I’m a farmer’s daughter, raised in one of the largest rice granaries in the Province of Sorsogon in Bicol Region. There were numerous times we accompany our father to the rice field for the planting and harvest seasons. I would always love to go. I loved walking on the narrow rice paths and sometimes, would fell in the rice paddies, making me wet and muddy all day long. I love the smell of the rice fields and the foods we bring, that we almost feel like we’re in a picnic. I was so happy looking at our neighbors and their families who would also help in the farm. It was a beautiful sight. I still would love to go to the rice fields sometime in the future.
I didn’t go to a culinary school but I love to cook. My grandmother, Lola Bebeng, loves to cook rice cakes, and her sister, Lola Conseng, is the family’s cook. She cooks in a restaurant before, she’s invited to cook in big celebrations like weddings and fiestas and even big events. Every time we visit her or she visits us, she would teach me how to cook some of her recipes. I was inquisitive back then to know some of her secrets.
As Lola Conseng would tell me, it’s the advance preparation of the meat or the fish that would make it flavorful. She would marinade them a night before or hours before she would cook them. This time, I would feature what I call a “Farmer’s Plate” and all the ingredients in it.
Let’s start with the fried fish. To make it flavorful, I usually stew the fish with vinegar and spices like ginger, garlic and chili. We call this dish in Bicol, Inun-on. Here’s how to prepare this: 1) Clean the fish by removing the scales, trimming the fins, removing the intestines and spleens, and washing them; 2) Wrap at least 4-5 medium fishes using the banana leaves, but before wrapping, add in each wrap all the spices, slices of garlic, chili and peppercorns.; 3) In a pot, place all the wraps, and add more slices of garlic, chili and whole peppercorns. 4) Add in vinegar (for a kilo of fish) at least 1/2 cup vinegar, 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon cooking oil and 1 tablespoon of salt; 5) Let it simmer, until there’s only a little remaining liquid. Let it cool before placing them all in a flat container with lid. You’ll be ready to fry them anytime you wish. This would make your fish flavorful.
For the adobo, please see the link for the cooking process, https://beautifulpeopleinc.com/2020/07/01/pinoys-garlic-pork-adobo/. You may prepare the garlic adobo rice by sauteing garlic and adobo slices. Add the warm rice and mix all the ingredients well. After this, you may slice tomatoes, salted eggs, red onions and some more chili. For the dip, in a bowl, add 3 tablespoon of soysauce, 1 big piece calamansi juice and 1 teaspoon of Chili Ni Baggy (chili and garlic paste), for added spiciness.
The plating is easy as well. Just place the fried adobo rice in the center, top it with garlic flakes, surround it with fried Inun-on (fish stew), slices of tomatoes, red onions, chili, salted eggs, and some adobo. And don’t forget the dip of soy sauce, chili and calamansi juice. Have a flavorful “Farmer’s Plate”! Let’s dig in! 🙂
Should you like to have some bottles of Chilli Ni Baggy, you may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.