Thursday, March 19, 2009

Comfort me with.... Beef Pinapaitan

Whenever I come across the words "comfort food" I think of two things : First, I think of home-cooked meals usually shared with family and second, I think of food that I grew up eating outside the home (i.e. street food). Either way, comfort food is food that I am most familiar with. It is the type of food that evokes memories of watching my dad, or my mom, or my lola, prepare piping hot food from scratch. It is the type of food that makes me recall how simple life was back then when we waited for manong taho vendor to arrive and my Lolo would buy me a tall glass of velvety soft taho, with lots of super sweet arnibal and sago.

My dad's Beef Pinapaitan tops my list of favorite comfort food. I've had this dish ever since I can remember. Pinapaitan (from the root word "pait" which means bitter) is an Ilocano dish made with either beef or goat meat (sometimes innards are included), and is flavored with chili and bile. We Ilocanos are known to be a thrifty lot and it is no surprise that this trait is inherent in our cooking. Waste not. Want not.
Some people say that pinapaitan is an acquired taste. Some get turned off by its color. Some get turned off by its bitter taste. Anthony Bourdain, during his visit to the Philippines, tasted pinapaitan and he liked it. Maybe in his past life, he was an Ilocano. But then again AB eats almost anything hahaha.

I, however, love pinapaitan. When piping hot, the soup is amazingly delicious. The bitterness, which comes from the addition of the bile, warms and comforts you, as do the chilis added to the dish. My dad used to say " ang pait, ang tamis" giving another meaning to the term "bittersweet."

A couple of months ago, I asked my dad to teach me how to make beef pinapaitan. He said the important thing is to use the freshest ingredients, particularly the bile and the beef. "Make sure to use bile that is "primera klase", he says. The second thing he told me was to make sure that I don't overcook the beef or else I'll end up with tough, leathery meat.

I watched as he sliced the beef in a certain way (against the grain, he said). I looked intently as he strained the bile and added it to the pot, followed by some water to lessen the bitterness. For some strange reason, I can always tell whether or not a bowl of beef pinapaitan was cooked and prepared by my dad. Maybe it's because i've had pinapaitan since I was a kid. Maybe it's because when my dad prepares this dish, the beef is meltingly tender. Or maybe everytime he prepares this special dish, he prepares it with a lot of love. :) This is the best beef pinapaitan ever.

My Dad's Beef Pinapaitan

(please note that my dad doesn't measure his ingredients so I had to eyeball the measurement)

1 kilo beef lomo (tenderloin), sliced thinly into 1 1/2" strips
1/2 kilo liver, sliced thinly into 1 1/2"
cow bile, strained ( my dad used 2 sacs)
1 onion, sliced
1 ginger, sliced thinly
garlic, chopped
sili mahaba (long green chillies)
spring onions, sliced
salt and pepper to taste.

Wash beef and liver thoroughly, then pat dry. Thinly slice beef and liver and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a pot, saute garlic, onions and ginger until fragrant. Add bile and dilute with water. (You can always adjust bile and water ratio to suit your taste.)
Let it simmer for a few minutes. Add the chillies. Season with salt and pepper if necessary. When the soup comes to a slow boil, add the thinly sliced beef and liver. Turn off heat. The residual heat from the soup will cook the beef. Sprinkle chopped spring onions.
Serve hot with rice.


Kevin said...

That beef looks tasty!

Maggie said...

Lovely story! I'm always willing to try anything at least once. I wonder how hard it would be to procure cow bile in the states.

bébé de sucre said...

@kevin: thanks Kevin. You should try it sometime.

@maggie: thank you. maybe you can ask your butcher. my dad goes to the market very early in the morning to get the freshest, "primera klase", cow bile and beef.

thank you guys for dropping by :)

Tangled Noodle said...

What a wonderful story and recipe. I have never had pinapaitan so it's definitely something I want to try. Thank you for sharing your dad's recipe - your special relationship to each other and this dish is the magic ingredient here!

bébé de sucre said...

@Tangled Noodle

Thanks so much. I hope you do get to try this dish from the north. :)

Crazy About Cakes said...

Looks delicious!

Jo said...

I'm Ilocano too and the smell, sight, and taste of pinapaitan (or papaitan as a kid hehe) brings back to many fond memories of my Inang and I. I see that you add liver in your's. I really like the tripe for some reason. LOL. I am usually not an offal person but tripe I love. Great story and thank you for shring. I just came from the PI last Friday and I regret not having any pinapaitan while I was there. Hmmm...maybe I'll make some tonight. My mom is coming back from Pangasinan tonight. It's going to be a treat!

bébé de sucre said...

@Crazy About Cakes: thanks so much for dropping by my site.

@Jo: yes we do have different versions of pinapaitan, just like we have different versions of adobo. i love tripe too, but i think we add it to sinanglaw which is another ilocano dish. hope you had a grand time when you were here in PI.

sweet_maron said...

that's what i call pinapitan...
that's my recipe to... other pinapaitan are organs and dsnt taste good.. it should only have sirloin, tripe ginger garlic onion onion leaves chili or long chili.. and the beef should be cooked juz seconds

eva said...

thanks for the recipe.I will try this tomorrow.


bébé de sucre said...

Hi Cai,
I happened to be viewing your older posts and browsed though your story on dad's pinapaitan.
He promised to cook again tomorrow so I can't wait to wake up to the aroma of his pinapaitan. I bet you'll be up earlier than I will.