Sunday, May 29, 2011

Chips – List of Philippine Chips

Philippine chips one usually finds in supermarkets are made from flour or corn. While there have been locally made potato chips on the market as well, it is only relatively recently that Filipino brands have produced somewhat decent potato chips. One can also find native Philippine snacks like banana chips, chicharon, and dried mango, pineapple, and papaya chips, but they're usually found in a different section of the supermarket or, maybe along with more esoteric fare like coconut chips and kamote chips, in a specialty shop.

Universal Robina Corporation

Jack 'n Jill
  • Chippy
  • Chiz Curls
  • Mr. Chips
  • Nova
  • Piattos
  • Pic-A
  • Sea Crunch
  • Spuds
  • Taquitos
  • Tostillas
  • Vcut
Granny Goose
  • Kornets
  • Tortillos

  • Kirei
  • Marty's Cracklin'
  • Oheya!
  • Oishi Prawn Crackers
  • Oishi Potato Chips
  • Oishi Ridges

  • Clover Chips

  • Cheese Ball
  • Cheese Ring
  • Labzter
  • Snaku
  • Sweet Corn
  • Tempura

Friday, May 27, 2011

Philippine Fish Species - List of Common Fish in the Philippines

A list of Philippine fish names in English and Filipino (Tagalog), with some scientific names and fish pictures to help identify particular Filipino fish species found in local fish markets:

Other Fish:
  • Ataba - archerfish 
  • Balo - needlefish
  • Bolador - flying fish (e.g. Cypselurus opisthopus)  
  • Kansusuit - garfish  
  • Maming - wrasse
  • Paru-parong dagat - butterflyfish

Mollusks, Crustaceans, and other Shellfish:
  • Alimasag - crab Portunidae spp. (e.g. blue swimmer crab, Portunus pelagicus), coral crab (Charybdis feriatus)
  • Alimango - mud crab
    • Putian / bulik - Indo-Pacific swamp crab / mangrove king crab (Scylla serrata)
    • Pulahan - orange mud crab (Scylla olivacea)
  • Alupihang-dagat - mantis shrimp  
  • Banagan - spiny lobster (e.g. Panulirus ornatus)
  • Canoos / hibya - cuttlefish
  • Curacha - spanner crab / red frog crab (Ranina ranina)
  • Diwal - Pacific angelwing clam (Pholas orientalis)
  • Halaan - clam (e.g. Manila clam / Japanese carpet shell, Ruditapes philippinarum)
    • Tulya - Asian clam (Corbicula fluminea previously also known as Corbicula manilensis)
  • Hipon - shrimp (e.g. whiteleg shrimp, Penaeus vannamei)
    • Swahe / suahe - endeavor prawn (e.g. red endeavor prawn / greasy back shrimp, Metapenaeus ensis)
  • Kuhol - snail (Pila luzonica)
  • Pitik-pitik - slipper lobster (e.g. Thenus orientalis)
  • Pugita - octopus
  • Pusit - squid
    lumot squid in a round plastic container
    Pusit lumot
    • Pusit Bisaya - smaller pink-speckled squid (Indian squid - Loligo duvauceli [?])
    • Pusit lumot - larger dark-speckled squid (bigfin reef squid - Sepioteuthis lessoniana [?])
  • Sugpo - prawn (e.g. Penaeus monodon)
  • Susô - snail
  • Tahong - mussel (e.g. Perna viridis)
  • Talaba - oyster (e.g. Crassostrea iredalei)
  • Talangka - shore crab (Varuna litterata)
  • Tuyom - sea urchin
  • Ulang - giant freshwater prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii), crayfish, lobster

Other Sea Creatures and Aquatic Species:
  • Arosep / lato - sea grape seaweed (Caulerpa lentillifera, Caulerpa racemosa
  • Balatan - sea cucumber
  • Balyena - whale
  • Bulate - sea worm
  • Butanding - whale shark (Rhincodon typus)
  • Dikya - jellyfish 
  • Guso - seaweed (e.g. Eucheuma spp.)
  • Pagi - ray
  • Pating - shark


In the Philippines fish are called isda.  There are many varieties and kinds of fish.  The country's tropical climate and coral reefs make its waters located near the center of the Coral Triangle among the richest in marine life anywhere providing a bounty of fresh Philippine seafood and an assortment of tropical fish.  According to some estimates 5% of the world's reef area is in Philippine waters and the marine fish in the area represent 20% of the total marine fish in the world.

