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14 February 2009

Filipino get-together food

Back in the Philippines, we always found things we can celebrate. Friends reunited, a promotion, the holidays, or even simply because it was Friday. In this case, a visit from my Team Marketing colleague Anthony Chua who was on vacation from Dubai was our cause celebre'.

We went to a bar and grill along Jupiter (the name I forgot) where Chu treated us to a night of good beer, good food, and good times.

Do you see the beer bottle in the photo on top? It's just how I want my beer to be!




This happened only a couple of months only before I was leaving, so it was really good to get together with my officemates, for we will have to wait for a while longer before this gets repeated.

I was browsing through photos hastily saved in my hard disk when I came upon this series, along with a couple of others which I cannot classify clearly, so I thought of putting them in one post about popular Filipino gimmick food fare. These type of food are best shared, and indeed comes with a number of fork and knives. They are especially great with beer and with lots of company! The health benefits of such food are questionable (and it's a good thing that I do not have a photo of the infamous crispy pata here, which will undoubtedly concretize my statement!), but they are nonetheless in huge demand and taste great as well!

First in line is the sisig. Sisig is made from parts of the pig's head, which is boiled, broiled, and then the resulting chopped-up parts fried and flavoured with pepper, onions, pork or chicken liver, chicharon (pork cracklings), and either ox brain and/or mayonnaise. It is usually served on a sizzling plate with a raw egg dropped on top, which you ceremoniously mix together with calamansi (a citrus fruit), seasoning, and hot sauce. Recently, other sisig varieties have cropped up, such as tuna and squid.


When you are in a busy restaurant grill and the waiter would pass by your table bearing a sizzling plate with hissing contents and the yummy smell wafting by, you cannot resist but order one as well.

In this restaurant we were celebrating in, we realized later on that they were serving three kinds of sisig on one sizzling plate. This was a bestseller, and we promptly consumed more than a couple of plates.

And then there is the ever popular tokwa't baboy, which is basically a mixture of braised tofu and tender pork bits with a generous serving of fresh onion rings. Usually it is served swimming in its own dip of soy sauce with vinegar. But we usually ask the sauce to be served separately because the tofu tends to absorb the dip and we end up with spongy tofu when we get to the bottom of the bowl.

 And then there is the stuffed grilled squid. The stuffing is a combination of onions, garlic, tomatoes, and spices. Usually the squid is served chopped but with its original shape still intact.

 And when it's nearly time to go home, we would sometimes order bulalo (beef soup with very tender beef that falls off the bone, sometimes served with veggies) to clear the head and a great prelude to a restful sleep ahead.

I remember when we had a trainee in our department and he was relatively new to the country. As our welcome to him, we treated him out to dinner in one of these grills. He loved crispy pata and sisig! But we were not about to stretch it and give him balut; unfortunately his stay was too short to merit such an adventure. These dishes always remind me of happy times.

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