Sunday, June 1, 2008

Will you come over for dinner?

Above is one of my favorite questions.

I guess inviting people to have dinner in their homes is a common tradition all over the world. The difference lies not much on the reason of the invitation but more on the food served.

Growing up, both my parents cooked.

I am lucky because they are the type of grownups who let us hang around and watch the whole process and even appoint us the simple task of chopping onions. *tear*
As I got older, they slowly gave the responsibility to us kids. Yes, even the hard decision of planning the menu. I've always been interested in cooking just like my older sister who turned out to be magnificent in the kitchen. I was also given praise. As they say, it runs in the family.

The Pinoy (who's not on a diet) staple consists of rice, viand and drink. Depending of course on the social and economic status, those three mentioned are the least. You might ask if we ever have soup. Well, we have our ways. When times are hard, our viand is in soup form. Do we have dessert? Most Pinoys consider colas and carbonated drinks as "sira gana" which means "appetite enders". Since there is currently a shortage of rice in the Philippines, some might lessen their daily consumption but I doubt that Cebuanos adhere to this because I know that the families here would rather sacrifice other things than food on the table. My family does.

Last week, my dad came home tired from a seminar. My sister and I were in the bedroom watching Family Guy online so engrossed that we forgot it's almost 6pm. He then slipped his head through the door and said that he's hungry and disappointed. I ran out to kiss him hello and promised that dinner would be served in less than an hour.

I ran to the kitchen and rummaged through the contents of the fridge. All i saw was a package of pork (thank God it wasn't frozen!), some string beans, some eggplants and some calabaza that looked like it's almost too ripe. What to do with these in less than an hour?

Here's what I did. (My favorite part)

Pork Pakbet


pork (it's up to you how much), sliced into bite-sized cubes separating the skin and fat from the lean
calabaza (i used half a kilo), sliced into bite-sized rectangular pieces
string beans (a handful), 2-inch cuts
eggplants (3 medium-sized), sliced into thin bite-sized rectangular pieces
garlic (it's up to you how garlicky you want it to be)
1 onion
1 small green/red bell pepper
a dash of ground black pepper
some soy sauce
some oyster sauce (i used this to replace the bagoong element)
a dash of brown sugar
some oil

Turn the heat up to a high and throw in the cubes of skin and fat into the iron skillet. This way, the oil will sizzle out of the pork and when it turns brown sautee the garlic, onion and bell peppers in the oil. (If there isn't enough oil from the pork, feel free to put some more maybe 2-3 tablespoons depending on how much vegetables you've prepared). Next, sautee the lean pork cubes and while doing this, add a little soy sauce in there. Avoid using salt since it makes the meat go hard. Of course you want your meat tender and chewy. Do this for a couple of minutes.

Then, add the squash and stir for another two minutes. Add some soy sauce while doing this. This way you are slowly adding flavor to the meat as well. Add the eggplants and the string beans. The trick is, the thinner you slice the vegetables, the quicker it gets cooked. So if you are in a bit of hurry, take this tip.

Add some more soy sauce (depending on your taste), about 1 or 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce, a dash of brown sugar (instead of MSG), and a dash of ground black pepper. Stir it for a couple of minutes. Turn your heat into low, cover and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Check from time to time if it burns, add a little more oil and stir.

It would most likely turn out like this:

(the result of hurrying)

Serve hot. This should be good for 4 people.

Less than an hour, and we were having dinner. My dad wasn't upset anymore and he enjoyed the meal sparing us the trouble of having to hear his sermon about responsibilities. I was super glad (and full that night). As for my little sister, she did the dishes. ^_~


Trestin Meacham said...

Wow that looks so good (the food)
Nice blog design too.

Shak said...

thanks for dropping by, trestin!