Fishing is an important source of livelihood for many Filipinos. In 1998 around 3% of the country's labor force was involved in the Philippine fishing industry which contributed to about 3.6% of the GDP composition.  Commercial fishing operations produce most of the catch but a growing percentage comes from aquaculture / mariculture.  An ordinary Filipino consumes around 98.6 grams of fish or fish products a day making it the primary source of protein in the Filipino diet. The Philippines being a predominantly Christian nation, fish are especially popular during Lent.

The best time to buy fish is early in the morning.  Philippine fishing boats bring their catch to places like the Navotas Fish Port Complex (the largest in the country)  while it is still dark.  From there fish are distributed to local markets.
Maya-maya, samaral, and pampano - Philippine fish
Maya-maya, Samaral, and Pampano

Naming of Philippine Fish

Filipino fish names can get confusing very quickly.  Different names can be given to the same fish and a name can be applied to multiple fish—and that's just in the same dialect and region.  Given the various Philippine languages and the disparate islands comprising the archipelago, custom and usage varies and contradictions frequently crop up.  In Metro Manila, Tagalog is the dominant language but because of the influx of people from the provinces, local names and regional names from other parts of the country like the Visayas or Ilocos or even other Tagalog provinces with their own name variants are sometimes used in Manila wet markets.

Alumahan - Philippine fish

Hasa-hasa also called kabayas - Philippine fish
Alumahan and Hasa-hasa

Alumahan can apparently be used in some places to refer to Rastrelliger brachysoma as well as Rastrelliger kanagurta but my local fishmonger will say that is simply wrong and that the two are distinctOn the other hand he will accept that different Philippine fish species can each be called salay-salay.  Kalapato is an alternative name not only for certain salay-salay but also talakitok.


Some sources seem to indicate that talakitok and maliputo largely refer to the same species, but others make a distinction. According to one explanation, talakitok grows in seawater while maliputo grows in freshwater. Maliputo seems to have a reputation for being a good food fish comparable to that of the maya-maya that talakitok does not.

Maliputo and Maya-maya

Lapad translates as wide in Filipino and is often used to describe and differentiate Caesio cuning from Pterocaesio digrammadalagang bukid (lapad) and dalagang bukid (bilog) respectively.  But lapad is also used as a common name for various short flat and wide sardinellas like Sardinella albella, Sardinella brachysoma, and Sardinella fimbriata; although in those cases it may also be to differentiate them from tamban, narrower and rounder sardines.  Even though a source I'm looking at says lawlaw and silinyasi refer to different sardinella, I wouldn't be surprised if in practice the terms along with lapad and tunsoy are actually being used interchangeably for the similar looking fish species.  Tawilis is also used for these sardinella but it is a name probably most properly reserved for the Philippine freshwater fish specie endemic to Lake Taal.  Sardines are popular fish for canning, smoking and drying.  Tinapa is the Filipino term for smoked fish while tuyo is the Filipino word for dry and is also used for dried fish. The town of Rosario, Cavite previously called Salinas (derived from sal Spanish for salt) is known for its tinapa and tuyo, so smoked or dried fish are sometimes referred to as salinas.

Danggit - Philippine fish

According to sources danggit refer to rabbitfish, spinefoots, and members of the family Siganidae in general and can thus be applied to samaral.  But in my local wet market at least danggit refers to what looks like mottled spinefoot (Siganus fuscescens) and samaral refers pretty specifically to orange-spotted spinefoot (Siganus guttatus).  [Which may also be goldlined spinefoot (Siganus lineatus).  The two species seem to interbreed and may be one and the same.]   Then again some consider the samaral a malaga while others seem to consider them distinctly different fish.  Elsewhere in the Philippines, members of the Siganidae family can also be called kitang; while in my area kitang is the name for scats which are in the family Scatophagidae.

Kitang and Tulingan - Philippine fish
Kitang and Tulingan

The names tulingan and tambakol, both often referring to bluish-tinged tuna, are sometimes interchanged with one another or used to refer to tuna in general.  But tulingan usually refers to smaller tuna while tambakol gets applied to larger ones. Bariles is another common fish name, taken from the Spanish word for barrel, that is used for large tuna. Tatampal is one name used for flounder but has also been seen to refer to mantis shrimp.

