Pickled Galunggong

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Food Odyssey

Pickled GalunggongOctober 28, 2006 Saturday

Pickled Galunggong

When I was still residing in Toronto, I would frequent IKEA. It's a Swedish assemble-it-yourself furniture store known for its practical design, flat packaging and reasonable price. What I do is rummage through its 'AS IS' section for big discounts on discontinued items, returns, slight imperfections, etc. Eventually, I was able to furnish my entire apartment with IKEA's 'AS IS'. Apart from furniture though, IKEA has a pleasant cafeteria where shoppers can pause and have lunch or dinner with. Ah...now, their Swedish meatballs on lingonberry sauce and boiled small potatoes come to mind. They also have a small deli section where you can buy grog, their christmas liquor offering, swedish chocolates and yes, pickled herring...and this takes me back to my story. I love their pickled herring. I'd buy a big jar and snack on it over tv or just for merienda. I haven't had one since I left Canada.

Log Cabin dinner buffet

Log Cabin Weekly Surprise
Saturday once more, and I show up at Log Cabin for their weekly dinner buffet. I was curious what new surprise Chef Aklay prepared this time. I wasn't reading the menu. I just lined up, and filled my plate with what's on the table. The moment I sunk my teeth on the fish salad, the sweet astringency of the pickling filled my mouth. Suddenly, I saw the word "IKEA" flashing and blinking in my mind. Pine tables, leather couches and book shelves flooded into my headspace...even their kiddie playground full of balls where my kids used to play! And yes, it wasn't a fish salad. It's pickled fish...the once lowly galunggong to be specific. What's more, he had 3 offerings - creamy pickled, smoked pickled, and plain pickled using his homemade blueberry vinegar.

It used to be poor man's fish. You lose face having this fish on the table that the mere mention of galunggong was totally avoided. In fact, they even coined a more fashionable word for it - gg. Short for galunggong. Changing social values have now elevated the status of this fish. It's not poor man's fish anymore. In fact, it sells for more than tilapia.

Pickling galunggong though is never-heard in this country. Usually, it's pan fried to a crisp. However, we're not talking about an average Joe in the kitchen either. Leave it to Chef Aklay to transform a pumpkin into a magnificent chariot with his magin wand...make it his magic spatula.

Roast Pork with embedded Etag
What used to disappoint me is now the object of anticipation. You guessed it - the perennially recurring roast pork. This is perhaps his best roast pork ever. It's his usual pork loin, but this time he embedded an etag loin within the bigger loin. Etag is the native Sagada ham - dried, salted and smoked. The salty and hammish flavor of the etag did magical wonders to the otherwise benign taste of roast pork. On top of that, he also had his unique sauce to pour to top of it. Yeah, this is one heck of a roast pork offering.

Ending Thoughts
Food never disappoints at Log Cabin dinner buffet. The influx of arriving tourists and attendance of the foreign residents and locals alike add social interaction to what's already good food on the table. Pleasant tete-a-tete over cake dessert and mountain tea or coffee...by the fireplace...one very cool night-on-the-town.

--- TheLoneRider

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