Truth be told, I have no prior knowledge of Colombian Cuisine, much more Colombian Pacific Cuisine. I thought it would be similar to that of Latin American or Peruvian flavors, but I was totally wrong. It was a classification on its own, especially Colombian Pacific Cuisine. One flavor similar, that ties the region together is that of Cilantro or Culantro.
The Peninsula Manila features Chef Rey Guerrero of Sabor Pacifico Restaurante in Spices Restaurant on October 4, and 5, 6pm. Like me, you can also have yourself a taste of true Colombian Pacific cooking, and appreciate what the cuisine has to offer.
On those two nights, you can either have the dishes as a 3-course meal, or as a la carte. Either way is good, but if you plan to go a la carte, here are my top choices:
Of the dishes we’ve tried, I would say this food, Cazuela de Mariscos, represents the region the most. Aside from using Cilantro Cimarron, or Culantro, the dish also used Pennyroyal to give that slight mint flavor to the dish.
Chef Guerrero explained that the Colombian Pacific cuisine is strongly flavored, and is highly influenced by the sea, and neighboring countries. Hence, this dish really shows off the strong rich flavor of seafood tasted in the broth, complimented with coconut, and made exciting with slight spice, and subtle herb flavors.
Deep-fried Coconut Plantain Croquette stuffed with Smoked Sea Bass, Cheese, and served with Sesame Sauce. I loved this dish because of the Sesame Sauce, which reminded me of the really good Thai Shrimp Cakes in Spices. Apparently, the use of sesame is an African influence to Colombia.
You can enjoy these dishes separately or together like how I enjoyed it. The rice, Arroz Putiao, was made even more decadent with the addition of smoked Colombian Longganisa, which has a 150 year old recipe. Longganisa, cooked with shrimps, bell pepper, and rice, all sauteed together. Familiar yet very distinct.
The Pandao de Pescado on the other hand, is Sea Bass fillet wrapped in banana leaves, cooked with Pennyroyal, and served with Coconut Sauce. These two dishes compliments and contrasts each others in terms of flavors, but the myriad of flavors and sensation I get from these two dishes eaten together is something I look forward to. Simple yet robust, refined yet feisty.
Seekers of authentic Colombian Pacific cuisine should not miss the opportunity of having a region’s specialty. Piangua, a nutrient rich mollusk gathered from the Mangrove forest of Colombia, and Piacuil, a type of snail that lives in the same environment.
Chef Guerrero brought these ingredients from Colombia dehydrated, and simply reconstituted to be made into ceviche. This dish is something that you can only enjoy in that certain region of Colombia, but through the two-day dinner, it can easily be accessed and tried in the country. I shamlessly had two servings of this Ceviche, which was cold smoked with dried Oregano.
For inquiries or further information, please call +63 (2) 887 2888, extension 6694 (Restaurant Reservations), email email@example.com or visit the website peninsula.com.
Nathaniel C. Uy