Food once made only for senator’s guests can now be enjoyed by many | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Kimchi fried rice
Bettina Osmeña learned how to prepare authentic spaghetti carbonara from Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida, no less.


Kapampangan mother, and food reigned supreme in our household. Way before traffic became a Metro Manila plague, we would drive all over Manila for family food trips.

When I turned 17, my mom decided that eating well was not enough. My sisters and I were enrolled with the Reynoso sisters. Sylvia Reysono Gala taught us the basics, then we graduated to Japanese, Chinese and Korean cooking with her. Lorrie Reynoso, who eventually became a close friend, taught us French cooking.

I remember learning how to prepare authentic spaghetti carbonara from Gina Lollobrigida, no less. She was our house guest in the ’70s, when she was doing a book on the Philippines. Our family BFF Karen Cancio would go to our house almost every day with eggs, butter, spaghetti noodles (no De Cecco yet), parmesan cheese (only grated Kraft Parmesan Cheese), and bacon (no guanciale yet) because she could not have enough of the carbonara, and she did not want to be makapal (brazen), so she brought her own ingredients.

Fast-forward to 1995. My husband Serge became a politician, and we started hosting dinners at home for his guests. The kids were also bringing home friends. Our kitchen became very busy.

Pivotal year

The year 2016 was a pivotal one for my family. My son got married in January, my two daughters wanted their independence and moved out to share an apartment in March, and then my husband lost his Senate seat in May.

The kitchen, which was used to so much buzz, suddenly became quiet. One day, I read an article that Le Coeur de France was closing its business. I suddenly got a lightbulb moment and applied for the space the restaurant was going to vacate in our neighborhood shopping center. Lo and behold, I got it.

Gourmet Corner was born. Our kitchen was humming again to a happy tune. We decided to offer ready-to-heat food like pasta sauces, well-sourced deli items from the provinces like Vigan longganisa, several kinds of tapa, and Moroccan, Spanish, French and Italian dishes. All those cooking lessons with Reggie Aspiras paid off. Our mutual mentor, Beth Romualdez, shared a lot of her food business experience with me.

In 2020, the pandemic struck, but Gourmet Corner is busier than ever, providing home-cooked meals for several Makati homes. We miss eating in our favorite restaurants, and have been trying to recreate dishes we miss.

My interest in cooking is stronger than ever, and I think I will be a cook until my dying day.

Kimchi fried rice

Kimchi Fried Rice

1 c kimchi, diced

150 g Spam, diced

1 whole onion

6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 small carrot, diced

⅛ c cooking oil

1 whole scallion

4 c rice

1 Tbsp sesame oil

2 Tbsp Kikkoman soy sauce

2 whole eggs

Salt and pepper

1 Tbsp roasted sesame seed

1 seaweed sheet, julienned

Heat the oil. Add onions and garlic until brown. Add kimchi, Spam and carrots, and stir fry until brown.

Scramble the egg with the kimchi, carrot, Spam combination. Add rice. Stir, then add soy sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Add sesame oil. Garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.

Korean Beef Stew

(Gourmet Corner bestseller)

1 kg short ribs or beef cubes

1 onion

1 Tbsp minced garlic

1/8 c cooking oil

1 Asian pear (grated)

¾ cup soy sauce

1 c beef stock

2 Tbsp mirin

2 Tbsp honey

¼ c brown sugar

10 pcs whole peppercorn

1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

½ radish (rounded or elongated)

1 big carrot (rounded or elongated)

Chopped scallion

2 Tbsp of sesame oil

Salt to taste

Note: You may add more honey, depending on how sweet you want your stew.

Heat oil. Add onions and garlic until golden. Add meat and brown a bit. Add beef broth, soy sauce, mirin. Bring to a boil, then slow simmer. After 30 minutes, add mirin, honey and brown sugar. Add carrots and radish when the meat is tender but not quite done. When meat is done, add the grated pears and season with some sesame oil. Garnish with toasted sesame and chopped scallion.

Korean Fried Chicken

Korean Fried Chicken

1 kg chicken thighs

1 c milk

Korean Fried Chicken flour or potato flour (available in Korean groceries)

1 c cooking oil

Salt and pepper

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Marinate the chicken thighs in milk. Massage some minced ginger on the chicken before dredging. Dredge chicken in ready-mix Korean Fried Chicken flour. Preheat oil at medium heat. Throw in the chicken until crispy and golden brown.

Sweet glaze:

½ c tomato catsup

2 Tbsp soy sauce

¼ c honey

¼ c brown sugar

1 Tbsp minced garlic


Toasted sesame seeds

Chopped scallions

Heat some oil over medium heat. Add minced ginger until golden brown. Add catsup, soy sauce, honey and brown sugar. Heat the sauce ingredients over low heat. Wait until it thickens, then turn off.

Pour fried chicken glaze over the fried chicken and garnish with scallions and toasted sesame seeds.

Korean Eggplant Side Dish

500 g eggplant

1 Tbsp minced garlic

1 Tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp fish sauce

Pinch of dried chili pepper

1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1 Tbsp sesame oil

Slice the eggplant lengthwise. Season with some salt and pepper.

In a separate bowl, mix soy sauce, fish sauce and sesame oil. Steam for around 10 minutes. Use a toothpick to check for doneness. Toothpick must go through. Turn off the steamer when done.

Tear the eggplant with your hand lengthwise. Mix the eggplant with the sauce mixture. Do not smother with sauce.



1 pack of potato starch noodles

400 g Angus beef sukiyaki

1 onion, sliced lengthwise

1 sweet red pepper, julienned

1 pack spinach (preferably Basic Necessity)

1 egg

6 pc shiitake mushrooms

1 carrot

¼ c cooking oil

Salt and pepper

Japchae sauce:

6 Tbsp soy sauce

3 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp sesame oil

1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Mix everything in a big bowl.

Heat oil. Add onions till golden. Remove from oil when you achieve the right color.

Stir-fry carrots then remove when slightly brown. Stir-fry sweet red pepper. Remove when slightly brown. Stir-fry mushrooms. Remove when slightly brown.

Stir-fry beef.

Blanch spinach in boiling water. Remove almost immediately. Squeeze out excess water.

Scramble eggs and spread thinly on a nonstick pan. When done, let cool, then cut in strips.

Boil noodle for around five minutes. Keep testing for firmness.

Mix the noodles with the sauce and the beef with your hands. Arrange the vegetables or mix it all together. Garnish with thin eggs and scallion.


The author is owner of Gourmet Corner at San Antonio Plaza in Forbes Park, Makati City.

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