Sauce Express: Aligue & Pesto

I must admit, I am not a kitchen maven. I try to do with whatever is in stock and whatever I can remember from the long list of recipes I've browsed through. And so, with my limited repertoire of dishes, I try to incorporate a few versatile sauces to add a twist to the usual fare I serve at home. I guess it's a creative short-cut to stretch the menu and whip up something different at least once a week, given my very limited prep and cooking time.

Making something from scratch is ideal, but I can't deny that some store-bought preparations are God-sent and provides instant zing to our meals (whether my 'housemates' like it or not). My pantry is home to the staple 'bagoong gusiado' (sauteed shrimp pate/paste), the classic Reno liver spread, Hunt's chunky tomato sauce, to name a few. Here, I'm sharing one that's made fresh, and the other, bottled.
My first bottle of homemade pesto sauce

A few weeks ago, I was able to spot a small bottle of pine nuts at Santi's Delicatessen. It was a bit pricey but quite hard to find this side of town, so I grabbed one up and left with the thought of fresh pesto sauce!

I don't have an exact measurement for this but I got me a bunch of fresh sweet basil leaves (90 gms.), garlic (around 5 large cloves, chopped), parmesan cheese (approx. 1/4 cup grated), coarse salt (approx. 1/2 tsp., optional), EVOO (at least 1/2 cup), pine nuts (approx. 1 1/2 tbs., toast in a pan until light brown).

Mix everything in a blender or food processor, while pouring more EVOO to suit your taste and preferred consistency. Store in an air-tight bottle and refrigerate. Well, you can always buy a bottled one if you wish.

I always believed that pesto is an acquired taste as many have aversions to the taste of herbs. That's why I am the only one enjoying my not-so-fancy pesto dishes at home!

Enjoy it with the usual pasta, rice, or try some of what I did below.

Enjoy your fresh pesto on toasted baguette, foccacia or bruschetta bread

On roast, baked, or even fried chicken

10-minute dish of pan-fried cream dory fish fillet

Also try my:  Chicken Pesto Rice

(Small Crab Fat Paste)

This native side dish is one that I crave for on occasion and I always look for the richer, premium quality (read: more dangerously unhealthy) as it is supposed to be more 'pure' than other regular variants that may contain extenders, starch, etc. With quality comes the price, and at a little over P200 for an 8-oz. bottle, Navarro's Crab Paste really brings home the artery-clogging flavor I'm looking for.

To prepare the aligue sauce, it is usually sauteed in a little oil, with lots of minced garlic and freshly squeezed calamansi (calamondin; Philippine citrus fruit). Suggested preparation is also printed on the label. I use olive oil with my sauce, and a tad of butter (cholesterol alert). Alternatively, you can use lime or lemon, and you may opt to skip the butter if you're watching your triglycerides as the crab fat alone is already 'damaging' on its own :)

The dish below got me intrigued. It's Marketman's orkra with aligue creation, and I simply cannot resist trying this, as any dish with taba ng talangka is a winner for me.

My version here is sauteed with minced garlic, chopped onion and tomato, add a tablespoon of crab paste, calamansi juice (Marketman used dayap - a local lime), salt and pepper, in oil -- no butter.
Adjust calamansi and crab paste to your taste. Cook until tender.

I always sautee okra same way as above, but with bagoong (sauteed shrimp paste), so this aligue sauce is a welcome twist to the usual.

Preparing the crab fat sauce for my pasta

A plate-full of Garlic-Aligue Spaghetti, topped with grated parmesan cheese, serve with toast bread -- yum, yum!

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