Ninong Ry on giving A twist to popular dishes: Preference over authenticity

At the recent launch of Ninong Ry (real name: Ryan Reyes) as the first-ever celebrity endorser of the food seasoning brand Knorr Professional, the chef and YouTuber showcased his culinary skills and sense of humor that have endeared him to his over two million online followers.

He gave an interactive cooking demo on how he puts his own twist to the universal favorite food, fried chicken, and the Pinoy specialty dish, sisig, using the brand’s liquid seasoning and chicken powder. While doing his tasks, he also dispensed some tips and answered a few questions from media representatives and other guests from the foodservice sector.

For the fried chicken, Ninong Ry used the brining process of soaking proteins in a solution of salty water and spices overnight to infuse flavor and tenderize the meat. He then deep fried the already prepared chicken parts to golden brown perfection.

To the question about using an air fryer instead, he replied, “Puwede naman, although kailangan mo s’yang i-turn. Kailangan mo s’yang i-thermometer talaga (It’s possible, but you need to turn the meat over. You need to use a thermometer.) Meaning, you have to be mindful of uneven cooking. “Ultimately in the end, mas matrabaho pa s’ya at mas magastos pa s’ya sa deep fryer (It takes more effort and money).”

In making his own version of sisig, Ninong Ry incorporated his current fascination on curing and smoking meat to come up with a type of bacon. He confessed being inspired by the Three-Way Sisig of JP Anglo, the chef and owner of Sarsa restaurant.

“Technically Knorr seasoning is a flavorful liquid na meron kang asin (there’s already salt),” he pointed out. “Dadagdagan ko na lang ng curing salt. Dadagdagan ko lang ng asukal para sweet cured. Kasi ’yun naman ang gusto natin sa bacon (I’ll just add curing salt. I’ll just add sugar to make it sweet. That’s what we like in bacon.).”

He then showed the cured meat, which he had already smoked for four hours, and cut into sisig-sized pieces. “Ang tingin ko sa sisig (I look at sisig as), salad,” he quipped. construction n’ya ay parang salad. Ang ingredients and’yan na, just mix them all together. (Because the construction is like in salad. The ingredients are all there.) It’s the salad that I want.

“Kung salad s’ya, dapat ang tingin natin, madali lang gawin. Hindi s’ya magtrabaho, pang-restaurant lang. Kung kaya n’yong gumawa ng salad sa bahay, kaya n’yo gumawa ng sisig (If it’s salad, we have to see it something easy to do. It’s not labor-intensive, just for restaurants to do. If you can make a salad at home, you can make sisig).”

Pork sisig.

He then added the other ingredients, such as red and white onion, green chilies, liver spread (or mashed chicken liver, if it’s your preference), crispy garlic and a dash of black pepper. “Kung gusto n’yong maglagay ng mayonnaise, labas ako d’yan, (If you want to put mayonnaise, I’m out of it,” he said, laughing. “Maglalagay ako ng konting sugar.” (I’ll put a bit of sugar.)

“This is very far from the original. But I like it,” he explained. “Pero hindi na pinagpipilitan natin. (What we’ll not force it) For me, preference over authenticity.” Here’s another piece of advice for aspiring chefs: “Huwag tayong balat-sibuyas. (Don’t be onion-skinned) Minsan, pag di nagustuhan ang luto natin (Sometimes when our dish is not liked), we take offense. Kasi parang ang sakit-sakit no’n. (Because sit seems hurtful.) But it’s nothing personal. Talagang kailangan mo lang tigasan ang mukha mo minsan (Sometimes you just have to be thick-skinned).”

He then shared a realization that has helped him deal with online bashing: “Nagtrabaho kasi ako sa isang (I worked in a) restaurant before moving to social media. So nakita ko ang parallel do’n, e. (I saw the parallelism). Pag may kumain sa restaurant n’yo at hindi nagustuhan ang pagkain, susuntukin mo ba? (If a diner didn’t like the food, will you punch him?) Hindi naman, e. (Not really.) Tatanggapin mo ang sinabi n’ya (You’ll accept what they said), but at the same time, tatanggapin mo pa rin ang pera n’ya (You’ll still accept their payment.) Nagbigay lang s’ya ng hindi magandang (They only gave a not-so nice) comment. Negosyo ’to, e. (It’s a business.)

“Ngayon, nasa (Now, I’m in) social media ako. Technically speaking, hindi ako nagse-serve ng pagkain, pero ang produkto ko, videos. (I don’t serve food, but my product is in video form.) ’Yung mga viewers ko, hindi sila nagbayad (My viewers don’t pay), but gamit ang pinakamahal na (but they use the most precious) commodity, which is your time. So kapag nagbayad s’ya, puwede s’yang magsabi ng bagay towards sa ’yo, at kailangan mong tanggapin ’yun.” (If they pay you, they can say things to you and you need to accept it.)