Monthly Archives: November 2008

Afritada, Nueva Ecija Style

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I did not not realize that there were certain dishes I grew up knowing and liking that weren’t really popular as I thought them to be until some friends told me delightedly that those fares were as uncommon as hail falling down in Baguio. Those dishes are hand me down gastronomic delights from my lolas who’ve had the most intense affair with cooking.  Off hand, I can think of three dishes that are extremely rich in flavor but are virtually unknowns, these are: calandracas (a one-pot wonder of beef stock, beef cubes, macaroni, potatoes, veggies and chorizos), afritada (nueva ecija style) and another nueva ecijano dish, tinumis.

It’s been sometime last I cooked afritada, Nueva Ecija style. Ah, how I loved hovering in the kitchen when I was a child watching my mom whip up this dish. As you know, the typical afritada uses the regular tomato sauce plus spices to boot. In fact, instant sauces have become too handy that stewing has almost been forgotten. The Nueva Ecijano version does away with using tomato sauce. The glaring difference in the ecijano version is the fact that they make the meat into adobo first before they turn it into afritada. Typically, too, the potatoes you throw into your regular afritada just boils along with the whole dish without giving much flavor. In this version, these tubers are fried to extract the savory taste of it. Indeed, It is ‘labor of intense love’ in its truest meaning because nothing here is instant. 

The final product leaves you guessing what ingredients made flavors that left you asking for more.  Anyway, to cut to the chase, here goes my recipe, Afritada, Nueva Ecija style!

1 kilo pork pigue, chopped into cubes

4 pcs medium-sized potatoes, quartered

1 medium-sized red bell pepper, julienned

3 cups of water

bay leaf

atsuete

bay leaf

3/4 cup vinegar

5 cloves of garlic

1 and a half tablespoons patis (fish sauce)

6 tomatoes, chopped

1 onion, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

method:

1. Put meat in a pan with 5 cloves of crushed garlic, salt, pepper, vinegar and water. Midway into the cooking, drop in the bay leaf. Simmer on slow fire until meat is turned into adobo. Set aside.

2. Meantime in a small bowl, soak about 3 tablespoons atsuete in a half cup of water.

3. In a separate pan, saute garlic, tomato and onion (in that order). The tomatoes should be stewed until thin in consistency. Put in red bell peppers. Simmer some more then  throw in the adobo. Season with  patis. Pour in strained atsuete water. Set aside.

4. In another separate pan, fry quartered potatoes until golden brown.

5. Mix in the fried potatoes into the afritada.

Serves 6

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Great Eats

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the author and sam during the event

the author and sam during the event

My stomach couldn’t be happier earlier today as it happily digested great food that kept me giddy the whole day. I was invited to a gathering of bloggers over at the Hotel Intercon sponsored by Skycable. They re-introduced their newest product digibox that promised a whole new experience for the Skycable subscribers.

The guests were treated to a feast of sumptious dishes with oohs and aahs audible from each table for the great eats.  The appetizer buffet was simply a sight to behold.

egg mimosa with asparagus and sesame seeds

egg mimosa with asparagus and sesame seeds

chicken fricasse in creamy white wine sauce

chicken fricasse in creamy white wine sauce

The main dishes just had the ‘melt-in-your-mouth’ factor. The chicken fricasse had the subtle hints of tomato and parsley incorporated into the creamy white wine sauce.

potatoes fondantes braised in chicken broth

potatoes fondantes braised in chicken broth

The succulence of this potato  dish can be attributed to the chicken broth. I’m reminded of the mashed poatoes I make from the potatoes of my ‘nilagang manok’. It’s my favorite sidedish for my ‘nilaga’. The taste of the potatoes boiled in chicken broth is absolutely far tastier than when its boiled in plain water.

braised porkloin knuckles in soy sesame

braised porkloin knuckles in soy sesame

 This dish is no different from ‘humba’ or ‘paksiw na pata’ as I grew up knowing it. I love it extremely tender and falling off the bones! The fat from the knuckles has a chewy texture and bursting with unforgettable flavor.

 

 

pan-seared tanguigue with lemon butter sauce

pan-seared tanguigue with lemon butter sauce

The lemon and butter just had a perfect marriage for this dish without the lemon overpowering the butter and vice-versa.  The tanguigue pan-seared perfectly, maintaining its natural juices and tenderness.
 

Parmesan Crusted Pangasius

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I was pleasantly tuned in to my foodie mode when I decided to do the cooking earlier today. I scoured our freezer for a potential lunch superstar and got myself a pack of pangasius fillet. This type of fish predominantly originates from the Mekong River in Vietnam and is now enjoying immense popularity in certain European countries like France.

The fish is branded as the new “darling” of the aquaculture industry as demand for this type of fish is growing by the day. Considered as a “white fish meat” Pangasius is served in a host of restaurants that are both classy and regular. Its meat is used as main ingredient for frying, baking or grilling.

Over at my kitchen today,  I decided to make my parmesan crusted pangasius fillet. I just seasoned my fillet with salt and lathered it generously with coursely chopped pepper and squeezed into it some lemon juice. I then dipped the fillet into 1 beaten egg before I coated it with japanese breadcrumbs that I combined on equal proportions with my parmesan cheese. Then pan-fried it for four minutes on both sides. Chopped the fillet into finger sized strips. Voila! It is THAT simple to make. If you want to make your plating more attractive, you might want to put a bed of asian salad on your plate then top it with the fillets or bed it with creamy mashed potatoes.

Btw, a coupla times I’ve been asked  about the secret to a crunchy, tasty, golden-brown colored fillet. There is actually quite a number of recommended methods in coating or breading meats. Personally, I like breading my fillets with japanese breadcrumbs (cheap and readily available in your favorite supermarket). I dip the meat in  well-beaten egg then I coat it with japanese breadcrumbs, I press it lightly to make it compact  then I let it stand for about three minutes before I pan-fry it.

If you want it crunchier and more heaviliy breaded, you might want to dip again the previously coated meat in the beaten egg then coat it again with the japanese breadcrumbs. You may substitute the japanese breadcrumbs with your regular flour or even cornstarch although the texture is not as crunchy.

Meantime, make sure your oil is hot enough for frying. The moment you throw in your meat in the  pan, immediately reduce flame by about thirty percent to avoid burning the meat and prematurely cooking it. On the other hand, make sure you are not underheating your pan or else your breadcrumbs will disintegrate and flake out from the meat.