Restaurants and Dishes

In paluto restaurants with fresh or live fish to select from, maya-maya and lapu-lapu are popular premium fish choices.  A Philippine fish recipe that would work well with these fish is to cook them escabeche.  Red tilapia, sometimes presented as "kingfish", has also been observed in some fish and seafood restaurants.  It's a possibly misleading fish since its red pigmentation may lead those unfamiliar with it to mistake it for maya-maya, and "kingfish" is a designation that has been used for tanigue, but red tilapia is not as highly valued as either of those fish.  Red tilapia is a hybrid fish created by fish farmers.  Tilapia is an introduced species in the country grown in fish cages and fish ponds largely used in aquaculture because of its fast reproduction leading it to be called "chicken of the sea".  

Red tilapia

At restaurants where fresh or live fish are not available, the usual unspecified nameless white fish in fillet form that has apparently become the default is the so-called "cream dory" also called "river cobbler".  This is actually a fish from the family Pangasius, imported and usually described elsewhere as Vietnamese catfish with the names swai, basa, or tra referring to different species.  At Filipino restaurants bangus is usually available somewhere in the menu.  Blue marlin also pops up with some frequency as does gindara.  Bacalao is a term taken from Spanish that is used for cod.  Salmon although imported and more expensive has also become popular.  


Although the Philippine fish identified on the main list are believed to be sold in markets one needs to take care with unfamiliar fish.  One species may be safe while another in the same family may not be.  Even among those fish that are widely eaten some need to be prepared or handled a certain way prior to cooking and eating for them to be safe.  Scombroid fish poisoning with symptoms similar to an allergic reaction is associated with tunas, mackerels, mahi-mahi, and marlin that have spoiled resulting in the release of histamines which are unaffected by cooking.  There are also reports of ciguatera poisoning with some species.  Red tide toxins are a danger related to harmful algal blooms.  The Philippine government issues red tide alerts from time to time to warn about the harvesting, buying, selling and eating of seafood from certain areas.

More information

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Nilagang baka – Philippine beef stew

Nilagang baka or beef nilaga means boiled beef in Filipino and in the Philippines refers most commonly to a dish of boiled beef with vegetables in a soupy broth.  It is a simple hearty Filipino stew, a prime example of Filipino home cooking (lutong bahay).  The easy recipe using common ingredients found in almost any Filipino kitchen makes it a popular Filipino dish.


The beef and green leafy vegetables such as cabbage (repolyo), napa cabbage (petsay wombok), and/or bok choy (petsay) are usually cut into fairly large chunks and stewed in a broth (sabaw) flavored with onions (sibuyas), fish sauce (patis) and black peppercorns (paminta).  Potatoes (patatas), green beans (bitsuelas) and/or saba bananas are sometimes added; there is nilagang baka with chunks of corn on the cob too. The cut of beef usually used is one suitable for stewing. For a nilagang baka recipe beef shin (also called beef shank) is a good choice and maybe beef brisket.  

Beef Nilaga: Soup or Stew?

Sometimes nilagang baka is referred to in English as a beef soup, probably because of its light watery broth but, with its ingredients usually cut into large chunks, it can also be considered closer to a beef stew.  It is often served in an earthenware bowl called a palayok from which the nilagang baka is ladled into bowls for each individual, then eaten with rice over which the broth is often drizzled.  Sometimes the big leafy vegetables are cooked separately and combined with the rest of the dish just before serving or at the table.

Nilagang Bulalo

A version of the dish including bones and marrow is called nilagang bulalo.  The beef bones and marrow of the nilagang bulalo recipe add fatty content and calories but give the stock a richer deeper flavor.  A nilagang bulalo restaurant is called a bulaluhan.  Tagaytay and Batangas are known for such Filipino food eateries.

Cooking Tips

In cooking nilagang baka, one might wish to take the preliminary step of first boiling the beef in some water that is then removed (i.e. blanching the beef) before refilling the pot or dutch oven with more water and continuing to cook the stew proper. This cooking procedure helps remove or reduce beef scum that will otherwise need to be ladled out to prevent it from giving the dish a gamey taste and aroma. Some cooks, however, feel the blanching process removes too much flavor and are willing to put up with the more tedious process of removing the scum.

For the first heating, the beef should be brought to a boil quickly.  The temperature should then be lowered and the beef left to simmer for a long time at a low temperature.  If the beef is left too long at a high temperature it is more likely to turn out tough instead of tender.


Similar to nilagang baka is kansi an Ilonggo dish that incorporates batuan fruit.  Another dish with overlapping characteristics is puchero which is usually distinguished by the addition of tomato sauce and saba bananas which sweeten the dish.  Nilagang baka also seems to have parallels with Austrian tafelspitz and Irish (Irish-American?) corned beef and cabbage, a resemblance that becomes more pronounced in nilagang baka versions that use corned beef as has become the fashion in some local restaurants.

