Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pateros Fiesta Cuisine Series #2 - Meat Rolls

For this posting, I would like to introduce you to a group of fiesta food that can be prepared days in advance. This saves the hosts some time so they can concentrate on dishes that must be prepared on the eve or the day of the fiesta itself. Considering that visitors are expected as early as around ten in the morning, these time-saving food can come in very handy.

Lumpiang Shanghai (Fried Meat Rolls)

First on my list is the ever-reliable Lumpiang Shanghai. This is a dish that is an all-time favorite in restaurants, fast food and even as a street food. For my version of this dish, the filling is a mixture of egg, ground pork, minced onion, carrot, bell pepper and kimchay. These ingredients are mixed together in a bowl and sprinkled with rock salt and ground pepper. If you want some crunch, you can add chopped water chestnuts into the mixture. Small portions are then wrapped in fresh lumpia wrappers and then fried until golden brown.

The lumpia can be chopped into bite size pieces to make it easier for the guests to munch on these yummy rolls. Dipped in either catsup or sweet and sour chili sauce, lumpiang shanghai is great both with rice or as pulutan (bar chow) while drinking.

Embotido (Meat Loaf)

Next on my list is the bigger cousin of the Lumpiang Shanghai. The Embotido has almost the same ingredients as the lumpia, except for a few differences. It is technically a meat loaf, made from finely grounded pork, chopped onion and bell pepper, minced carrots, raisins and sliced boiled eggs. For special occasions, I would pour evaporated milk into the mixture for a more creamy taste. The ingredients are mixed together until they attain a consistency that will allow it to be rolled into 6-inch logs.

For a more authentic Embotido, the log is wrapped in a membrane taken from a pig's stomach cavity. This whitish membrane is strong enough to keep the mixture together during cooking, and is edible so there is no need to unwrap the embotido before serving. Cooking the embotido is a two-step process. First, the meat logs are wrapped either in aluminum foil or the more traditional katsa (cheese cloth) and then steamed. Although it can already be eaten after being steamed, the logs can also be sliced and then fried. This dish can be dipped either in catsup or mayonnaise, or a combination of both.

Hamonado (Filipino Pineapple Ham)

Another pork dish that can be kept in the refrigerator until needed is the Hamonado. This dish does not require a lot of stuffing, in fact it can do without any. It relies mainly on the sweet-salty flavor of the meat. The lean pork is carefully cut into thin sheets that can be rolled into logs. The meat is marinated overnight in a mixture of pineapple juice, salt, sugar, and beer. And may I hasten to add, it has to be San Miguel Pale Pilsen.

When the meat is ready, it is spread out in a large flat dish and then finely sliced strips of Chorizo de Bilbao is spread out on the surface before it is rolled into a log. The log is secured by running a string around it to secure the edges. The meat logs are then arranged in a saucepan together with the remaining marinade. The meat is then boiled using the marinade until almost dry. The Hamonado is cut into medallions and served topped with the pineapple tidbits.

Morcon (Beef Rolls)

I saved the best for last. Morcon is one dish that ages gracefully. The longer I keep it in the ref, the more delicious it becomes. This is why this dish is better prepared the day before it is to be served. Like the Hamonado, this is a rolled meat but using beef instead of pork. The meat is marinated overnight in soy sauce and calamansi. For special occasions, red wine can be added into the marinade.

When the meat is ready, strips of carrots, celery and red pepper are spread over the meat - and then topped with slices of Chorizo De Bilbao, olives and boiled eggs. Then the meat is rolled into a log and secured by running a string around it. The meat logs are put into a pressure cooker with the marinade and tomato sauce added to it. Water may also added so that all the meat logs are submerged into the mixture. Laurel leaves can also be added for an exquisite flavor. The meat is then boiled until tender and the sauce becomes thick. Chopped carrots, bell pepper, celery and olives can be added to the sauce for added flavor. Like the hamonado, the meat log is sliced into medallions before the sauce is poured over it.

These meat dishes are my so called "after-fiesta" food because they can be kept in the ref, then heated or fried as needed. Totally not recommended for those with hypertension!

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