Thursday, June 30, 2011

Lugadang Dilis

Lugada is an authentic Caviteno dish that involves sauteeing seafood with greens. It's usually a showcase dish for sting ray, but I learned recently that it is also good with dilis, or anchovies.

And because I had access to fresh dilis, and because I didn't know how to clean and cook sting rays (though I don't lack instruction - vendors at the market assure me they would clean and chop the ray so it's ready for cooking), I took the opportunity to make lugadang dilis.

Lugada rhymes with regada, the water festival celebrated around the Feast of St. John in Cavite City. So it was even more appropriate that we had lugada.

Lugadang dilis, more or less, is sauteeing in a little oil crushed garlic, sliced onions, ginger and tomatoes, then putting in the washed and cleaned fresh anchovies and a little miso after everything has wilted. Then mix sliced mustard greens and native pechay, which will leach out water that would cook all the ingredients.

That's basically it, but a fishmonger's version includes diced salted duck eggs (itlog na maalat)and fresh Cavite carabao's milk cheese (kasilyo), so I included them as well.

It's important to behead the dilis to be able to conveniently enjoy this dish. I actually had qualms about cooking dilis this way because of the tinik - a bane for mothers. But as long as the anchovies are beheaded and the main spines pulled out, this dish is spot on. The process could be cumbersome, but fresh anchovies can be bought already cleaned at the Cavite wet market.

What defines this dish is the mustasa. Ordinarily, mustard greens can be very peppery for comfort - the bite is overpowering for children and even for adults. But mixed with pechay, the bite is diluted and is reduced to an accent, but still very much present. With the umami aspect of anchovies and the salty-creamy notes of the egg and the cheese, this is a multi-dimensional, sophisticated dish inspite of the ordinary and common ingredients.

Mustasa is also made into buro in Cavite, preserved in brine. This tempers the peppery trait of the vegetable, and is eaten as a side, perhaps with the function of a pickle. It is washed before cooking, and is also sauteed sliced with garlic, ginger, and tomatoes.

Related Posts
Isdang Cavite
Isdang Cavite: Puti at De Kolor

Bahay Kubo

Bahay kubo, kahit munti
Ang halaman doon ay sari-sari
Singkamas at talong, sigarillas at mani
Sitaw, bataw, patani

Kundol, patola, upo’t kalabasa
At saka meron pa, labanos, mustasa
Sibuyas, kamatis, bawang at luya
Sa paligid-ligid ay puno ng linga

Roughly translated as:

Bahay Kubo
(Filipino folk song)

Nipa hut, even though small
the plants surrounding it are varied and many
turnips and eggplants, winged beans and peanuts
yard-long beans, hyacinth beans, lima beans

wax gourd, sponge gourd, bottle gourd, squash
and there’s more, radish, mustard
onions, tomatoes, garlic and ginger
the surrounding spaces filled with sesame

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