When I was young someone said that Americans don’t find our food appetizing and that they are described as barf on a plate. I could never forget that. It has been in my subconscious, from then on, to do something to make foreign guests want to taste our food because they appeal to the senses, distinct, and are worthy of proper appreciation. It made me wonder where our hospitality, something we are largely known for, is based on, if not food?
Now that I am a chef, secretly or not, it is every Filipino chef’s dream to get our cuisine on the global stage, side-by-side popular cuisines as Japanese, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Mediterranean, and French, and also Thai, American (Cajun), and Indian. This time we are getting on that stage. With the influence of the world’s chefs, every Filipino chef’s brilliant effort to present our food in any which way is truly laudable.
But some years back, when I was younger, I asked myself why our cuisine wasn’t known to the rest of the world. It wasn’t like we were holding it here like a well-kept secret. And how is it done, to make a dish known to the world? Becoming a chef skilled and schooled me enough to find ways to level up a dish notches higher from a barfy state to an item that can be laid next to known foreign entrées.
Chefs, including foodies, twist and tweak our popular food fares through fusion—beautifully delightful mash-ups. And you know what? It works! BUT, most of the time the identity of the course is lost. Sad to be the one to break that news.
My idea of a fusion dish is that once you close your eyes, catch a hint of the aroma it brings, and savor it in your mouth, you won’t be moved off-track because you will be experiencing the classic. No identity is lost. While some would plate it a la western, Nordic, or Michelin-worthy presentations, some would do deconstruction and use different methods. Still, others would substitute ingredients.
So how do I do it? I go with deconstruction, or change in cooking method, which requires a totally different plating technique. To prove that, here’s my take on Pork Barbeque and Atchara with Bread, one of the hors d’oeuvre I served in a private party in Wack Wack.
Featured image: Party surprise by CCL
Pulled-Pork Barbecue and Grilled Pineapple on Pandesal Bruschetta
Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 20 minutes
Good for 4-6 persons
Ingredients for the Marinade
½ kg Pork Shoulder (kasim), sliced thinly
1 Tbsp Garlic, minced
1 cup Juice from canned Pineapple chunks
½ tsp Freshly ground Black Pepper
½ cup Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Cane Vinegar
1 tsp Tomato Paste
1 tsp Brown Sugar
Procedure. In a bowl, combine all ingredients, mix well, and marinate at least for 3 hours. Pan-grill marinated pork and shred by pulling its fiber, then set aside. In a pan, bring leftover marinade to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Make sure it reaches a runny syrup consistency, then set aside. This will serve as glaze later.
For the Grilled Pineapple Chunks
10-12 pcs Pineapple chunks
Procedure. In a nonstick pan, sear pineapple chunks on all sides and set aside.
For Pandesal Bruschetta
3 pcs Pandesal
Procedure. Slice pandesal making 6-12 round pieces, depending on thickness. Toast until crunchy and set aside.
Spring Onions, chopped finely
Place on each Pandesal Bruschetta approximately a tablespoon of pulled pork, followed by a grilled pineapple chunk. Drizzle with barbeque glaze (cooked marinade), and garnish with chopped spring onions.
Have a hearty break.
Chef Chris Lachenal strives to elevate Filipino cuisine and revive dishes that are slowly losing popularity. A former chef instructor, he emphasized the importance of understanding the process of things in order to grasp refinement in food. As a chef-for-hire he satisfies his clients, always. He is creative, passionate and believes that everything must be done with love. He strongly believes that the smallest detail makes a difference.