MANILA -- In the olden times, when recipes were still unheard of, cooking was done with no exact measurements of ingredients. Mere approximation or calculation was done to achieve the desired consistency for the mixture.
Today, recipes are important in every dish cooked and presented, with specific measures of ingredients and how the food will be prepared.
It is for this reason “My Angkong’s Noodles” was released and published first in 2014. Written by Clinton Palanca, the book also featured photographs by Neal Oshima, while recipe development was by Ginny Roces de Guzman.
“This book is a labor of love,” Lisa Gokongwei-Cheng told ABS-CBN News. “My mother wanted to get involved in a project that celebrated the Chinese-Filipino cooking.”
“This is also part of Clinton’s masteral thesis in London. This is a very serious cookbook, a work of art, piece of history and culture, by a very serious scholar and brilliant writer, brilliant mind gone-too-soon.
“This book is also a tribute to Clinton and it’s great that he was able to leave behind something as important as this. We are very proud of this book.”
Surprisingly, none of the Gokongwei children cook. “So my mom knew that none of the recipes would come from our family,” Cheng admitted. “We’re not like those Chinese families who hand-me-down their cooking.
“Since Fujian cooking is becoming more and more popular, my mom’s gift was really to bring families together through cooking. This book was her gift to us and to everyone else. I have not tried to cook a recipe from this book and I’m so embarrassed.”
"Angkong," which means grandfather in Chinese, has 100 recipes in the book.
“The truth is my mom was frustrated because none of her six children can cook. So instead of turning us, my sisters and daughters into cooks, we decided to publish a cookbook, instead,” said Robina Gokongwei-Pe.
“While we were growing up, my loving mother always found ways to feed us, especially during special occasions,” she added. “During birthdays and reunions, we’ll have fresh lumpia and birthday pancit.”
She thanked the families who contributed recipes to the book, as without them, “My Angkong’s Noodles” would not have been possible.
The soft bound first edition was sold for P995, while the hard cover version was priced at P1,200. Five thousand copies were printed. The latest edition is available for P1,500.
“In fact, there were copies sold in the secondary market,” Cheng said. “One copy was sold in Shopee for P6,000 because the book was really on high demand.”
Nine years after it was first published, the cookbook has been reissued. While the first and second editions both came out in 2014, it took nearly a decade before the third edition was released.
Ellen Palanca, the mother of Clinton, also got involved in the recent edition.
Coming out with the third edition of “My Angkong’s Noodles” started last year, with Cheng at the helm. She was happy that friends contributed recipes to the “groundbreaking” cookbook.
“It was really my mom, Clinton and Neil who were really in charge of the book,” Cheng said. “When Clinton and my mom passed away, Tita Ellen and some of my mom’s friends were telling me people were looking for the book, so someone should do it again.
“COVID happened and everyone got busy. Even during the pandemic, I was already getting messages from Tita Ellen that so many people were looking for the book. It was hard to find copies because they were sold out.
“My mother and Clinton both passed away within months of each other in 2019. My mother would have been very proud of this book.”
The Gokongweis’ Summit Publishing family came handy. They also requested a professor, L. Ling-chi Wang, from University of California in Berkeley, to write a new foreword for the third edition.
“He basically talked about how the kind of cooking is becoming very popular around the world,” said Cheng. “We thought it was a very good foreword for this new edition.
All of the proceeds from the sales will go to the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation (GBF).
“For the first edition, we were able to donate P1.5 million to the foundation,” Cheng said. “The foundation endows many scholars in Ateneo and La Salle, mostly STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] scholars and we focus our mandate to help public school teachers.”
“We are celebrating the foundation’s 30th year this year and we are making a documentary on the foundation. We are also doing a book about my dad [John Gokongwei].”
Cheng’s next project is to make a documentary of the book or a website where all the recipes will be made available. She is also looking for a publisher that can bring this book outside the Philippines, Southeast Asia first and hopefully even the US.