Basil – From my Garden to the Kitchen

The price of fish and other sea foods have gone up due to the rains lately. Last week for instance, Bukidnon never saw the sun for seven days in a row and to top it all off, here comes another typhoon.

This abnormality in weather conditions, however, does not stop Filipinos from laughing and eating their cares away. Thanks to the rains, the basil in my backyard have grown vigorously with lots of big green leaves and the sight of it reminded me of a favorite recipe I used to make when I was a curious little girl exploring my mother’s kitchen: baked shellfish with butter and basil. I’m not sure if it was from a recipe book I’ve read or from among the series of experiments I made in my desperate attempt to become a young celebrated chef. It was that long ago, I can no longer recall. What I can recall though is the feeling I had everytime I ate it — it simply made me wanna dance.

I don't have a name for this, yet. Would you like to make a suggestion?
I don’t have a name for this, yet. Would you like to make a suggestion?

Several years later today, this dish still make me wanna dance (in case you’re wondering what happened to that dream of becoming a young celebrated chef, I have to tell you frankly that  I never became one. Although, I still feel very young) and I thought you might wanna try it in your own kitchen, too.

The Bukidnon Pilgrim’s Baked Shellfish Recipe

Ingredients

1 kg shellfish (mussels are the best, but here I used a different kind as it’s the only thing I can find in the local market)

A handful of basil leaves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon finely chopped red onions

2 tablespoon finely chopped tomatoes

1/3 cup Anchor butter, unsalted

1/4 tsp salt

Dash of black pepper

1/4 cup grated quick-melting cheese

2 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

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Procedure

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius or around 350 degrees fahrenheit.

Put washed shellfish in a pot and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and remove immediately from heat so as not to overcook the shellfish.

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My mama told me that overdone shellfish are hard to chew and we don’t want to do that. It would be like chewing on your pencil eraser back in 1st grade. Remember how it felt? Keep in mind your shellfish will spend another time in the oven. The point of boiling is to make them open up so you can split them and you can throw away the other half.

Once you’ve discarded the meatless shells, arrange your mollusks, beautifully seated on the other half of their shells, on a baking tray and set aside.

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Meanwhile, heat butter in a saucepan. Be careful not to burn your butter as this will ruin the flavor of your dish. Add onions, tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook until vegetables are slightly soft but not mushy. Check the taste. You can adjust its saltiness and add more salt if you prefer, but this could keep you from enjoying the natural flavor of your shellfish. Throw in half of the chopped basil leaves, cook for 30 seconds more and remove from heat.

Top each shellfish with generous amounts of your butter-basil mixture or about 1/4 teaspoon for each shell. Garnish with grated quick-melting cheese and put in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Take out from the oven and garnish each shell with grated Parmesan cheese. Top with reserved chopped basil leaves.

Serve.

The amounts of ingredients I used above are there to at least give you an idea how to do it, but you can actually adjust them according to your taste, or experiment like I did several years back. The key is to achieve a delightful buttery flavor made even more interesting by the lemony sensation of fresh basil leaves.

I haven’t exactly thought of a name for this recipe, after all these years. If you have an idea, you are most welcome to share it in the comments section below.

I hope this article inspired you prepare your own meals in the warmth of your kitchen. Moments like these are best shared with loved ones (my husband and I enjoy prepare meals together, although 99% of the time I play the part of the dishwasher while he the chef). If you want to receive more inspiring articles, you can subscribe to our regular newsletter and let the Bukidnon Pilgrim cheer you up on your everyday journey.

See you again soon!

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