By Edzelle Peña
SAN JUAN, BATANGAS — Here’s a dish that would tickle the taste buds of anyone who is on the lookout for an extraordinary dining experience — Goto Batangas.
As a Batangueña myself, “goto” is one of our local dishes I enjoy eating. Growing up, I remember my dad would bring it home for lunch or dinner every so often. Little did I know then that this dish had more to it than just the meat of a cow.
“Goto Batangas’ is different from the traditional “goto arroz caldo” most Filipinos know. The latter is made of glutinous rice mixed with pieces of a cow’s reticulum. It resembles the congee, a Chinese rice porridge. I remember eating one when I was in college. It was in a local carinderia named Goto Elbi located along UP Los Baños grove. Although I didn’t get to enjoy it as much as I usually enjoy our original goto, it was quite filling because of the rice.
Meanwhile, Batangueños’ own version of goto does not contain glutinous rice. Instead, it is a mixed pot of diced tripe (reticulum of the cow’s four-chambered-stomach where grass is ground), cow’s skin, intestines, liver, tongue, blood and meat simmered and seasoned with lots of onions, garlic, pepper and salt. For added flavor and color, achuete powder is also added.
This peculiar dish has become part of Batangueños’ rich food culture and tradition. As they say, if you’re a “barako,” you are up to just about anything, even when it comes to what you eat.
At a local restaurant in my hometown in San Juan, Batangas, a small bowl of goto costs P45 while a bigger bowl costs P90. People from different places flock to this restaurant, owned by Josephine “Marimar” Umali, to sample a taste of their perfected goto recipe.
According to Marimar, their restaurant is overflowing during lunch time. People have to wait in turns just to savor the native delicacy. The restaurant sees perennial visits especially from tourists headed to San Juan’s beaches.
San Juan is the easternmost town in the province of Batangas. It is roughly a three-hour drive from Manila. People speak only of one thing about our town — Laiya. Its clear waters, white-sand beaches and majestic coastline are perfect for swimming, diving and other outdoor activities, making it a popular destination among tourists.
Goto Batangas is a common “pulutan” among the locals. Not only is this dish the perfect match for an ice-cold beer but also, they say, the perfect cure for hangover. Its hot, spicy soup will surely take away your headache and will put you back on track.
Goto is best eaten while hot. Use a dip of soy sauce with calamansi and crush one or two chilis. This reduces the pungent taste of the cow’s entrails. You will savor a variety of soft, tender textures of meat and spongy skin. You will also taste the light stickiness of tripe. Finish it off with an ice-cold coke or beer and you would be hurled into a total gastronomic experience.
Let me share with you the steps in preparing Goto Batangas:
1.) Boil some water in the cauldron.
2.) Pour in the beef entrails. Make sure they are properly cleaned.
3.) Cook until all the meat is tender. Cooking time depends on the age of the cow where meat is taken from. The older the cow, the longer the cooking period. However, for a normally aged cow, it takes 2-3 hours before all the meat become soft and tender.
4.) Add crushed garlic, sliced onions, pepper and salt.
5.) Let it simmer for 10-15 minutes.
6.) For added flavor and color, add achuete powder then stir until completely dissolved.
7.) Take cauldron off the heat then pour the dish into a bowl. Serve it while hot with calamansi and chili.
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