Dulong, the small and rich flavored fish is no longer just an omelette filling Dulong in olive oil, specially prepared by Chef Ghaello Salva (pronounced as ‘jel-oh’) now has a special place on the grazing table. In fact, according to the chef “it is an alternative to the famed caviar.”
Chef Ghaello is a full-blooded Batangueño who grew up eating tortang dulong (fish omelette). His mission is to elevate local cuisine by crafting dishes using the haute-cuisine approach. He calls it “Batangueño fusion,” traditional Batangueño dishes prepared and executed using French cooking techniques.
Dulong, or silverfish is abundant in Batangas and is characterized by its half-inch size.
The Chef was inspired to upgrade it, because he distinctly noticed the absence of local fare in wine and cheese tables, “that’s aside from kesong puti,” he joked. His “dulong in olive oil” recipe is extra flavorful, it highlights the smooth salty taste of fresh fish and captures the richness of caviar.
“We have a very rich culture in terms of food. Dulong is local but quality-wise it’s international. Its taste and flavor are at par with the cold cuts served with wine and cheese; some even find it like caviar,” he said.
When spreading on bread or crackers, Chef Ghaello recommends adding honey for a subtle kick of sweetness.
“Dulong in olive oil” can also be an interesting seafood pasta sauce, when added with garlic, olive oil, basil, and parmesan cheese. Last but certainly not the least, it can be enjoyed Pinoy style, with rice.
For now, the dulong can be purchased via his Ghaello Facebook Page. It also comes in a Christmas box together wine, the perfect holiday giveaway. In time his merchandise will include dulong with sundried tomatoes, capers and olives, and dulong Pomodoro. Once all the bottled goodies are in place, he hopes to open his own restaurant so diners can fully savor his unique Batangueño fusion cuisine.
Ghaello’s passion for cooking started when he was young. He regularly helped his mother in the kitchen, “I was her ‘sous chef,’” he quipped. He liked the idea of mixing all kinds of ingredients to come up with different tastes. Back in college, he used to challenge himself to come up with interesting cookies, using ingredients suggested by his classmates.
He likes his dishes to exude sweet, salty, bitter, and sour flavors. The goal is to hit “umami” which means “essence of deliciousness” in Japanese. It is also known as the “fifth” taste or the deep, savory, and meaty flavor of monosodium glutamate. Also called the “soulful” chef he also subscribes to the mystical transfer of energy while cooking.
“If I cooked the food with love and joy all those who will partake, will also feel the energy of love and joy. This transfer of energy is thru sincere prayer. I pray while cooking.”
After dulong next on the drawing board is the best-loved maja blanca. A native dessert made from coconut milk cornstarch and sugar, Chef Ghaello’s version resembles a traditional cheesecake, but will still carry the sweet and luscious flavor of the local fare.