A modern take on Filipino food: how to make yam madeleines and lengua salpicao

Chefs John Buenaventura and Nouel Omamalin share two recipes from 'Cuisinero - Taste the Philippines'

Lengua salpicao by John Buenaventura, the chef's take on a Philly cheesesteak sandwich. Courtesy 'Cuisinero - Taste The Philippines'
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A new e-book, Cuisinero - Taste the Philippines, was released last week and acts as an ode to the country's diverse cuisine. Spearheaded by author and Dubai resident Flavel Monteiro and co-authored by Keesa Ocampo, an Emmy Award-winning director, writer and producer, the book contains sweet and savoury recipes that put a new twist on Filipino ingredients.

The two chefs responsible for crafting the recipes, John Buenaventura, executive chef at Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island, and Nouel Omamalin, AKA The Nifty Chef, share two of their favourites with The National.

Ube madeleine by chef Nouel Omamalin

Nouel Omamalin's ube madeleine. Courtesy 'Cuisinero - Taste the Philippines'

This madeleine is not just a celebration of the colour purple, but of the beauty of purple yam in every bite. Many of the unacquainted will question the popular passion for ube. I believe it is the deep and imposing colour that is synonymous to royalty that draws people in. It is hard to define its flavour. It is earthy with a sweet buttery aroma. When combined with dairy products, the flavour comes to life.

These madeleines are dipped in two of my favourite Valrhona chocolates, Manjari and Dulcey.


20g dehydrated ube powder
120g coconut milk, 17 per cent
80g coconut oil, cold-pressed, melted
120g whole eggs
120g raw sugar
5g pure vanilla paste
50g wildflower honey
1g ube essence, oil-based
Purple colouring
100g all-purpose flour, bleached
10g baking powder
2g non-iodised salt 


Prepare the ube paste by mixing together the dehydrated ube powder with the coconut milk in a pot and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula until it thickens and the moisture is reduced as much as possible. Cool down to 30°C. 

Add the melted coconut oil but do not mix.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, vanilla paste, honey, use essence and colouring at high speed until very thick and stiff.

Sift together the dry ingredients and fold in batches into the egg mixture. 

Take 25 per cent of the batter and mix with the melted coconut oil and ube paste until well combined and smooth. 

Fold it back into the batter, carefully mixing until well combined.

Chill for at least an hour before baking at 180°C for about 12 to 15 minutes or until very puffy. 

Allow to cool completely before dipping the cakes in tempered Valrhona 64 per cent Manjari and 32 per cent Dulcey chocolates.

The cover of e-book 'Cuisinero - Taste The Philippines'. Supplied

Lengua salpicao by chef John Buenaventura

This recipe is my take on a Philly cheesesteak sandwich, tweaked with Filipino ingredients and flavours. I use pandesal as the bread of choice, with melted queso de bola. This sandwich is full of different texture, from the crunchy crust of the pandesal to the soft succulent meat of the lengua, down to the saltiness of the shaved queso de bola. It’s the perfect Filipino sandwich. 


500g beef tongue

30g garlic

10g black peppercorns

40ml corn oil

100ml soy sauce

50ml white vinegar

3 bay leaves 


Wash, clean and scrub the tongue several times. 

Place the beef tongue in a large pot and add water. Add salt, whole garlic, peppercorns, bay leaf, soy sauce and vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer and cook until fork tender. This will take three to four hours, depending on the size of the beef tongue.  

Once the meat is cooked, cool and leave it to rest in the fridge.  

Remove and peel off the skin. It should come off easily.  

Wrap the tongue in cling film and chill in the fridge before cutting. 

Slice the tongue into thin strips and sear on a hot skillet. Season with salt and pepper.

Chilli sofrito ingredients

100g white onions, chopped
50g red bell peppers, chopped
30g large Thai chillies, chopped
100ml corn oil
6g cayenne pepper


In a medium pan, heat a generous amount of corn oil and saute the white onions. Add the bell peppers, Thai chillies and cook together on low heat until it becomes soft. Add the cayenne pepper.

Sandwich ingredients

100g queso de bola, soft Edam
4 pieces pandesal


Toast the pandesal in the oven. Place a few slices of lengua on the bread and a few layers of sliced queso de bola.  

Put the open sandwich back in the oven for two minutes until the cheese starts to melt.

Add a spoonful of the chilli sofrito on top of the sandwich and serve immediately.