Sorry this took a while!
This is part 2 of the mountain cooking series first published here—written and co-developed with Hadjie Tecson and Dekz Macapagal. Bear with me because this is going to be a very long discussion. Ha!
So you’ve done your meal plan, done the groceries, and you’re ready to pack. Wait, not yet—you really can’t throw that raw sirloin in your bag and expect it to smell good after 6 hours in the bus and 12 hours of walking. Gross.
There’s a ritual called pre-cooking and you have to do it to extend the life of your meats. I’ve seen many friends pre-cook and their methods differ in little ways. Here’s a simple way of doing it:
- Cut your meat up to serving pieces and wash it thoroughly
- Put it in a pot with salt and pepper (sometimes vinegar and all the seasonings you want in, including an old sock if it works for you lol) and a bit of water. Fire up the stove, let it boil, and let all the water evaporate
- Let it cool for a bit, then pack it in a plastic bag
- Freeze the damn thing
- Once you take it out of the freezer, wrap it in old newspapers or brown paper bags
See! Easy enough to follow even for a kitchen idiot like me. Now this is as far as it goes, because the only person who can eat what I cook is, well, me. Yay to self-sufficiency!
Dry foods like rice, pasta, and instant mixes like Quaker oats, Nesvita, and Crab & Corn soups are so easy to load. Food from scratch—a bit trickier.
- Rice. Don’t let one person carry the 2-kg load, please. When we buy rice, we usually ask the store attendant to split it into 500-gram packs. This is so we can distribute it among the members of the group.
- Meats. See up.
- Vegetables. I think it’s important to note that you shouldn’t refrigerate vegetables, because once you do so, they have to stay refrigerated. Mesh bags have always worked for me in terms of keeping the moisture out, but it does leave a weird vegetable-smell in my pack. Bahaha!
- Eggs. Sometimes, not all of them get to the campsite in one piece. If they break, they also cause one big heck of a mess, so I still put them in a plastic before dumping them to the egg holder or before burying them in rice. That 6-pc egg-holder, I got from Daiso at less than a hundred.
- Alcohol. I implore you, don’t carry that big ass bottle of empoy. Invest in an aluminum bottle, drink light, and drink happy.
There’s a stove for every occasion—and a stove for every mountaineer for that matter. Because my friend Hadjie is a gourmet-type mountaineer (please, forgive the Tokyo Ghoul reference hahaha), he prefers liquid multi-fuel stoves that enable good flame control and the option for simmering. Samples are MSR WhisperLite, XGK, Kovea Booster Dual Max, etc.
Good, high-output stoves, of course, come with a price. They’re big and heavy—and they are also really pricey. Haha! So, some / most of us would rather buy those that run on butane (like our other AMCI friend, Cecile Morella, who’s a fan of Kovea Spider) and top mount stoves like the MSR Pocket Rocket.
Finally, if you really plan on cooking big meals, please drop the alcohol stove and your solid fuel stove. They are only good for boiling water.
We can discuss this all day long (I sat in AMCI’s 6-hour BMC lecture and practicals on stoves last year. This was a lecture on stove operations ALONE. Six hours. Tried all of the damn fire-making machines, while trying not to burn my hair. So far, okay naman, I lived to tell the tale). HAHAHA!
Special thanks to Derek Sta. Ana for the photos. That’s his collection–because he is an adik like that.
Okay. This is it. When Hadjie asked what recipes I wanted to share here, he just had to qualify: may sabaw, sauce, or dry? Dry is easy because frying should be easy. Right? Right? Haha. So he gave sabaw and sauce recipes to practice on:
- Chicken (without bones, pre-cooked)
- Dahon ng sili
- Pepper to taste
- Sauté ginger, garlic and onion
- Add sayote/papaya and water, bring to boil.
- Add pre-cooked chicken, continue simmering for at least 2-3 minutes, until sayote/papaya is tender.
- Add dahon ng sili, salt, pepper, to taste. You can use chicken cubes if you want.
- Remove from heat. And serve hot.
- Beef (Kalitiran)
- Bell Pepper
- Tomato Sauce
- Liver Spread
- Coconut Milk
- Tomato Onion Garlic
- Salt/Pepper to taste
- Sauté garlic, onion, tomato
- add pre-cooked beef, potato, and carrots.
- Add tomato sauce, and pour in water, bring to boil.
- Add liver spread and continue simmering until vegetables are tender and the sauce is reduced and thicker.
- Add bell pepper, coconut milk, salt, and pepper, simmer for another 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and serve hot!
Ready na? Whoooo p*t**na that was mahaba! Good luck mountain gourmets! And send me photos of your mountain feasts, please!