Nilagang baka is said to be a favorite of Manny Pacquiao's and is part of his eating regimen when preparing for a bout.

If ever left with some beef shin but falling short of the aromatics required for pho or Chinese red cooked stew and not knowing what to else cook, nilagang baka is an option.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Philippine Rice Varieties

List of Rice Varieties in the Philippines

A few of the popular varieties found and sold in local markets:

  • Dinurado / Denorado
  • Intan
  • Milagrosa
  • Sinandomeng
  • Wag-Wag
  • C4 (UPLB C4-63G)
  • IR36
  • IR42
  • IR64
Some less known:

  • Angelica (NSIC Rc 122)
  • Apostol 
  • Azmil
  • Azucena
  • Balatinao
  • Baysilanon
  • Bigante
  • Binirhen
  • Binicol
  • Binulawan
  • Bugos
  • Bunto Kabayo
  • Burdagol
  • Chayong
  • Davao
  • Delhlinla
  • Dinalaga
  • Dumali
  • Elon-elon
  • Ennano
  • Fortuna 
  • Ginilingan Puti
  • Guinangang
  • Inadhica
  • Inuruban
  • Kalinayan
  • Kasungsung
  • Kinanda
  • Kinastano
  • Macan I 
  • Macan Binundok
  • Macaraniag
  • Magilas
  • Magsanaya
  • Makapilay pusa
  • Mangarez
  • Masipag
  • Milbuen
  • Milfor
  • Milketan 
  • Mimis
  • Palawan 
  • Pampanga
  • PARC-2
  • Rinara
  • Rizalina
  • Santa Rita
  • Sigadis Milagrosa
  • Sinampablo
  • Sinampaga Selection
  • Smaguing
  • Taducan
  • Tinawon

Rice in the Philippines is called bigas when uncooked and kanin when cooked.  Glutinous rice is referred to as malagkit (sticky).  Unmilled rice is palay.  Rice is the staple food in the Philippines supplying about 35% of the average Filipino's daily caloric intake.  Aside from plain steamed rice, there are many Filipino rice recipes, rice snacks and desserts.  Even the water that has been used to wash rice, called hugas bigas, is sometimes called for in Filipino recipes aside from other uses such as an electrolyte mixture to combat diarrhea and as a fertilizer.

The history of Philippine rice farming dates back to antiquity and has left a legacy etched into the very fabric of Filipino culture, perhaps most vividly manifest in the majestic Philippine rice terraces carved into the rocks of the northern Philippines.  They are symbolic both of the importance and difficulties faced in growing rice in the country.  While the Philippines is heavily reliant on rice, its mountainous terrain is not well-suited to rice cultivation placing obstacles to Philippine rice production.  This and its fast growing population have contributed in making the country the largest rice importer in recent years, despite being the eighth largest rice producer.  With Philippine rice shortages and rising world rice prices, food security is a concern driving rice research into high-yield rice and tougher more resistant hybrid rice varieties in the Philippines.    

There are many different strains of rice—the International Rice Genebank is reputed to hold over 112,000 different specimens of rice varieties from all over the world—but only a small fraction of these have the requisite traits that make them attractive to plant commercially.  In the Philippines there are indigenous medium grain tropical japonica ("javanica") varieties and long grain indica rice varieties.


Traditional Filipino varieties of rice are referred to by their traditional names.  Several institutions have been involved in the development of rice varieties in the Philippines and their names are sometimes referenced in the designation of rice species, especially those of older rice varieties.  Rice varieties with designations starting with IR such as IR64 were bred by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI); UPL or UPLB refers to the University of the Philippines, Los Baños; and BPI refers to the Bureau of Plant Industry, Department of Agriculture Philippines.  The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is another branch of the Department of Agriculture involved in developing rice in the country.

The release of rice varieties in the Philippines became more systematized over the years with the Philippine Seed Board (PSB), now the National Seed Industry Council (NSIC), eventually empowered to conduct the releasing process.  The NSIC tests seeds submitted to it and then formally releases those which pass its criteria giving them a designation that was earlier in the form PSB Rc, but has now changed to NSIC Rc.  This coding practice has been in use since 1990 and applies to newer rice varieties.  Rice varieties most suitable for lowland areas are even numbered while those considered best for upland areas are designated with odd numbers.  More conventional names are often associated with the PSB technical code, with names of rivers and lakes being applied to the lowland varieties and names of mountains for those for upland use.  Sometimes popular names given by Philippine rice farmers have been adopted.

