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Soups to soothe the quarantined

/ 05:10 AM January 16, 2022

SOMETHING HOT FOR THE COLD WEATHER Clockwise: Go Khong Five Treasure Soup; James & Daughters’ Laksa, Maki Mi, Sate Beef Wonton Noodles —Contributed photos.

It feels like the winter of our lives, doesn’t it? The weather is fabulously cold but you can’t go out to enjoy it with friends and family. Isolation has become the word of the month and the joke now is that if you don’t have friends with COVID, then you don’t have friends.

My heart reaches out to all those who have tested positive, especially if you have a parent who is a senior, maybe even an octogenarian or a nonagenerian, as Omicron has been hitting not only individuals but families.

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The good news is that we are already equipped with the knowledge on how to deal with this bug so if it happens to make its way to your family, by this time you should know not to panic.

The first rule is to isolate all those who are negative from those who have tested positive. According to a doctor friend who directly works with COVID patients, those who are positive can share a room and even go about without a mask in their area while those who are negative must be totally separated from them, i.e., you must shut down any possibility of the negatives breathing in air from the positives.

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If encounters are inevitable, make sure to wear not only a mask but the right mask, i.e., an N95 or its equivalent and make sure there are no leaks on the sides of the mask.

Next is to have all medical and breathing apparatus on standby: a thermometer to check your temperature, a pulse oximeter to measure your oxygen levels and an oxygen tank or oxygen concentrator just in case you encounter difficulty in breathing. And of course, have the numbers of your doctors, an ambulance and the nearest 24-hour pharmacy on hand.

And now here’s the fun part: EAT!

Food delivery boom

The great thing about living in our country is that even amidst the pandemic, it’s still #morefuninthePhilippines! We have so many options for delivery that testing positive might even feel like an excuse for food trip.

Since we want to nourish ourselves, here are a few classic options, now all available via delivery: arroz caldo from Via Mare; hototay from Aristocrat; bulalo from R&J Bulalohan; goto from Goto King; hot and sour soup from any Chinese restaurant, really, but for accessibility let’s just say Hap Chan; corned beef sinigang from Sentro 1771; sinigang na ulo ng salmon from your own kitchen (you can have salmon delivered from Farmer’s Market); and mami from Ma Mon Luk.

But if you want to make your isolation not just tolerable but even memorable, might as well make the soups you order even more enjoyable!

Gourmet soup selection

Personally, I love the soups over at James & Daughters (jamesanddaughtersph.com). This restaurant calls its menu “No Borders Comfort Food,” i.e., “honest food made from scratch using local produce, without preservatives but with a lot of love.” The restaurant’s founder and chef, Jonas Ng, explores flavors from different countries then executes them with his own interpretation using local produce. Chef Jonas is a master of getting something classic and putting a modern twist to it so it doesn’t look nor taste outdated, without disrespecting the traditions behind the dish.

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Today, they offer party trays even for soup orders. For example, you can have a Laksa Noodle Soup Party Tray so you can enjoy the spicy and creamy red curry broth with prawns and crabs with your quarantine-mates!

For something different, try the Go Khong (others write this as Ngo Khong) or Five Treasure Soup Party Tray. This is a Chinese herbal soup that is nutritious and calming. Your senses are first tapped by the aroma from the herbs and then you are soothed by the incredible glutinous soup that was prepared overnight. Your strength is revived by the “five treasures” which are traditionally pork leg, pork intestine, pork stomach, pork tendon and fish balls but Chef Jonas uses native chicken, pork feet, pork stomach, pork tendon and sea cucumber. This soup is known to boost the immune system, aside from being very tasty!

Another nutritious but delicious soup that James & Daughters offers is the Maki Mi. Older foodies might reminisce about the Maki Mi of the Mañosa restaurant in Ongpin. Chef Jonas notes, “They probably have a different recipe but all Fil-Chi (Filipino-Chinese) grew up eating this at home.” For his version, Chef Jonas uses tender chunks of pork and egg noodles in a thick soy broth.

Like ‘lola’s’ cooking

To open up a clogged nose, you might want something a little spicy and Thai-inspired. James & Daughters has a Filipinized tom yum: bangus belly tom yum. How can one not feel relieved with the classic Thai mix of spicy kaffir, galanggal, lime, chili and lemongrass? Then of course, there is the classic Beef Wonton Noodle Soup. Chef Jonas’ version uses beef shanks, tail and knee with a sate twist. He proudly shares that some have told him that eating these traditional soups at James & Daughters feels like “eating at your ‘lola’s’ house,” which is just what we need in these times!

This pandemic has become that annoying song that keeps playing over and over even though the party has ended and you want to scream, “enough already!”

We must not lose our patience. Maybe we are not being tested but formed. Hopefully, we are not being defeated but strengthened. I challenge you to come out of this neither bitter nor sour but rich and with a depth of flavor that can only be achieved with pressure and time.

Finally, take inspiration from the Sto. Niño or the Child Jesus, whose feast we celebrate today: even if Herod attempted to kill every infant in Bethlehem, the Child Jesus survived. So will we! Have faith!

Viva Pit Senyor!

James and Daughters. Order at 0917 134 6625 or visit jamesanddaughtersph.com. To donate for the Feast of the Sto. Niño / Holy Childhood Sunday, message the Pontifical Mission Society Philippines; call 0921-3499720 for details.

More from the author at margauxsalcedo.com.

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