Fish and seafood for Lent

Photographs by Dolly Dy-Zulueta for the Daily Tribune Dolores Cheng’s Thai style steamed fish.

We are now gearing up towards the highlight of the Lenten season — the Holy Week. It is when we observe the day-to-day activities and developments in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ and see how, in a matter of days, people’s reaction to Him changed from almost worship-like on Palm Sunday (when fronds of palm were laid out on the ground to line his path as he arrived in Jerusalem with His disciples) to betrayal on Holy Wednesday, the ultimate threat on His life on Maundy Thursday, His passion and death on Good Friday and inexplicable joy in the Christian world on Easter Sunday (when He resurrected from the dead).

The sixth and last week of Lent, Holy Week is the most sacred week in the liturgical year in Christianity so fasting, or abstinence from eating meat, also heightens to almost a week’s observance for a number of devotees. Some abstain for the whole time Jesus Christ is supposed to be “dead” (Good Friday to early Easter Sunday), then celebrate His resurrection with a feast on Easter Sunday, which represents the day when the tomb of Jesus Christ was found empty of His earthly body and replaced by a glowing presence as His risen self.

Dolores Cheng’s chili clams.

The observance of the Holy Week — including fasting or abstinence on Good Friday, joining the procession and other religious activities that involve personal sacrifices — are Christendom’s way of showing oneness with the Lord for the Great Sacrifice that the Lord made more than 2,000 years ago.

Fasting means abstaining from eating for a period of time. It can also mean abstaining from eating meat, both red and white, and limiting our diet to fish, seafood, fruits and vegetables for a certain length of time. When it comes to religious fasting during Lent, it means all Fridays within the 40-day Lenten Season, culminating on Good Friday of the Holy Week. What some devotees do is fast for the entire duration of Holy Week.

While it used to be difficult for a meat-loving nation like the Philippines to abstain from eating meat on obligatory days, it has become easier to do it now that chefs and restaurants have developed more varied and delicious recipes for fish and seafood and made them readily available not just for dine-in but also for take-out, pick-up and delivery.

Flipside Burgers’ shrimp sandwich and fish fillet sandwich.

Yes, they are burgers!

Chef Edward Bugia, who just opened his Flipside Burgers store at Gyud Food, UP Diliman, Quezon City, a few months back, has finally come up with non-meat burgers — fish fillet sandwich and shrimp sandwich.

The fish fillet sandwich (P225) is a generous Alaskan pollock breaded patty layered with American cheese, grilled onions, dill pickles and special burger sauce on freshly baked bun. The shrimp sandwich (P275), meanwhile, is a shrimp patty with American cheese, grilled onions, dill pickles and special burger sauce on freshly baked bun.

Both patties are crispy on the outside and so flavorful, tender and flaky fresh to the bite that even meat lovers and burger monsters would find satisfaction eating them. Originally intended to be seasonal items for the Lenten season, both sandwiches have been doing so well since Flipside Burgers made them available at the start of Lent that Chef Ed is seriously contemplating on making them permanent items on the menu. Happy days!

Parmesan encrusted fish fillet.

International flavors

While home cook Dolores Cheng, who runs an online food business in single portions, tries to balance her weekly menu with beef, pork, chicken, fish, seafood and vegetable dishes, she tries to offer more meatless options during Lent because there is a market for it.

Fortunately, she has a steady supplier of fish, shellfish and other seafood who provides her with only the freshest catch of the day. So, she is able to work wonders in her dishes, whipping up not just local favorites but also international flavors that delight her customers, such as Thai Style steamed fish, parmesan encrusted baked fish, chili clams, fish and chips, gambas al ajillo, steamed shrimps with special sauce and shrimp and fish kebabs, among others. For her weekly menu and for orders, call or message 0917-8881759.