Asian Meal: Fried Whole Fish, Adobo Water Spinach and Steamed Rice

There are times when the craving for Asian food is stronger than me. I give in. I always do anyway. Moving away from where I grew up makes the craving even more insistent  because it's one of the remaining strong hooks I have from my past. Life can take me thousands of miles away but Philippine food will remain rooted inside me and I will take it with me everywhere I go. Every single dish has a memory to speak of and when I cook certain dishes, I don't see it as just food but something that's more special because it's a part of me.

In the Philippines, a daily meal, we would be eating steamed white rice, fish or meat and vegetables then fruits to end it. The rice, fish or meat and vegetables are all served in big bowls altogether at the center of the table and you eat them together. Like the picture above, you arrange them assigning one corner for each, the rice always at the bottom of the plate, closest to you. A dipping sauce, depending on the food, is always present. For fried fish, I like eating it with soy sauce mixed with a lot of calamansi lemons. The saltiness and tartness fight in your mouth while the taste of the fish itself is just a subtle taste because it is drowned by the sauce's strength.

Fish, vegetables and rice are all eaten at the same time because their flavors are combined altogether in one spoonful. Yes, spoon and fork are used to eat, not chopsticks like the other Asian countries. A knife is sometimes used if you need to cut some meat.

Adobo is typically Filipino but there is also a Spanish version that is quite different. I am not really sure about its history but based on what I read in Wikipedia, when the Spaniards occupied the Philippines in the late 16th century, they already encountered an indigenous method of cooking which was with vinegar and salt. It was an ancient method of cooking and preserving meat because there was no refrigeration during that time. When the Chinese traders arrived in the Philippines, they introduced the soy sauce which then became a substitute to using salt. Philippine adobo is cooking with vinegar, soy sauce and garlic.

I cooked the vegetables in one of the classic and simple ways in cooking water spinach. It's a great vegetable dish to accompany fried or grilled fish. Because of the soy sauce and vinegar, both flavors create a contrasting whole taste in your mouth which is what adobo is all about. Sprinkle it with sesame seeds, which is my personal addition, and you can have an easy and delicious Asian meal at home. Buon appetito!

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