While there are restaurants and establishments that welcome animals — and even cafés where you can pet as many cats as you want — most of these places still primarily cater to people who regard the surrounding animals as a quirk or gimmick — something simply for extra IG appeal. So what’s a cat lover to do? To paraphrase the old adage, “If you can’t bring the cat to the restaurant then you bring the restaurant to the cat.” For this week’s “Pet Issue,” we asked one of the city’s top young chefs Gab Bustos, himself a father to cats Oskar and Nikka, to create food for our feline friends.
In between taking part in Negroni Week in his restaurant 12/10 (50 percent of its sales will go to the Philippine Animal Rescue Team) and finalizing The Girl and The Bull’s move to Legaspi Village (look for it in the next two months), Gab spent a Tuesday afternoon creating not one but two dishes specifically for cats. “I wanted to make something healthy and fresh,” he explains, adding that this was the first time he’s ever had to make something for cats, let alone animals. Understandably, he made it a point to study and learn what ingredients not to use — like grapes and avocados, which could prove harmful to cats. He also read up to learn that cats aren’t all that particular when it comes to taste, but since this was no ordinary cat food he was making, Gab made sure that the dishes would still pack the right amount of flavor.
Salmon skin, scaled and cleaned (or any other fish skin, like tilapia, red snapper or cod)
Katsuobushi /dried bonito flakes
Mayonnaise (pre-made is fine, preferably Kewpie)
Olive oil salt
Other things you’ll need:
Parchment paper (or a silpat)
1. Pre-heat your oven to 250°F.
2. With a sharp knife, cut skin lengthwise into 1”-1.5” strips (approx. 4 strips per large salmon skin).
3. Line your sheet pan with parchment paper (or your silpat) and brush with a thin layer of olive oil.
4. Lay the skins flat on the sheet pan, then brush another thin layer of olive oil onto the skins and sprinkle with a little bit of salt (make sure there’s about half an inch of space in between the skins).
5. Place the tray into the oven and bake for one hour and 30 mins, or until crisp.
6. In a small mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise and katsuobushi (a1:1 ratio should be fine).
7. Once the skins are done, take the tray out of the oven.
8. With a palette knife, gently transfer the skins onto cooling racks.
9. Sprinkle with salt, let cool, then serve with bonito mayonnaise.
• While olive oil is safe for cats, it’s best that they consume no more than a teaspoon (5ml) a day. Keep this in mind while preparing this recipe, and try to use as little oil as possible.
• The same goes for salt, as the safe amount for cats is 42mg per day.
• Most types of mayonnaise are high in fat, and you should only feed it to your cat on rare occasions. The safe amount is half a teaspoon per five pounds of body weight.
• On the other hand, these fish skin chips can be prepared ahead of time and stored in airtight containers for about a week or even more. They’re the perfect treats for your cats!
Sanma / pacific saury, filleted or mackerel
Peeled and seeded cucumber, cut into 1/2” cubes
Fresh dill and dill flowers
Ground raw honey olive oil salt
Other things you’ll need:
A charcoal grill
A blender or juicer
Water from the first wash of rice (if you find yourself cooking rice that same day)
1. Place the coals into the grill and ignite, set a wire rack above the coals cut the cantaloupe into 1/2” cubes, just make sure to reserve about 25-30% of the cantaloupe for juicing.
2. Set the chopped cantaloupe aside with the chopped cucumbers.
3. Then using a blender (or juicer), puree the reserved cantaloupe until smooth and pass through a fine sieve — set aside.
4. In a small saucepan over high heat, reduce the rice water to about 10-percent of its volume (expect this to look like glue or paste), then set the heat to low.
5. Add cantaloupe juice about double the amount of rice liquid into the saucepan and mix thoroughly (there shouldn’t be any change in taste, but the texture / consistency should be slightly thicker and appearance should be a bit more opaque), then set aside.
6. Per cup of cantaloupe liquid, add 2 tsp raw honey.
7. Once everything is ready, take the sanma fillets then brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
8. Lay fillets skin side down on the grill, and cook until crisp and charred (at this point you won’t really need to flip the fillets anymore, but if you prefer to cook the meat all the way through, then feel free to do so), then set aside and rest for a few minutes.
9. While the fish is resting, place the chopped cantaloupe and cucumbers in a mixing bowl then drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
10. Arrange the sanma with the cantaloupe and cucumbers on the plate, then pour a few spoons of cantaloupe liquid around the fish and onto the cantaloupe/cucumbers.
11. Garnish with black sesame, fresh dill, and dill flowers.
While olive oil is safe for cats, it’s best that they consume no more than a teaspoon (5ml) a day. Keep this in mind while preparing this recipe, and try to use as little oil as possible.
The same goes for salt, as the safe amount for cats is 42mg per day.
Cats who are tasting honey for the first time can take up to half a teaspoon (2.5ml), and if there are no allergic reactions, they can take up to one and a half teaspoons (7.5ml).