FILIPINO IS THE NEW THAI Get ready: The exotic flavor of the Philippines is coming to a restaurant near you. By Darius Amos
hile cuisines from mainland countries like China, India, Korea and Thailand have made their marks on Western cultures, Filipino food always seemed to lag behind. But thanks to internationally renowned chefs-turned-TV-stars like Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern, we’ve caught a glimpse of the good and tasty plates from the Philippines. Our thoughts now? Lemme try some of that! To prepare you for the influx of Filipino restaurants in a city near you, we provide the 411 on four Filipino staples (pictured on opposite page) that you’ll likely find on any menu. Enjoy!
The Philippines’ national noodle dish, pancit (PAHN-sit or PUN-sit) resembles Chinese lo mein in appearance, but it awakens different tastebuds when eaten. And depending on the home or restaurant, you’ll find different versions. The most common, pancit canton, combines an Asian egg noodle with a variety of chopped vegetables, meat (chicken, Chinese sausage and fish cake are popular options), soy sauce and a tangy splash or two of calamansi. In pancit bihon, chefs use a translucent rice noodle as the base for the mix of veggies and meats, and they often enhance it with a few sprinkles of patis (a savory sauce made of fermented fish and salt). A third kind, pancit palabok, features a thick rice noodle topped with a golden shrimp sauce, hard-boiled egg, chicharrón (crushed pork rinds) and other garnishes. Mastery of chopsticks not required!
Many Filipinos eat rice with breakfast, lunch and dinner—and a good number will even have it for dessert! Biko is a glutinous rice (short-grain, sticky rice) cake that’s mixed and topped with a delectable syrup consisting of coconut milk and brown sugar. And contrary to the name of its main ingredient, biko does not contain gluten, so those with Celiac can enjoy! Because it’s best served warm—though still appealing served at room temperature—biko is considered a comfort food and might feel as good as an affectionate hug from a loved one.
When translated to English, kinilaw literally means “eaten raw.” This raw seafood delicacy is closely related to ceviche or poke—it’s even eaten as a snack or appetizer—but there’s one major difference. In kinilaw, the acid in vinegar is used to “cook” the seafood, which is usually octopus, tuna, swordfish or mackerel mixed with calamansi juice, salt, ginger, chili peppers and other spices. Ceviche dishes, on the other hand, rely on lime juice. Tip: Check the description before ordering. Filipino cuisine includes a similarly named dish called “kilawin.” Some restaurants will use the names interchangeably for the raw seafood plate, but traditional kilawin features cooked goat, pork or beef instead of seafood.
Typically consumed as an appetizer, these savory spring rolls are just as palate-pleasing served hot as they are cold. And like pancit, there are several varieties that will satisfy vegetarians and carnivores alike. The most popular is deep-fried lumpia, a rice wrapper filled with meticulously chopped vegetables like bean sprouts, carrots, string beans and, if you choose, morsels of meat (chicken, shrimp, pork). The non-fried fresh lumpia can include those ingredients plus lettuce, coconut hearts and crushed peanuts along with a dipping sauce made of crushed peanuts, stock and garlic. For the true snacker, bite-size lumpia Shanghai is stuffed with ground pork or beef, minced onion and zesty Asian spices, fried and then enjoyed with either a spicy dip or sweet banana sauce.
Opposite page, clockwise from top left: pancit, the traditional Filipino noodle dish; biko, a glutinous rice cake dessert; kinilaw, a raw seafood appetizer that resembles ceviche; lumpia, a deep-fried rice wrapper containing chopped vegetables and meat.
3/12/18 8:20 PM