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 .
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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.