SOL JOSE VANZI: THE GARLIC TRICK THAT WILL SAVE YOU 300 PESOS

The most important ingredient in the Pinoy kitchen is also the most expensive. Here’s a kitchen hack that’ll save you RRR. Garlic, the most essential ingredient in every Filipino kitchen, is now also the most expensive; and even government officials in charge of agricultural products cannot explain why. “There is enough supply of garlic,” the Department of Agriculture (DA) announced over the weekend. Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala has ordered an investigation over reports that prices of imported and locally grown garlic increased to as much as P290 kilo. “I don’t see any reason prices [of garlic] should go up,” Alcala added. “Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that the local harvest of garlic increased in 2013 to 8,650 metric tons from 8,490 metric tons in 2012.” One sector is rejoicing from this unreasonable price increase: garlic farmers, mostly from the Ilocos region which produces 65 percent of the country’s total production of roughly 15,000 metric tons annually. Garlic farmers are understandably elated over the unexpected bonanza, which could make many of them instant millionaires. Recent pilot projects show average harvests at 4,000 kilos per hectare, or a minimum gross income of P800,000 per hectare at current prices. *** My grandma bought garlic only once a month, although she cooked for 25 people daily. She had a valuable kitchen trick that continues to save me a lot of work and cash: Keeping crushed garlic in a jar of cooking oil. READ MORE...

MORE FROM SOL VANZI: Will travel for food

Food tourism has surged to the top of the current trends. Filipinos do not have to be told this: A true-blue Pinoy travels by his stomach. It is always easy to guess with accuracy where a friend has spent the weekend—the clues lie in the food presents brought back as gifts for friends and family.

  • Durian and pomelo indicate Davao;
  • suman, duhat, and kasuy nuts can only come as a trio from an Antipolo pilgrimage;
  • fat mud crabs hint at Iloilo and Roxas City;
  • bagnet and longoniza scream Ilocos; pineapples, coffee, and whole bunches of tiny señorita bananas are fresh harvests from Cavite and Batangas farms;
  • fermented cured meats tapa and tocino are Pampanga special takeaways;
  • chicharon and lechon kawali are proudly Bulacan-sourced.

Aside from the pasalubong (trip souvenirs as gifts), the traveler enthusiastically regales everyone with tales of great food indigenous to the places visited. Indeed, as explained by Unilever sous chef Carlos “Pipo” Aluning, “Traveling for Filipinos is not just about the sights anymore; people are now going around the Philippines in search of authentic local eats.” CONTINUE READNG...


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The garlic trick that will save you 300 pesos


by Sol Vanzi

MANILA, JUNE 23, 2014 (BULLETIN) by Sol Vanzi - The most important ingredient in the Pinoy kitchen is also the most expensive. Here’s a kitchen hack that’ll save you RRR.

Garlic, the most essential ingredient in every Filipino kitchen, is now also the most expensive; and even government officials in charge of agricultural products cannot explain why.

“There is enough supply of garlic,” the Department of Agriculture (DA) announced over the weekend.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala has ordered an investigation over reports that prices of imported and locally grown garlic increased to as much as P290 kilo.


garlic, Manila Bulletin

“I don’t see any reason prices [of garlic] should go up,” Alcala added.

“Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that the local harvest of garlic increased in 2013 to 8,650 metric tons from 8,490 metric tons in 2012.”

One sector is rejoicing from this unreasonable price increase: garlic farmers, mostly from the Ilocos region which produces 65 percent of the country’s total production of roughly 15,000 metric tons annually.

Garlic farmers are understandably elated over the unexpected bonanza, which could make many of them instant millionaires. Recent pilot projects show average harvests at 4,000 kilos per hectare, or a minimum gross income of P800,000 per hectare at current prices.

Garlic, a native of Central Asia, is the second most widely cultivated Allium sativum after onion and is believed to have been in use for more than 6,000 years. It became popular in the Mediterranean region, as well as a frequent seasoning in Asia, Africa, and Europe.

Egyptians worshipped it, burying clay models of the bulb with pharaohs in the pyramids. Ancient civilizations even used it as currency. Revered for its aphrodisiac powers and ability to repel vampires, garlic is likewise treasured for providing protection against the Evil Eye.

***

My grandma bought garlic only once a month, although she cooked for 25 people daily.

She had a valuable kitchen trick that continues to save me a lot of work and cash: Keeping crushed garlic in a jar of cooking oil.


