Kulinarya: A Guidebook to Philippine Cuisine is the product of the collaboration between the Asia Society Philippine Foundation and six prominent Filipino chefs: Glenda Barretto, Conrad Calalang, Margarita Forés, Myrna Segismundo, Jessie Sincioco, and Claude Tayag. It was created with home cooks, students, and others with an interest in cooking in mind as a way to raise awareness and appreciation for Filipino cuisine around the world. The book was originally published in 2013 and an expanded second edition was released in 2016 with updated recipes and new dish selections. Some highlights include Pancit Luglog (Rice Noodles with Toppings and Sauce), Halo-halo (Mixed Fruits and Beans in Shaved Ice), Lumping Hubad (Fresh Vegetable Spring Roll), Singing na Baboy (Pork in Soured Broth), and Kare-kare (Ox Tail Stewed in Peanut Sauce).
Disclaimer: I received this book from Tuttle Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own.
Chapters are divided based on course: Pulutan (Appetizers), Sabaw (Soups), Gulay at Ensalada (Vegetables and Salads), Ulam (Main Dishes), Adobo (Vinegar Braised), Inihaw (Grilled Food), Pancit (Noodles), Merienda (Snacks), Minatamis (Desserts), and Cooking Notes.
This book begins with a look into the cuisine of the Philippines and its history dating all the way back from the 3,500 year old rice husks and stems discovered during excavations in Solana, Cagayan. Filipino food is extremely varied, even within the same province. The country even has over 170 languages and local dialects. You will get a closer look at the indigenous cooking methods like Kinilaw (cooking with “liquid fire” instead of heat- adding vinegar or the juice of sour fruit to seafood, meat, and vegetables) and how cooking has been shaped by traders and colonization. Influences from Spain include tomatoes, achuete (annatto), corn, and avocado while the United States introduced cakes, salads, sandwiches, soda fountain items, and cocktails.
There is also an in-depth guide to what makes up Filipino cuisine today from ingredients to cooking techniques that highlight the use of asim (sourness), tamis (sweet), and alat (salty). Cooking methods that are explained include dry-heat (grilling, broiling, frying) and moist heat (simmering, boiling, steaming). There is even a chart of grilling times for various meats and fish along with basic butchery charts for pork and beef. Step-by-step photos are provided with instructions on how to prepare a whole chicken and milkfish. The cultural aspect of the Filipino table is also explained with traditions surrounding meal times and photos of typical spreads.
The photography is provided by Neal Oshima. Every single recipe is accompanied by a full page photo of the finished dish. The name of the recipe is listed in its original language and English. Measurements are provided in US Customary and Metric.
This book is a great pick for those interested in Filipino cuisine. Recipes range from simple to complex. Stews, soups, and sweets are particularly plentiful. There are also many meat and seafood dishes to choose from, though no beverages. Having access to an Asian food market with Filipino items will be helpful. Some of the more difficult to find ingredients include bird’s eye chili (siling labuyo), glutinous rice, young coconut, tamarind, jicama, pressed bean curd (tokwa), annatto, shrimp paste, dried taro leaves, pork belly, lemongrass, fish sauce, coconut cream, water spinach (kangkong), calamansi, dried shiitake mushrooms, mung bean noodles, and more.
In the Philippines, Tapa is known as dried, cured beef strips and is unrelated to the popular Mediterranean appetizers. In this version, thinly sliced pieces of beef are combined with minced garlic, salt, and sugar. They are cooked and dried in the oven (traditionally the meat would be dried outside under the sun). They are then ready to pan-fry in oil if using right away or store in the refrigerator for later.
I paired the Tapa with Sinangag (Garlic Fried Rice) and a fried egg to make Tapsilog (tap for tapa, si for sinangag, and log for itlog/egg). Other possible accompaniments include salted eggs, tomatoes, and a vinegar dipping sauce. I have also come across versions that marinate the meat in a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, sugar, salt, and black pepper.
To save time, I purchased the paper-thin pre-sliced sirloin at the Asian food market. This way, I only needed to cut the strips into 1/4 inch wide slices. If you are slicing the meat at home, place it in the freezer for about 15 minutes first to make it easier to cut it thinner.
I also made Adobong Manok at Baboy (Stewed Chicken and Pork in Vinegar and Soy Sauce), Pan de Sal (Salted Bread), Leche Flan (Milk Custard), and Sinangag (Fried Rice).
Kulinarya includes a variety of Adobo recipes including Adobo sa Gatâ (Stewed Chicken in Vinegar and Coconut Cream), Adobong Malutong (Crisp Adobo Flakes), and Adobong Kangkong (Braised Water Spinach in Vinegar). I tried the classic Adobong Manok at Baboy (Stewed Chicken and Pork in Vinegar and Soy Sauce). Often known as CPA (for Chicken and Pork Adobo), this adobo has a combination of chicken and pork belly (Liempo). They are slowly simmered in a stew with garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, bay leaves, and black peppercorns. As with many of the other adobos, the leftovers the next day are even more delicious. The Batangas version also includes beef.
Pan de Sal is a favorite for Chad and this recipe did not disappoint. These rolls are often served during breakfast and merienda. They are covered with breadcrumbs for a little texture. As with many rolls, it is best warm from the oven, but the author mentions reheating day old bread in a paper bag sprinkled with water in a 250 degree F oven. Chad generally enjoys them topped with cheese.
I wasn’t originally going to include the photo for the Leche Flan (Milk Custard), but decided to so others may learn from my mistake. This recipe did not turn out well, but it was through no fault of the authors. It was completely user error. I did everything right during the first couple of steps. I made the caramel, divided it among the ramekins, then covered it with the condensed milk custard. The flan is supposed to bake in a water bath until just set, about 1 hour. I placed the water bath in the oven, then turned on a movie while I waited. Well, I got into the movie and completely forgot about the flan. For 1 1/2 hours. By the time I removed the ramekins from the water bath, they resembled steamed bread. Definitely not just set. So if you are making something as time-sensitive as flan, don’t forget about it or set an extra timer or two in case you don’t hear the original one. We recently got a new microwave and the last one’s timer would beep every minute or so until you turned it off. Apparently the timer on the new one only beeps once and I missed it. I will definitely have to try this one again.
I made the Sinangag to go with the Tapa. This delicious fried rice is a favorite of mine and only has 4 ingredients. Cooked, day-old rice is fried in a little oil with crushed garlic and salt. So simple, yet so delicious. I love that tips were included for success such as loosening the grains with moist hands and coating them with salt before frying.
Tapa (Filipino Dried Cured Beef)
Adapted from Kulinarya
2 tablespoons (30 ml) cooking oil
2.2 pounds (1 kg) sirloin, machine-sliced sukiyaki style
6 cloves (30 grams) garlic
1 tablespoon (15 grams) salt
1 tablespoon (15 grams) white sugar
Oil for frying
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 C). Brush two large baking sheets with the oil.
Cut the thinly-sliced sirloin into strips across the grain about 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) wide. Pound at least 3 times on each side to flatten with a metal or wooden mallet.
Peel, crush, and finely minced the garlic. Place in a large bowl. Mix in the salt, and sugar. Add the slices of meat and toss to coat thoroughly.
Arrange the beef among the prepared baking sheets, being careful not to overcrowd. Cook in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Without opening the door, turn off the oven and allow to rest for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate or freeze in an airtight container until ready to use.
To cook, coat a frying pan with oil over medium heat. Fry the dried pieces of beef until crisp. Transfer to a towel-lined plate before serving.