9 Pinoy pantry staples
Some food magazines say that Filipino food is one of the trends to watch out for in 2017. For us Pinoys, it is clear to us what our food is. For foreigners, the diversity of Filipino cuisine makes it difficult to describe. The Chinese and Spanish influence can be seen in several dishes. We no longer included salt and pepper as these are present in most cuisines. We only picked those that make a dish distinctly Pinoy.
1. Patis. How can you argue with this. Imagine tinola, sinigang, or bulalo without this.
2. Bagoong, fish or alamang. I prefer the fish bagoong with boiled okra or grilled talong. If it’s ampalaya wrapped in foil and grilled over the coals, I prefer alamang. Bagoong alamang also goes better with kare-kare. Somehow, I can’t imagine kare-kare with fish bagoong. It is also indispensable when cooking pakbet.
3. vegetable oil. You may argue that all cuisines have some oil but this needs to be spelled out. And when we say vegetable oil, we mean lauric oil and not palm oil. Lauric oil comes from coconut which is indigenous here unlike palm oil that required huge tracts of land to be razed so that they can plant palm. Lauric oil is perfect for ginisa because its flavor is neutral and it takes on the flavors of the aromatics you put in such as onions, garlic and ginger. The same cannot be said of other oils
4. catsup, banana or tomato. Come on. Don’t tell me you don’t have catsup in your pantry. How would you make Pinoy spaghetti or pork barbecue without them? And, the rellenong bangus and embotido are incomplete without them.
5. soy sauce. We Pinoys only have one kind of soy sauce and it is thicker than the Chinese or Japanese soy sauce. It makes all the difference when you cook adobo.
6. calamansi. This is indispensable to any dipping sauce. Pair it with soy sauce if you’re eating grilled fish or liempo and pair it with bagoong for the grilled veggies. Squeeze it on you pansit and bulalo to give them a zing.
7. chilies. You cannot make laing, sisig, or kilawin without this. It also goes into the dipping sauce.
8. vinegar.. You cannot make the unofficial national dish without this. How on earth can you make adobo without vinegar?
9. tinapa, tuyo, daing, and other dried fish. These store well and are easy to cook. When you wake up in the morning and realize you haven’t thawed the longganisa or tocino, these are lifesavers. They cook fast and go well with rice. You can use the tinapa to add umami to your pansit, monggo, and other dishes. The tuyo and other dried fish are also used to add flavor to vegetable dishes.
This list isn’t exhaustive but it’s more than enough if you cook Pinoy food.