Khok: Comfort food

Ober Khok

SADNESS followed fear recently.

The country is still reeling from the devastation created by Taal Volcano’s eruption. People in communities affected by the ash fall and ruined livelihood fear for the future. Fear also recently reared its ugly head with the emergence of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019- nCoV). It is novel because the word means new.

Then sadness followed fear. Basketball hero Kobe Bryant died when the helicopter he was riding crashed into a mountain near Calabasas, California, USA, on Sunday (Monday Philippine time). Fog cloaked the land, cutting visibility to a fatal degree.

My Uncle Gustave is a long-time Kobe fan. He said: “In life he was a hero to many but now that he is gone, he will become a legend. I heard there was no flight recorder. Mystery is the stuff legends are strengthened. Some legends, such as Kobe’s, are of course based on real life but there will be stories and stories to follow on how larger than life he was. It will add to the beauty of his legend.”

“Uncle, I want to comfort you in the thought that I am a Lebron fan with Kobe as my alternative idol.”

Even non-basketball aficionados in the house were saddened that one of the brighter stars in the basketball firmament has died. Nieces Krystalle and Ellen, my Aunt Tita Blitte and cousin Dona knew something about Kobe.

Two girls in the house decided to fix something to comfort my uncle, Peetong (Dona’s husband), my friend Illustracio and me.

Beef with mushrooms. Ellen made her personal comfort food: Marinate beef tenderloin strips with oyster sauce, soy sauce and white pepper for one hour. Meanwhile, saute white onion rings in a pan for one minute. Set it aside in a bowl for use later. In the same pan, add a little more olive oil to stir-fry beef. Add sliced button mushrooms when beef loses its pink color. Pour one pack cream into the pan. Mix well, adjust seasoning and add sliced onion rings. The resulting gravy will be tan in color. Serve on top of a mound of rice or noodles.

Soupy rice by any name. Call it pospas, arroz caldo, congee, lugaw or gruel, it is the same soupy bowl of comfort. Rice is the base of this soup. Dona says this is her comfort food: In heavy pot, saute minced garlic until it is golden brown. Add minced red onion and crushed ginger. Add cup rinsed raw rice. Stir-fry the raw rice until almost all the liquid is gone, then add four cups of stock of choice.

Meanwhile, fry halved chicken breasts or drumsticks till they turn light brown. Add this to the soup stock. When the water boils, add the chicken. When the soup thickens, adjust seasoning then add minced green onion tops. Serve with sliced calamansi.

What’s your comfort food?