In recent years, food fairs have become a cultural phenomenon in Manila. The proliferation of these events, I think, benefited from the organic food/ produce market craze that has hit middle-class Filipinos. The food fair advertised below is the third I’ve encountered in my internet browsing since the new year started. And now that I’m blogging about healthy eating, I will try to attend this food fair and see if there are healthy food options to be had.
Like many Filipino kids, I grew up eating sweet spaghetti meat sauce. But when I discovered the “other kind” of spaghetti meat sauce (along with the other sauces), I never looked back. Well, maybe except for a few excursions. My mother’s birthday is tomorrow but we decided to celebrate it today for obvious reasons. And because it’s her day, I decided to cook for her instead. She said she wanted some spaghetti but specified that she wanted it “masarap” (literally, delicious), which meant it had to be on the sweet side.
I quickly messaged my friend Zirk in Cambodia and asked for his recipe. Aside from my mother’s recipe, Zirk’s recipe is one of the few that I liked. I cooked it late this morning. Zirk forbade me to share his recipe and I will honor his request. Fortunately I didn’t follow his recipe to the letter and so the recipe I am sharing here is mine. Just to clear something: this recipe is NOT THAT HEALTHY. It is indulgent, because it’s for my mother’s birthday.
Classic Meat Sauce
500g Ground pork
250g Streaky bacon
250g All-meat sausage
200g Corned beef
180g-can Tomato paste
550g-bottle Banana catsup
1 cup minced white onion
1/3 cup minced garlic
1 cup minced carrot
1/2 cup minced bell pepper
1/2 cup cubed cheddar cheese
5 tbsp Sugar (Light brown)
- Cut the sausages lengthwise then cut them further into half-inch thick slices.
- Cut the bacon into roughly 1-inch pieces. Sweat in a non-stick pot over medium-high heat until oil comes out and bacon is almost crisp. Remove bacon from the pot and set aside.
- Sauté garlic until fragrant, but not brown. Add onion, a dash of salt & pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add ground pork and a dash of salt & pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring so that the meat does not form clumps. Add the sausages, carrots, and bell peppers and cook for another 3 minutes before adding the corned beef.
- Add the tomato paste and the catsup. Mix well with the meat mixture. Add about half a cup of hot water, depending on your preferred thickness. Stir and when it starts to bubble, reduce heat and simmer.
- Add the sugar. Mix well. Add another dash of salt & pepper. Adjust taste according to your preference. Simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
- In the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the cubed cheese. Stir until the cheese melts and is runny.
- Serve over cooked pasta.
At first glance, you might think I’m cooking healthy because I didn’t list oil in the ingredients. But once you know where I got my oil for sauteing… well, don’t say I didn’t warn you, readers. My few concessions to health in this recipe include using lean cuts of pork and the freshest vegetables, and whole-wheat pasta cooked in malunggay-infused water. Alas, I couldn’t stay away from processed food products like cheese, bacon, sausages, tomato paste, catsup, and so on.
Guilty or not, my mother loved this dish a lot, contrary to her reaction to my pasta dish last Christmas. I have no doubt the rest of my family will enjoy this. As for me, yes, I will try to enjoy this dish. Sparingly, of course, so as not to steer away from my vow to eating healthy!