Friday, April 5, 2019

Filipino Tuna Bacalhau

Cavite (Filipino: Kabite) is a province of the Philippines located on the southern shores of Manila Bay in the CALABARZON region inLuzon, just 30 kilometers south of Manila. Cavite is surrounded by Laguna to the east, Metro Manila to the northeast, and Batangas to the south. To the west lies the South China Sea.

Cavite got its name from a Tagalog word kawit (which means hook) owing to the hook-shaped land on the Old Spanish map. The land was formerly known as "Tangway" where Spanish authorities constructed a fort from which the city of Cavite rose. Archeological evidence in coastal areas show prehistorical settlements. According to local folklore, the earliest settlers of Cavite came from Sulu or Borneo. In the 17th century, encomiendas or Spanish Royal land grants were given in Cavite and Maragondon. Jesuit priests brought in settlers from Mollucas. These settlers, known as "Mardicas," set Other settlements grew and by the turn of the century, Cavite towns were already trading with one another.Traditional industries began to thrive as Manila's commerce grew. The main languages spoken are Tagalog, Chabacano and English. Chabacano, sometimes spelled as Chavacano, is a creole originally spoken by majority of the Caviteños that lived in Cavite City and Ternate after the arrival of the Spaniards three centuries ago. Around 30000 Caviteños speak Chabacano.

Well, I am sorry I don't mean to bore you.I don't know but every time I post my recipe I cant help but to proceed telling history or stories. Now this recipe, the Bacalhau is very rich with history and colored with flavors from our ancestors. I spent some years living in Cavite City because my sister lives there. Naturally the best place for us Filipinos is to live with your relatives. Later on, I met my future husband ( my hubby now) through our mutual friend. So, Cavite is somehow a memorable place to me because I lived, worked and in the end found my partner. Part of my memory in this place were my friends and the kind of food that I enjoyed a lot... pancit, tacos, cripsy pata, halayang ube and a lot more... Oh my what a memory!

Now lets go back to Bacalhau.The Cavite Chavacano of preparing bacalao is a confluence of tastes formed by long arduous journeys across seas and continents. No one can claim to possess the original recipe, but because of adaptation (to available ingredients) and transformation (of taste and economy), change is inevitable. I read also that several restaurants in another town of the Philippines called Masbate are still serving Bacalhau the Portugal way. It is very interesting to me because years ago I discovered my surname is a name of a city in Portugal but thats a different story

The fish is cooked by gently moving the pan in a circular motion over a low fire, until the oil takes on a dull matte yellow color. The end result should have the consistency of a light mayonnaise. The fish is then set aside to cool. In the same pan, garlic, onion, tomato, bell pepper, chili peppers (siling labuyo) and bay leaf are sauteed in olive oil. Once the garlic turns brown, the pre-cooked garbanzos and olives are added. When the flavors have blended, the mixture is poured onto the fish and served with steaming white rice and freshly grated green mango in salted brine or better yet, burong manga (fermented green mango on rice washing and salt).Over the years, the dish has evolved with the use of repolyo (cabbage) as an extender. The extender was an economic necessity but it makes the bacalhau watery because the salt from the fish draws out the moisture from the vegetable. Other innovations included adding tomato sauce, or in its absence, colored with achuete (annatto seeds) to simulate the red color of the tomato.

My version of Bacalhau is cooked with olive oil, crushed tomato, roasted bell pepper, bay leaf, onion, garlic and ever dependable Tuna Chunks in Brine or preferably in Water.
6 cans of Tuna Chunks/Flakes in Brine/Water, drained
1 cup yellow onion chopped
6 to 12 cloves garlic (and more is the best) grated
3/4 cup olive oil + 1/4 cup olive oil
2 cans of 28 ounce crushed tomato
2 pcs bay leaf
1 12 ounces can or jar of roasted red bell pepper, chopped or 1 large roasted red bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp dried chili flakes
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Start by draining tuna and set aside..
Heat a sauce pan, put 3/4 cup olive oil.
Put the chopped garlic followed by chopped onion.
Saute the mixture until it smells so good and the onion caramelized
Then add crushed tomato, bay leaf and mix well.
Once it boils,turn the heat to simmering mode.
Simmer for abour 10 minutes then add Tuna, mix, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Then add 1/4 cup olive oil chopped roasted bell pepper, chili flakes, salt, sugar and pepper.
Simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

Here's the precious Bacalhau, the very expensive dried cod fish in the Philippines and apparently cheap in Spain. But these days, you can actually substitute and use another type of dried fish as long as it can taste and look like Bacalhau once its cooked. For me since I wanna play safe and I wanted to avoid salt, I decided to use Tuna in can. Aside from the fact that fresh tuna is somewhat expensive and most of the time when youre working,you dont have time. So, Tuna in can is the best friendly option..easy to find and easy to cook.

What I love in this dish is that its simplicity will just bring you to appreciate eating it with rice, or bread or even salted crackers or plain crackers. If you plan to lose weight, its also a good substitute with the usual meal that you love, just dont forget to eat fruits and veggies. Come to think of it.. its tuna, olive oil and its really good.

During Spanish occupation in our country, Spain recruited its forces from Portugal. Basically these joint forces of Spain and Portugal created a mixture of cuisine influence to our country. No wonder, if we trace the roots of Bacalhau, then it will lead us to Portugal. Hmmmnnn... I could only praise this influence. Theres war, theres pain, theres confusion, theres hunger but in the end we come up to still appreciate and embrace what is good and thats history..the reality. Anyway, come one, come all, lets eat, lets giggle and lets be merry..Have a great week to all..

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  1. This sounds so good and I bet tastes delicious. Thank you for the recipe to make this dish!

  2. I always enjoy reading through your recipes, and the stories you bring with them :)
    My family likes tuna so I know they'll enjoy this!

    1. Wow Linda, thank you for the lovely comment, appreciate it so much. have a great week


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