Cooking from memory

January 4, 2021by Inquirer Lifestyle0
‘I was obsessed with the idea of cooking for personal pleasure and enjoyment. It was the next best thing to traveling back to my favorite places’
Jecelle Tycangco: “If it’s worth serving to my loved ones, I’d like nothing more than to share it with others.”

My cooking journey began with a plane ticket and a passion for learning.

Shortly after graduating from college, I began traveling. And because I was never big on shopping, each trip was more of an opportunity for sightseeing and, most importantly, food-tripping.

I took my time exploring the places that I found extremely rich in both culture and cuisine. Thailand was top of the list.

I spent several weeks at a culinary school in Bangkok. It was the best of both worlds being able to travel and cook at the same time. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to build on their passion for cooking.

Almost as soon as I got home from every trip, I’d find myself attempting to recreate the dishes while they were still fresh in my memory. I did it mostly out of a desire to relive the highlights of my travel experiences. I even took up an accelerated cooking class at the International School for Culinary Arts and Hotel Management, which helped me build my cooking fundamentals so I could better recreate dishes to my satisfaction.

You could say I was obsessed with the idea of cooking for personal pleasure and enjoyment. It was the next best thing to getting on a plane and traveling back to my favorite places.

Later in life, after I got married, had two kids and built a home with my loving husband, my passion for cooking intensified. I didn’t want my family to think they could ever find something better to eat outside our home. It drove me to become a perfectionist of sorts.

Eventually, I found myself cooking not just for my family but also for my closest friends.

Cooking for others

Not long after, my friends would call me, requesting me to cook the same dishes they had at my home. And they offered to pay for them, too! Only then did the idea of cooking for others as a business start to grow in my head.

But learning never took a backseat. I always wanted to experience more so that I could share more with the people closest to me.

I continued taking short courses, and I was fortunate enough to have met Reggie Aspiras and started attending her classes.

It wasn’t just the learning in chef Reggie’s classes that I enjoyed, but also the camaraderie and sharing (and occasional glass of wine) that turned those classes into blissful gatherings of like-minded individuals, escaping the hustle and bustle of city life.

These classes, and friends’ requests, gave me the confidence to start my own business. So, in 2018, Tableworthy Gourmet Platters was born.

As I learned new ways to cook and prepare my favorite food, I expanded Tableworthy’s menu. There’s a joke in my home that whenever I prepare something new, my family would say it’s not good because they just want it for themselves.

With God’s help, my friends’ and family’s support and plenty of hard work, times have been good throughout the current crisis. I can truly say that I’ve found my “happy place” in Tableworthy.

I don’t think I’ll ever want to stop learning, though. As soon as the situation permits, I’ll probably be traveling again, looking for a new experience to sink my teeth into.

I’m constantly looking for new ways to bring joy to households with food worthy of being put on their dinner table. That starts in my own home. And if it’s worth serving to my loved ones, I’d like nothing more than to share it with others.

Salted Egg Fried Chicken (top) and Spinach Tofu with Mushrooms

Salted Egg Fried Chicken

600 g boneless chicken thighs
Fried curry leaves


¼ tsp white pepper
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
1 egg


100 g mashed salted egg yolk
25 g finely minced garlic
20 g butter
2 tsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp evaporated milk
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp sugar (adjust according to taste)

Marinate the chicken thighs for at least 30 minutes. Coat chicken pieces with flour. Deep-fry chicken. Set aside.
Heat butter and add chopped garlic. Add mashed salted egg yolks and wait till it becomes bubbly and foamy. Add in the liquids and sugar. Add the chicken and the fried curry leaves to the sauce. Serve hot.

Spinach Tofu ‍with Mushrooms
500 ml unsweetened soy milk
7 whole eggs
½ tsp salt
1½ tsp chicken powder
1 tsp light soy
¼ tsp white pepper
150 g polonchay or Chinese spinach
100 g shimeji mushrooms
1 clove finely minced garlic


500 ml chicken stock
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
1 Tbsp Chef Reggie’s cooking wine
Cornstarch slurry to thicken
Blanch polonchay. Finely chop and squeeze out as much water as possible.

Mix unsweetened soy milk with seven whole eggs. Add chicken powder, light soy and pepper. Whisk until well combined.
Add the polonchay in the soy milk-egg mixture. Steam for 10-15 minutes. Check for doneness by pricking the tofu with fork. Once cooked, completely cool the tofu.

Slice cooked tofu and deep-fry in oil one by one. Set aside and make sauce.

In a little oil, stir-fry garlic. Add the shimeji mushrooms. Set aside.

Simmer the sauce ingredients in a pot.

To assemble, place tofu on a plate, top with shimeji mushrooms and pour the sauce over it. —CONTRIBUTED INQ  The author is the cook-owner of Tableworthy Gourmet Platters in San Juan City (@Tableworthy on Instagram or tel. 0995-6542337
on Viber).

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