“Filipino cuisine” spans the kitchens of 7,641 islands and an international diaspora, so it’s necessarily an amalgamation of cultures. It most prominently draws from Spanish, Chinese and a plethora of Western influences, thanks to historic colonisation and trade routes in the region. Under Spanish colonisation, sour, salty and spicy flavour profiles from fermentation and preservation shaped the country’s culinary culture. During the same period, Chinese trades introduced soy sauce, sauté techniques, and noodle dishes.
Before Western colonisers introduced refrigerators and ice, many Filipino dishes were born out of the need to introduce a method of preservation. Food was air-dried, salted, or smoked, including breakfast staples like tapa, a dried and cured beef; the salty cure on tocino, and smoky longanisa sausages, all of which remain cornerstones of the cuisine. The Filipino palate is characterised by acidity, balanced with sweetness and fermented umami: vinegar, fermented fish pastes and sauces like bagoong and patis, garlic, calamansi, soy sauce and rice (an accompaniment that often differentiates a full meal from a snack.)
As history has shaped the cuisine, so it has its representation in London. Ten years ago, Josephine’s was one of the few Filipino restaurants in London, which has sadly closed down. But it set out a stall for today, when there are kitchens all over the capital, built by chefs and restaurateurs championing Filipino cuisine as a way to reconnect to their heritage, mould their culture with that of London, or cater to their own nostalgic palates.Read More