Next week is Holy Week, and for Catholics, it’s the climax of religious worship. But because most of us aren’t at work, we’d usually go home to our provinces or go out of town. Either way, Holy Week is not only a matter of worship, but also a time to be with family.
I used to remember when we’re little kids Good Friday is about food and new clothes. Because my mom would often say that you’re attending the funeral of Jesus, wear something decent. And all our relatives will be coming home for vacation therefore we always prepare delicious food for them.
Ever since I started cooking, I’ve been planning our Holy Week menu. We’ve managed to veer away from meat—anyway, it’s only on Good Friday that there’s fasting and abstinence—but still couldn’t avoid but to over-cook, just in case an unannounced visitor suddenly comes to our house.
- Fresh Lumpia – If I have time, I make my own “pabalat”-it’s just a mixture of corn starch, egg and water- but “hubad na lumpia” is also acceptable. Try doing a shrimp and fillet of fish version instead of the usual ground pork or chicken. In Pampanga, we accompany our fresh lumpias with osyo. It’s a brown sauce made of flour, soy sauce, water and a lot of fresh garlic.
- Kare-Kare – I love this dish. For ordinary Kare-Kare, we use pata ng baboy. It’s soft and chewy. But on big occasions, I prefer using oxtail instead of ox tripe. It takes awhile for the oxtail to become tender, but if you have a pressure cooker, then you can use that too. Invest in a good brand of peanut butter because if it’s good, a little goes a long way. Don’t forget the bagoong. I have Spanish friends who eat Kare-Kare with fish sauce. It’s just not the same! I sauté the bagoong in lots of garlic and oil, I sometimes put a teaspoon of sugar, cayenne pepper or siling labuyo just liven its taste.
- Salted Egg flavored Ice Cream – Yes, it exists and it tastes darn good. It’s not too salty, actually it tastes a lot cheese, but the texture is different. It’s made to order, if you want I can recommend someone who makes it, just in case you’re interested in tasting it.
- Bringhe – It’s like the Filipino take on Paella. But instead of a tomato sauce, we use turmeric, that’s why we end up with yellowish colored rice. My mom taught me to put in the liver when it’s about to be fully cooked, or else it’ll just melt the liver instead of biting chunks of it.
- Ginilo – Our grandmothers have their own takes on this old Filipino drink. In our family, we’re used to sago, gulaman, fresh coconut milk with sugar then top it off with pinipig crunch.
- Dinuguan and puto/ kutsinta – My heritage on my mom’s side is all about food. I was exposed to Kutsinta, Tamales, Puto, halo-halo at a young age. No matter how good the Dinuguan is, we always look forward to pairing it with Puto. For beginners, use spare ribs. Cut them into small pieces.
No matter what you serve your family this coming week, make sure you don’t so stressed in the kitchen. It will reflect on the food you cook. Believe me, a happy cook serves great dishes.