Sarsiyado and Sangkutsa

One of the first dishes I learned to cook is sarsiyadong isda.   I was about 11 years old when I learned to make it and, boy, did I cook it often!

First I fried pieces of fish such as lapu-lapu, dalagang bukid, or pompano.  (If your choice of fish has scales, make sure those are removed.  After frying until slightly crisp, set aside to drain.)

Then I sauteed:
* sliced onion and diced tomatoes
* enough water for some token sabaw, and
* some patis to taste.

When the veggies look wilted, I added the fish and simmered everything until heated through.

Then I added two beaten eggs, stirring until the curdles were well incorporated into the sauce.  That’s it!  Easy enough for an 11-year old wanting to dabble in the kitchen.
Until yesterday, I thought sarsiyado was derived from salsa (sauce).  Leafing through a Spanish-English dictionary which I consult often for a summer class, I chanced upon salteada, meaning “sauteed” (fried quickly in a little hot fat).

Note that I sauteed the onions and tomatoes, to which all other ingredients were added.  And that is why my dish was called sarsiyadong isda.

Now, repeat after me: salteada, SARSIYADO,  salteada. SARSIYADO .

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

And now for sangkutsa.  I often heard this word from my mother, who hails from Nueva Ecija.  She always emphasized that when making tinola, the chicken  has to be sangkutsa-d until the animal juices “sweat” from the chicken parts, thus making a sauce.  That done, water and the vegetable ingredients (pieces of green papaya or sayote) can be added.

My mother also noted that all meats, when sauteed in whatever seasoning, need to be sangkutsa-d for optimal flavor extraction.  An example would be sauteeing pork, chicken, or beef for afritada.
Reading a feature on Colombian cooking in an old issue of Food & Wine magazine, I happened upon a recipe for sancocho.  It was another AHA! moment for me, because I’ve long wondered where-in-Heaven my mother’s sangkutsa came from.

Turn out, sancocho is the ultimate comfort food in Colombia.  Foodie Nancy Cabrera says it’s such a beloved dish in that country, that it is served at every party.  One can safely bet that there are versions of sancocho in many parts of Latin America.  The recipe probably came to our shores via the Galleon Trade.

If you want to learn how to prepare it, just Google “South American sancocho.”  My personal assessment is that it is quite similar to our putsero, since it includes a variety of banana.


Let’s Go PALEO

The word “diet” is often associated with short-cut efforts at losing weight.

In truth, diet is plainly the collection of food and drinks that a person habitually eats.
A diet can be good or bad. One might be eating a bad diet that could result in diseases such as diabetes, stomach ulcers, or whatever. To remedy certain ailments, a diet might be prescribed to help a patient regain good health. For example a diabetic could be given a diet with minimal sugar, as it is harmful to that person’s health.

PALEO DIET has received much attention in recent years. Unlike fad diets intended to help people lose weight (often without the accompanying exercise), the paleo diet recommends a way of eating to promote good health.

Paleo is derived from “Paleolithic Age,” a pre-historic period when there were no written records of life on earth.  Humans during paleo times used tools made from stone, which is why that period is also called the Stone Age.

The Stone Age began 2.7 million years ago and ended about 20,000 years ago.  Philippine history has a Stone Age period in the Tabon Man, who is said to have lived in a cave in southern Palawan around 47,000 years ago.

Another term used for paleo eating is “caveman diet,” because humans during the paleo period lived in caves; they didn’t have constructed homes. They obtained food by hunting and gathering; their diet consisted of wild plants and wild animals.  They did not plant crops or take care of animals; those practices arose during the subsequent Neolithic Age.

The diet of hunter-gatherer paleolithic humans consisted of wild food: grass-fed animals, birds, fish and other seafood, eggs, insects, roots, nuts, berries, fruits, and vegetables.

Current diets cannot be truly paleo because modern agricultural practices include:
* feeding grains and additives to cattle, chickens, etc.
* raising fish and other seafood in aquaculture farms,
* commercial cultivation of crops (which use artificial
fertilizers and pesticides).

Still, we can try to go paleo by selecting grass-fed beef, organically raised chicken and other birds, wild-caught fish and other seafood, eggs from chemical-free fowls, insects, nuts, berries, fruits, and vegetables.  Also recommended are fermented foods (atsara!), tubers such as sweet potatoes (kamote!), coconut oil, and others.

