Filipino budget meals

Nowadays, life has become difficult. Economic downtrend do not seem to have an end yet. World leaders particularly those in industrialized countries are brain breaking to find relief so that they can live again with prosperity and abundance. Desperation is prevalent. Hunger is on the rise. But us Filipinos are known to be hardened human specie. We are adaptable to every situation. We always find ways.

With hardships on the rise, we do not have to adapt new things and practices. Instead we should “go back to basics”, go back to the “practices of the early days”. One of the things/practices we have to go back to are the food that our lolos and lolas and parents used to enjoy. The kind of food that kept then healthy and gave them longer life. The kind of food that gave them sharp memories and good eyesight despite old age. It was this kind of food that brought out the old adage “kalabaw lang ang tumatanda”.

Budget meals do not follow any typical recipes wherein proportion of each and every ingredient and the cooking instruction is presented. Budget meals Filipino style is tantsahan lang. Meaning ingredients are added based on one’s estimate and taste preference. Take the following :

Lapú (with stress at the last syllable), or linapwahan or laswa is vegetable stew.  There are numerous versions of linapwahan, depending on your preference. Here’s the basic recipe:

Boil 1 cup of water with sliced onions (bombay) and some dilis (dried anchovies). Add sliced squash, cover and simmer for a minute. Then add string beans (cut to 2 inches long) and crushed garlic, cover and simmer for another minute. Then add tagabang and/or malonggay. Add salt to taste and ½ teaspoon oil. You may add vetsin. Cover and remove from heat. Eat while still simmering hot.

Lapú could  be a combination of any or all of the cited vegetables. You may also use alogbate leaves instead of tagabang and malonggay. Combining alogbate with either tagabang or malonggay do not taste good for me. But tagabang and malonggay make a tasty combination.

Instead of dilis, you may use flaked fish. Left over grilled or fried fish will taste just as great especially if you include the head of the fish. But for ground beef/pork it is better to use alogbate instead of tagabang and or malonggay. If you use fried fish, pork or beef you don’t have to add oil to your linapwahan. But you can do away with the oil if you will be having pork or beef dishes in addition to your linapwahan.

Saykwa or sikwa (patola in Tagalog) will the make the linapwahan smell so good. Tanglad (lemon grass, known for its anti cancer property) will surely make the linapwahan awesome to the palate and you’ll beg for more.


Egg sarciado (Saucy egg?). Whatever its English name, that’s it. It taste good if paired with prito nga uga (fried dried fish) specially uga nga sapsap or pinakas. Sapsap is a flat roundish fish about 3” diameter, silvery in color, I dunno it’s English name. Pinakas is some kind of tuna fish cut half from the backbone to its belly.

Saucy egg (sounds good, right?) is basically hard cooked egg with sauce. All you have to do is hard cook  some eggs let’s say 5 eggs, by boiling it in plain water for about 15-20 minutes. Peel and quartered lengthwise. Then arrange the cut eggs in a platter and set aside.

Then, saute some crushed garlic, minced onions and about a cupful of sliced tomatoes. Add some water, cover and simmer for about 3 minutes. Mash (duludogmok) the tomatoes to extract its meat and produce the sauce. Add salt to taste. Then pour mixture over your cut eggs. Ola!!! This is best serve for breakfast.
Pinamarhan nga isda ( fish cooked in vinegar and spices)

There a number of ways of doing this. One was taught to me by Boy, a family friend and a Bicolano. He cooks the fish in very little water with crushed garlic, ginger, lemon grass, sliced onions. When water almost dries up, add some vinegar. When the vinegar is almost dry, add some salt, vetsin (optional) and oil. Instead of oil, you may use thick coconut milk. Cover and simmer for a while, then serve. If you use coconut milk, your dish becomes linabug nga isda.

By the way, when cooking pinamalhan (or pinamarhan, paksiw, inun-unan nga isda) using vinegar (langgaw or suka) use only stainless steel pot. Clay pot is a lot better. Never use aluminum-made pot and ladle because it chemically reacts with vinegar (acetic acid) forming toxic substance that will cause grastro-intestinal illness.

Another way of cooking pinamarhan is using sliced tomatoes or ibậ (kamias) to give it its sour taste instead of vinegar. You simply cook the fish in little water with crushed onions, garlic, ginger, sliced tomatoes or ibậ, salt to taste, vetsin (optional) until the water dries up. Little oil may be added before removing from heat.
 Pinakbet or pakbet

This is an Ilocano recipe. What I know Ilocanos would only wrap all the ingredients in several pieces of banana leaves and cooked over live / burning coal. That's it! I'd like to do this sometime in the future.

At home, well I saute the ingredients with lots of tomatoes. Tomatoes give the pinakbet that thick and a bit sour taste. I also cook the pork in a little water and salt. This is to squeeze out some of its fat and make the skin a little crunchy that when added to the pinakbet, the skin softens and becomes chewy.
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