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Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019

Savour the finger-lickin’ Filipino food

Forget the tomato squashing festival — there’s enough of that red bounty in Filipino-style cooking. Tomatoes, garlic and olive oil are used in abundance in the dishes. Filipino food is a happy mix of cuisines such as Spanish, American, Japanese, Chinese and others.

india Updated: Aug 30, 2011 15:15 IST
Rupali Dean
Rupali Dean
Hindustan Times

Filipino food traces its origins to colonisation by Spain, and is influenced by the tastes of America, Japan, China and other neighbouring countries. Spain, though, takes the lead in influence as the Philippines were a Spanish colony for around 400 years, from 1565 to the American war in 1898. Food historians claim that 80 % of Filipino food is of Spanish origin.

La Tomatina on your plate
Forget the tomato squashing festival — there’s enough of that red bounty in Filipino-style cooking. Tomatoes, garlic and olive oil are used in abundance in the dishes. Paella, the quintessential rice dish flavoured with saffron, chorizo and overflowing with a variety of meat, shellfish and garnished with hard boiled eggs and roasted peppers, were on the menu of many restaurants that I visited.

I also came across many kiosks hawking empanadas (stuffed pastry, baked or fried) and chicharron (seasoned and fried pork rinds). I was equally awed to see Spanish-inspired pastries and even more by the traditional Spanish dish of ceviche (raw fish marinated with citrus and onions) which includes the exotic addition of coconut milk, capturing the flavour of the Philippines; the sea and the ever present coconut.

Many of the party and fiesta dishes and those served for special occasions have names like relleno, morcon, callos, embutido etc. Noodle restaurants are called panciterias (another Spanish derivation), which is a term referring to a Chinese eatery. Ox tongue in mushroom sauce served with mashed potatoes topped with browned onion bits. It really sounds Mediterranean but, believe it or not, most Filipino restaurants include a version of this dish.

The national dish
The national dish, ‘Adobo’ refers to a condiment of oil, garlic, and marjoram in Spain. However, for the Filipinos, it is not a condiment but cooking anything in a mixture of vinegar, salt or soy, garlic, black peppercorns, and bay leaf. In spite of its Spanish name, Chinese soy sauce, and American vinegar, a dish of adobo is truly Filipino, claim most locals. “We have been stewing meats in salt and vinegar for very long”, they say.

Eating culture
Traditionally, Filipinos eat three meals a day with an additional afternoon snack called ‘merienda’. Dishes are mainly fried, steamed and soupy and usually accompanied with rice. Aside from rice meals and soup dishes, dips, condiments and sauces are indispensable to Filipino meals. All in all, the food in the Philippines was fantastic, but definitely outdone by the hospitality with which it was served. I can’t help adding that the parts of the world that were colonised by Spain instead of the British really got a better deal in terms of food. filipino cookery terms

Kilawin - Raw fish marinated in vinegar

Prito - Fried or deep fried

Ginataan - Cooked with coconut milk

Inadobo - Cooked in soy sauce, vinegar and garlic

Nilaga - boiled with black pepper and onions

Guisado - sautéed with garlic, tomatoes and onions

Inihaw - grilled over coal

Sinigang - Boiled with a tamarind base

Pinaksiw - Cooked in vinegar and ginger

First Published: Aug 26, 2011 18:41 IST

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