Aimed at boosting the standing of Filipino cuisine globally, the Kulinarya Project was co-created by the Asia Society's Philippine Foundation, Anvil Publishing and the Philippine Department of Tourism. One of the project's achievements is this book - but putting it together was no easy task.
"The principal challenge in producing a guidebook to Philippine cuisine is that Filipinos are by nature highly individualistic and diverse. The preparation and presentation of Filipino food are tremendously varied, even within the same province, town or neighbourhood, in the same way, for example, that villages separated by less than an hour's walk in the Cordillera mountains speak completely different languages and regard each other as foreigners," says Glenda Barretto, chair of the Kulinarya Project.
"Kulinarya's first challenge was to draw up a list of Filipino dishes most representative of our diverse culture … After much debate, the selected recipes were force-classified into courses - even if Filipinos do not always serve meals by courses. This was done to make the cuisine more understandable by international norms, and to make menu planning … easier."
If you were to ask anyone familiar with Filipino food what flavour makes the cuisine distinctive, they'd probably name sourness, which comes primarily through vinegar (of which there are many types), but also through fruits and leaves such as tamarind, calamansi and unripe pineapple and mango. This is apparent in many dishes, the best known of which is adobo - cooked, pickled meat, seafood or vegetables, which is "considered by many a Philippine national dish".
The six Filipino chefs who wrote the recipes featured here give eight variations, including stewed chicken in vinegar and coconut cream; stewed chicken and pork in vinegar and soy sauce; banana blossom in white vinegar; and braised water-spinach in vinegar.
Other well-known recipes include lechon de leche (roasted suckling pig); sisig (thrice-cooked pork); crispy pata (crisp pork knuckle); sinigang (meat or seafood in soured broth); kinilaw (vinegar-cured fish); laing (taro leaves in coconut milk) and halo halo (mixed fruits and beans with shaved ice).