Philippine Cuisine

Crossroads of Asia
Lingering Vinegar and Garlic

“There’s a trick if you want to know that it’s a Filipino an apartment belongs to; the garlic and vinegar can linger around a good long while.” — N.V.M. Golnzalez, The Bamboo Dancers [1]

There are more than 7,000 islands in the Philippines. And its people speak some 87 languages.[2, 3]

Lumpia Shanghai
Fusion Food and the Greatest Appetizer

Can there be any common factors in the cuisine of such a far-flung and diverse people? There may be some common elements, but we have to look for them in the past.

The ancestors of today’s Filipinos spoke languages of the Malayo-Polynesian language family.  This far-flung language group stretches from Madagascar in the west to Easter Island in the east, with Hawaii in the middle.

These people were sea-farers, expert seamen and navigators.  Fish were an essential part of their diet, and seafood remains a key element of Philippine cuisine today. Continue reading

Ginger I

Tamil Time-Traveler
As Fundamental as Onions

“Fresh ginger is as fundamental to the Asian kitchen as onion is to European cuisine.” — Molly O’Neill

Ginger Flower

Ginger, like Rice, was an ancient Tamil time traveler around the Pacific Rim.  Ginger, which grows underground and has beautiful red and yellow flowers above ground, is one of the most important foods in Asian kitchens.  And it is healthy, too!

Continue reading

Ginger V

Drinkable Avatars of Ginger
Maugham’s Cocktail Revived

Let’s look at some of the — basically alcoholic — avatars of Ginger:

Ginger Wine

Ginger Wine got popular in England during the Georgian era and is still available today.  It traditionally comes in green bottles.  There are also a number of recipes for making your own.

Ginger Wine is not a typical grape wine, but usually an infusion made with Ginger root or dried Ginger and sugar.  Sometimes there are additional raisins or sultanas.

Ginger Vodka

Some bartenders make their own Ginger-infused vodka for use in drinks like Ginger Gimlets. It is sometimes available commercially, or you can make your own using a recipe available on the Internet. [2]

Ginger Liqueur Continue reading

Ginger IV

Further Avatars of Ginger
Ginger Beer Reborn

Triple Ginger Cake

Triple Ginger Cake

This is a Fusion recipe, with French and Japanese influences, which combines several forms of Ginger for a very intense Ginger flavor — this is an improvement on other available Ginger Cake recipes.

Ingredients:

 4 ounces peeled fresh Ginger
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup rye flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon Continue reading

Ginger III

The Many Avatars of Ginger

Cooking Asian dishes with fresh ginger

Ginger

There are more than 400 compounds or phytochemicals in the Ginger rhyzome. Not all the potential benefits of the plant have yet been isolated or discovered. Scientists and medical researchers continue their investigations. These results are unfortunately sometimes neglected by the medical profession in North America.

Since some of the chemical and pharmaceutical properties of Ginger change in the dry form from the fresh form, persons taking Gingermay benefit from consuming it in various forms and combinations. Continue reading

Hawaiian Cuisine

Multi-Layered Cuisine
Luau’s, Poi, Poke, Tikis and Spam

“Mangoes of golden flesh, with turpentine

Coconut Palms

“Peel and odor. Plums of inky stain
“And the pucker of persimmons….” — Genevieve Taggard, “The Luau” [1]

“Shrimps, sea-urchins, lobsters, crabs and various kinds of shell-fish, as well as sea weed….” — Henry M. Whitney, Hawaiian Guide Book, 1875 [2]

The Paradise of the Pacific is truly Continue reading

Rendang

Minangkabau Legacy
Jungle-Proof Meats

“CNN has named Rendang, a traditional dish from Padang, West Sumatra on the World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods, beating out French croissants and American donuts.” — Jakarta Post

The Minang ethnic group of Sumatra are known for their matrilineal society, the world’s biggest women-run social structure anywhere.

They are also famous for their elaborate folkways and evolved cultural patterns, including their food. One of their dishes may be the tastiest in the world, as CNN found. Continue reading

Ginger II

The Ultimate De-Fisher
As Fundamental as Onions

“Ginger is forever.” —  Molly O’Neill

“Half the secret of good cooking lies in de-fishing the fish, or anything in which you wish to soften down the animal flavor.  Ginger is of course a de-fisher.”– Buwei Yang Chao

Ginger in Asian Kitchens:Ginger appears in Continue reading

Sambals

Essential to Any Indonesian Dinner
Another Tamil Traveler

“A most essential part of any respectable Indonesian dinner.” — Alec Robeau [1]

“In the realm of condiments, the unbridled Indonesian imagination runs wild.” — Agnes de Keijzer Brackman [2]

Indonesian sambal

Sambal Istimewa, one of many Indonesian sambals

The Indonesian food group called Sambals is sometimes translated as pickles or relish or condiments.  It is commonly described as chili based, although this may not always  be the case.

Sambal is normally used to mean a condiment that has a chile based sauce.

Sambals are popular in the cooking of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, Continue reading

Fish Sauce

Full of Flavor – and Salt
Many Local Variants

“The Vietnamese favor Nuoc Mam, a strong fish ketchup rich in amino acids, salts and phosphorus which compensates for the low nutriti9onal value of the rice.” — Miriam Ferrari [1]

Tiparos Fish Sauce

Tiparos Fish Sauce,
Nam Pla

Fish ketchup, Signora? Rich in amino acids? Maybe, but certainly rich in salt.  And how about the low nutritional value of the rice?  Some of these things may have been lost in translation and only the editors at Mondadori will ever know the whole story..

In Southeast Asia, the chief salter is a sauce made from fermented fish, commonly known as Patis in the Continue reading