Filipino Cooking

Manila is the cosmopolitan capital of The Philippines, where you're never far from fabulous Filipino food. Many cultures have influenced Filipino cooking. Malay, Chinese, Spanish, Indian, Mexican, Arab and American -- Filipino cooks just seem to have a talent for borrowing the best from other cuisines and turning it into something uniquely fresh and delicious. Chicken and pork adobo, a rich, well-marinated stew flavored with vinegar and soy, is probably the Philippine national dish. Other popular Filipino fare includes pancit, a tasty mix of sautéed noodles, vegetables, sausage and shrimp, and lumpia, the Filipino version of egg roll.

Spicy Fish Salad in Coconut Cream

Makes 6 servings


1 pound firm white fish steaks or fillets, such as halibut, sea bass, or red snapper
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4cup palm vinegar or rice vinegar
1/2 cup coconut cream
1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 large tomato, diced
1 fresh red or green jalapeƱo chili, seeded and minced
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Butter lettuce leaves
1 ruby red grapfruit, segmented
2 tangerines, segmented

Getting Ready

  1. Remove skin and bones from fish; cut fish into 1/2-inch cubes and place in a nonreactive bowl. Add 1/4 cup lime juice and the vinegar; cover and refrigerate until fish turns opaque throughout, about 4 hours.
  2. For coconut cream, open a can of unsweetened coconut milk (do not shake it first). and spoon the thick cream off the top.
  3. Toast sesame seeds Place seeds in a small frying pan over medium heat; cook, shaking pan frequently, until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Immediately remove from pan to cool.


  1. Drain lime juice-vinegar mixture from fish and discard. To the fish, add remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice, onion, tomato, chili, ginger, coconut cream, sesame oil, salt, and pepper; stir gently to combine.
  2. Line a plate or bowl with lettuce leaves; top with grapefruit and orange segments, spoon mixture over them and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Adapted from Martin Yan's Asia (KQED Books & Tapes) Copyright Yan Can Cook Inc., 1997

Orange Chicken Adobo

Chicken speaks a tasty new language in this easy casserole, an orange-flavored version of the Filipino national dish.

Makes 4 servings


3/4 cup palm vinegar or rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 each chicken legs and thighs, fat trimmed
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons cooking oil
zest from 1 orange
segments from 1 orange
2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water

Getting Ready

In a 3-quart pan, combine vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaf, sugar, salt, and pepper. Add chicken and stir to coat each piece with marinade. Let stand for 30 minutes.


  1. Add water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer until meat near bone is no longer pink when cut, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove chicken with a slotted spoon; pat dry with paper towels. Reserve sauce and discard bay leaf.
  2. Place a wok over medium heat until hot. Add oil, swirling to coat sides. Add chicken and orange zest; cook until browned on all sides, 5 to 6 minutes total.
  3. Heat reserved sauce. Add cornstarch solution and cook, stirring, until sauce boils and thickens.
  4. Return chicken to sauce; and orange segments and stir until chicken is well glazed.
  5. Lift chicken from sauce and arrange on a serving platter. Pass extra sauce at the table.

Adapted from Martin Yan's Asia (KQED Books & Tapes) Copyright Yan Can Cook Inc., 1997