Sinigang, Burong Hipon, Pinakbet, Tinolang Manok, Arroz Caldo

2010/12/09 § Leave a comment

I woke up the other day to tiny snowflakes furiously blown hither and yon.  And I knew for sure that winter has come.

When it gets cold…I start dreaming of food from home.  There is nothing like steaming Sinigang na Baboy (Pork in Sour Soup) with the usual sawsawan of calamansi, patis and sili to warm ones heart and belly.


Burong Hipon with Mustasa.  Fermented Shrimp with Mustard Leaves.

This was a favorite dish of ours in Trellis.  This and the native mushroom soup with sili leaves, grilled squid stuffed with onions and tomatoes.  And sisig, of course. be young and in school again.   Trellis was our place of refuge after horrible recitations and failed exams.  It was somehow comforting to be surrounded by beer-guzzling intellectuals and activists in the dim, shaded , garden resto.  Perhaps it gave us a bit of perspective about life in general and the relevance of those grades.

Nevertheless, if good food and company doesn’t help, nothing can.


Pinakbet. The quintessential Ilokano dish.

This reminds me of my mom’s cooking and halcyon days in the province.  This dish has everything I like in food – contrasting flavors (the bitterness of parya, the sweetness of squash, the saltiness of pork) and textures (the crunchiness of parya and string beans, the softness of eggplant).  I cook it a lot in the US…even if it never tastes like my Mom’s.

I find though that good memories add wonderful flavour to anything.


Tinolang Manok.  This is the Philippine version of chicken soup for the soul.

The ginger infused and papaya flavored soup guarantees a good nights sleep.  Always.  And it makes a huge  difference when the chicken used is “native” as with the photo below of lunch in the province.  There’s just so much more chicken flavor than from commercially bred ones.  I could weather the freezing cold if there was steaming hot tinola soup waiting for me at home.


Arroz Caldo.  Arroz Caldo IS Christmas and New Year’s feast for me.

All my life, every year, for Christmas – we had arroz caldo.  I think it was because I had a grandfather who was sick and could only eat porridge-like food sometimes.  Or maybe because it was just easy to heat and to serve and everyone liked it.  Year in, year out….it was the one constant.  Until I told my mom, we should just have it every year.  And we did.  When my mom spent Christmas with me here in New York, she cooked arroz caldo for our Christmas eve dinner.  When I had to spend Christmas by myself, I cooked arroz caldo.  It is the simplest and least expensive of dishes….but holds a wealth of memory for me.

I would not trade it for the most luxurious food on Christmas day.

Wishing everyone a warm and happy holiday season!



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