Many years ago, at the Subic Bay Yacht Club where he was then a chef, Ed Quimson challenged me to try one of his offbeat creations: bagoong with mayonnaise, eaten with rice. Naturally, I was skeptical. That sounded more like a formula for hogwash than a dish that anyone would care to eat.
But to my surprise, it was not only edible, it also tasted good. It was like sushi, with the creaminess of the mayonnaise balancing the saltiness of the bagoong, and the both of them harmonizing with the blandness of the rice.
This sort of experimentation, I later learned, is typical of chef Ed, but what’s remarkable about it is that his ideas work, no matter how outrageous they may seem. Perhaps that may not be surprising, considering that he started cooking in the kitchen at the age of 5, side by side with his grandmother, Consuelo Tuason Quimson.
Later he honed his cooking skills in various restaurants, both in the Philippines and abroad. Today, chef Ed is master chef patron of M Fine Foods, a catering business which he runs with his associate chef Booj Supe.
This December, chef Ed will be preparing a buffet of festive dishes for Mandarin Oriental’s Paskuhan sa Paseo Uno food fest. This time, however, he has eschewed his wacky ideas in favor of more traditional recipes such as kare-kare, humba, kilawin and afritada.
Not that the dishes will be too familiar, however. In many of them, diners will still find the Quimson touch, a certain twist to the dish that makes it a tad more interesting. The binagoongan, for instance, is made with whole calamansi (he uses 15 calamansi for every three kilos of meat); the afritada is cooked with white wine as well as with “tons of onions and tons of tomatoes,” which he passes through a sieve to form a sauce (no canned tomato sauce for this afritada).
Then there’s the fried chicken, which he stuffs with young tamarind leaves before frying it whole in a pan. Equally remarkable is the lengua à la Julieta, tenderized ox tongue made more festive with slices of chorizo, Vienna sausage and olives. Another noteworthy dish is the special ham, which Ed cures himself. It has just the right combination of sweetness and saltiness.
For dessert, the buffet will offer pastillas de leche balls. To cook it, chef Ed says he uses pure carabao milk, which he stirs for six long hours until it is thick enough to become a soft, pliable solid. Flavored with dayap and rolled in sugar, it’s pastillas as the old folks would make them in Bulacan and Pampanga.
Likewise, the haleyang ube uses only the tuber (no extenders), stirred to thickness with evaporated milk and sugar.
A welcome change
Here’s one of the dishes to be served during chef Ed’s stint at Paseo Uno: paella tinola. Though it may sound intimidating, it’s really quite easy to prepare, and the novelty of this kind of paella will surely be a welcome change, whether you’re serving it for a weeknight dinner or for a holiday feast.
Paskuhan sa Paseo Uno will be part of Paseo Uno’s lunch and buffet offerings Dec. 5-18 at P1,473++ per person. Friday and Saturday dinner is priced at P1,950++ per person, inclusive of the luxury buffet of seafood and foie gras. Call tel. 7508888.
Ed Quimson’s Paella Tinola
¾ c vegetable oil
100 g (1 medium) red onion, chopped
100 g (1 medium) white onion, chopped
20 g (½ head) garlic, chopped
50 g (about 2 inches) ginger, cut into fine strips
1 whole chicken (1.2 k), cut into 10 pcs
1/2 tbsp rock salt
2 c dinorado rice (uncooked)
3 c chicken stock
200 g (1 small) green papaya, sliced lengthwise into serving pieces
½ c sliced button mushrooms
250 g (around 2 ½ medium) carrots, sliced into rounds
2 tbsp patis
1 c sili leaves
In a medium sized paellera (or a large, shallow round cooking pan), heat vegetable oil and sauté onions, garlic and ginger for two to three minutes or until onions are translucent and mixture becomes fragrant.
Add chicken pieces and season with rock salt. Sauté chicken until lightly browned, then remove from the pan and set aside.
Pour rice into the pan and mix well until the rice grains are coated with the oil. Pour in half of the chicken stock and continue mixing for about 1 minute, then use a sandok or a heat-proof spatula to arrange the rice evenly around the pan.
Pour in remaining stock then return the chicken pieces into the pan. Add the papaya, mushrooms and carrots, and season with patis. Let simmer for another minute.
Place sili leaves on top. Cover pan with foil (or use a pan cover) and simmer at medium-low heat for about 20-25 minutes or until rice has absorbed all of the liquid and chicken pieces are fully cooked.
Makes 4-6 servings.
Visit www.normachikiamco.com or facebook.com/normachikiamco, follow at [email protected]
Wipe chicken pieces dry with paper towels before sautéing them so the oil doesn’t splatter.
Instead of chicken stock you may use chicken broth. Dissolve two chicken broth cubes in three cups boiling water to make the chicken broth.
Don’t leave the pan unattended while the rice is simmering. If it becomes too dry, the rice could burn. Check every few minutes for doneness.