Sira-sira store: Fishy summer

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Friday, March 28, 2014


THE heat is on and as the sun points it death rays upon this side of the world, people also try to find ways to counteract the heat and dryness.

At home, during what we Filipinos call summer (it’s really summer all year long in the Philippines, and it’s only broken by a few months of frequent rains, which Pinoys call the rainy season) —now where was I. Oh yes, OK, summer.

My family has found many ways to beat the heat. For one, we feel that eating meat increases the heat.

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“It takes more calories to breakdown the beef fibers,” my niece Joy theorized.

“Fat takes five hours to melt in the body,” according to the untested theory of my nephew Pannon.

“You are all wrong,” my uncle Gustav said. “You feel hot when you eat meat because you feel guilty about feasting on the flesh of a creature that had to shed its blood in the name of cuisine.”

Ayayay, this will not get me anywhere. Thank Bacchus I have my aunt, Tita Blitte, to the rescue. She shared some of her summer-tested recipes, all made with the fruits of the sea. They are light meals you can eat in your patio or lanai or garden.

Sardine salad. It sounds weird when you put it that way, but in Cebuano it’s kinilaw nga tuloy (sardine). Here’s the deal: Thoroughly clean one-half kilo of really fresh tuloy. Remove the scales and entrails, and then fillet. Cut the fish into squares and temper with vinegar, squeezing it. Drain.

Now prepare the dressing, which is pretty simple. Just mix coconut vinegar with diced red onions, ginger, tomatoes, the juice of one lime, sugar and chopped chili pods and sugar according to taste. If you like to add a smoky flavor, grill one tuloy and mash a small piece to add to the salad. You can also add thick coconut cream if you like.

Marinate well.

Guso with a twist. Prepare fresh guso the usual way, by boiling till the color changes. Prepare the dressing. Slice ripe and semi-ripe tomatoes (around four) and one large red onion into cubes. Chop one-inch ginger. Add to this mixture one cup chopped green mango (you can use semi-ripe if you like). Into this heap mix 1/4 cup vinegar, sugar and salt to taste. If you want tangy flavor, add the juice of one lemonsito.

Tangigi with ubod. This sounds weird but it is good. Cut into cubes one kilo fresh tangigi (also spelled as tangingue or tanigue) and let it stand in 3/4 cup vinegar for about two minutes, then drain. Then mix into the fish one large white onion chopped; three tablespoons minced ginger; four tablespoons lime or lemonsito juice; salt and pepper to taste; one-fourth cup vinegar; three tomatoes, diced; one green bell pepper, sliced thinly; chili (to taste), chopped; one-half cup slivered ubod; and thick coconut milk. Chill if you like.

Linarang nga katambak. There are many ways to do linarang, or fish cooked in sour soup. One style is to saute sliced onions (two will do), minced garlic (four cloves) and slivered ginger (about three inches). Add sliced green mangoes into the mixture (around two pieces) and six ripe tomatoes.

Into this add fish stock and simmer. Adjust taste. You want the linarang to be sour. If you want more sourness, add sliced iba a few at a time so you can control the intensity. Add the katambak or any white fish, sliced green onions and season with salt, pepper and green finger chilies, according to taste.

There you have it. You can experiment with all these recipes. My aunt even adds young tangkong leaves to her linarang. When it comes to cooking, you are both the king and queen of the kitchen.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 29, 2014.

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