‘Nora Daza 2.0’: Parmesan fish sticks | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Parmesan fish sticks
Parmesan fish sticks
Nina Daza-Puyat
Nina Daza-Puyat with her mother’s updated cookbook.


Like many women of my generation, my first cookbook when I got married was “Let’s Cook with Nora.” Not being adept in the kitchen then, I relied on this cookbook for basic recipes such as pochero, shrimps with green peas, adobo and Russian salad.

Nora Daza’s recipe book was a basic, go-to cookbook when at a loss. Its simple presentation (soft cover, printed on brown book paper) also made it affordable for young brides.

I have since graduated to other, more sophisticated cookbooks but I’ve never abandoned Nora’s cookbook, now tattered and splattered from frequent usage. Though some of the recipes have become outdated, it’s still a good reference book.

Recently, Nora’s youngest daughter Nina Daza-Puyat updated her mother’s cookbook. Printed on glossy book paper, with clear step-by-step recipe instructions, the new version is a sleek, contemporary cookbook fit for today’s modern women—and men.

“My mom’s cookbook was launched over 50 years ago, so it was about time we upgraded the recipes,” Nina said.

It took her over a year to kitchen-test all 260 recipes. “It was a long and difficult process but an important and necessary one,” she wrote in the foreword. “When the last page was finally submitted, I felt a great sense of relief and immense gratitude.”

Sometimes, she said, she felt as if her mother were guiding her while testing the recipes.

Last week, the Maya Kitchen paid tribute to Nora Daza by hosting Nina’s cooking demo featuring recipes from the updated cookbook. It was an apt venue because Nora and the Maya Kitchen go back a long way.


Nora Daza in a vintage photo
Nora Daza in a vintage photo

Many of the episodes of Nora’s then TV show “Cooking It Up with Nora,” were shot at the Maya Kitchen.

Nora also actively promoted the Maya products by holding cooking demos all over the country.

And when Maya held The Great Maya Cookfest from 1976-1990, Nora was part of it, too, even joining the competition winners as they traveled overseas to promote Filipino cuisine.

“Hosting Nina’s demo of recipes brings Maya’s bond with her family full circle,” said Eric Fajardo, business development manager of Liberty Commodities Corp.

At the cooking demo, Nina showed how to prepare chicken relleno, a Daza family signature dish; orange tart, which was a must-try at Nora’s Au Bon Vivant restaurant; Kaleslaw, using kale along with cabbage; and Parmesan Fish sticks, an updated version of her mom’s Fish Sticks Italian-style.

Indeed, this time around, Nina uses ingredients and utensils that weren’t easily available when her mother wrote her cookbook: olive oil, capers, fresh mushrooms and nonstick pan.

With charm and confidence, Nina gave tips as she sliced, chopped and rolled together the ingredients, thus proving herself a worthy successor to her mom.

“It’s healthier to cook at home,” she told the class. “Go to the market and buy your own ingredients so you can touch and feel the ingredients yourself.”

She also advised the class to invest in a good kitchen knife because “nothing is more frustrating than cutting with a dull knife.”

“Taste as you cook so you can adjust the recipe,” she added.

Here’s Nina’s recipe for Parmesan Fish Sticks. With cheese, parsley, basil and Japanese bread crumbs in the mix, this dish has many layers of flavor.


Parmesan fish sticks
Parmesan fish sticks

Parmesan Fish Sticks

½ kg fresh or frozen white fish fillets

½ c evaporated milk or full cream milk

½ tsp fine salt

¼ tsp ground white pepper

For the coating:

1 c sifted Maya all-purpose flour

½ tsp fine salt

¼ tsp ground white pepper

2 eggs

2 tsp milk

1 c Japanese breadcrumbs

1/3 c grated Parmesan cheese

1 tsp chopped fresh parsley

½ tsp dried basil

To fry:

½ c cooking oil for frying

Pat the fish fillets dry with paper towels then cut them into long strips. Set aside.

In a bowl, combine the milk, salt and pepper. Soak the fish fillets in this mixture for five minutes then drain the fish.

In a clean plastic bag, combine the flour, salt and pepper. In a shallow bowl, lightly beat the eggs with the milk. In another bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley and basil.

Put the fish sticks in the plastic bag with the flour, four to five pieces at a time, and shake to coat. Dust off excess flour.

Dip the fish sticks in the beaten egg mixture, then coat with the seasoned bread crumbs. Arrange the fish sticks on a plate and chill in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes to allow coating to set.

Heat the cooking oil over medium heat. Fry the fish sticks until golden brown on both sides. Serve with Spanish Tomato Sauce or Creamy Garlic Dip.

Spanish Tomato Sauce

¼ c olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic

1 c tomato sauce

Fine salt and ground black pepper, to taste

In a small sauce pan, heat the olive oil, then sauté the onions. Add the garlic. Pour in the tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper. Serve with the fish sticks.

Creamy Garlic Dip

¼ c mayonnaise

½ tbsp minced garlic

¼ tsp fine salt

¼ c sour cream

1 tbsp chopped parsley

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

½ tsp lemon juice

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

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