Ginisang Buro Rice with Crispy Fried Espada

Ginisang Buro Rice with Crispy Fried Espada

Just by looking at the photo, you wouldn’t have guessed what accompanies the crunch fried espada (dried swordfish) I ate for breakfast.

Burong Dalag

Good morning, buro! For the uninitiated, balao-balao, or buro, is the fruit of combining cooked rice, salt, fish (usually dalag or tilapia) or shrimps and allowing to rot (excuse my French) for a week or two. The art of fermenting (and eating) buro is among the hefty contribution to the colorful mélange of flavors in Filipino cooking from the Kapangpangans, known for, among the lengthy list, popular delicious meat dishes such as bringhe, kare-kare, humba, morcon, lechon kawali,  bulanglang (pork or beef ribs slow cooked in guava) and tocino; heavenly desserts such as tibok-tibok, halo-halo with pastillas de leche, sans rival and turrones de casuy (cashew pralines); and exotic dishes such as batute tugak (stuffed frogs), begukan, tidtad itik, adobong kamaru (crickets), taba ng talangka, bubuto, sisig (grilled pig face prepared a la ceviche, which Tony Bourdain has explored via his Pinoy food guide, celebrated Kapangpangan chef/artist Claude Tayag, for No Reservations).

Culturally motivated cooks, the Kapangpangans are also adept at food preservation. Traditionally, they use angkak (red yeast rice) to make buro.

The common practice of enjoying buro is sautéing it with garlic, tomatoes and onions and eating it with mustasa (mustard) leaves and fried hito (catfish). I have yet to see mustasa in Ilocos, I got tired of my kamias-buro routine, so I just played and experimented my way in the kitchen. Instead of cooking new rice, finding inspiration from rice cooked in aligue (fermented crab fat, another buro from the Kapangpangans), I sautéed store-bought burong bulig (mudfish), the works, and added some leftover rice, and paired it with fried espada from Damortis, La Union. My piping-hot buro-covered rice was just as funky wicked!

I don’t want to be way too graphic, buro might be a little difficult to embrace, but as they say, looks or smells can be deceiving.

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2012

A Pampanga food trip is spinning wildly in my head…

I lived in Angeles City for a month 2 decades ago. Back then, at first, I could hardly look at sisig, which my hubbie to be ate all the time. It didn’t look appetizing at all. The one he liked was not the sizzling kind. It looked like Ilocano dinakdakan minus the brain. In the middle of our stay, I was curious, I tried it, and it was love at first bite. Years after, we could no longer locate the same sisig and barbeque stall, ran by a middle-aged man, by the railroad crossing. This led us to Aling Lucing. Hers was sizzling, but just as wicked. Oh, gosh, a friend says that a tablespoonful is equivalent to 700 calories!  I think what makes her sisig different from everyone else’s is the suka. I’m not too sure, but it tastes like Lazatin’s. Every time we travel to Manila, we make it a point to visit the Sisig Queen’s. Aling Lucing’s sisig has become all the more popular after Anthony Bourdain featured it in No Reservations Philippines.

In Dau, there’s also this super palabok, which had bean sprouts, chicharon bits and a rich sauce made of I don’t know what. Shrimp paste or crab fat is just a guess. I never had it again.

After a sinful meal of sisig with piping hot rice, Ala Creme’s sansrival or Razon’s halo halo takes away that sisig aftertaste. Heaven forbid!

Talking about Razon’s, I wonder why their halo halo in faraway Guagua is still the best? I like the one at their North Expressway branch, though.

I heard from chef Claude Tayag, who visited Adams in Ilocos early last year, that  Arayat’s Kabigting halo halo with pastillas de leche, made of carabao’s milk,  is to die for. I have to have that!! And a gallon of Nathaniel’s buko pandan salad, to go, please. Just maybe, one of these days…