Cooking with Neria
by NERIA SOLIMAN
A Filipino writer, journalist and author, Mr. Honesto C. General stated in his book ‘The Coconut Cookery of Bicol’ which he wrote in 2002, I quote “A BICOLANO RECIPE is never a strict formula as in nuclear physics. You are not going to blow up the world if you deviate from a recipe”. Your taste buds would be the best gauge to concoct your own version of any recipe.
Like Mr. General l too have written a book on Bicol cooking, titled The BICOL and FILIPINO RECIPES. This is my 1st book printed in 1986 in Legaspi City, launched during the Bikolandia Exposition ’86, a project conceived by thelate Dr. Damaceno J. Ago, Founder of AMEC/BCCM (Ago Medical and Educational Center-Bicol Christian College of Medicine) to showcase the growth of the Bicol Region in terms of culture and economy. Another printing was done during the 1st National Grand Bicolandia Festival in 1987 held at Manila Garden Hotel sponsored by then Congressman Luis Villafuerte of Naga City for the Penafrancia Foundation. In this prestigious event, I had the privilege to train the chefs of Manila Garden Hotel’s La Granja Formal Dining who prepared the recipes lifted from my book as the special dishes in this restaurant for the entire month of the festival. During this festivities, l met government and movie celebrities who traced their roots from the Bicol region and bought my books to savour the authentic Grandmother’s Bicol cuisine once again.
I have written a more extensive book on Bicol cuisine with inclusion of my Bicol dishes innovations titled MAGAYON, a Taste of Bicol and a Touch of Class. One of my objectives in writing this book where l traced the history of the Bicol Cuisine is to answer special requests of Balikbayan friends. The recipes found in the book have been compiled, tested and standardized while l was serving as Dean of the BS Food and Nutrition Degree and Department Head of the HRM Course (Hotel and Restaurant Management Course) in 2 colleges in Bicol. The standardized recipes were enhanced by further experimental cookery when l worked as Banquet Director and Food and Beverage Manager of Holiday Inn Mayon Imperial Hotel for 6 years. Soon after l ran my own restaurant in Legazpi City called DARANGAN Gourmet Restaurant, a SPECIALTY house serving INIHAW dishes using wild pig (upon) that thrive at the foot of Mayon Volcano. Same time that Ihaw- Ihaw and Sinugba eateries blossomed in Manila and other parts of the Philippines.
The book also served as souvenir for food enthusiasts and tourists, visiting the Bicol Region who treasure the taste of Bicol cuisine. Likewise, it is a cookery guide for young housewives and amateur cooks as well as a reference tool for students in the field of dietetics and food industry. Highlight of the book is the HISTORY OF THE PHILIPPINE AND BICOLANDIA COOKING. The book includes PUTAHENG PANG ORIDNARIO, PUTAHENG PANG SPECIAL which are GRANDMOTHER’S specialties from every province of the region which are unique, exotic, HOT and SPICY of course!
Below are 3 Authentic Bicol Recipes under the PUTAHENG PANG ORDINARIO or EVERY DAY DISHES lifted from my MAGAYON book
GINISANG PIGA SA LADA
1 c Piga nin Bataway (caviar) or fish eggs
1 c Native pepper cut crosswise
1/4 c Pork fat cubes
4 pcs Segments of garlic
1 c Onion
Salt to taste
Saute onion, garlic piga and pork fat in cooking oil.
When cooked add native pepper (washed to remove seeds and strained).
Add salt to taste.
5 cps Pork internal organs
5 cps Pork blood
1 c Vinegar
4 cps Coco milk
1 pc Big onion
1 pc Head of garlic
3 pcs Native hot pepper
5 t oil
1 pc Bay leaf
Cean the internal organs especially the intestine. Boil until cooked.
Cut into small pieces. Cook with vinegar, onions, garlic, peppercorn and bay leaf.
Let simmer and when dry add coco milk from tinutungan grated coconut.
Continue to cook. Add the blood little by little, stirring the mixture continuously.
Bring to a boil. Season with salt and cook for some more minutes. Add the natie pepper. Serve hot.
GULAY NA KURACKING SA LADA
3 cps Kuracding
1 c Perioles
1/2 c Thick coco milk
1 c Dluted coco milk
1/2 c Diced pork with fat or any bangot like tinapa
1/2 t Siling labuyo, minced
6 pcs Segments of garlic
Siling labuyo as desired
Remove the dark part of kuracding and wash. Drain. In a saucepan boil the diluted coco milk with garlic, pork and perioles. Continue to boil. When half of the mixture has evaporated, add the kuracding and cover the saucepan.
When the mixture is almost dry, add the pure coco milk as ‘psabat’ and the minced siling labuyo. Serve hot.