Long before McDonalds´ invasion of the Philippines, kamote-que onced ruled the street food scene in the country.
Kamote-que are sliced sweet potatoes which are deep fried and coated with caramelized brown sugar. Served in barbeque sticks, which gives this potato snack the name, kamote-que were once popular and were found in every street corner served directly from the frying pan and piping hot!
Today, with the popularity of French fries from fast-food chains, kamote-que has been pushed to the sidelines and is seldom seen on the street compared to bygone years.
But for real Pinoy street food afficionados nothing beats kamote-que serve on banana leaves, which gives an extra fragrant banana scent to the hot caramelized potato chunks.
Mabuhay ang kamote-que!
In Catholic Philippines, Crispy Pata is a favourite pork delicacy. Pata, Spanish for leg, is the front or hind leg of the pig. In the Philippines, Crispy Pata also includes the leg and pig knuckles. A good Crispy Pata is deep fried pata with a crunchy rind and a soft, moist meat inside.
Filipino cooks recommend that the best pata for this dish is that of a young pig. The more mature the pig, the thicker and tougher the rind. The layer of fat will also be thicker (watch out for the calorie and cholesterol counts!). Frying is also not the only step in cooking this dish–the pata has to be boiled to tenderness prior to deep-frying.
Crispy pata is often served in festive occasions and family events. During family gatherings, this a classic dish to serve with rounds of beer, and other Filipino side dishes.
Long live Filipino cuisine!
Sinambag (pronounced as ‘SEE-NAM-BAG) is a tasty biscuit popular in the provinces of Negros and Iloilo in the Visayas, central Philippines.
Shaped like the fruits kamachili and sampaloc (tamarind) sinambag has a crunchy bite with a toasty-sweet taste that goes well with coffee, tea and other drinks. Visitors in Negros can find the best sinambag in town of Silay, also known for its Spanish-influenced villas and houses that date back to the early 1990s.
As a food souvenir, sinambag is well-loved by residents coming from this region. The biscuit is available in stores, public markets, airports, sold as typical or popular souvenir food items from these provinces.
Long live native Philippine food snacks!
Escabeche or the Philippine variant of escabeche is similar to the typical Mediterranean dish of poached or fried fish that is marinated in an acidic mixture before serving.
The Pinoy escabeche is derived from Spanish dish which is also common in the former Spanish colonies in America. In the Philippines meaty white fish is often used for this dish which has sliced carrots, onions, red bell peppers, and a vinegar marinade as the chief ingredients.
Escabeche has become a classic in the Philippine dinner table with various variations depending on place or availability of ingredients. But the typical sweet-sour taste remains, although the vegetable garnishing can range or differ depending on the creativity of the cook. From tilapia to Lapu-Lapu fish, a range of meaty white fish is suited for this easy-to-cook but flavourful dish. The fish may or may not be deboned, but increasingly using boneless or the fish filet version of escabeche has gained popularity.
Filed under Food, Traditions
The Philippine biscocho is obviously derived from the Spanish original. In the Philippines ‘biscocho’ is usually toasted left-over bread topped with butter or margarine and generously sprinkled with sugar. It can also be a week-old butter cake bread that is toasted and hardened.
Biscocho (Spanish for sponge cake) has prompted the Filipino version which has now become a popular pastry snack. There are even biscocho houses or stores in central Visayas particularly in Iloilo and Negros provinces where this pastry is a favourite food souvenir item. With its sugary crust and toasty crunchiness, biscocho is often paired or eaten with coffee, tea or warm chocolate drinks. An old-fashioned way of eating bischocho is to dip the crust in the coffee or choco drink to soften the crusty bread.
Filed under Food, Traditions
Locot-locot (pronounced as “Lo-KOT-Lo-KOT”) is a rice-based, fried pastry that originated and is popular in Zamboanga del Sur province, Mindanao, southern Philippines.
