Ay, Monay!

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“Kulinarya Cooking Club was started by a group of Filipino foodies living in Sydney who are passionate about the Filipino culture and its colourful cuisine.

Each month we will showcase a new dish along with their family recipes. By sharing these recipes, we hope you find the same passion and love for Filipino food as we do.” – Kulinarya Cooking Club

“For this month’s theme, let’s focus on traditional Filipino foods served as portable bites, like the food trucks offer.” – Louie of East and West


I decided to live in the city just because I hated the slow pace in the suburbs. Moreover, people in the city were more mature and disciplined. I’d take the transit to and from work everyday, and I’d encounter a vast number of crazy people along the way, but the kids in the ‘burbs’ just blew my top off. What irked me most was the noise and loud conversations which emanated from non-stop talking teenagers lasting almost the entire trip. Now, that was really annoying for me. They couldn’t seem to just shut-up for a moment and give the riders their ride and space. I just couldn’t take it and moved out.

Anyway, when I was growing up, I was raised by my parents also in suburbs found in the southern portion of the city coming from the Makati Financial District. Looking back, I would have loved living closer to where I studied, but with two traditional parents, the ‘burbs’ was IT. Although I really didn’t like it, I had no choice. What other choices a ten year old would have had at that time?-pretty much none. The village was teeming with kids, teenagers, schoolboys and girls, stray dogs, crackheads, fratboys, and avid churchgoers. I first encountered my love for Filipino snacks in that very traditional and secluded suburban utopia. Once in a while, the ‘taho’ vendor would stop-by our gate, and with what’s left of my allowance, I would buy a small cup, despite mom’s heckling that it was dirty. To avoid her outburst, I would take my BMX bike and swing by the street parallel to ours to purchase some bread goodies like Pandecoco, Monay, Spanish bread, Sombrero, and Cheese Roll-all for just 1 peso. Those were the major bread categories I clearly remembered as after school snacks alongside a liter of pop. Of course, Pandesal was never out of the picture, but that was solely reserved for breakfast. The fishball and kikiam carts were still relatively new in our area. It was a private subdivision and vendors had had to go through council or barangay scrutiny probably for a business permit of some kind to start selling. Anyway, they only came out later when I reached college, and I only had several poke on Manong’s fishballs before finally abandoning him and his addictive fishball sauce. Catching Hepa was scarier, and deliciously looking as they were, I still had to control my craving. Bread was still a major factor in my diet growing up; and crispy pata.

Nowadays, my preferred loaves of bread for snack are Rye and Monay. Rye is healthier and has more taste as compared with a whole wheat bread. They also come in variety of choices which I’d only seen or have heard here. I would usually snack on 2 pieces of Rye bread with Pan-fried Pork Sausages I’d purchase from my meat monger before having my dinner and down them with a bottle of lager. As you may know, I only taste what I cook in the kitchens where I work, but never really eat a meal in them. I’m usually starving when I reach home. Monay is just a heavenly dough of goodness.

For these recipes, I decided to buy the Mini-Monay Buns I saw at the Filipino store near my apartment instead of the usual one huge loaf cut in thin slices. Initially, I wanted to present them on a Pandesal Bun, but it was a very common fare amongst many Filipinos here and abroad, but Monay was not as mainstream. Both are superbly good buns, but Monay is relatively sweeter and more savoury than the other, and really more apt for snacking.

I was daydreaming almost the entire day thinking what I can offer Kulinarya Cooking Club for this episode. Daydreaming, as much as drinking, is common amongst cooks when the restaurant is empty and slow, and there’s nothing else to do. That eerily quietness in the 70 seater restaurant only meant it was time for one of the cooks to scram. Today was relatively slow for a Thursday and the line went smoothly. I had a chance to put them together at the back of my mind as hours went by.

During the day, I came up with two snack bite sandwiches. This would be my first and I wanted to showcase something off the beaten track. I had another idea prior to this one, but it was too simple to present, but very reminiscing of my childhood past, too.

The first is a showcase of the Filipino-Canadian in me. I decided to make a very popular snack found here in the Great White North called ‘Peameal on a Bun.’ To make it more Filipino, I’d decided to call it ‘Peameal on a Monay Bun,’ instead. I know bacon is popular over at the south of the border, but here it’s praised like hockey. I’ve completely stopped eating bacon, but I won’t let a Peameal Bacon pass. Canadians know and are very particular about their bacon, and Peameal is always on the top of their list either for breakfast and lunch or in my case ‘merienda.’ Their description of a bun here is either a hamburger bun or a 6”- 12” hoagie. Both are very common and very popular. Ingredients are basically the same except for my grease and my bun, of course, Pinoy.

My second snack would require some work, but it’s as simple as the Peameal’s once everything has been cooked prior to assembly. This second small bite sandwich is ‘Beef Tapa on a Bun with Red Wine Caramelized Onions and Sauted Mushrooms.’ It reminds me of Prime Rib Roast Subs sold by many fastfood chains which when served are smothered with grated melted cheese, green peppers, onions, mushroom and gravy and are run through a salamander after. This is a miniaturized version of that sandwich with less of the fuzz and calories of its counterpart.



