June 17, 2024
Diwali milk sweets are Indian friendship treats.

Sometimes, places that we’ve eaten at are overlooked for being familiar. The reasons for eating then and now are totally different. A visit to Kubong Sawali gave me a pleasant surprise because it brought me back to those days that we ate at Silverio’s in Dagupan City, Pangasinan. I need not travel so far to enjoy some of my favorites there.

Seafood kare-kare is a safer version of the oxtail counterpart.

Crispy hinubarang hito is my recommendation for those who like their fish crispy. Hinubaran in Filipino is to undress or remove the cover. In essence, the catfish flesh was sliced from the main bone but not detached, then dipped in batter, and deep fried. This made each part of the catfish crispy and flavorful. As you take the portions off and dip it into the soy and vinegar on the side, it makes you want more.
The pinapaitang baka is one that you encounter in the Ilocos region.

Tahong soup was refreshing on a cloudy day.

This is beef that is just passed on a hot pan for seconds to remove the fresh blood from the meat but not totally cook it. This then is added to the sauteed onions and ginger then given a dash of the beef bile. Memories of the little turo-turo at the junction of Candon, Ilocos Sur and Abra province one early morning trip come to mind.
There is something about the bile of the cow that Ilocanos love in mild or strong portions that you develop a taste for. This edition in kubong sawali is for the urban taste buds that is so mild but still tender and delicious.

Crispy hinubarang hito is the best because you leave but a few bones for the cat.

The seafood kare-kare is for the healthy eaters. This peanut sauce based mix of squid, shrimps, fish, and mussels is perfect. The squid just right and the shrimps still sweet, there is no unpleasant texture in this dish that uses crushed peanuts in the thick toasted flour based sauce. The bok choy mixed with the seafoods is kept sweet and tender.
Of course, on a cloudy day, the mussels soup or tahong is the best. The hot soup from these shellfish is always refreshing. In my version, I like to cook the mussels over slow fire and just let it simmer in its own juice with slivers of ginger, onions, and slices of tomatoes to temper the fishy flavor.
This trip to Kubong Sawali made me remember the places of the past.

Pinapaitang baka is tender because the beef is placed in the pan in seconds and the bile added for the mild bitter taste.

On Oct. 24, the Indians around the world celebrated the Diwali Festival or the Festival of Lights.
Our dear friend, Ram Sharma, gifted us with a box of sweets as part of the gift giving in this time of year in their country.
The Diwali Festival is some sort of new year celebration and one gesture shared is that of sharing. This box of sweets were milk based and delicious. If you are familiar with our versions of pastillas, this had the different kinds of milk based goodies in the box.
But the most amazing thing about these goodies was the syrup that they were all cooked in. And indeed, friendship is sweet from a dear friend from India.