To honor our 93-year-old mom, Amparing, and all mothers in the family, my sisters and I prepared a feast of Filipino comfort food.
Since I’m a mother, too, I tried not to stress myself out in the kitchen. We asked one of our favorite home cooks, Baby Vilches, to whip up her delicious kare-kare, adobo with mashed liver sauce and mixed pancit with Chinese sausage.
My mom’s sister, Charito Sambile, brought our favorite lumpiang ubod to add to the spread.
While we ordered most of the mains, I still couldn’t help but add a few easy-to-cook dishes.
With a batch of flavorful imbao, I cooked a simple yet tasty clam soup.
1 k imbao clams
2 tbsp oil
5 slices ginger
1 large onion, sliced
1 tbsp garlic, pounded
4 stalks lemongrass, bruised and tied together
6-8 c water
Dahon ng sili
In a pot, add oil and sauté onions, ginger and garlic for 5 minutes (till fragrant). Add the tanglad and the clams.
Add water and whole peppercorns and bring to a boil. Season with sea salt (brings out the best flavor for this soup).
Finish with malunggay and dahon ng sili. You can add green chilies, too, if you like it a bit spicy.
I also cooked suahe.
3 k live fresh suahe
Water, enough to submerge the suahe
4 slices ginger
4 pc coriander with stems and roots, snipped into 1-inch lengths
1 small leek, sliced
½ c Chef Reggie’s Aromatic Seasoning Wine or Shaoxing
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
Sesame oil for drizzling
Bring water to a boil. Add the rest of the ingredients.
The secret to cooking perfect suahe is to ensure that the water has been on running boil at least 7 minutes before you add the shrimp, and that you cook them for no more than a minute—or until the shrimps change color.
Strain. Drizzle with sesame oil. Garnish with fresh coriander. Serve with dipping sauce.
1 tbsp hot peanut oil
Red chilies, seeded and thinly sliced, to taste (optional)
4 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp Chef Reggie’s Aromatic Seasoning Wine
2-3 tsp sugar
1/3 c shrimp water (suahe cooking liquid)
¼ c spring onions
2 tbsp chopped coriander with stems
1 tbsp sesame oil
Salt and pepper
Heat oil until smoking. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and pour hot peanut oil over it. Season to taste.
For dessert, I ordered kakanin and buko pie from Astoria Plaza, whose rice cakes are traditional with modern tweaks—a perfect blend of old and new.
The finished products were worthy of praise. The mouthfeel of their offerings was refined, smooth, with a delightful chew and just the right sweetness.
My personal favorites:
Ube Espasol—a rice cake made with glutinous rice flour, sugar and coconut milk. Astoria’s version had sprinklings of dessicated coconut and ube jam.
Kalamay Hati—glutinous rice flour, coconut milk and muscovado sugar were cooked for hours until a sticky consistency was achieved. The sticky sweet delicacy was capped with latik and langka for extra texture and flavor.
Ube cassava cake—a layer of halayang ube is cast over a mixture that consists of sweetened grated cassava (kamoteng kahoy) and coconut milk. Before baking, the treat was topped with custard and grated cheese.
Buko pie (my new favorite)—inspired by a Tagaytay speciality, Astoria’s version had a crisp, buttery crust with a filling of young coconut and coconut custard. It had slivers of ripe jackfruit. The pie was topped with streusel for an extra layer of flavor and texture.
I will remember this year’s Mother’s Day celebration for our desserts.
Aside from kakanin, my niece Maureen Ferrer brought a box of floral cupcakes baked by Patricia Gotohio.
The bouquet of moist chocolate cupcakes, with decadent chocolate frosting and light hand-piped vanilla buttercream flowers, tasted just as phenomenal as they looked.
Her cake was a dense chocolate yet delicate, with a mouth-feel that was light and soft. Her buttercream was silky smooth, yet not too sweet or overwhelmingly rich. In one bite, both cake and frosting came together magically.
Filipino comfort food by Baby Vilches, tel. 09176280368; Astoria Rice Cakes, tel. 6871111 local 8064/65, 09088727964; chocolate cupcakes by Patricia Gotohio, 09177915985. For Chef Reggie’s Aromatic Seasoning Wine and schedule of classes, text 09175543700. I’m cooking truffle and all sorts of lechon in class.