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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

It smells like a morgue in your kitchen...

Filipino dishes are not as popular to foreigners compared to cuisines of our Asian counterparts. I have yet to meet someone, say American, who would say he'd eat chicken adobo instead of chicken teriyaki. I think we are more known in the exotic dining category for our balut and other out-of-the-ordinary food we put on our dining table.

What's strange and unique with our food is that the ones that taste great have repulsive smell, well, at least to those whose nose are not accustomed to Filipino cooking.

Friends from the US or Australia can attest at how neighbors complain at the aroma of tuyo as it fries to crispy goodness. Or how one commented to a staff who brought bagoong at work that his desk smells like a morgue.

But the champion in smell without question is Buro (Balaw-Balaw) which is pungent, sour and bitter all combined. I once overheard someone describe buro to be the 'foulest smelling food in the whole world' and I am quoting him verbatim. For the Kapangpangans, what's nasty to their noses is a wonder to their taste buds and buro is definitely a staple in every Pampangueno's table.

I'd say appreciating buro is a like a courtship process - you must get past the 'getting to know you stage' before finally falling in love (and madly, I tell you) with this appetizer made from fermented rice and fish.

There are several varieties of buro aside from the common dalag (mudfish) and shrimp, talangka (shore crab) is also popular in the north. Any kind of buro goes well with steamed veggies and grilled or fried fish.

The process of making buro is quite simple (feed your dog with lots of rice and then beat him 'til he vomits, hahaha, im kidding! dont call PAWS!) but I was told not everyone can make buro. My mom can attest to this as she has never done one, and instead buy from Pampanga when she gets the chance.


◦250g or 1/4 kilo suahe shrimp with heads removed
◦43.5g salt
◦1.2kg or 6 cups of cooked rice  (must be of the C4 variety and cooked slightly wet)

1.Mix salt and shrimp in mixing bowl. Mash thoroughly until the shrimp absorbs the salt. Let stand for 2 hours.
2.After 2 hours, put cooked rice in a mixing bowl. Add salt/shrimp mixture then mash to mix ingredients thoroughly.
3.Add the remaining salt to the mixture and mix. Set aside.
4.Transfer the mixture into sterilized bottles. Leave a centimeter head space from the mouth.
5.Cover bottles with polyethylene plastic. Cap tightly. Set aside for 10 days to ferment.
6.On the 10th day, the balao-balao is ready to be served. To cook, saute with garlic and onion.

Recipe from


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