Let's get cooking wow, lugaw!
Elena Peña (The Freeman) - July 13, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Damp weather calls for a bowl of something hot to eat. This is true, perhaps, anywhere in the world, whether in the cold Western regions or in a tropical country like the Philippines. There are various hot soups that Filipinos are fond of, mostly with meat, chicken or fish as main ingredient.

In the countryside, chickens – especially free-range chickens – and fish are easy to come by. Only that fish become scarce during the rainy season, because few fishermen would dare the strong winds and the rough seas. Meats are not as common in the rural areas the way it is in the city markets.

Many homes opt for vegetable soup, or “utan” as Visayans would call it. Their reason for the choice is either economic or health. “Utan” is good to go with cooked corn grits instead of rice. Corn grits is also a bit cheaper compared to rice, and supposedly healthier.

But if people want something hot for a quick meal, they would have both soup and rice in one dish – the Asian-style rice porridge, known in Pilipino as “lugaw.” Used to be regarded as a poor man’s meal, “lugaw” has since been served at posh city restaurants, referred to as congee.  Well, it still remains a staple of feeding programs in depressed communities.

The difference between the “lugaw” of the poor and that of the rich are the various other basic ingredients added. For the affluent, the porridge may come with several choices of flavorings: chicken, duck, meatballs, sliced fish, pork, pork liver, and giblets. There is also a delectable practice among the local Chinese community of using meat or fish floss as topping to the basic “lugaw.”

Those that cannot afford to add ‘frills’ to the “lugaw” are okay to just add salt. But, hey, there’s actually a middle ground. There’s “lugaw” that resembles neither gourmet nor poverty. An example is a “lugaw” recipe  that’s known in the Visayas and Mindanao as “pospas.”

“Pospas”

Ingredients:

1 cup  Rice

6 cups   Water

1 ½ cups shredded Fried Fish or leftover Lechon Manok

2 tbsp    Cooking Oil

2 tbsp    Soy Sauce

4 cloves  garlic, minced

1 bulb    Sibuyas Bombay, chopped

1 tbsp    Sibuyas Dahon, sliced thinly crosswise

Salt to taste

Procedure:

1. Rinse the rice. Set aside.

2. In a large pot, enough to hold everything else, put in the cooking oil and heat up. Add garlic and sibuyas bombay, and sauté until it turns light brown.

3. Add in the rinsed rice and mix well with the sautéed ingredients.

4. Add in the shredded fried fish or lechon manok, and mix well.

5. Add water and bring to a boil to cook the rice.

6. Add soy sauce and salt to taste.

7. When done, transfer the “pospas” to individual bowls and top with Sibuyas Dahon.

It takes about one-and-a-half hours to cook the rice. The mix shall be occasionally stirred during cooking – to make it become more creamy. More water may be added along the way to achieve the desired consistency of the “pospas.” When the rice is soft enough according to one’s liking, the “pospas” is ready.

To make a more sumptuous “pospas,” more shredded fried fish or leftover lechon manok may be added as topping. Reminder: It’s either fried fish or lechon manok; a mix of the two is a no-no. If lechon manok is used, one hard-boiled egg, sliced, may be added as topping. It’s better to alternate the two ingredients at different meals.

The “pospas” is best served while hot.

POSPAS
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