I recently watched Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations online and purposely searched for his trip to the Philippines. Although I agree with most of the comments I’ve read about volunteering oneself in showing Mr. Bourdain around your country where you yourself have visited the Philippines once for only a week. But where’s the fun in that I guess. Curiosity will eventually lead to discovery. With over 7,107 islands, there is no doubt that the outspoken chef had only a fraction of what the Filipino Cuisine has to offer. I give him props for being able to touch on some of the major cuisine capitals of the country such as Binondo, Pampanga and Cebu but I don’t think one can really get a grasp on what the identity of Philippine Cuisine is in just a few days. To be honest, I myself have not been able to truly experience Filipino food having been born and raised here. I have had encounters and have appreciated regional cuisine since my family is part Nueva Ecijano – Cabanatuan longganisa, carabao’s milk, kesong puti (white cheese), Bataeño (Bataan) – adobong paniki (bat stew), shark sinigang (sour broth), and from Laguna – buko pie. And I am pretty sure that even that is only a slice of what these provinces have to offer.
Being Filipino, there are a number of recipes that you know from heart, where you do not need to write anything. And just like each State in America has their own version on fried chicken, us Filipinos have our own version of adobo, which I think is generally loved by everyone, even foreign visitors. You can actually make adobo with anything — chicken, fish, pork, beef or even vegetables I guess. But pork and chicken are more common here, depending on the region and availability really.
In our house, it is my father who has mastered the art of the adobo. And because he works overseas, we only get to eat adobo every time he goes on vacation. And because he is currently here, I’ve decided to feature his adobo and finally put everything in measurement so that we can recreate his adobo even without him. Whenever I ask him how he makes his adobo, he’d often say ‘tikman mo lagi, dapat tamang asim at alat‘ (always taste it, there should be a balance of sour and salty). Yes, there’s a certain taste to get that perfect adobo. The perfect side dish that goes well with adobo and anything fried actually, is a salad of salted egg and tomatoes. And of course, you can’t have adobo without heaps of steamed white rice. Yum!
And then to round out the meal, a Filipino dessert that my mom did a few years ago that made a mark in my satiety center. It is a perfect mix of coconut milk, tapioca pearls, gelatin and a whole lot of crunchy pinipig — guinumis! This is hiligaynon for sago at gulaman or tapioca pearls and gelatin, a typical cold treat in the Philippines, usually a drink than a dessert. The Ilonggo or people from Iloilo turned it into something akin to the famous Filipino dessert, halo-halo but with less ingredients but loads of flavor and texture. And since then, guinumis has been a lingering thought in my head, waiting for the chance to be made, especially now that the temperature is crazy!
I’ll leave you all with a question. Why is it that Filipino Cuisine is not as popular as Thai, Malay or Chinese? We are just as good and just as different.