What are some “no-nos” in a paleo diet?  Avoid legumes and grains (yes, that includes rice), dairy products, refined sugar and salt, and processed oils — all products of large-scale agriculture, which developed during the Neolithic Age.



Iyong salitang matsakaw,  parang Intsik ang tunog, ‘di ba?

Dami ko nang ni-research na mga salitang tungkol sa pagkaing Intsik, mga putahe nila, at iba’t-ibang sangkap.  Hindi ko makita ang anumang relasyon sa matsakaw, iyong medyo matamis at malutong na day-old tinapay na bina-bargain sa mga panaderia.

Mali pala ang tinitingnan kong kultura!  Kahapon ay inimbita ako ng isang kaibigan na mananghali sa restorang Mehikano.  Habang binabasa ko ang menu, napansin ko ang isang putahe nila, machaka.

Wow, ika ko sa sarili.  Ito na siguro ang sagot sa matagal ko nang hinhanap na pinagmulan ng matsakaw!


Ang machaca ay hiniwa-hiwang piraso ng karneng baboy o baka, tinimplahan ng iba’t ibang rekado, at iniluto nang matagal sa hurno.  Sa ganoong paraan, pwede itong i-imbak nang matagal.

Kapag kailangan, ang machaca ay sinasariwa sa kaunting tubig, hinihibla-hibla, at isinasahog sa pagluluto ng maraming putahe, tulad ng taco, burrito, enchilada.  Madalas as igini-gisa ito sa sibuyas at inihahain kasama ng pritong itlog.


Hindi ba, kahawig ng matsakaw sa panaderia natin
ang machaca ng Mexico?

Rub the coffee mixture all over your pieces of meat.


Karne Norte

Bakit nga ba tinawag nating karne norte ang corned beef?

Ang corned beef ay karneng baka na inimbak sa pamamagitan ng pag-aasin.  Isang paraan ito sa pagtatago ng pagkain bago naimbento ang refrigeration.

Ang salitang corned ay mula sa kurnam, Aleman para sa “maliliit na buto ng anuman.”  Ilang halimbawa ay ang sumusunod:

buto ng trigo                = wheatcorn
buto ng barley             = barleycorn
buto ng paminta         = peppercorn.

Sapagkat ang uri ng asin na gamit sa pag-iimbak ng karneng baka ay kasinlaki ng mga nasabing butil, ito ay tinawag na corn of salt, at ang resultang produkto ay tinawag na corned beef.

Bakit dalawang hugis ang lata ng corned beef?

Iyong medyo kwadrado ay para sa madaling pagsa-salansan sa knapsack ng mga sundalo.   Mula pa noong World War I, kasama na ito sa mga supplies sa giyera.  May kasama itong susi na pambukas, para hindi kailanganin ang abre-lata.

At kung bubutasan ninyo ang kabilang dulo ng binuksang de-lata, madaling maidudulas palabas ang karne.  Sa ganoon, pwede itong i-slice tulad ng nasa larawan sa kaliwa.

Corned_beef     About the Product:

Iyong bilog na lata ay para sa pambahay na gamit.  Ito ay madaling buksan ng abre-lata, at karaniwang iniluluto bago ihain.


Ngayon, balikan natin ang tanong:  bakit ito tinawag na karne norte?  Alalahanin natin na sa Pilipinas lang gamit ang pangalang ito; hindi sa Espanya, Mexico o iba pang bansa sa Latin America na nagsasalita ng Kastila.

Ang sagot ay natagpuan ko sa isang miyembro ng  Noon daw Digmaang Pilipino-Amerikano (Peb. 4, 1899 – Hulyo 2, 1902), kabilang sa supplies ng mga sundalong Amerikano and de-latang corned beef .  Ang bansag ng mga Pilipino sa nasabing pagkain ay karne Norte Amerikano.   Pagkaraan ng ilang panahon, at hanggang sa kasalukyan, pina-igsi ang pangalan at naging karne norte  na lang.


