What special food means | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

INIHAW with Acharang Bongga
INIHAW with Acharang Bongga

We’ve been spending our Sundays at the home of Bryan and Jenny Dy. Bryan is a martial arts aficionado who gathered a group of young boys (their sons Joshua and Joaquin, the Ong brothers, the Tycangco boys with my son Diego) to learn jujitsu.


While the boys are in the gym, we chat away in the morning while putting finishing touches to our respective dishes that we bring—when the boys are done training.


The best ‘makut,’ so far


Two Sundays ago, Jenny cooked the most delicious makut (pork rib shoulder) soup. I have tried makut before but Jenny’s, so far, is the best for me. It’s simple and clean, yet has a deep and complex flavor.


I asked for her recipe and Jen gladly obliged. In fact, she was overly eager! The recipe she sent came with her name, perhaps to make sure that credit goes to Jenny “Leechiu” Dy.


The secret to her makut, she says, is the quality of the pork. It must really be fresh pork rib shoulder. Just tell your butcher that you need pork for makut, and they should know which part to get you.


Another secret is to boil the pork twice, so the broth tastes clean. And use only good quality fish balls. The fish balls we had were soft like mamon which melted in your mouth. Delicious! The brand is Li Chuan Singapore fish balls, available at Jash Mart along Wilson St., Greenhills (though Jen’s father-in-law buys their stock of it somewhere in Manila but couldn’t quite remember the name of the store).




The week after that, we had liempo, cut ½-inch thick, bone-in, skin on, seasoned generously with sea salt and lots of fresh, coarsely cracked black pepper. We left the liempo to marinate for no more than three hours. Marinated longer than that, the salt will dry the liempo out.  After grilling, we served it with a typical ensalada of tomatoes, red onions and coriander, salted eggs and acharang bongga from Zamboanga, given by another co-parent, Carousel Mariano.


‘Acharang bongga’


Acharang bongga (Chabakano for betel nut) is perfect for just about anything grilled or fried. According to its maker, Evelyn Falcasantos, it was her penchant for the bongga as an appetizer that drove her to produce it. In 2003, she found a supplier who sourced raw materials from the wilds. She also took note of the preparation of the betel nut as being a very tedious one.


Betel nut achara belongs to a class of its own. It looks different, tastes distinct, has a unique texture and bite. It’s as smooth as puso ng saging with an ubod-like bite, a bit sweet and sour. It was a welcome addition to our meal. It took the cloying away, allowing us to eat even more than we should.




We also discovered that there was another good cook in the group by the name of Jecelle Chung Tycangco, who was not going to allow Jenny shine alone. She brought gising-gising served over tinapa rice. Delicious! She, too, did not hesitate to share her recipe.


Lately, all the cooks whose food I have enjoyed immensely say the same thing: “Our food is nothing special.”


I strongly disagree! To me, special is whatever makes people happy. And for a couple of Sundays, I have been just that: happy.


Jenny “Leechiu” Dy’s ‘Makut’


1 kg makut (pork rib shoulder)

4 bulbs of onions

8-12 pcs good quality fish balls

1 radish, sliced

2 Tagalog pechay

2 L water


Boil water and drop the makut for 10 minutes


Drain the makut and rinse to remove excess blood


Boil water again, then drop the onions and makut


Cook until tender


Gising-gising with Tinapa Rice

Once tender, add the fish ball and season with salt


Add radish


Add pechay just before serving


Jecelle Chung Tycangco’s



½ k Baguio beans, sliced ¼ inch

About 5 pcs siling sigang, sliced thinly

4-5 pcs siling labuyo (depends how spicy you want it)

4-5 tbsp Dizon’s Regular Bagoong

1 c coconut milk first extraction (kakang gata)

1 box coconut milk second extraction

¼ k coarsely ground pork

1 whole garlic, chopped

1 onion, chopped

½ tsp grated ginger

4 large shallots, sliced and fried till crispy

Patis to taste

Vegetable oil


Sauté garlic, onion and ginger in oil


Add bagoong


Add ground pork and cook till no longer pink


Add second extraction coconut milk


Add the beans, siling labuyo and the bird’s eye


Add coco milk, first extraction


Season to taste with patis


Top with fried crispy shallots


‘Tinapa’ fried rice


1 whole smoked tinapang bangus, flaked

1 whole garlic, chopped

2 whole green bell peppers, chopped

Patis to taste

5-6 c day-old white rice


Stir fry garlic with oil


Add bell pepper


Add tinapa flakes and cook for about 1 minute.


Add rice, 1 cup at a time to the tinapa flakes and mix well.


Season with patis.


To order Acharang Bongga, call Evelyn Falcasantos at tel. no. 0917-7112535. Since she’s shipping it from Zamboanga, it’s best to order them by the boxful.

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