We have a weakness for vegetables, especially after some big days of travel eating. (Travel eating is the constant action of shoving whatever is available into your face when on holiday as there may not be another chance to get to that bakery/cheese shop/street food stall.) When overload strikes, a few dishes of veggies tend to put things right again for a while. A bit of plain rice pads everything out and a dollop of something spicy to keep it interesting and you have our kind of palate cleanser.
We also love an easy to use recipe that gives you a flavourful base to play around with. With this recipe you can throw in whatever veg you have, depending on what's in the fridge, what's on special or what is about to become a science experiment.
Ginisang in Filipino cooking is simply sauted (ginisa). The key to this dish is the trinity of onions, garlic and tomato, lightly fried together into a base that can either go out on the town and party or stay at home with a wine bottle watching reruns of Sex and the City and imagining how different it would have been if they had mobile phones and social media.
So here's a recipe of sorts. It's not a prescriptive step by step lesson, more of a conversation on how to get from a pile of ingredients to a dinner in a short time.
Pinoy Ginisang Vegetables
The list of what you'll need
These are the basic ingredients for the base flavour:
- 1 medium onion, cut in two halves and sliced into rings
- 1 medium tomato, diced. No need to peel or remove the seeds.
- 1 teaspoon of minced or chopped garlic (or about three cloves)
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce (exclude if you want a vegan option, but you might need to replace with another salty base flavour)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons of cooking oil
- Long green beans, cut on the diagonal into short lengths. These could be any style of green beans, french style or even snake beans.
- Choko (chayote), peeled, cored and cut into batons or chunks (if you have never cooked with choko, you really should explore this humble veggie more. It's a beauty.)
- Okra, topped and tailed and sliced. Keep whole if they are small and tender.
- Long batons of eggplant (aubergine), skin on.
- Zucchini (courgette) cut into long pieces.
- Pumpkin cut into small chunky pieces
For a little bit of meat, about 200g of pork mince makes a good porky addition.
- Bagoong (Filipino shrimp paste, good and fishy and funky)
- Cooked rice
- Chicharon (pork crackling)
- Heat cooking oil in a wok or pan, then add onion and after another minute, the garlic. The idea is to softly cook them, not fry the hell out of them so don't have the pan too hot. Add the diced tomato and mash it a little with a wooden spoon.
- If you want an meat option, add pork mince at this stage and fry with the base mix.
- After a couple of minutes add all the rest of the basic ingredients, stir together and let cook for another minute or two.
- Throw in the greens, and let them cook until they are just still crunchy. No more than 10 minutes should do for green beans, other harder veggies might need a little longer.
- When ready, serve up with plain white rice or Filipino style garlic rice. This dish works wonders as a side to another meat dish, even plain old sausages. For a huge flavour kick, a spoonful of bagoong (spicy shrimp paste) on the side adds a real boost of funk, or sprinkle a little more fish sauce on the serve. Chicharon is a crunchy extra.
The beauty of this dish is in the simplicity and the base flavour mix. It's also fast to make and easy to put together with just a few basic ingredients.
Happy B-Kyu Cooking!