Love For Filipino Food
Filipino food is amazing. Let me say that again, Filipino food is AMAZING! I think it’s the most underrated and unexplored cuisines out there. I’m not quite sure why that is either. I mean, every cuisine seems to need a vessel or a product to put itself on the map. Adobo is pretty popular but is it Pho popular? For example, Pho came out HARD in the 90’s and took Vietnamese food to the next level in every major city. Hell, it even gave life to a multi-million dollar company called Sriracha. But, Filipino food just hasn’t had that vessel yet. Senior Sisig in SF has definitely helped to put Filipino food on the map in the Bay Area, but it’s so far from what really lies beneath the amazing food that the culture has to offer.
But It’s Not Vegan…YET
There’s just one problem with Filipino food…it’s nowhere near Vegan. In fact, I feel like every dish has a little bit of pork fat sitting within its deep flavors and that’s where I struggle with the food today. I loved it so much when I was eating meat, that I found myself getting addicted to it’s indulgence of crispy pork, stewed pork blood, adobo chicken, and fried fish. But it wasn’t until I started switching to a plant-based diet, to stop my chest pains, where I realized how dangerous Filipino food really was. In fact, Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the Philippines, with over 170,000 deaths per year. This still doesn’t top the United State’s toll of over 600,000 per year, but it’s still bad.
What are we to do? Well, we have to hit the reset button. It’s the button that we push to relinquish our addictive habits and just start over. To assist with this process, we have to start recreating the diet to be healthy, meaningful, and full of life, without taking away the traditional flavors of the food. I truly believe that if we take out the animal products that are present in every Filipino dish, and substitute it with great vegetable and fruit replacements, we’ll be on our way to finding a major way to prevent heart disease for everyone who loves the cuisine.
To kick shit off right, we’re going to do a traditional flavored Adobo dish made with Jackfruit instead of Chicken. Jackfruit Adobo is the beginning of what I hope to be a series of great Filipino recipes I can share with the world. Jackfruit by itself is crazy good because it shreds like meat and has a texture very comparable to shredded pork or chicken. I was stoked to find out that Trader Joe’s is now carrying Jackfruit in brine, so if you’re looking for where to get this stuff, stock up at Trader Joe’s!
Authentic From The Ground Up
If we’re going to make Filipino Adobo, then you have to use the right soy sauce and vinegar! If you can find Datu Puti brand stuff, you’ll be able to keep this dish REAL AF. I have to give credit to my girlfriend Kitty, for putting me on game with this stuff…she’s super picky about her Filipino food being authentic, so best believe that the soy and vinegar make all the difference!
I threw a mix of soy and vinegar in with a touch of peppercorn, garlic, and bay leaf. Potatoes act as a really great complement to the dish, but also help to thicken the sauce up later, so we’ll throw in a small potato here that’s been cut into large chunks.
We’ll let this simmer for about 15 minutes to let all the flavors blend together.
While we’re waiting for this, we can start on shredding the Jackfruit. I like to give the Jackfruit a good rinse under cold water, to remove some of that brine flavor and salt. Since this dish will be salty enough from the soy sauce, this step is really helpful to reduce our sodium intake.
Once we get everything shredded up in a mixing bowl, we’ll want to dredge the jackfruit in a little bit of flour so we can give it a sear and a nice browning on the fruit. It will help to dry it out a little bit too, so the texture is best for the stew.
Heat a non-stick pan up with a little bit of oil to give the Jackfruit that nice golden browning. This should only take a couple of minutes done over a medium heat.
For some touch of flavor, I sprinkled the Jackfruit with some garlic powder and onion powder. I could literally just eat it like that over rice, it’s so good! When everything has a nice color to it, we’ll toss this into the pot of our simmering soy and vinegar combo and let it go, for another 15 minutes.
Lastly, and this is totally optional, is the pine nuts. I love pine nuts, especially when they are toasted because they give a very hearty and meaty punch of flavor to the dish. Almost pork-like…I kid you not! So we’ll take some toasted pine nuts and mince them up real fine, to give our adobo just a little more dimension.
While we wait for the jackfruit to absorb all the flavors, we’ll need to do a couple of quick steps to complete the meal.
Rice is so critical to Filipino food…that’s gotta be the understatement of the year! Rice is the best vehicle to soak up all the vinegar and soy sauce that the dish brings. Now the trick to fluffy rice is stick your finger into the bottom of the pan, then raise it back up until it just touches the surface of the rice. You’ll use your index finger 1st knuckle line to make sure your water is at the right level and that’s it! Heat the rice on low for about 20 minutes covered for the perfect fluffy rice.
Next up is our tomatoes and onions for toppings.
Traditionally, this side dish is made with fish sauce or shrimp paste, so to substitute that really quick, we’ll just drop in some Maggi sauce for some umami flavor.
By now, you should be able to check on the adobo and give it a quick stir. The flavors and aromas of soy sauce and vinegar should hit the air when you lift that lid. The potatoes should be almost at a fall-apart state, and the sauce should be just about ready! There’s just one last step to balance out the salt and acidity from the sauce, and that’s adding in 1 tbsp of coconut creamer. This will give the dish a little more richness while helping to mellow out the salt. Give a quick final stir and you’re ready to grub!
There’s some amazing things we can do with plant-based ingredients, like saving lives one meal at a time, and I hope you find this dish just as amazing I do.