Pampanga is undeniably the culinary capital of the Philippines. This is because it has such a rich and unique culinary background that makes the best use of all available ingredients in the area. Unlike other regional cuisines, Kapampangan cuisine dares to border on the exotic, with such ingredients and dishes as camaru (mole crickets), betute (frogs), and tapang damulag (cured carabao’s meat), although it also has a bevy of dishes that everyone would love to try and indulge in, too, including bringhe (a one-dish rice meal) and pistu (a ground meat dish best eaten as filling for pandesal).
Pampanga is also home to great chefs, such as Chef Claude Tayag, who is not only a talented chef, but also a painter, sculptor, and book author, as well. As an artist, he is able to innovate on his dishes, so that familiar Filipino flavors are given different twists and unique presentations.
The brains behind Bale Dutung and Downtown Café in Pampanga, Chef Claude was one of only a few Filipino chefs who have been featured in the much-anticipated annual event, Madrid Fusion Manila, and he gets invited both here and abroad to do cooking demonstrations and presentations. During such events, he makes sure he prepares Kapampangan fare, and Bringhe, a one-dish rice meal, happens to be a favorite because it never fails to impress. But since presentation counts, Chef Claude makes small patties of the sticky rice and tops them with deep-fried crablets. The result: An instant hit, especially among foreigners who try it for the very first time.
Chef Claude was featured in “From A Kapampangan Palate to an Artist’s Palette: An Update on Four Pampango Dishes,” a special cooking class on Kapampangan cuisine at The Maya Kitchen. The cooking class formed part of The Maya Kitchen’s Elite Culinary Series, and Chef Claude shared five of his favorite Kapampangan recipes, one of them being his version of Bringhe.
- 1 tbsp. minced garlic
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup glutinous rice, pre-soaked in water for 30 minutes
- 1 cup regular rice
- 2-3 cups fish or chicken stock
- 2 cups kakang–gata (first squeeze coconut cream)
- 50 grams turmeric, grated finely and soaked in 1/2 cup water. Press and run through a fine strainer to get the extract.
- Patis (fish sauce) and pepper to taste
- Claude 9 Taba ng Talangka
- Chopped chives
- Claude 9 Inasal Marinade
- Maya All-Purpose Flour
- Oil for deep-frying
- In a non-stick frying pan, sauté garlic and onion, and add glutinous and regular rice. Continue sautéing.
- Pour in chicken stock and coconut cream.
- Grate the fresh turmeric finely, then soak in 1/2 cup water. Press and run through a fine strainer to get extract. Add the turmeric extract to the mixture cooking in the pan. Season with patis and pepper.
- Simmer over low heat until rice is cooked, stirring occasionally.
- When rice is cooked, divide into 1/3 cup portions.
- Place each portion on a banana leaf and flatten into approximately three-inch medallions.
- Heat a skillet and place the banana leaf-lined bringhe cakes in the hot skillet. Cook until some charring appears on the leaves’ edges, which means that a golden brown crust (called tutong) is forming at the bottom of the bringhe cakes.
- Top each one with a teaspoon of taba ng talangka.
- Sprinkle with chopped chives.
- Season crablets with Claude 9 Inasal Marinade, dredge in all-purpose flour, and deep-fry in hot oil. Top with fried crablets.
Photographs by Rafael R. Zulueta
This article originally appeared on Asian Dragon’s August-September 2016 issue, available for download on Magzter.