The clinking and clanking of plates and bric-a-brac could be heard
clear across the room as I rummaged through the cupboards.
“Are you looking for anything?” asked Ye, my roommate of a few weeks.
“Would we happen to have any measuring cups?”
“You can use the mugs in the drawer. What are you cooking this time?”
“Rice. Let’s see… Gah, this rice cooker is too big. And it doesn’t
come with instructions.”
“Use a pot.”
“Okay… Hmm. “Step 1: Add rice. Step 2: Add water. How much rice?”
“It doesn’t really matter, as long as the water level is 1 centimeter
above the rice.”
What did one centimeter look like again? I knew other Filipinos have
this magic trick involving the joints of one’s fingers, but I never
quite figured it out and I didn’t know if the rule was valid given my
small hands. Resisting the temptation to fetch the ruler from my cute
pink stationery set, I decided to eyeball the measurements. There,
just about right. Oh, wait… “Should I wash the rice first?”
“I usually do.”
Swished, swished. Poured. Swished. Poured. Swished. Poured. Gave up
and refilled pot to former level. “Mmkay. Then…?”
“Boil it, and then turn the heat way down until it absorbs all the
So I did.
I thought it would be a good idea to try out chicken adobo while
waiting, and I had recently splurged on a pack of chicken breast
fillets. I rummaged some more for vinegar (this strange Chinese thing
that smelled nothing like the vinegar I remembered seeing back home)
and soy sauce. I had the foresight to grab bay leaves and garlic on my
last grocery trip, so it was easy to throw everything together.
- 2 pieces chicken
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 cup water
I boiled that, too, and then simmered it until I felt confident about
the chicken being more-or-less cooked (erring on the side of more, I
hope) and the sauce was reduced to a fraction. By simmered, I mean
that I alternated between accidentally reboiling it and getting some
satisfyingly mild bubbling action.
I didn’t get to try the adobo, so I don’t know if it’s really adobo or
some weird thing. I did get to try the rice, though, so I feel pretty
good about that. Of course, as I started cooking at around 9, I got
_pretty_ hungry by the time the rice was done. The chicken didn’t
inspire confidence at that point, so I did what any sane, starving
student would do: I raided the refrigerator for something to eat with
the rice. Pastrami may be a strange companion to rice, but I thought
it tasted like a rather expensive version of vienna sausages.
We’ll see how the adobo turns out tomorrow evening. If I survive, I’ll
have joined the ranks of adobo-cooking Filipinos around the world!