Noche Buena

Menu 2022

---- The making of our Noche Buena Menu ----

Noche Buena has several dishes associated with it -

We chose four that are close to my family’s table for the holiday season.

Many of these dishes are often Spanish in origin, but food is one of the ways Filipinos found a way to maintain some autonomy in the face of repeated colonization. By taking these dishes brought by colonizers and claiming them as our own, by interpreting them how we want (fish sauce, anyone?!) or with what we have on hand, Filipinos are a community that takes what we have and makes it even better.

Food has always allowed us to express this resiliency,

and I carried this mentality with me from Manila to New Orleans.

And now, into my career.

We hope you'll join us for a taste of this menu on Sunday December 11th for Noche Buena @ Union Ramen.


---- SABAW Soup course - Ginataan (ng Kalabasa) ----

The name of our business, Gatâ, is the Tagalog word for “coconut milk”.

This is why Ginataan is one of our favorite ways to cook, meaning “to cook in coconut milk”.

We do a classic savory version with two essential ingredients -

Kalabasa/Kabocha squash and bagoong (fermented shrimp paste).

These two ingredients when combined with coconut milk make for a well-balanced dish with the squash providing a slight sweetness to the contrasting salty fermented shrimp paste flavor.

When blended with savory coconut milk and simmered on the stove you get a dish that is rich in flavor without feeling heavy! We infuse an herb oil for presentation and to add a touch of delicate flavor before serving up one of my family favorites for our Noche Buena dinner event. It is traditionally served with the squash still chunky, and long beans mixed in, but we prefer to smooth it out to create a true soup dish enjoyed on the cold days of the holiday season.


---- ULAM Main Course - Escabeche (Red Snapper) ----

Escabeche is a dish with a varied history of several cultural influences. Believed to be derived from Persia, it was historically introduced to Spain by Arabs during the Moorish conquests. As a Spanish colony, one can only assume that Filipinos took the cultural exchange that was inevitable during this invasion and created their own expression of the dish called Escabeche.

This is one of those dishes that fills your senses during the holiday feasting.

It is often fried whole, but we chose a pan sear to lock in the flavors of the ocean without making the dish too heavy with oil. The acidity of vinegar that Escabeche sauce is cooked with combines beautifully with the sweetness of bell peppers and aromatics like onion, garlic, and ginger while cooking.

A whole fish of your choosing is often served on the family table for sharing with everyone, but we chose fillets to keep the most valuable parts of the fish available just for you for our Noche Buena 2022!


---- ULAM Main Course - Morcon ----

One of my favorites is the classic Beef Morcon which is why we are serving it for our event. Considered a traditional holiday favorite, it has the flavors that remind me of home and the holiday season, so I had to make sure you get to try it!

Named after a Spanish sausage that I think it bears little resemblance to (unless you count that they are both round?!), the Filipino version consists of a beef flank cut precisely to allow it for stuffing and rolling. Often stuffed with beef franks, boiled eggs, dill pickles, carrots, it can sometimes feel like us Filipinos are mocking the Spanish by calling this dish by their name and doing whatever the hell we wanted instead!

Perhaps an act of culinary resistance??

Regardless of what my ancestors were thinking with this one, I appreciate it as a dish that takes what you have on hand and combines it to make something delicious however unlikely it seems that it actually could be. We have changed very little with this dish for our Noche Buena and hope we make the Lolo’s and Lola’s out there proud when they taste it!


---- MINATAMIS Dessert Course - Bibingka ----

Considered a truly traditional holiday dish in the Philippines, Bibingka is thought to share origins with Indonesia. It starts with mixing milled rice and coconut milk, then baked between banana leaves in traditional clay pots. Brought to heat over hot coal, this process locks in the moisture of the glutinous rice cake while the coconut milk lends the richness needed to make the dessert one of a kind.

It is found on the streets carts of the Phillippines and in the homes of those willing to put in the effort for its deliciousness. Rice-based desserts are a favorite among Filipinos (or really rice in general!), as this is a staple crop that keeps so many fed throughout the year.

Demonstrating the humble origins of Filipino food, we like to keep this dish as traditional as possible, too. The only difference with our Bibingka will be an addition of honey ricotta in place of shredded cheddar cheese as a topping and a spiced rum creme en glaze to bring in those holiday notes we’ve learned to appreciate on the United States Christmas table.

And we would never forget the salted duck egg!

Ours will feature a pipetted version that balances out the sweetness of the creme en glaze.