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

  • Small tsunami generated in Pacific after earthquake Associated Press - 5 hours ago

    SYDNEY (AP) — A powerful earthquake rattled the South Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea on Monday, generating a small tsunami and frightening locals near the epicenter, but prompting no reports of damage or injuries. …

  • Russian superhighway could connect London to New York AFP Relax - Fri, Mar 27, 2015 1:24 AM PHT
    Russian superhighway could connect London to New York

    Russia has unveiled ambitious plans to build a superhighway that, in theory, could make it possible to drive from London on one end to New York on the other. According to a report by The Siberian Times, the head of Russian Railways is asking the government to seriously consider his project dubbed the Trans-Eurasian Belt Development, the first modern transportation corridor that would link up the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean. Plans call for the construction of a new high-speed railway and the …

  • Ancient Petra sees few visitors as Jordan tourism declines Associated Press - 3 hours ago
    Ancient Petra sees few visitors as Jordan tourism declines

    PETRA, Jordan (AP) — It's high season in Petra, an ancient city hewn from rose-colored rock and Jordan's biggest tourist draw. Yet nearby hotels stand virtually empty these days and only a trickle of tourists make their way through a landmark canyon to the Treasury building where scenes of one of the "Indiana Jones" movies were filmed. …

  • 8 Signs the Girl You’re Dating is Not the One 8list - Tue, Mar 24, 2015 8:25 AM PHT
    8 Signs the Girl You’re Dating is Not the One

    Neeext! …

  • Taking chicken from frozen to delicious in under 30 minutes Associated Press - Fri, Mar 27, 2015 9:27 PM PHT
    Taking chicken from frozen to delicious in under 30 minutes

    Despite its reputed speed at getting dinner done, the pressure cooker was slow to win me over. …

  • 8 Things I Learned from the Boss from Hell 8list - Thu, Mar 26, 2015 3:07 PM PHT
    8 Things I Learned from the Boss from Hell

    Don't let them get to you. …

  • What Everyone Gets Wrong At The Gym Realbuzz - Mon, Mar 23, 2015 5:00 PM PHT
    What Everyone Gets Wrong At The Gym

    Not seeing results for all your hard work at the gym? It could be down to these common pitfalls …

  • White House unveils plan to fight antibiotic-resistant germs Associated Press - Sat, Mar 28, 2015 4:35 AM PHT
    White House unveils plan to fight antibiotic-resistant germs

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House on Friday announced a five-year plan to fight the threat posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria amid fears that once-treatable germs could become deadly. …

POLL

My New Year's resolution is to:

Loading...
Poll Choice Options