Progressive Grocer

Grocerant February 2017

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31 SOLUTIONS FEBRUARY 2017 "Filipino cuisine is replete with nuance, and there are so many different ways to perceive and describe it," says Primo "PJ" Quesada Jr., founder of the Bay Area-based Filipino Food Movement, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating food professionals and the public about foods and flavors from the Philippines. He also serves as vice president of marketing for Ramar Foods, a major producer and supplier of Filipino foods that his grandfather started nearly 50 years ago. e Pittsburg, Calif.-based company supplies house-made and imported Filipino foods and ingredients to more than 600 retail outlets nationwide, including Safeway and Costco. "In its simplicity, it is Southeast Asian cuisine mixed with Spanish influences and cooking techniques, but that al- most paints it too broadly. is is why it's so challenging for Americans and others to describe it," says Quesada. Empanadas e empanada, a staple of Fili- pino cuisine, is a turnover made of pastry dough and filled with ground pork, carrots and other vegetables, then baked or fried. In a departure from the Spanish and South American renditions, Filipino empanadas also incorporate soy and/or oyster sauce. Adobo An unmistakable Filipino delicacy for at least 1,000 years, according to Quesada, adobo features chunks of chicken, pork and/or beef marinated and braised in a rich sauce of garlic, vinegar, soy sauce and black peppercorn and served with jasmine or sticky rice. Legend has it that Mexicans brought in by the Spanish as workers might have had a hand in introducing the dish ("adobo" means "sauce" in Spanish). But travel to the Philippines, and you'll find many regional adobo variations. Southern versions, for example, add coconut milk and more spice, while coastal towns might use fish or shrimp. Lechon Lechon, another unofficial dish of the Philippines, gets its name from the Spanish word for roast- ed suckling pig. Filipinos roast their pigs on open spits until the meat tenderizes and the skin crisps up, and they oen serve the dish with a gravy of liver, soy sauce, garlic, vinegar and sugarcane or brown sugar. But you might also see "lechon" used to describe crispy, rich Filipino pork belly, not unlike the Spanish and South American versions of the dish. At Guerrilla Street Food, a food truck with a new brick- and-mortar location in St. Louis, co-owner Brian Hardesty serves Belly of the Beast, his version of lechon using pork belly glazed with calamansi lemon and fish sauce over coconut milk jasmine rice. Sinigang Tamarind gives sinigang—a brothy soup with tomatoes, garlic and vegetables like long beans, water spinach and sometimes daikon radish—its sour taste. "Sinigang as far as we know is native to the Philippines because of the use of tamarind and has remained unchanged," says Quesada. Lumpia You'll find Chinese influences in lumpia, the classic Filipino-style spring roll. ese tasty nuggets come stuffed with ground pork, garlic, onions and seasonings rolled in special rice paper wrap- pers and typically fried. G Used as preservation agents before refrigeration, vinegars and souring agents come in many forms in Fili- pino cuisine, from coconut, cane and rice vinegars to tamarind and citrus. For example, kinilaw, a ceviche made with vinegar instead of citrus juice, is tradition- ally prepared with crawfish, while longonisa is a cured sausage akin to Spanish chorizo but sweeter and stronger in garlic and sour notes when made Filipino-style using sugar and vinegar. Sour notes Longonisa sausage is similar to chorizo.

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