Kung interesado kayo sa istorya ng ating bansa, i-search ninyo ang:
Philippine-American War
Battle of Manila (1899)
Campaigns of the Philippine-American War.







ROTI JALA … Jalajala, Rizal

Note:  In AtoZFoodnames, I am on a quest for the origins of food names, specifically Philippine food names.  Knowing that our beautiful islands were settled by waves of migrations from Indonesia and Malaysia during pre-Spanish times, I have been comparing food terms from those two countries with words in Philippine cuisine.  Sometimes I find surprising similarities, as in the English eggplant (terung in Indonesian, talong in Pilipino; frying pan (kwali–>kawali), and goat (kanding–>kambing).

In today’s blogpost, I digress a little bit from the above pattern of inquiry.  I couldn’t resist the AHA! moment that came with linking the name of a Malaysian pancake with the name of a fishing town in Rizal province.

While surveying a list of Southeast Asian food, I came upon an interesting snack called roti jala.  That’s Malaysian for “net bread.”  These lacy pancakes are popular during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.  After sunset, vendors set up temporary stalls from where they sell roti jala and various curry dishes: favorite food pairings to help the faithful break their fast.

The pictures below show how they’re made and how they’re served.  The roti jala serves as “spoon” and accompaniment to the saucy curry.

Pan Gravy Kadai Curry: Stuffed Lacey Crepes

Roti Jala (Net Pancake)

Let’s move now to Philippine geography.  South of Manila, in the province of Rizal, is a municipality named Jalajala.  It sits at the end of a small peninsula that juts into Laguna de Bay.  Driving around the area years ago, I remember seeing a directional sign on the highway; it showed an image of a fishing net with the inscription “Jalajala—>.”

Image result for map rizal province

Information on the municipality presents two theories on the origin of the name Jalajala One says that Jalajala was derived from the plentiful halaan (clams) on its shores.  The second theory says that the name Jalajala was derived from the swine breed Berkjala, which was native to the area.

Image result for coat of arms jalajala rizal

Jalajala’s coat-of-arms shows a pig on the lower portion of the flag.

Would you listen to my own third theory on the origin of the name Jalajala?  First, you need to re-examine the map shown above.  Notice the name of the northernmost town in the province of Rizal?  Yes, that’s Cainta.

Cainta has a large population of Indian settlers.  In 1762, soldiers called sepoys were brought to the area by the East India Company.  The British were anticipating war with the Spaniards in the Philippines (because in Europe at the time, the Anglo-Spanish War was being waged). When the British decided to withdraw their troops, the sepoys mutinied and decided to stay.  They married local women and started an Indian community in Cainta.

This is why the cuisine of Cainta is different from those of surrounding towns; the distinctive Indian influence is noticeable in their dishes.  They make curry dishes and Indian breads (generic name roti).  The roti jala in their language, as we learned at the beginning of this post, translates into “net bread.”

I am betting that the sepoys gave the word jala (“net”) to the name of the town down the road, the town surrounded on three sides by water, the town where fishing is the logical means of livelihood, the town where there are fishnets a-plenty, the town that was named Jalajala.


If you do a Google search on the word tinapay, among the results will be “bread” from  You will also see images of various kinds of bread.

If you do a further Google search on the word bread, Wikipedia will tell you that bread is a staple food prepared — usually by baking —from a dough of flour and water.

My interest in the root of tinapay began when I learned that the word was included in the first Western record of the Cebuano vocabulary, written down by Antonio Pigafetta in 1521.  Pigafetta was a Venetian scholar and explorer who sailed with the Magellan expedition and visited some Visayan islands.

According to Pigafetta’s notes, the Old Cebuano word tinapai meant “rice cake.”
In, Jessie Grace U. Robrico points out that the old Cebuano tinapai has evolved into puto and bibingka in modern Cebuano.  This makes sense: indeed, in the whole country today the generic names puto and bibingka  apply to cakes made with rice, whole or ground.

Our word puto is believed to be derived from puttu of Kerala, India.
Our bibingka comes from Goa, India, where a sweet rice cake was called bebingca. These words probably came to our shores via contacts with Indian and Portuguese traders.

