I must admit that the Kapampangans are great cooks. My dad is Kapampangan and yes, he cooks well. I also think that 50% of my love for food and cooking came from him. The other half is from my mom who is Bikolana. That topic will be discussed in another blog entry. For now, I will talk about one of my favorite native Kapampangan dishes, the buro. “Buro” is the Tagalog word for “preserve” or “pickled. Burong Kapampangan is a form of fermented rice with fish or small shrimps. This is a great side dish for fried fish (especially Dalag and Dalagang Bukid), steamed vegetables (Mustasa, Sigarilyas) and Sinigang na Isda sa Miso.
However, this native delicacy is not for the fainthearted or should I say “faintstomached”. lol The look, the taste and above all, the smell of this dish can make or break one’s appetite.
Burong kapampangan looks like porridge, mainly because this is fermented rice. The taste is sour-y with a hint of salt and sautéed garlic. When cooked, the buro smells heavenly but in its raw form, it smells like “hell” (pardon my language).
At such a young age, my mom and dad has introduced this food to me and my siblings. I was 7 when I got the chance to eat buro. My dad actually tricked me to eating it. They did not tell me what it was. During lunch, my mom cooked fish and sinigang na isda and instead of using the usual fish sauce as condiment, they served this whitish, paste-like side dish. At first I thought it was “bagoong”, only it’s white. I watched my dad as he ate enthusiastically. He seemed to be enjoying it so I got curious and tried it too. It was so good! The sour-salty taste of buro excites the taste buds and makes you appreciate your ordinary fried fish and steamed vegetables. After that lunch, I established my love for buro.
Since my dad loves this dish so much, my mom (who was Bikolana) mastered the preparation of buro. Surprisingly, each buro is unique. My mom’s buro is never the same as my grandmother’s.
How do you make and cook buro?
1. Buy fresh fish (gurami, medium-sized) and/or small shrimp. Make sure all raw ingredients are fresh.
2. Set aside 4-5 cups of rice.
4. Mix rice and fish. Add salt, depending on your taste.
5. Leave mixture for a week or until you smell the strong aroma resulting from the fermentation process. (you’ll know it when it’s ready!)
6. Once it’s ready, prepare garlic, onion, tomatoes and ginger to sauté.
7. Then pour in the mixture.
8. Allow the fish to cook. Make sure that the fishbones are soft enough.
9. Cooking time will take about 15-20 minutes.
The preparation and cooking process seem easy. In reality, preparing the buro takes years and years of practice. And like all cooking, it is best done with a dash of love.