Delightfully crispy when freshly fried, locot-locot is made up of rice galapong or finely milled rice with a smooth and fluid consistency. The fluid galapong is then scooped into a coconut shell with holes and the galapong or fluid mixture is dripped slowly into a flat frying pan. The noodle-thin rice sticks that are slowly formed into a thin sheet and rolled (locot-locot means ‘ to fold’) is gently fried. This is slow-cooking at its best, and the resulting rice pastry is similar in taste to the Spanish churros.
Zamboangenos eat the locot-locot with local coffee or chocolate drink, again similar to eating churros dipped into a cup of hot chocolate. Due to the labor-intensive process of making locot-locot this pastry is facing tough competition from other local and imported sweets, and is threatened with extinction.
Mabuhay ang locot-locot!
Every year on Good Friday or the Friday before Easter a dozen or so penitents – mostly men but with the occasional woman – are taken to a rice field in the barrio of San Pedro Cutud, (3km from San Fernando City in Pampanga province) and nailed to a cross using two-inch (5 cm) stainless steel nails that have been soaked in alcohol to disinfect them.
The penitents are taken down when they feel cleansed of their sin. Other penitents flagellate themselves using bamboo sticks tied to a rope. The event has attracted both the penitent and the curious to the town of Cutud, making this event a heady mix of religion, a feast and a hyper media event.
Long live Philippine fiesta traditions!
Achara/atsara (pronounced as “AT-Sa-RAH”) is a favourite Pinoy pickle made of green papaya and other julienned vegetables. There are several versions of achara and any vegetable can be used for making this making this tasty side dish.
The classic achara recipe, however, uses unripe or green papaya grated or julienned, grated carrots, grated onion, medium red capsicum or green and red bell peppers (also julienned), raisins and two tablespoons of salt. The julienned vegetables are pickled in a syrup made of sugar, julienned ginger, cloves of garlic and freshly ground pepper.
As a side dish or condiment, achara is often eaten with roasted fish or barbecued chicken.
Photo: Sidney Snoeks
Chances are nearly every Pinoy child knows the experience of snacking and sucking on glorious ice candy. On a sultry tropical summer day, a stick of ice candy can do wonders to the thirsty, overheated Pinoy. Only the halo-halo can exceed the simple and cheap pleasures of this icy treat.
Homemade and available direct from the house of any entrepreneurial Pinoy, the ice candy is a welcome and delightful frozen snack available in all flavors and colors. From avocado, young coconut (complete with coco strips), mango to melon flavors, the ice candy is a classic summer treat– and very cheap compared to branded ice cream sticks and desserts.
Making the ice candy is child’s play. Simply buy plastic tubes and pour your favourite choco drink or fruit juice into the pouch, freeze it, and viola– a sugary, fruity (or chocolatey) drink to jumpstart your summer day!
Mabuhay ang ice candy!
Photo from: One Filipino Dish a Week blog
Puso (Hanging Rice) is an ingenious if not an eco-friendly way of packaging cooked rice. Puso is popular in the Visayas region particularly in the provinces of Cebu and Leyte where one often sees them being sold by roaming vendors to travellers in bus stations, ship harbors and public marketplaces.
A handful or fistful of rice is poured into a woven heart-shaped bag or pouch made of young coconut leaves and then carefully cooked or steamed in hot water. The cooked rice, which has expanded, fills up the pouch and the package of rice is eaten by slicing open the woven pouch. This traditional packaging obviously predates the modern use of Styrofoam and plastic boxes, and recalls those nostalgic days of pre-Tupperware days when nature (read: leaves, stalks, bamboo, etc…) provides the main materials in food packaging.
Puso may look like a simple pouch of packaged rice but the cooking process is tricky since one has to correctly estimate the water contents, cooking time and amount of rice to avoid overcooking or undercooking the rice, or worse, using too little rice. It takes experience and technique to master making a puso of rice. But the efforts are worth it to impress your ecologically-conscious friends.
Long live native Pinoy packaging methods!
Filed under Food, Traditions