My mom would train us to do household chores while we were growing up. She often said that we needed to learn how to fend for ourselves. This is so that we wouldn’t have a hard time when it was time to have our own families.
When I was in Grade 6, my mom finally decided not to hire household help anymore. We all had to adjust and learn to clean up on our own. I was the eldest, with three younger siblings. At that time, the youngest was just around 5 or 6 years old.
My mom gave me the task of helping out with the cooking. I cannot count how many times I had “kitchen accidents”, but I learned from all of it.
I learned all the knowledge I have of the kitchen purely from my mom, my aunts, and my uncles. I loved watching them cook in our yard during fiestas and family gatherings. Eventually, I perfected cooking rice in a traditional rice pot, and learned how to fry fish without having to get a shield to protect myself from oil splatters (yes, I know a lot of people who still do this!).
I love observing them while they cook because they are very passionate about it. They are very keen on the ingredients, preparation and the procedure. Because of their passion for good food, I now believe that food is an important part of every occasion. I also think that it helps bring a family closer together.
Sinanglay na Tilapia
I am a Bicolana, born and raised in different cities there. Sinanglay na tilapia is a traditional Bicol dish that I learned from my ancestors, and this is something I also want to pass on to my kids so they appreciate the culture of my province.
Bicolanos love to cook everything in coconut milk. For sinanglay na tilapia, we wrap the fish in big pechay leaves and then simmer it in coconut milk.
When I was younger, we would cook it the traditional way: in a large pot over a wood fire. It would take us the entire morning to prepare the ingredients. It started by picking the right coconut. Then, my dad and our helpers would open coconuts using a tabak (a long and very sharp knife).
Then our role as kids would be to grate the coconuts using the traditional coconut grater. My siblings and I would take turns over the next hours—our hands would become very sore! Then we extracted the coconut milk by hand, squeezing out the kakang gata. Kakang gata is sweet and thick and makes the dish very delicious.
It’s important to pick the freshest tilapia for the dish. Choose the live tilapia at the market, and then cook it on the same day you buy it—it just doesn’t taste the same after it is stored in the freezer. We make sure that it is clean before we stuff the spices and assemble the ingredients in the pot.
- 2 large tilapia, cleaned sliced from head to tail
- 8 pieces pechay leaves, cleaned thoroughly
- 1 small thumb ginger, minced and cut into strips
- Onion, minced and cut into strips
- Garlic, minced
- Coconut milk
- Fish Sauce
- Lemongrass (optional)
- Twine or banana leaf strips for tying the fish
- Prepare the ingredients. Make sure to clean the fish thoroughly including the intestines. Please make sure not to pop the fish’s bladder when cleaning to prevent the fish from having a bitter taste.
- Mix the minced ginger, onion, and garlic into a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
- Stuff the fish with the spices and tie it with twine or banana leaf strips.
- Wrap the fish with pechay leaves. If leaves are too small, you can use gabi leaves or skip this part.
- Carefully assemble the fish in a pan, and add the ginger strips, onion and garlic. You can add lemongrass, which adds aroma and taste to this recipe.
- Add the coconut milk and simmer the fish in low heat for 30 minutes or until cooked. Stir the coconut mixture in between.
Another recipe you can make with these ingredients is tilapia picadillo. We just deep fry the fish in vegetable oil. (Please note that when frying, the vegetable oil tends to get dark because of the spices inside the fish.)
My kids love this recipe so much because they love anything with fish, and soupy meals. They eat heartily when they put soup into their hot rice. How about you? Have you tried this recipe before?
About The Writer
Mommy Ning Llorin is a frustrated doctor, a former Critical Care Nurse and now a Stay at Home Mom. After her few years of being a Critical Care Nurse, she decided not to pursue medicine anymore and settled down to focus on her family. Now, she is a Stay at Home Mom, proudly taking care of her three energetic children without extra help. But because she was so used to being on the go prior to having her kids, she decided to share her experiences through writing and that is when she decided to start her blog. She shares basic health teaching, self-love, mental health awareness and advocate financial literacy. She also believes there is so much to share to fellow mommies especially when it comes to the health aspect. Follow her through her journey towards motherhood here: www.thesupermomma.com
Articles written for parenTeam:
• Toddlers and the Obesity Epidemic
• How to Get Your Children Into a Sleeping Routine
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are his/her own, and does not state or reflect those of Wyeth Nutrition and its principals.