We are a family that lives to eat. We truly enjoy good food and savor the balanced and clean flavors and textures of a wonderful dish.
In Madrid, Spain, we had a Filipino restaurant for over 40 years called Sulú, an Asian catering company and a sushi factory. Now living in Manila, my sister Colleen and I have come full circle making Spanish chorizo.
As youngsters living in Spain, we were exposed to Filipino food from our mom, German food from our dad and the Spanish food that surrounded us.
We explored different cuisines and very eagerly developed our Asian palates through Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and Indian restaurants while living in Vancouver. A little later we were exposed to Cuban and Latin food while staying in Florida, United States. On our return to Europe, we lived the implosion and modernization of European food mixed with fusion tendencies and its molecular cuisine.
My friendship with chef Reggie Aspiras that spans three decades has added yet another dimension to my palate, our bond kept strong by our mutual love for food. As young adults in Spain and on a budget, eating out at our favorite Japanese restaurant, Mikado, was a treat. Together we explored many bars and restaurants and Reggie would indulge our late-night munchies with her famous pasta with caviar, which I remember as if it were yesterday.
Good food is everywhere, waiting to be discovered, be it in a simple bistro or a Michelin-star restaurant. At present, what I most enjoy are simple, traditional meals, where you can taste the quality of the ingredients. This type of food feeds our stomachs, but more importantly, fills our souls with love and fond memories.
Best ‘pancit luglug’
My mother was a very good cook. She was the type who never followed a recipe and cooked by taste. From the lightest, airiest ensaymadas filled with butter and cheese, to her empanadas or soufflés, roasts and stews, she could cook it all. She made the best pancit luglug I have ever tasted.
While living in Vancouver, my mom missed the Spanish chorizo she used in her Sunday cocido or pochero. This was when she taught me how to marinate and encase the pork mince that we would hang to dry for our family meals.
Regretfully, I stayed away from the kitchen and never learned some of her dishes, knowing full well she was a very hard act to follow. So I focused on learning dishes she did not cook.
My friends and their moms taught me to make the creamiest croquetas, traditional stews, paellas or pasta dishes. Whenever I cooked Sunday lunch when my mom got older, I would be very elated if she liked my dishes.
Below is a very simple lentil recipe, probably the last dish I cooked for my mom.
Lentejas con Chorizo
1 small green pepper
1 large white onion
1 whole garlic
2 laurel leaves
250 g lentejas pardinas
250 chorizo Pamplona
¼ c olive oil
1 can stewed tomato
½ tsp paprika
Salt and pepper
Cut the potatoes and carrots and soak in water.
Boil the lentejas just covered in water. After the first boil, skim off any foam. Add the chorizo, potatoes and carrots.
Chop the onions and green pepper finely.
Make a sofrito in a pan with the olive oil, onions and green pepper until cooked. Turn off heat and add paprika (either sweet or spicy). Pour sofrito into the lentils. Simmer for another 20 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and cumin. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste. —CONTRIBUTED INQ
The author and her sister Colleen moved back to Manila in 2012 with the idea of creating authentic Spanish chorizos locally; tel. 0917-5248270, @calidadespanola on Facebook and Instagram
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