Lasang Pinoy 14 – A La Espanyola: Callos

A La Espanyola, or “in the Spanish style” (my rough translation), is the theme of this month’s edition of Lasang Pinoy (The Filipino Taste), hosted by none other than Purple Girl of In Lola’s Kitchen).

Unlike Purple Girl, I don’t remember our dining table being predominantly Spanish-themed at any one time. Sure, we had the usual Adobo, Asado, Mechado, Menudo, etc., but my mom placed no more emphasis on those dishes than on other Filipino ones such as fried fish, soups like sinigang, the occasional canned meat/fish dish (corned beef, Spam, sardines), pansit (noodle dishes), vegetable stews and salads. I did have a preference for my mom’s Chicken Asado over the other “ado” dishes, as Purple Girl likes to call them. Mom’s was a very simple one, with soy sauce, bay leaf, lots of garlic and black peppercorns as the main seasonings. But to a kid who asked for this dish often, every single time she prepared was one more deposit into my love account.

At Christmastime, yes, we had the usual festive Spanish dishes like embutido, a rounded pork meatloaf, but nothing like the American kind, morcon (beef rolled and stuffed with goodies like gherkins/cornichons and carrot strips/sticks among other things) and hamonado (a pork dish made to taste like ham but isn’t cured for any major length of time, so to me the name always translated to “ham-like”). Edited to add: I forgot, hamonado is really more Chinese than Spanish, but it does bear the Spanish name like many other dishes of the comida china variety. But then again, I didn’t really notice these dishes being prepared only at Christmastime, as they were on the table often enough the rest of the year.

Come to think of it, I used to cook a lot like my mom, preparing dishes just because, not to follow any calendar or cooking season. Now that I’m learning a lot more about the liturgical year, and am more conscious about following the seasons’ harvests, there is more of a rhyme and reason to my cooking schedule. It’s also very satisfying because I’ve got most of my magazines, cookbooks, and recipes now arranged chronologically, just like this blog, so one day I hope that my children will be able to observe the passing of the seasons by following the same rituals I am now documenting. There is something about doing things this way that brings much comfort and peace.

At any rate, let’s talk about callos. Depending on which Spanish-English dictionary you consult, you’ll get a translation of tripe, or callouses, or scallops. I admit to my Spanish being rusty, so I wouldn’t be able to tell you for sure, though both “callouses” and “scallops” could apply to the way honeycomb tripe looks. [I personally prefer the finer kind, but it wasn’t available.]

What I *can* tell you is that I never touched this stuff until I was grown. There it is again: the abhorrence for something so familiar and near, turning into tolerance, then fondness, and eventually a longing or even a craving, when it appears in a setting far from home. Though tripe is accessible enough where I am and I could make this dish anytime I want to, its association to the land that I grew up in evokes more affection than it ever did when I encountered it back then on our family’s table. Believe it or not, I tasted it first at Dad’s (a Filipino restaurant chain) in 1994, when I came back, already married and had a child, and my cousin took me there for lunch. It was like I had never seen it before and couldn’t wait to taste it. Of course, I had seen it here often enough, at Filipino parties and such especially, but don’t ask me why I had to wait to go home to the Philippines to have my first mouthful. I can’t explain. But it was bliss.

So now I make this dish once or twice a year — not too often because of health concerns, but often enough to keep my kids familiar with it. They *love* it, and even the little ones who rarely ever eat the veggies that come with this dish — chickpeas, sometimes green olives, the red peppers — oblige me by eating them along with the meats and their favorite Spanish chorizo slices.

I do apologize for the picture. This was the dish I prepared for our most recent household gathering, and the same afternoon my 15-yo brought the camera to another party, and I couldn’t take the picture until she was back, at which time we only had leftovers, not even enough to fill this cazuela.

To prepare callos, you’ll have to pre-cook the meats. Do this as you normally would. Tripe can be pre-cleaned and pre-cooked several ways. [Here in the US, you can buy it pre-bleached (I know, yuk!) and cleaned.] One way is to rub it all over with vinegar and salt, then cook it. Or if you’re lazy like I am, I cook it in several changes of water after scrubbing it with salt. Some people pressure-cook it, but in this instance I’m of the same mind as the Slow Food folks. You can also vary the kind of meat that accompanies the tripe. I use oxtails and pork hocks interchangeably, or together, depending on what’s available.

