Naked Lunch and Side Comments

Don’t get excited! There’s nothing remotely pornographic on this post hehehe.  Even with the sun bearing down with all it’s might (on the verge of  30° C- when I started writing, but shot up to almost 35, no wonder I am wilting), having a meal in your birthday suit is totally off putting! Although as a baby, I think there was a time I ate chocolate cake with just nappies on – very convenient for moms; hosing down a sticky baby is fun and fast work.

Naked lunch just meant lumpiang sariwa (veggie roll) eaten minus the rice flour wrapper.  In an earlier post about lumpia, I didn’t get to post a pic.

This is not to be confused with lumpiang ubod, which has strips of coconut palm heart as filling and wrapper made out of eggs and flour, like an eggy crepe, or Chinese lumpia (comes close, though). We mostly use Baguio beans - as we call it, since it mostly comes from the Philippines’ summer (cooler climate) capital and namesake but they’re known as green beans or snap beans elsewhere; carrots, cabbage and any veggie fit to julienne or dice.

My brother drove home from Baguio, bringing us a gorgeous bunch of broccoli (we had this steamed, seasoned with salt and pepper) , the plumpy beans, a big head of cabbage and carrots sooo bright orange-y you’d swear you could see the (super natural, anti-oxidant and anti-carcinogenic power of) beta carotene positively pulsing.

We have sayote and the letsugas Tagalog (local lettuce) in the fridge and fresh veggies need to be cooked soonest to get the most sweet and crunch out of ‘em, so lumpia it is! The rice flour wrapper for this has to be bought freshly made -it was a Sunday and the wrapper maker is observing his day of rest - so we had to go without.   Lumpia gone nekkid (just a lil bit hokey poke y’all)!

I had to take this picture outside in the sweltering heat but the sun shone fiery bright the lumpia paalat sauce I drizzled over the sautéed veggies glared and shimmered I couldn’t bring out a clearer picture. 

I asked mom how to make lumpia.  As usual, she was vague about the recipe, not because it is a secret but she’s been making it so long she’s probably sleep cooking (like sleepwalking -you’re asleep but you are not falling downstairs either).  

Anyway this much I got out of her: you have to cut veggies according to type, thickness and time needed to cook and sweat them.  First she sautéed (in a big wok) crushed garlic and put in soy sauce and a little water.  Then she put in diced camote (sweet potato), stirred a bit so the garlic is on top, and won’t burn.  Then in went the diced carrots.  No stirring, no lid, just sweating the veggies.  When the carrots paled a bit, it was time to put in the Baguio beans over it.  She puts the veggies in layers see, longer to cook ones at the bottom of the wok. Real colorful, too.  When mom put the cabbage shreds on top, the veggies looked like a madam with lurid make-up and wild mop top hehehe.  Bits of raw tofu, a seasoning of salt and pepper, and quick stirring were the last stage.  You can use a bit of  achuete water or oil (annato) for more color. 

Then she made paalatalat is Tagalog for salty so I don’t get why the sweet sauce is called paalat which means “to salt”.  The sauce is made with cornstarch, water, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and soy sauce.  You cook it till it thickens.  Some likes a thinner sauce but I don’t like it runny.  Thicker is more flavorful, I think.  This paalat pic is on the thin side because the rest of the family likes it that way.  I like to float lots of fresh garlic in it and when you eat it there's a nice zing to the sweet.  I put the veggie filling on a lettuce leaf, rolled it, dipped the lot in the sauce and crammed it into my mouth.  I looked good eating it, I’m sure.

And then there was a raid! My nephews came and we needed extra food, stat!  We all like lumpia and we know there won’t be enough. When the veggies were cooking there seemed to be a ton of it in the wok.  When it was done, major shrinkage! We called a distant cousin to order pancit Malabon.  His late mom was able to pass on her secret recipe to his wife and sadly, she (the wife) would be one of a handful of  relatives who were able to learn heirloom recipes. The new generation tends to cook more continental dishes.

Christmas and fiestas when the oldies were still living meant eating a much-anticipated specialty of the house. Lola (grandma) Naty makes the best morcon (beef roll filled with cheese, sausage, beef fat, pickles, red pepper and carrots in a lip smacking good gravy – my absolute favorite that no one else makes the way she does); chicken pastel (chicken meat with green peas, hotdogs, celery, carrots, sweet peppers in a creamy sauce) and halayang ube  (sweet yam). The other two lolas lay claim to menudo (pork meat with carrots, sweet peppers, a tomato sauce base, green peas, raisins, pineapple and liver); caldereta (same ingredients as menudo except its olives instead of raisins, liver paste instead of the bits; and real coconut cream and spices and finger chilies added to the rich tomato base); and tinumis (a thin soup dinuguan, where whole blood is cut up and cooked with innards whereas dinuguan’s soup base is liquid blood boiled thick with vinegar, never stirred.  It is kinda gross to watch the prep so I stay away from the kitchen when mom makes this.  I prefer it ready to eat.  Sooo goood, though!

