May, 2018

February, 2018

  • How a chef cooks for those he loves

    13 February, 2018 How a chef cooks for those he loves

    Skipping the crowds in favour of a lovingly prepared meal at home is your best bet for a romantic Valentine’s Day. This is chef Jock Zonfrillo's idea of a nice night in.
    Read more…

January, 2018

December, 2017

October, 2017

September, 2017

  • Win a pro toastie pack

    18 September, 2017 Win a pro toastie pack

    Indulge in the ultimate comfort food with this kit, including a no-mess Breville press, a copy of Darren Purchese's Chefs Eat Toasties Too and a subscription to Cooked.
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August, 2017

July, 2017

June, 2017

  • Winter entertaining with Gill Meller

    08 June, 2017 Winter entertaining with Gill Meller

    Gill Meller is in the country, his first time to Australia, showcasing his beautiful book Gather with a series of dinners and classes. We caught up with him to find out what's on the menu for his Aussie guests.
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May, 2017

April, 2017

February, 2017

January, 2017

December, 2016

October, 2016

September, 2016

August, 2016

July, 2016

June, 2016

May, 2016

April, 2016

March, 2016

February, 2016

January, 2016

December, 2015

November, 2015

  • Christmas basics: the perfect custard

    27 November, 2015 Christmas basics: the perfect custard

    We're looking at those staple recipes that can make or break your Christmas spread. First up, the much-misunderstood sweet seductress, custard.
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  • Halfway Home

    16 November, 2015 Halfway Home

    I’ve been sugar-free for a total of two weeks, and things are going surprisingly well...
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  • Bubbles or nothing

    11 November, 2015 Bubbles or nothing

    Out to impress this party season? To take your entertaining game to the next level, we’ve teamed up with our friends at Halliday Wine Companion to share tips on matching sparkling wines to a range of show-stopping canapes.
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  • The anatomy of the perfect burger

    11 November, 2015 The anatomy of the perfect burger

    Looking for your next weekend challenge? Why not have a crack at making your own cheeseburgers from scratch? Chef Daniel Wilson shares the secret recipe to recreating his famed Huxtaburger, from bun to patty and everything in between.
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  • No Sugar November

    04 November, 2015 No Sugar November

    This month while the boys are growing staches, I’ll be growing a conscience about all the confectionary I consume.
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October, 2015

September, 2015

May, 2015

April, 2015

March, 2015

February, 2015

January, 2015

December, 2014

November, 2014

October, 2014

September, 2014

August, 2014

July, 2014

June, 2014

May, 2014

April, 2014

March, 2014

February, 2014

  • Margaret Fulton's expert guide to preserves

    27 February, 2014 Margaret Fulton's expert guide to preserves

    Jams, pickles, chutneys, sauces, compotes and conserves are the best way to preserve abundant produce so you can enjoy your fruit and veg all year round. Margaret Fulton shares her guide to the art of preserving.
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  • Melbourne Food & Wine Festival 2014 | Our picks

    27 February, 2014 Melbourne Food & Wine Festival 2014 | Our picks

    The Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, running from February 28 to March 16, begins in just over a week. We’ve put together our picks of the fest.
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  • Philippa Sibley's expert guide to sweet pastry

    24 February, 2014 Philippa Sibley's expert guide to sweet pastry

    Master of the dough Philippa Sibley shares her step-by-step guide to making sweet shortcrust pastry, taking you through everything you need to know to perfect the art of peerless pâte.
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  • In season | Eggplant

    21 February, 2014 In season | Eggplant

    The unsung hero of the nightshade family, eggplant is found in cuisines the world over. From Sicily to South East Asia, the Middle East to the Mediterranean, many signature dishes feature the versatile aubergine. We sing the praises of the humble eggplant.
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  • Everything you need to know about cuts of pork

    17 February, 2014 Everything you need to know about cuts of pork

    Meat expert and chef Adrian Richardson explains the different cuts of pork, and what you should use them for.
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  • Sticky business | A guide to meat on sticks

    14 February, 2014 Sticky business | A guide to meat on sticks

    Skewers, kebabs, shaslicks, yakitori … Whatever you call them, meat just tastes better when cooked on a stick. We share our tips to help you ace the skewers at your next barbecue.
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  • In season | Figs

