Fans of Kapampangan cooking will readily recognize the name Lillian Borromeo. Her kitchen in the family's ancestral home in the town of Mexico in Pampanga province, Philippines has hosted many foreign and local tourists eager to see and savor her famous cooking methods which are derived from generations of Kapampangan cooks.
This year, with the help of the Holy Angel University's Center for Kapampangan Studies, Borromeo published her book of traditional home-cooking recipes of the Pampanga province. Entitled Atching Lillian's Heirloom Recipes, the book took seven years to make because Borromeo took time to interview and cajole secret recipes out of reluctant cooks, as well as go through her own family's recipes. The result is a treasure trove of Kapampangan-style stews, soups, and sweets, most only passed down through stories and fond reminiscences of old Kapampangan kitchens.
One of these popular and oddly named recipes in the book is called Paksing Demonyu, or Paksiw ng Demonyo. The name is derived from an old story wherein a farmer brings home fish for his wife to turn into paksiw (fish simmered in vinegar, water and vegetables). When the wife leaves the kitchen to set up the table, the devil sneaks in and steals the fish from the stew, leaving only the vegetables and the soup. Not realizing what had happened, the wife proceeds to serve the dish to her husband. The husband eats the dish, likes it, and—to the devil's consternation—declares it to be the best one she has cooked for him.
Luckily for the rest of us, the recipe—and its devilish name—has survived and is now outlined below.
200 grams eggplant
200 grams kangkong (water spinach)
200 grams ampalaya (bitter gourd)
1 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup vinegar
1 tbsp salt
50 grams larang pamaksi (siling pari, or Spanish pepper)
50 grams sliced sibuyas Tagalog (red onion)
25 grams sliced ginger
25 grams garlic
1. Boil mixture of liquid and spice ingredients except for the eggplant, kangkong and ampalaya.
2. Put vegetables in boiling mixture, then cook for two minutes.