As the youngest in the family, I was the last on the list to be asked by my mom to cook. I remember I wanted my folks to at least let me wash the rice before steaming. So if my memory is correct I was about 9-10years old when my Dad helped me through my very first experiments – mostly stir-fried vegetables like ginisang repolyo at kung anu ano pa, chopsuey and pakbet (assorted stir-fried veggie recipes and mixed veggies with fermented anchovies). I didn’t get them all perfect the 1st time. I tend to overcook the veggies but my dad is a patient man telling me tips like which one should go 1st or what should be done to get rid of ampalaya’s bitterness. And that was the start of it all. Sometimes we would all try to figure out how to cook a dish that nobody in the family knows of.
I watched all the cooking going on, my bro and sis with what they already knew and my mom with her Batangas cuisine featuring… tadahh! Basang isda galore (sinaing, sinigang, paksiw, etc.) and bulanglang. And who would have thought I would learn a lot from Dad’s carinderia? Menudo, bopiz, adobo, dinuguan, giniling, bistek, etc. Mind you, it’s not your typical carinderia. It was more of a hobby than an income-generating business venture. Dad served home-style.
So going back to the basics, here is a recipe for what must be the easiest of them all – bulanglang. So easy any 10-year old kid could do. There’s only one type I know and it is the way my mom cooks – Batangas style. I found out that in other parts of the country they do it differently where in the vegetables are sauted with onions and garlic and flavored with bagoong and fried fish. Mom’s bulanglang is very simple where the main ingredients are boiled crisp and the result is a nutritious vegetable soup that is refreshingly pure and delicious. Perfect to be served alongside anything fried especially for our family who couldn’t be happy with a dry meal.
When we were kids, usually most of the ingredients were freshly plucked from dad’s garden like bulaklak ng kalabasa (flor de calabaza or squash blossoms), dahon at bunga ng malunggay (moringa leaves & fruits) and wild mushrooms. Beijing spring denies me a large number of tropical veggies that I would love to cook so I just decided to have sitaw (string beans) and mushrooms (oyster mushrooms, I believe) as main ingredients. One may have unripe papaya, chayote and squash in addition to those already mentioned. Use your judgment in combining vegetables to obtain an attractive color combination that suit your taste as well. I definitely like string beans, malunggay, mushrooms and squash blossoms.
a bowl of string beans, cut about 2 1/2 inches long
a bowl of wild mushrooms, juliened
a piece of crushed ginger about the size of your pinky finger
1 medium-size shallot, cut into halves (optional)
Add the ginger and shallots to a pot of boiling water (about 5-6 cups of rice stock). Season with salt and bring to a boil. Add the string beans and mushrooms and continue boiling for about 2 minutes or until the string beans are cooked al dente. Serve hot alongside anything fried – be it fish or meat. I served mine with fried leftover dumplings.
If you don’t like ginger, this one is for you. I would love to let my son give me a helping hand for Lasang Pinoy 8 but I couldn’t think of anything I would let him do in the kitchen. I believe he is still too young to handle a knife but of course he’s more than happy to do a number of things like set the table, bring all the dirty dishes back to the kitchen sink, wash the vegetables (and pour water all over as he plays kitchen). So for his contribution to LP8, here is the 2nd part of his jingle. The 1st part is here.
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