Filipino Chinese cuisine

Filipino Chinese cuisine

There are many types of foods in the Philippines because of inhabitants residing in the country. Most of the Chinese Filipinos are ones who have businesses in Chinese food and service restaurants. Restaurants are frequently seen as places where there is a large number of Chinese Filipinos living in that area or somewhere nearby. The food is usually Cantonese where the chefs are from Hong Kong. Typically the Chinese name of a particular food is given a Filipino name or close equivalent in name to simplify pronunciation.

Chicken mami


Filipino cuisine is influenced principally by China, Spain, and the United States, integrated into the pre-colonial indigenous Filipino cooking practices.[1] When restaurants were established in the 19th century, Chinese food became a staple of the pansiterias, with the food given Spanish names. The "comida China" (Chinese food) includes arroz caldo (rice and chicken gruel), and morisqueta tostada (fried rice). When the Spaniards came, the food influences they brought were from both Spain and Mexico, as it was through the vice-royalty of Mexico that the Philippines were governed.

In the Philippines, trade with China started in the 11th century, as documents show, but it is conjectured that undocumented trade may have started even two centuries earlier. Trade pottery excavated in Laguna, for example, includes pieces dating to the Tang Dynasty (AD 618 - 907). The Chinese trader supplied the silks sent to Mexico and Spain in the galleon trade. In return they took back products of field, forest - beeswax, rattan - and sea, such as beche de mer. While they waited for goods and for payment, they lived here, and sometimes settled and took Filipino wives, a development that resulted in many Filipinos having Chinese origins, bloodlines and the culture now called "Chinoy" (Chinese - Pinoy). It was a development that resulted in major Chinese inputs into Philippine cuisine.

Evidence of Chinese influence in Philippine food is easy to find, since the names are an obvious clue. Pansit, the dish of noodles flavored with seafood and/or meat and/or vegetables, for example, comes from the Hokkien piān-ê-si̍t meaning something that is conveniently cooked: usually fried," however, pansit now names only noodle dishes, and not only stir fried or sauteed, but shaken in hot water and flavored with a sauce (pansit luglog), served with broth (mami, lomi) even a pasta form that is not noodle shaped, but is of the same flour-water formuation, such as pansit molo (pork filled wontons in a soup). One can conjecture without fear that the early Chinese traders, wishing for the food of their homelands, made noodles in their temporary Philippine homes. Since they had to use the ingredients locally available, a sea change occurred in their dishes. If they took Filipino wives, as they often did, and these learned or ventured to cook the noodles for them, then their Filipino tastebuds came into play as well, transforming the local ingredients into a variant dish into an adapted, indigenized Filipino pansit.

Further adaptation and indigenization would occur in the different towns and regions. Thus Malabon, Rizal, a fishing village, has developed pansit Malabon, which features oyster, shrimp and squid. While in Lucban, Quezon which is deeply inland and nowhere near the sea has pansit habhab, which flavored only with a little meat and vegetables, and is so called because it is market food eat off the leaf (habhab).

The same thing has happened to lumpia, the Chinese eggroll which now has been incorporated into Philippine cuisine, even when it was still called lumpia Shanghai (indicating frying and a pork filling). Serving meat and/or vegetable in an edible wrapper is a Chinese technique now to be found in all of Southeast Asia in variations peculiar to each culture. The Filipino version has meat, fish, vegetables, heart of palm and combinations thereof, served fresh or fried or even bare.

The Chinese influence goes deep into Philippine cooking, and way beyond food names and restaurant fare. The use of soy sauce and other soybean products (tokwa, tahuri, miso, tausi, taho) is Chinese, as is the use of such vegetables as petsay, toge (mung bean sprout), pickled mustard greens (mustasa). Many cooking implements still bear their Chinese name, like sianse or turner. The Filipino carajay, spelled the Spanish way is actually a Chinese wok.

Cooking process, also derive from Chinese methods. Pesa is Hokkien for "plain boiled" (Chinese: 白煠; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: pe̍h-sa̍h) and it is used only in reference to the cooking of fish, the complete term being peq+sa+hi, the last morpheme meaning fish. In Tagalog it can mean both fish and chicken (pesang dalag, pesang manok). As well, foods such as patatim and patotim refer to the braising technique (Chinese: 燉 or 燖; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: tīm) used in Chinese cooking.

Since most of the early Chinese traders and settlers in the country were from Fukien, it is Hokkien food that is most widespread in influence. Since, however, restaurant food is often Cantonese, most of the numerous Chinese restaurant in the country serve both types. Other style of Chinese cuisine are available though in the minority.

Examples of dishes, pastries, and others


  1. ^ Doreen Fernandez (Last accessed 05-22-06). "What is Filipino Food?".