In the Philippines, rice is life. There's archaeological evidence of it being grown as early as 3400 B.C. Even so, rice was historically produced in limited quantities for spiritual rituals. Because of its associated luxury, rice was considered only for elite members of the tribe, given as tribute to chiefs. When Spanish colonists introduced plow technology, rice production increased and it became a staple for everyone. Read more about this recipe.
Yana Gilbuena has traveled the world, celebrating the cuisine of her Filipino heritage with pop-up kamayan dinners. Her hometown of Bacolod City is known for this dish. Native coconut vinegar and calamansi juice bring a distinct flavor and aroma, and atsuete oil adds vibrant color, as well as a nutty, peppery flavor. Read more about Gilbuena and this recipe.
In the Philippines, the tamarind plant—its flowers, leaves and fruit—is used in an array of dishes. But the most popular is a soup called sinigang. Legend has it that after typhoons, the islands' Indigenous people would gather the fish that had been washed ashore, and the tamarind fruit that had fallen from the trees, and make soup. Hence, sinigang was born. Yana Gilbuena created this dish, using tamarind to flavor poke, when she brought her pop-up kamayan dinners—which celebrate her culture's cuisine—to Hawaii. To make a vegan version, use coconut aminos in place of fish sauce and diced tomatoes or roasted beets or eggplant for the fish. Read more about Gilbuena and her pop-up kamayan dinners.
When the Spanish colonized the Philippines, they established the epic global trade route known as the Manila Galleon, linking Acapulco and Manila. Plants and products shipped from Mexico included the pineapple. It quickly flourished throughout the Philippines and many pineapple-based dishes were created, including this flan, also introduced by the colonizers. Read more about this recipe.
The Spanish introduced the cultivation of corn to the Filipino island of Cebu in the 1700s. This propelled the vegetable to staple status not just in that province, but throughout the country. Yana Gilbuena features this dish in her pop-up kamayan dinners showcasing her culture's cuisine. Read more about Gilbuena and the pop-up kamayan dinners.
Ubod, or hearts of palm, are the edible pith of the coconut tree. Yana Gilbuena, who's toured the world sharing her culture's cooking, considers this ingredient to be a great example of how Filipino cuisine honors a plant by using as many parts as possible. Read more about Gilbuena and this recipe.