Lola Da, Age 89 in her home in Ilocos
In the Philippines it is not uncommon to have house hold help. Lola Da was with our family for over 50 years so she was more like our family. We called her “Lola” which means Grandma in the Philippines. She was our cook and mayordoma (head of the household who oversaw the other staff).
In the beginning she started out as my Dad’s yaya (nanny to Filipinos). My Dad’s mom thought she was not going to make it through child-birth because the time frame was World War 2 and the pregnancy was rough. She asked Lola Da to treat my Dad like her own. Since Lola Da never married the role of 2nd mother was easy for her to fill.
When my Dad became too old for a nanny Lola Da became the cook and mayordoma. When we were little she also watched over my sister and I like a Grandmother.
Lola Da was sent by my Grandmother to study cooking in Hong Kong. She could make every dish imaginable from Filipino food to French to Italian cuisine, and more. She was also making fusion dishes before they became trendy. One dish I remember clearly was a duck a l’orange that she served with rice that was fried with fois gras pate. Eating in our house was such a joy and brings back such happy memories.
When I was growing up in the Philippines it was not the trend for us to learn how to cook. My Mom was an accomplished pianist and composer and her mother also kept her away from the kitchen. Unfortunately I did not learn how to make Lola Da’s dishes and the recipes and notes she left behind are scarce.
Now that I am older, and I have my own family in Connecticut, I often try to recreate the dishes that I remember. The dishes were “food memories” that often made me smile.
Today I am recreating Lola Da’s Beef Steak Filipino. It is best with steaming hot white rice. I hope you enjoy it! Buon Appetito! Sarap ng buhay!
Note: Remember that in Asian cuisine you can be flexible with the ingredients. If you like things more salty then add more soy sauce. If you like things sweeter then add more sugar. You like garlic? No problem add more!
1 1/2 lbs of steak (It can be low quality as you will use a mallet or rolling-pin to pound it)
2 tablespoons of vinegar
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1/3 teaspoon of black pepper
2 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 a cup of water
1 onion cut in half and sliced thinly
3-4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 tablespoon of oil
What to do:
1. Cut your steak into little 3 inch pieces.
2. Pound your steak with a mallet or rolling-pin so it tenderizes. Some people pound it really thin to get maximum tenderness.
3. Get your pan and put the cooking oil. Heat until it is hot (where a splash of water will dance on the oil).
4. Put the garlic, onions and saute lightly for about 2 minutes.
5. Add the steak to the pan and brown the meat lightly
4. Add the rest of the ingredients and let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes. The longer you cook it the less sauce you will have. If you want it saucier just add more water.
My boys love this simple dish. If you have leftovers you will be very lucky as this dish is even better the day after as all the flavors really settle in.
Buono Appetito! Sarap ng buhay!