Happy New Year everyone! This is the first post of our collaboration with Filipino.Kitchen and The Errant Diner. What better way to start our New Year and new collaboration than with a look at the best of 2014! It's a delicious compilation of the FK's best Filipino foods from last year. Try not to get too full after reading through it, there is more than just seconds on its way!
HUNGRY FOR MORE: BEST EATS OF 2014
(originally published on Filipino.Kitchen) by: Sarahlynn Pablo & Natalia Roxas-Alvarez
Though all our meals of 2014 were amazing in their own right, a select few dishes stood above the rest. Whether the dishes were new-to-us Filipino dishes, interesting twists on familiar classics or the classics done masterfully, certain ones we replay in our memory with a genuine desire to experience those dishes again and rejoin with friends, new and old alike.
NATALIA AND I ARE HUNGRY FOR MORE OF THESE TOP DISHES OF 2014 (HT ANTHONY BOURDAIN). WHAT WERE YOUR TOP FILIPINO DISHES OF LAST YEAR?
CRAB FAT FRIED RICE BY SUNDA, CHICAGO
Do we need to say more than CRAB FAT FRIED RICE?! (No!) At Chicago’s Sunda, Executive Chef Jess De Guzman’s brunch menu offers an ‘assemble yourself -silog’**… with the crab fat (or aligi in Tagalog) fried rice as an option to the standard and much-beloved sinangag, garlic fried rice. The aligi imbues the rice with a reddish-orange tinge and the sharp taste of the crab with its concentrated umami, even as the sweet, tender torn chunks of crab meat are nestled within. Sarahlynn and I had our first taste of this amazing dish during brunch at Sunda for Filipino-American History Month and since then we’ve been hooked!
** Explainer! -Silog is the latter half of the portmanteau used to describe a Filipino breakfast combination dish. For example, tapsilog is tapa (thin-sliced, cured steak), sinangag (the garlic fried rice), itlog (eggs). Tapsilog = TAPa + SInanag + itLOG. Other -Silogs include longsilog (with longganisa, a sweet spicy sausage), bangsilog (with bangus or milkfish), spamsilog (yes, it’s what you think it means!).
GRILLED EGGPLANT KULAWO (BURNT COCONUT CREAM) BY PURPLE YAM, NEW YORK CITY
KULA-WHOA! According to Chef Romy Dorotan of Purple Yam, kulawo [burnt coconut cream], pronounced koo-lah-WUO, originates from San Pablo, Laguna. Said Natalia, “It is such a shame that my maternal side of my family is from Laguna, and I didn’t even know about this! I was a picky eater.” Kulawo is not a well known Filipino dish, but we think it should be. Who says Filipino food is all about meat?! This tasty vegetarian dish will not leave carnivores wanting. The savory appetizer takes the smoky flavor of grilled talong (eggplant) and cuts it with the creaminess of the coconut. How to burn coconut cream? Take freshly grated coconut flesh and place the embers of burnt coconut husk directly on top. With a cheesecloth, squeeze the milk from the mixture. The burned coconut cream is served as a warm dressing to the grilled talong, thinly sliced ampalaya (bittermelon), cherry tomatoes and greens. Brilliant.
MAJA BLANCA (CORN & COCONUT PUDDING) PANCAKES BY SO GOOD AND DELICIOUS’S RICE AND SHINE
Chef AC Boral’s amazing reinterpretation of a Pampangan holiday dessert is a creamy, sweet, coconutty corn kernel syrup on a stack of warm, fluffy pancakes, with a perfect counterpoint of blueberries. Trust me, we wanted to lick the pot clean after Chef AC gave us a sample. Chef AC’s traveling Filipino brunch takes American brunch classics and puts a special Pinoy twist.
SMOKED BANGUS BY MILKFISH, NEW ORLEANS
When in Rome… or New Orleans, in this case. When a chef/owner stakes her name on a single ingredient or a dish, that is what you have to get. In some restaurants, it’s a bit of a gimmick to get customers to order the house special, which is sometimes overpriced and not that special. Not in this case. You will order the eponymous bangus [milkfish] from Chef Cristina Quackenbush’s restaurant in New Orleans’ Mid-City neighborhood, and you will love it. A whole bangus is smoked to a pearlescent gold. The firm, tender meat [hardly} is so well-flavored, it’s transcendent. Add some drops of the thai chili vinegar sawsawan (dipping sauce), to level everything up. You will eat the skin, too. Nothing was left for the cats (as my late father used to joke) except the fins, a little pile of the bangus’ fine, long bones, and the skull. Take the streetcar from the French Quarter to Milkfish. You will thank me.
