About a month ago, we were visited at home by esteemed food writer and cookbook author Lydia D. Castillo, whom my husband lovingly calls Ninang Didi. She entered our house with an iPad 2 on one hand, and copies of her new cookbook on the other. So cool. Despite her years, she still looked absolutely fabulous and very slender. I was so thrilled when she handed me a signed copy of her book, which I really intended to buy but I was glad I waited a while. Her first bestselling and award-winning In My Basket Cookbook, which features vintage Laguna recipes, came out more than a decade ago so this second book is long overdue. The author’s successful career in the airline industry and extensive travels have led her to compile various recipes from around the globe — some very traditional dishes like the Egyptian Moussaka, Chap Chae, Vietnamese Spring Rolls, as well as original recipes (e.g., Olive-laced Kesong Puti Dip, Mustard-Splashed Tanguigue, etc.). There are exactly 128 recipes in the book, categorized according to the following regions: Hong Kong/Taiwan; Singapore/South Korea/Japan/Other Asian Countries; Australia; Egypt; Europe; Guam and the USA; and also recipes from the author’s The Private Kitchen. I love this book because food and travel are two of my most favorite things in the world. Whenever I go to a particular country or city, I make sure to try that place’s popular grub. Some of my fondest travel memories consist of eating the tastiest and chunkiest clam chowder in San Francisco, yummy Belgian chocolate waffle in Brussels, and freshly-grilled currywurst in Berlin. I certainly believe that in order to better understand a country’s history and culture, one must taste its traditional food. The travel tales and anecdotes in this book make it a more interesting cookbook indeed.
I’d like to share one of the easiest recipes in the cookbook which I recreated at home. Its taste is very simple yet delicious, says my daughter Bea. The tofu and cilantro give it an undeniable Asian flavor —
Silky Tofu with Ground Meat and Cilantro
by Lydia D. Castillo
- Oil for sauteing
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1/4 kg Monterey ground pork
- 1 tbsp fish sauce (patis)
- 250 g silken tofu
- 1 bunch cilantro (kinchay), chopped, reserve some for garnishing
- few drops of sesame oil
- Saute garlic and onion in a little oil.
- Add pork and seasoning. Cover and let simmer.
- When pork is nearly done, add tofu, cutting into small pieces with cooking spoon.
- Add cilantro and mix well.
- After one minute, add sesame oil and cook for another minute.
- Serve with pickled gherkins.
In My Basket Cookbook Travel Collection and Recollections is available at leading bookstores for only P195.