Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Awesome Red Tinola

San Rafael, Bulacan for me equals authentic provincial cooking. Arriving at Tiyong Amante and Tiyang Ine's house, I went straight to the kitchen to check out what they are preparing and sorted out the sauce bottles and spices. Most of the ingredients came from other Bulacan towns that all the more excited my waiting palate and appetite. I saw an Ate Conching brand Sukang Paombong and cooking oil on the table with fresh produce picked straight from their garden. For breakfast, it’s the overflowing carabao’s milk partnered with salt and rice that brought the house down but it’s the Tinola preparation for lunch that really fascinated me.

The Tinola was prepared meticulously with the chicken rubbed with rock salt before diving into the big metal wok with ginger, onion, and garlic already sizzling and flavoring the provincial fresh air. After the chicken dive, they put in atsuete, a red food coloring used for, well, food, I guess. Then it was not sautéed but “isinangkutsa”, a term that still haunts me in my dreams. I think it is when one put everything in the wok all at the same time to mix all the possible flavors. Then a calculated amount of water, an almost ripe papaya, some dahon ng sili, and chili pepper were added and slowly simmered until reaching that Red Tinola peak worthy of an encore.

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