Like many families here in the Philippines, I grew up with household help. We always had someone to cook for us, which is why I never felt the need to learn how to do it myself. My mom is an excellent cook
, but she only does it when she either HAS to, or when it’s Christmas time. My cooking skills, on the other hand, were limited to sticking stuff in the microwave or oven toaster. The first time I ever brought Lester home to have dinner with my family, my dad actually asked him if he knew how to cook rice. I think my dad was worried he would starve if he married me.
Although my husband never pressured me to learn how to cook, I felt embarrassed about not being able to after we got married. He was always talking about his mother’s cooking, as he prepared our meals. I decided to bite the bullet and learn. I may have gotten some inspiration from watching the reality show, Masterchef Junior. If those kids can do it, it shouldn’t be too hard right?
I started with eggs. Simple right? Wrong! The very first time I tried to make eggs sunny-side-up was traumatic for me. It was like a war zone! Oil was splashing everywhere, and there I was, with my sword and shield (spatula and kaldero lid), desperately trying to tame the beast while shrieking for help. Lester and Job were in stitches. I don’t remember the knight in shining armor laughing hysterically at the damsel in distress as he saved her. Hmph.
Things got better after that though. The one thing that really helped me was the internet. The AllRecipes app and website, Panlasang Pinoy website, and Pinterest were my main sources. Learning was made even easier because they have detailed instructions, and even videos, that show me exactly how everything should be done. An added bonus was the input from other AllRecipes members on how they improved the dishes. I also have to thank Luz, our family’s loyal housekeeper, for being patient with me whenever I would call her occasionally for tips.
It’s been two and a half years since I started, and I’ve become quite comfortable in the kitchen. I’m not as anal with the measurements as I used to be. No more using a knife to level off the measuring spoon because I just HAD TO MAKE IT EXACTLY 1 TABLESPOON LIKE THE RECIPE SAYS! (Something I got from my mom, lol) I have also found that I actually enjoy cooking! Who knew?
I’ve had a few more mishaps along the way. I almost cried a few times when my porkchops were too salty, when I burned hamburger buns beyond salvation, and when I put too much water in my escabeche sauce that it looked like my fish had gone swimming again. But, as with anything in life, we learn from our mistakes, and try again. Hey, at least I haven’t burned the house down, and my family seems to enjoy what I make. As a newbie, I’m pretty happy with that. Here’s to becoming a masterchef! — At least in my family’s eyes… Cheers!
I’d just like to insert the recipe of one of the dishes I make, that my boys are always asking me to cook. If you try it, let me know how it goes.
SWEET & SPICY SOY CREAM DORY
- 2 large fillets cream dory cut into squares
- salt and pepper
- 1 egg slightly beaten
- 1 cup flour or cornstarch
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons light soysauce
- 2 tbsp sugar
- thumb-sized ginger, grated
- 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
- 1 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water
- salt & pepper
- spring onion
- toasted sesame seeds
- Season fillets with salt, pepper, and paprika. Let them stand for 20 minutes.
- Dip the fillets in beaten egg, and then in cornstarch or flour. Shake off excess. Let them rest for 30 minutes inside the fridge or leave them overnight.
- While waiting, in a cooking bowl or saucepan, combine water, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, ginger, and parsley. Bring to a boil, and then let it simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the cornstarch and water mixture to the sauce a tablespoon at a time. Simmer for 5-10 minutes or until you are satisfied with the consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Deep fry fillets until golden brown. Serve with sauce, topped with spring onions and sesame seeds. Goes well with rice and vegetables on the side.