2 Pcs. Mini-Monay Buns
2 Thick Slices of Peameal Bacon
2 Slices of Canadian Swiss Cheese
Star Margarine as spread
Salt, Pepper, and Mustard to taste

1. Slice the Monay in half and spread some margarine. Put them on the grill until toasted.

2. Grill the Peameal to Medium or as desired. Sprinkle with Paprika and a little salt and pepper. Put the cheese on top of the bacon until it has melted.

3. Assemble the sandwich as so.

Canadians love mustard and they sprinkle apple cider or white vinegar on their fries; besides gravy and cheese. Mustard and vinegar are always served on the table.




Beef Marinade: To taste
Filipino Soy Sauce
Light Soy Sauce
White Onion
Lemon Juice
Lime Juice
Salt & Pepper
Brown Sugar
Balsamic Vinegar
Worcestershire Sauce

2 Mini-Monay Buns
Star Margarine as spread
2/3 Chopped White Onions
2-3 pcs. of White Mushrooms, thinly slice

1. Pan-fry the beef strips until cooked medium and set aside.

2. Rinse the same pan, add oil, and turn the heat to medium/high and sauté the onions until they turn brown. Add water and salt to help in the caramelization process. Deglaze the pan with Red Wine when the onions turn brown. Let cool and set aside.

3. In a separate pan, start sautéing the mushrooms. Season while sauteing.

4. Follow the same procedure on how to grill the Monay bread from the previous recipe.

5. Set the Tapa on the Bun, followed by the Red Wine caramelized onions, and sauted mushrooms. Season to taste.

The corner house where I grew up was sold about three years ago. On my first few years away from the Philippines, that house would always be my sanctuary whenever I had visited. My dad loved that place!
He grew orchids in both front and back of the house and attended to them every weekend. Lately, whenever I had visited Manila, I would stay in my sister’s place in the Makati area. I wasn’t really sure that I was glad to have returned to the city, but I had hoped one day to see the village where I grew up as a child and that house again. Both brought fond memories of friendly, and very approachable neighbours who held countless parties for their children (Sesame Street). Of course, we were all invited and had a taste and glimpse of their party meals.

I lived in that house for nearly 30 years of my life, and it feels like it has been ages! Time flew so fast that I couldn’t even recall how it had even happened. I was busy tracking my life for the last ten. My family made many good friends in the south, but with each of us having our own lives to think about, and with a two-story enclave originally built for seven; living in quarters with huge, open spaces for one person could be a handful. It had had its time.

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When I was growing up, my parents and I used to eat out and try different restaurants after celebrating the Sunday Mass. Moreover, during the course of the summer break, I had the opportunity to see some places which, when looking back, I had never realized how lucky I was as a teen to be able to travel. My family and I went to Europe and some parts of the United States, and what I saw along that path of my life inspired me to become a 'Chef.' The 'whites' they wore for me, during those growing-up and finding 'myself' years, portrayed a sort of fascinating and powerful figure in an extremely sophisticated, higly inviting and invigorating work place; and still maintain an unblemished and clean uniform after a very busy service. That picture of a 'Chef' stuck to my head for so many years.

True enough, with meager resources left to spend for the youngest, that dream never happened. Life went on. I went to university and studied an insignificant course, Business Management, and after graduating, I ended up working as a Credit and Financial Analyst in the banking industry in Manila; slugging it out in the corporate arena in Makati. It was the first taste of being called a 'yuppie' and was almost always looking forward to an after-office eating and drinking extravaganza in the expanding and growing Makati Business District; and, of course, the weekend.

Anyway, forging ahead to my life today, that dream as 'Chef' stayed in the back of my mind all the time that when I left the Philippines for Toronto in 2003; and after finally settling down on my own in 2005, I had started studying Professional Culinary Arts Courses in the City College to get that almost long-forgotten 'dream' going again. It was a Continuing Education Course, and more or less, students who have also shifted careers or who were trying to find work (like myself) as a newly landed found ourselves working with pots, knives and fire which I believe and I felt, everyone in class have never, ever touched during their past, professional lives.

Since then, I have been working in and out of different kitchens; flipping eggs and hamburgers, grilling steaks, shoving bread and chicken in a 500'C oven, and almost anything that can be either deep-fried or toasted just to serve hungry, sometimes pesky, customers. I became a 'grease' cook; a short-order cook with no definite place of employment, and definitely not a 'Chef.'

My articles are based on the after-thoughts of my past and present day experiences in this fast-paced, starkling, and sometimes disheveling kitchen environment. I never imagined that a kitchen 'worklife' turned that way as against the 'Ideal' environment I had thought about for years. No regrets. During this journey, I've discovered food which I've never thought I'd be able to taste. I learned to appreciate wine and travel more; now that I have understood the culture of food to society. That was non-existent when I was growing up.

This journey has not ended. I'm still discovering and still learning. It's a tough industry to be in and for what's next or for where I'll finally end up in remain a sordid mystery.

3 thoughts on “Ay, Monay!

  1. These all look delicious. Monay filled with ice cream first came to mind when the challenge was announced but have forgotten about it.

    I will post mine later today as I still have to take photos of my cart food and finish the write-up.;-)

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