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The ‘carinderia’ is here to stay

25 February 2017

By Jo Campos

Previously, I featured new food trends that are sweeping the food business and new concepts to keep up with the demands of setting up a restaurant in the Philippines.

For this issue, we go back in time to the conventional and traditional way of starting a food business in the Philippines, the carinderia or “turo-turo”.

No matter how many glossy and huge restaurants are set up all over the country, the carinderia will always remain a fixture in the country. There will never be a shortage of Pinoys out for a quick, affordable, and familiar home-cooked meal, never mind if the dishes served are the same every day, and the ambiance is not so inspiring.

For this reason, these small shops or stalls always turn in a good profit — as much as 100%, depending on the quality of the food sold and the location. Best to set up near schools, churches or busy intersections where your potential customers – including the taxi, jeepney and tricycle drivers- abound.

For what sells, best to settle on standard favorites like bopis, dinuguan and binagoongang baboy. As for the cooking method, you can’t go wrong with cooking the traditional way, better if you can do them the Capampangan way. In the weekends that I have sold food at our village clubhouse, I would often be asked if my recipes are Capampangan, or if the cook is Capampangan. That’s how well regarded Pampango cuisine is in our country.

Of course, there is also fusion cooking, but even this is anchored in a traditional way of cooking, and jazzed up a bit by fusing Asian or Western recipes are with local ingredients, or by the addition of Filipino recipes.

If you want to be successful in the carinderia business, best not to be too adventurous. Time-honored recipes and home-cooked dishes are still what those who go to small eateries look for.
In one of my daily trips to the market in Marikina for example, I came across a makeshift stall just outside a residential house in a narrow alley selling puto and suman. The puto’s taste caught my attention in particular, so I approached the old lady sitting at the stall to ask if it was what they call “putong matanda”. She smiled at me and said that it was absolutely how her puto was cooked, meaning it was from an old and traditional Marikina recipe handed down through generations. It is made from freshly ground rice flour and coconut milk, and steamed the old-fashioned way in banana leaf moulds, unlike the modern puto which is made from self raising flour. The old lady said she makes about a hundred of her special puto before daybreak and gets sold out before 9 am.

For this issue’s recipe, I am featuring home-cooked sardines, a healthier and tastier alternative to the canned ones seen in all supermarkets. I plan to master this recipe so I can start selling them in jars in the future, hopefully to vacationing OFWs and balikbayans on the lookout for pasalubong. Another food business idea that is worth exploring.



By Jo Campos

Ingredients:
1 kilo baby bangus or sardines, cleaned
2 carrots, sliced
2 bell pepper, sliced
4 pieces bay leaves
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 tomatoes, sliced
salt to taste
whole black peppercorns
2 cups olive oil
½ cup water
2 chilies or chili oil

Procedure:
1) Thoroughly wash and clean fish
2) Lay some carrots, bay leaves and bell pepper at the bottom of a pressure cooker.
3) Arrange fish carefully on top, then cover with the rest of the carrots, bell pepper and bay leaves.
4) Mix tomato paste with water and pour onto the prepared fish. Add olive oil.
5) Cook in low heat as soon as the pressure cooker starts to whistle.
6) Let the fish cook slowly for about 45 minutes to an hour.




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