Puso goes gourmet-A A +A
Friday, October 4, 2013
THE common puso has been brought to a level of culinary finesse.
“Puso” and “finesse” in the same sentence? Puso, that so-called hanging rice that’s always eaten with the hands? Yes.
Quest Hotel brings pride and uniqueness to this distinctly Cebuano food staple that is regarded as an ordinary food in unique woven “packaging.”
It is always paired with Cebu’s barbecued delicacies, and often enjoyed by the street or at the beach. It is regarded more for its convenience rather than its gustatory quality. But flavored puso brings a different dimension to this local favorite.
Aptly served at the hotel’s Puso Bistro restaurant, Quest Hotel’s line of flavored puso puts the spotlight on this Cebuano food. The hotel’s food and beverage manager, Bojic Bacaltos, said that they wanted to create something unique and more appealing than plain puso, especially since the restaurant outlet is named after it. It did take some experimentation to get the flavors just right. With regular puso, rice is put into the shell, then boiled in water. For flavored puso, executive chef Kiko Tugnao had to figure out a way to infuse the flavors into the rice, and keep it moist but not soggy.
Bojic said choosing the flavors was a little tricky: “We wanted something that’s already familiar to the Cebuano palate, something they can relate to and something everyone can appreciate.”
They came up with four different varieties of flavored puso: adobo, paella, nasi goreng and curry. Flavored puso still looks the same on the outside as regular puso;
it is still the diamond-shaped shell made of woven banana leaves that we all know. Once opened, it looks different inside with the other ingredients.
Expectedly, the flavors are something that cannot be found in regular puso. All flavors have so far been a hit with guests, with adobo being the favorite. Curry uses red curry, chicken fillet, peanuts and red bell pepper. Paella has rice infused with saffron, plus pieces of fresh seafood. Nasi goreng has shrimp, chili paste, pork and danggit.
The difference with flavored puso is that the spices and ingredients are infused into the rice while cooking, and not set on the rice like a topping.
These new flavors coming from the common puso that Cebuanos are accustomed to are an unexpected and welcome delight. Flavored puso can still be an ‘everyday’ food as it is served daily at Quest Hotel. It can be sampled with other Cebuano favorites that always go perfectly with puso, like barbecue, lechon and pork belly, at Puso Bistro’s lunch or dinner buffet.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 05, 2013.