7 Chinese Treats Present in Every Pinoy Feast
by Shara Mae Balce, February 08, 2019 6:31pm
Art by Dani Elevazo
There is a rich trade relationship between the Philippines and China long before the Spaniards came. With a long history and many dates to mark, Chinese merchants brought over their tradition and culture to the Philippines. Some are ingrained in the everyday lives of Filipinos culture, and others formed a niche into the Filipino cuisine.
Undeniably, Filipinos love Chinese-influenced food. The following are treats that have won our taste:
A perfect match for rice, spaghetti, and pancit. Lumpia traces back its history to the Chinese “spring rolls” made of thin layers of dough, filled with vegetables, meat, or noodles. Lumpia is believed to originate from the Eastern Jin Dynasty’s celebration of Spring’s arrival—today, it’s a mainstay during local fiestas, special gatherings, or during snack time.
Pancit is a birthday party staple; originating from the Hokkien word “pian e sit,” which means “convenient food.” During the Spanish period, traveling Chinese vendors established panciterias where they deliver noodle dishes to the working class.. The recipe has evolved into many variations—from pansit habhab from Quezon province to flavourful stir-fried noodle dish with shrimp of Malabon—reflected the diversity of the Philippines’ regions.
Ma Mon Luk, a Chinese merchant is credited for the creation of Mami. He came to the Philippines to make a living and experimented with the the usual noodles sold in the streets of Sta. Cruz and Binondo in Manila—serving it with steamed chicken broth and meat (chicken, beef, or dumplings). Mami is one of the favorite dishes of Filipinos— to warm the stomach on a rainy afternoon or to cure a nasty hangover.
One of the Filipino’s morning treat, Taho is made up of a simple mixture of silken tofu usually served warm with brown sugar syrup and sago. Discovered by a Chinese cook while preparing soy milk soup, the sweet tofu was accidentally mixed with unrefined sea salt and grounded soybeans.
The starchy mung bean paste, the Ube filling, its flaky, sweet dough of hopia makes it a favorite merienda treat among Filipinos. Hailing from Fujian, China, this Hokkien specialty was introduced to Filipinos in the early 1900s as a simple bean-filled pastry—a perfect pasalubong for friends and families.
Sweet-savory barbequed meat in a soft bun is popular across Asia. In the Philippines, this Hokkien delicacy is found everywhere: on streets, malls, and convenience stores. Siopao is the Philippine version of the Cantonese pork-filled hot bun called “baozi,” which means “steamed buns.” After some time, Filipino bakers took the liberty with the filling. The traditional siopao now comes in different variants: asado (stewed pork), bola-bola (minced meat filling with a salted egg),chicken, pizza- or chocolate-flavored.) Sometimes, it comes with a thick brown sauce on the side, which adds a more delectable taste.
Who would dare to ignore these bite-sized dumplings served with chili sauce, minced toasted garlic in oil, and soy sauce? Siomai or shumai is a traditional Chinese dumpling discovered in the ancient times served to rural farmers who visit teahouses after a hard day’s work. It’s usually filled with shrimp, ground pork, Chinese black mushrooms, green onions, and ginger.Pork fat is added to the mixture giving the dumplings the perfect consistency that Filipinos love.
Satisfy your cravings now with the Chinese delicacies you love just in time for the Chinese New Year. Share with us your favorites!