i have been craving for burong isda for the longest time now.
i only get to have burong isda during visits to my my mother hometown general santos city.
my grandpa and my grandma are one of the first few settlers in this open city back in the post-war era, they were originally from pampanga (i think masantol* needs citation from relatives). so they are capampapngans – and do you know what they say about kapampangans? they love food — life revolves around food! my maternal grandmother Ma. Victoria Guinto Manansala, is one mean kapampangan c0cinera. and i guess that’s where my mother Laura Enecio got her culinary genes. These two women are guided by their taste buds and didn’t even follow recipes or cookbooks. they are very particular with their food. they would know if the dish was stirred to quickly or the ingredients were added hurriedly because the taste wouldn’t be right. the recipes are all in their head, handed down through the years not conveniently written in paper, but by actual hands-on cooking.
i believe, or i would like to believe that this is were i got my penchant for food – both the cooking part and the eating part. and i also think that, from these two meticulous cocineras, came my brother’s gene of knowing his way in the kitchen that gave him the chance to have a flourishing career as a chef to the prince of saudi arabia in his fabulous yacht that’s stationed in monaco and cannes, south of france.
as a pre-teen we always spend at least of half of our summer in gensan — we fondly call it dadiangas then. summers are always fun, besides the airplane ride , in a scary fokker-50 turbo prop or the sunriser as they called it before, there were the countless cousins our age and of course the food!
lola toyang/lola inda (mom calls her inda, the capampangan equivalent to nanay, so we just added lola to inda thinking that was her name, so it’s a redundancy indeed), as we fondly called our grandma, are always delighted by our yearly visit to this booming city in the southernmost part of the philippines. the ancestral house would always be full of cousins and the auntie and the uncles, neighbors and relatives! that would mean, countless “amens” /”siklod”/”mano” to people we do not know! hahahha
food was always the center in the house. the kitchen and the informal dining is always heavy with foot traffic! lola inda would always prepare delicious food for us. it starts with breakfast of fresh and warm pandesal that was made libod or
lako (peddled) by panaderos riding big bicycles (we call it the balon) with a big basket at the back containing hot pandesal fresh from the pugon, it was crusty on the outside and chewy on the inside, this is old school pandesal – no sugar added and it was baked in a real pugon (brick oven), so there’s a hint of smokiness. the maids will be up as early as 3:00AM to make atang these panaderos. then the nasi (kapampamngan for rice) is highland/upland rice planted and harvested by the tribes — a little on the brownish reddish side because it’s organic and an heirloom variety. it is fluffy yet it’s a little sticky, so makagana gyud siya ug kaon. then we make bahug fresh carabao’s milk, left at the gate by the milkman early that morning. they delivered daily. so it’s guaranteed, 2 big long neck bottles of fresh, still warm carabao’s milk are served daily at lola’s table. so we put milk in the rice, a sprinkling of sea salt and fresh bananas! it was heavenly. it made you feel full the whole morning. breakfast were always before 7:00AM, so they really wake us up really, really early. that was the downside, but i always get excited what’s in the table, so i wake up anyway – or else we would get a tongue lashing from lolo! besides the milk, there’s nitrate free tocino, always made by a relative (only) and skinless longanisa that’s as always preservative free, done the old fashion way. it was always a delight! and that’s just breakfast! After breakfast, we would tag along with Lolo to his farm in Purok Malakas. My Lolo was then a banana and onion planter. The farm was also our playground. Last December 2009, I revisited Purok Malakas – it was almost like a little town already full of buildings and trappings of the urban life, a far cry from days of old when it was just all agricultural land, where hito were caught in the side canals/irrigation and the trees in the streets bore fruits free for everyone!
Lunch was either at the farm or at the old house. tinolang manok of freshly slaughtered free-range chicken with green papayas from one of tito berting’s trees, sinigang na baboy with the works – radish, talong, kangkong, fresh sampaloc etc. , grilled tilapia as big as a plate, grilled hito (catfish), grilled baboy…lola would then make us tapik2x – toyo+calamansi+sliced tomatoes. you crush/mash the tomatoes and then the toyo into the rice – damn! it will really heighten your appetite! it was always expected that i will be several kilos heavier everytime we go back home to ormoc.
snacks were mainly fruits in season – and basta summer, the best fruits (my fave fruits) are in season! durian is always
on top of my list! there are several varieties but lola and other aunties would make it a point that we eat the native variety which is smaller, a whole lot sweeter and even more pungent than the other varieties! the moment we check in at the airport in mactan, i would be all giddy thinking of all the durian i could eat! it wasn’t so popular in leyte and it was hard to come by in the 80’s and the 90’s — it’s just recently that we get to see durian casually sold in the fruit stands here. then there’s the grapes — lolo and lola have a grapevine at their backyard, and they’re in season during summer! so our playground was their vineyard! when we get hungry, we just pick on some grapes hanging above us, much to lola’s dismay — the younger cousins pick the green unripe ones or we play with them like marbles. kasab-an gyud dayon! then there’s giant hybrid guavas, the singkamas and half-ripe papaya peddled with your choice of native vinegar
or spicy uyap (fermented/salted shrimp fry) as dipping sauce. there’s also cheap rambutans by the kilo, the kind with firm flesh that separates from the seed. then there are other fruits a little foreign to us who are from leyte, there’s the camachille (fresh from the tree or bought sa mercado/palengke) and fresh casuy from tito berting’s farm in purok malakas. then there’s marang! yum! i could finish a whole fruit, sometimes even two. trips to the fruitstand in the national highway makes my heart beat so fast! hahahaha there’s also pinya from dole, really huge and juicy watermelons, lansones from camiguin c0mplete with the black ants – a sign that they’re sweet, pastrana pomelo/suha from nearby davao, mandarin oranges, solo papaya also from dole, big juicy- hinog sa puno mangoes! i could just go on and on! and since i have a ton of uncles and aunties and all that — they bring us these fruits for pasalubong, and that makes me even more magkalisang! one time a relative sent us a pick-up full of durian from their own orchard. i almost fainted from palpitation! so i can say that i’ve gone to durian heaven and back!
