Thursday, August 23, 2012

Choiced cuts for a fiesta banquet

Chinese Spareribs (image courtesy of Serious Eats)
Fresh pork spareribs from a naturally-raised pig
During the first few years after my having moved back to Manila, whenever asked what I wanted from New York by friends coming over for “balikbayan” vacation, I would always immediately say, “Chinese spareribs.”  

They would order some Chinese spareribs, wrap them in heavy aluminum foil, and then pack them in a styrofoam container; the cooked ribs remaining savory even after the 24-hour journey.  Yes, a typical New York to Manila airline journey -- including airport waiting time, flight transfers, land transport to final destination --  usually takes about 24 hours.  And that was how I got to enjoy my all-time favorite Chinese food appetizer.  

To date, I am unable to find any of this from local eateries.  Most local Chinese restaurants offer spareribs with tausi sauce -- steamed, fried or broiled.  However, having recently discovered and pinched a recipe from Serious Eats, I would most probably try whipping up some Chinese spareribs anytime soon..

By the way, do you know of any local Chinese restaurant that serves this kind of spareribs?  Where is it located?

Grilled pork belly (served at Saffron Restaurant)
Fresh pork belly from a naturally-raised pig
Pork belly is another top favorite of mine when it comes to a pig's meaty parts.  

Cut as cubes, they are excellent for sinigang with lots of fresh veggies and plenty of broth.  Whereas, diced cuts are ideal when preparing menudo.  There is also a popular local dish using pork belly -- Lechon Kawali or crispy pork bellywhich are deep fried as most Asian and local cooks are wont to making them.  But there are those who use the oven which is a less oily alternative.

Grilled pork belly cut into bite-sized pieces and served with soy sauce and calamansi are just as delicious and satisfying.  However, Joshua Bousel of Serious Eats offers what seems to be an even more scrumptious recipe for a Filipino-style roasted pork belly, known locally as Lechon Liempo.  You may want to check it out.  

Whenever feasting on liempo, I most often order a side of steaming rice and a hefty serving of fresh green salad.  As tasty as they are, in general, I eat pork dishes in moderation.  And whenever possible, only from an organically- or naturally-raised livestock.

Traditional pork adobo or Adobong Baboy (served at Palwa Restaurant)
Pork sirloin end chops from a naturally-raised pig
In Filipino cuisine, according to Wikipedia, adobo refers to a common cooking process indigenous to the Philippines. It should not be confused with the Spanish- and Latin American-style adobo, as they have different origins and refer to different dishes despite sharing the same name.

The Filipino adobo is an entirely separate method of preparing food and is distinct from the Spanish marinade. Although there are many variations of adobo in the Philippines, soy sauce and vinegar are ubiquitous when creating the marinade for the main meat ingredients, such as in Adobong Baboy (pork) and Adobong Manok (chicken).  There is also the mixture of both Pork and Chicken Adobo, which I think is the most savory.  

And of course, vegetables are also used primarily as the ingredient, such as in the stir-fried Adobong Kangkong.  Camote tops are also popular.

A Filipina friend in New York told me that adobo is nothing more than seasoning.  She then taught me the express way of cooking adobo using only ground pepper, lemon and soy sauce for creating the marinade -- no vinegar. That's all! So easy to learn and all my friends loved it.

By the way, adobo can be prepared and served in one of two ways: dry with minimal sauce (as in above photo), or lots of it to be poured abundantly on one's plate of rice.

During the myriad fiestas here in Bohol beginning in the month of May, there may be a dozen various dishes laid out on the buffet table. However, almost always, a surprising number of these variants have pork as the main ingredient.  I was told that most families raise a pig in the backyard to be slaughtered in time for the fiesta.  Those without enough funds and energy to grow one, may opt to join three other families who pool their money to buy a carabao and evenly divide its meat once slaughtered.  

In one household I went to last June for a fiesta celebration, I finally tasted carabao meat cooked adobo-style.  I only had a very small serving -- about a spoonful.  Although tasty, I found the extremely dark color of the carabao meat too exotic and unappetizing.  I wasn't even sure if  slaughtering a carabao for its meat is legal.  I dared not ask the host.

Nevertheless, just these three featured pork dishes in their respective huge pots -- along with a large kettle of steaming mixed vegetable soup, plentiful rice, bowls of fresh green salad and fruits in season, and the usual local desserts such as the creamy fruit salad, including some iced cold beverages and beer -- should make a good enough banquet to serve at any local fiesta celebration here in Bohol.  And most certainly, the Boholanos would love you for it!

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  1. adobo is not adobo without vinegar. i've tried different kinds of adobo but there's always vinegar. slaughtering a carabao is legal, i think--but i feel sad for the carabao.:(

    the Chinese spareribs is mouth-watering!

  2. mouthwatering spareribs! I would check the comments here later just in case a commenter provides info where to find the local resto that serves chinese spare ribs.

    1. I, too, am hoping that someone will know of a local Chinese restaurant that serve this kind of sparerib appetizers.

  3. I am not sure if my comment was successful.. posted a comment here. :)

  4. Oh my!! These look amazing. Thanks so much for sharing at Tasty Thursdays on The Mandatory Mooch. I hope you will link up again. The party will be live with features tomorrow night.

    Thanks, Nichi