Monday, July 11, 2011

summer rhythm

Seven pairs, all up, thirteen flowers, break. 

That may sound like gibberish, but I know there are some of you who are familiar with Mahjong and actually recognize the Mahjong jargon. Mahjong is a Chinese table game that is very popular in the Philippines. It's actually a favorite pastime, especially during weekends and summer.

The shuffling of the Mahjong  tiles under the palms of our hands, the guessing of the numbers by feeling the tiles, the sound made by the clashing of ivory tiles -- all these came to life again last weekend. After years of not playing, Mama B, my mother-in-law,  Mama Nena, sister-in-law's grandma and I were reminded of the thrill of the game. And boy how we got carried away. We played continuously for more than 12 hours. That is not an exaggeration. We actually played through the afternoon, through night and into the next morning. How could three women of different generations and different interests stay up all night? I tell you, we were all under the Mahjong spell.

Playing Mahjong brought the three of us back to those summer days in the Philippines. Mama B was reminded of the days when we played Mahjong at the lanai back home. She fondly recalled how she taught her children the game so we could form a complete quorum of players. Mama Nena, on the other hand, remembered her trips to the province where she recollected how much fun she had playing Mahjong with her childhood friends. Fun memories echoed back and I could tell by the tone of their voices and the glow on their faces how much fun they were having.

Plus, with the addition of Goto and Tokwa't Baboy, the three of us knew that we were recreating those days so familiar to us. Not even the harsh Las Vegas heat was able to stop us from eating the pair. We were definitely in summer rhythm.

Goto and Tokwa't Baboy
Goto is a Filipino congee that is made of rice and beef tripe.  It is a popular merienda (snacks) in the afternoon or after a night out.  It is usually paired with Tokwa't Baboy,  a side dish made of pig's offals and tofu.

Let's tackle Goto first.  We need:

Tripe, clean with salt and rinse well.  Boil it until tender with bay leaf, celery, onions and garlic. Slice in strips and set aside.

For the congee, we need:
1 c glutinous rice
1 c jasmine rice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, sliced
2 slices ginger
4 c broth
a pinch of safron
fish sauce for seasoning

Saute garlic, onions and ginger.  Add the strips of tripe.  Add salt, pepper and safron. Stir them together.  Add rice and stir again.  Add broth and let it boil.   Reduce heat and cook it for another 30 - 40 minutes.  Add broth as you go until you've achieved the desired consistency.

Voila, this is how my bowl of congee looks like:

Now let's make the Tokwa't Baboy
Pig's offals, boil in a pot with  onions, garlic, cellery and  bay leaf, slice them into strips
Tofu: Fry tofu and slice them into cubes.
For the sauce: Mix 1/2 c soy sauce, 1/2 c vinegar minced garlic, 1 tsp sugar, broth.  It's optional but I like to simmer my sauce altogether.  Add pepper.

Toss tofu and the pork together.  Add sauce... your ready to enjoy a bite that would give you a whip!  Enjoy!

You could just have the goto (congee) or just the tokwa't baboy on its own.  But  for me?  I love to have both goto and tokwa't baboy together... the flavors, the textures ahh they are in perfect harmony!


  1. Perfect mahjong pa-merienda! Love our Chinese-Spanish culture...

    Would you believe my son plays mahjong and I don't? You will have to teach me.

  2. Perfect combination. We used to go to Goodah in West Avenue, QC back in the days.

  3. My parents went through a phase when I was younger where they went out and bought a mahjong table and played often. It only lasted a few weeks though. Pretty soon the mahjong table was folded up and kept in the garage:)

    The goto and tokwa't baboy look awesome btw.

  4. If you lived close by, I would be right over, not for the mahjong, but more for the goto! Great it,reminded me of home.

  5. Oh Malou, I wish I lived close to you, it would be like living near my Tita Ley. She made the best goto, and my favorite were the crunchy ears of the baboy. Sigh!

  6. Lovely post, it gave me warm fuzzy feeling, which is great as it is freezing here Down Under!

  7. Who taught your son? He's only 10 right? Let him teach you then haha. Or better yet ill teach you for as long as you teach me how to make macs... deal?

    Wendywash: who wouldn't forget Goodah? Its the place to go especially after a night out.

    It was a blessing that it was just a phase as some people get hooked... and that's when it's bad. I'm so happy to see you stop by.

    Bettyt: I'm sure if we're neighbors we will sneak some mahjong playing too haha. Thanks Betty ann.

    Liren: I think I like your Auntie ley's version of crunchy ears yum! Lovely to see you Liren thanks.

    Charmel. Oh yeah its winter over ther. Make some and feed yourself HOME1. Thanks for dropping by.

  8. Didn't learn how to play Mahjong but I hung out a lot at the gotohan in the old neighborhood. Want my tokwa't baboy with lots of garlic and chillies please...

  9. wow honestly, i didnt know you mahjong is played over at your side too! now we're totally in sync hehe

    and the dish looks awesome btw :)


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