It’s Philippines Independence Day and to celebrate… Let’s eat. Filipino food is a real culinary culture clash, with its Spanish, Chinese, Malay and American influences.
Rich in flavour and history, Pinoy fusion food is taking over the global cuisine scene with many successful ventures abroad. According to New York Times, Food Network and Bloomberg, it’s the big food trend of the year. And thanks to the wonderfully diverse make-up of Dubai, it’s one we have easy and authentic access to.
If you’re not quite intrepid enough for balut (duck embryo), but want to stretch your culinary net a little further than the iconic Jollibee meals, here are some must-try, kabayan-endorsed Filipino delicacies.
Words: Glaiza Godinez
It’s often called the Philippines’ national dish, and though some might argue, adobo is undeniably a staple in any Filipino dining table.
With it’s name derived from the Spanish word ‘adobar’, which means to marinate, you won’t be surprised to learn the recipe calls for stewing meat in soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, peppercorn and bay leaves, though stewing meat in vinegar also hasAdobo i its native origin.
Adobo is simple enough and almost everyone has their own different way of cooking it. So who makes the best adobo? A safe answer would be your mum, but if you’re having trouble replicating her recipe, almost every Pinoy resto in Dubai has it on the menu.
Gerry’s Grill, which specialises in smoked and grilled food, serves mutton adobo from 12pm-11pm. Al Karama. 04 883 9550.
Shaved ice, sweetened beans, plantains, tapioca, coconut sport, evaporated milk – these are just some of the ingredients that go into this popular dessert.
It’s a crazy concoction often served in a tall glass, then topped with flan, purple yam and ice-cream. Trust us, it’s delicious and brings back memories of hot summer days back home. The trick is to thoroughly mix (halo-halo translates as “mix, mix”) everything together.
The Chowking chain has three options of this dessert at its 14 branches around Dubai. chowking.ae
A speciality from Pampanga – the Filipino province famous for its good food – the original sisig is a dish of chopped meat and other parts (read: liver and jowl) seasoned with chilli, lemon and mayonnaise.
The flavours and chewy to crunchy texture play with the palate and while there are different varieties of sisig, from chicken to milkfish to squid, it’s still best served on a hot, sizzling plate and topped with raw egg.
Try Max’s Restaurant sizzling beef tofu or, if you’re a vegetarian, the straight tofu version. Branches in Dragon Mart, Al Rigga and Mankhool. facebook.com/MaxsRestaurantME
This traditional oxtail and vegetable stew with thick sauce is usually served during special occasions. Mainly because it’s tedious to prepare.
Its yellow-orange colour comes from the annatto seed and peanut butter – or if you’re purist, grounded roasted peanuts. Karekare is best eaten with steamed rice and bagoong (shrimp paste).
If you’re searching for authentic karekare, Barrio Fiesta serves oxtail and seafood options in a traditional clay pot. Salah Al Din. 04 259 6000. 11am-11pm daily.
The Pinoy breakfast of champions. It’s a protein-packed meal of tapa (cured beef), sinangag (garlic fried rice) and itlog (egg, sunny side up), hence, the name.
Drizzle with vinegar and served with a side of tomato or cucumbers. Though a favourite breakfast fare, you can eat it any time of the day.
Tapa King’s cured beef comes in sweet and spicy versions. Find it at the Al Ghurair Centre, BurJuman and City Centre Shindaga facebook.com/TapaKingUAE