There was a time when flat breads were strange to me. It’s probably not surprising considering how I (like the rest of my generation) grew up with bread that was judged superior for its airiness and fluffiness. Such characteristics cannot be found in flat breads made without yeast. To my young mind and inexperienced palate, bread that did not collapse in the mouth like a bland marshmallow was no good at all. But growing up comes with a persistent call to broaden one’s horizons, if one were willing, and I was more than willing. It was tortilla that I discovered first, then pita and, finally, the flat breads of South Asia. Today, the flat bread I love most is paratha.
Fortunately, the love affair with flat breads is something shared by everyone in my family. And because we have one kind of flat bread or another most of the time, we have learned to get creative with them. For lunch today, Alex prepared pita with two kinds of filling. The first had slices of veal tongue fried in butter, caramelized onion, tomatoes and lettuce drizzled with Japanese mayo. The veal tongue was cooked in the slow cooker yesterday and chilled overnight for easy slicing. When it was time to prepare lunch, I sliced the tongue and Alex did the rest.
The second filling consisted of crisp fried squid — a dish that is commonly called calamares in the Philippines. I know. Calamares is Spanish for squid. But we call squid pusit and calamares is a dish made by cutting the squid into rings, coating them in batter and deep frying until the batter turns crisp.
So, Alex cooked squid, calamares style, and she decided to include the squid ink in the batter. The sauce is an especially-seasoned yogurt.
Lunch today was such an enjoyable meal that I decided to indulge in a little nostalgia and review how we have enjoyed flat bread in the past.
Whole wheat tortillas with pork adobo filling
I was seeing too much adobo and there was this itch to do something else with it. So, for breakfast one day, I heated some whole wheat flour tortillas in a pan and filled them with shredded pork adobo, sliced onion, onion leaves and toasted garlic bits. Pretty good, I tell you. Pretty darn good. Get the recipe.
Since its inception, cheesesteak has always been served using long bread rolls. Not surprising, I suppose, since the first cheesesteak was made with a hotdog roll. But I broke away from tradition and served my cheesesteaks with flour tortillas. Get the recipe.
Korean beef stew tacos (a.k.a. my version of Kogi BBQ’s short-rib tacos)
As you bite, the first thing you get is the slight crunch of the lettuce. But the first real taste is of the savory beef, sweet, salty and spicy at the same time. Then, the sudden sharpness of the red onions mixing with the sesame seeds. Finally, the indescribable flavors of the cilantro. There’s a reason why it is my favorite herb and there’s not even a close second. Get the recipe.
Scrap pork tacos
Scrap bones differ from one seller to the next. Some are really just bones with some cartilage attached. The better ones, however, the kind I’m always on the lookout for, are scrap bones with a substantial amount of meat still attached. Get the recipe.
Fully-loaded breakfast pita
Among Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flat breads, we like pita and this pita filled with so many things. Basically, the leftover omelet from yesterday’s breakfast plus fresh vegetables. Get the recipe.
Tacos a la Cubana
A play on the rice dish that Filipinos call arroz a la Cubana, these tacos are filled with beef and sausage stew, raw onions, cucumbers and tomatoes, and ripe mangoes. On the side, a fried egg, sunny side up, and slices of golden saba bananas. Get the recipe.
Taco salad with spicy garlic dressing
I took whatever was in the fridge and pantry and used them — including mayo, olive oil, lemon rind and juice, onion, garlic, dried herbs and finely chopped fresh bird’s eye chili. Get the recipe.
Fish tacos, Asian style
The salsa was seasoned with rice wine vinegar, patis (fish sauce), sugar and black pepper. And, for that slant and kick that only fresh herbs can provide, I chose Thai basil, mint and cilantro. The result? Spicy, tangy and sweet tacos that smell like you’re walking through an herb garden. Get the recipe.