around the same time last year, i introduced a friend to the concept of eating chicharon with atchara. i guess non-kapampangans are used to eating chicharon with garlicky vinegar, so i asked her to try cutting the richness of the fried pork rind with the sweet-sour flavor of atchara, and she liked it.
my brother-in-law’s mom makes a mean version of this appetizer so we have a constant supply in our ref. (too bad she’s leaving for abroad soon so we’ll miss this homemade delicacy. somehow, the commercially-sold ones are never as good.)
her creation is very simple — shredded unripe papayas, carrots, pineapple tidbits, a few raisins, and some slices of ampalaya (bitter gourd). the magic lies in the balance between the sugar and the vinegar and salt in the marinade. i told you before that i hated/hate ampalayas with a passion, but somehow, their bitterness is lost in this dish (the sweet and sour flavors drown the bitterness out) so i don’t bother to remove the green slices anymore.
aside from chicharon, atchara goes best with grilled liempo (pork belly). i don’t like it with fried fish or chicken barbecue. i guess there’s not enough fat flavor to cut in them. (he.he.)
this is another appetizer i’m crazy for. remember what i told you in the last post that there’s this ubiquitous side dish that always showed up in the meals we had in china? just a very simple plate of sliced cucumbers marinated in vinegar, garlic, chili and sugar. i don’t know what they do but the chinese know their stuff. this was amazing. i’ve been trying to recreate this but i haven’t found good quality cucumbers here. it has to be the seedless and non-watery variety. maybe you can try it there and tell me if you care for it too.