Monday, July 25, 2011

The Filipino Embutido: Not Just a Holiday Treat

In 1521 the Spanish set foot on Philippine soil and thus began the introduction of the natives to the Spanish influence in way of life and everyday cooking. The Philippines, having been a colony of Spain for almost 400 years, has brought about a unique quality in local cuisine. Many food historians say that about 80% of Filipino cooking is derived from Spanish roots.

Along with the introduction of spices, the Filipino tradition of sautéing garlic, onions and tomatoes in oil in daily meals can be traced to the very first governor general in the Philippines, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. He taught his household help how to make his favorite Spanish dishes, and they in turn passed on the recipes to other friends and relatives, thus establishing the beginnings of Filipino cooking. Soon the Spaniards migrated and inter-married and various twists were added to adapt to the other local ingredients in the country.

Today’s local cuisine have come from the many different cultural influences, but common Filipino dishes served on special occasions are of Spanish roots.

Christmas is the most celebrated holiday around the world, and in the Philippines, the preparation in anticipation of Christmas begins as early as August. Christmas songs start to hit the airwaves and Christmas decorations are put up in the malls in September. The preparations keep building until Christmas day, and festivities culminate on New Years’ day.

One of the favorite dishes served in the Philippines during the holiday season is embutido. Embutido is said to be known as a type of sausage which you can find in Spain, Portugal and in Central and South America. In the Philippines however, the embutido is known as a traditional Filipino meatloaf only it’s more complex in terms of ingredients, moreover, it isn’t encased in sausage skin. The typical ground meat is used, in this case it’s ground pork. An assortment of components are then added to the meat. There is cheese, raisins, chicken, pickle relish, hard boiled eggs and Vienna sausages. Salt and pepper is added. The concoction is then rolled into long logs then wrapped in aluminum foil and steamed until cooked. This can be frozen and when ready to be eaten, just slice some, about half an inch thick. I use Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce and Tabasco for dipping sauce. Embutido today is a more common viand that is not reserved for just the holiday season. It makes any day feel almost like Christmas.

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