You Can Do These: NILAGA and PUTSERO

It’s the stock of jokes about kitchen klutzes*: she can’t even boil water, much less fry an egg!

When I left Manila to study in the USA, I hardly knew how to cook to save my life.  Mom was always there to prepare standard and favorite foods; in better times, there was a housemaid to do the chore.

In time, I learned to prepare my own sustenance, thanks to the vast collection of cookbooks in the university library, as well as private lessons from the Ates, wives of Filipino graduate students who lived in Married Student Housing.

There are two easy ulams that you can cook with very little effort: nilaga and putsero.  I am giving general instructions; it’s up to you to determine ingredient proportions for the amount of food you intend to serve.

 
NILAGA is just what the word implies: boiled whatever – beef, pork, chicken, or vegetable such as sweet potato shoots (talbos ng kamote), or whole elongated eggplants.

Step 1.  Ensure that the meat pieces are cut into serving-size pieces.  Wash, drain, then add enough water to cover, plus a quartered onion, a pinch of salt, and about 12 whole peppercorns.

Put a lid on your cooking pot, set it on High on the stove.  When the mixture reaches the boiling point, reduce the heat to Low and let it simmer until the meat is tender.

Step 2.  Take several layers from a head of cabbage, cut the leaves into serving-size pieces, and add to the pot.  Increase stove temperature back to High.

When the leaves turn bright green and they appear half-cooked, turn off the stove.

Step 3.  Taste the broth.  Add fish sauce (patis) until the liquid is pleasantly salty.

Step 4.  Serve your nilaga in a bowl, with a separate bowl of steamed rice (sinaing) and a small saucer containing patis and some lemon, lime, or kalamansi juice in your desired proportion.

 

PUTSERO is also easy to prepare, but has a few more steps and added ingredients.  Pork is the meat of choice, but you can safely use beef or chicken, too.

Step 1.  In a little oil, saute minced garlic, onion, and tomatoes.  Add the meat, already cut into serving-size piece.  Cook until the meat turns light brown.

Step 2.  Add fish sauce (patis), whole peppercorn, tomato sauce, and water.  Let the mixture boil until the meat is tender.

Step 3.  Add peeled and cut-up potatoes, peeled saba bananas, and drained garbanzo beans from a can.  Cook about 5 minutes.

Step 4.  Add leaves of cabbage and long beans (sitaw), both cut into serving-size pieces.  Cook for five minutes.

Step 5.  If you have it, add some whole baby bok choy.  Cover the pot and turn off the stove.  After 5 minutes,

Step 6.  Taste the broth.  Add fish sauce (patis) until the liquid is pleasantly salty.

Step 7.  Serve your putsero in a bowl, with a separate bowl of steamed rice (sinaing) and a small saucer containing patis and some lemon, lime, or kalamansi juice in your desired proportion.

———-
*Word Study: KLUTZ = a clumsy, awkward, or inept person

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Pritong PAMPANO, Vietnamese Style

Dumalaw ako kamakailan sa mga kamag-anak sa Chicago.  Isang magandang gawain kung bisita ka sa bahay ng iba ay ang magluto ng espesyal na ulam minsan o dalawang beses habang naroon ka.  Ang pinili kong ihain isang hapunan ay piniritong pampano, Vietnamese-style.  Ang recipe ay mula sa kusinera ng isang Asian restaurant sa San Francisco, California.
 
Siguradong papatok sa mga kasambahay ninyo ang malinamnam na lutuing ito.  Sa Chicago nga, hindi lang pinsan at tiya ko ang nasarapan sa putahe.  Mga kaibigan nila, ibang bisita, mga kasamahan sa trabaho ay tinuruan na rin nila! 
 
Kaunti lang ang sangkap ng putaheng ito, at napaka-simple ng mga hakbang; handa na ba kayo?
 
 
MGA SANGKAP
 

1 pampano, nilinis at may dalawang gilit sa bawa’t harap

 

1 bungkos ng talbos ng silantro 
 
5 kutsarang asukal
1 kutsarang tubig
1 kutsaritang patis 
 
 
MGA DIREKSIYON
 
UNA:  Banlawan nang 2 beses ang silantro.  Gupitin ang dulo ng tangkay at tuyuing maigi ang buong bungkos. Ibalot sa basang napkin at itabi sa fridge.
 
 
IKALAWA:  Gumawa ng arnibal na tamis-alat. Sa katamtamang init ng kalan, painitin sa maliit na lutuan ang asukal at tubig. Kapag  natutunaw na ang asukal, idagdag ang patis.  Haluin hanggang hustong matunaw at matimpla ang sarsa.
 

Tikman at i-adjust sa sariling panlasa ang tindi ng tamis-alat.  Kung daragdagan ng anumang sangkap, siguraduhing pakuluin ang bagong timpla.

 

 
IKATLO:  Iprito ang nilininis na pampano.  Hayaang maging medyo malutong ang balat.  Tuyuin ng napkin ang piniritong isda.
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IKA-APAT:  Sa malaking plato, ilagay ang isda, babawan ng silantro, at buhusan ng sarsang tamis-alat.   Tapos na!
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MAHALAGANG PAALALA:  Mas maiging maglaan ng isang isda para sa bawat kakain, at i-adjust ang ibang kasama ng putahe.  Ito ay para hindi “bitin” ang tanghalian o hapunan.  Siguradong maraming makakaing kanin kapag ito ang ulam, at walang matitirang isda  para sa pusa.  Promise iyan, hahaha!
Sa mga  susunod na blog:  Pampano, silantro, arnibal.