Dinner for a “Balikbayan” Highschool Classmate…


A very tall white brunette, who was born in Manila to a British father, who later voluntarily opted to take on Filipino citizenship because he loved the country that much, and an American mother. She attended Assumption college in the early years and spoke Filipino probably better than I did by high school, and we were classmates and good friends at the International School. She is in town to visit her mom, and we had both of them over to dinner last night. As we do for all balikbayan friends, we ask them for whatever food cravings they might need to fix, and this was the resulting meal, based on her requests…


They had already had several heavy meals rich with food and desserts and requested a “green start” — so first up, a platter of seaweed. We used to head out to their beach house in Batangas in high school and this was a trip down memory lane to a time when seaweed was abundantly available and utterly simple and delicious. We have a vinegar, lime, fish sauce dip along with the seaweed but you didn’t really need it to enjoy the pops of brine liquid in the tiny grape like sacs.


We added two other salads — first a pako or fern salad with cherry and pear tomatoes and a soy vinegar dressing, and a sigadilyas and grilled chicken salad with a coconut milk, lime and fish sauce dressing. It looks like a lot. We had to refill the platters and there were only four of us. :)


A seafood heavy dinner request almost inevitably means steamed and chilled alimasag or cross crabs in our household. These ones were particularly meaty, soft and sweet. I could have eaten 3 of these with the accompanying red vinegar and garlic dip. But I was good and had just one.


Large prawns with garlic butter is another seafood staple around these parts, and these large prawns were perfectly cooked, redolent with butter and softened fragrant garlic.


Finally, our friend requested lechon, and on short notice and for four people, we opted to re-heat a kilo pack we had in the freezer. It still provided that porky hit and surprisingly, if you watch the skin closely while it roasts in a hot oven, you can get it back to pretty darned crispy condition! You know you have hit the spot bang center, when most of the food is wiped clean off the platters, the conversation goes on and on, and you manage to have serious portions of three different desserts including sans rival, a chocolate meringue cake and a dayap pie on top of it all! We are always so happy to see old (meaning from way back when, not aged, hahaha) friends, have them over to dinner, and hopefully, satisfy most of their food cravings!


18 Responses

  1. Nina, I got these at the FTI Saturday market, but would recommend you buy them at Seaside market in Baclaran instead. Unlike being in Batangas or Palawan or Cebu, where you can get the seaweed just hours out of the water, I actually find city purchased seaweed to be less than ideal. The reason the platter looks so appetizing is that we carefully picked over our purchases and half of the seaweed was set aside and only the best bits were served. Aesthetically, this is an important step and makes it look far better than the original purchase… You can probably also get decent seaweed at the Farmer’s Market in Cubao.

    Thel, thanks. I am sure you do a wonderful meal for friends as well, what with all those flowers from your yard!

  2. feast for the eyes as well as the bellies. i find that reheating lechon in the turbo (convection) broiler does a better and faster job of “re-crisping” the skin. if you watch the time closely, the meat will still be juicy and perfect.

  3. Top pic is quite effective.

    With those beautiful blue handpainted plates in one’s possession, it truly puzzles me that one would still hanker for Astier de Villate. The name alone would throw me off balance particularly if spoken by anyone confusing the sounds of v and b as most of us are wont to do. Anyway, it is interesting to discover that this use of ceramic blue is an offshoot of Italian majolica painting technique that reached Portugal via Spain. I’m drawn to it almost as powerfully as to Ming blue and white specially in the way they employ them in embellishing interior and exterior architectural spaces in both Portugal and Brazil.

  4. Footloose, the plates are very nice, but also “compete” with the food, so one has to think about when to use them to best effect. Maybe a buffet at the beach would work best.

    When my parents built their “dream house”, my mother had cabinets installed in the kitchen that had shelves that were more than a meter deep. She used to store her china/ceramic services/patterns in a single row, but deep into the recesses of the cabinets. That way, she could see all the patterns or sets she had once she opened the cabinet, and if using that pattern, all the plates were pulled out and cleaned before use. I used to roll my eyes at that until now, when I have kitchen paraphernalia stuffed in all parts of the house, and I can’t recall where much of it is…

  5. You know you wow them either with your place setting or your entrées. Just ask sister about her visit to L’Ambrosie.

  6. Blue and white vs celedon. So pretty, even more with those fresh, colorful salad. A visual treat, obrigada!



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