Bistek (a corrupt or Filipinised word for beef steak) is the Filipino version of beef steak and yet totally different in terms of taste and preparation. Unlike the Western version of beef steak with its medium rare preparation or cooking, Filipinos are not fond of half-cooked meat and prefer it well-done.
Bistek is a well-loved and popular meat dish and uses chunks or thick slices of tender beef, which are slowly cooked or fried in finely sliced onions, a handful of garlic, a spoonful of soya sauce and some drops of kalamansi (Philippine lemon) to taste. The onions are slowly fried or caramelised until tender and mixed or slowly combined with the beef. Sliced white onion rings are used as garnishing. The sauce is slowly stirred and is often thickened. Bistek is a fine accompaniment for rice steamed or boiled with fragrant pandan stalks.
Photo by Backpacking Philippines
Binagol (BEE-Nah-GOL) is a Waray dessert made from a mixture of talyan (a type of root crop similar to gabi), coconut milk and sugar placed or poured into coconut shells or “bagol” (in Waray) and then steamed until cooked.
Binagol, although mostly made in Dagami town, can be found and are sold in Tacloban City and other parts of eastern Leyte region. With a ‘coco-nutty’ sweet taste, binagol is a popular food souvenir for visitors. The coconut shell not only makes an attractive, ecologically-sound packaging but also preserves the freshness of binagol. One can also eat directly from the coconut shell, making this dessert a very handy, filling and tasty snack-on-the-go.
Mabuhay ang binagol!
Uncooked pirurutong rice (above) and the cooked pirurutong suman or rice cake
Pirurutong rice is a purple-brown aromatic rice which is often used in many rice cakes due to its soft and glutinous consistency when cooked.
Pirurutong can also be ground into a flour, which is then used in making the Christmas rice cakes called “puto bungbong” (although many puto bungbong makers nowadays use regular rice flour with artificial purple coloring).
Suman na pirurutong (pirurutong rice cake) is cooked ‘biko’ style which is basically steaming the pirurutong rice mixed with undiluted coconut cream and later topped with coco jam.
Depending on the region or the cook, there are several versions of the pirurutong suman with some cooks using crushed ginger to flavor the steamed rice or squeezing a few drops of kalamansi (Philippine lemon) to add a zesty taste to the rice cake.
Photo: Our Awesome Planet blog
There are several types or versions of a chicken binakol recipe in the Philippines depending on place or region.
In Batangas province, Luzon, the famous Batangas native chicken is used for their Chicken binakol and is cooked in a bamboo tube to seal in the juices. In the Visayas region their version of Chicken Binakol is to simmer the chicken with tanglad or pandan leaves in the coconut shell itself. A popular native dish, chicken binakol is popular in the provinces where coconuts are abundant. The combination of coconut juice and ginger gives this stew a flavourful and unique taste.
Chicken Binakol ingredients are one dressed chicken, chopped onions, minced garlic, young coconut water or juice, a node of bamboo tube and salt to taste. The shell of a young coconut is also used to serve this tasty dish.
Pinasugbo is a popular banana dessert in the Visayas region, central Philippines. Saba or plantain bananas are thinly sliced, deep fried to a crisp, and coated in thick cane sugar and lightly coated or sprinkled with sesame seeds.
One often finds pinagsugbo sold in bus stations, small stores and in public markets. The banana slices stick together, and are mostly wrapped in paper or plastic to make eating easier. Decades ago before the popularity of modern plastic packaging, pinasugbo are wrapped in banana leaves. Unfortunately, pinasugbo is among the traditional Pinoy desserts that are being sidelined by more modern pastries and imported candies.
But to those who spent their childhood eating pinagsubo as pasalubong (homecoming gift), nothing can replace the nostalgia or remembrances brought by this very original and tasty Pinoy banana treat.
Mabuhay ang pinasugbo!
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