By Rey Anthony Chiu | 01:38 AM October 10, 2021
In the vast agricultural flatlands of San Miguel, a stone throw away from the Bayongan Dam, is a farm developed by a retired employee and farming technology trainer of the Department of Agriculture.
Nunila Pinat, also better known in Bohol as Manay Bebot is a widow, her husband Jack worked at the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. Both of them joined the same leaning to agriculture especially when the government devolved the DA to the LGUS.
Manay’s family, owned a small farm lot in Bayongan in San Miguel, and when she decided to finally settle after retirement, Bayongan was her first and most logical choice.
Equipped with the leading technologies in sustainable agriculture and as an expert community organizer, Manay, who also won as a mayor in the town, bought a small piece of land which she envisioned to put up a demonstration farm to showcase to farming technologies they can adopt and emulate.
Thus came Manay’s Farm, now becoming an entire family venture culminating in the homing of a daughter who worked for the human resource division of an international company in Cambodia, and the return of a chef son who worked in an international hotel also in Cambodia.
The farm, now becoming a showcase of an integrated diversified organic farming of the DA’s Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), also feature home agri technologies, cut flower, organic live stock growing, herbs and vegetables, rice and aquaculture, health and wellness products as well as sustainable resources use through ecological solid waste management.
To serve on the guests and farmers who visit the farm, Manay’s Farm has put up its own unique brand of food, mostly a fusion of the Boholano-Filipino and Asean tastes.
Manay’s Farm is also revolutionizing the agri market when they started consolidating local produce for their kitchen and for their guests who but fresh organically grown produce.
Becoming a strict farm to table venue, Manay’s Farm has also put up an open air hall for dining guests in the pandemic.
GINGERED ADOBO (Linuy-ahang Adobo)
A main dish which they started to serve in 2019, niluy-ahang adobo is your Filipino favorite dish, with a zing.
Pork ribs from the home-grown native pork is cooked in the traditional Filipino ‘pina-uga’ or dry style but not really that dry to be brittle. This one leans towards the native pork humba (read humok nga baboy) which is a pork cooked to tender, but with the hint of the ginger, an omnipresent ingredient in Boholano and Visayan food.
The ginger here is sauteed to evoke that taste that tickles one’s taste buds and the smell of ginger as one emaciates the tender meat is reminiscent of the rural Boholano lifestyle where, in some mountain villages, their adobo indeed carries that hint of ginger.
Although claimed as an experimental fusion from the treasure of Filipino-Visayan cooking traditions as well as the spicy-oily tendency of most Asian food, Many’s Farm chef Josephus ‘Jojo,’ also picks herbs from the farms herb garden to bring out that Asian taste he has grown to like as an international chef.
Filipinos love adobos, no matter how one cooks it.
What makes a proper adobo is usually the effect of the vinegar, onion and peppercorns as the marinade cooks the meat to tender.
In Bohol however, adobo is rendered homey with the use of native vinegar from fermented tuba: the smell this lends to the adobo is almost always celestial for the children who could consume a bowl with this kind of adobo.
For Manay’s, the peppercorn is a subtle aftertaste as the ginger which is also sliced thin can often accompany one’s mouthful of adobo.
Introduced to the Boholanos first by allowing the farm hands to taste the fusion, the raves were generous, according to chef Jojo, and her sister Jeanette “Saysay.”
Now a farm main offer, Chef Jojo has shared the recipe to Saysay, his brother and farm manager Joachim as well as wife Pane’, if only to make sure that anyone in the farm can cook with the same standard of exquisite Asian Filipino blend.
Linuy-ahang Adobo is among the farm’s best sellers when they only took orders and deliveries during the pandemic.
Ubiquitous ginger in Boholano food has been proven for its powerful medicinal properties like anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. A gram or two of ginger help prevent chemotherapy-related and after surgery nausea, especially morning sickness. may help with weight loss, ease osteoarthritis, lower blood sugars and improve heart disease risk factors, as well as treat chronic indigestion.
SLOW-ROAST NATIVE CHICKEN
At Manay’s Farm, it is either native chicken or native pork, no less.
For those whose appetites are drawn to the roasted kind of food, Manay’s Slow Roast native Chicken is a must.
When one’s idea of roasted native chicken is the rubbery, tough meat one has to use not just a butter knife but the sturdier kind, this roast chicken, native as it is, has no need of one. There is not a meat so hard to pick that a spoon and fork could not satisfactorily separate.
Introduced at the Manay’s Farm by its inhouse chef Jojo,’ the recipe earned heartful raves from their customers that keeping that brand is imperative.
By slowly roasting the native chicken in a pan, the chef is able to get rid of the very little fat in the meat, which makes the chicken less oily and thus a healthier alternative.