Puto, as we understand it today, generally applies to rice cakes made by steaming fermented rice batter.  Have you noticed that putong puti has a yeasty taste to it, hinting that it is quite panis (fermented)?  This is accomplished by soaking the rice overnight with a sourdough starter which spreads its flavor into the whole batch and also serves as a leavening agent.

Puto in banana leaf.jpg
Putong puti baked in banana keaves. The slightly sour white
often accompanies a stew that has a sauce of pork blood (dinuguan).
Puto kutsinta, another type of rice cake.

In the early history of Maritime Southeast Asia there was a staple food called tapai. These were fermented pastes made with starches such as cassava or rice.  Very likely, Indonesian settlers brought this food to our islands, and those rice cakes were what Pigafetta saw, and he was told that they were called tinapai.

I have yet to find out the linguistic principle behind the formation of some Pilipino words which indicate process, as in the following examples.  The  -in  is inserted in the original term, which could be borrowed from another language:

dendeng               dINengdeng
guiling                  gINiling
ihaw                      INihaw
kilaw                     kINilaw
pangat                   pINangat
singgang               sINigang
tumis                     tINumis
tapai                     tINapai

By Midori in
Vendors in modern-day Indonesia still sell slightly alcoholic (that is, fermented) tapai, which can have either a sweet or sour taste.  They may be eaten as is, or with certain dishes.  

Indonesian tapai are now called puto in the Philippines, where tinapay applies to any kind of bread made from wheat flour.


Some readers might think that I mis-spelled the title of today’s post, and say that I probably had azucena in mind… You know the frangrant tuberose flower which is generally used to make funeral wreaths in the Philippines.  Said plant is native to Mexico and was probably brought over by the galleons that plied the Manila-Acapulco route from the 1500s to the 1800s.

Tuberose flower.jpg
Azucena, polianthes tuberosa


I really do mean to write ASOCENA.  It is a compound word: aso (Pilipino for “dog”) and cena (Spanish for “dinner” or “evening meal”).  Together, the two words stands for any dish prepared with dog meat.




A Cable News Network (CNN) correspondent in Asia reported last week that Taiwan has banned the consumption of dog and cat meat on the island.  This is said to be a step up from a previous regulation prohibiting the slaughter and sale of dog and cat meat.  The amendment specifically forbids people from eating the meat of said animals.  Fines for non-compliance amount in the thousands of dollars.



In the Philippines, Republic Act 8485 (The Animal Welfare Act) was enacted as far back as 1998.  It then became illegal to slaughter dogs and cats for personal of commercial trade and consumption, except when done as part of indigenous religious rituals.  Enforcement of the law has been sporadic; local and foreign animal rights groups have many times publicized the sorry lack of observance of RA 8485 in many parts of the country.

Following the lead of Taiwan (as shown in the above newsflash), might the Philippines begin yet again to enforce the law?   After all, the country is somewhat expert at copying foreign practices.


The consumption of dog meat happens in the Philippines for a number of reasons:

  • Regional practice.  In the Cordillera Mountain area of northern Luzon,  eating dog meat can be as common as eating pork.  It started started with ritual slaughters in Ifugao and Benguet:  tribes used to sacrifice dogs before battle, hoping that warriors would become as fierce as dogs.

    Over time, the practice continued despite the fading of the rituals.  In the cold-weathered uplands, people believed that dog meat imparted a warm feeling in their bodies.A number of adjacent lowland provinces, such as Pangasinan and Pampanga,  have began to adopt dog meat consumption.

    “They cook it adobo-style, sauteed with garlic, onion, and laurel leaf, seasoned with soy sauce and vinegar.  This is the favorite appetizer during drinking sprees,” wrote one blogger.

  •  Peoples’ desire to sample exotic fare.  Adventurous tourists, local and foreign, will sometimes try dishes from unusual meats.  Ever heard of  The Carnivore restaurant in Nairobi, Kenya?  It boasts of serving ostrich, crocodile, and camel meat dishes among the more common meat offerings.

    In the same spirit, an out-of-the-way eatery might feature limited servings of dog meat for the “shock value” of offering taboo meats.

    File:Dog meat hotpot.JPG
    ( dog_meat)


  •  Lack of protein sources.  Unscrupulous people round up stray dogs for slaughter and sale to any takers.  This is not a common occurrence, but it happens.  For the most part, dogs (and cats) are not widely considered as food animals in the Philippines.

