My parents rarely ever entertain here at home. Most of the time, particularly if there are any relatives from abroad showing up, they’re usually taken to restaurants that serve local cuisine like Kamayan or the Kapampangan-influenced Cabalen. However, on those rare occasions that my folks actually do ask people over, they have a number of really good things on hand to feed a crowd.
Lumpiang Shanghai, meat-filled spring rolls, are a standard-issue offering here at home. Ours are made from a recipe handed down to my mother by my grandmother and one of my grandmother’s aunts who was quite a hand at cooking comida China (which is how Chinese cuisine was called in the Spanish-speaking early years of the 20th Century in this part of the world) back in their home province of Leyte.
Our lumpiang Shanghai begins with a paste made of ground pork seasoned with salt, pepper, minced onion, and crushed garlic. Grated carrots and singkamas [jicama] are added to the resulting paste to give a bit of crispness to the texture. The paste is then spread over thin disks of rice paper and rolled up into thin logs. The logs may be wrapped up in wax paper or clingfilm and kept in the freezer for up to a month. Otherwise, these can be deep-fried till golden and crunchy, then quartered before serving. These go well with Thai-style sweet chili sauce/jam or the sweetish liver sauce (sarsa ng litson) that usually goes with lechon. There are those who dip these babies in ketchup – and, worse, it’s that icky-sweet banana ketchup – but I actually prefer to eat these with a dish of honeyed vinegar.
Okoy, crisp fritters made with tiny shrimps, are another perennial favorite. While we can make these patties at home, usually with a sprinkle of mung bean sprouts for extra crunch, our okoy of choice is purchased from Mrs. Lea Doctor over in nearby Soldiers’ Hills Village. This wonderful little old lady was my professor in Home Economics back in college and is quite famous for her buttery pinipig cookies and her fab lemon chiffon cake. But her okoy – done in grand Visayan style – is something else as she doesn’t scrimp on the shrimps, uses no extenders, and does a consistently crunchy product that tastes fantastic.
Pair these up with a good sparkling white or an ice-cold San Miguel (pale pilsen or cerveza negra only, please. I will shoot you down if you insist on that alcoholic aberration known as San Mig Lite!), and just let the good times roll. 😉