Categories
Filipino musings

Saveur Explores Christmas in Pampanga

I picked up the latest copy of Saveur mainly to drool over the cover story about filet mignon, but as I was thumbing my way to page 87, I caught a glimpse of a roasted pig on a spit and immediately stopped. As I started reading, I discovered that it was part of an article called “Days of Feasting” about the Christmas season in the Philippines, more specifically in the city of Arayat in Pampanga, an area known for their outstanding regional interpretation of Filipino food.

The author, Robyn Eckhardt of Eating Asia, stayed with the family of her friend and colleague Marc Medina during her stay in Pampanga, and she was introduced to the annual gorgefest that occurs all over the Philippines during the holidays. Eckhardt’s main connection to the cuisine was the Medina’s family cook, Lucia Mallari, who prepared most of the meals during her stay. Overall, it’s a good read and I suggest that you pick it up while it’s on newsstands since the article isn’t available online.

Four recipes accompany the article, including an Adobong Manok (chicken adobo) recipe that doesn’t include soy sauce (Mallari claims her recipe is the “real” one), Pinakbet (Philippine vegetable stew), Ulang sa Gata (prawns in coconut milk), and Ensaimada (Philippine-style brioche).

Seeing these recipes in Saveur, especially with their Tagalog names listed first, was really heartwarming because Filipino food hardly ever gets any attention from the “mainstream” culinary media. I’ve always thought that Filipino food could hold its own against other Asian cuisines and have often wondered what’s holding it back. It’s even more amazing when you consider that in America, Filipinos are one of the largest Asian populations in the country (approx. 4 million), but I’m willing to bet more people have eaten Thai food in their lifetime than Filipino food and there are only around 250,000 Thai people in the U.S.

Maybe Manny Pacquiao’s newly claimed worldwide superstardom is going spill over into food, and this Saveur story is just a happy coincidence that will ride the Pac-Man wave.

Then again, Manny did eat at Nat’s Thai Food in Hollywood almost every day when he was training, which I thought was an odd aspect of his regimen, but I guess we have to give Thai food its props for helping power the Pacquiao Express.

Categories
chicken Filipino recipes

Chicken Adobo a la Cendrillon

I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, but one thing I really wanted to do this year is cook more Filipino food. I’ve never really cooked Filipino food, aside from attempts at chicken adobo in college or simple breakfasts of eggs and garlic fried rice with whatever meat was lying around (hot dogs, corned beef, SPAM, etc.) that reminded me of waking up on Sunday mornings to my dad’s cooking. Since I left home, my main connection to Filipino food has been at family parties around Christmastime or some of the restaurants that are all over the Bay Area.


chicken adobo

Adobo is the one Filipino food aside from lumpia and pancit that most non-Filipinos have heard of or tried, and it’s considered the national dish of the Philippines. There are so many variations on adobo and every Filipino’s experience with it is so personal that it’s impossible to have a definitive recipe. Sometimes the protein changes (chicken, pork, squid), the soy/sauce vinegar ratio is a matter of personal taste, and you can either cook off most of the braising liquid (like my dad) or leave plenty of sauce to spoon onto your rice (my preference).

A couple months ago, I picked up a copy of Memories of Philippine Kitchens, an excellent and beautiful cookbook written by Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan of Cendrillon, a Filipino/Pan-Asian restaurant in New York City. While purists may be put off by Cendrillon’s fine dining and fusion pedigrees, the book is a comprehensive overview of Filipino cuisine and its diversity throughout the various regions in the Philippines.

Categories
Filipino Hawaiian pork recipes

Tita’s Hale ‘Aina Pork Adobo

I found this recipe in an article on SFGate.com while putzing around the Web. It’s from Tita’s Hale ‘Aina restaurant in San Francisco, but they closed a couple years ago. Don’t see why their recipe shouldn’t be shared with the world, so here it is.

INGREDIENTS
3 pounds boneless pork butt, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 bay leaf, crushed
1 tablespoon crushed dried red chiles

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Combine all ingredients in a plastic or glass container. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours.
  2. Transfer the pork and its marinade to a Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 30 to 45 minutes.
  3. Uncover and simmer for 15 minutes longer, until the liquid has evaporated and the pork is lightly browned. Serve with rice.

Serves 4