I lived in the Philippines for a little bit of my twenties. It was a great experience and I really enjoyed the culture, the people, and the food. I didn’t love the food at first because a lot of the food locals make is not very good (due to low budgets). They would cook chicken with all the bones in it and it tasted good but I wasn’t used to it. Let me tell you first about the grossest foods I had in the Philippines. The worst I could remember was in a hut in the mountains, this very nice lady asked if we were hungry and we were so we said yes. She pulled out “chicken curry” of course we were excited, but when we opened our covered plates it was all chicken heads with their red dangly things still on their heads. It was cold and so gross. You pull the skin off the head and eat that first. Then, eat this really rubbery dangle thing, that really was just chewy and gross. I think the actual worst part is that you are supposed to find the ear hole and suck really hard. When you do this the brain pops and a lot of brain juices fill your mouth and yeah it’s very gross. I won’t go into detail on the next few but I also did not like the squid it almost seemed as though they salt a food that is already naturally very salty and lastly, liver was very gross.
Alright, now to the real story. I learned how to cook from my friend who is Filipino his name was Dustin Baticbatic ( a very Filipino name). He knew very classic ways of how to cook Filipino dishes. We started to make lunch every single day and he would teach me something new each lunch break that we had. We started to learn how we start to cook. They almost always start by sautéing onions and garlic. I learned that quick and then I started learning how to cook my favorite foods. My absolute favorite Filipino food is Sinagang (pictured above, go to the link in the picture for a great recipe). I highly recommend trying this recipe and you will probably love it. It is a very unique flavor that I have never had before. The base of the flavor that makes it so unique comes from tamarinds (a tropical fruit). It is amazing all the vegetables in the dish soak up the broth and it tastes absolutely amazing. This is a big reason I started learning to cook Filipino food. Dustin taught me after I said I wanted to learn Sinigang.
Adobo is easily my second favorite dish that Dustin taught me how to make. Let me tell you why. There are so many ways to make Adobo. The main thing you have to do is cook chicken or pork in soy sauce and vinegar, that alone is technically Adobo. You can season it however you want. Check out the link in the picture above to see how they make Adobo. They add a twist by making it with coconut. I have seen probably twenty different ways to make Adobo. I have seen people replace sugar with soda. I have seen Adobo with no sauce and I have seen it with more sauce than meat. It’s the most forgiving meal I have ever made and it looks impressive as you make it. I have also noticed that it is probably most Americans favorite meal. When Dustin taught me how to make this I was in heaven. It’s always important to remember how the Filipinos prepare it. They prepare it with the Adobo in a separate dish and rice in another and you use a fork and a spoon to eat it. Spoon for the rice and fork for the chicken. A bonus dish that I really enjoy is Bicol Express which is spicy, pork, coconut blend of a dish. It is a very exotic dish. I really hope you all try all these dishes. I hope you enjoyed this story of what I love and how I learned to cook it. Special thanks to Dustin for the amazing cooking skills.