It's Saturday, and it's raining . It's boring..
Whenever it's cold and breezy, customers flock our restaurant for steaming batchoy refuge.
hmm... not really.
It's batchoy time sa mga taga Iloilo.!
It's blanching hot broth in bowlfull noodles, compliments a garnished meaty fullness.
With starchy noodles, meat and well.. onions as vegetables , Batchoy is already a complete meal.
Our's is not an authentic La paz Batchoy, but through experimental trial and re-trial, we improved a batchoy of our own and still capture the taste buds of our customers.
We call our own Calinog Batchoy.Hmm the name may have a boondock sound, but i tell you, our batchoy variant is geat!
But instead of bragging about our pride, let us examine the generic batchoy and maybe later devise your own Ultimate Batchoy Recipe.
Though the Batchoy's true origin is inconclusive. Documented accounts say that the dish was concocted in the La Paz market in 1938 by Federico Guillergan, Sr. His recipe called for a mixture of broth, noodles, beef and pork. The soup later evolved into its present form which has become Iloilo City's most popular dish. Other accounts say that Teodorico Lepura opened his first batchoy shop at the La Paz public market in 1945. Run by Lepura, his wife and their children, the shop sold the original La Paz batchoy at that time priced at 20 centavos per bowl. In the 1930s, as a teenager, Lepura learned the basics of making La Paz batchoy while working for a Chinese merchant, and eventually concocted his own version of the dish.
Ingredients include pork organs (liver, spleen, kidneys and heart) crushed pork cracklings, beef loin, shrimp broth, and round noodles or miki. The noodles are similar to spaghetti, but are generally a bit finer.
Oil is heated in a stock-pot. The pork organs, shrimp, chicken and beef are stir-fried for about a minute. Soy sauce is then added. The shrimp is then added and left to simmer for a few minutes. This broth is then added to a bowl of noodles and topped with leeks, pork cracklings (chicharon) and sometimes a raw egg is cracked on top.
Since then, many variations of the process have been added and improved so as to produce the best batchoy in every locality in Iloilo, Philippines.
Depending on availablity of ingredients,and business limits, batchoy serving is adjusted for affordability reasons. With this limits, the batchoy experience is sometimes compromised.
So for a while, we will drop costing as a determinant and let's just focus on making our Ultimate Batchoy Recipe.
What are the components of Batchoy :
Locally called " caldo " this is your broth, and it's the collaborative taste of your "sangkap " (meat - to be discussed later) plus it's flavorings. This "caldo" is the epitome of the Batchoy taste.
A general rule of thumb,even only with noodles, your caldo must in itself be batchoy tasting already to achieve a great batchoy soup.
To produce a perfect "caldo" , well cleaned "sangkap" is boiled on a measured proportional water.
Any available bone marrow, extra bones, or cleaned pork skull must be added to have a rich meaty broth.
These bones will ensure your "caldo" will not be "maragawraw" (bland).
Every batchoy maker has its own style of soup stock depending on taste.
Flavor enhancers are then added to achieve a unique taste. This includes but are not limited to salt, white sugar, onions, soy sauce , fish sauce and shrimp paste .
Extra seasonings maybe used such as milk, brown sugar, margarine, liquid seasoning ,meat cubes or even fresh fish! These special ingredients are commony added to counter the meaty stench to a palatable balance.
For first time batchoy makers, this is a tough job, but when you discover the taste you're comfortable with, you're halfway to your Original Batchoy Recipe.
The generic Batchoy uses Miki - fresh round noodles. Other alternatives are Bijon, Sotanghon, and Misua. These are all available at your local market.
Note that there's a special Miki specially made for Batchoy, a bit finer and less salty. Ask your local market for it's availability.
"Sangkap" as it is collectively called, ranges from pork innards like intestines,liver,heart, to pork meat and beef.
Chicken meat is optional depending on the recipe.These are pre-cooked on the soupstock and is ready for cutting.
All these kinds of meat are either shredded or cut in wedges depending on the batchoy package. Customers can also prefer to omit some of the ingredients depending on their fancy.
When i say condiments, it is the added flavor enhancer to your batchoy not included in the 'caldo" preparation.
Those are pre-fried garlic, fried onions and fresh spring onions.
Others still use Marca Pating (starchy seasoning ) or MSG .(OMG please don't use MSG!)
Even with only the first four components, you can say that you already have Batchoy and is commonly termed as "regular".
In order to upgrade it to "special" you have to add more toppings like boiled or fresh egg ,pork cracklings "chicharon" or any substitute like carabao skin crackling , factory crackling or in our Batchoy we use chicken skin.
These cracklings are better self made than bought. Cracklings for batchoy should have no salt so as not to alter the "caldo". Market sold cracklings are salty for preservation purposes.
So there you have it, your batchoy is complete!
Here are additional pointers when serving batchoy:
01 "Caldo" must always be served steaming hot or else your miki or fresh egg topping will be undercooked.
02 Alternative noodles like sotanghon, bijon and misua, must be speed cooked prior to serving . These types cannot be cooked by "caldo" alone on the bowl.
03 "Sangkap" especially innards must be thoroughly cleaned or else you'll end up wasting all your caldo.
04 Prepare the "caldo" less salty than your taste. Upon serving to the customer, they will have the option to add soy sauce and black pepper to their taste.
05 At times, customers may asks for addtional "caldo".Always serve this with spring onions and fried garlic for a distinctive batchoy aroma.
Maybe at this point, you'll ask; So where's the Ultimate Batchoy Recipe? .. which is the main reason why you read this blog.
Read it again. It says, How to Make the Ultimate Batchoy Recipe and not The Ultimate Batchoy Recipe.
Hmm.. so start now and be original.
Make your own Batchoy concoction just like how we invented ours.
It's always easy to copy, but it's a great feeling to have produced what you can call your original "obra" .
Kay man, original gid ang mga Ilonggo!