A Filipino Sunday

One of the many things I enjoy about living in Australia is the opportunity to befriend people from other places who have also made this country home.

One such group are my officemates. They’re mostly from Britain or other parts of Europe and recently admitted to me that they knew very little about my archipelago and had never actually tried Filipino food. I decided to make it my mission to change that.

I slaved away in our kitchen on Saturday night and Sunday morning, making sure every meal was made from scratch and authentic. I asked a number of people on Twitter to suggest dishes they thought foreigners would enjoy and I decided on these four for the main course.

Allow me to walk you through my menu:

Enseladang Talong: This refreshing side salad of roasted eggplants, chopped tomatoes and diced onions is the perfect pairing to most Filipino meat dishes. It also adds a nice splash of colour to your table. I made a vinaigrette using white vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper and a little bit of sugar.

The verdict: My friends kept commenting on the smokey flavour of the eggplant, up to the point that I was worried it was too strong for them. But I noticed them going back for seconds anyway.

Gising-Gising: Two friends on Twitter recommended that I add this dish to my menu and I’m glad I listened. The creaminess from the coconut milk and the spice from the chillies added a whole new level of flavours to the feast. Best of all, it’s fairly easy to prepare. Click here for the recipe I used.

The verdict: This was my British friend Ruth’s favourite. The bowl we put beside her was polished clean before she jumped in for her second (and third) serving of everything else. She preferred to call it ‘wake up- wake up’.

Pancit: A salute to our Chinese heritage and a dish offered in almost every city. This noodle staple had to be included. I had to use lemons instead of calamansi, but I think it still came out fairly good. Click here for the recipe I used.

The verdict: My friends seemed to enjoy this quite a bit and did the whole squeeze the lemon part too.

Adobo: I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. It is our duty as Filipinos to introduce as many people to adobo. No initiation to Filipino food would be complete without tasting our unofficial, yet perfect, national dish. I have to say, I make a pretty mean adobo. I intentionally made it the night before so that the meat could really be infused with the sauce.

The verdict: One of my officemates said it was like a party in her mouth.

Because I am adamant that everyone should try adobo, click here for the recipe I used.

(update: since migrating my site to WordPress, that link to my recipe is no longer available. Fortunately, I had given permission for another online site to use it so I was able to find a screen grab. Phew! Here it is below)

Adobo - CatJL

These four dishes were chosen based on popularity back home, taste variety, textures and colours.

It’s always bothered me a little when people say that Filipino food isn’t internationally recognised because it’s often brown and lacking in flavour options. Admittedly, we do have a lot of meaty stews but I think we can also offer dishes that are really gorgeous and bursting with a smorgasboard of tastes and colours.

Has anyone else introduced Filipino food to their foreign friends? Would love to hear about it.

All photos shot in our apartment

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