The Recipe:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cups tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced Spanish chorizo
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/3 cup chopped ham — I like using Spanish ham here, but other kinds of ham will work too
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons vinagre de jerez (Spanish sherry vinegar)
2 cups tomato sauce, homemade preferred, but canned is okay
1 1/2 cups stock from the meats (I prefer just using the one from the oxtail or hocks, and de-greased, but I’ll leave this up to you)
3 cups meat pieces (pre-cooked pork hocks, or oxtails, de-boned)
2 cups pre-cooked and sliced tripe
1 cup canned or pre-cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup red pepper, in thick, diagonal strips
1/4 cup pimiento-stuffed olives, optional, but I prefer it with these than without
1/2 teaspoon Spanish hot pimenton/paprika
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Tabasco for serving, if desired

Heat the olive oil in a heavy casserole over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for 15 seconds or until just beginning to turn color. Add onion and continue to stir until softened. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring, until limp. Add chorizo, carrots, and ham and stir a few minutes longer. Add tomato paste, white wine, vinegar, and stir well until tomato paste is incorporated. Add tomato sauce and the stock. Let this cook over low heat for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Add meat pieces, tripe, chickpeas, red pepper, and olives. Season to taste with pimenton, salt and pepper. Cook 5-10 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until red pepper is cooked to desired tenderness or crispness. Serve immediately, with Tabasco on the side, so guests/diners can adjust the heat.

Vamos a comer!

This concludes my LP 14 entry. Thank you so much, Purplegirl, for hosting!!

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15 thoughts on “Lasang Pinoy 14 – A La Espanyola: Callos

  1. You are so right that we really long for those dishes which we never gave a second glance (or taste) when we were still in PI once we have spent years in a foreign land…
    In my effort to re-create the familiar Filipino scenario, I have been cooking and baking Filipino foods even if it meant that only my sons and I would actually enjoy them, but I feel lucky that I do get some time to share other more exotic Filipino dishes (like chicken feet) that my children would not eat with my Filipino friends here.
    I hope my in-laws would remember to call me for instructions to the butcher about what parts of the beef to save for me come late October…will try your callos recipe. Sounds authentically Spanish tasting!

  2. 🙂 i don’t remember our dining table with the usual festive Spanish dishes even during Christmastime. my folks were never huge fans… hanggang ngayon. and like you, i also prepare dishes just because that I had a hard time thinking of what to cook for special occasions. 😀

  3. i love callos but just like iska, i’ve never tried cooking callos dahil mukhang medyo mahirap hehehe . . . i really should try one of these days, too!

  4. Manang, I can so relate. Some of the things I’ve cooked here I never even tried back home. Like I’ve never had kwek-kwek in my life and long to taste it, but only remember people talking about it condescendingly when i was back home. I can’t decide if that’s funny or sad.

    Thanks, Charles! Where’s your entry?

    Iska, Mike and Lani, no worries. Once the meats are pre-cooked it’s no more difficult than making pancit or apritada. Madami ding hiwa-hiwa, but it’s worth it:D

    Thanks for the info, arikasikis. Will be sure to visit sometime soon!

  5. oh now i miss my mom’s callos! i’ve been lurking on the idea of making this myself..never gotten around to doing it up until now! prbbly for christmas!:)

  6. Hi,

    If you want to translate callos you should be carefully because callos is a dish but also a problem on the feet and also a rude name. I don’t like them a lot because I don’t like intestines, brains, pork hand and face and so on very typical Spanish.
    I don’t think tabasco was very Spanish either, maybe we use it but it’s more for mexican influence.

    Nice blog!

    see you
    M.

  7. Hi Ces, sana nga ma-try mo, perfect ‘to for Christmas.

    Hi Malice, thanks for dropping by. LOL about the callos. We actually have the same word in Filipino — kalyo — referring to that problem on the feet you talk about. Yes, the Tabasco isn’t very Spanish, and to be honest I don’t think it’s very Filipino either — I rarely chance upon spicy callos at Filipino tables, but I’ve had some guests that like to add it in.

  8. Yes Stef, I don’t remember a tabasco-spicy callos but one with labuyo, I do! Does that worsen the situation? LOL

    I’ve never made this dish myself either. With food blogging, I’m constantly trying to document old ways of cooking. It’s like a race against time because people don’t do it the way they used to what with prepared meats in supermarkets (which sometimes don’t do a good job). Although I don’t really eat that much meat, I suspect I’ll be eating a lot soon just so I can practice a few recipes I haven’t touched since my early teens. Sus talaga!

  9. argh, that’s my biggest dilemma with all this. there are so many recipes i want to test and research, and dito so few cooks to ask questions from, or mga na-convert na to modernities and shortcuts. tapos kailangan pa ng biktima for the cookies and cakes, etc. hay naku! ang mga meat naman, sinabi mo. we’re trying to eat healthier, pag parating recipe-testing ang gagawin ko mamamatay kami agad hahaha!!!

    as for the labuyo — isa pa ‘yan na nasa notepad files. is labuyo the same as the chilis used for making Tabasco? i’ve read conflicting info kasi. matanong si dave dewitt.

  10. If you want to find labuyo, look for Thai chilies at the oriental market, if you’re in CA. This is the first time I read your blog and thanks for sharing your callos recipe. I will be making it for X’mas.

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