Good Friday is coming up this week, a time for fasting and abstinence from pork, beef, poultry, and pretty much all offenses carnal. It is a time to take a break from the cares of the work-a-day world, a time to reflect on the Passion of Christ and its impact on one’s life (or lack of it thereof). It is, in the culinary sense, a time for fish and seafood. Friends in the UK are waxing poetic about such things as their mums’ fish pies and kedgeree. Meanwhile, Down Under, depending on whether you’re Catholic or Eastern Orthodox, dinner will most likely be a fish stew or a spinach and cheese pie.
Here in the Philippines, with all the fish and seafood available to us, the Good Friday dinner – usually the only meal of the day because the vast majority skip breakfast and lunch as it’s a fast day – has never really been a conundrum. In traditional households, the following dishes are usually served:
- Sarciadong galunggong Whole mackerel (galunggong) are first fried till crisp on the outside before being flash-braised with fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, and a bit of fresh ginger;
- Tiyulang [tinolang] isda This dish features lapu-lapu chunks cooked in a clear, ginger-infused broth with malunggay (moringa) leaves and slices of green papaya or chayote;
- Bacalao ala Vizcaina This Spanish treat features salt cod cooked with tomatoes, onions, and garlic in plenty of olive oil. The resulting dish is traditionally eaten with bread (usually the popular pan de sal or the firmer, chewier pinagong), but I find it most appealing with rice;
- Pinaputok na Tilapia Whole tilapia stuffed with fresh tomatoes, onions, and ginger are wrapped in banana leaves and are fried in a covered wok till the fish within is slightly charred and crisp-skinned; and
- Daing na Bangus Dried milkfish, usually deboned, fried till crunchy and served with a side dish of diced tomatoes with salted eggs. May sometimes be accompanied by a steaming hot bowl of ginisang monggo (mung bean stew) flavored with dried anchovies (dilis) or salted fish flakes (tuyo) instead of the usual chicharon (pork crackling).
Recent forays into new restaurants have led to me trying out new things like Trattoria Sicily‘s risotto al pesto which features a timbale of green, basil-flecked rice covered by sauteed clams, squid, fish, and shrimp, the fish katsu from Seoul Tonkatsu over at the SM Megamall food court, and things like laksa and classic fish and chips. All of them are good and all of them are perfect for the meat-free meal.
For those of you who are keen on cooking on Good Friday, let me share with you my own recipe for kedgeree. It’s not traditional, though, as it uses Japanese curry roux and tinned fish rather than curry powder and fresh fish. But, nevertheless, believe me when I say that this dish is certain to satisfy your fasting-induced hunger pangs as well as perk up your palate.
- 2 cubes Japanese curry roux
- 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tin pink or red salmon, drained and contents chunked
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 large potato, peeled and diced
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 2-1/2 cups water
- 4 cups cooked rice
- 2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onions and cook till translucent and fragrant. Add the carrot and potato and cook till softened; stir in the fish and cook for a minute or two. Pour in the water and bring to a boil. Add the curry roux cubes and stir until both have dissolved. Bring to a boil again and cook, whilst stirring, until thickened. Serve over the rice; top with the hard-boiled eggs.