The idea of the homemaker seriously bent over a cooking pot, holding a wooden ladle, furrowed brows in utter concentration, making sure the “bacon” the Mr. brings home is perfectly done to the family’s satisfaction, was surely my father’s way of trying to make me become the good wife he thought every girl should aspire for. Little did he know that the new generation (mine, at the time) would have other ideas. Today, cooking for the family is no longer the sole province of the woman as we were raised to think. The homemaker is no longer only delegated to women either. This is a serious source of relief, especially to those of us who have come to America so late in life and must contend with the business of doing everything on our own.
These changes in most aspects of how life is actually lived here in America have opened me to new and delicious, but simple preparations. This is very important here because the idea of “cooking from scratch” (like Pinoys do everyday) is becoming less ordinary than just ordering a pizza, or opening a can or bottle of spaghetti (a real Italian name I find out, in “Eat, Pray, Love” where Luca Spaghetti’s character in the book is prominently mentioned many times in the first chapter), or sauce and the only real cooking you do is boil the pasta. Everything is so conveniently “ready” that there is no real reason for anyone who lives a particularly busy life to not be able to have a good meal no matter what.
This recipe is so simple to prepare and really delicious that everyone should at least try it once. I’m not kidding. Lami ni kaayo uy!
My Cousin Milo’s Vietnamese Meat Pie
3 cups water
2 cups white sugar
1 cup fish sauce (concentrate)
2-3 limes (calamansi pede din sempre)
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 small red chili pepper finely chopped
Combine all the ingredients and let the flavors marry each other for a day or two before using. So, if you’re doing this the same day as the meat pie, do it first so the spices can blend well at least for a few hours.
1 lb of semi-lean ground pork
8 oz can of water chestnuts (drain and chop)
4 Tbsp of fish sauce
1/2 tsp pepper
3 small bags of clear noodles in pink mesh, soak in warm water till soft and cut with
scissors (sotanghon gud)
5 Tbsp of dried black fungus, soak in warm water and cut with scissors also (I think this
is tengang daga)
10-12 egg whites (scramble yolks separately with a fork and add one whole egg-
save for the topping)
6 shallots (sibuyas na mura), chop finely
2 tsp white sugar
Combine all ingredients together. Mix well and place in a glass or hard plastic heat resistant container. Steam for 30-40 minutes. Add the yolk for the top layer. Continue to steam for another 5 minutes. For a firmer texture, cover with heat resistant plastic wrap or tinfoil.
When serving, the fish sauce is generously slathered on the meat pie and, if you can get it, maybe chop some fresh basil before digging in. Otherwise, the meat pie with the fish sauce will be more than enough to tickle your taste buds.
The first time I had this was in my cousin’s house in Milpitas. It was so good I had to have the recipe. I also did this when I came home to Davao last year and it was also very well received.
One sad tip though, the preferred fish sauce to use for this dish would be Thai or Vietnamese. I did try using our local brands, and it really didn’t mesh with the other flavors too well. Like tilapia in a koi pond. Lain gani…
Another thing, you can lessen the sugar if you like if you have issues with it, but you can’t use brown sugar. I did that and it tasted really bad.
Okay, so go and try it…..and, enjoy!
(Mindanawon Abroad is MindaNews’ effort to link up with Mindanawons overseas who would like to share their experiences in their adopted countries. Dabawenya Margot Marfori is a writer and visual artist who continues to live the Davao she loves. She taught at the University of the Philippines in Mindanao from 1996 to 2002. She is now based more times of the year in Henderson, Nevada, while her youngest son is studying at UNLV, and, where her two older children in San Francisco is near enough to visit.)