the card to the rows of cookbooks and recipe boxes that lined a wall of her kitchen.

Today, she's a nurse at a hospital in Montgomery County, Md., making the commute from her Robinwood-area home to Shady Grove Hospital for the night shift.

Hewitt has two adult daughters and three grand children. Her youngest daughter, Marivien Hewitt, a 24-year-old interior designer in Pittsburgh, poked her head into her mother's kitchen on a recent visit.

Fresh-cooked lumpia was on the stove. Pancit and adobo were on the table, plus a dessert made of yucca. Marivien Hewitt was hungry.

"Smells good," Marivien said.




Lumpia



1 pound ground beef (see Cook's note)
Cabbage and carrots, finely chopped. May use bag-ready from grocery store.
Water chestnuts, chopped (optional)
Bean sprouts (optional)
Eggroll wrappers
Oil for frying

For the filling, saut ground meat until medium done. Add cabbage, carrots and water chestnuts to the meat and continue cooking until the meat is done.

Turn off the heat and add the bean sprouts, if using. If you plan to freeze the filling for later use, do not add the bean sprouts because bean sprouts don't freeze well.

Drain the filling and let it cool.

Once cooled, place a small teaspoon onto the lumpia wrapper and fold.

Fry until light brown. Drain on paper towels and serve with sweet chili sauce.

Cook's note: Chicken, turkey or pork may also be used instead of ground beef.

- Recipe courtesy of Anne Hewitt

Adobo



1 rack of ribs, each bone cut individually
1 pound pork loin, cut into cubes
1 cup of cane, palm or rice vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
5 to 8 bay leaves
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 onion, sliced

Place all of the ingredients into a large covered pot. Allow to boil for an hour or until the meat is tender. The dish may be browned with its own oil until slightly dry or kept moist with broth.

Serve with rice.

- Recipe courtesy of Anne Hewitt

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