Do you love Chinese food but aren’t ready to dine out yet, and find takeout prices prohibitive?
Or maybe you’re a mom who would love to introduce cooking basics to your child, but don’t know how to let them navigate the kitchen safely?
Both are fun, informative, and very accessible — both in format and in price, at only P350 each — since they’re not doorstops but slim softcovers that you can peruse in a few minutes to find appealing recipes that are easy to make.
She started Pink Mixer by Rosie Bakery in 2014 as a little kiosk in her Binondo office. Her first product was fruitcake for Christmas, since ‘I make what I love to eat.’
“I started writing cookbooks in 2010 when I attended my cousin's son's wedding and saw my cousin compile a cookbook for her son and his bride,” Hwang explains. “I decided to start compiling for my own kids.”
Though Hwang’s kids are both grown up now, her son used to call her “the best cooker” in the world when he was about five or six years old. “Now he tells me he is better than me, which is true,” she admits. “My family all agrees. But he is a scientist by profession living and working abroad.”
Hwang learned cooking and baking at age 13 during summer breaks and took culinary classes occasionally until college. “There was no time when I started working and raising a family,” she says. “It was just a favorite hobby. I only cook for the house and to entertain guests.”
She started Pink Mixer by Rosie Bakery in 2014 as a little kiosk in her Binondo office. Her first product was fruitcake for Christmas, since “I make what I love to eat.”
Soon she had honed her skills enough to make a range of baked goods. Pink Mixer’s current bestsellers are ensaimada, sans rival, mocha meringue, prune, strawberry and birthday cakes, kuchay pie, and cinnamon rolls. Her desserts have earned her awards like second place in the 2019 Makati Ube Bakeoff Festival.
I tried her ube ensaimada (P65 each) and it was indeed excellent — soft and pillowy, with just the right amount of halaya in the middle to flavor and moisten the surrounding bun.
Her Quezo de Bola ensaimada is also delicious (P50 each), as are her cinnamon buns with cream-cheese frosting (P50 each), which are as good as those offered by an international chain. Her sans rival remains perfectly crunchy and flawless (P700 for a whole cake), while her brazo de Mercedes is not too sweet and so addictive I couldn’t stop at just one slice.
Hwang compares her culinary prowess to ouido, “playing music by listening. I bake something new by tasting,” she says.
In Fresh Off the Boat you find out that many of the Chinese dishes we enjoy so much, like lomi, humba and kua pao, are actually Fujian, adapted from the cuisine of immigrants who braved the three-day boat trip from the southeastern coast of China to come to the Philippines in the late 19th century.
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Hwang says, “The Chinese recipes are food we prepare at home. Of course, some recipes were from friends, some were lessons from the cooking classes I attended, which I tweaked. I have whole bookshelves of cookbooks. People know I love to cook and I get a lot of cookbooks from friends and relatives. My maternal grandfather gave me a cookbook every year for my birthday until he passed away.”
Her latest cookbook is ABCs of Cooking, a parent-child activity book that is perfect if you have a young child who expresses interest in the kitchen.
Another thing you learn is that the secret of delicious Chinese food is in the sauce. To make a good one, you have to invest in three kinds of soy sauce (light, dark and thick — plain old toyo won’t cut it) and some bean pastes. Hwang says you can find these easily in any Chinese grocery or Arranque.
The difference between Fujian or Hokkien cuisine and other regional Chinese cuisines lies in its spices and seasonings. “Hokkien food is not spicy compared to its Szechuan counterpart,” notes Hwang. “It was fairly recent that it was recognized as one of China's great cuisines.”
The ABCs of cooking
Her latest cookbook is ABCs of Cooking, a parent-child activity book that is perfect if you have a young child who expresses interest in the kitchen. Hwang literally goes through the alphabet (“A is for avocado, B is for Banoffee pie…”) in presenting recipes that all kids love and want to eat, making it a fun, safe activity for both parent and child.
“The children's cookbook — some were recipes from when I was 13,” she says.
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Hwang, who also happens to be the barangay captain of Dasmariñas, Makati, also made a livelihood cookbook for her village.
“We compiled recipes from our workshops and printed it during ECQ and distributed it for free to all the residents,” she says. “We used to hold workshops on cooking and kasambahay would come and we would distribute recipes, do demos and food tasting for all.
“During the pandemic, we just printed it hoping they could still do it. I also printed copies and shared with other barangay captains in Makati for them to share with their respective barangay.”
The self-published author did another cookbook called What’s Cooking in Dasmariñas Village, which compiled comfort-food recipes from Dasma’s global residents. “We have international fare here, from steak and Indian food to Chinese food and Japanese food,” Hwang says. “Even the table setting was done by our residents. We were able to raise funds.”
While those were specialty cookbooks, I recommend getting Fresh Off the Boat from Fujian, where you can learn how to prepare a hotpot gathering and even a whole Chinese laureate, complete with Hot Sour Soup, Eight Treasure Chicken and Taro Sago — with no takeaway and delivery charge tacked on.
ABCs of Cooking and Fresh Off the Boat from Fujian/Fukien are available for P350 each at Shopee.