Breakfast of Champions: Making Tapsilog With Pokemon
Pokemon aren't just friends; they're also food. Players of Pokemon Gold and Pokemon Silver will remember putting an end to the Slowpoke tail harvesting operation being run by Team Rocket in Azalea Town. Their reason for doing so is to sell the tails as a sweet snack for a tidy sum, But earlier than that, the chattier sort may have bumped into an odd man loitering by the Route 32 Pokemon Center. Walk up to him and he will kindly offer you a "tasty, nutritious Slowpoke tail" for the outrageous sum of one million Pokemon Dollars. Regardless of how one discovers it, those encounters set the precedent for an uncomfortable yet undeniable truth: some Pokemon are more delicious than others.
Slowpoke aside, the main games have tantalized us with references to the delectability of Basculin (described as "remarkably tasty" by its page in the Pokemon X Pokedex), Appletun (the Pokemon Shield Pokedex entry notes that "the skin on its back is especially yummy"), and so much more. The crumbs of these mouthwatering insinuations being sprinkled across the series' mainline games have left me with a lot of burning questions. "Which Pokemon would make for good tapsilog?" is one such query I hope to answer in today's culinary investigation.
Tapsilog: An Icon in Brief
Anyone with even a drop of Filipino in their blood has had a hot plate of tapsilog before them disappear in minutes, if not seconds. The medley of rice, egg or itlog, and sliced beef jerky or tapa brings together sweetness and tanginess which satisfies any appetite. You'd be hard-pressed to find any Filipino who hasn't had this at least once for breakfast, or even beyond. Most recipe blogs consider tapsilog a breakfast dish. It certainly is, but no one's stopping you from having it at any time of the day or night. No one would judge you either.
Instead, let's reserve the judgment for which Pokemon would give us the best tapsilog.
Beef or Buffalo: Tauros or Bouffalant?
There are only three bovine Pokemon as of writing: Tauros, Miltank, and Bouffalant. As an animal with what is obviously a high fat content, Miltank is already out of the running. Leaner cuts of meat are preferable for tapsilog, which leaves us with Bouffalant and Tauros.
Longtime fans of the Pokemon games know full-well that the first and fifth generation of games (Pokemon Red and Blue, and Pokemon Black and White) are analogs of one another. There exist Pokemon family lines in the two generations that are parallels of the other. Machamp and Conkeldurr. Poliwrath and Seismitoad. Hitmonchan, Hitmonlee, Sawk, and Throh. And, of course, Tauros and Bouffalant. They look and act alike, but do they taste alike?
Kind of? Maybe? As someone who hasn't been back in the US of A since the early 2000s, I can't say I've ever tried American bison, the animal that Bouffalant is heavily based on. People who were lucky or curious enough to do so have reported picking up little to no difference in the flavors of beef and bison. The more perceptive among them did claim that bison meat has "lighter flavor and tastes slightly sweet as well...and is considerably tender." Steaks made from bison were also noted as having "light and fresh taste, with hints of sweetness." Another fact about bison meat that's worth taking into account is that it allegedly contains less grease than beef, owing to the animal having less fat than your average cow. In place of the fat is more iron, resulting in some bison cuts having an earthier, nearly mineral-like flavor. Another point in bison's favor is its lack of a gamey aftertaste. Lamb-haters will want to keep this in mind.
Apply all of the above to Tauros and Bouffalant, and it would seem like you could go either way. Given the choice between the two, who would I want served to me as tapa, however? Do I play it safe and opt for the tried, true, and tested Wild Bull Pokemon from Generation One? Or do I take a chance by treating myself to the Bash Buffalo Pokemon of Generation Five? I couldn't decide, so I turned to my Facebook feed for advice. I asked what kind of beef would give you the best tapa and was met with:
Sirloin and sukiyaki seem to be the preferred cuts.
Sirloin is the overwhelming winner, with sukiyaki a close second.
