Cooking in the Mountain is No Fast-Food
By: Joel Grande
Cooking in the mountain has never been an easy task to do, save for some who are enthusiastically fond of cooking food anywhere. I always see people or groups who prepare their food in the mountain by bringing canned goods and satisfying themselves with the commercialized pre-packed, pre-prepared food they can buy from the supermarkets. As a cooking hobbyist, I prefer cooking the real thing and I do not want to resort to cooking canned goods, although I am also guilty of bringing and cooking luncheon meat sometimes. As you might be thinking, you will say “I do not know how to cook, that's why I'm buying pre-packed foods” or maybe “It's kind of hassle to prepare meals on the mountain, why not buy something that is easy to cook”. My purpose in writing this is to encourage mountaineers and outdoor enthusiasts to prepare food by using the real ingredients and, as much as possible, try to prepare meal plans that are pre-cooked to lessen the hassles of preparing it on the mountains. Having said that let me share my not-so-kind-of-simple recipe but guarantees you a very delectable dish. Here's how to do it:
BISTEK ALA GRANDE
- ½ kg Breakfast cut beef
- ¼ to ½ cup freshly squeezed calamansi juice
- ground pepper
- 1 bulb of garlic (minced)
- ½ cup soy sauce (preferrably Lauriat variant)
- 1 tbsp butter
- ½ cup cooking oil
- Half bulb of medium shallots (pulang sibuyas); diced
- Half bulb of white onion; cut into rings
- 1 ½ tbsp brown sugar (raw, not washed)
- 1 tbsp of flour
- sesame oil (optional)
1.) Marinate the Breakfast cut beef by applying salt and pepper to the beef first (just enough to make it tasty but not too salty), then add the minced garlic.
2.) Add the soy sauce. And let the meat rest for about four (4) hours or overnight.
3.) Just an hour before shallow frying, put the calamansi juice in the beef with marinade (we do not put the calamansi juice during the four hours to overnight marinating to prevent the meat from becoming unruly, because the calamansi juice contains citric acid which makes the meat tough).
1.) Heat frying pan until smokes come out, then put a little bit of oil just enough until the oil has spread throughout the frying pan.
2.) Put the flame in a simmer, then add the butter. Just before the butter melts, place the marinated meat on the frying pan to start shallow frying.
3.) Shallow fry all the meat (save the marinade later) until it turns into brownish, but not too dark appearance.
4.) Set aside all the fried meat, save the used oil/grease.
5.) Get all the minced garlic from the marinade. Using the used oil/grease, sauté the garlic until it turns pale brown (do not brown the garlic as it becomes bitter). Add the shallots and cook until it is tendered.
6.) Add the meat back into the frying pan and sauté.
7.) After the meat was well sautéed, add the marinade.
8.) If the meat is already tender to the bite, add the brown sugar.
9.) Set the flame into simmer. While still cooking, make a slurry by combining water and flour (five is to one ratio respectively) and slowly put it just until the consistency of the sauce becomes gravy-ish.
10.) Add sesame oil before turning off the flame (optional). Then put the onion rings to garnish the bistek.
Now here is the thing, the procedure in doing the marinade should be done at home. Maybe a day or two before your climb. In cooking, procedures one (1) to four (4) should also be done at home. You have to pack the set aside marinade and the remaining ingredients. It is alright if the grease is not included, you can use new oil for doing the sauté in the mountain. Procedures five (5) up to the last (10) should be done on the mountain.
The idea of bringing of canned goods as part of your meal plan is not bad, it is just that we can resort to avoid relying on those. Such canned good are not only heavy but also contribute to trash and waste. Again, I am merely suggesting and encouraging mountaineers to cook the real thing. It may look hassle for some, but I can guarantee you that a well prepared meal, when eaten in the mountain is a sure-fire awe in your palate. Let this be your consolation to your exhausting activity, after all, you deserve something rewarding after your hike—and that is giving yourself a treat of scrumptious meal.