How to cook fried stuffed Bangus

I like to cook. Some people say do not cook when you’re sad or in a bad mood because it’ll reflect on the food you’re cooking. I, on the other hand, cooking is my remedy for stress and bad moods. Cooking makes me happy. It brings me back my sanity when the world around me seemed insanely chaotic. If I stop cooking, that’ll be the end of me.

My whole family is my willing victims when I’m experimenting with food. There are some hits and misses I tell you, but nothing worst so far as to one of them losing totally their sense of taste. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in culinary school is that “know the basics rules first before you start breaking them”. That’s what I always apply whenever I’m trying a new dish or tweaking an old recipe.

Last week, my mom requested Fried Stuffed Milkfish (Bangus). My dad and my sister are both carnivorous and it’s rare that we serve fish in the dining table. They only eat a handful of seafood dishes, and it’ll be such a waste if we cook too much dishes for just the four of us.

You’re aware that frying the milkfish is a dirty job. No matter how hot the oil is, there will always be splatter. And I hate oil splatter on my kitchen. It irritates me to death. So, I found a way on how to avoid splatter by wrapping the fish in aluminum foil. (Not all food can be wrapped in aluminum foil when frying, avoid any acids if possible.)

I sliced the Bangus in half, but not entirely, just so I can insert the stuffing. For the stuffing, I put mix in onions, garlic, tomatoes salt and pepper, siling haba (optional) and sometimes if I feel like making it extra special, I put in some slices of red eggs. But to each its own. Whatever you fancy, go ahead and I won’t take it against you 😉 I minced chopped everything so that the cooking time will be the same for everything that’s stuffed in the Bangus.

Grease the aluminum foil very well with salt and or some dried herbs if you have. I usually use dried thyme or rosemary. Wrapped the Bangus carefully, make sure that the Bangus is well stuffed. Depends on the size and weight of the Bangus, usually I give 5-7 minutes cooking time on both sides of a regular-sized bangus. I don’t put the temp too high, just on medium heat because you’re in a way steaming the fish inside first.

The fried Bangus is good with soup or sautéed vegetables. I usually accompany it with my simplified version of chopsuey. For the spicy food lover in me, I prepare a special hot dipping sauce of soy sauce, calamansi juice, sugar to taste and a lot of siling labuyo. Yummy!

In cooking something, it should always come from the heart. If I can advice someone about cooking, don’t cook when your heart’s not into it. No matter how expensive the ingredients are or how easy the recipe is, if you don’t feel like cooking, it won’t work. Annyeong!!!

This post was written by Rita Salonga.

Making Christmas memorable for our children…and for us, parents!

How can we parents remember the true meaning of Christmas and as a consequence, teach our preschoolers to do the same?

Parents, pray about it!

You don’t have to devote a long time to doing so, but it would be good to pray about what Christmas is really all about.  What does Jesus’ birth mean?  What is the Christmas story teaching us?  And most importantly, how can we impart this to our children—whose education in the faith God has entrusted to us?

Bedtime stories can have Christmas as its theme.

There are many beautiful storybooks in book sales about the different characters in the Nativity story (i.e. about the donkey, the star, the littlest angel, etc.).  Serve hot chocolate together with storytime, and this will surely be a Christmas season to remember for you and your precocious tots!

Get a belen your child can play with.

When we decorate our homes for Christmas, for whom are we doing it?  This year, you may want to consider buying a belen that you and your children can happily hold and play with.  Or, put your creative juices to work and build a belen with your preschooler.  Lots of ideas are available on the Internet or in kiddie craft books.  Afterwards, the belen you made together can form part of your nightly storytelling.  Each night, you and your child can pretend to be a different character in the story!

Play good Christmas music.

Music always makes the Christmas season so festive.  And our preschoolers enjoy singing popular Christmas songs that they hear in the malls and on the radio.  Let us be proactive and play songs that tell about the birth of the Baby Jesus!  Some examples of such songs are: Away in a Manger, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Joy to the World, We Three Kings, The First Noel, and Come All Ye Faithful.  And how about Silent Night for singing right before bedtime?  We can also have friends over and have a Baby Jesus-themed caroling party.

Have Santa Claus occupy his rightful place.

Of course, Christmas would not be complete without Santa Claus!  And I am not here to dash your and your children’s fun to the ground by telling you to say goodbye to Santa Claus.  The Santa Claus tradition is actually about being generous and making others happy with our gifts.  But, let not our focus be only on the giftgiving.  To prepare our children for the coming of Santa Claus, we can tell them the story of Saint Nicholas, the real man on whom the tradition is based.

Also, we can make the Santa Claus gifts but one part of our Christmas Day schedule.  You may want to consider bringing your little ones to Christmas Eve Mass, then opening their Santa Claus gifts on Christmas morning.  Or, attend Christmas Mass in the morning, then open their gifts in the afternoon.

More importantly, preparing our Santa Claus gifts for our preschoolers should not be the center of our attention!  Whatever it is we give our children will surely make them happy.

Personally, I believe the birth of the Baby Jesus is God’s way of clearly showing us that we are His children—no matter how old we may be!  Oftentimes, we parents forget this fact as we take on the many responsibilities of parenthood.  We have to be so “grownup” all the time.  Now that it is Christmas season, let us remember to be little children again before Our Lord.  We can ask the Baby Jesus, Mama Mary and Saint Joseph to guide us in our parenting—an often-demanding and exhausting job!

Also, the Nativity story is about “keeping life simple.”  We parents sometimes like to overthink the future and want everything to be picture-perfect for our children.  We want to give them the best material things, the most wonderful home, the best education.  All of these are good intentions, but we sometimes forget to count on Our Lord’s blessings that He will help us provide for the most essential needs of our little ones.

It is when we parents learn to be little children again before God, and to abandon everything in His hands that I believe we will be able to teach our own children about the true meaning of Christmas.

This post was written by Meg Murrf Trinidad.