Authentic Recipes from the Philippines by Reynaldo Alejandro – review

This is a unique book considering a cuisine little known in Europe. How frequently do we say “let’s go out for a Filipino”? Not often, although the dishes would indeed appeal to Europeans as well as Asians.

asian cookbook review Philippines The Philippine archipelago is part of Southeast Asia and its location has allowed for cultural and culinary influences from Malays, Arabs, Chinese, Spaniards, Americans, Japanese and others. The Philippines consists of more than 7000 islands and occupies an area of 1,850 square kilometres, and they can boast one of the longest coastlines of any country in the world; therefore most Filipinos live on or near the coast.

Trade with Hokkien China was evident as early as the Song dynasty (1279 – 960 BC), long before the arrival of the Europeans. China introduced a number of staple foods such as soy, tofu, bean sprouts, and fish sauce. The Spanish added produce from the New World: chillies, tomatoes, corn, potatoes. Spanish and Mexican dishes such as paella were eventually adopted into Philippine cuisine.

Authentic Recipes from the Philippines will inspire any lover of good food. It has the vibrancy and culinary complexity of many Asian cuisines but with those additional elements from the West. It’s a gastronomic landscape that has evolved and grown over the centuries and it’s the richer for it. There is much that is familiar but there is still more that will intrigue and excite the reader.

There are several favourite recipes for practical and exotic meals here. Cuban-style Rice with Meat Sauce and Plantains – Arroz la Cubana – needs no special ingredients apart from the plantains, which you can find in many high-street supermarkets or Asian or West Indian stores. An attractive dish that even the kids will love. No expensive cuts of meat, just minced pork and minced beef. A considerable step up from your regular Wednesday night Spag Bol.

Overnight marinade time is important

Chicken Adobo with Turmeric and Coconut Milk is the national dish of the Philippines. If you have enjoyed dishes from Goa or Kerala then you will appreciate this one. A simple preparation but that overnight marinade time is important. A good recipe to make in advance for a dinner party as well as a family meal. Reduce the number of chillies for the young or timid.

Some rather classy desserts from Cafe Ysabel in Manila are offered, and these would work as a finale for either an Asian or European meal. Caramel-coated Egg Nuggets – Yema – are golden balls made from egg yolks and evaporated milk, a much under-appreciated ingredient. These are said to last up to 2 weeks in the fridge but it’s unlikely you’ll have to keep them that long.

Authentic Recipes from the Philippines will be a joy to Asian food aficionados. The ingredients are for the most part familiar, and those few that are unique to the Philippines can be found at specialist Asian stores or online. A fascinating addition to any serious cookbook collection.

Authentic Recipes from the Philippines
Author: Reynaldo G. Alejandro
Published by: Periplus
Price: £15.50
ISBN-10: 079460238X
ISBN-13: 978-0794602383


See other articles about Filipino food and culture here


Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018