More recently the NSIC naming code has dropped the usage of names of bodies of water and mountains and has instead adopted the descriptive terms Japonica, Mabango, Malagkit, Matatag, Mestiso, Sahod Ulan, Salinas, Submarino, and Tubigan to refer to japonica, aromatic, glutinous, tungro-resistant, hybrid, rainfed lowland, saline, flooded lowland, and irrigated lowland rice varieties respectively.


Aside from the usual long grain white rice, local brown rice, red rice, and black rice can be found in supermarkets although wild rice (which is not properly a rice at all) is harder to find.  Previously, rice sold in local markets as often as not was badly milled with many sand and gravel particles or old rice husks mixed in.  This made it easy for imported foreign rice, mainly from Thailand but also Japan and the United States, to develop a reputation for superior quality.  Fortunately the local situation has improved dramatically in recent years with a rise in milling standards.  One is now better able to appreciate and compare the intrinsic qualities of the local varieties of rice without being distracted by extraneous considerations.  The focus in rice research has also expanded to include more the factors that go into good table qualities and not just those that increase rice yield resulting in new hybrid varieties for sale.

The general impression I have is that while imported rice varieties can often be more fragrant, very aromatic rice tends to become spoiled (panis) more easily if left in the hot and humid climate of the country too long.  The table qualities are otherwise pretty comparable and a matter of personal preference.

Milagrosa: Miracle Rice Marketing?

For a long time I was under the impression the Thai rice being sold was a local variety because milagrosa, the name of an aromatic traditional Philippine rice variety which also translates from Spanish as miracle or miraculous ergo "miracle rice", was usually written in bold on the sacks of rice from Thailand.  Further confusing things was the use of the term "miracle rice" for the breakthrough IRRI variety IR8, a high yielding rice variety resulting from the cross of the Indonesian peta with the Taiwanese semi-dwarf deegeowoogen (DGWG) that is credited with ushering in a green revolution.   I now suspect that the milagrosa labeling was probably just a marketing ploy to appeal to Filipino rice consumers familiar with the Philippine milagrosa variety.  These days sacks of rice from Thailand have largely dropped the name milagrosa from their bags and instead the term "jasmine rice" or Thai hom mali, which is from what I can gather possibly the variety of rice used all along, is promoted.

Consulted sources conflict on whether milagrosa is an indica variety like most imported Thai rice or a tropical japonica.  My own experience with milagrosa rice from a Philippine supplier is that it has a greater tendency to retain water and end up sticky leading me to think that it is a tropical japonica variety.

Common Market Varieties

Among local varieties, milagrosa has a high reputation going back many years.  If going by price as an indicator of quality, then of the common local premium varieties offered by a number of suppliers, milagrosa is followed by dinurado which is generally more highly regarded than sinandomeng, which is then followed by wag-wag, C4, and other unnamed varieties.  To be truthful I'd have a hard time trying to distinguish between them and would consider the supplier or brand a more important basis of differentiation.  It may be just as well.  According to surveys conducted to determine the most popular varieties for rice planting, many of the IRRI rice cultivars and those named by the NSIC composed the vast majority of rice planted.  This would seem to be at odds with the experience at market where a large proportion of rice supplied by Philippine rice traders are labeled as popular traditional varieties.     

More Rice

Other varieties of local rice not carried by multiple branded suppliers have become increasingly available for Philippine rice buyers.  Ifugao rice was purchased one time when it went on sale and was found to be good quality and kept very well; the retail price almost doubled shortly after.

With more quality Philippine rice grains, Indian basmati rice joining the fray, and an increased interest in alternative grains driven by health concerns about white rice, trying all the varieties of rice out instead of sticking to one has become a more appealing option.   

This while rice imports overall have declined because a substantial portion of imported rice was imported by the government for food security.  This rice is made available by the National Food Authority (NFA) with a lot of the NFA rice sourced from Vietnam. 


The rice available comes from a broad range of suppliers with most local brands having only spotty presence across supermarkets.  Brands found in one supermarket chain may be absent in another.  In wet markets rice is often taken out of the sack and sold per kilo with variety of rice instead of brand of producer being the discriminating factor.

