Sira-sira store: Uyap festival-A A +A
By Ober Khok
Friday, October 5, 2012
THE odor assails your senses even a meter away from the point of offense. It twists your nose, but it makes your stomach hunger for rice also.
A stroll down the narrow strip between the foot of the skywalk in Fuente Osmeña and the parking lot of Metrobank will sometimes reward you with the aroma of uyap (the Cebuano word for salted shrimp paste, or bagoong or bagoong alamang in Tagalog) being sautéed with minced garlic and a handful of chopped chili pods.
The distinctive odor of fried shrimp paste can be likened to music to the nostrils. It is very Filipino and only a Filipino can appreciate the offensive smell. People who have been acculturized can readily accept that something out of the box would classify as wonderful.
In taste, sautéed uyap is unparalleled as a companion dip to sliced green mango. It makes the mouth water just thinking of the crunch given by the unripe fruit and the salty-spicy flavor of the uyap.
Uyap is the unequivocal choice for pork belly stewed in soy sauce, garlic, onion, a bit of vinegar and the shrimp paste for accent.
The versatility of uyap does not stop with pork. It can be used to flavor fried rice, scrambled egg (pre-cook the uyap by sautéing it with minced garlic and sliced onion), stir-fried vegetables, and as dressing for chicken.
What I like most about uyap is when it is fried with pork. I have collected five recipes for sautéed uyap. Before you cook the uyap, be sure to pick through the lot and to rinse it to make it less salty.
Uyap with garlic: Sauté minced garlic (a much as you like), onions and tomatoes. Then add the uyap, and continue cooking until the dish is semi-dry. It must have a pronounced garlic flavor.
The second recipe is a variation of the first. It is called sweet-spicy uyap from the obvious addition of brown sugar (to taste) and sliced red chili (to taste). Just before serving, squeeze the juice of one lemonsito over the dish.
Another recipe calls for whole cherry tomatoes (used whole), one-third cup coriander (optional) and brown sugar to balance the flavors.
The fourth and fifth recipes are something I had when I was growing up, and I always associate it with Cebu.
The uyap with kinupusan is something my cousin Maming prepared for my lunch box to pair with the boiled okra. It was so delicious I looked forward to it. Here is what you do: slice pork belly into cubes and fry to render the oil. The product of this process is called kinupusan—something like skillet chicharon. Set the kinupusan aside.
In the same oil, sauté minced red onions, garlic, diced tomato and one minced chili pod. Add the uyap and sprinkle with brown sugar. Mix well, then add vinegar to taste.
Uyap with iba is my all-time favorite as it combines everything I like in the dish—pork, sugar, chili, tomatoes.
Connecting all the flavors is the addition of sliced iba. The iba slices are added after the diced tomatoes have started to wilt.
A saucer of this dish is enough to go with mountain of boiled corn grits. It is as it has several flavor factors: sound (the crunch of the kinupusan), taste (the sour, sweet, spicy notes from the iba, sugar and chili), smell (the pervasive odor of cooked uyap) and appearance (red color with bits of green from the iba).
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 06, 2012.