In C’s mom’s kitchen there is a huge basket filled to bursting with all kinds of vinegars, sauces, spreads, pickles, spice oils, and like-minded potions. And that is just on the table…there is still more on the shelves and, for those needing refrigeration, in the fridge. This is how C grew up, surrounded by what he likes to call “pampaganang espesyal”.
Pampaganang Espesyal – How do I translate this? When you refer to a “pampagana” in Filipino cooking/eating, this usually means some sort of condiment or ingredient that that is taken with a dish, complementing it marvelously, as such giving you a sudden burst of raging appetite, making you consume 3X more than you normally would. For example: when you put your favorite hot sauce on pizza…or when you have a really yummy mango pickle (be still my heart!) to go with your curry. You want more curry so you can have more mango pickle. Or is that that you want more mango pickle so you can have more curry? We don’t know. Bottom line is, you can’t stop. Pampagana. And “espesyal”? That is just C trying to Filipino-slangify “special”. Basically “pampaganang espesyal” is a really special something that complements your food so well, and elevates it to new heights, that it gives you eating powers beyond what you dreamed possible.
Some of the best pampagana in my book are those that are home made – things like atsara (a local pickle made with unripe papaya), chutneys, chili mixes like sambal (thank you Nens!), tzaziki with extra think yogurt, fried onions, fruit and veggie pickles…these are some of the things with the power to make me behave like a ravenous beast. And C even more so!
So it was a happy surprise when I saw that Johanna, The Passionate Cook and host of this round of “Waiter! There’s something in my…”, chose Savoury Preserves as this month’s theme. Not only do I get to prepare what has become a favorite pampaganang espesyal, but I also get to look forward to a whole round up that I know will be filled with even more pampaganang espesyal!
And I get to post about what I did with that radish…
Ensaladang Labanos / Radish Salad or Radish Pickle
- 2 radish (about 300 grams total)
- 5-6 small native sibuyas (or shallots)
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 2-3 teaspoons sugar
- Freshly cracked black pepper
– Peel the radish and slice widthways into very thin rounds. As thin as you can get them. If you have a mandolin this would a perfect time to use it. If you don’t (like me) then hum to yourself and think happy thoughts and you will be done before you know it. Now do the same thing with the shallots.
– Place the radish slices in a bowl and add shallots, vinegar, sugar, and pepper. Toss to coat and taste for seasoning. Adjust seasoning if needed.
– Press everything into a glass jar*** and let it rest in the refrigerator overnight before consuming.
This is good with grilled meats, fish, or chicken. It’s also great with pan-fried pork chops or fried fish. I like it with adobo, and it will most likely go with any dish with which you would have atsara. For someone who does not really like dill or sweet pickles, I love all other kinds…and this one is no exception. Its sweet, acidic tang, and crunchy texture is scarily addicting, and C and I can finish almost one jar in a sitting. Pampagana!
***I clean my jars in very hot water and let dry upside down on a clean tea towel. I store this in the fridge and it is consumed very quickly.