One Dish Meals – My Style
By Apolinario Villalobos
We admire blogged photos of one-dish meals, all foreign, such as salads, pastas, risotto, casserole, sandwiches, as well as those of our neighbor countries in Asia. What we fail to do is “fuse” them with our own available ingredients that are available all year round. Let us not limit ourselves in just admiring those photos. Worse, if they are available in local restaurants, we pay enormous sums for a small plate or bowl of any of them. The following are just some of my tried recipes. The idea here is saving on time, effort and fuel.
Pinakbet rice. In the rice cooking pan, top the rice with stringbeans, okra, squash, eggplant, bitter gourd, saluyot, tomatoes, garlic, onions and fish sauce (bagoong isda). Estimate the amount of water to be added, giving consideration to the vegetables that will also absorb some of the liquid. When the combined rice and vegetables start to boil, slightly stir for all the ingredients to mix well, and let it simmer till all the liquid has been absorbed. When cooked, allow at least twenty minutes before transferring them in a big bowl.
Pinakbet fried rice. Sauté fish sauce in onion, garlic and tomatoes, add the vegetables that take time to cook such as stringbeans, okra and squash, followed by the batch of bitter gourd, eggplant and saluyot. When almost done, add cold rice, and continue stir-frying till completely done.
Heaven and earth. This is a combination of apples, ordinary potatoes, sweet potatoes and pineapple or half-ripe mangoes. After having been washed and peeled, cube them and sauté in onion, tomatoes, garlic, and salt to taste, till done. In a big bowl, combine them with pre-cooked rice and sprinkle with chopped spring onion. Why the name? heaven refers to the apple and mango, while the earth, to the potatoes and pinapple.
Tropical fried rice. Sauté bagoong alamang (but the best is the Iloilo ginamos) in onion, garlic and tomatoes, when almost done, add cubed pineapple or half-ripe mangoes and cold rice. Stir- fry the combined ingredients till done. Sprinkle with spring onions.
Neptune’s casserole. Stir fry the green mussels (tahong) in onions and ginger, when the mussels open up, add water, fried filleted galunggong, moringa or malunggay, and tomato sauce. Let it boil for three minutes and add the pre-cooked pasta. As a casserole it should be soupy. Any kind of pasta can be used, even the kind that Filipinos use in fruit or macaroni salad.
Fisherman’s fried rice. Stir- fry dried anchovies (dilis) till done, add onion, garlic, and tomatoes. Then, add cold rice, soy sauce or a little salt, and continue stir-frying till done.
Farmer’s fried rice. Stir-fry garlic and onion, add bagoong alamang. When done, add cubed singkamas (jicama) and kamote (sweet potato),continue stir-frying till they are cooked. Add cold rice and continue stir-frying, till completely done.
Green fried rice. Sauté bagoong alamang in onion and garlic, add chopped pechay and camote tops, continue stir-fying till done. Add cold rice and pre-cooked malunggay, flavor with soy sauce. Continue stir-frying till completely done.
You may have noticed that no meat is part of any of the recipes. The reason is my effort to scrimp, hence, the use of the cheapest and readily available ingredients. The jicama or singkamas is one of the best and versatile vegetable/fruit we have and it can be kept for months, and can also be used for different versions of lumpia or spring roll. When in season it is very cheap. The sweet potato is available year round, just like the ordinary potato. Since the apples will be cooked, the old ones can be purchased instead of the new ones.
The café foods that Filipinos enjoy as snacks such as pizza and hamburgher are actually one-dish meals. The pizza was initially referred to as the poor man’s dish, being an open sandwich – stale bread topped with leftovers and herbs found lying around and heated in the oven. The same is true with the sandwiches. Ilocanos concocted their own versions but limited initially to pizza preparations. That is why, in the north, they have the pinakbet pizza and dinuguan pizza. The next time I know, there will be shops selling dinuguan and pinakbet burghers.
Necessity is the best teacher in the concoction of practical recipes such as those mentioned above. In my case, I need to scrimp for many reasons. I tried them all, nothing bad happened to me. So, I guess, they might be okey for you, too. I like them all, so I hope that you may like them, too.