    06 February, 2014 In season | Figs

    Figs evoke the flavours of exotic decadence. Sweet and visually striking, figs make for a decadent tart topper, a sumptuous sticky jam or a delightful savoury venture with cold meats. We share some of our favourite fig recipes.
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  • Guide to styling handmade edible gifts

    05 February, 2014 Guide to styling handmade edible gifts

    There's nothing more thoughtful than a handmade edible gift. April Carter shares her tips and tricks for making beautiful and delicious treats for those you love.
    Read more…

January, 2014

December, 2013

November, 2013

South East Asian food (but not as you know it)

By
Yasmin Newman
Added
06 March, 2014

Yasmin Newman extols the many and varied virtues of Filipino cooking – a cuisine steeped in history from a culture in love with food.

Meet a Filipino and you will invariably be asked: kumain ka na ba? 'Have you eaten?’ The inquiry is both greeting and invitation. Food is never far from Filipinos’ thoughts.

Food is more than a pleasurable pursuit. It is the cultural language of the Philippines. The people use it to apologise, woo a woman, ask a favour or say thank you. It fills in social gaps and crosses borders of religion and class. Food is the best communicator for non-confrontational Filipinos; it is more palatable than words and flavoured precisely to their tastes. Its meaning is always clear.

Filipino cuisine is unlike any other: a medley of unique native ingredients in creative combinations. Their love of sweet, which they meld magically with savoury, is defining, as is their expert use of vinegar, for which they have a seemingly endless arsenal of varieties and applications. While distinctive, its profile also lends confusion to foreign interpretations of the cuisine. It is not South East Asian, as many people know it.

The Philippines’ past helps tell the story. Filipinos survived more than 350 years of colonial rule and weathered countless other visitors thanks to their unbounded hospitality. Instead of fighting, they received. Flexibility with new ways preserved the existing cultural flame. A preference for pork, the omnipresence of pancit  (noodles) and a soft spot for towering cakes are all illuminated in the annals of history and tales of the motley crews that left their mark. It is a fascinating saga — one of native tribes, Arab missionaries, Chinese merchants, Spanish conquistadors, Mexican viceroys and American GI Joes.

Seafood is a constant in Filipino lives. Before outsiders arrived — Chinese with pigs, Spanish with cattle, Americans with tinned items — locals gathered food from the watery deep. Seafood is the purest form of Filipino food; it is the country’s native cuisine. Time-old cooking techniques continue to this day: inihaw (roasting over coals), halabos (steaming), sinigang (poaching in broth) and kinilaw (ceviche). Experience proved that a fresh catch is best unmarred and needs little adornment. Over time, more indulgent styles of ginataan (cooked in coconut milk), relleno (stuffed) and escabeche (sweet and sour) have enriched the collection.

Another favourite is barbeque, and when it comes to native rotisseries, Filipinos are top-guns. Lechon, the country’s whole roasted suckling pig, has achieved near-international celebrity food status. Pig is most common, but whole beef and goat are cooked over coals and similarly devoured straight from the carcass.

The country’s rich and varied desserts distinguish the Philippines from its neighbours in South East Asia — a region, by Western standards, rarely coupled with refined treats. The Spanish brought flans, crèmes and meringues; later, the Americans added pies, layer cakes and jelly. Today, they are firmly Filipino; only foreign names, such as brazo de Mercedes and mango float, betray origin. While popular native sweets made from rice abound, they are classified merienda (snack fare). Sugar, flour, eggs and milk are the major forces behind the country’s desserts and many resemble those of the West in shape and form. The addition of local ingredients sets them apart. Pili nuts and cashews take the place of almonds, while milk from the carabao (water buffalo), as well as condensed and evaporated milks are used instead of fresh cow’s milk. Indigenous fruit and vegetables, such as makapuno (sweetened coconut) are thrown in, too.

While the Philippines shares the tradition of serving cakes for birthdays and special occasions, desserts do not finish Filipino meals; they complement flavours already on the table. In the Philippines, there’s no need to wait till the end of a meal for a sweet fix. And really, who is going to argue with that?

Yasmin Newman is the author of 7000 Islands, her culinary journey through the Philippines.


COOK FILIPINO RECIPES FROM YASMIN NEWMAN

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