I’ve been waiting for this book for years. Not just because it’s a book where my name and recipe appears in print (I’ve been waiting my whole life for that!) but because it really is the first of its kind that allows stories from everyday Filipinos, like me, to be shared with a truly global audience. These aren't just stories about foods and dishes recreated in expatriate or second-generations' kitchens across the globe. It’s a series of love letters written by people who care a lot about their heritage, their culture, their cuisine, and life as we know it, told in so many ways.
As a writer, the chance to tell a story about something that matters the world to you comes once - or if you’re lucky, perhaps a few more times - in one life.
But what really sets this apart from other Filipino cookbook anthologies (such as The Filipino Family Cookbook or The Best Of The Maya Kitchen, both published in the Philippines) is that The New Filipino Kitchen is, quite simply, a product of our time.
“An engrossing, page-turner of a cookbook. If you can even call it a cookbook―it’s more of a short story collection with delicious, addictive recipes. You can find everything that makes food so special: the connection between family and the dinner table, tradition and innovation, and preserving cultural identity in a world that’s increasingly homogenized. It makes me hungry.” —Brian McGinn, Emmy-nominated director and executive producer, Chef’s Table
I can't think of higher praise than that!
There is nowhere else to read stories from a White House executive chef next to musings about beelining for the free sample booth with scores of other Filipino families at Costco. You’ll find soliloquies on the ampalaya (bitter melon) and the plainest dumpling soups, told with bursting power and heart. People are constantly in motion: driving home towards the outskirts of Auckland, New Zealand; slinging short ribs on the line with Ecuadorians in Chicago; or jumping into a 1980s Isuzu along Mission Street in San Francisco.
On rice, which fills the Filipino belly and soul, there’s a story of meals prepared at a boarding school in London, and of the relationship between a provincial judge’s daughter and her favourite maid (domestic helper) who came to the United States - a story that has to be read in full to understand the complexities of this often misrepresented facet of Filipino culture.
There are many stories about people searching for and remembering home - mine, included - that illustrate just how beautiful the world can be, if you look for the right things.
Melissa talks about making adobo, on her own, and wishing she could share it with the grandmother who raised her. Vanessa (who I’ve chatted with about our love of sweet spaghetti) shares a story about New Year’s eve and what it’s like to live so far away from everything you know. And Rowena, who photographed and styled all the recipes in this book, brings us into her garden and her search for elusive Philippine plants to grow in southern Italy.
Time to cook!
Sinigang with salmon and mixed shellfish - yes, please! You know I love sinigang. Allan’s recipe for sous vide fried chicken is one I will have to replicate with my own Anova precision cooker. Chef Andre Pettersen - who shares a stripped down version of his Bocuse d’Or winning take on crispy pata - makes me want to plan a little dinner party.
I’ve never actually made habichuelas (navy beans with chorizo and tomatoes) or tortang alimango (crab omelet) from scratch, and now plan to do so.
Right away, my sisters called for sylvanas and the ube halaya semifreddo - desserts I can definitely tackle.
Regardless of your familiarity with Filipino cuisine, there’s a lot to love in The New Filipino Kitchen. Wherever you are in the world, you can find direct links to order through Amazon below:
My heartfelt thanks, as always, goes to our amazing editor Jacqueline for championing and believing in this project from the beginning. Please leave a comment if you have a copy of The New Filipino Kitchen and if you’ve made any of the recipes in it! 😊