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Primer and websites for Filipino cuisine


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Primer and websites for Filipino cuisine

Alice Patis | Apr 20, 2005 01:12 PM

On the SF board, someone asked for suggestions on websites about filipino (pinoy) food. As a sort-of expat who grew up in the Philippines, I have a base familiarity with pinoy food but I'm no expert, so I thought I'd post some basics here and hope others can add to it.

Filipino dishes can look scary sometimes, with sauces & ingredients only a daring chowhound would taste blindly. Add to that the prevalence of pork fat, the common use of steam tables, the language barrier, and it's easy to give pinoy cafes or restaurants a miss.

For hot foods the popular items that most people enjoy are pancit (the noodles, many different kinds), adobo (chicken or pork cooked in vinegar & soy), lumpia (usually the fried kind), lechon (roast pig) and BBQ skewers. And crispy pata, if it's a full service kind of restaurant. These are the safest and sometimes pretty tasty things, but IMHO will not get you deep into the belly of pinoy cuisine.

So what are flavorful examples of Pinoy cuisine?

Fresh Lumpia is a crepe or thin wrapper filled with fresh veggies and ground meat or shrimp, served with a sweet-ish sauce. One type I like is Lumpia Ubod (ubod is hearts of palm)

Pinakbet (or Pakbet), a stew of veggies in a sauce of fermented shrimp paste (bago ong), is a favorite of mine but an aquired taste if you don't like the strong bagoong taste.

Mongo (slow cooked mung beans in simple sauce with leafy veggies) is a very basic dish. Usually has pieces of pork belly or chicharon (pork rinds) cooked in until meltingly soft.

Kare-kare is a stew of oxtail and tripe, with a sauce like a peanutty version of red mole. Really tasty if you like tripe.

Kaldereta is a type of curry (well really, spicy stew), done with various meats or even goat, traditionally thickend with liver paste. Really tasty, but might be strange for some. Some may be spicy, some mild.

Here are some translations of filipino terms you might see attached to the names of the dishes:

adobo - cooked in vinegar, soy sauce and garlic
guisado - sauteed
sinigang - boiled with a sour fruit or vegetable
paksiw - cooked in vinegar and garlic
ginataan - cooked in coconut milk
rellanado or rellenong - stuffed

Finally, linked below is a meta-website of filipino food. It has a pretty good listing of filipino restaurants in the US, links to articles about Pinoy food (and non-food topics), and a very long list of Pinoy recipe websites in the margin.

So if you are adventurous or want to try something verily different from any of the other Southeast Asian cuisines, I hope you can give your neighborhood filipino restaurant (even if it is a Goldilocks chain) a try. And if you have any other tips to share, please do.


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