Food

Chinese food, Pinoy style


Siopao with bola-bola filling, like these from Goldilocks: perfect for merienda.

The Filipino food experience is inextricably entwined with China's. Ever since we started trading with Chinese merchants in the 11th century, we've taken Chinese favorites and made them completely our own.

In her book Palayok: Philippine Food through Time, on Site, in the Pot, the late food journalist Doreen Fernandez surmises that Chinese food in the Philippines may have risen out of necessity. Chinese traders (who were largely Hokkien—more on that later) settled in the Philippines and naturally developed a hankering for their native noodle favorites.

"Since they had to use the ingredients locally available, a sea change occurred in their dishes," Fernandez explains. "If they took Filipino wives, and these learned or ventured to cook the noodles for them, then their Filipino taste buds came into play as well, transforming the local ingredients into a variant dish."

These adaptations of Hokkien food made the first inroads into our kitchens. Thus, says Fernandez, "it  is Hokkien food that is most widespread in influence." Cantonese food—more popular in Chinese restaurants—come in a close second.

The Chinese legacy in our culture shines brightest in the following dishes:

Siopao
The Hokkien baozi (steamed buns) were a favorite convenience food that became popular throughout Southeast Asia. The baozi filled with barbecued pork, or char siu bao, eventually evolved into our asado siopao.

We've also followed the Chinese in inventive treatments of the humble baozi, with variegated fillings such as bola-bola (minced meat, often with hardboiled egg); cuapao (meat and vegetables), and sweet siopao with monggo and lotus seed fillings. No self-respecting teahouse will ever miss out on serving siopao.

[Also check out another favorite Chinese import: Pancit.]



Sweet and sour pork
Sweet and sour pork is a Cantonese invention: the natural evolution of a dish first prepared in Foshan, Guangdong in the 18th century. Well-prepared sweet-and-sour taps our Filipino hankering for sour, savory meals: deep-fried pork nuggets are stir-fried in sugar, vinegar, and soy sauce, then garnished with onion, pineapple, tomatoes, and peppers.

In China, the preferred meat depends on where you find the dish: Hong Kong diners prefer to use spare ribs in their sweet-and-sour, as opposed to Guangdong's preference for pork loin. In the Philippines, because of Filipino inventiveness, a popular variant of this dish was eventually born: sweet and sour pork meatballs, just like something you'd get at Goldilocks.

Yang chow fried rice
In China and Singapore, yang chow fried rice is a meal all its own; ordering an "ulam" to go with a serving of yang chow is seen as over-indulgent. But in our neck of the woods, we usually order yang chow in a restaurant as a standard rice accompaniment for other delicious Chinese dishes.

Its status as a restaurant favorite belies its humble origins. "In traditional Chinese cooking, Yang Chow fried rice and all similar fried rice dishes are considered to be peasant food made with scraps of leftovers, a small amount of vegetables, and basic seasonings and spices," explains food blogger Connie Veneracion. "[It is] a stand-alone dish; a complete meal because it has everything in it already—grain, seafood or meat or both, vegetables and seasoning."

Fresh lumpia from Goldilocks is a healthy and filling meal, whether for lunch, merienda, or dinner.

Lumpia
Lumpia has been with us for so long, we've almost forgotten this humble eggroll's Chinese roots. "Serving meat and/or vegetables in an edible wrapper is a Chinese technique now to be found in all of Southeast Asia, in variations peculiar to each culture," writes Doreen Fernandez. "The Filipino version has meat, fish, vegetables, heart of palm, and combinations thereof, served fresh or fried or even bare."

[Also check out where in PH you can find Super affordable seafood.]

Classic munchies: hopia monggo, perfected by Goldilocks.

Hopia
Brought to the Philippines by Fukien immigrants, hopia has become a pasalubong favorite. A bean-filled delicacy with a flaky crust, hopia now comes in as many fillings as the human imagination can create. The red monggo hopia is the original kind. Some variants of hopia mongo are loaded with sugar; others, like the ones above, are perfect for those watching their sugar intake.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

Latest News

  • Date without the pressure of hooking up: Peekawoo is the app for you Yahoo Southeast Asia SHE - Thu, Feb 26, 2015 1:51 PM PHT
    Date without the pressure of hooking up: Peekawoo is the app for you

    This female-fueled, Filipina-made app brings old-fashioned courtship into modern dating. …

  • The pursuit of happy-ness: Liz Uy's beauty secret Yahoo Southeast Asia SHE - Thu, Feb 26, 2015 12:24 PM PHT
    The pursuit of happy-ness: Liz Uy's beauty secret

    The celebrity stylist lets us in on how she maintains her happy glow. …

  • To manage diabetes, eat breakfast like an athlete, dinner like a sloth, study suggests AFP Relax - Wed, Feb 25, 2015 10:24 PM PHT
    To manage diabetes, eat breakfast like an athlete, dinner like a sloth, study suggests

    Type 2 diabetes patients should eat a high-energy breakfast and a low-energy dinner for optimal control over their blood sugar, according to researchers hailing from Sweden and Israel who conducted a small-scale study. In the new study, published in the journal Diabetologia, they worked with eight men and 10 women who have lived with type 2 diabetes for less than 10 years. Ten of the 18 participants were being treated with a combination of diet advice and the drug metformin and the remaining …

  • You are what you eat: 6 ways to eat mindfully Yahoo Southeast Asia SHE - Mon, Feb 23, 2015 8:31 PM PHT
    You are what you eat: 6 ways to eat mindfully

    Mindfulness can be brought into what you eat and how you eat. …

  • How to create an urban tropical home Yahoo Southeast Asia SHE - Mon, Feb 23, 2015 8:20 PM PHT
    How to create an urban tropical home

    Bring the beach to your home with these 10 easy steps. …

  • No need to hit the drive-thru for this seasonal minty shake Associated Press - 18 hours ago
    No need to hit the drive-thru for this seasonal minty shake

    I'm ashamed to admit this, for I am no fan of fast food, but I've always had a soft spot for McDonald's shakes. …

  • NYC, Orthodox Jews reach deal on circumcision suction ritual Associated Press - Wed, Feb 25, 2015 9:37 AM PHT
    NYC, Orthodox Jews reach deal on circumcision suction ritual

    NEW YORK (AP) — The city said Tuesday it has reached a tentative agreement with members of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community over a tradition known as oral suction circumcision. …

  • Research zeroes in on effects of common food additive AFP Relax - Thu, Feb 26, 2015 10:26 PM PHT
    Research zeroes in on effects of common food additive

    Everyone's heard a lot about questionable food additives lately, but a recent study provides new insight on why emulsifiers are something to avoid. Commonly found in packaged and processed foods, emulsifiers add texture and extend shelf life but according to the US-based research team, they could alter your composition of friendly gut bacteria -- or gut microbiota -- and lead to inflammation. "Food interacts intimately with the microbiota so we considered what modern additions to the food …

POLL

My New Year's resolution is to:

Loading...
Poll Choice Options