I received a meal with a care package feel. It was Chef Sau del Rosario’s touch of adding a bunch of bananas that made it extra special for me.
My packed meal, neatly arranged inside a beautiful bayong, was made up of dishes prepared by Culinarya Pampanga’s star chefs.
My menu: Duck Confit Adobo by Chef Sau Del Rosario (eight-hour sous-vide duck with paksiw na demonyo); Hornong Pistu (baked pork meatloaf with chorizo and ham) by Chef Froi Cruz; Asadong Dila (melt-in-your-mouth ox tongue with castañas) by Chef Howard Dizon and Kilayin (simmered pork and innards in vinegar) by Chef Den Lim.So what made the banana so special? It was the excitement of pairing it with Den Lim’s Kilayin and Sau’s Duck Adobo. I have this penchant for pairing bananas with savory dishes, especially adobo and anything with innards.
As I took a bite of their pabaon, the taste and memories of food, prepared with utmost care during town fiestas of my youth, came to mind.
This is what Culinarya Pampanga is all about: star chefs preparing heirloom dishes with their own personal touch. These famed food personalities from the province share a goal of preserving their heritage cuisine and promoting it as one of the country’s culinary treasures.
After working together during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit and then again during the Southeast Asian Games, the chefs and restaurateurs took it upon themselves to offer heritage dishes to the prime Metro Manila market.
As member Spanky Enriquez described Culinarya, “It has no officers, everyone is equal with Chef Sau as our guiding light.”
The members of CP are Sau del Rosario (25 Seeds), Den Lim (DenLim’s Kitchen), Howard Dizon (Howard Dizon’s Catering), Cherry Pasion-Tan (Apag Marangle), Vince Garcia (Rainforest Kichene), Judy Uson (Café Noelle), Chef Froi Cruz (Cioccolo), and the legendary home cook, the beloved Aling Mila Gomez of Mila’s Tokwa’t Baboy in Angeles City. Their newest member, Chef Nico Bailon, is the son of Mary Anne and Claude Tayag.
A taste of home
Their menu of Capampangan Classics is prepared to give Manila-based cabalen a taste of home—something the quarantine has made it difficult to get. Lucky for us, the menu is not exclusive to them!
The dishes are all prepared in Pampanga, in each of the chefs’ respective restaurant kitchens, and brought chilled or frozen to CP’s commissary and delivery hub in Quezon City.
Here are some menu highlights, with tasting notes and a sprinkling of history from Enriquez.
Pindang, or carabao beef tocino, is a delicacy that has a distinct sour and sweet flavor profile, one that’s unique to the province, almost an acquired taste for non-Capampangans, but absolutely a comfort food for cabalen.
Kilayin can be likened to bopis but is so much richer, as is the case with most of the province’s dishes.
Tidtad, the cabalen’s dinuguan, is quite different in the province. The sauce is less thick, almost soupy, but in terms of flavor, as intense. The blood is cubed and becomes a star component of the dish, not merely a thickener. That’s the key difference. Capampangan households will let this “age” overnight or two days before serving to deepen the flavors further.Sisig Paella is one of the signature dishes of Chef Sau’s 25 Seeds restaurant in Angeles City, along with his Macadamia Kare-Kare. Sau shares his Sisig Paella recipe.
½ kg maskara (pork face), snout and ears (cleaned and deboned)
250 g chicken liver
2 whole onions
1 Tbsp peppercorn
4 L water
Simmer deboned pork face with peppercorn, onions and bay leaf for two hours or until almost tender. Chill.
Keep the pork stock.
From the refrigerator, pat dry the cooked pork face and chicken liver, baste with oil and grill for about five minutes on both sides.
Let cool and chop into small bits.
2 whole white onions, small diced
2 Tbsp margarine
2 Tbsps olive oil
4 c pork stock
500 g rice, dinorado
Juice of 6 pcs calamansi
4 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp pepper
2 pcs red chili, chopped
In a hot (paella) pan, sauté the onions with the margarine and olive oil. Add the rinsed rice and stir with the onions for few minutes.
Add the pork and chicken liver mixture. Continue to mix and stir with the rice.
Add pork stock. Mix thoroughly.
Season with soy sauce, calamansi, pepper and chili.
Cover the paellera with foil.
Lower the fire to medium, turning the pan every 15 minutes to cook evenly.
Continue to cook for an hour without stirring.
When cooked, add half of the diced onions and garnish with calamansi and whole chilis.Serve with soymansi on the side. INQTel. 0917-3242768;
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