IRONICALLY THIS IS A PHOTO OF MARTHA STEWART'S GARLIC OIL TODAY.COURTESY OF MARTAHSTEWART.COM

She peeled garlic cloves and macerated them in a stone almires (mortar and pestle) one handful at a time, spooning the crushed mash into a wide-mouthed jar half-filled with cooking oil.

She continued until the level of oil-garlic mixture reached about an inch from the mouth of the jar. The allowance was for bubbles that formed in the garlic mash.

The covered jar did not need to be refrigerated; oil prevented oxygen from reacting with the garlic, thereby keeping the mash fresh.

Each time she needed garlic for whatever was on the stove, she stirred the garlic jar and took two tablespoons of oil-garlic mixture. When the level of oil dipped, she merely added more fresh oil and stirred the contents to extract more garlic essence.

These days, I mix crushed garlic in oil with a little butter to spread on bread before toasting, to make aromatic garlic bread and garlic croutons to top salads and soups.

I also add garlic oil to stews, cook steaks and pork chops, adobo, salad dressing, sisig, sawsawan (dips), bangus, and barbecue marinades.

Of course, without an almires, I now use a food processor to mash the garlic cloves to a coarse pulp.

MORE OF SOL VANZI'S COLUMN FROM 'TIMPLA'T TIKIM' AT MANILA DAILY BULLETIN EVERY THURSDAY:

Will travel for food


FROG DISH: MANILA BULLETIN FOOD TOURISM

Food tourism has surged to the top of the current trends. Filipinos do not have to be told this: A true-blue Pinoy travels by his stomach.

It is always easy to guess with accuracy where a friend has spent the weekend—the clues lie in the food presents brought back as gifts for friends and family.

  • Durian and pomelo indicate Davao;
  • suman, duhat, and kasuy nuts can only come as a trio from an Antipolo pilgrimage;
  • fat mud crabs hint at Iloilo and Roxas City;
  • bagnet and longoniza scream Ilocos; pineapples, coffee, and whole bunches of tiny señorita bananas are fresh harvests from Cavite and Batangas farms;
  • fermented cured meats tapa and tocino are Pampanga special takeaways;
  • chicharon and lechon kawali are proudly Bulacan-sourced.

Aside from the pasalubong (trip souvenirs as gifts), the traveler enthusiastically regales everyone with tales of great food indigenous to the places visited. Indeed, as explained by Unilever sous chef Carlos “Pipo” Aluning, “Traveling for Filipinos is not just about the sights anymore; people are now going around the Philippines in search of authentic local eats.”

HUNGRY TRAVELERS

With nearly 4.7 million tourists roaming the country, according to official figures, this boom equates to unprecedented economic bonanza for the hospitality industry and all sectors involved in food production.

To illustrate the point, dozens of journalists were given the opportunity to experience food tourism via a trip to the rustic Abe’s Farm in Magalang, Pampanga at the foot of historic Mount Arayat. (PHOTO BELOW)

The convoy’s long, hot drive from Manila was more than made up for by the unforgettable array of Filipino dishes that were prepared by the experienced LJC kitchen staff using Unilever seasonings.

The luscious spread included items mostly from the main island of Luzon: ensaladang pako (fern shoot salad), binukadkad na pla-pla (crispy butterflied tilapia), kare-kareng buntot (oxtail in peanut sauce), Knockout Knuckles (crispy pata), laing (yam leaves in coconut milk), and the LJC trademark rice cooked in whole bamboo.

The most unusual savory dish, which baffled the uninitiated, was betute—whole rice field frogs stuffed with well-seasoned ground meat.


Bamboo rice

A GOURMET TRIP

The whole experience was dubbed by the hosts as “Tasting the Philippines in a Day” and illustrated why local cuisine is taking the spotlight this year as more and more people, Filipinos and international tourists alike, plan their destinations and itineraries around food.

“Tourists are keen on sharing their experiences as they try a wider variety of cuisines, and they look forward to tasting the most daring dish innovations they can find,” explains Unilever Food Solutions marketing manager Seanta Reyes, who was looking forward to more exotic Kapampangan delicacies like kamaru—crisp rice field crickets sautéed in onions and tomatoes or plainly dry-roasted in a wok.

ABE’S FARM is at Barangay Ayala, Magalang, Pampanga

Open every day, 10 a.m. to 8p.m.


LOCAL FLAVORS Clockwise from top: Betute, Fern Shoots, Chicharon, and Sisig appetizer; Knockout Knuckles, a.k.a. Crispy Pata; Unilever’s Seanta Reyes reveals latest food trends; and Bamboo split in half reveals fragrant rice.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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