Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ang tilapya... bow!

I had forgotten to greet my father on his birthday; I know that's a sacrilege, so for my post today, I am dedicating this to my father, who, years ago, demanded his children to be at his side and assist him while he did the cooking at home. My father used to be based in Cebu City, and travels all over Visayas and Mindanao. He stayed away from us for stretches of days and months so that whenever he Flickr"was home, he'd never let us out of his sight. It's because of this I have learned to cook. I started by slicing veggies, handing him the spices, later on he'd let me fry the garlic and onions, to taking over and cook under his instructions. I have mastered the recipes by heart.

I am from Roxas City and Roxas City’s is well-known for its abundant seafood supply - mostly consists of bangrus (bangus or milkfish), pasayan (shrimps), lukon (prawns), alimango (king crabs), tilapya, and many other shells.

Born to an Ilonggo father and Bikolana mother, we children enjoyed the bountiful seafood from Roxas City’s waters cooked in Ilonggo-Bikolano style. Tilapya, or tilapia, is common in the Ilonggo and Bikolano’s tables and one of my favorite fish in the whole wide world. There are many ways to enjoy it – fried, grilled, pinaisan (cooked in vinegar), inadobo. But there’s one particular dish that is enjoyed at home, it’s called (I hope I remember this right) picadillo, a burning and sweat-inducing blend of the Ilonggos love for gata (coconut milk) and the Bikolanos’ penchant for red-hot sili.

Living here in Cambodia always makes me yearn for home-cooked food. Eversince having our (Rob and I) own place, I’d started experimenting in the kitchen, cooking from memory or asking Papa for recipes. Luckily for me, tilapyas are available here in Phnom Penh markets.

To cook picadillo, you will need:
One medium or large size tilapya, scaled
Freshly-ground black pepper
Finely diced ginger, tomato, and onion
A cup of gata (coconut milk)
Chopped fresh red chili (siling pula)
Pechay leaves
Salt to taste

Clean the tilapya very well. Set aside.
Except for the gata and pechay, mix the remaining ingredients and stuff it (in the empty space where the guts were taken) inside the tilapya.
Wrap the tilapya in pechay leaves and place it in a pan. Pour the gata over and sprinkle the remaining mixture of ginger, pepper, tomato and onion, plus the chili. Add salt to taste. Cook over slow fire for 10-15minutes, or, until the fish is cooked. Voila! In an instant, the hot and spicy picadillo is done.


Best eaten with steamed rice.
I took the first taste and my, it feels like heaven. Rob, my husband, also loved it! Try nyo!