How to cook – Filipino

Filipino cuisine takes its influences from a number of cultures, mainly Chinese and Spanish. Before Spanish colonies settled in the region, the produce available in the Philippines, as well as the methods used to cook it, came from neighbouring China. Rice was widely cultivated and ingredients such as soy sauce, tofu and bean sprouts were traded into the Philippines. When the Spanish arrived, they brought supplies from the Americas such as corn, tomatoes and potatoes, and introduced different styles of cooking, such as frying. The Filipino longanisa sausage is very similar to the Spanish chorizo. Today, the Philippines is known for its sweet, sour and salty cuisine, and communal way of eating.

Key ingredients

Ampalaya (bitter melon)
This sour vegetable is widely used in salads, stir-fries and curries. It’s known for its medicinal properties, mainly offering protection against diabetes.

Annatto seeds
These small, red, pyramid-shaped seeds have a peppery taste and are also used as a natural colouring in confectionery and other foods.

Calamansi
Calamansi are a citrus fruit similar to lemons and are widely used in the Philippines. They can be substituted with lemons.

Kangkung (water spinach)
Kangkung is a leafy vegetable readily available from Asian grocers. The leaves have a mild flavour and add a vibrant green colour to dishes.

Mango
This popular fruit is eaten green in salads, as well as fully ripened in many Filipino desserts, such as halo halo.

Sitaw (string beans)
These are long, thin green beans that are a traditional accompaniment to the Filipino dish Kare Kare.

Tamarind
This slightly sweet and sour tropical fruit is common in Filipino dishes and is the main flavouring for the dish sinigang.

Ube halaya (purple yam)
This root vegetable is bright purple in colour and is used in many Asian desserts, such as the Filipino favourite, halo halo.

Cooking tips

Do not overfill sausage casings, as this will cause them to burst upon cooking.
   
Kitchen twine is useful for tying sausages.

Sausages can be cured in the crisper compartment of the refrigerator for 2-5 days or, alternatively, hung over a brick oven for 3-5 days.
   
Banana leaves are handy for helping to shape empanadas before frying. Running them over an open flame helps to soften them, making them easier to handle.

To get good, crispy crackling on pork, lightly score the skin just after steaming it and then rub salt into the score marks. Roast the pork, skin-side up, in a very hot oven for 30 minutes.

When using vegetables in a salad, plunging them straight into iced water after steaming helps to stop the cooking process.

When using raw or barely cooked fish in a recipe, make sure it is sashimi grade. A good fishmonger will be able to give you this information.

Double sieving stocks is a good idea for removing fine bones and solids. If the stock is still not clear, pass it through a piece of muslin.

When barbecuing meat, use any leftover marinade to constantly baste the meat.

Glossary

Achara
Achara is a Filipino pickle that can be made using any type of vegetable. The most common variation uses green papaya.

Ampalaya (bitter melon/bitter gourd)
This sour vegetable is light green in colour with a knobbly appearance. It is widely used in salads, stir-fries and curries.

Annatto seeds
These small, red, pyramid-shaped seeds have a peppery taste. They're also used as a natural colouring in confectionery and other foods.

Atsuete oil
Atsuete oil is made by simmering annatto seeds in hot cooking oil until it turns a light red colour. It’s used in the traditional Filipino dish kare kare.

Banana bud
This small part of the banana plant is harvested just after the banana fruit forms. It is usually treated as a vegetable and can be used in stews or salads.

Calamansi
Calamansi are a citrus fruit similar to lemons and are widely used in the Philippines. They can be substituted with lemons.

Catsup
This is simply another name for ketchup – a sauce usually made with tomatoes, vinegar and different spices. In the Philippines, there's also a variation made with banana.

Eschalot
Similar to onions but smaller and with a slightly sweeter flavour. They’re not to be confused with shallots, which are usually long, green spring onions.

Halo halo
This popular Filipino dessert is a mixture of shaved ice, evaporated milk and different types of beans or fruits, usually served in a tall glass bowl.

Jackfruit
The outside of this fruit is prickly, much like durian, and the inside is thick and fleshy. It can be eaten raw, but, when unripe, its texture is similar to chicken, making it an ideal meat substitute.

Kai-lan (Chinese broccoli)
This green leafy vegetable is similar to broccoli but with a slightly more bitter flavour.

Kangkung (water spinach)
Kangkung is a leafy vegetable readily available from Asian grocers. The leaves have a mild flavour and add a vibrant green colour to dishes.

Kare kare
A Filipino stew made with peanut sauce, vegetables and oxtail. Variations include goat and chicken.

Kinilaw
This is the Filipino version of ceviche, which uses vinegar to “cook” the fish.

Longanisa sausage
This popular sausage is similar to the Spanish chorizo, but is made with different spice blends. Each region in the Philippines has its own variation.

Saltpetre
Also known as potassium nitrate, saltpetre is used to preserve sausages, bacon and gammon.

Sea grapes
Sea grapes are a type of seaweed that forms in clumps, with the appearance of a bunch of grapes.

Sinigang
A traditional Filipino stew containing meat and vegetables, with a strong tamarind flavour.

Sitaw (string beans)
Long, thin green beans that are a traditional accompaniment to the Filipino dish kare kare.

Tamarind
This slightly sweet-and-sour tropical fruit is common in Asian dishes. It can often be bought in paste form.

Ube halaya (purple yam)
This root vegetable is bright purple in colour and used in many Asian desserts, such as Filipino favourite halo halo.

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