Attending Simbang Gabi is a common practice for many Catholic families during Christmastime. Traditionally, churchgoers hear mass in the wee hours from December 16 to 24. Sometimes, the activities start as early as 3 a.m.
Because of the unusual schedule, many leave parishes hungry for breakfast. The quickest solution to fill tummies is to get unhealthy fast food. Not quite rewarding, right? But this doesn’t have to be the only recourse! After mass, you can prepare and serve your family a homemade breakfast board. Intrigued? Keep reading to find out what this trend is about.
What Are Breakfast Boards?
A breakfast board features a selection of breakfast or brunch food on a wooden board or platter. It follows a specific theme, ranging from small and simple to elaborate and fancy. Partakers gather around it and choose their preferred items – almost like a mini buffet. It’s similar to a cheese board but filled with typical morning treats.
And like grazing tables, breakfast trays are incredibly versatile. But a good board should have a mix of sweet, salty, spicy, and sour elements. Besides preparing a variety of flavors, it's also crucial to offer a balance of textures. Make sure you have something creamy, crunchy, or crumbly in there.
How to Prepare a Filipino Breakfast Board
Don’t have enough energy to cook a feast so early in the morning? No worries! Preparing a breakfast board doesn’t require much effort. If you’re thinking of assembling an agahan platter, these are the essentials you’ll need.
Basic elements of a breakfast platter
- Board, platter, or decorative base: Typical boards use wood slabs for a rustic and homey vibe. Baking sheets, marble trays, butcher paper, or even baskets are viable alternatives.
- Small serving wares: You need ramekins, bowls, and small saucers to hold spreads, sauces, Lady’s Choice Real Mayonnaise, and other toppings.
- Tongs, honey dippers, spoons, and spreaders: Keep contamination at bay by using the right tools instead of fingers.
- Food items: Decide on a theme or category for a cohesive board. Make sure to include classic breakfast items, like pastries, fruits, spreads, jams, cereals, and yogurt.
Simbang Gabi breakfast themes
There’s no right or wrong way to make these boards. You can pick any theme you want and build from there. Consider these options when putting together a modern Filipino breakfast board.
- Savory boards: For a light platter, arrange cuts of festive ham, embutido, queso de bola, veggies, and sliced bread. If you need a heartier grazing tray for brunch, go for a selection of silog viands. Fill a banana leaf-lined bilao with hot dogs, beef tapa, pork tocino, and crunchy tawilis. Don’t forget to add red eggs, tomatoes, atchara, and different kinds of sawsawan for a complete experience.
- Sweet boards: If your family prefers a sweet start to their day, serve store-bought native delicacies, like maja blanca, biko, suman, and sapin-sapin. Make it more festive by adding salted egg French toast, ube pancakes, puto bumbong, and fresh fruit slices.
Top Tips for Building a Breakfast Board
Now that you know how to make a breakfast board, here are some tips to make your job easier.
1. Keep the food selection simple.
Pick food items that are easy to prepare. Consider recipes that you can already make the night before. And don’t shy away from store-bought products.
2. Add hot food last.
Prepare and lay room-temperature food first. Add hot food just when you’re about to serve.
3. Fill the gaps.
You can start by placing bowls and saucers on the board. Add large food items next and fill empty spaces with smaller components. You can also scatter random ingredients all over the board. For example, sprinkle nuts in small nooks and gaps.
4. Make it beautiful.
One thing often overlooked is making the platter enticing with different hues. Plan your food so complementary colors are next to each other. You can even use edible flowers to zhuzh up your board.
5. Offer a selection of drinks.
Don’t forget your beverages! Besides coffee and tea, you can also serve hot cocoa, freshly squeezed juice, or fruit shakes. Or how about warm salabat?
Breakfast boards are relatively easy to make. But to lighten the load, you can already begin assembling components before heading out for Simbang Gabi. Make it a family activity and assign each member a task or dish to prepare. It might even become a new tradition to look forward to annually.
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