#30DayWritingChallenge: The story behind the last text I sent.

Day Sixteen: The story behind the last text I sent.

Lio's text message.

Last week, my friend and previous housemate Lio sent me a message asking if I was available this weekend. He said he has a friend who wanted to have her cards read. We agreed that I will drop by his place near Cash and Carry on Friday afternoon (yesterday) for the tarot reading.

I met Lio through a gay forum website which I admin. We met in person when he, I, and a few other members decided to meet up and exchange porn movies. Some time after that, when I was desperately looking for a housemate for my old apartment, Lio volunteered and we started living together.

Lio was, at that time, a slightly spoiled single child who had little concept of housework. He didn’t cook and his main contribution to the apartment was mostly bottles of alcohol in the fridge. He did mature over the years.

He is now living on his own in Makati. He fetched me outside Cash and Carry; when we arrived at his place, his boyfriend Drew has just finished cooking dinner: an unusual combo of plain pasta, spicy laing, and garlicky longganisa.

More: A frequent joke I threw at Lio was how he was one of the few Bicolano I know who has a low tolerance for piquant dishes.

Last night’s dinner: Pinangat.

Pinangat na gabi

According to Wikipedia:

Pinangat is a Filipino dish which originated in Bicol Region, Philippines.

More popularly known in Manila as Laing, this dish is a nice blend of taro leaves, chili, meat and coconut milk wrapped in gabi leaves and tied securely with coconut leaf.

Which begun to explain why I was really confused when Leo called the dish “pinangat” whereas it looked like “tinomok” to me.

It turns out tinomok is a variation of pinangat. And pinangat is what is known in Manila as “laing”; except laing (as Manila folks know it) uses shredded, not whole, taro leaves.

What I know as “pinangat” (through my Bicolana mother) is a sour stew of small fish, usually sap-sap or galunggong, in vinegar, calamansi juice or other sour fruit, and made piquant by pepper and chili. That dish is also called “pangat”. Pangat has a variation called “sinaing”, which is also the Tagalog term for cooking rice.

Now you see why I was so confused.

Leo brought pinangat when he returned from Bicol and we heated it for dinner last night. It did look exactly like that in the photo when we removed the foil wrapping.

It was wonderfully prepared: the taro leaves soft and the curdled coconut milk thick. For once, Leo was not complaining despite the chili. Well, he did at some point, while scooping more rice using his hands; but still ate anyways because he missed Bicolano cooking.

Here is a rather complicated pinangat recipe from the Interwebs:

Pinangat na Gabi

Ingredients:

  • 24 gabi stems and leaves
  • 1/4 kilo cooked pork, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup dried fish, boiled and flaked
  • 1/2 cup bagoong alamang
  • 2 pieces siling labuyo, crushed
  • 2/3 cup green onions, finely cut
  • 1 1/2 cups pure coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk (second extraction)
  1. String stems and cut into two-inch lengths.
  2. Wash leaves.
  3. Mix pork, fish, 3 tablespoons bagoong, garlic 1 teaspoon ginger, siling labuyo and green onions.
  4. Add pure coconut milk.
  5. Pile four leaves together and put 3 tablespoons of the mixture.
  6. Wrap and tie.
  7. Repeat the same procedure with the rest of the ingredients.
  8. Arrange in a kettle together with the stems and pour second extraction of coconut milk.
  9. Season with the remaining bagoong.
  10. Add 1 teaspoon ginger.
  11. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 2 hours.

Makes 6 servings.