Lasang Pinoy 2: Pritong Tilapia & Talong con Kamatis at Bagoong

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This post is for the Food Blogging Event: LASANG PINOY 2 – Cooking Up a Storm, food you associate with typhoons, hurricanes, or storms. I guess it is also noteworthy to mention here my very successful invitation to Mike of La Fang to join Lasang Pinoy 2. All I did was just show him the link to Lasang Pinoy 1 (hosted remarkably by Karen & Stef) and voila! He’s in! It’s also quite a feat to influence that busy guy to even start food-blogging by showing him my own amateurish blog. For a minute I really thought I must have been a successful salesperson in another life.

Would it be easy to remember those rainy days back home? Though much has been said about China’s rainy season for the past months which has led to serious flooding in the north-east and south of the country that I have been asked several times if we are ok here in Beijing, it’s interesting to point out that a typical rainy day here is way too tame compared to one back home. Still, I remember lots of food that I could associate w/ stormy weather but quite impossible for me to cook/prepare in Beijing. These are the following:

1. tuyo or dried fish combined with salted tomatoes – tuyo not being available here.
2. fried galunggong (mackerel scad) & monggo (mung bean) – galunggong not available here & w/ monggo… mike you beat me to the punch!
3. fried daing na bangus (milkfish cut lengthwise along the back but not breaking the skin) – aside from the fact that I am still looking for that fish here, it was already an entry last month
4. unripe (and sour) mango w/ [i]bagoong[/i] (shrimp paste or fermented salted shrimps) – mangoes oh how I miss my tropical homeland
5. hot chocolate made of tablea (chocolate tablets made from cacao beans) or kapeng barako (brewed coffee made of liberica bean variety) from Batangas (my mom’s hometown) – the closest here would be starbucks

Living at the nearest town south of the metro was a blessing for our family as we never encountered one of those disastrous typhoons, and hopefully never will. Memories are basically blissful moments w/ the whole family (not a big one) at home, playing cards (that would be pekwa as the only card game taught by our dad), scrabble, chess or games of the general (a board game/mental sport using pieces of military ranks) with all the cheating going on as we were illuminated only by a home-made lampara (cheezwiz bottle w/ a piece of cloth soaked in kerosene, one end protruding out from the cap’s hole & the other end inside the bottle dipped in kerosene) or candles. Pekwa, by the way, is a card game where a player must bring down a single card to complete a single or more deck/s of cards.

There was even an incident when the water from our fish pond (under the mango tree, please refer to this map) overflowed that the next day we kids had a good time trying to catch the fishes. I even fell on the pond & got a small cut from a fish’ sharp fin. Well, it’s a good thing my sis is here in Beijing right now for a 3-week vacation helping me w/ all these reminiscing.

Anyways, I know for a fact that when it was raining back home, it’s always a ritual for mom or dad or even us to cook something easy & dry that you could use your hands while eating (such as the above). Kamayan style. Reason for this is the brownouts synonymous w/ typhoons. So what I will share here is really simple & uncomplicated that makes me wonder if there is a need to discuss the procedure. Chow that you can prepare under minimum lighting – pritong tilapia & nilagang talong w/ kamatis at bagoong or fried tilapia & steamed aubergine w/ raw tomatoes & sauteed shrimp paste. It is also interesting to note that tilapia is bountiful after a storm in my hometown. The nearest lake is overflowing that this fish is really cheap but just watch out… for the meat is bland & tastes like lupa (earth soil). Hahaha

2 big tilapia (slice thru the meat on both sides)
salt & pepper
3 tbsp of lemon juice (or calamansi)
1 (or 2) big & long aubergine (maybe more as you wish)
1 large tomato, sliced
shrimp paste (back home I prefer the wet market’s pink alamang but here I have to use my favorite kamayan pate de crevettes rissoles sent to me by my sister)

Sprinkle the fish w/ salt & pepper, & brush it w/ the lemon juice. Set aside for about 15 minutes. Make sure that the cooking oil is hot before frying the fish. Cook it over medium heat & never overcook it. Crispy is nice but I believe this fish tastes better when the meat is juicy, not too dry.

When you are about to steam rice, place the aubergine on top of it. It will eventually be done once the rice is cooked. Then transfer the aubergine in a platter & press/platten w/ fork. Mix w/ raw tomatoes & shrimp paste. You may wish to saute the shrimp paste w/ garlic, onions & tomatoes separately. Use patis or fish sauce if you wish instead of alamang or even salt for those who are allergic to seafood.

There is no water like rainwater; no strength like one’s own; no light like that of the eyes; and no wealth more dear than food grain. – Chanakya (Indian Politician, strategist and Writer, 350 BC-275 BC)

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I am not a professional cook. My only claim to having a culinary background is a short stint as my dad’s teen ‘sous chef’ in his carinderia ages ago. Dad ran small eateries since I was a young kid - serving standard ‘turo-turo’ food ranging from the likes of menudo, adobo, pritong isda, dinuguan, binagoongan, bopis, munggo, pinakbet and giniling to merienda fares like goto, ginataan, pancit bihon, halu-halo and saging con yelo.

My father, a farmer in his hometown before working his way to becoming an accountant, definitely influenced my cooking in a lot of ways than I thought. My siblings and I were raised in a backyard full of fruit trees and vegetable garden. We spent weekends and the summer breaks running around with ducks, chickens, goats and pigs. I had wonderful memories of gathering eggs, butchering chickens, selling vegetables and the sweet aroma of preserved fruits. But my love for art led me to a degree in Architecture. Just few months after getting my license, I went abroad and lived independently at age 23. Definitely no maid, no cook, and a totally different food culture. Along the way I met lots of friends and spent what seemed a lifetime learning new tricks and recipes.

Now living in Auckland, I am a work-from-home mum who juggles time between work, fun and family - in pursuit of work-life balance. No matter how busy I am, I love the idea of cooking for my family. My blog chronicles home cooking greatly influenced by life outside my home country from Southeast Asia to Beijing and Auckland. And most of the time, being busy also means easy (sometimes quick), affordable meals.

7 thoughts on “Lasang Pinoy 2: Pritong Tilapia & Talong con Kamatis at Bagoong

  1. Oh my, fried tilapia’s my favourite! Indeed, it’s so gratifying to eat hot fried and steamed food with you bare hands. Hmmm… Thanks for joining Lasang Pinoy 2, Iska! :-)

  2. I agree! Eating fried tilapia with your hands is the only way to get all the good stuff out of the head… yum! I have never cooked eggplant with the rice before… so ingenius! Love it with bagoong balayan (sometimes if it eat to much of it my lips start getting itchy, but that never stops me)

  3. Tilapia will alway be my favourite fish as it is not as matinik as the others. Sulit pa sa bayad . . . hehehe. I like it fried most of the time Ka-is, remember how i used to hate ‘basang isda? And the eggplant too! Must try this one sometime. Yum!

  4. Oh, my favorite, too! Great tip on the eggplant on top of the rice. For the longest time I thought you can only cook the eggplant by grilling it over a fire, as that’s how my lola did it. Didn’t know you could also boil it, now steam it! Thanks

  5. i really thought everybody knows how to steam talong together w/ rice! :) i’m glad i was able to share something new…

    yeah mike, i remember. this one’s for u!

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