Sira-sira store: One-dish deal-A A +A
By Ober Khok
Friday, September 28, 2012
TIMES are hard—harder than mortar and pestle. It’s a handy kitchen tool used to grind, crush, mix nuts, spices and grain.
The one we have at home is made of marble, and it has seen many years of use. It’s a valuable companion in the kitchen, especially during hard times.
Someone asked me if I could write something about one-dish meals, and I readily nodded my head since I know a lot of one-dish meals. Some of the dishes I know need a mortar and pestle, and so the analogy between hard times and hard mortar can pass the test of scrutiny.
I told that person that Filipino cuisine carries a lot of one-dish recipes, perhaps as a reflection of the thriftiness of our countrymen and perhaps as a reflection of how our ancestors coped with mortar-like times.
For example, lugaw has rice as the basic ingredient, but it can become a one-dish meal with the addition of cubed chicken, diced squash and toasted, ground garlic.
It is not difficult to come up with one-dish meals to save on fuel and effort, not to mention money. With a few things found in your cupboard, you can create a satisfying meal for the whole family, especially during times when money is low.
I learned a quick version of paella (more or less pronounced as “paeya”), although technically you don’t call the dish paella if you didn’t make it in a paellera. The rice meal is named after the flat, round utensil used in cooking the rich mixture of grain, tomatoes, seafood and chicken, among other ingredients.
Some people might contradict me on this point, and since I also don’t want to make my life harder—or yours—I have decided to leave it at that. In fact, Filipinos have been cooking paella using a wok, a large saucepan, a wide skillet and even a Dutch oven.
And no one, so far, has raised a shout of alarm. Well, as long as the dish tastes good, why force the issue.
The recipe passed on to me by my mother requires fresh shrimps, Spanish sausages, Spanish onion (white), canned diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, peas, chicken stock, garlic, paprika, turmeric and two cups of rice (long grain if you have it in the house). Actually, if you lack Spanish sausages, canned tomatoes and onions, do what most Pinoys do: substitute with what is on hand.
This shortcut to a marvelous dish could be an affront to purists, but we are talking about hard times and still serving rich food to the family.
So, fry the shrimps and set aside. In the same skillet or wok, add the sliced sausages, onions and crushed garlic. When fragrant, add the spices.
Next, add the rice and stir up to toast a bit (but not browned). Add the canned tomatoes, salt and pepper. Toss to coat rice grains, then add the chicken stock to cover rice. Bring to a boil and cook for around 20 minutes, then add the peas and the shrimps. Mix well and serve.
Fried rice is economical as it incorporates leftover meat, beaten egg and even bits of vegetables. Check out your refrigerator for any green veggies, like cabbage or cauliflower. OK, this is what you do—aw, I run out of space this week. Maybe I will tell you the secret of this creative fried rice next time we have hard times.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 29, 2012.