After a visit to Anvaya Cove last week, where my husband gave a speech for Ayala Land Inc., we stopped by Royal Duty Free Shop in Subic.
On the shelves, I spotted a familiar can: Ox and Palm corned beef. This corned beef has been my favorite since I discovered it through my friend, Milette Orosa, now based in Australia and whose family corporation has been the exclusive O&P export agent to the Philippines since 1994.
The Ox and Palm corned beef in Subic, however, had a slightly different label: It’s flavored with Tabasco pepper sauce. It is hot and spicy, which is how some people like their beef.
According to Milette, this variant is manufactured by H. J. Heinz in partnership with Tabasco. After all, what self-respecting corned beef aficionados wouldn’t want to try a new variant of their favorite canned meat?
The variant might as well be Tabasco, since this pepper sauce has its own followers.
At first bite, one detects the Tabasco—this corned beef is seriously hot. Despite the permeating heat, the beef manages to retain much of its integrity—the tenderness and juiciness derived from grass-fed Angus cattle that were raised in the green pastures of the Wagga Wagga region in New South Wales, Australia.
It also has the right amount of fat, the way we Filipinos like our corned beef.
As if to challenge me to try this spice fest, Milette sent me a whole carton of Ox and Palm’s Tabasco-infused corned beef.
Challenge accepted! I came up with a recipe for corned beef tacos, since tacos have a reputation for spiciness, too.
When I told Milette about the recipe, she seemed pleased. A member of the illustrious Orosa clan, she counts among her relatives Maria Y. Orosa, a chemist and humanitarian who developed the now iconic banana ketchup, and other healthy recipes.
Maria was the older sister of Milette’s father, Jose Y. Orosa, who was president and general manager of H. E. Heacock’s Department Store. He was one of the first Filipinos to head an American-owned company.
Other relatives include National Artist for dance Leonor Orosa Goquinco, art critic Rosalinda L. Orosa, banker Sixto L. Orosa, and Ramon S. Orosa, the first Filipino president of Citibank.
How Milette got into food export is a long story. She says she once dreamed of being a pianist.
While O & P’s corned beef with Tabasco is available only at Subic’s Royal Duty Free Shop, there are plans to distribute it in Metro Manila.
Hot Corned Beef Tacos
2 cans (11 ½ oz. or 326 g each) Ox and Palm corned beef with Tabasco Pepper Sauce
1 tbsp cooking oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium or 3 small tomatoes, diced
2-3 tsp taco seasoning (available in supermarkets)
6 taco shells (store-bought)
½ cabbage, sliced into thin strips
2-3 c sour cream
2-3 c salsa or taco sauce (available in bottles in mild and medium flavors)
Flake the corned beef to separate the beef into strands. Heat the cooking oil in a skillet then sauté the garlic and tomatoes. Add the flaked corned beef and season with taco seasoning. Continue sautéing until corned beef becomes slightly dry. Transfer the corned beef to a strainer and press the beef to remove excess liquid.
Heat the taco shells according to package directions. Fill each shell with the corned beef. Top with cabbage strips. Serve with sour cream and taco sauce. Makes about six servings.
Since it contains Tabasco pepper sauce, this variant of Ox and Palm corned beef is spicy. To balance the heat, serve it with sour cream.
You may also want to serve it with salsa or taco sauce. Choose one with a mild or medium flavor.
A good beverage to serve with this is a lassi (a drink made with yoghurt and fruit). The yoghurt cools the palate and gives the taste buds relief from the spicy flavor. A fruit smoothie would also be a good choice of beverage.