Celebrity chef Gene Gonzalez hails from Pampanga, which happens to be the culinary capital of the country, and on special occasions, he goes back to his roots to draw culinary inspiration from dishes he grew up with. He is so proud of Kapampangan cuisine, he has incorporated several Kapampangan dishes into the menu of Café Ysabel and into the curriculum of the Center for Asian Culinary Studies (CACS).
When he handled a cooking class at The Maya Kitchen Culinary Arts Center, Chef Gene drew completely from his Pampanga roots and presented “Culinary Gems from Old Pampanga.” He shared stories and recipes from his home province, one of which was Menudo Sulipeña.
In Pampanga, menudo, whose name means “little stew,” is a common everyday dish of slow-simmered bits of meats, including ox tripe and ground or cubed pork mixed with potatoes. The Kapampangans also make sure their menudo has tidbits of liver or heart in it.
Menudo Sulipeña is different in the sense that it is a very special celebration dish fit to be served at a banquet. An exquisite oxtail stew, it represents the extravagance of that turn-of-the-century period in Pampanga’s history, when Spanish influence in the food was undeniably strong.
To prepare this dish, Chef Gene recommends that one purchase the oxtail from a reputable meat shop, because if it is improperly cleaned or processed, it will have a strong, undesirable odor that nobody wants in a rich and flavorful stew.
- 1 kg oxtail, cleaned and washed
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 head garlic, chopped
- 1 pc medium onion, chopped
- 1 pc red bell pepper, seeded and roasted
- 1 pc green bell pepper, seeded and roasted
- Dash of paprika picante
- 1/2 cup ham, cubed
- 1/2 cup chorizo Bilbao (Spanish sausage), sliced
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 tbsp. cooked garbanzos (chickpeas)
- 1 tbsp. Spanish brandy
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Pressure cook oxtail for 20-25 minutes or simmer with enough water to cover until tender. Debone and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Set aside oxtail and stock.
- To roast bell peppers, char directly on an open fire (cooktop flame will do) until the skin turns black. Peel off skin, and cut into cubes.
- In a casserole, heat butter and olive oil. Sauté garlic and onion, then add roasted red and green bell peppers. Season with a dash of paprika picante. Stir-fry for two to three minutes.
- Add oxtail, ham, and chorizo. Pour in tomato sauce and tomato paste. Add stock and simmer over low fire for about 10 minutes.
- Add garbanzos and brandy, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Photographs by Rafael R. Zulueta
This article originally appeared on Asian Dragon’s August-September 2016 issue, available for download on Magzter.