SINIGANG BY MILKFISH, NEW ORLEANS
Rich and layered like the way of a great jambalaya built on a dark roux and great andouille. Soured so good, it hurts so sweetly. These are the words that come to mind when I think of Chef Quackenbush’s pork rib sinigang at her New Orleans restaurant, Milkfish. Heavy on the tamarind, the dark broth packs a punch to your pucker. Quackenbush’s childhood at the apron strings of her mother on her grandmother’s Indiana farm, where she learned how to grow and raise product and livestock and the practical, frugal ways of agriculturalists. No waste of the scraps from the butcher’s table or the vegetable cutting board. In they go, into the stock.
SINIGANG BY PURPLE YAM, NEW YORK CITY
There is nothing more comforting than a bowl of sinigang (lobster, leeks, gourd, lemon, tomato, guava) with steaming jasmine rice on a cold day/night. Purple Yam’s sinigang is clean, sour, fresh and educational. At least for me, as all thesinigang I have ever known is out of a packet, while this was made with fresh ingredients to develop the sour taste instead of relying on freeze dried seasonings. This delicate balance of flavors was very refreshing and comforting.
ADOBO BAO BY KUMA INN, NEW YORK CITY
To anyone who needs an introduction to Filipino cuisine, you will always — and I mean ALWAYS — be served adobo, usually a chicken or pork adobo, to be your first ever Filipino dish. Kuma Inn’s adobo bao is just a party in your mouth with some tender shredded pork adobo nuzzled in between a steamed rice bun and topped with shredded pickled carrots. Just writing this makes me want to have some. Thanks, Chef King!
TAPA NORI TACO FROM PURPLE YAM, BROOKLYN
As I type this, I am salivating for one! — Tender garlicky beef tapa, with heritage rice from the Cordilleras mountains in the northern Philippines, pomelo, orange, persimmons and spring greens on top encased with crispy fried nori, seaweed instead of tortilla. This is a taco that I can definitely eat a lot and all the time.
BIBINGKA FROM CHEF CHRISSY CAMBA OFMADDY’S DUMPLING HOUSE
Nothing spells Christmas more in the Philippines than bibingka (a type of rice cake made of rice flour, and coconut milk). The only reason I love going to church during the yuletide season is I look forward to eating after it. During Chef Chrissy Camba’s pop-up dinner last December 15, 2014 we were served some bibingka,leche flan and her lola‘s (grandmother) fruit salad for dessert and I wanted more…a lot more of it!
LONGGANISA SCOTCH EGGS FROM SGDFOOD’S RICE AND SHINE
If Voltes V were actually Voltes II and instead of an evil fighting robot collective it were a breakfast food collective, that would be longganisascotch eggs. (You 70s and 80s Pinoy dub anime peeps feel me.) Chef AC Boral of so good and delicious and Filipino Kitchen (ahem!) is the auteur of this slightly sweet & spiced pork sausage encasing a soft boiled egg, panko-breaded and deep fried.
ADOBO RAMEN BURGER BY LUMPIA SHACK, NEW YORK CITY
Here is another variation of adobo in form of a ramen burger. The ramen burger phenomenon started two summers ago in Smorgasburg byKeizo Shimamoto who also supplies Lumpia Shack’s ramen buns! This tasty burger partnered withsinigang chips (made of kropek, shrimp cracker made out of pulverized shrimp and rice flour, and sinigang powder flavor dusted on the chips) is a craving that will never be sated until I go back to NYC.
BELLYCHON BY CHEF CHRISSY CAMBA OF MADDY’S DUMPLING HOUSE, CHICAGO
If you can’t have a full pig, well why not buy the best part and roast it just like how you would roast a whole one — introducing Pork Bellychon! (belly + lechon = bellychon) This dish, which we enjoyed at Chef Camba’s recent Filipino Pork Christmas dinner, doesn’t take away any flavors of a traditional Filipino whole-pig lechon.
