Saturday, April 24, 2010

Chinese cooking in the Philippines

I am descended from Sangleys, the Chinese who settled in Cavite. My great-grandfather, Alejandro Lavina left Cavite and settled in Cabuyao, Laguna, in the late 1800s. This was a time of revolution and I strongly suspect that Lelong may have been either fleeing the escalating violence or he was running from the Spanish authorities who may have suspected some kind of Katipunan ties. The latter is more likely, as Lelong later joined the Philippine forces in the Philippine-American war.

But this was indicative of the times. The Chinese were merely tolerated by the Spanish colonizers who never really quite shook off their fear of the pirate Lima-Hong, whose forces successfully breached what they then thought of as the impenetrable Intramuros walls. When Filipinos finally took the reins of power, we were not much different in our xenophobia to the point where laws were enacted specifically targetting the Chinese, whos industry and parimony allowed them to undercut the average Filipino businessman's profits. The Retail Trade Nationalization Act was passed because of this.

Still, despite all that, Chinese culture found its way into mainstream society, and food like pancit, siopao, sio mai and the more modern pearl drinks became part of our own cultural expression.

Perhaps because Chinese food is so integrated into the Philippine cultural experience, cooking schools teach it as a regular part of their curriculum. I learned this recipe in the basic cooking course.

Shrimp on Toast

1/2 k shrimp
1/2 c Chinese rice wine
sesame seeds
sesame oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 c cornstarch
1 t salt
1 t vetsin (optional)

Peel and marinate the shrimps in salt and wine for 3 hours. Pour sesame oil on it after three hours.

Beat eggs, then add cornstarch a little at a time until fully blended. Put shrimp into the egg mixture. Once fully coated, spoon shrimp one by one onto halved bread slices, Top with bacon and sprinkle sesame seeds. Deep fry until golden brown.

1 small can pineapple juice
2 T catsup
1 t tabasco
1/2 c sugar
2 T flour
1 T vinegar
1/2 t salt

Mix all in a saucepan over low fire, until desired thickness.

For an interesting discussion on the origins of allegedly popular Chinese food dishes, check this site:


Anonymous said...

Mmmmmmm. Yum.

juliuscesar103 said...

This dish used to be very popular in the u.s. chinese restaurants but I have not seen it being offered nowadays, not in Houston anyway. I wonder why. I love this dish.

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