Lugaw: Always essential, sometimes ‘sosyal’

Chefs create laksa, dumpling, prawn bisque versions of the Pinoy porridge

Who would have thought there would come a time when we would have to debate whether something as basic and as commonly eaten as lugaw (porridge) was essential or not. But this is not “normal time,” so maybe that was only fitting; not right, but fitting. 

Lugaw comes in many forms—it can be savory or sweet, simple and sparsely spiced (just salt, garlic, ginger) or heavy and hearty (with eggs and meats or fish or what have you)—but however you want your porridge, it will always be a quintessential Filipino comfort food, and a cultural symbol, according to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). 

Xiao Loo Gaw, a lugaw dumpling version by Chef Joel Esparto Erfe.
“Lugaw is one of the earliest documented food of our ancestors,” the NCCA said in a Facebook post on March 31. “The 1613 Vocabulario de la Lengua Tagala by Fr. Pedro de San Buenaventura, OFM defines it as rice mixed with milk or water or of both (porridge).” 

Its versatility has long been established, that in fact, 10 chefs showcase how the classic Filipino food can be transformed into international fare. 

The Lugaw Challenge by De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde Culinary Cluster started when program chairperson Chef Margarita Marty posted on social media a photo of her enjoying lugaw. “Several faculty members commented that I only eat sosyal na lugaw but this is not true. I often have it for meals,” she recalled. “This continued on until we decided to have a challenge.”

In two days, the friendly banter ended with an array of mouthwatering recipes seamlessly blended with a variety of rich international flavors. 

Chefs’ ‘sosyal’ lugaw recreations: Indian-style Lugaw with Monggo and Coconut, Laksa Lugaw. 
Chef Erica Aquino’s Miso Shiitake Lugaw is a nod to Japanese cuisine with its miso glazed chicken, spicy pickled wood ear mushrooms, nori flakes, ramen egg, and sesame chili oil. 

Chef Veronica Reyes transforms the often lightly seasoned dish into a bold fare with her Laksa Lugaw made with creamy and fragrant seafood broth topped with poached prawns, fried tofu, and soft-boiled egg. India comes closer to home with Chef Kannan Jayaprakash Sreedevi’s Indian-style Lugaw with Monggo and Coconut. 

Chef Joel Espiritu Erfe’s dumpling version Xiao Loo Gaw is made with saffron mushroom congee in a pouch, and comes with a side of bean sprout salad, crispy pork ears, tofu, poached egg, and a mildly spicy calamansi soy dressing.

Meanwhile, Chef Jade Christopher Marquez Lee merges sous vide egg, crispy pancetta, toasted walnuts, and rosemary oil in his Adlai and Wild Mushroom Lugaw. Chef Mike Silbor brings a dash of France in his Prawn Bisque Lugaw made with prawn reduction, pan-seared river prawns, beurre noisette, and crispy fried leeks.

Miso Shiitake Lugaw, Lugaw tayo kai-Vegan, Oatmeal Curry Lugaw
Lugaw Señora, Warm Vanilla Cinnamon Spiced Tres Leches Lugaw, Prawn Bisque Lugaw
Lugaw but make it vegan, with Chef Jester Arellano’s  Lugaw tayo kai-Vegan made using brown rice, vegetable broth, saffron, and calamansi vinaigrette topped off with shiitake mushrooms, bok choy, carrots, kangkong, malunggay, and chia seeds.

Coming in sweet is Chef Roselle Sison-Pangalilingan’s delectable Warm Vanilla Cinnamon Spiced Tres Leches Lugaw with raspberry and goji berry compote. A non-rice alternative, Chef Zemir Herrera-Rollan’s Oatmeal Curry Lugaw is made with hard-boiled egg, fried tofu, shredded chicken, toasted garlic, and leeks.

Completing the set is Chef Marty’s Lugaw ni Señora, headlined by chorizos and crispy jamones served with quail eggs, leeks and crunchy garlic.  

More than showcasing the porridge’s prowess, Chef Marty said, “This is our own little way of supporting the struggling restaurant industry and the riders.”

Topics: Lugaw , porridge , National Commission for Culture and the Arts , NCCA
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