Crab butter comparable to my mom’s

January 21, 2021by Reggie Aspiras0
Also, Kakanin Flag and Ulam Box from Cebu, and a cloud-soft ‘tasty’ bread to elevate any sandwich


Fresh from Cebu, Megawide’s Louie Ferrer had a box of kakanin, shaped in the likeness of our country’s flag. It was a pretty sight, so happy and festive!

The flag was a melange of kakanin: biko capped with latik; maja mais topped with toasted coconut flakes; palitaw shaped like stars sprinkled with sesame seeds, sugar and shredded coconut; sapin-sapin layers of ube and langka. The creative rice cake is the brainchild of Plus Meals, a sister company of the 30-year-old Cebu-based Laguna Catering.

When Cebu was hit by the pandemic, Plus Meals was their answer to the changing needs of their patrons. They take pride in their repertoire of Filipino dishes.

Ulam Box by Plus Meals

For the safety of their clients, corporate chef Raki Urbina put together a beautifully executed, stylized baon, packed meals of old-time favorites like bistek, vegetable kare-kare, palabok roll and adobo ribs. Holding each viand in place are banana leaf boats. To complete the meal is rice, binalot-style, all neatly arranged in a brown box that they call the Ulam Box. The Kakanin Flag is its partner for dessert. (Currently available only in Cebu; tel. 0919-0688812, 0906-5016070; @cafelagunaph on Instagram)

Legendary name

The name Ongpauco is legendary in the Philippine food scene. The family behind the iconic Barrio Fiesta brand continues to flourish, with many of its family members venturing into their own food-related businesses.

La Petite Bella is Camille Ongpauco’s baby, literally and figuratively. She christened her homemade treats after her daughter Isabella.

Being born into a family that loved cooking and bonded over eating, Camille inevitably fell in love with things food-related. Trained by her parents Rey and Baby, Camille was a cashier at their Barrio Fiesta restaurants in San Francisco. She was also assigned to mix drinks and dispatch food orders. It was a family enterprise, an experience she claims to have thoroughly enjoyed.

Their summers were spent in the Philippines, and that would mean trips to their Batangas beach house, with many food stops along the way.

Camille, who grew up overseas, was raised the Filipino way. She was taught never to forget her roots nor the flavors of her native cuisine. When she had her daughter, she vowed to build a business using her name, wanting something else other than food, maybe a baby line. But it was food that called the loudest, and thus, the Bella line of food products was born.

The Crab Butter of Bella is comparable only to what my mom used to make. While my mom used calamansi, Camille uses suka. It is the purest bottled crab butter I’ve ever tasted. It is excellent!

Crab Butter Spaghettini by Camille Ongpauco
La Petite Bella’s Calamar

“Our Crab Butter is made with with 100-percent pure crab fat, slow-cooked in garlic and sukang sasa with no additives or extenders,” she said.

She also has a Calamar en Aceite de Oliva, which is slow-cooked baby squid in premium olive oil with garlic and apple cider vinegar. It is rich, thick, earthy and tart on the finish. Both products are ready to heat and eat.

The crab butter you can simply warm in a pan with just a little olive oil, slather on hot rice and pair with lechon kawali or pork chops. You can also use it for pasta. Read on for Camille’s recipe below.

The calamar, like the aligue, is also ready to heat, served over rice or with pasta. The Bella products are family recipes. These are the flavor and tastes that Camille grew up with. Bella bottled goodies are made in small batches daily, to preserve freshness.

Thanks to University of the Philippines president Danny Concepcion and lawyer wife Gaby for this awesome discovery. (Tel. 0920-9252084; @lapetite_bella on Instagram)

Bella Crab Butter with Sardines Pasta

½ c extra-virgin olive oil
80 g minced garlic
700 g spaghettini noodles
1 bottle Bella Crab Butter
1 bottle Montano Sardines in Olive Oil
1 lemon wedge
Parmesan cheese

Saute garlic in olive oil, don’t brown. Add the deboned sardines and saute for around 2 minutes with the garlic.
Pour in the crab butter and squeeze in the lemon wedge. You may choose to add some pasta water as well so it becomes creamy. Toss in the noodles and finish off with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Tip: I like to include the olive oil from the sardines and add it while cooking. Usually, I put in half of the oil from the bottle.

Honey bread

I have long been a fan of Carmen Segovia. In my opinion, she makes one of the best mamon in the country. She also makes great Honey Loaf Bread.

Segovia’s Honey Bread

Long ago, I featured her sandwiches, when her little café in San Juan was still in operation. I described her honey bread as being soft as clouds. Recently, that old recipe that she learned from her teacher was improved. Segovia made the bread just a bit firmer to better hold mayonnaise-based sandwich fillings.

Segovia’s Honey Bread is a cross between a classic “tasty” bread, a brioche and an ensaymada. To the buds it is buttery, milky and made even richer by the addition of eggs. If you are a fan of old-fashioned sandwiches made with a rich, milky-type bread, with a nice soft chew and a sweet finish, then Segovia’s is the sandwich bread for you. (Tel. 87252849; @segovias_cakesandrecipes on Instagram) INQ

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