Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Anatomy of Kinalas

Kinalas is a comfort food shared by all citizens of Naga regardless of any social status. It is a poor man’s meal that found its way to the palate even of the most influential people in power. At first I thought that it is an ordinary noodle dish compared to the La Paz batchoy of Iloilo. I was proven wrong. Because as I dissect the whole dish, many things can be discovered from the experience of the people who have enjoyed this dish for generations.   
The term Kinalas actually refers to the meat which is removed or scraped from boiled pork’s head. The longer the hours of boiling the easier it is to scrape the meat, the tastier the broth. The broth is quite not cholesterol free so I advice you to eat kinalas in moderation if you are avoiding hospitals. Beef can substitute for pork. Actually, it taste better for me. Cordova's Kinalasan (Take note: kinalasan-that's how we call Kinalas serving eateries) serves the best beef kinalas in Naga. 

Because Kinalas refers to the meat, it can be actually paired to any noodles or even rice porridge (goto). But it was a common practice that Kinalas is best paired with the wet noodles available in the supermarket. Many Kinalasan prefer this type of noodles because it does not become soggy immediately. 
There is nothing artificial in the broth. No cubes or granules can ever produce the meaty taste that has undergone the process of sloooow boiling. It is a rule that you can ask for extra broth as long as you bring your bowl to the cook and ask for some.

Aside from the tasty broth, what makes Kinalas unique is the special sauce. It was said that the first special sauce were left overs of the meat stew dishes like Caldereta, Pochero, Menudo etc. It eventually evolve into a paste like texture sauce made of (ssshhhh... this is a secret) crushed shrimp head, ground pork liver and corn starch. As to how it is prepared, i'll leave it with the cooks. They know better than me. 

The spices garlic and onions have been the dynamic duo in Filipino kitchen. But in Kinalas the garlic is sauteed separately and the onion, instead of the regular bulbs, are leeks cut and sprinkled on top of the dish.
Just like with goto, it is optional for you to add hard boiled egg. Some experimented on using balut (duck embryo) which is exotically yummy, but if your stomach cannot take it, just settle with the regular chicken egg. 

There are varieties of condiments to add to your Kinalas. It is up to you to decide which suits your taste. Siling labuyo or chili can be fresh or sauteed. We Bikolanos love our Kinalas burning hot in chili. We are eating fire according to some visitors. Some regular customers of Pan de Cielo in Sta. Mesa Manila, though they are not Bikolanos, have been accustomed to the hot chili sauce. In Kinalas Twins in Dayangdang, there's a mortar (water-filled ketchup bottles) for you to crush the fresh chilies. 

Eating Kinalas is not complete without a bottle of coke. It is a must to burp. Kinalas is also paired with toasted siopao (a local dumpling), maruya (fried banana) and turon (fried wrapped banana). For me Kinalas is best paired with Hopia bread.

If you are in Naga City, you can find the best kinalasan in Dayangdang and Barlin st. In the Republic of Dayangdang you will find Cordova's (famous as Tiya Kamot), Twin's and Cha Ced's. In Barlin, you'll find the famous Cely's, Bolofers and Gotobest. There's also Enteng's in Diversion road. Kinalas hours are between 3 to 5 PM. Better not be late, it's a first come first served basis. If you are in Manila, you can go to Pan de Cielo, in front of Lourdes Hospital in Sta Mesa where Kinalas hours extend up to 8PM. Tengo Hambre! See you there.


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