Lasagna with chunks of meat and button mushrooms simmered in rich herbed tomato sauce, seasoned to sit easy on the Filipino palate, with a hint of sweetness; layered alternately with béchamel and topped generously with cheese; all these in between thin, delicate sheets of home-made pasta that literally melts in your mouth.
This is what Imelda Go has to offer, among other things. Her chicken potpie with chunky chicken, mushrooms and root vegetables is another.
In a landscape where food has been made extremely complex, Imelda has succeeded in keeping it simple. Her offerings, which also include cakes, are easy to eat, devoid of frills.
They say there are two things that take people back in time-music and taste. Imelda’s lasagna reminds me of what household kitchens churned out when the Hotdog Band was all the rage. If Hotdog was synonymous with Manila sound, this lasagna is synonymous with the taste of Manila in the ’70s. Imelda’s food harks back to the bygone era. (Call Magic Kitchen at 0917-8900623 or 0917-8485228.)
Imelda also owns Chef’s Nook for oriental ingredients.
A few years ago, I wrote about the Perfect Cooker, a contraption that is a pressure cooker but so much safer.
It cooks everything so quickly and can be used for just about any food preparation—rice in 5 minutes (how many times have we forgotten to cook rice and the food is just about to be served, or how many times have we, in the middle of a party, run out of rice?); softens callos to jiggle-y consistency in more or less 45 minutes; also sinigang, nilaga, stews in half the time if not less.
Tips to using it successfully: Remember not to water your food down, as liquid hardly evaporates in it. So it’s best to keep water or liquid at the same level as your meats, except for rice, of course, where the standard water-to-rice ratio applies.
Another trick to compensate for the shortened cooking time is to put the cooker on meat setting to heat the pot, then brown your meats first before adding your liquid.
It has become such a handy tool for me, especially when I teach and time is of the essence. I suggest that if you like cooking but hardly have the time to slow-cook, consider the perfect cooker.
A new shipment has arrived, and the cooker now comes in two versions to choose from—with the classic dial or the digital type. (Call Gilbert or Chris at 0918-9595959 or 0917-8424140.)
Here’s one of my favorite sinigang recipes, which cooks perfectly on the perfect cooker. Plus, a Nonya Paella!
Sinigang na Baboy sa Bayabas at Piña
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 k liempo, cubed
2 pc onions, quartered
4 pc tomatoes, quartered
¼ k native guava, ripe, peeled, seeded, quartered
2 c water
2 c sampaloc water (1 c unsweetend ripe sampaloc pulp plus 2 c hot water, mix until pulp separates from seeds, drain)
2-3 pc Serrano chili
200 g sliced fresh pineapple, adjust according to sweetness. I like just a hint.
¼ k Chinese kangkong, washed and snipped
Whole black peppercorns
Heat oil. Brown liempo. Add tomatoes and onions and cook until tomatoes, onions, guavas are soft.
Add tamarind water plus enough water for liquid to be at the same level as the meat. Add pineapple, peppercorns and chilies.
Put perfect cooker to meat setting. Follow perfect cooker instructions on opening and closing the lid.
When done, check if meat is fork-tender. If not, put back lid and put the cooker to chicken setting. Setting will depend on how soft the meat is and how long you think you still have to cook it.
Season with salt and patis, to taste. Before serving, add Chinese kangkong. Serve with dipping sauce.
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp garlic
1 tbsp chopped leeks
1 tbsp bagoong Balayan
2 tbsp patis
¼ tsp pepper
2 tbsp calamansi
1 Thai chili
Heat oil. Brown garlic. Add the rest of the ingredients off the fire. Serve with sinigang.
(Not exactly a paella since it will be cooked on a perfect cooker and not a paellera, but nonetheless, delicious!)
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 c liempo, sliced into thin strips
4 Chinese sausages, sliced
10 shallots, peeled
4 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked and sliced
½ c shrimps
4 c jasmine rice, uncooked
6 c stock
4 tbsp light soy
1 tbsp dark soy
1 c sliced cabbage
Heat oil and brown liempo to chicharon consistency. Add Chinese sausage, shallots, shiitake, shrimps, rice, stock, soy sauces, pepper. Cover and put on rice setting.
Follow perfect cooker instructions on opening and closing the lid.
Garnish with fried shallots, coriander stalks, fresh red Thai chilies
Serve with chili sauce (sriracha works well) and Kecap Manis (dark sweet soy sauce available at SM, Rustan’s, Unimart and Lolita’s Farmer’s Market)
For my new cooking class schedule, call or text 0917-5543700, 0908-2372346, 4008496 or 9289296.