I grew up in Morong, Rizal, a place where people create unique dishes like pinugot and balaw-balaw (both shrimp dishes). I also grew up in a family that knows how to cook good food, and so, at a young age, I got to know basic spices, learned how to mix them to produce different flavors, and what to add to a dish to remedy it if it doesn’t suit my taste.
I learned early on how to cook a dish with whatever ingredients are in the kitchen. Cooking was a regular part of my life in the Philippines—I’m quite comfortable with mixing and matching ingredients.
But when I moved to California, I stopped cooking as often as I wanted, because I lived by myself, and things here are sold mostly in bulk or in big servings. It became more economical to just eat out than to buy ingredients, cook, do the dishes, store leftovers and eat them until you could no longer take eating the same dish for days in a row.
The only time I would be in the mood to cook was when I had people over, when there’s a potluck I have to contribute to, or when Cat, my friend from Manila, visits and stays with me for a few months.
I like cooking for other people. I like sharing food with them and seeing them enjoy what I made. When there’s someone there to eat with me, it feels like my efforts in the kitchen haven’t gone to waste.
On one of Cat’s visits, we went to Costco and I bought rib-eye steak, forgetting that she’s not a fan of eating slabs of steak. When I remembered, I decided to just cook it adobo-style. It turned out so good that from then on, whenever I cook adobo, I only use rib-eye steak—specifically from Costco (but you can use your choice of rib eye).
Cat says I’ve raised her standards for adobo. Most people who have tasted it have been intrigued at how differently delicious it tastes from your typical adobo. Even my kid cousin, who’s really picky and doesn’t usually eat adobo, loved it.
Friends have been encouraging me to write down my recipes, so here’s a start.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes
Serves 8-10 1.36 kg (or 3 lbs) rib-eye beef
2 heads of garlic, minced
2 heads of red onion, chopped
2 heads of white onion, chopped
½ c soy sauce
½ c apple cider vinegar
½ c pure honey
¼ c mirin (Japanese vinegar)
½ Tbsp black pepper
6 pc bay leaves
¼ c oil (grape seed oil or any cooking oil)
Sauté garlic until it becomes brown but not burnt. Add onions and caramelize over low heat for 5 minutes.
Place the rib eye on top of the caramelized mixture, then add black pepper and soy sauce and let it boil for 15 minutes. Add honey, mirin, vinegar and bay leaves and let it boil for another 10 minutes (do not stir).
Once it starts to boil, stir it just to mix all ing redients, then let simmer for 10 minutes.
Serve hot. Share and enjoy!
Store leftovers, if any. Just like your classic adobo, it tastes even better when you reheat it after a few days. —CONTRIBUTED INQ
Ave Pauline Ramos is an assistant department administrator in a US-based hospital.
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