The following local brands have some consistency in presence:

Best Choice - Tantrik Trading - 2140 Onyx St., Sta Ana, Manila
Doña Maria - SL Agritech Corporation -
Golden Grains - R.E.F. Commercial Corp.
Harvester's - Sunnywood Corp. -
Highlands Rice -
Ifugao Rice - Oliver Enterprises - Talavera, Nueva Ecija - - 044-456-5001, 044-456-0508, 0917-566-2249 
Mrs. Lam - ECT Enterprises  - Malaking Ambling, Magdalena, Laguna - 0922-838-8365 -
Vita-Rice - Golden Season Grains Center Inc. - Dadap, Luna, Isabela - - - 0917-530-9988

More information

The Makati Shangri-La Manila Hotel

The Shangri-La Makati is a popular 5-star hotel, part of the Shangri-La group of hotels, in Metro Manila, Philippines.  Despite its official name, it is located not in the City of Manila proper, but rather in the metropolis' central business district, Makati.  The hotel lies within Ayala Center, a major commercial complex, next to malls, shopping arcades, and the country's financial center.

Food and Dining

  • Circles Event Café
  • Inagiku
  • Lobby Lounge
  • Pool Bar
  • Sage
  • Sage Tapas Bar
  • Shang Palace
  • Sinfully Circles

Contact Information

Address: Ayala Avenue corner Makati Avenue Makati City 1200 Philippines
Telephone: (63 2) 813 8888
Fax: (63 2) 813 5499


Generally considered one of the top hotels in Metro Manila.  Good restaurants and an ambiance blending classic elegance with modernity and a hint of the Orient has made it a popular meeting place and venue for special occasions.  Although highly regarded its popularity does make me wonder if perhaps the hotel has become slightly overrated.  It's pricier than other excellent hotels in the area and the larger number of people it attracts places greater burdens on its ability to maintain excellent service; but it's widely recognized and its location puts it in the middle of the city's action.  Good hotel for people who like to be at the center of it all but maybe not optimal for someone looking to be somewhat farther removed from the hustle and bustle.

Hotel room rates may vary.  For a superior room, one is looking at prices in the range of 8,500 pesos to 12,000 pesos or more (~$200–$300)  not including extra fees which may or may not include a buffet breakfast at Circles depending on the type of client.

A Club Gourmet membership gives discounts and may be beneficial for frequent visitors to the hotel and its restaurants and facilities.

The Shangri-La hotel in Makati should not be confused with its sister hotel the Edsa Shangri-La Manila located in Ortigas Center in Mandaluyong or the unaffiliated Shangri-La Restaurant on West Avenue in Quezon City.

Nearby Hotels

Other hotels located nearby are The Peninsula Manila, The New World Hotel, The Fairmont Makati, The InterContinental Manila, The Dusit Thani Manila, The Mandarin Oriental, The Ascott Manila, and Holiday Inn Makati among others.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

List of Filipino Condiments

Philippine condiments often accompany Filipino dishes for those who want stronger flavor.  The following is a list of some of these Philippine products, their local names, and pictures. 
  • Atsara – pickled vegetables, usually papaya but there are also other versions like one using bitter gourd (ampalaya)
  • Banana ketchup
  • Bagoong / Ginamos – fermented salted fish usually prepared to a pasty consistency 
    • Mackerel / Anchovy sauce (bagoong balayan, named after the town of Balayan, Batangas)
    • Salted Anchovies (bagoong monamon / bagoong dilis / monamon dilis)
    • Salted Bonnetmouths (bagoong terong) [not sure exactly what fish species is used]
    • Salted Ziganids (bagoong padas) – usually small jarred fish sold still relatively whole and not ground up; probably refers to rabbitfish (family Siganidae) 
  • Buro - again pickled, salted or fermented but applying especially to salted green unripe mangoes (burong mangga); also refers to a Pampangan preparation that has fish or shrimps mixed with rice and salt left to ferment and then days later sautéed with tomatoes, onions, and garlic  
  • Calamansi / Calamondin / Philippine Lime (kalamansi)
  • Chicken oil
  • Chili (sili) – often added to soy sauce or vinegar
  • Crab paste / Crab fat / Crab roe (taba ng talangka or aligue)  
  • Ensalada – in Spanish salad, but in the Philippine context can also often refer to vinegared vegetables used as a relish which pretty much makes it similar or the same as atsara but the term is more likely to be applied to eggplants and cucumbers as in ensaladang talong and ensaladang pipino   
  • Fish sauce (patis)
  • Hot sauce
  • Lechon sauce (sarsa)
  • Patismansi – fish sauce mixed with calamansi juice
  • Shrimp paste (bagoong alamang)
  • Soy sauce (toyo)
  • Sweet chili sauce 
  • Tomato (kamatis) – fresh chopped; also salted and boiled in water to make something akin to and used like tomato water
  • Toyomansi – soy sauce mixed with calamansi juice
  • Vinegar (suka) – those found in Filipino markets are usually a product of sugar cane but some are also derived from coconut; it's often mixed with chili, garlic, and possibly other spices and herbs to make spiced vinegar (sinamak) or combined with chili, garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce or some combination thereof to make a dipping sauce (sawsawan) at the dining table 

