Classic Recipes of the Philippines by Ghillie Basan – review

This rather smart little book looks at the unique traditional food and cooking of the Philippines. But many of us know little of these islands and probably even less about its culinary heritage.

The Philippines are a cluster of islands with its nearest neighbours being Vietnam, China, Malaysia and Indonesia. Its geographic proximity to those culinary giants would guarantee some striking dishes, but then add Spain into the mix and one finds an extraordinary melting-pot.

Classic Philippines Classic Recipes of the Philippines offers 25 authentic dishes that cover some of the most celebrated foods in these islands. There are very few ingredients that would demand a trip to a specialist supermarket but a stock of 3 or 4 Filipino condiments will likely set you up for all of these recipes. There is a vibrant shrimp sauce but nothing much more challenging than that.

The book starts with a soup, Chicken and Ginger Broth with Papaya (Tinolang Manok). The Filipino staple ingredients of garlic and ginger are joined by chilli and green papaya to create a truly delicious and warming soup. It’s a simple dish to prepare but it’s impressive.

Chorizo is a definite influence from Spain, which governed these islands for a couple of hundred years. Here it’s found as part of a beef stew which also includes chickpeas and plantains – available in most supermarkets these days. This is a hearty and exotic bowl with flavours of both East and West.

A Filipino classic

I have always thought of oxtail as a thoroughly British cut of meat and one that seems rather old-fashioned here these days. It’s surprising to see this much-underrated meat included as a Filipino classic called Kare Kare. Here it’s prepared with the less-than-British peanuts, rice flour and banana hearts. Served with shrimp sauce and green mango on the side it’s far more interesting than my Nan’s stew. Definitely one to try.

Adobo is the national dish in the Philippines and it comes via Mexico which was also a Spanish colony. Here it’s a memorable concoction with both pork and chicken, although you could make it with just one or other of these. Vinegar is the key ingredient in Adobo Manok, which is even better the next day.

Filipino cuisine is set to become the next international culinary trend. It has a flavour profile that is attractive to a broad audience and it’s interesting to note that there are now high-end Filipino restaurants opening in major cities to introduce us to the delicious yet unfamiliar flavours of these stunning islands.

Classic Recipes of the Philippines
Authors: Ghillie Basan and Vilma Laus
Published by: Lorenz Books
Price: £4.99
ISBN-10: 0754830497
ISBN-13: 978-0754830498


See other articles about Filipino food and culture here


Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018