Even though it’s been ages since high school, nothing much seemed to have changed.
Over a long weekend in Baguio City, during our homecoming, Estee, Victoria, Ping (aka Jo), Pura, Linda, Miel, Christine, Irene, Lupe and I joked, laughed and reminisced as if we were still teenyboppers in long-sleeved uniforms itching to get out of algebra class.
Our school, the Baguio branch of St. Theresa’s College, was very different from all the STC schools. For one, the high school population numbered only about 100, with an average of 25 students per year group (compared to about 50 per section, with three sections in each year group, at STC Quezon City).
It fostered a tighter bond among the students, with everyone being acquainted with nearly everyone else.
For another, the cold Baguio weather also made for cooler heads. Somehow the nuns were kinder and less temperamental, maybe because they weren’t suffering from the heat caused by Manila’s warm weather and by the nuns’ habit consisting of layers of thick garments.
With the cool mountain air and pine trees surrounding our school, everyone was less stressed and more congenial.
Because of this close camaraderie, it’s always a pleasure to attend a homecoming in Baguio. Since our class was the coorganizer, this year’s event was even more special.
In keeping with the theme of the Roaring ’20s, the ballroom of Baguio Country Club was decked in fringes and glittering gold and black draperies. The tables were aglow with candle light and the twinkle of fairy lights set against translucent gold fabric.
Not to be outdone, people came dressed like Daisy Buchanan or some other characters in “The Great Gatsby.”
Raffle prizes, generously donated by Maya Kitchen, Mama Sita, Manila Marriott, Conrad Manila and Baguio Oil made the evening more exciting.
But even before the big event, members of our class were already having our own mini reunion.
One lunchtime, we dined at Country Club’s Hamada Japanese restaurant, where we ordered hamachi, agedashi tofu, gindara, unagi and gyuniku.
And when Pinky, our Girl Friday, ordered karaage, I knew I had my recipe for the week.
This Japanese version of fried chicken is addicting. Marinated in sake, ginger and garlic, and coated in potato starch, karaage exudes a tender meaty interior and crackling crisp exterior.
It’s easy to cook and it can be easily packed for lunch.
Here’s a recipe for karaage.
6 boneless chicken thighs
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp cooking sake
2 tbsp ginger juice (see tips)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1-2 c potato starch (see tips)
2 c corn oil
Slice the chicken into large serving pieces. Combine the soy sauce, sake, ginger juice and garlic. Marinate the chicken in the mixture for 20-30 minutes.
When ready to cook, drain the chicken pieces and coat them in potato starch. Heat the corn oil to medium heat, then fry four to five pieces chicken pieces, for one minute on each side. Transfer the chicken to a plate lined with absorbent paper.
Repeat with remaining chicken. Then return the chicken that’s been fried to the hot oil, again four to five pieces at a time, and fry again for one to two minutes each side.
This second frying will make the chicken crispier. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
Serve with Japanese mayonnaise and lemon slices. Makes four to six servings.
To make ginger juice: To one tablespoon grated ginger, pour 1/3 cup water.
Press the grated ginger to extract the juice. Strain into a bowl. The resulting liquid is the ginger juice.