#FoodMemories: Sinaing na Tulingan
MANILA, Philippines - If there is anything that makes me most passionate about food, it is the wave of memories that come with it. It speaks intimately of my personal history, takes me back to my youth and brings me great comfort and joy.
I can go as far back as when I was 5 years old, when my father would tag me along to Nepa-Q-Mart in Cubao and Cloverleaf in Balintawak. If onions were cheap, he would buy a sack! If potatoes were cheap, he would do the same!
Every Saturday morning, he would cook the viand he had a craving for; that was part of his weekend relaxation and recreation. I recall a slaughtered goat and him cooking calderetang kambing (spicy braised goat) in a huge kawa (round bottom deep pan) over wood fire at the vacant lot next to our house in the suburbs.
I remember always requesting for my favorite dish from my mom, what I think is like kinamatisang baka — beef sirloin slow-cooked in onions and lots and lots of native tomatoes. My other favorite is her homemade tocino (cured pork), which was unlike the neon pink-fuschia pork that we see in groceries today.
My mother’s adobo is something I inherited. She has a cooking secret which makes it so good that my friends look for it, ask for it, beg for it! It’s the adobo that prevents my husband from philandering. As what he always says, “Magugutom ako sa piling ng ibang babae (I will go hungry in the arms of other women)."
My parents’ Tagalog roots in Batangas and Quezon remind me that simplicity can offer the most enjoyable of experiences. My sister and I absolutely love sinaing na tulingan sa palayok (skipjack tuna cooked in claypot), fried to a crisp for breakfast. It is best eaten with fresh tomatoes or hot kapeng barako (Liberica beans native to Batangas) on rice.
I make my own sinaing na tulingan sa palayok the way my maternal grandmother used to make it. I still have a vision of her terra cotta pot sitting quietly at the back of the house, embers patiently cooking the fish all day long, while we, her grandchildren, were playing in the garden.
Memories like these are perhaps the reason why I cook and why cooking is among my expressions of love.
I would like my sons to have a cache of their own food memories that they can look back to with fondness, comfort and joy. Our dining table is a reminder of God’s abundance…of countless stories told over lunch…of celebrations made over dinner both big and small…of halakhak (loud laughter) and kantyawan (irreverent teasing)…of the love that binds us all.
Here is how to make Sinaing na Tulingan sa Palayok
You would need:
- 2 kilos medium-size tulingan (skipjack tuna)
- Small square of banana leaf, enough to cover the bottom of your palayok (clay pot)
- 2 bunches of unripe sampaloc (tamarind), washed and cracked
- ½ c sea salt
- Pinch of pepper
- Optional: ¼ kg of pork fat, sliced into thin strips
1. Slit fish midway on both sides and press to flatten
2. Line bottom of palayok with 4 to 5 pieces of fish, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and top with pork fat and sampaloc
3. Add another layer and repeat
4. Add water until fish is covered
5. Cover the palayok and place it over hot coal until the water evaporates. A similar process can be done with a regular pot and a gas or electric stove over low heat, but the result will lack the subtle smokiness of charcoal.
6. Cook until a little liquid is left at the bottom. This is called patis ng isda (fish sauce).
Serve with fresh, chopped tomatoes and fish sauce over hot, steaming rice.
Leftovers may be fried to a crisp for breakfast and served with a generous helping of garlic fried rice. - Rappler.com
Cooking is one Marie Pascual's biggest expressions of love. She is a high-ranking executive in a retail company on weekdays. On weekends, she cooks up a storm for the 3 men in her life: her husband of 21 years Emi and her two college boys Jam and Miggy.
It is this same passion and curiosity that takes their family to places that are not normally included in a traveler’s itinerary.
Marie is a regular contributor to Appetite Magazine. Her food blog www.kitchenkitchiekoo.com is currently undergoing renovation so she can share more of her flavor adventures.