sunday’s in dadiangas were always a delight, except for waking up really early to go attend worship service at the
iglesia ni cristo in purok malakas (most of my relatives in the maternal side are members of iglesia ni cristo).no im not a member. but right after mass – lola would be donning her pamalengke get-up that makes her still look like going to a party! it was always a blouse and skirt ensemble in printed georgette and a bejeweled bespoke red velvet step-in and her trusty old wicker basket (it’s seldom that you see people bringing their own basket in our mercado nowadays). i would miss playing with my cousins because i would tag along with lola in the merkado. lola knows her way in gensan’s pamilihang bayan or the palengke! she knows her sukis…she’s very meticulous — she always makes kilatis the produce – smell them, touch them, pinch them, even taste them. the fish section was every seafood fanatic’s dream! big blocks of tuna meat, pink and gleaming with freshness! ready to be cut for either kinilaw or for grilling, huge mud crabs from surigao, and a bevy of deep sea delicacies. at a young age, i was able to surmise that their prices we’re lower than in
ormoc, since at an early age i was already accompanying mom to her sunday jaunts at our own mercado here. after mercado, i would stay in the litchen observing how lola inda prepares the food, how she cooks, and how she serves them – in little mongkoks (bowl), so the ulam will be divided into four to five bowls and laid out in the round dinner table. so the table will be a sight to behold, little bowls of different dishes plus the tapik2x and the buro!!!! nom nom nom…
it was also in gensan, in tito renato and tita linda salangsang’s house that i first ate insects: adobong camaro or duron – they’re literally fried locusts with lots of tomatoes and soy sauce. it was good, but it still has that yuck factor.
sunday’s are also time to go on a picnic to the beach (london beach), the pool in dacera, nature’s spring in polomolok (i think), or the all time favorite olaer! a very cold spring resort, which by the way was recently renovated, and it was much better and much cleaner when i last visited last year. when on picnics like this, we will always have derang-derang or sugba-sugba (grill). Sugbang baboy, talong, sugbang tilapia or hito, sisig na babi, sisig na puso ng saging, kinilaw na tuna. it is normally accompanied with burong isda! fermented fish and rice. it’s acquired taste. before, i liken it to suka (vomit), but i now, i crave it! it is salty, sour, a little pungent – it makes everything taste good! you’ll finish cups upon cups of rice if you have buro.
i’ve been craving it for years now! i didn’t find buro to take home to ormoc the last time i visited gensan last year, although nanay conching bringas served burong isda every morning for breakfast the whole time i stayed in their house.
lola used to make his own buro using tilapia, half cooked rice, it’s simple to make but you have to make sure that eveything you use is clean – from the work area to the container, there should be no flies! otherwise, it will not ferment but instead it will be filled with maggots!
last sunday i noticed that there are lots of tilapia in the market, so i am hoping to make my own buro next sunday. using a recipe i found in the internet. i’ll blog about it.
everytime we go back home after the summer has ended, we will almost surely pay excess baggage to the airline. boxes full of buro, blast frozen tuna panga,
tuna belly, tuna sashimi, there was also this gatas ng kalabaw ng pastillas made by a relative, i think her name is indang mading (not sure), grapes from lola’s vineyard, longanissa, durian (they weren’t so strict about it then), and a whole lot more – delicacies!!!!
the last time i visited, i chanced up on a flyer given by who i believe was the owner of saranggani highlands – we were in the same flight from cebu to gensan. auntie rose evangelio and her kids brought us to this mountain retreat ala sonya’s garden. the food there was fantastic! and the view? ahhh panoramic view of the biggest bay in the philippines, saranggani bay. the owner collects bonsai so he’s got tons, and i’m always fascinated by these miniature trees – so i had so much fun there. i especially love their mango pomelo salad with a honey mustard dressing. i forgot my name!
this is dedicated to my lola inda. the last time i visited her, she was even clueless who i was, but i know deep inside she remembered me, i saw that glint of tears when i said goodbye to her last december…she knows that at one point in her life, we enjoyed stuff together – the food, the palengke, cooking! i miss her so much…if only she has her memory still, i’m sure she’ll send me a big bottle of buro 🙂
here’s the recipe:
Burong isda is a product from salted fish with fermented rice.
1 kilo fish (tilapia or hito)
2/3 cup salt
3 1/3 cup rice
6 2/3 cup water
angkak (red rice)
Equipment: Fermenting vessels
1. Preparation of the fish. Remove scales from the fish. Slice from head to tail, clean, wash and drain excess water completely. Salt and cover the fish to prevent flies from laying eggs. Allow to stand for two hours.
2. Preparation of rice. Cook the rice and cool, then blend with angkak to develop a characteristic flavor and to impart an appetite stimulating color. Pack salted fish in a mixture of salt, rice and angkak into a jar. Cover the jar with plastic bag to exclude air. Ferment for 7-10 days. Fermentation gives a pinkish color to the mixture.
3. Cooking Saute the fermented mixture with garlic and onions. Fish flesh is soft and the originally hard bones becomes tender like a cartilage after it is cooked.