I’ve tasted pancit Malabon everywhere else and they’re all good in their own way.  Pancit Malabon’s sauce base is actually palabok but can’t be confused with pancit palabok  (so they say) which orange (color from achuete) sauce is kind of similar but thinner – owing to shrimp, garlic and smoked tinapa or dried fish flakes whereas pancit Malabon has fried pork lard, pork fat bits, tinapa flakes, shrimp, squid, mussels, and oysters...yep, all that! Shredded cabbage, boiled eggs and garlic are standard. This is why pancit Malabon is quite expensive.  Worth it though. The rice noodles in pancit palabok  are also thinner.  

This one of my late Tita (aunt) Ilay is a little different, much simpler without all the seafood extravaganza (though they could do so on request) and tastes of garlic, dried fish, chicharon (crispy pork rind), shrimp (i remember her telling me once, the juice from crushed shrimp heads give better flavor) and calamansi.  I can’t eat seconds of the typical flavor heavy pancit malabon but this I could eat a whole Styrofoam full if I don’t watch it.  It has a “cleaner” taste somehow, not at all cloying.  Our house guests always tell us they prefer Tita Ilay's pancit and that they come visit only because they want some, the meanies! Tita Ilay used to have a store where you could watch her cook (closed when the lot it was on was sold).  What I remember most is the crunchy, browned to a crisp nugget of pork in rendered fat ladled over hot noodles, before everything else went in to the bowl. Her daughter in law’s version is close to the original but not as great as hers. Even so, I had a third helping (sigh).

My nephews have been biking and I’ve been painting our house (yes, finally) and mom hasn’t done her marketing so heartier appetites meant scouring the fridge for leftovers.  What we came up with are a few stragglers – some crabs hehehe.  

A friend’s visit to her Zamboanga hometown yielded a gift of aligue (crab fat) in a bottle.  Unbranded, home made and (according to mom et al., I am allergic to seafood) just heavenly.  Or should I say, seafoody?
Like my friend Ruth told me, it takes a lot of crab to get that much fat so it’s good as gold when you get a bottleful, free! Rich, thick, and so..crabby tasty!  She said a dash of calamansi kicks up the aligue flavor a notch but some would have it with vinegar too.

My mom also made good use of leftover Indian mangoes (now there’s a prolific tree) by turning it into buroBuro is any fruit or vegetable soaked in brine (salt and water) to preserve it, for  a salty-sour side dish, like the Italian salamoia (pickled olives).  The  mango halves were left to soak in the brine (in a capped jar) for three days at room temperature (our downstairs is cellar cool and dark). It later  developed a frothy, white film, which disappeared when I saw it next, in the fridge.
When mom took it out to eat with the aligue and crabs, it was a golden yellow hue.  I had a hard time fishing it out of the bottle with a fork (small opening, slippery mango) that I made tine marks on it, like plowed hills at sunrise!  I like this picture hehehe.

Still, there wasn’t enough food. Man, were we that hungry? Mayday! So I brought out the garlic butter (homemade) smeared baguettes (buy one take one at Shopwise) – I always have an ice cream tub full for emergencies.  
I made a salsa of tomato wedges, fresh basil (picked from the pot), red onions with lemon juice, white wine, salt, pepper and chili flakes whisked in a bit of canola oil (ran out of olive oil).  My nephews love this, with hot sauce. We downed bottles of Coke with the meal and finished with some leftover cinnamon muffins (bigger version of the babies I made before).   Finally, we are thankfully full.  

The next day, I went out to for halo halo (translation: mix mix) at Crisostomo at Eastwood Mall.  
Real chunky sweet banana slices, lots of sweet beans, pinipig (young rice flakes), corn, a big teaspoonful of yam, equally generous bite of leche flan (custard) and other delectable flotsam in a tall glass of milk and ice shavings 
and 30 degree heat be dammed (not a typo: cursing in print not allowed.  Fits just as nicely, doesn’t it hehehe).  
No ice cream needed, though Crisostomo is famous for “dirty” ice cream (so called because it is peddled on the streets, in wooden carts.  Home made you sometimes get a nice bit of rock salt; the ice cream scooped from metal canisters surrounded by crushed ice).  I rather like halo halo the old fashioned way.

P.s.  Of course I am still playing with my food.  Still working with the cam phone and trying my best to take nice pictures, so thank you for noticing and letting me know.  Two were even professional photographers who said I should be one, too! I am flattered, thank you!  I am just writing and taking pictures and hopefully being helpful (just click the links). Thanks also to Mae, who said she loves the way I write.   Also thanks to simple mom Riz! Love your support!
To people who are interested in the beadwork posted last time, you can call Gakuya at (02) 632-1311 from 10am to 7pm : )
To order and other pancit details call (02) 2880109.


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