Pinoy comfort food, the best way to a loved one’s heart

IF FOOD is the best way to someone’s heart, then Chef Pauline Malilin might just be able to help you on that part. Her dishes on the Rekado menu is more than just comfort food, it builds better ties with not just for two but several loved ones. Everybody around the table, that’s how we, Pinoys, show our love.

To win the heart of the one you love and everyone else’s, the young chef chose Valentine’s Day to launch her new dishes (as if Rekado is short on good food, it already lists the comfort food we all long for when we get that craving for a just-like-how-mom-cooks-it dish or two).

Chef Pauline gathered her foodie friends for an early date at Rekado to get first dibs on what to expect in Valentine’s Day and beyond. I will say, she won everyone’s hearts again.

The most surprising new entry for me was the dish with Balao-Balao, a Tagalog recipe of “burong hipon” made of cooked rice and raw baby shrimp fermented with salt and angkak (red yeast rice) for several days to weeks. I grew up to Balao-Balao paired with Nilagang Dalag at home. It’s my dad’s favorite. Chef Pauline’s uses it as one of the garnishes of the Crispy Pork Strips with Burong Hipon and KBL salsa dish. The pork strips are thinly sliced and deep fried to a perfect crisp, topped with our special burong hipon and wrapped in lettuce.

“This fermented rice and shrimp sauce is made with love as it takes a week to prepare. It’s worth the wait though as it brightens up this simple dish,” she said.

Tender, delicious, flavorful intense, it’s what the Mindanao Style Beef stew with burnt coconut is. The chef pan fries a special spice paste with the beef to bring out flavors, then the meat is braised very slowly in coconut milk to bring out its intense complexity. This thick and saucy dish will have you reaching for the extra rice.

There is Morcon, and there is Morcon Rekado Style. Rekado’s stuffed beef marinated in soy mixture and braised with aromatics until fork tender. The beef is then rolled with flavorful filling of Spanish chorizo, cheese and chicken liver. It’s braising liquid is used as the base for its sauce providing its depth and richness.

The surprises are unending. Chef Pau adds a new layer of flavor to familiar preparations, like the Fried Lapu Lapu is glazed with sweet and spicy bagoong adding a kick to the sweet fish meat, and the Shrimp con Mayonesa with Crab Fat is sauteed shrimp is paired with a taba ng talangka and mayo.

Two chicken dishes are marinated for 12 hours before it is prepared—the Tagalog Glazed Wings, chicken wings are brined for 12 hours and marinated to infuse, fried and coated with sweet soy barbecue sauce and served with garlic aioli; and the Rekado’s Chicken Inasal is 12-hour brined and marinated chicken quarters in lemongrass, calamansi and soy sauce.

Craving for a merienda dish? Dig into the Rekado’s Pancit Malabon. This noodle dish is prepared with a flavorful sauce made with shrimp & annato oil.

We don’t have to wait for Simbang Gabi to have a bite of our early morning kakanin of Bibingka and Puto Bumbong because it will find a space on the regular menu.

Chef Pau says that Rekado guarantees that the new dishes and everything else on the menu will surely win anyone’s heart on Valentine’s Day, or any other day. Well, she won mine—again.


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For more photos about this story and other lifestyle features, visit www.ofapplesandlemons.com. For travel stories, visit www.jeepneyjinggoy.com. Email me at jinggoysalvador@yahoo.com


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