Whenever she craves for something that evokes childhood memories, Rossana Hwang cooks what her Lola Charing taught her when she was 13: pork adobo with banana blossoms.
It is a sweet-salty-sour tender pork stew that looks like the traditional Chinese humba. The inclusion of dried banana blossoms gives the dish a distinct aroma and sweetness.
“Some people remember what banana blossoms are from their childhood days,” says Ms Hwang, an entrepreneur and food enthusiast. “But they do not even know what it is. I just love bringing grandma’s ingredients back to our time.”
PORK ADOBO WITH BANANA BLOSSOMS
1kg pork, either shoulder (paypay), ham (pigi) or liempo (belly), sliced into 5cm cubes
¼ cup oil
1 head garlic, crushed
½ tsp salt
2 Tbsp soy sauce
¼ cup vinegar
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp crushed peppercorn
2 bay leaves, crushed
½ cup dried banana blossoms (soaked in water for 20 minutes)
1. Heat oil in pan. Saute garlic until brown.
2. Add pork. Then, add salt, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, brown sugar, peppercorn and bay leaves. Toss and blend well.
3. Add enough water to cover the entire mixture. Cover and cook until pork is tender. Let it simmer in low fire until sauce is reduced.
4. Toss in the banana blossoms, add one cup of water and cook for another 10 minutes.
Banana blossoms are available in wet markets and groceries. They can be eaten raw or cooked, and are a rich source of fiber and other nutrients. Ms Hwang uses dried banana blossoms soaked in water for a few minutes. She sautes a thicker cut of meat - about 5cms thick - in garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, peppercorn and bay leaf before tossing about half a cup of dried banana blossoms into the pan just before the adobo is left to simmer.
“My lola would painstakingly tie each strand or thread of banana blossoms to avoid shredding it into small pieces during the cooking process,” says Ms Hwang. “I still do the same. We enjoy eating the banana blossoms because, when cooked, it almost tastes like the adobo meat.”
Her adobo is cooked over very low fire for hours, that is why the meat comes out so tender as if it has been put in a pressure cooker. She also prefers using pork shoulder (paypay), ham (pigi) or belly (liempo) in making adobo.
“In our family, I am more known as the adobo queen,” says Ms Hwang, who runs the family’s paper-converting business. “I love experimenting with adobo. I like to put a variety of stuff in my adobo, like tofu and hard-boiled eggs.”
She also enjoys baking. She has a bakeshop, Pink Mixer, in Dasmarinas Village, Makati City.