calamansi - Filipino condiment

patis - Filipino condiment

lechon sauce - Filipino condiment
lechon sauce / sarsa

sweet chili sauce - Filipino condiment
sweet chili sauce
vinegar - Filipino condiment
vinegar and spiced vinegar
bagoong alamang - Filipino condiment
shrimp paste
taba ng talangka and burong hipon - Filipino condiments
crab roe and burong hipon
bagoong balayan - Filipino condiment
bagoong balayan

More information:

Monday, May 16, 2011

Philippine Cooking Oil

Coconut oil is likely the most commonly used edible cooking oil in the Philippines which is a leading producer of coconuts and the largest exporter of copra (dried coconut meat) from which coconut oil is often extracted.

Virgin coconut oil (VCO) say many coconut oil advocates is the best choice with its tocopherols that act as antioxidants.  However, because of a low smoke point (138 degrees Celsius) unrefined coconut oil is unsuitable for frying.  Refined coconut oil on the other hand has a higher smoke point (around 177 degrees Celsius).  Oil that reaches its smoke point begins to break down and release potentially harmful carcinogens. 

Refined bleached deodorized (but not hydrogenated) coconut oil, often referred to as RBD coconut oil, is the cooking oil one most commonly finds on Philippine supermarket shelves. Coconut oil is often labeled as vegetable oil; recently it has been marketed as lauric oil. Common local brands include Minola, Baguio, Cook Best, Golden Fry, Marca Leon, Magnolia Nutri-Oil, Spring, and Magic Fry.  The Coconut Industry Investment Fund (CIIF) Oil Mills Groups is the largest coconut oil producer in the Philippines.

Coconut oil's saturated fats are commonly cited as a reason to avoid coconut oil and they were previously demonized as unhealthy but this is mainly due to association with other foods with high saturated fat content since there are not many studies that directly tie coconut oil to bad outcomes and the ones that do used partially hydrogenated coconut oil that contained trans fats or induced essential fatty acid deficiency. Saturated fats like coconut oil actually have a theoretical advantage over unsaturated fats since they are more stable in normal conditions and do not oxidize as easily.

Other cooking oils like palm, soybean, canola, corn, and olive oil are also commonly available in large metropolitan supermarkets.  

More information:

      Max's Restaurant - Philippines

      Max's Restaurant is a Filipino restaurant chain serving fried chicken and Philippine cuisine since 1945.  Founded by Maximo Gimenez with the help of his niece Ruby after WWII, it is a family-style casual dining restaurant that has expanded to 120 branches in the Philippines, eight branches in the United States, and one in Canada.  Overseas it is known as Max's of Manila.  Max's delivery service is offered within Metro Manila through its hotline number 7-9000.

      Its signature dish is its fried chicken—Max's dubs itself "the house that fried chicken built".  It's often served with rice and/or kamote (sweet-potato) fries.

      Other items on Max's menu are Filipino dishes like pancit, kare-kare, nilagang baka, sinigang na baboy,  lechon kawali, pork adobo, bicol express, and crispy pata among others. 

      Although described as "sarap to the bones!", for a signature dish Max's fried chicken is surprisingly plain; aside from possibly a little salt rubbed in, there seems little else done to the chicken before it is deep-fried to a golden brown.  Yet it is a testament to the natural flavor of chicken that from such simplicity Max's has enjoyed such longevity.  While Max's unadorned fried chicken can be a disappointment at first it does get things right by placing the focus on the chicken.  One learns to respect the dish when many years later one still finds it palatable while other seemingly more impressive chicken dishes haven't endured and have faded from memory.

      In a sense basic goodness and soundness can be used to describe Max's menu lineup. All the Filipino dishes are solidly interpreted and make a good benchmark with which to compare other interpretations of the same dishes at other establishments.  However, their rice servings tend to be small.  Banana catsup, hot sauce, and worcestershire sauce are condiments at hand at every table.

      Service is generally good, but the usually high volume of customer traffic at its mall locations doesn't lead to the cleanest or most relaxing of environments at those branches. Max's is a casual dining restaurant leaning more towards fastfood rather than fine dining.  Pre-packaged caramel bars accompanying some meals and Max's bakery kiosks at some restaurants drive the point home.

