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Pasko Paksiw Pasko Paksiw Pasko Paksiw


I might be over with this Filipino tongue twister but absolutely not to the real taste of Paksiw any time of the year.

Paksiw is an authentic Filipino method of cooking meat in vinegar. This style originated from our early ancestors when the comfort of refrigerators don't exist yet. Thus, to prolong the life of dishes, they poached fishes in vinegar, the only natural preservative they can avail.

Vinegar has acetic acid that kills microbes and stalls food spoilage and so Filipinos use them a lot, and to no surprise, there comes paksiw na isda, paksiw na baboy and paksiw na lechon, paksiw paksiw paksiw. I nearly got sick of it but no Filipino household survives without paksiw.

Unfortunately kids these days rarely see the authentic paksiw na isda, or even smell the simmering blend of vinegar, fish and spices. In provinces, neighbours would usually know when someone is cooking paksiw because of its (nakakagutom, nakakalaway) salivating aroma.

I would admit I didn't like paksiw when I was young but it was a treasure being brought up from a home of hot bowl of rice and steaming paksiw on Saturday mornings.

It’s still quite vivid from my childhood how I hated the smell of paksiw whenever my father, Rodrigo, an Ilongo from Negros Occidental cooks a pot enough to last for three days. He loved his paksiw using sapsap (butterfish) in sukang tuba (coconut fermented vinegars) and a gracious amount of red onions, crushed garlic, and fresh ginger. He would carefully arrange the spices and fishes in his favourite pot and the smell would stick in his hand. He would try to cuddle me and my brother and we would run because we don’t like the smell of spices.

But it’s too late for me when I began to like paksiw especially that of bangus milkfish, Papa passed away when I began to love cooking. I had no chance to cook him his favourite paksiw.

But thanks to mama who fashioned me into loving the mess and joy of cooking .Whenever I cook paksiw I relish every memory I have with papa cooking paksiw na sapsap (butterfish) and the aroma that I once hated but now loved.


Writing this I thought, paksiw is indeed more than a method. To those who were before us, they left us a heritage, to dad, he left me a legacy I will promise to pass on even to my kids no matter how they whine.

So come and join me in this nostalgic traditional dish slowly replaced by hotdogs on weekend mornings.


INGREDIENTS

2 pieces fish (I prefer bangus or milkfish), cleaned and scales removed

1 knob ginger, sliced and pounded

6 cloves garlic, skin removed

1 medium onion, sliced

1 small bitter gourd, chopped (optional)

3 medium eggplants (optional)

3 pieces finger chili

2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon whole peppercorn

1/2 cup vinegar 

1 cup water


COOKING PROCEDURE

1.      Heat cooking pot then  pour-in vinegar and water.

2.      Add salt and whole peppercorn then stir. Bring to a boil.

3.      Arrange the fish in the pan along with the ginger, garlic, onion, bitter gourd, eggplants, and finger chili. 

4.      Cover and simmer in low to medium heat.

5.      Turn off the heat and transfer to a serving plate.

6.      Serve hot with steamed rice. 


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