Under Coconut Skies: Feasts & Stories from the Philippines, written by Yasmin Newman, features the incredible and vibrant flavors of Filipino cuisine alongside beautiful stories and family memories. A few highlights include Charred Eggplant Omelette with Heirloom Tomato Salad, Annatto Roast Chicken & Shallots, Ube Halaya, Coconut Milk Salmon with Rainbow Radishes, and Pineapple Butter Sticky Buns with Cardamom Sugar. I will also be sharing her recipe for Sizzling Wild Mushrooms following the review.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Smith Street Books in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Yasmin Newman is a food and travel writer and photographer. Her work has been featured in SBS Food, Delicious, MasterChef, National Geographic, Oprah, Vogue, and more.
She is also the author of 7000 Islands: Cherished Recipes and Stories from the Philippines and The Desserts of New York: And How to Eat Them All.
Over the last twenty years, Yasmin has lived across the world from Paris and Los Angeles to Mexico and the Philippines. She is now based in Australia’s Central Coast with her family and returns every year to Siargao Island.
Under Coconut Skies
Yasmin begins Under Coconut Skies with a short introduction, memories of her family, and their visits to the Philippines.
She describes this book as “a tribute to the cooking found in new restaurants in the Philippines and homes of other second-generation and young Filipinos around the world just like me, as we proudly shape, share and champion our cuisine; a blend of classic dishes, regional fare, heirloom ingredients, plant-based reimaginations and different experiences we’ve tasted and seen.”
Chapters are divided according to the following: Stirring the Senses, Daily Traditions, Natural Beauty, and Memories.
I especially love the stories and personal touches scattered between and within the recipes. Under Coconut Skies not just a collection of dishes, but every page is filled with the history and traditions behind the flavors as well.
The recipes have also been created with the home cook in mind. The section on basics has helpful tips such as how to prepare banana leaves and open a coconut.
The food photography is provided by Georgia Gold and Rochelle Eagle with location and portrait photography by Yasmin.
Every recipe is paired with a beautifully styled, full-page photo of the finished dish. The book is also packed with photos of the food, people, and landscapes in the Philippines. The illustrations were such a fun touch as well.
Measurements are listed in Metric and US Customary. Titles are written in English and the original language where applicable. Each recipe has a headnote with background information, personal stories, helpful tips, and serving size.
Sizzling Wild Mushrooms
Everything we tried was packed with such vibrant flavors, but the Sizzling Wild Mushrooms were a particular hit and so easy! The longest part is preparing all the mushrooms.
Inspired by Sisig, a Kapampangan chopped pork dish, Yasmin has combined a variety of mushrooms in different shapes and sizes for quite the incredible blend of textures.
Button, shiitake, oyster, king brown, and enoki mushrooms are pan-fried with garlic, ginger, and onion until almost tender. The mixture is then topped with three to four eggs.
To finish, the Sizzling Wild Mushrooms are coated in a citrus vinegar sauce and a sprinkling of thinly sliced green onions and red chilies. Serve immediately straight from the pan alongside rice or as a vegetable-based side.
I also made the Open-Faced Sandwich with Sweet & Sticky Longganisa, Fried Chicken with Banana Chili Catsup Glaze, Watermelon & Cucumber Salad with Fish Sauce Vinaigrette, and Banana Leaf-Baked Sticky Rice with Coconut Caramel & Sesame.
The Open-Faced Sandwich with Sweet & Sticky Longganisa is now something I will make time and time again. It was so so good! Homemade Longganisang Hubad (sausage patties without the casing) are pan-fried until golden, then served on toasted bread with shredded bok choy, pickled red onion, and a fried egg.
The Fried Chicken (Pritong Manok) with Banana Chilli Catsup Glaze was a favorite with the kids. Pieces of chicken are marinated in garlic and onion, tossed in a flour cornstarch mixture, and fried until golden. Before serving, they are coated in a sweet and sticky banana ketchup glaze.
The Watermelon & Cucumber Salad with Fish Sauce Vinaigrette is such a great and refreshing option for the upcoming watermelon season. Yasmin’s version of Ensaladang Pipino (Cucumber Salad) pairs pieces of cucumbers with watermelon, herbs, fried shallots, and a fish sauce vinaigrette.
The Banana Leaf-Baked Sticky Rice with Coconut Caramel & Sesame (Bibingkang Malagkit) was a huge favorite for Chad. Glutinous rice is simmered until tender, mixed with a coconut caramel sauce and rum, then wrapped in banana leaves and baked until set and golden. Before serving, even more coconut caramel sauce is poured over the top. I loved the optional variation of warming leftover pieces in a frying pan until crisp and dipping in the sauce.
Under Coconut Skies is an incredible pick for those interested in Filipino cuisine paired with the traditions and stories behind the amazing food. There is a great variety from drinks and snacks to meat, seafood, vegetarian items, and desserts. Many dishes come together in less than 30 minutes, while others require a bit more prep or simmering time.
Having a market with Southeast Asian or Filipino ingredients will be helpful in locating items such as ube, kalamansi, sukang tuba (coconut vinegar), banana ketchup, fish sauce, bird’s eye chillies, mixed mushrooms, kangkong (water spinach), curry leaves, suka (native vinegar), moringa leaves, turmeric, and more. Substitutions are offered when possible.
Sizzling Wild Mushrooms Recipe
Excerpt from Under Coconut Skies
Sizzling Wild Mushrooms
- 80 milliliters (1/3 cup) vegetable oil
- 3 garlic cloves crushed
- 2 centimeters (3/4 inch) piece of ginger peeled, finely grated
- 1/2 red onion finely chopped
- 2 spring onions (scallions) white parts roughly chopped, green part thinly sliced
- 2 bird's eye chillies deseeded, 1 finely chopped, 1 thinly sliced
- Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 300 grams (10 1/2 ounces) button mushrooms thickly sliced
- 200 grams (7 ounces) shiitake mushrooms halved if large
- 300 grams (10 1/2 ounces) mixed oyster, king brown and enoki mushrooms left whole if small or thickly sliced
- 3-4 eggs
- 3 teaspoons kalamansi or lime juice
- 3 teaspoons suka (native vinegar) or rice vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
- Steamed rice to serve, optional
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a deep medium frying pan over medium heat.
- Cook the garlic and ginger, stirring, for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
- Add the red onion, the white part of the spring onion and finely chopped chili, then season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes or until soft.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of the oil and increase the heat to high.
- Add the button mushrooms and stir-fry for 3 minutes or until starting to soften.
- Add the shiitake, oyster and king brown mushrooms and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, until almost tender.
- Add the enoki mushrooms and stir-fry for 1 minute or until just tender. Season generously with pepper.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Make three or four indents in the mushroom mixture and crack an egg into each hole.
- Cover with a lid and cook for 3 minutes or until the whites are set, but the yolks are still runny. Remove from heat.
- Meanwhile, combine the citrus juice, vinegar and soy sauce in a small bowl.
- Pour the mixture over the mushrooms to soak.
- Scatter over the spring onion greens and thinly sliced chili and serve straight from the pan, with steamed rice on the side if you like.