Food Trip to Plaza Miranda – Manila Newsletter
Manila Food & Drink Tours normally focus on Divisoria, Chinatown, Sta. Cruz, and the region of Malate-Ermita. Very often neglected, the Quiapo district is more often associated with religious rites centered on the miraculous image of the black Nazarene. Due to this misconception, the food found on the streets around Quiapo Church and Plaza Miranda remains largely unknown.
Herbs to cook, care for and plant – When Thai cuisine became a hit in Manila, cooks found it almost impossible to find the herbs requested in the original recipes. Very few people knew that these herbs are cultivated in the Philippines and sold largely for medicinal purposes alongside talismans (anting-anting) and love potions on the sidewalks around Quiapo Church. You just have to know what they are called in Tagalog.
Holy basil is called sulasi. It is widely used in Mindanao dishes. The herb is sold fresh and ready to cook or plant. Red ginger or galangal buds, known to sellers as langkawas, are easy to grow using pieces of the roots sold in Quiapo. Mature stems of oregano, rosemary (romero), mint (herba Buena) and turmeric roots (luyang dilaw) also await the plantitas.
Herbal vendors generously share tips on using herbs for various ailments.
For real Ilocanos – The hard-to-find Ilocano vegetable line on one side of R. Hidalgo Street, once famous for camera repair shops in the days of film photography. Farmers and vendors in regions 1 and 2 lovingly care for papait leaves still complete with roots and soil, flowers resembling locoton or imbaba-o worms, white katuray flowers, unopened kalabasa flowers, long green peppers without heat, red multiplier onions, and heirloom pumpkin-shaped tomatoes.
To complete the list of authentic ingredients, the place also sells bagoong fish to use in dips and add to dinengdeng.
Fish pasalubong – Ready-to-cook fish from the villages around Laguna de Bay are sold in huge bamboo baskets where Villalobos Street begins in Plaza Miranda. Baby daing na bangus are sold by the tumpok, as low as four pieces for 50. They fry so crisp, the bones and everything.
Danggit Lagoon – Tilapia multiply so quickly that millions of tilapia fry were once considered pests, eating all the food intended for the bangus. Then someone dried the little fish just like Cebu’s famous danggit, and the rest is history. A new value-added product was born and became a great success.
Pinangat or sinaing? – Very popular for home consumption and as a gift, the na tulingan pinangat is brought every afternoon from the seaside towns of Batangas. Also called sinaing, the fish is covered with pork fat and dried kamia fruit in a large palayok (clay pot) for several hours until the fish bones become tender and every drop of fish oil. oozes fish.
Sinaing, often wrapped in banana leaves, lasts several days without refrigeration, longer if leftovers are fried or cooked with gata (coconut milk). Crumbled, the meat could even be mixed with mayonnaise and chopped onions or pickles to make sandwiches and salads.
Also called sinaing, the fish is covered with pork fat and dried kamia fruit in a large palayok (clay pot) for several hours until the fish bones become tender and every drop of fish oil. oozes fish.
Bighead shrimp – Freshwater shrimp are abundant in Laguna Lake, but are ignored by fishermen as they have little commercial value, being only good in okoy or added to vegetable dishes.
An enterprising housewife cooks the shrimp, also called tagunton, in lots of coconut milk and chili peppers until oily and almost dry. The end product, now sold by the glass, is popular for pulutan and as meat.
Other surprises await adventurers. Just keep your eyes and mind open.
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