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The Best Filipino Dishes Ever Cooked

During these COVID-19 days where almost everybody is at home because of the community quarantine, cooking is life. And in cooking is where most of us discover our creativity and passion. Here is a post to inspire you and the same time open up our minds in the reality of the pandemic crisis we’re into.

Let me give you some facts.

Cooking by ourselves brings us a lot of benefits. First, we get to ensure that the food is clean for we prepare it on our own. Second, we tend to cut our expenditures since the price of a typical one-order-meal from a “karinderya” or restaurant can be equivalent to be about two or three servings when we cook. Indeed, that is true. Third, we learn as we cook as well discover our potentials in this kind of house chore; and that thing alone is priceless!

In this blog, I would be happy to share with you my personal style of cooking. Probably one of the most satisfying hobbies of mine is cooking (together with planting and writing), for in here, I can experiment, I can create delicious meals, and best of all, it is already an exercise both of the body and mind.

Speaking of experiment, this is my version of Caldereta, a popular Filipino dish.

Let’s get started.

Here are the ingredients:

¼ kilogram beef
3 pcs beef patty
1 pc footlong hotdog
1 medium-size potato (sliced in strips)
1 small-size carrot (sliced in diced)
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
½ red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 tomatoe (sliced in strips)
1 teaspoon pepper
1 can greenpeas
1 teaspoon margarine
1 pouch caldereta mix
1 spoon grated cheese
1 spoon pasas (dried grapes)
1 beef cubes
1 teaspoon sugar
10 pcs of Paborita, pulverized (Note: This is a secret ingredient of Caldereta and I just shared it with you now.)

How to prepare this? It's just a 10-step process. Here we go:
  1. Boil the beef until they are tender or approximately in about 30 minutes. Cut them in strips afterwards. Set aside the broth.
  2. Fry the beef strips, footlong and beef patty. Cut the patty in strips while the footlong in about half an inch then set aside.
  3. Saute the onion, garlic, bell pepper, and tomato together with the beef.
  4. After 2 minutes, add the potato, carrots, green peas, and red bell pepper.
  5. After 3 - 5 minutes, add 2 cups of broth and let it boil.
  6. After 10 minutes, add the Caldereta mix, grated cheese and the pasas.
  7. Season it with pepper, pork cubes, sugar, and margarine.
  8. As an option, you can add pulverized paborita or bread crumbs, whichever is available.
  9. Wait for about 10 minutes and the caldereta is ready to serve.
  10. Topped it with the sliced beef patty. Garnish it if desired.

I know this is just as good as in the photo, but you’ll never know if it's delicious or not until it lands on your taste buds. I remember the popular Chef Boy Logro. He’s style of cooking is truly practical and at the same time delightful to the eyes. But in any case:

Halikayo, kain po tayo.
(Let’s us eat.)

One might say, “This is not how Caldereta is cooked.” Well, I got it and it’s totally fine if that would be the comment (even harsher than that). But the idea behind my Caldereta recipe is this: In cooking, there are a lot of ways you can do to produce a good dish or meal. You are the captain of the kitchen. You are the eater of your recipe.

Now, let me ask you a question:

Sa mga panahong ito ng krisis, may nakakain kayang sapat ang ating mga kababayan?
(In times like this, do our countrymen have enough food to eat?)

Filipinos are born cooks. I believe this is one of the best characteristics we have here in the Philippines. Name a province in the country and I bet there is one popular or unique recipe they can offer. For instance, Bicolanos have the Bicol Express, Ilocanos have the Bagnet, Cebuanos have the Lechon, Pampanguenos have the Bringhe, and Batanguenos have the Bulalo. And the pancit recipes, like Pancit Malabon, Pancit HabHab, Pancit Lomi, almost every region in the country has a version to be proud of.

Here are the posts that speak more about that:

Wonder how creative Filipino cooks are? We really are! We are everywhere in this world as chefs, cooks, and bakers.

But let us set aside those impressive, delicious and delightful dishes. Why? Because in times of crisis like this, what we need is something that will feed our stomach, day in, day out. And you can be creative even if you only have canned goods, a few ingredients, and some vegetables. You may have a family of five and the food relief from the government is insufficient. There could be no other ways we can do but to improvise, take alternatives, and be resourceful as much as we can.

Kailangan po nating maging mapamaraan sa ating pamumuhay. Sa pagluluto, maari po tayong maging madiskarte sa kung ano man ang mayroon tayo.
(We need to be creative in our lives. In cooking, we can become strategic in whatever we have on hand.)

The reality is that not everybody has the capacity to buy enough and produce good meals for their family. Therefore, many Filipinos don’t have enough food on their plates. The best thing we can do today is to become creative thinkers, particularly in cooking, for this is where our life highly depends on.

This is the time when we can convert rice into “lugaw” (porridge), canned sardines into a soup with sotanghon or bihon, and vegetables into what we call “farmer’s soup” or bulanglang. If we live in the barrios, we can tap into plants nearby. If we live in the city, we can produce meals out of our limited stocks of canned goods.

Those kinds of dishes are the best Filipino dishes ever cooked in times of crisis. Believe me.

For now, while we are in crisis, we have no other choices but to endure the difficulties, most especially if we are caught unprepared. This is how life goes on. But what is more important is that we have something to eat that is still healthy and in a way delicious. Let us prove to ourselves we are the most creative Filipino cooks.

Kailangan natin mag-tiis. Ang lahat ng ito ay lilipas din.
(We need to sacrifice. All of these will passed.)

The Message
What this post wants to impart is that given the reality that many Filipinos were temporarily out of their jobs or have no basic sources of income, getting enough food to provide every family is a huge challenge. Food ration or relief distributed by the government is insufficient, even the cash assistance will not reach every family. Igniting that cooking ability within us can at least alleviate the hardships, and the same time improve our great potentials - in cooking.

Philippines is battling COVID-19 and it is doing what it can to win it. The role of this blog site is to deliver a message of hope. By sharing this post, you are becoming a key to deliver this message.


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