Casa Manila Sauces

After a delicious media dinner, Casa Manila sent us all home with a bottle of their sauce so we could attempt creating a Filipino dish at home. This was what owner, Mila, envisioned when looking for something to complement the restaurant. Her mission was to find another way they could introduce Canadians to Filipino cuisine without opening another restaurant.

So, they worked with George Brown’s culinary division to develop a large batch recipe of their popular sauces so customers and purchase and use at home ($8.99). From the nutty Kare Kare, creamy and light coconut ginger coconut or tangy and zesty adobo sauce each has a distinct flavor profile. To inspire us, a cooking demonstration was done at the restaurant where parboiled vegetables or meat were stir fried to make a meal in less than 30 minutes.

I've always been a “just wing it” type of girl with cooking (unless I'm hosting a dinner party) so rather than relying on a recipe I made up my own. Somehow, the slow cooker seemed like a good option where I could throw in a bunch of ingredients and allow the chicken to cook in the adobo sauce seeping in all its flavours. After all, to me, cooking is like art where you need to just play with ingredients until you develop something that meets your unique tastes.

First, a layer of sliced onions were placed on the bottom of the slow cooker to add more aromatics to the sauce. This was followed by about 10 drumsticks of skinless chicken as food blogger Adrienne noted bone-in is best to give the dish a richer flavour. 

Next the entire jar of adobo sauce was poured in and cooked with the chicken and onions for about three hours on low. Wanting to add more to the dish, I decided to throw in some shrimp and long eggplant near the end for about an hour more on the high setting. When I could smell the wonderful vinegary garlicky sauce permeating through the air the dish was done!

Paired with steamed rice and green beans the meal was complete and looked impressive. I'd like to say that it was a resounding success and I should immediately publish this recipe for the blogosphere to see, but unfortunately things need to be tweaked and perhaps this art form wasn't one of my best creations.

Don't get me wrong, it was edible. But, if I were to attempt this again there would definitely be changes including:
  • Not using the entire jar of adobo sauce. I’d save a third of the bottle so a sauce could be made later and drizzled on top of everything. Unfortunately, with the onions and other ingredients the sauce in the slow cooker became very watery and not the most appetizing.
  • Skip the shrimp as how long to cook them is hard to gauge and I definitely over did them in the slow cooker.
  • Finally, I found the adobo sauce was more acidic than I would've liked. So, adding another sauce like hoisin or sweet bean paste, may be better to cut down the tanginess for my taste.
Although it wasn’t a success, it was so easy to use this sauce at home. And I'm sure that this was what Mila had in mind when Casa Manila developed the sauces. At home chefs need something else to use to help spark their creativity and broaden their tastes. I'd love to hear about your adventures with the sauces, so please contact me with what you did with it and if it’s a successful recipe please send it to me so I can share it on this post.

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 879 York Mills Road

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more -