MANILA, Philippines?Batchoy and pancit molo are the stars in the station of Café Jeepney?s Iloilo Food Festival. The hearty buffet, prepared by restaurateur and guest chef Pauline Gorriceta-Banusing, includes fresh seafood such as oysters and diwal, juicy, large shellfish shaped like angel wings.
The lumpiang ubod, spring rolls made with slivers of heart of coconut palm, is decidedly different from the way it?s prepared in Manila. For one thing, it doesn?t have the sweet brown sauce usually slathered over the roll.
Speaking of sweetness, because Iloilo is the land of sugar plantations, there?s no lack of desserts on the buffet table.
A must-try is the yema cake, with its topping of sweetened egg yolks and an airy meringue frosting.
Other native delicacies are the inday-inday (the Visayan version of palitaw), warm butterscotch pudding, suman sa ibos served with Guimaras mangoes and cassava bibingka.
One beloved staple that typifies what Chef Pauline describes as the freshness and simplicity of Ilonggo cuisine is chicken inasal. Marinated in vinegar mixture, the chicken is simply grilled while being basted with a mixture of oil, margarine and calamansi juice, its color perked up with achuete seeds.
I tried cooking Chef Pauline?s recipe at home and found the result delicious.
Moreover, you don?t even need the special Visayan vinegar called sinamak.
You can just use any native cane vinegar and the result would also be good (though using sinamak would make it taste more authentic).
Here is Chef Pauline?s recipe for chicken inasal.
(The Iloilo Food Festival dishes are served at Hotel InterContinental?s Café Jeepney for lunch, daily, and dinner, from Monday to Saturday, until Sept. 30, tel. 793-7000.)
1 whole dressed chicken, sliced into quarters, or 8 pieces chicken drumsticks or thighs
1 c native cane vinegar
1 bottle (about 1 1/3 cups) 7-up
1 thumb-sized ginger, minced
6 pcs calamansi
2 tbsp rock salt
2 tsp pepper
For basting sauce:
1/4 c cooking oil
2 tbsp margarine
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp achuete seeds
2 pcs calamansi
Marinate chicken in mixture of vinegar, 7-Up, ginger, calamansi juice, salt and pepper for at least one hour, or overnight in refrigerator.
When ready to cook, heat an indoor grill or charcoal in an outdoor grill to medium. If desired, thread chicken into barbecue sticks. Cook chicken over grill until done, basting frequently with the basting sauce.
To prepare basting sauce:
Heat oil in a saucepan then add margarine and salt. Drop in achuete seeds and stir until color is extracted. Remove from heat and add calamansi juice. Use to baste chicken.