Also, as one takes a bite in the unsually tender meat, one can not miss the coconutty taste which is the base of the explosion of herbs: a hint of tarragon, rosemary, ginger, laurel. peppercorn and star anise, which transports one to the popular food strips of, is it Thailand or Vietnam?
Admittedly one with an Asian influence, this perfectly pan-roasted chicken elevates the generic roast chicken to loftier heights, one needs not the sweet suggestion of sugar coats, the coconut does it way much better that the sweetness gets through the tender meat.
The trick, the chef partly shared, is the size of the chicken. At .8 to 1.1 kilos, that should be perfect.
At Manay’s, they do not just dress the chicken free-ranging in the yard, these have to be kept in a cage for a day or two, and fed, to empty its stomach of the range food.
In Bohol, where majority of the people are Christians, the tradition of Passover is carried on to birthdays. Here, using chicken blood fresh from a dressed chicken’s neck, parents finger-mark the child’s forehead.
To recall, in the Christian tradition, the Egyptians were spared by the angel of death after they mark their doors and lentils with blood.
MANOK HINALANG ALA MANAY’S
At Manay’s Farm, the kitchen staff are just so bold to venture into improvisations as they pick up the fusion concept to their food.
Manok hinalang is, on first sight, a noticeably different from the usual spicy milky chicken soup popular in the southern Philippines.
Somewhat like tinolang manok, the infusion of other ingredients and spices lends to the unique dish its identity.
At Manay’s, the native chicken hinalang is in almost all aspects, your usual hinalang, without the soup and less the spice.
Using some inhouse native chicken dressed and cut to size, the chicken is then marinated in soy and native vinegar, sauteed and then comes the special house herbs and ingredients that makes their hinalang unique.
Cooking this over slow fire is one of the secrets, chef Jojo shared. As to the other ingredients, putting in lemongrass while the marinaded meat is boiled is also another trick. The rest, he politely refused, it being their house secret.
Already fast becoming a unique version of the local hinalang or haling-halang, Manay’s version allows guests the option to make their orders especially hot, or mildly hot suitable for kids.
A garnish of sili espada and some lemongrass and culinary presentation turns mouth watering.
NATIVE CHICKEN TINOLA (TINOLANG MANOK BISAYA)
A Filipino favorite soup, Tinolang Manok Bisaya is another main stay at Manay’s.
Free-range native chicken, those which have not been fed with the commercial feeds, these chicken do have this unequalled taste of the native goodness that it can even go without much of the fancy ingredients.
The secret is to actually cook the meat over slow simmer and keep it under the meat is tender, Manay’s other son chef Joachim or ‘A lot’ bared.
A sautee of garlic, onions, and lots ginger is the base taste one gets from the meat. As soon as the meat is added, it is allowed to cook until tender. When cooked, wedged green papaya is added to add to the taste. And then, the magic that brings back that nostalgic taste of home is the basil, which is added.
For some people, instead of simply adding water as soup, they use rice washing, the starch from the washing adding more body to the soup.
As soon as the meat rolls out from the bones, ground peppercorn, bell peppers and seasoning are added.
This dish is often added with malunggay, spinach or bellpepper shoots, and served with fish sauce or patis. A garnish of a fresh chili shoot also add to the culinary presentation.
Green or unripe papaya in soups, increase the body’s production of oxytocin, which boosts breastmilk production. In Bohol, it is never unusual for houses with lactating mothers or even with newborn kids to have tinolang manok with papaya as a dish. Green papayas have been popular in Asia for centuries, and is a popular ingredient for many delicious Thai dishes.
STIR FRIED NATIVE PORK OR CHICKEN IN HOLY BASIL
Another Asian fusion and Thai inspired dish here at Manay’s is stir fried ground pork or chicken meat in holy basin, which comes abundant in the farm.
Introduced in 2019, the dish traces its inspiration from the Thai Pad Krapow, a classic Thai dish, which is served in a bowl with rice.
Brought in after savoring and adapting to the spicy ground meat from Thailand, chef Jojo and Saysay, whose memorable days in Cambodia were celebrated with Pad krapow and beer, bringing the dish and adapting it to the Filipino taste is just natural.
Stir fried native pork or chicken combines the tastes of oyster, soy, fish, hint of sugar, and Thai, holy or ordinary basil in a mouth-watering dish whose spicy tastes can bring out the sweat just as easily.
Ground or chopped chicken or pork is stir fried before adding onions, garlic and minced chili, before pouring in the sauces, which still is where the chef put up the improvisation.
As the sauces begin to caramelize in the cooked meat and the pan, the basil is added and cooked until this is wilted.
The dish is served with a garnish of native chilis and could be best served with beer.
Thanks to the innovation of chef Jojo and Saysay, Boholanos can now taste the classic Thai dish, without even leaving Bohol. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)