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Cooking on a budget

25 October 2018

By Rodelia P. Villar

Cooking need not be stressful, even if you’re on a budget.

This is what Lorelie Bergamos, an active member of Domestic Workers Corner (Its all about Food) tells her fellow members who often ask for suggestions on how they could stretch the budget given them for daily meals.

In her case, this 39-year-old migrant worker from Acop Rosales Pangasinan, who works for a family of four in Whampoa Garden in Hunghom, manages to come up with a complete meal – with soup, meat, fish and vegetables – on a daily budget of $100.

What’s important, she says, is you must love what you’re doing, especially cooking, and always try to learn new things.

“Ang message ko sa mga katulad kong OFW sa HK, lalo na mga baguhan, keep reading and asking lang  sa DWC All About Food, google (recipes) and watch youtube about cooking. Marami silang matutunan mula dito,” she says.

She adds, “mahalin at alagaan ang mga amo, pagsilbihan sila with love, lalo na sa pagluluto, para mas lalo tayong ma-inspire.”

Bergamos says she always tries to serve her employers’ favorite dishes. 

“Ang lagi kong niluluto para kay Sir ay (anything) basta may isda, any luto ng isda, happy na sya. Ang madam ko naman, sushi and all Japanese foods ang favorite nya. Ang mga alaga ko naman, roasted pork, fried pork neck, stir fry talbos ng snowpeas, pork ribs with sweet sauce and Korean foods ang gusto.”

Lorelie says she loves cooking because it is a great way to relieve stress. Learning new recipes and sharing them with others also give her joy and satisfaction.

“Masaya po ako na mai-share ang mga nalalaman ko sa pagluluto lalo na  sa mga baguhan dito sa HK. Nakikita at nababasa ko kasi na iyon lagi ang mga problema nila, kung ano ung mga dapat nila lutuin everyday. Kaya ito na iyong chance para ma-share ko naman po mga natutunan ko sa pagluluto,” she says.

Here are some of those tried-and-tested budget recipes from this happy cook:

Stewed Sea cucumbers and dried mushrooms
Frozen sea cucumber
Dried mushrooms
Ginger, sliced
Garlic, crushed
Oil for frying

3 tbsps oyster sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp dark soy sauce ground white pepper
 sesame oil
Shaoxing wine

1. Defrost the sea cucumbers.
2. When they’re completely thawed, place in boiling water. Add ginger and a little shaoxing wine. Let boil for 15 minutes.
3. After 15 minutes of boiling, take out sea cucumber, wash in tap water, then let dry.
4. In a frying pan, add a little cooking oil, then sauté garlic.
5. Add the mushrooms, sea cucumber and seasoning and let boil for 15 minutes.
6. Add a bit of cornstarch to thicken the sauce, then mix thoroughly before serving.

Fried pork neck
2 medium size pork necks
Breading mix
Chili powder

1. Wash pork neck then pat dry.
2. Marinate pork with the breading mix powder
3. In a frying pan, add oil and wait until it sizzles. Add the pork necks and fry until they turn golden brown.
4. Slice the pork, then sprinkle with chili powder before serving.
This dish goes well with sweet chili sauce as dip.

Fried Fish
Small fish
Salt or chicken powder
White pepper

1. Wash the fish then pat dry.
2. Marinate with salt or chicken powder, white pepper and cornstarch.
3. Heat oil in a frying pan, then add the fish. Fry until both sides turn crispy.
4. Serve hot.

Stir-fry cabbage with bell peppers
A small head of cabbage
Bell peppers in three colors
Chicken powder
Fish sauce or patis
A little sugar
XO sauce or chili sauce

1. Wash vegetables, then slice to desired size
2. Saute garlic and onion, then add cabbage.
3. Season with patis, chicken powder, a little sugar and water, until cabbage wilts a bit. Cover for three minutes
4. Add bell peppers, then mix well until the peppers are cooked.
5. Add a bit of XO sauce or chili sauce for added flavor.
6. Mix well and serve.

Stir-fry Chinese lettuce with fried minced fish
Minced fish (sold for only $5 in wet markets)
Chinese lettuce
Chicken powder
A little sugar
Pinch of salt

1. Wash vegetables well.
2. Fry the minced fish until golden brown. Set aside.
3. Saute garlic, then add Chinese lettuce.
4. Add chicken powder, salt, sugar and mix for about three minutes.
5. Put cooked vegetables on a plate and top with the fried minced fish. Serve.

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