I’m not sure if this is still a “secret”, but I must confess… I am a huge lover of cookbooks!!! 🙂 Last I counted there were at least 150 to 200 titles in my collection, majority of which are from award-winning authors. One author is a Singaporean named Bryan Koh, who decided to take on the daunting task of compiling recipes from the 7,107 islands of the Philippines.
I first heard of Bryan Koh a year or two ago through The Kitchen Bookstore, when I was browsing through their online collection of signed cookbooks. There’s nothing more exciting than having a signed book. Bryan Koh’s Milk Pigs & Violet Gold intrigued me a lot. First, by its sheer volume… The book is huge!!! Second, by the author… Are the recipes based on a Singaporean’s interpretation of our cuisine? or Are the recipes based from grassroots Filipino countryside?
In his first book, Milk Pig & Violet Gold, the author opens up with “Gutom”. The cookbook weaves through his travel in the Philippines, like Marco Polo’s Journey to the East. He talks about his food experiences and travel experiences as if he was writing a diary or a journal to share with his peers back home.
I’ve tried quiet a number of recipes already from the first book, mostly from recipes the author obtained from Pampanga. I used the recipes to teach my students the Filipino-version of “charcuterie”, such as tapa, tocino, longganisa and the like.
In his new book, one of the author’s fave recipe is the Kalderetang Ilokano. I decided to give it a go, and tried the recipe out. Kaldereta is traditionally made with Goat. Since none in the family eats goat except for me, I decided to use Beef Shanks instead.
I was surprised with the inclusion of some ingredients not really popular in the Filipino kitchen. But personally, I like the addition of these ingredients as it has given the dish depth and playful twist.
One good thing I find about this book, is that most of the recipes I’ve tried dishing out contain ingredients not familiar in the Filipino kitchen repertoire. Why is this good? Because it opens up Filipino cuisine to a wider audience not entirely familiar or can’t easily access to our local ingredients.
Most Filipino kitchens would have the staple toyo, patis, suka and the like. Western kitchen don’t operate the same. They don’t have the same basic condiments as ours. We need to expose Filipino food with unfamiliar ingredients yet keeping the flavors as authentic as possible.
Let me jut say, we need more cookbooks like this to help promote our cuisine. In the end, I would just like to thank Bryan Koh for taking on the daunting task of compiling recipes from the 7,107 islands of the Philippines… and dare I say… and for making it better. 🙂