“And just boil it all together.”

“Hi Dad!”
“Hi, what’s up?” (Dad’s usual phone greeting)
“Um, I want to ask mom about mongo. Just wanted to double-check how to cook it.”
“Oh. You just need mongo, spinach, pork, if you like, tomato, shrimp, patis, garlic and onions. And just boil it all together.”
“Boil it all together?”
“Yes.”
“Are you sure? Doesn’t mom fry something up too?”
“No, just boil it all together.”
“Is mom there?”
“She’s still sleeping.”
“Ok, thanks. Tell mom to call me later. Love you.”

When I call home to ask my parents about some of the Filipino recipes I miss and crave, I always seem to get my dad on the line. Maybe it has to do with the European/ North American time difference. When I call from Prague, it is afternoon here and I am thinking about what to make for dinner. In NYC, when my dad picks up my call, he is still in his pj’s, just about to have breakfast and my mom, well she is still deep in a state of slumber. She has never been a morning person.

The usual suspects...

The funny thing is that although my dad is really good about remembering ingredients and is really helpful with directions, we didn’t grow up eating many meals cooked by my father’s hands. There were a few occasions when Mom had the night shift at the hospital and Dad would make dinner for me and my brothers. It didn’t happen very often and the surprising thing for me is that when I look back at those handful of memories I remember really enjoying my father’s cooking.

I am in need of a serious boost of iron. My third trimester blood tests detected a drop in this area. I returned from the doctor’s office with two packs of iron supplements, but I do believe the right foods can help you get back on track. I hardly eat meat, I do cook it for my husband, but I rarely eat it. Fish and seafood: yes. Beef, pork, chicken and other game: no. Yes, I am one of those.

...of the Filipino Sofrito

One way to get more iron into the system is through legumes and leafy greens. A bowl of mongo would be the perfect combination. My dad was right, I would have to boil all the ingredients together. However, that was only after I let the beans boil for an hour and sautéed a few of the other ingredients. I called my mother back later that same day and she laughed when I repeated the instructions given by my dad. We kept it our little secret and didn’t bother to correct him. Neither one of us wanted to spoil my father’s culinary confidence.

Mongo

1 cup green mung beans
5 cups water (plus 2 more cups)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium-sized onion, sliced
1 large tomato, diced
1/2 lb. shelled shrimps
1-2 tablespoons fish sauce (patis)
salt and pepper to taste
1 package of baby spinach

Mung beans

Give the beans a very good rinse.
In a deep pot, combine the beans, water and season with some salt.
Let the water come to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
Cook beans for an hour, or until soft or until doubled in size.

In a large pan, sauté the garlic in oil, until lightly browned.
Then add the onion, tomato and fish sauce.
Let it cook for a few minutes, until the onions and tomatoes soften.
Add this pot of mung beans.
If the liquid has dried up, add another cup or two of water.
Let it cook for another 10-15 minutes.
Add the shrimp and spinach at the end and let it boil a few more minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.

Serve with jasmine rice.

The Filipino way: Spoon & Fork!

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