What is Filipino food and how does it taste? The chef explains

With about 12 million people in more than 100 countries, the Filipino Diaspora is one of the largest in the world.

Yet Filipino food is not as widely known as some Asian food. Fans of the recipe argue that adobe – chicken meat braised in soy sauce, vinegar, garlic and pepper – should be recognized as fad Thai, ramen and shrimp dumplings.

As more and more Filipino chefs are gaining international recognition, the popularity of Filipino cuisine is gaining traction. In 2015, Antonio’s Restaurant – managed by Filipino Tonyboy Escalante – was the first restaurant in the Philippines to rank in the top 50 in the world, debuting at number 48.

Sarsar’s motto is “Filipino Food Forward.” The dishes at the Manila restaurant are (clockwise from top right): sisig, crab tortang talang (eggplant omelette), sizzling kansi (beef shank soup), chicken insal and (medium) beef calderata.

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In 2016, Bad St., The Washington, D.C., restaurant launched by James Beard Award-winning chef Tom Kunan, was named America’s Second-Best Restaurant by Forest Appetite Magazine. That same year, Manila’s Margarita Force was named Asia’s Best Female Chef by 50 UK-based companies.

Yet insiders say the struggles to popularize Filipino food come from stereotypes abroad and problems between the Philippines.

From Manila to Miami and Paris

Cheryl Tu, a Manila-born food journalist and founder of the Miami-based event website CrossCulture, blames “hiya” for some of the problems, meaning shame in Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines.

A Baker Dusting Bicho of Panderya Toyo – local version of Bignet – with sugar and keko.

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“We’ve been in the colony for so many years, and we’ve been told that importing something is good,” Tew said. “Thanks, today’s generation is loud and proud of our heritage.”

Television was not helpful either, Tew said.

“We also received so much bad press in the sense that some of our food was ‘fear factor-linked,'” he said. “Many people associate it with all our food.”

In Chell’s testing menu gallery, the blue crabs are topped with fermented tomato juice, a smoked fish dash and decorated with crystallized tubig (a type of local fig).

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Some of those feelings were echoed by Paris-based Filipino chef Erica Peredes.

“It almost feels like we never thought our food was good enough to put on a global stage,” he said.

Fennel and synigang (traditionally a clean sour soup made with tamarind) and Korean-style fried chicken with adobe sauce are some of the dishes prepared by Paradise at Parisian Caf ম Mokoloko, which has garnered praise from Vanity Fair. Other press.

“Many young chefs today have more pride and fire to be authentic, and to include flavors that bring us joy and comfort,” he said. “It’s like we were waiting for permission, but now – no more.”

What exactly is ‘Filipino food’?

“We like our talkative things,” he said when asked about the definition of Filipino food for Manila Sarsa Kitchen + bar television personality and chef JP Anglo.

Most Filipino dishes have a special taste in sweet, sour and salty.

Chel Gonzalez

Chef at Chele Gallery

Like many cuisines, Filipino food has evolved to taste and necessity. Cooking with sour agents helps preserve food in warmer tropical climates. For the same reason, fermented, dried and pickled foods are also common.

“We get our sour taste from fruits like tamarind, butwan and calamus … we also have a variety of vinegars,” said Anglo. “We have our dried fish and our fermented shrimp like baggage or ginamos, Which gives a strong and sharp taste. “

Executive Sauce Chef Carlos Villafloere collects fresh greens from Chel’s Veranda Gallery.

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Chel Gonzalez, the Basque chef at Chel’s Gallery, made the Philippines his home in 2010. Welcomed and celebrated by the local community, he offered an open evaluation of the taste profile.

“Most Filipino foods have a special flavor between sweet, sour and salty – sometimes, for our foreigners, it’s hard to understand,” he said. “With chefs like JP Anglo and Jordi Navarra, it’s becoming more sophisticated and concise.”

Many islands, many influences

Manila Toyo Itari chef Jordi Navara, ranked 49th on this year’s World’s 50 Top 50, says Filipino food is difficult to define because it varies across the country – a country of about 7,107 islands, 22 territories and eight major dialects.

L: Sarsa Kitchen + Bar Chef JP Anglo: R: Chef Jordi Navara at Panaderia Toy Bakery.

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“One of the most beautiful aspects of Filipino food is its variety,” he said. “There are different regions and islands that represent the food we eat across the country. As much as we learn and understand, we can express and share what we eat with the world and with each other.”

History also plays a role.

At the heart of the Sino-Indo-Malay pre-colonial trade route, the Philippines was a melting pot of culture before the arrival of the Spanish in 1521. The road that ran between Acapulco and Manila – the cuisine blended heavily with Latin influences and ingredients.

In 1898, after Spain’s defeat in the Spanish-American War, Spain ceded control of the Philippines to the United States. Thus began a period of American cultural influence in the Philippines, which included the English language and, in modern times, a fondness for fast food, sweets and processed products.

“Filipino cuisine may include a peach mango pie from the local fast-food chain Jollybee, even if we don’t have peaches,” Navara said. “It could also be a synagogue using sampalok (tamarind) Pork grown from the trees in your yard and by your neighbor. “

Chef Jordi Navara (sometimes, with his team at Toyo Itari) says being open and surviving the epidemic is a feat for himself.

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Chef Anglo said the height of his country’s food needs to start at the local level.

“I look at our Asian counterparts like Thailand, where street food is incredible,” he said. “I want to see this movement at the grassroots level here as well.”

He said he wanted to highlight the street vendors – the “little boys of the province” – who were cooking “amazing traditional food” so that they too could be successful. Then, he said, “everyone around them can follow it.”

‘Truth’ in an evolutionary cuisine

One of the biggest pitfalls for Filipino cuisine is the so-called “crab mentality” – a widely used term in the Philippines to describe the act of pulling a successful person close to you. (The word is derived from a crab in a bucket, which pulls a crab near the escape.)

In the culinary world of the Philippines, it is often accused of being “unauthentic.”

Panaderya Toyo makes classic Filipino breads and pastries with a modern touch. The recipes follow the local tradition of using sweet and chewy flour.

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“For me, being authentic and being traditional are two completely different things,” Peredes said. “I cook based on my experience, and for someone who grew up in Manila, living abroad and now living in France, using seasonal European products associated with Filipino or Southeast Asian flavors and spices is very authentic to me.”

Navara says she travels to find out what Filipino food means to people across the country. To him, being authentic means “making sure we represent the person and community that inspires us and our work.”

The consensus among chefs interviewed for this report is that if the flavors are instinctively Filipino – if they have a comfortable delicious, sour, garlic flavor – then the food is valid.

What next?

“We’re in the middle of a revolution, and it’s very exciting,” Gonzalez said. “Minimal flavors, play with textures, blending traditional and modern techniques – all of these things enhance the cooking scene.”

Perhaps the biggest vector of the rise of Philippine cuisine is a crop of chefs who are firmly unforgiving.

Chel’s Gallery of Tahoe Filipino Street Food, a sweet dish made from Lusan Island goat’s milk custard and fresh strawberries.

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“We own it,” Anglo declared. “Chefs like Tom Kunan or Anton Derritt in the United States are not saying that this should be their acceptance of Filipino food or that it should be Phil-mango cooking.”

“We have to be brave,” he said. “This is who we are, this is our food and we like it.”

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