    Still, John M.  wrote in 2010:  “… dog meat is a source of protein.  Not as much as other meats, but it’s there… Dressed dog meat sells for around 65 pesos per kg.  at the palengke in Cagayan.  If you are poor, compare to the price of other meats, and it becomes a cheap source of protein.

    Where does our word ASO come from?  Instead of looking at word translations in many dictionaries, I consulted a website on dog care,  The Dog Breeding Information Center.   I found the word for “dog” in more languages than I ever imagined.  The list gave me a glimpse of relationships between languages.

    Our word aso is expressed in other tongues as:

  • Asu (in Tetum, which is spoken in Timor; in Tola Batak, spoken in northern Sumatra; and in Javanese, spoken in Java)

    Marco Samson of San Francisco State University wrote in a 2010 research paper that Indonesians were the first to introduce dogs into the Philippies.  It goes without saying that their word for the animal would carry into the local language.

  • Cho (Vietnamese).  This is intriguing.  There is very little similarity between the Philippines and Vietnamese languages, but it is interesting to listen to aso and cho.
  • Achu (in Kuna, spoken in Panama and Colombia)South America is across the Pacific Ocean from the Philippines, so this presents yet another curiosity.  Aso, achu… two similar sounding words from regions separated by a wide expanse of water.


How do you say “dog” in your dialect or language?

Greek and Roman “Restaurants”

In an earlier post, I wrote:

So, where did the word restaurant come from?
This eating establishment, as we know it today,
originated in Paris, France in the 18th century.


This is not to say that there were no restaurants before the establishment of bouillon houses in Paris.  If you will re-read the above words, I qualified my statement about restaurants with the words as we know it today.


Long before the French Revolution, there were already food establishments that could pass as fore-runners of fast-food shops.

In ancient Greece and Rome and in other areas where their cultures spread, there were thermopolia (places where something hot is sold) in the centers of town.  The typical thermopilium had counters with sunken areas for large vessels that held food for sale. These food-selling establishments were the fore-runners of modern “to-go” restaurants.

Citizens — often the poor who didn’t have facilities for cooking in their small dwellings — bought what we may now consider as take-outs, or fast food.

By Aldo Ardetti at Italian Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0


A year ago, I had the good fortune to visit HERCULANEUM, a Unesco World Heritage site under the shadow of Mount Vesuvius.  Our Mediterranean cruise took us from Rome to Athens, Greece and then to Istanbul, Turkey, with the last stop being the Campania Region of Italy, where Naples, Herculaneum, and Pompeii are located.

Herculaeum was named after the Greek divine hero Hercules.  The seafaring Greeks used it as trading post due to its proximity to the Bay of Naples.



At around 1 pm on August 24, 79 A.D., Mt Vesuvius erupted after a dormancy of 800 years.  The map below shows the extent of the damage wrought by the eruption.

The first pyroclastic surge, formed by a mixture of ash and hot gases, went over the town of Herculaneum at the speed of about 100 miles per hour, burying some buildings, causing limited damage in some and preserving certain structures.

Excavations from 1927 to 1942 exposed about four hectares of the ancient city in the archaeological park that is visible today.  Many public and private buildings are yet to be excavated.  However, because Herculaneum is situated right below the volcano, it is in constant danger of being buried again in ashes.  Vesuvius, after all, is a very active volcano.

Our tour guide said that property owners have been offered compensation by the government if they would move out of the area, but there are few takers.


Herculaneum is located on the coast of the Bay of Naples, an area known for fertile land, bountiful fishing grounds, and mild winters.  Garum, a fermented fish sauce (PATIS!), was one of the primary exports of the area.  It was used as a dressing for many types of Roman food, including pasta.

The homes of ancient Herculaneans had small kitchens (culinae) with portable stoves.  They didn’t do much cooking; fresh produce was brought in from the agricultural areas, and prepared hot food was purchased from thermopolia in many intersections of town.

Rumah Makan, Etc.

When you first saw the title of this blog post, were you able to figure out the topic to be discussed?

RUMAH MAKAN is Indonesian for restaurant; strictly translated, rumah means “house”
and makan means “food,”  therefore, “house of food.”

