Posted in Restaurant Hopping, The Flavors of Asia, The Pinoy Food Route

In Which We Talk About the Filipino Equivalents of Steak and Eggs…

Grilled pork belly rib slice marinated adobo-style with soy-garlic rice, a fried egg, and papaya relish
Grilled pork belly rib slice marinated adobo-style with soy-garlic rice, a fried egg, and papaya relish

Steak and eggs: it’s a double-protein combination that has been popular in the United States since the turn of the 20th Century when farmhands ate well-done beef with fried eggs and hashed-up spuds for breakfast in order to have enough strength and stamina to do a day’s worth of back-breaking manual labor.  (Note that this was way before the invention of the modern tractor, sower, and combine harvester.)  While it has dimmed in popularity in recent years due to things like calorie and cholesterol counts and California cuisine, its many variations – ex.: chicken-fried steak and red-flannel hash with eggs – are still a staple in numerous roadside diners and small-town cafes.

In the Philippines, similar plates have been savored by locals for quite some time now.  It is interesting to note, however, that we don’t eat these for breakfast.  Au contraire, mes amies: these usually show up as either lunch or dinner!

Local spins on steak and eggs are a part of ‘silog culture, which is to say that these are usually pan-fried or grilled meats served with garlic fried rice and a fried egg  The most similar to steak and eggs is the tapsilog – smoked beef strips (tapa or pindang) – which is commonly eaten for breakfast.  A variation on that particular theme is bistek-silog.  This features bistek – thin beef fillets, possibly strip sirloin or breakfast steaks, marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, calamansi limes, and garlic; it is a rather savory-sour dish that goes beautifully with the rice and the sour edge is perfect for tempering the richness of the egg,

Pork, the most popular meat in the country, also lends itself to similar treatment.  Bakeshop/cafeteria-style eatery Goldilocks offers an adobo rice medley as shown above where grilled liempo (pork belly) is soaked in an adobo marinade (vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and black pepper) prior to grilling.  The end result is a rich slice of pork, smoky, sweet, and faintly tart.  A dish of achara – papaya relish – cuts down the richness of both the pork and the fried egg that comes along with it, while the rice is made savory by the addition of soy sauce and minced onions.  It is the sort of meal that you can indulge in whenever the world seems more than a little off and you need something richly flavored yet simple and satisfyingly filling.  🙂

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Author:

Midge started her career in PR writing at seventeen when she began drafting documentaries for a government-run television station in the Philippines. Since then, she made a career in advertising and public relations which ended earlier this year. These days, she works for a corporate governance advocacy in Makati. Aside from what she does for a living and her poetry, she has turned her home kitchen into a personal culinary lab and is currently working on another novel.

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