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)