CNN International’s Culinary Journeys with Margarita Forés has now aired and the first episode of season two saw the Filipino chef, who was this year's recipient of Asia’s Best Female Chef award, take a special journey to Negros – an island where she spent her childhood. It's a place with unique local cuisine and an abundance of wonderful ingredients and one the chef loves to visit.
Below you can see the entire episode broken down into three parts as Forés explains the cuisine of the Philippines and takes you with her on a tasty journey into the world of Filipino desserts. There's also a series of questions with the chef as she talks about the rise of Filipino food - enjoy!
What was the highlight of your culinary journey?
In terms of my experience filming CNN’s ‘Culinary Journeys’, it was coming home, and being able to show the team how beautiful my province is. On a wider, career level, it has been the wave of recognition on the international stage – from presenting Philippine cuisine in Madrid Fusion as well as helping bring Madrid Fusion to Manila, presenting in Identity Golose in Milan, and most especially, being chosen Asia’s Best Female Chef 2016.
Filipino food is being touted as the next big food trend - even the new Peru. How does this feel for you as a Filipino chef?
I am very proud and extremely fulfilled because this has always been my lifelong advocacy. And together with my peers in the local food industry, I am proud and excited that our cuisine, and most especially our very unique ingredients, are now on the spotlight in the global culinary stage.
What is unique about the food of the Philippines?
The uniqueness of Philippine cuisine is embodied by two things. First, it is a cuisine influenced by our terroir. And second are the influences that touched our shores through the years. A very Malay cuisine already existed even before the Spaniards came. This was enhanced by our interaction with the Chinese traders; the Philippines being the gateway into Asia.
Then, in 1521, through the colonisation of Spain, the influence of Europe coupled with what was brought via the Galleon Trade through Mexico, enriched the cuisine even more. The way we adapted all these influences gave it a uniqueness that we can truly call our own. This coupled by another 48 years under the American rule has allowed it to evolve into something best described by our national dessert called halo-halo or mix-mix.
For people who have never heard about Filipino food before – what are some of the most famous dishes they should consider?
Perhaps, the kinilaw, our own take on ceviche, is most unique because there is evidence that this dish already existed a thousand years ago, way before any outside influence affected us. The use of vinegar together with citrus as souring agents, and the use of the freshest seafood and other ingredients available in different parts of the Philippines create a huge variety of versions of this dish.
Then, of course, there is the adobo, which is a dish influenced by the adobo of Mexico and Spain. But it is unique in the sense that the braise includes vinegar together with soy sauce, garlic, peppercorns and laurel. The classic one is done with chicken and pork, but because it is not just a dish but a style of cooking, the range of adobos has become quite wide, including those done with squid, vegetables and other proteins like beef, lamb and duck.
Then there’s our sour soup, sinigang, which is also iconic. We also have a wide range of dishes using coconut, like our binacol, a simple soup done with coconut water. Or laing, a Bicolano dish made with taro leaves and chili. Or many dishes from Mindanao islands like the pianggang made of burnt coconut meat or the de rigueur condiment called palapa. Or even our beef rendang.
Are there any particular Ingredients native to the Philippines?
There are lots. We have a huge variety of sour ingredients from our iconic calamansi to batwan from my province of Negros. Or even the gigantic dukban lemon from Batanes or the kaffir-like lemon called sua from Mindanao.
We also have a huge range of vinegars made of sugar cane, pineapple, and coconut. There are also fermented pastes and shrimp pastes like bagoong, ginamos and buro. But of course, our most iconic product is the Philippine mango that stands tall together with other unique fruits like our pink grapefruit, the pomelo, lansones, mangosteen, jackfruit or langka, chico, guyabano and marang.
What's the one culinary journey you always look forward to taking? For example, I love visit my hometown in England for fish and chips. What is your favourite culinary journey to take?
Going back to my home province of Negros is always heartwarming and a grounding experience for me. My grandfather Amado’s advice has always been to never forget how I started and never forget where I came from thus, going home to my roots always gives me a chance to be thankful for all my blessings. Of course, trips to Italy and New York are also always refreshing and enriching since these two places are close to my heart and are both where my passion for what I do today was born.
If we gave you a blank cheque and said you could take a culinary journey anywhere in the world - where would you go and why?
I have never been to Latin America. And the cuisines of Peru, Argentina, Colombia and Cuba are something of great interest to me. I would love to discover how our cuisine and culture connect to theirs.
The other countries still on my bucket list are Turkey, Denmark, and Russia.
Culinary Journeys will be on CNN International at the times below:
Saturday 28 May at 1230 BST
Sunday 29 May at 0530 BST