The Philippines

Years ago, we had dinner at a friend of ours who dished up an Adobo. It was excellent and something which we had never tried before. A comfort dish.  It turns out  that Adobo is the national dish of the Philippines (but we didn’t have a clue at the time).

Filipino food is synonymous with a melting pot of different cultures. The different cultures which are described to have influenced this cuisine include Spanish, Chinese, and Malay although other cultures are said to have left their mark more recently.

Food is described to be a central part of Filipino culture (as it should be!).

The custom is to ask “Have you eaten?” to greet someone.

Offering food  to any guest that drops in is considered to be polite and a cultural norm – almost like a measure of respect or familiarity.

The Philippines are a large group of islands – about 700 of them. You can imagine how diverse the food must be given the size and variability of the country. In our recipe search we found for example that in some areas of the country pork is one of the more popular meats and that beef is more popular in others. Rice is a common staple but not to every area and whilst hot chillies are reportedly found  everywhere in the Philippines we found that not all recipes include them. Recipes from some areas include a lot of coconut milk but those from other areas describe a dry marinated and barbecued method of cooking.

Fresh seafood recipes are of course widely available and  fish features in many traditional dishes and we found that some cities are even renowned for the extensive variations of their fish recipes. The variety of recipes and ingredients really is astounding.

We were pleasantly surprised to discover recipes which  include snails, frogs and even more intrigued to discover a taster dish called Balut, an aged duck egg which is traditionally eaten with a spicy sauce (unavailable in London…).

Perhaps a good way to distinguish Filipino cuisine is by its bold combination of sweet, sour and salty flavors.

So….armed with all this exciting information, we salivated all the way to a Filipino restaurant in east London where we asked our friendly hostess to help us choose  some traditional dishes to taste. She was delighted to help.

This is the feast that followed:

Chicken Sisig – a heavenly mixture of lime, chilli’s and chicken all served on a sizzling grill. It sizzled the taste buds too. A dish invented out of necessity originally turning pigs heads into a tasty feast apparently. There are annual contests in which Filipino chefs have a cook off to see who has the best recipe…sounds like a must.

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Spinach with garlic and lime. Sounds simple (and is) but what a great idea. A new and interesting twist on boring old spinach.

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A garlic fried rice. Cremated to perfection:

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Adobo baby yeah! More about this star later:

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And last but not least pudding! A sago based feast of carrot cake, custard and sweetened sesame seed crackers. I’m dribbling looking at the picture again!

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A friendly people making wonders out of humble ingredients….try it!

Traditional Filipino MUSIC

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