Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Fisherman's Grill: Sisig, Buro at iba pa

Forty five minutes to an hour. That's the duration of the road trip (from the Balintawak toll plaza) to San Fernando, Pampanga. Every time we find an excuse, we hit the road and travel this route. After-all, I am married to a Kapampangan.

The common view that Kapampangans are good cooks is an understatement. Maybe when the gods distributed rewards, they handed the gift of taste to this region. They are great cooks and can whip magic in the kitchen!

Recently, we've discovered a restaurant that offers various Pampanga dishes at very, very (and I mean very) reasonable price. It's called Fisherman's Grill. It's just on the side of the road so you won't miss it.

Outside, it doesn't look too fancy, but it doesn't also look like the side-road 'carinderia.' It has that 'dignified-but-not-sosyal' look. Inside, it is clean and welcoming.

When you are ready to order, the waitress would lead you to the counter where all the available food/ dishes are on display. This is very helpful especially for an outsider who is not familiar with the names of the dishes on the menu (like moi). Once you've made your choice, your ordered dish is reheated/ re-sauteed/ re-fried to get that fresh-newly-cooked feel.

We had the pleasure of trying out the following dishes (on separate occasions, mind you): fried hito (catfish), fried lapu-lapu, fish sinigang (bittersoup), sauteed mixed-seafood, chopsuey, (mixed vegetable with pork meat and liver), pork sisig, and boiled (fresh) veggies with buro (fermented rice). All of these are really tasty, but I'd like to give a special ode-to-joy to two dishes that I've only learned to appreciate and enjoy after I married a Kapampangan: buro and sisig.

Buro is cooked rice mixed with 'flavoring' - either cooked fish or shrimp - placed in a tight container and left to ferment for days. When 'done,' the fermented-flavored rice is sauteed with generous amount of garlic (fried to golden brown), and seasoned with salt. In the past, just thinking about this food makes my stomach churn (I call it "panis" na kanin). But, there's always a first time. And, just like other 'first times,' I enjoyed the experience.

But I also learned to be very particular with the 'buro' I eat - after all, it's still 'panis na kanin' (fermented rice) and hence, if the preparation is not good or clean, it can actually make your stomach upset. Needless to say, I only eat 'buro' prepared by someone I know, or restaurants with good reputation.

Fisherman's Grill, to my delight, prepares their buro to my standard - clean, tasty, well-cooked. It goes very well with fresh-boiled vegetables (ampalaya, talong, okra) and fried fish.

The other dish worth mentioning here is the 'sisig.' Given my parents' aversion to pig-fat (taba), I grew up avoiding it in my food (meticulously removing it in my dish). Naturally, sisig - a dish that brings together the pig's ear, liver, pork meat and taba - is something that I don't go ga-ga with. This dish is usually served in a hot plate (thus, all the pork-fat sizzles). The sisig preparation at Fisherman's Grill is worth coming back for. It is simple, no-frills, sauteed pig-innards, meat, fat and all - allowing the natural taste of the meat to come out. Just be careful not to eat too much, lest your blood pressure and cholesterol shoots up.

How reasonable is 'reasonable'?For four main dishes plus four cups of rice, two glasses of buko juice and one C2 iced tea, our total bill was only less than P600.00. At Fisherman's Grill, you can really say "mura na, manyaman pa (masarap pa)."

Exotic foods we dare you to try (I'm also daring myself to try:) Adobong Camaru (crickets) and Sizzling Puga (fish eggs).
To go to Fisherman's Grill: Take the flyover (McDo) and go straight until you reach the next intersection, then turn right. You will find the resto at the left side.