It is past midnight and I am searching for delicacies to cook for tomorrow.
Looking at my calendar, we are done half for the month of May, and technically, if not because of the corona virus scare, we are only left with roughly two to three weeks before the usual classes begin. I know changes are being made, still, I can’t help but miss having a real vacation.
I can still vividly remember going to my father’s hometown in North Cotabato. The last time I was there was almost 5 years ago, during my grandmother’s interment. I remember all the delectable and unique delicacies our relatives prepared for us. The laughter of bonding with my cousins over a glass of mojito.
My palate is starting to remember the taste again. My favorite rich and succulent taste of the delicacies you can find in the South. I begin to list the food I have been craving to re-create at home.
Also called as lokot lokot or locot locot in Zamboanga, or Amik in Davao Del Sur, this delicious golden-brown noodle-like crunch is worth every calorie. Perfectly paired with coffee and coco milk, this delectable treat is a sure win. My son refers to them as fried bihon as the look suggests. It is a very popular street food in Maguindanao.
My love for bulalo is almost the same as my love for bulcachong. The first time I had tasted this soup with a touch of orange color made me sober after a few drinks in Davao. The name of the dish is also the name of the eatery where it is invented. It uses a lot of ginger, so it is somehow like your tinola, but using fork tender carabao’s meat.
I personally have never been to Camiguin, but I will never forget their very famous Pastel pastry. This custard filled buns will surely please your sweet tooth cravings. I always ask a friend to buy me a box of this treat whenever she goes for a vacation. I just couldn’t stop myself from eating every after each bun. This delicacy had been so popular it is now being exported.
Seafood is one of the best from the south, more so from Zamboanga. Curacha is a type of crab found only in the Philippines, commonly found in the waters of Bataan, Sulu and Zamboanga. It is a large red crab, sometimes as big as a human face.
Most crab meats are found on the claws, but unlike them, majority of the meat from Curacha crabs can be found in its body. Serve this with alavar sauce, steamed or halabos, this is an absolutely mouthwatering partner for a hot steamed rice.
Are you also a soup lover? This may not look appealing to everyone’s eye because of its blackish or grayish color, but don’t be fooled by its looks, because this soup tastes really good. It is a Tausug dish traditionally prepared during weddings and other special occasions. The color was brought by the use of charred coconut meat that gives that unique taste.
Don’t be confused this with the sweet pastry buns. This Halal dish is a complete meal, with rice and shredded beef, chicken or fish wrapped in banana leaves. It originated in Maguindanao and is a common breakfast for Muslim Filipinos. It is also called patil, patel, or pater in Maranao, or paster in Iranun. A hard-boiled egg can definitely compliment this meal.
Though this is originally from Indonesia, this mouthwatering dish has been acquired by Maranaos due to their close proximity. The Filipino version of this delicacy uses alternative ingredients available locally. This might take longer than the usual cooking time, but the effort is all worth it once you taste that tender, spicy melts in your mouth beef. You will definitely ask for another cup of rice.
Another sweet indulgence will be gratified by this yummy treat. This delicious treat is a Filipino version of fried rice pancake. It has that sweet fluffy center and sweet, crispy golden-brown outer layer for that added crunch in every bite. This is also commonly available in the local markets in Mindanao.
If you are familiar with kalamay, then you can easily recognize Dodol. It is made from sticky rice flour, coconut milk and sugar. Others add flavor to its original recipe, like durian. Prepare for an arm and hand exercise as cooking may take non-stop 8 hours of stirring to keep it from burning.
This is like your ordinary lumpia with a sweet treat inside – young coconut sweet meat, also called bukayo. The wrapper is made from unsweetened ground glutinous rice mixed with coconut milk. This Tausug originated recipe is worthy of being part of your dessert list.
I still have lots of delicacies in my head, but more than the food, it was the memories I remember the most. With the quarantine being considered as the new normal, I feel that it might take longer for me to be able to visit Mindanao again.
With recreating these rich and flavorful delicacies, I know my heart had traveled miles from where I am physically at. I feel I am in my grand mother’s ancestral house, enjoying these delicacies, with a great company I call my family.