SUNDA SUNDAE A.K.A. HALO-HALO FROM SUNDA, CHICAGO
GAME-CHANGER! The Sunda sundae is the holy grail of Halo-Halo outside the Philippines. We have tasted our fair share of halo-halo and came to a conclusion that Sunda’s version is just simply divine. Layers of calamansi granita, flan, red mung beans, nata de coco, jackfruit strips, condensed milk, 3 scoops of ice cream (avocado, ube, maiz con queso) … I do not care if it is in the dead of winter, I want it.
CRISPY PATA FRIES BY LUMPIA SHACK, NEW YORK CITY
My heart says ‘no,’ but my tummy says yes! The crispy pata** fries are a perfect beer-match on a hot summer day. It is decadent, crispy and succulent. Just make sure you follow the motto: “Sharing is caring”
**Crispy Pata = Filipino dish consisting of deep fried pig trotters or knuckles
UNIPALABOK BY MAHARLIKA, NEW YORK CITY
Pancit palabok, my favorite noodle dish, is staunchly, unabashedly fishy. Normally it’s a multi-layered dish, with head-on shrimp and tinapa or dried fish flakes, annato or poor man’s saffron, chicharron (fried pork skin) and some sliced hard boiled eggs for garnish. But sometimes less is more. From the kitchen of owner Nicole Ponseca and Chef Miguel Trinidad at New York City’s Maharlika,palabok takes on the very sumptuous uni, theyellow-orange gonads or sex organsof a sea urchin. It’s briny fishyness combined with its peanut butter-like creaminess, as the palabok sauce that covers the round rice noodles, is something either you love or hate. The uni palabok is garnished with more luxurious whole uni and a dusting of tinapa and microgreens. For me, it’s love.
WHERE TO FIND THE HUNGRY FOR MORE LIST
Sunda, 10 W. Illinois, Chicago, IL 60654. (312) 644-0500
NEW YORK CITY AND SURROUNDS
Purple Yam, 1314 Cortelyou Road, Brooklyn, NY 11226. (718) 940-8188
Maharlika, 111 First Avenue, New York City, NY 10003. (646) 392-7880
Kuma Inn, 113 Ludlow Street, New York, NY 10002. (212) 353-8866
Lumpia Shack, 50 Greenwich Avenue, New York, NY 10014. (917) 475-1621
Milkfish, 125 N. Carrollton Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70119. (504) 267-4199
SO GOOD & DELICIOUS RICE & SHINE (POP-UP)
ABOUT OUR # FKEDUP COLLABORATORS!
With this collaboration Pilipino American Unity for Progress (UniPro) aims to push forward the Filipino Food Movement. Engaging Filipino Americans in not only dialogue, creation but also consumption of some of their favorite and least favorite dishes will explore where Filipino Cuisine stands and where Filipino Cuisine is heading.
Throughout Paolo Espanola's childhood years in Saudi Arabia, his teen years in a seminary in rural Wisconsin, his collegiate tribulations in Minnesota, and finally in the concrete jungle of New York, food has always been a large part of his life. Paolo has dabbled in blogging, catering, and throwing pop-up dinners as The Errant Diner. Check out his blog for all things food, from philosophical rants, culinary techniques, event reviews, and the occasional recipe.
Through our cuisine, Filipino Kitchen connects Filipinos everywhere with our cultural heritage and the possibilities of our shared future. Filipino Kitchen documents with photography, interviews, stories and recipes, the makers and appreciators of Filipino cuisine and its continuing evolution. Currently based in Chicago and Southern California, we cook our delicious cuisine and share it with our communities at pop-up brunches, dinners and other food events. Through connecting across the diaspora with our shared love and pride of our food, we hope to lead a long-coming renaissance. The masterminds and masterhearts behind Filipino Kitchen are three Filipino Americans: writer Sarahlynn Pablo, photographer Natalia Roxas-Alvarez and chef AC Boral of so good & delicious. Filipino Kitchen is online at http://filipino.kitchen and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
The Errant Diner: Twitter/Instagram: @errant_diner
Filipino Kitchen Twitter/Instagram: @filipinokitchen
UniPro Twitter/Instagram: @unipronow