Ingredients: orange zest, lemon zest, lime zest, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, paprika, ground Szechuan peppercorns, coriander, cumin, brown mustard, fennel, Birdseye chile powder, brown sugar, sea salt
Filipino food may not be as popular as its neighbors, Thai and Vietnamese, but this region touts 7,107 islands and a rich culinary history that is certainly a hidden gem. The Republic of the Philippines is located southeast of mainland Asia and is separated from it by the South China Sea. Filipino cuisine is best known for its sourness, pungency and spice – which happen to be three of the trendiest flavors here in the US. This is not surprising, considering the significant influence that China, Malaysia and Spain have had in shaping dishes of the Philippines.
To the uninitiated, the food of the Philippines doesn’t exactly resemble any other Southeastern Asia cuisines. Its culinary identity has been modeled by colonialism. The Spanish first ruled the islands in 1521 and maintained control over them until 1898. During these years, they introduced ingredients from Spain, Portugal and then other Spanish colonies such as Mexico to the culinary landscape. The 1500’s also gave the region a large wave of immigrants from coastal China (especially from the Canton and Fujian Provinces). America wrestled control from the Spanish just before the beginning of the 20th century and controlled the area until 1946 when the Philippines became an independent republic.
Filipino cuisine has melded these vastly diverse culinary influences and created their own unique fusion cuisine that is built on bold flavors. Unlike Thai cuisine, which Filipino cuisine is often mistaken for, heat is not a dominating characteristic; although it is important to some individual dishes. Fish is the key source of protein for Filipinos followed by pork.
Unlike previous immigrants from Southeast Asia, migrants from the Philippines use English as their primary language. This has allowed them to more easily assimilate into the mainstream US culture, but this has proven to be a bit of a disadvantage for Americans to “discover” Filipino cuisine. When immigrants from China, Vietnam, Thailand and Korea started establishing roots here they tended to cluster together in mini cities (becoming cities within cities) like “Little Saigon” in Orange County California, “Chinatown” in San Francisco or New York, “Thai Town” in Los Angeles, or “Korea Town” in LA or Atlanta.
These Asian immigrant communities were more likely to open a restaurant to not only have a communal place to come, but also as a way to generate income. These ethnic restaurants and particular styles of cuisines had a greater chance of being “discovered” by adventurous Americans seeking new flavors and culinary experiences.
A bit tangy from the various citrus zests, you’ll also pick up some numbing and heat from the Szechuan peppercorns and Birdseye chiles. Finally, you’ll also notice the hints of sweetness from the brown sugar.
When used as a rub, we recommend 1 tablespoon per lb of meat.
You can also use this to make an Filipino style marinade – 1 cup of soy sauce, 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice, 1 cup of banana ketchup (available at Asian markets), 1/2 cup of 7Up (or ginger ale), 1 small onion minced and 1/2 cup of our Filipino BBQ Rub. This should be enough for 2-3 lbs of cubed pieces of meat. We do not recommend marinating any longer than 8-12 hours.
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