Here’s my list that hopefully helps make hosting holiday gatherings easier and tastier.
Japanese To Go
Bambi Reyes Javelosa makes splendid Japanese food platters. Surprisingly, her food is delicious even when it’s cold.
The shrimps in her tempura are large and taste decent, even if it has been sitting on the counter for some time.
Her chicken kuwayaki, which I love, stays crisp for hours on end.
Bambi’s sushi are noteworthy for their lavishly satisfying bite—they’re not all rice.
She never skimps on ingredients. Her cooking mirrors your Japanese favorites, though her rendition is more generous with a homemade touch.
Tel. 0999-8814272, 0917-6727230
Whenever I’m unable to cook, I call La Tasca.
Its spreads are reminiscent of old times, just as La Tasca’s former chef and my dear friend, the late Ed Quimson, used to.
Now, with chef Sito Senn at the helm, the restaurant has kept the quality of its classic fare consistent, and also added new dishes.
I’m enamored by the mushroom cannelloni, while my guests are impressed by the spaghettini tossed in a Parmesan wheel with Parma ham, chorizo, basil, anchovies, capers, olives and cream, drizzled with vodka.
The chicken dishes that sometimes look ordinary turn out tasty.
The slow-roasted beef with chimichurri is soft and intensely flavorful.
La Tasca catering is always a gustatory experience. The staff’s service is equally good, too.
Em Tuazon, tel. 0917-8443116
I discovered sinfully rich and buttery Mazapan de Pili made by Rita Trinidad. It’s an heirloom recipe from her grandmothers Lydia Moreno Villafranca and Nieves Medina.
Rita says her version of mazapan follows her lolas’ who cooked it in big copper tachos. The heavy mixture had to be consistently churned at a steady speed for roughly two hours, until the pili nuts release their oils and the mazapan mixture comes together in a big ball. A must try!
Rita Trinidad, tel. 0917-6311965
Lechon in a Box
Lydia’s Lechon in a Box is perfect for small gatherings. Each box contains 2.3 kilos of meat and skin beautifully presented in bite-size cuts.
It also has a Lechon and Paella combination, which is good for potluck Christmas gatherings.
Visit https://lydiaslechon.ph or the nearest branch
Liempo Salad with Tamarind Dressing
Recently I launched my Filipino food-inspired cookbook “Notes from My Kitchen.” Here’s one of my favorite recipes from the book. I hope this festive salad becomes your family’s favorite.
Inihaw na Baboy with Tamarind Dressing
1 k liempo (pork belly), sliced into ½-inch thickness, skin on, bone-in
3 tbsp patis (fish sauce)
3 tbsp light soy sauce
½ tsp black pepper
1 tbsp pounded garlic
2 tsp sugar
Mix all ingredients. Marinate liempo in it. Place in a resealable zipper bag and refrigerate overnight.
Grill liempo over charcoal. Slice into strips. Let the liempo strips sit in the dressing until salad is assembled.
Remove the liempo from the dressing and arrange over the greens.
150 g arugula, torn into pieces
50 g s basil leaves
50 g s coriander
1½ inch length tarragon leaves (use a small quantity)
50 g flat-leaf parsley leaves, 1½ inch length
½ k pakô (edible fern), tender leaves only
¼ k cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/3 cup shallots, thinly sliced
1 pc ampalaya (bitter gourd), thinly sliced and blanched
100 g kamias (bilimbi fruit), sliced paper-thin
2 pc salted eggs, sliced into thin wedges
Combine arugula, basil, coriander, tarragon, parsley and pakô. Toss to combine.
Garnish with cherry tomatoes, shallots, ampalaya, kamias and salted eggs.
If available, add some pickled squeezed onions, well-squeezed atchara of any type, sitaw or French beans (blanched), and katuray flowers. (See recipe on page 18 of “Notes from My Kitchen.”)
1/3 cup tamarind water (1 c warm water + ½ c ripe or unsweetened tamarind)
1 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp calamansi juice, more or less
2 tbsp patis (fish sauce)
2 tbsp + 1 tsp sugar, more or less
2 tbsp palm sugar
2 tsp Knorr seasoning
½ to 1 tsp chili powder
1 pc tomato, small-diced
Spring onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp Gallo Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¾ tsp salt
Combine everything, mixing until the palm sugar dissolves. Season to taste.
Add liempo strips, toss in sauce, then remove the liempo and arrange on top of the salad.
Drizzle sauce over the salad. Toss everything to mix well before serving.
“Notes from My Kitchen” is available at select National Book Store branches.
Follow @iamreggieaspiras on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube . Visit www. reggieaspiras.com for recipes, tips and updates.