Thinking of a lechon to try, why not Gatchalian’s?
I first tasted Gatchalian Lechon (tel. 0908-7053240, 0942-7264131) when chef Tristan Encarnacion sent me an edible care package.
I was pleased at first bite. The skin was crunchy even after it had been sitting on the table for a while. But it wasn’t the skin that I was enthralled by. It was the magnificence of the meat—its texture and how tasty it was, from whatever part I took a bite off. The ribs were some of the most flavorful I’ve ever tried. Amazingly, the meat stayed soft and juicy, even when cold. I was equally impressed by how it was salted to perfection, both inside and out. Though basically a Cebu lechon, it is so much more. This has more character, more layers of flavors and aromas that range from citrusy to peppery, and is overall more complex than others I’ve savored. I learned that the Gatchalian recipe is a hybrid—created by incorporating the best processes, procedures and techniques of the different lechons and lechoneros from around the country and taking the best qualities from the roasted pigs of Zamboanga, Iloilo, Bacolod and Manila.
The Gatchalian team is involved from the selection of their pigs until your lechon is delivered to your doorstep.
Some of their secrets: picking and roasting only healthy, good quality native and organically raised pigs; the careful preparation of their stuffing that consists of a melange of herbs and spices; the slow roasting in a special pit with quality charcoal at the optimum temperature and duration; a final brushing of the roasted lechon with coconut oil; and the skill of their lechoneros.
When Pria Chiongbian cooks, she makes me happy (tel. 0917-8190545; Prias Kitchen on Facebook; @priaskitchen on Instagram.
I was overjoyed when I received her Christmas package. Her bagoong rice is a personal favorite. Imagine a spoonful of it with crisp lechon kawali, roasted eggplants, tomatoes, grilled onions, kangkong and chunks of good quality salted eggs, drizzled with her sweet and sour vinegar dipping sauce. The thought makes my mouth water!
Along with it, she sent me another one of her fascinating creations, Chocolate Almond Butter Crunch. This is Pria’s version of Almond Roca in slab form, that comes packaged with a meat mallet to pound the confection with.
I took notice of her newly launched, perfectly put-together DIY Burger Kits. Her kits consist of grass-fed, ready-to-grill beef patties, homemade brioche buns, homemade dill pickles, American cheese and their special burger sauce. They come in servings good for two or four.
Pria said, “These burgers are made the way I like it—with quality meat and no MSG! The kind that makes you feel good after eating it!”
A gift crate from a dear friend, Sofia Co, contained all these: chips in interesting flavors (Chinese yam, cucumber, grilled squid, grilled pork and chicken wings); self-heating claypot rice that cooks itself in its own plastic bowl in Taiwanese Pork and Sausage Rice flavors; a sparkling apple vinegar drink that’s a healthy alternative to soda and claims to reduce body toxicity, liver hardening, fatigue, prevent obesity and boost digestion; and Ajisen soft Japanese ramen.
The items are curated and imported by Marc and Jill Tio of Mavee’s Virtual Market Place. The couple specializes in unique and hard-to-find food products, including organic and imported vegetables and fruits.
According to Jill, since we are unable to travel, they wish to bring the flavors of the world—particularly of Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan—to your homes.
Jill shared an interesting monggo recipe.
Monggo à la Jill
½ c cooked organic red rice (optional)
1 c fresh monggo, boiled in water ahead
10 pc shrimp (small- to medium-sized and shelled)
1 clove native garlic, chopped
1 pc small butternut squash, cubed
¼ kg organic okra
½ c malunggay leaves
1 small white onion, chopped
¼ kg pork belly, cubed
2 Tbsp bagoong of choice
1/4 c dried fish (I use dilis from Cebu)
⅛ c hibe2 pc dried squid
2 c coconut milk (adjust quantity to how thick or rich you want your monggo)
Saute garlic and onion. Add bagoong, then pork belly. Once pork belly is cooked, add shrimps. Take out shrimps once half-cooked so as not to overcook.
Add squash and water. Add okra. Add cooked red rice, dried fish, hebe and dried squid. Make sure there is enough water to cover all the ingredients. Add cooked monggo and coconut milk. Add malunggay and put back shrimps. Season with salt and white pepper.
Serve hot with fried shallots or crushed chicharon.
All the ingredients for this dish are available at Mavee’s (tel. 09173210700; @maveesmarketplace on Instagram).
Follow @iamreggieaspiras on Facebook and Instagram; reggieaspiras.com.