The common factor here is thinness: leaner cuts just make for better tapa, according to those who were kind enough to give feedback. I can understand where these responses are coming from. All the better for the meat to absorb the marinade that helps make it a staunchly beloved breakfast classic in the Philippines. Moreover, pieces that match steak in thickness demand more effort in slicing and chewing. Those are the last things you want to be doing when you're hungry and/or exhausted.
Sorry, Bouffalant. You being the skinnier yet more luscious slab of meat will result in you being the tapa part of this tapsilog while Tauros gets to rampage another day. The afro did nothing this time around.
Just because the Blaziken line is made up of chicken-like beasts doesn't mean the eggs will be ideal for the itlog of our Pokemon tapsilog. One mustn't forget that Blaziken and its ilk are fire-type Pokemon - and Fire-type Pokemon will fall squarely into the spicy flavor profile. I personally can't stand any kind of heat in my food, a sentiment many others share and want to be taken into consideration. Besides, the itlog is supposed to be the least flavorful portion of tapsilog so that it doesn't overwhelm the other parts of the dish. So while Blaziken gets to blissfully walk away with its eggs uncracked, another Pokemon will have to take its place. And that Pokemon is Unfezant.
The most forgettable of the early route bird final evolutions, the sexual dimorphism between the male and female forms is sadly all that Unfezant has going for it. Stats-wise, its numbers are depressingly mediocre and it's all but outshone completely by other Normal/Flying types such Pidgeot, Toucannon, and especially Staraptor. Design-wise, neither of its two models could hold a candle to the first-rate creativity that shines through with Pelipper and Corviknight. To be Unfezant is to be sadness - disgustingly middling sadness. Its only saving grace is its baby form, Pidove.
Despite eventually becoming more pheasant-like by its final evolution, both Pidove and its middle stage, Tranquill, are more evocative of pigeons. They're not as well-known as chicken, duck, and turkey when it comes to filling our bellies, but pigeons have been eaten throughout human history and well into the modern day. Countries such as Hong Kong, Macau, and China make room for pigeon in their banquet halls, with the fried variety apparently being a popular staple. All of this is to say that we don't just eat the bird but the egg too. Break open a pigeon egg and you'll be getting a "soft and creamy" inside that appears more viscous than a chicken egg. I know this because fortune deigned me worthy a video that shows a pigeon egg being fried, served, and eaten. The maker of the video gave the pigeon egg an eight out of ten, reasoning that "it tasted a lot like a chicken egg but the texture was very different - much more soft. Would eat again, maybe boiled next time."
I'll take that as a sign that Pidove eggs are the best partner for our tapsilog.
Depending on how you frame it, Pokemon not having the same amount of variety in its plant life as it does its creatures could be a good or bad thing. On the one hand, you could be missing out on a garlic-esque berry that only requires a few crushed sprinklings to make any bowl of garlic rice the best one ever. On the other, berries in the Pokemon universe are peculiar and fickle plants that possess equally peculiar and fickle odor and taste combinations. That's not even touching upon their effects. Some are beneficial, the rest are less so. The curries of Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield do encourage you to experiment with berries when preparing these savory meals out in the wild, though. So I say it's up to you whether or not you'll get experimental with the additional components of your tapsilog. I've already gotten quite trial-and-error over this article. So in the end, I'd like to play it safe with a cup of garlic rice accompanied by a slice or two of tomato on the side.
And there you have it. The appetizing answers to the enticing question that's been hanging over this written piece of mine the whole time. If you want a good Pokemon-based tapsilog, you'll need Bouffalant meat and Pidove eggs.
The rest, I leave entirely up to you - you know how I like it. How about you? Will you go ahead and add those chili flakes for that extra kick of spice? Or will you brew yourself a cup of your favorite brand of coffee to truly complete the breakfast vibes? Whatever it is you do, I'd love to hear all about it. Who knows, maybe your suggestion could become the next big thing in Pokemon cuisine.