The putong pulo, a popular delicacy from Valenzuela City, is a small rice cake, steamed and mixed with achuete to give it its distinctive reddish-brown color. It is then topped with a small, thin slice of cheese. Its popularity has made it a staple in many tables and its versatility means it can go well with a number of dishes.
The culinary flexibility of the putong pulo is the emphasis of the Match Masarap, a cooking contest held last November 11 at the San Diego de Alcala Parish Church in Barangay Polo. Contests like this and pageants formed the festivities held since last week in celebration of the saint’s 391st feast day on November 12. The city, which bases its beginning on the establishment of the church during the Spanish era, was also celebrating its 391st foundation day.
In Match Masarap, five contestants were tasked to come up with one dish that would go well with the puto. Each contestant was assigned a maximum of Php 1,500 for the budget and the dish they would produce should be able to feed at least 20 people.
The first dish that most people associate it with the food is dinuguan, a native stew made from pork’s blood. But Betchay Lim’s ability to think out of the box and come up with a different dish to partner with the rice cake earned her Php 7,000.
Lim, a kagawad from Barangay Mabolo, gained the approval of the judges and bested the other four contestants with her kinulob na manok, a dish that’s so tasty, it’s hard to believe that it’s so easy to prepare.
Displaying calmness and confidence throughout the cook-off, Lim showed the crowd and the panel of judges how her version of the dish was made. The ingredients were white leghorn chicken, tokong (the chicken’s duodenum), onion, ginger, a little salt, and rice mixed with chicken blood.
The procedure was as simple as placing all the ingredients in the casserole, putting water until the ingredients are partially submerged, and boiling them for 45 minutes covered.
When Lim was done cooking the kinulob na manok, everyone in the crowd had a chance to taste the dish. All were satisfied, but none were as happy as Lim, whose creation not only gave her recognition, but also helped people gain a deeper appreciation of a Valenzuela product.