By Vanette Colmenares
New York City — Having lived in the land of milk and honey, I often feel a longing for my childhood comfort food.
And if a Filipino restaurant, especially in the midwest, is far from where one resides, you can always make your own food. I make my fresh lumpia with jicama, ham, and coleslaw veggies instead of the usual ubod (heart of palm). Or I flavor my rice puto a.k.a. biko with orange zest. Sometimes, when I feel like eating ‘ginamos’ or bagoong, I simply saute garlic and onion with a can of anchovies which I mash and spread over my jasmine rice.
Tools, equipment, and appliances as well as the ingredients play a major role in making many Pinoy meals. And I always rely on the magic three:
RICE COOKER. Asians are starch eaters and therefore will always have rice as their staple even amid erroneous reports that it makes you bulge. (Are Japanese people fat considering they eat rice all the time?) Try to get a good brand that can offer you 24 hour fresh hot rice without conking out. My son has one, and in his house, hot rice is always available any time of the day.
SLOW COOKER: Let’s face it. Filipinos love their nilaga (stewed meat), adobo and kare-kare yet do not have the time to prepare due to work constraints. Owning a slow cooker where you dump the meats and hard veggies in the crock pot before you work, and by the time you get back, the meat would have been softened to perfection thus only adding the greens into it.
TURBO BROILER: If there’s one thing Filipinos have truly embraced from our Asian neighbors, that is the love for fat – fried or grilled food. Lechon kawali and crispy pata are dishes that need to be drowned in heated fat to attain that crispy, crunchy finish. But having a turbo broiler can eliminate such hassle. The food also becomes healthier. Moreover, the ‘bibingka’ (rice cake) can be made using the turbo broiler as well.
We are famous for adobo and can be prepared many ways. It can be stewed in the slow cooker with its sauce. And if you want it done with a crispy finish, you can continue by using the turbo broiler as well.
Having these three gadgets will surely make one less homesick especially when craving for those Pinoy comfort food. So, what are you waiting for? Go get them and start cooking.