      Friday, May 13, 2011

      Filipino Adobo

      Adobo is considered by many unofficially as the Philippines' national dish.  Versions of chicken and pork adobo are the most common. They have chicken and/or pork braised in vinegar, black pepper, garlic and bay leaf and then cooked in oil.  Soy sauce is often used as an ingredient as well but its addition to the basic adobo recipe is a relatively recent development.

      While chicken and pork adobo recipes are the most frequently encountered, the use of other main ingredients argues for adobo to be more accurately described as a method of cooking than a dish per se.  This is clearly illustrated by referring to the common seafood preparation adobong pusit using squid and the vegetarian adobong kangkong using water spinach.  Both come across very differently from the pork and poultry recipes.  On the other hand, beef is usually not used, but—with products like so-called adobo-flavored nuts on the market making a definition of an adobo taste more elusive and harder to pin down—that's not a rule. Indeed the people in the province of Batangas in particular are known for having beef in their adobo.  

      Name and Origin

      The dish and its method of preparation are believed to be indigenous to the Philippines but the term adobo is of Spanish origin, a legacy from the time the islands were ruled by Spain. In Spanish cuisine the term adobo refers to a pickling sauce consisting of olive oil, wine vinegar and spices; in Mexican cuisine it describes a paste of chilies, spices, herbs and vinegar. Spanish and Mexican dishes using these seasonings are described as adobado or adobada. While bearing some similarities, the Filipino dish is distinct.


      There are a multitude of variations of the recipe in Filipino cooking with different regions of the country and even households having unique versions.  There are quick and easy adobo recipes and ones that are more elaborate.  In some coconut milk is used.  In others chilies are added or maybe liver.  Some are braised to be moist and have a lot of sauce while others are reduced to be dry and crispy.  Some use black peppercorns and toasted garlic to give brief bursts of spiciness with some bites while others eschew the peppercorns and stick to ground pepper to let the sauce speak for itself.  Adobo sauce is full of flavor and is sometimes mixed with rice to make Filipino adobo fried rice.  Large pieces of meat are usually used but a dish of adobo flakes is a recent popular variant. 

      Essential: Vinegar

      Still there are a few essentials in an adobo marinade at least for the meat and poultry versions: vinegar, garlic, pepper, laurel leaves, and cooking oil.  Vinegar is a frequent ingredient in Filipino food.  Adobo, like paksiw and kinilaw, uses it as a central component.  If the dish doesn't use vinegar it isn't adobo.

      Proportion matters as well.  Too much sauce, and an insignificant bay leaf and pepper presence, and the dish tends to resemble a pata tim, humba, or paksiw na baboy especially if sweetened with sugar.   A mixture with liver that is reduced too much and with a strong vinegar and garlic component may come off a little bit like a lechon paksiw.  Add vegetables and it starts looking like a stir-fry.  In short for an authentic Filipino recipe adobo is probably best kept simple. 

      Because of the vinegar content, adobo tends to keep well.  Indeed there are people who believe the dish tastes better with age since adobo leftovers tends to taste better than when newly cooked.  Nevertheless without research on how long it can safely keep it is advised to deal with leftovers quickly and prudently.


      An observation for those wishing to experiment:  while establishing the best proportion of soy to vinegar is something obvious to look at, paying attention to the amount of oil or fat may also be worthwhile.  Some of the best tasting adobo have a fair amount of rendered fat in the sauce of the finished dish.

      Basic Filipino Adobo Recipe using Chicken and Pork

      1.25 kg chicken, cut up
      500 g pork loin or leg chops, sliced into 1-inch cubes
      1 cup vinegar
      1 cup water
      1/4 cup soy sauce (optional, original recipe has none)
      1 1/2 tsp salt  (unnecessary if using soy sauce)
      8–10 cloves of garlic, chopped
      2 bay leaves
      2 tsp whole black peppercorns
      oil for frying

      Combine ingredients except oil in deep saucepan, pot, or dutch oven and marinate for an hour.  Afterward on a stove, heat the ingredients and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 30–40 minutes or until meat is tender.  Remove meat from the pot.  Boil the sauce until reduced and thickened, then strain into a small bowl.  In a frying pan add cooking oil (until about 1/4 inch deep).  Fry the meat in the frying pan until evenly brown and crisp.  Transfer the fried meat to a serving plate and pour the adobo sauce over.  Best served with steamed white rice.

      More information

      Wednesday, May 11, 2011

      List of Philippine Dishes