One of the incidental projects that I did during my stint in Iloilo was to make a makeshift sulugbahan(grill). We were in the process of constructing a multi-use commercial building. There we lots of cut (kabilya) rebars and metal sheets lying around. Before some unseen hand decided to send it to the junk shop for beer money,I thought of making a grill out of the bars.
I had the rebars precut by one of the construction workers and have it sent to the welding shop and in about two days we've got a new charcoal grill. I wasn't even charged for the welding job.It looks like a typical grill you would see on the sidewalks were ambulant vendors sell chicken inasal,isaw and pork barbecue. Very third world, I should say, but it didn't look that bad with flat black paint. Before adding charcoal, we put a layer of earth and sand on the metal sheet to insulate the sheet from the heat.
I had the grill sent up to the open rooftop and what fun it brought. Almost every night we would have supper on the rooftop. My nephews just loved the idea.Our menu consisted of marinated grilled pork belly, chicken inasal with atchara, kinilaw and all kinds of fresh fish.We didn't have to eat out. It brought the family together and the maids didn't mind carrying stuff to the rooftop every night. They were part of the party.The view of the Jaro belfry and the cathedral can be viewed. These rooftop dinners was one of the heartwarming highlights of my vacation. If only if only for this, I had second thoughts of going back.
One of the fishes we grilled on the rooftop was Pantat, Hito or catfish. Some call these slippery, scaleless creatures mud fish. They can be had fresh at a nearby town a few minutes away from the city. You could bring the fishes home still alive and "kicking" in a plastic container with water and a heavy lid.
The fish is killed with a poke of a knife on the head. This requires a certain skill because the fish is slippery and struggles hard. It is cleaned and rubbed with guava leaves and rock salt to remove the odor after which it set on a bamboo skewer ready for the grill. No need to marinate the fish because it is so fresh.Just rub with rock salt so you don't mask the distinctive flavors. While grilling, the pantat is brushed with achuete oil until done.