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Cooking Late is Worth the Wait

Image courtesy of USDA Image Library

Today is what I call a late-night-dinner day. Again, as we got into the bad habit of sleeping during the day and waking up late afternoon — that’s 7pm, we had to start prepping for dinner, when dinner is supposed to be ready.

Anyway, it’s really been a long while since I ate veggies, and I mean the Ilocano style veggies called dinengdeng. But my boyfriend wants to cook Tagalog pork steak so we decided to cook both. He went on to buy the ingredients while I cooked the rice and washed some dirty dishes to wake up my senses.

For me, cooking is like a ritual. I have to take my breaths and be fully present in performing the activity. To start the cooking process, I make sure to wash my hands first with soap. I’m really that particular when cooking because I want my food to be clean, who doesn’t? Then I reach for the knife and chopping board which means I’m ready to peel, cut and slice the ingredients.

My boyfriend is back with the ingredients and so I start with the garlic and onion as these two are usually the first to go into the pan. But since the recipe calls for the pork to be marinated first, I went on to wash the pork chops before making the marinade. The pork goes into the bowl first, then the osyter sauce (2 small sachets), then soy sauce (about 3/4 cup), then calamansi (20 pcs.) and finally a can of root beer.

We let the pork chops soak in the marinade for about 1 hour while I prepare my dinengdeng. My veggie recipe is simple and it just consists of squash, string beans and patola (Luffa) in a tamarind-based soup. After peeling and slicing all the ingredients, I boiled water (about 1/2 cup) in a pot. When the water was boiling, I poured in the bagoong (fish sauce). Then I put the squash first then waited for it to cook a little and then added the string beans, and then the patola. When the veggies are slightly cooked, that’s when I put it in the tamarind. Because if the tamarind goes first, the veggies won’t cook.

So I’m done cooking my dinengdeng which is actually sour and salty — the perfect taste I want. Then, it’s time to cook the Tagalog pork steak. First, we removed the pork chops from the marinade for them to be fried. My boyfriend did the frying. He fried the pork until it’s slightly brown — not totally cooked. When he’s done frying, I used the oil from frying to cook the garlic. Then I poured the marinade into the pan and let it simmer. When it’s simmering, I added back the pork chops and wait for them to be fully cooked or until the marinade is reduced. Lastly, I put in the onions and cooked them for about 2mins and finally turned off the heat. The Tagalog pork steak is done.

Cooking is not easy especially when you’re hungry and you’re tempted to buy instant food. But with what we had today, I could say that it’s all worth the wait. Eating food that’s thoughtfully prepared and having ingredients fresh from the market is better than eating fastfood which is not fresh and lacks nutrients. It’s always better to eat food prepared at home because you can always choose the dish you want and the ingredients you use. Also you can control the amount of oil and seasoning you use.

Today, we may have to eat dinner at 10:45pm. So late but we enjoyed our food because we were involved in the preparation. And reaping the goodness of what we worked for in the kitchen is worth the wait.

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