My husband Romy Dorotan and I have been running Purple Yam restaurant in Brooklyn these past few years but I’ve been going back and forth to the Philippines to research and explore regional food items and tracking down handed-down recipes from generation to generation.
The flavors of pre-refrigeration are part of our legacy. Heritage and heirloom food, like the original varieties of livestock and crops, are the trend within the organic food movement.
Here are 8 regional foods that all Pinoys should try (and let their foreign friends try, too!).
Pia Lim-Castillo (+632-729-5413) sells these three really fabulous natural and organic vinegars that I use all the time.
In Roxas City and Guimaras, they have the dukduk which is a block of salt cooked down by burning driftwood collected from the beach and water is passed through the coal to collect the salt from the sea water. Coconut milk is added and the whole thing is cooked down to evaporate the water to leave a block of salt. People use this like hard cheese and grate them over garlic fried rice.
Unfortunately, only a few families make this now. Clueless airport people in NAIA confiscated my dukdok when I tried to bring this home with me from Manila to NYC, be sure to pack this in your check-in baggage!
I like the purple ones like the diket from the Cordilleras. Very difficult to harvest because it is semi-glutinous and the farmers have to harvest the grains fast before the birds eat them up.
Also try nipa lambanog from Infanta, Quezon. This will be the “in” alcoholic beverage of the Philippines soon!
Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan are the authors of “Memories of Philippine Kitchens.” Besa is president of Ang Sariling Atin Culinary Heritage Institute.
Have you tried any of Amy’s recommendations? What other regional food varieties should Pinoys experience? Share in the Comments Section.