Living a fast-paced lifestyle can burn you out and you need all the help you can get to keep up. Though convenient, eating fast-food would be an easy option but not necessarily a healthy one. A good alternative is to look for other “instant” food that would satisfy your hunger for filling and healthy meals. Mercato Centrale’s Auntie May’s definitely fits the bill.
Its specialty is U.S. Beef Tapa, thinly sliced imported beef in a special marinade. It is served with a cup of garlic rice and sunny side up egg—a classic Filipino dish. The best thing about it is that you can bring home a pack and cook it yourself. Auntie May’s offers pre-packed tapa that comes in a microwavable container with six servings inside it. Since the beef slices are thin, there is no need to thaw before cooking. You can get it from the freezer and put it straight in a hot pan. Tapa couldn’t be more instant than that! Auntie May’s also has a guide on how to cook the tapa to get a good eating experience.
Tapsilog is actually one of my favorite breakfast meals and Auntie May’s version doesn’t disappoint.
I like how the tapa is very flavorful and easy-to-eat. The basic recipe came from her mother-in-law, which she modified a bit to make it more accepted by the general public.
Another bestseller is the Angus Beef Salpicao, certified Angus Beef that is cubed and cooked with lots of minced garlic and their secret seasoning, which is served on top of garlic fried rice. The salpicao was a pleasure to eat as well because the meat was tender and juicy. I was surprised to find out that this was Auntie May’s first foray into the food industry. “To be honest, I cook a lot but this is my very first [business] venture in food. We are kitchen people—my family and siblings. We are very fortunate because my mom really trained us. Sinanay niya kami sa kusina.”
All the raw meat they use are also being sold in their home-based deli where they offer a myriad of marinated meat and other products, including their original specialty, gourmet bagoong. “The name Auntie May’s stemmed about when we started selling bagoong because we had to identify it. We started it because of the demand of our friends.” The husband-and-wife team would make their own bagoong from scratch and give it to their friends as gifts. The business evolved from there— 20 years ago.
It was during the third Ultimate Taste Test when they let the public sample their cooking that they decided to go into the food business. “We do not scrimp on the ingredients just to be able to make it affordable to everyone. We choose the dish first then buy quality ingredients, do food tasting, do our costings and if we feel it will be reasonable and attractive to the consumers, we introduce the product and sell.”
Get a taste of Auntie May’s cooking in Mercato Centrale or head to her little deli and grab some of her specialty products.