Image courtesy of Mike Chuaunsu
Amidst a territorial dispute over an island in the South China Sea, renamed West Philippine Sea as of late, the friendship between the citizens of the Philippines and China, which dates back before the coming of Magellan, remains cordial. Notably, the communion rail in the St. Paul Cathedral in Vigan suggests the early Filipino-Chinese cultural connection. Our very own Filipino cuisine has been significantly influenced by the Chinese settlement during the Spanish Colonial Era, in the manner that we have adopted Spanish and American cuisines as components of the diverse Filipino food culture.
Remember the guest cook, Zeng Peng Lee, who shared authentic mainland Chinese recipes for the blog? The dad, the biggest influence on his culinary skills, followed him to Ilocos in a brief vacay. A native of Jin Jiang, Li Jun Xiong might have wanted to see for himself what makes Ilocos tick for his son.
At a dinner prepared by Jun Xiong, his beef ribs stewed in ginger and spices and the plain-looking bones and tang kwa soup made us swoon. Interestingly, traditional Chinese food appears spartan, quite deceiving of the natural rich flavors of tried and tested combinations. He used local dried fish for the mouthwatering salted fish rice, which was cooked like kiam peng (akin to arroz a la Valenciana). The deep-fried spareribs were cooked the way Zeng Peng did cho ma.
The Lees in Ilocos extended their hospitality to Jun Xiong by way of a send-off dinner at Fort Ilocandia’s Red 8, the best Chinese tea house in town. Because Chinese cooking is regionalistic, taste differs from country to country. In busy rotation was the Lazy Susan with 2-way Peking duck, seafood hot pot, salt and pepper spareribs and hot prawn salad.
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