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Hosting a Filipino Fiesta!

Submitted by Adrian on July 31, 2011 – 10:12 am73 Comments

To me, there is nothing like experiencing a new cuisine. Every bite brings about a childhood like excitement as you anticipate what flavours will come next. Everyone at the table then starts to guess what ingredients are in each dish. Your taste buds get to explore new found territory.

There is no doubt that to many people, Filipino cuisine remains to be a mystery. That being said, a few friends have surprised me often requesting that I cook specific dishes. I’m like “hold up… sista say what? How did you know about Kare Kare?” So I don’t think it’s completely foreign but on the same token, it has got a long way to go in terms of making an impact on the Australian food scene that would make mama proud.

So um, what is Filipino food?

To answer the above question, Cherrie and I joined forces to host a Filipino Fiesta for a few of our friends. I mean, what better way to introduce our cuisine than to host a rockin feast! Fellow bloggers who came for the gorging were Agnes, Penny, Shellie, Thanh, Kat and April.

Cherrie and I agreed that the best way to represent Filipino food is by cooking up traditional signature dishes from our own region/hometown in Philippines. As with all Asian countries, we too have dishes that may not suit the faint hearted (literally!), so drumming up the menu was no easy task but we were pretty damn excited and passionate about our culture which fueled us to  prepare more than a few items between the two of us. Being smack bam in the midst of winter, there were the obvious soup based choices as were the comfort food types. Just to clear things up, by comfort food I mean, fatty food.

Filipino food to me, encompasses the various elements from our surrounding neighbours – especially with our heavy use of coconut milk, ginger and tamarind.

The Four S’s in Asian cooking are evident across our dishes being:

1. SWEET,

2. SALTY,

3. SPICY,

4. SOUR. These vary from one region to another.

In my province, Pampanga, located in Central Luzon, we don’t too many spicy dishes which is why I’ve only grown accustomed to hot dishes in my adult years. Yea boy!

Most Filipino’s follow one cardinal rule: all meat must be well cooked. In fact, my family and friends have their steak well done and would rather eat dirt than swallow beef tataki. Let’s just say that going to a sushi train for dinner would not be ideal….

chicharon

Chicharon (pork crackling!)

Zee Menu

Filipino Fiesta Menu

Here comes the food…

The fiesta was held at Cherrie’s lovely home and by the time it was all set up for the mains, it  certainly looked like one huge ass buffet. But wait, there was more to come not including some sides around the kitchen table like the homemade Chicharon (pork crackling) with vinegar, garlic, chilli and black peppercorn the side for some dipping action made by Cherrie’s mum. So good.

An empty but eager table awaits the feast to come.

Buffet table beforeBefore…

and

After…

Buffet table AFTER shotFilipino feast begins Blogger rule no.1: photos come first, eating comes second.

Lumpiang Shanghai (mini spring rolls)

In every Filipino party, there is Lumpiang Shanghai which are our version of spring rolls. These delicious morsels were made by Cherrie.

Homemade Pork Tocino

Homemade Pork Tocino made by me. This was sort of an experiment. Normally, you would make Pork Tocino using a curing mix. In the Asian grocers, you can find bacon curing powder or Mamasita. I’ll post up the recipe soon, but essentially, I added lemonade (used in many of our dishes), ketchup, sugar, soy sauce, salt, tabasco sauce and lime juice. The pork is boiled then char grilled.

Chicken adobo

Chicken Adobo made by Cherrie. I kept eying this out before everyone started arriving!

chicken tinola with lemon grass and corn cobs

Chicken Tinola with lemon grass and corn made by me. A hearty chicken soup with lots of ginger, garlic, fish sauce and lemongrass.  It’s naturally sweetened by the corn cobs. Grab my recipe here

Dinuguan (pork blood stew)

Remember when I was telling you about those dishes that may not be suitable for the faint hearted? Well, this one of them. But I love Dinuguan which is essentially, pork blood stew made by Cherrie’s mum.

Ginataang Kalabasa (Pumpkin in coconut milk)

Cherrie’s Ginataang Kalabasa – cubes of pumpkin and beans in a creamy coconut milk base. One of my favourite vegetable dishes, sometimes served with prawns as done here.

Desserts

Leche Flan

Leche Flan by Cherrie. This was such a great ending to the meal and was happy to take some home to devour. Leche Flan is one of the most popular desserts back home and if often the trickiest of not done right.

Palitaw sweet rice cake with fresh coconut, sugar and toasted sesame seeds)

I made Palitaw which is sweet rice cakes made of glutinous rice powder and coconut milk topped off with with fresh coconut, sugar and freshly toasted sesame seeds. This is best eaten fresh, so I ran a muck in Cherrie’s kitchen and made it from scratch. The coconut was grated using my mum’s traditional coconut grater where you need to squat down to use it. I’ll post a recipe soon of course.

Coconut Jelly

So pretty ain’t it?! I came back for seconds or was it thirds…eh..who’s counting. Made by Cherrie, I went weak for this Coconut Jelly.

polvoron

An array of childhood treats: Polvoron is a crumbly shortcake made up of milk powder (Kat and I crave this LOL) flour, sugar and butter. The chocolates on the right aren’t your typical chocolates. The texture is dry, similar to Polvoron. There were other sweetish morsels including some deep fried chocolate bars and a pandan chiffon made by Shellie.

Cap off and more feasts!

By the end of the fun filled night, our calorie intake was far beyond its limits and with all the food constantly tempting us, it was impossible to ignore the desserts glaring. I was so full, laughing made my tummy hurt!

Going by traditions, everyone left with some leftovers and an insight into Filipino cuisine. Cherrie and I had a blast hosting and will soon do it again. What came after our feast, was more feasts! Over the few weeks, Agnes hosted Chinese fest, Penny and Shellie hosted Malaysian bling fest then Agnes and Kat hosted an English themed Christmas in July where we all made a little sumthin sumthin – I drummed up a heavy Trifle. Recipe coming soon.

PHILIPPINE FLAG BASED HEROESYou know how I love me COMICS right? Here are all the the Filipino flag based heroes

Have you tried Filipino food?

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Keep eating,

Adrian

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