All this food aid distribution can make one hungry… While we mostly kept going on sandwiches brought up from Cebu City, we weren’t that hungry while on the road in Northern Cebu. But back in Manila for the weekend for previous appointments, I started to feel not only exhausted, but famished as heck. We invited some foreign friends and their visiting guests to dinner one Sunday evening, and I promised to cook a pinoy meal. Nothing calms and rejuvenates me like hitting the market at the crack of dawn and planning out a meal for later in the day. This is what we had that evening. Up top, a cold salad of kamote tops, red katuray flowers (which turned a beautiful purple once cooked), kangkong and tomatoes, dressed with kalamansi/dayap, patis… see similar recipe, here.
There were only 8 people dining that evening, but we enjoyed the leftovers for two further meals the next day. We had a large dish of vegetarian sotanghon, as well as a meatless and seafoodless ginataang kalabasa and long bean dish and one end of the table. Guests had dietary restrictions and I managed a meal totally devoid of pork. Amazing, I know. :)
Vegtarian sotanghon was one of my favorites that evening, recipe here.
The veggies were a bit watery, and we should have added or cooked down the coconut cream some more, but I find fresh coconut milk curdles under high heat. If faced with the same problem, mash some of the squash and mix it into the sauce. The squash we bought was also under-ripe, to exacerbate matters. Similar recipe for this, here, or here.
On either side of the dining table we had a large platter of steamed alimasag, served chilled as this enhances its natural flavor and makes picking the meat out of the shells a little easier. The crab was served with a classic dipping sauce of native vinegar with smashed garlic, and a chili crab sauce specially made for a couple of the guests. This latter move was inspired, and I would do it again. Just make big batches of chili crab sauce and freeze it, and have it ready when you have fresh crab to serve alongside… We also had a platter of chicken inasal (not in any of the photos) for folks who wanted some meat.
Finally, a large dish of kinilaw na tuna or ceviche, with coconut milk and pickled ginger, Marketman household touch that works really nicely, similar recipe here and here. For dessert, guests brought a FANTASTIC homemade carrot cake that I consider to be the best I have ever eaten. Now to wangle a recipe out of the guests… :) At the end of dinner, totally unprovoked, each guest quietly handed me an envelope with funds for relief goods for Northern Cebu. Collected from their friends, office mates, guests, and just dozens of locals and foreigners moved to help, the collective amount I unexpectedly received that night would pay for say another 15-20 sacks of rice… Amazing indeed. :)