I was so excited to read — and understand — signs of  various establishments when I visited Yogyakarta in Java and Ubud in Bali many years ago.  Sekolah is “school,” buka means “open,” rumah sakit is “hospital,”  etc.  The discovery of similarities in Philippine and Indonesian speech made me realize how intertwined our cultures are.  We have similarities in physical features, vocabulary words, cuisines, and other aspects of culture.

When I looked up for this article the Malaysian word for restaurant, this is the answer I got: restoran.  In Tagalog, it was restawran.


So, where did the word restaurant come from?  This eating establishment, as we know it today, originated in Paris, France in the 18th century.

The French Revolution of 1779 to 1789 triggered the decline of absolute monarchies and replaced them with republics and liberal democracies.  Feudalism was abolished:  nobles and the clergy lost their powers.   Aristocratic society was dismantled, throwing in disarray the system of privileges and dependencies.

Chefs de cuisine (literal translation: heads of the kitchen), who used to run big kitchens in palaces, lost their jobs.  One of these expert cooks opened an eating establishment where he served bouillons restaurants (meat-based soups  intended to restore a person’s strength).

Bouillon, in French cookery,  is a soup prepared from broth.   The noun is derived from the verb bouillir, meaning “to boil.”  What is boiled?   Diced vegetables, herbs, and the bones of beef, poultry, shrimps, and vegetables, alone or in combination.

(Nowadays, we can make short-cut bouillon soup by putting into boiling water a small cube of concentrated seasonings that impart the taste of chicken, beef, or vegetables — the wonder of the modern food technology!  Just add some vegetables and pieces of meat.  Voila, you have soup!)

The first restaurant had several tables and a menu, or a list of dishes.  The tables were covered with cloth, and food was served in nice bowls with accompanying tableware, signifying the common person’s new-found ability to dine  as only the rich and powerful used to do.


To be continued.
The restaurant has a looong, interesting history.

Two Norwegian Words: HLID and KNIFR

Do you solve crossword puzzles?  To me it is a welcome 15-minute jogging-for-the-mind in the morning.  It’s both challenging and educational; I’ve learned many words while doing this form of mental exercise.  As you fill in the horizontal squares, for example, some words you might not know start forming on the vertical spaces.

The word LID captured my attention today.  Its clue called for a three-letter word for “can cover.”  After writing niece for  “female relative”  in a nearby horizontal area, I easily came up with lid as the answer for “can cover.”

Lid also means “a removable or hinged cover for closing the top opening of a pot, jar, trunk, or other container.”  The word came into use around the year 1000 A.D.  It’s traceable to the Old English hlid, which has the same origin as the Dutch and German lid, and Old Norse hlith, meaning “gateway.”
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++Old Norse was a language spoken around the 9th to the 13th centuries by inhabitants of Scandinavia and their overseas settlements.  The areas covered are modern Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland.

In Pilipino, our word TAKIP means more than lid; it has a wider application, as in cover. A survey of Austronesian languages, to which Pilipino is related, reveals no obvious connection; note tutup in Indonesian and Javanese, and tudung in Malay.   The Maori word taupoki seems closer to our takip… but that’s for a linguistics expert to settle.

KNIFE is another culinary term of Norwegian origin.  The online etymology dictionary defines the noun knife as a “handheld instrument consisting of a short blade and handle.”  The same source says that the word is from the Old English cnif, which is probably from the Old Norse knifr.  I find it interesting that the modern word seems to be closer to the older source.

Our word KUTSILYO is derived from the Spanish cuchillo;  this is a footprint of the colonization of our country.

Question:  why do we use the Pilipin-ized version of the Spanish term, when our Malay and Indonesian brothers (with whom we share a longer history) refer to knife as pisau?

Blogger Jessie Grace U. Robrico writes in 
that Pigafetta, who travelled with Magellan to Limasawa and Cebu, made a list of local terms for various objects.  Among the words in his list are two Old Cebuano words for knife:   capol and sundan .

In another site  (, a Cebuano blogger notes that Pigafetta described a bladed weapon — now called a kampilan — which LapuLapu was said to have carried.

The photo below shows a kampilan and a shorter weapon called a kalis.