What makes recipes from Philippines distinct is because it’s a fusion of cultural influences that reflects her unique history. During the pre-Hispanic colonization, Filipino dish was simply boiled, roasted or broiled root crops, vegetables and seafood including wild game.
The Chinese traders brought in spices and herbs that added flavor to the dishes and introduced the Filipinos to staple foods like tokwa (tofu) and tawge (bean sprout). Simple flavoring like toyo (soy sauce) and patis (fish sauce) were brought by the early Chinese and taught the Filipinos the method of stir-frying and the use of flavorful soup bases. Pancit, fresh lumpia, and chopsuey have become Filipino favorite dishes in restaurants and at home.
The Malay and Indonesian taught the Filipinos methods of cooking and preserving like bagoong and the use of coconut with other condiments and strong flavoring. Usually coconut milk is mixed with vegetables like jackfruit with crab in coconut milk. Some places in the Philippines are noted for their Kare-kare , Laing and Ginataang Manok. Although many Filipinos do not usually cook dishes with chili and other spices, the influence of Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia can be observed in many Bicolano dishes where red and green chilli peppers are part of their delicacies.
Most of the Filipino recipes are influenced by the Spaniards. Historians believed that 80% of Filipino cuisine is Spanish. This is not surprising with more than 300 years under the rule of Spain! The elaborate food preparation of the Spaniards such as paella, arroz ala valencia (rice casserole), caldereta (meat in tomato sauce stew), mechado (larded beef in soy and tomato sauce), pochero (beef in bananas and tomato sauce), afritada (chicken and/or pork simmered in a tomato sauce with vegetables) and more are always on the table during fiestas or festive gatherings. Of course, pork adobo is on the top list anywhere and any time!
One of the American’s contributions to Filipino cooking in the early days was the canned food. Fresh ingredients may not be available but Americans introduced canned foods cooked and mixed with vegetables for a sumptuous meal. However, the most notable influence to Filipino cuisine is the fast-food mentality of quick burgers and fries and fried chicken including salads and doughnut.
Traditional Filipino recipes are always a pleasure to cook, to serve and to be enjoyed by your family and friends but Filipinos always have a way of making each dish a special one. For the Filipinos, cooking is either a simple dish of rice, fish, vegetable and soup or a fiesta by whipping up something extra-ordinary for a special occasion.
The key is to be resourceful, creative and inventive and mix every cooking time with smile and love. Elsa Schiaparelli perfectly sums this up: “A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.” Recipe Philippines is your guide in making appetizing and healthy meals for your family and friends.