Arguably one of the Queens of Western Sydney specialising in the boodle feast and classic Filipino dishes, the recent pop-up at Sizzling Fillo held by the Filipino Food Movement (FFMA) saw Chef Nina Cruz step out of her comfort zone telling a new culinary story of her native country’s cuisine.
The FFMA monthly gathering “Mabuhay Nights” is open to all with ticketed events hosted at a new restaurant each month. You can join chefs, local businesses and food lovers experiencing the vision that calls on each host Chef to recreate and modernise homeland dishes.
For regulars of Sizzling Fillo, it was interesting to see Chef Nina’s French cooking techniques and methods emerge when given a new canvas to tell the culinary story of the Philippines. Collaborating with guest Chef Pierre Lucente and his passion for creating a sensory experience in his dishes, we saw an exciting evolution of dishes reminiscent of old favorites and madeover into haute cuisine.
Six dishes were presented and these are some of the highlights from the evening:
North of Manila in the town of Batac, Illocos, is a different version of the typical flaky crumble to the Empanadas unique to the Vigan Illocos district. Rice flour is used here affecting the texture with a chewiness and contrasting glutenous centre. In this rendition, Cruz and Lucente use green papaya, mung beans and ground Ilocos sausages (Longganisa) for their filling.
This chicken stew (Pocherong Manok) uses a tomato based sauce with diced carrot, potato, chick peas, cabbage and chorizo. Variations across the country will see various protein adaptations and braising in the meat’s broth. There is a familiarity with the flavour of a Menudo / Ginamay.
Nilupak at Panutsa will be unrecognisable to those familiar with the Filipino delicacy of pounded starch (cassava, sugar banana or plantains). It’s reconstituted in spherical form (usually made into a block), coated in coconut amongst the beautiful chaotic heap of nuts, whipped butter, edible flowers and perfectly placed shards of peanut brittle.
The dining experience of this series of pop-ups is a great way for the younger generations of Australian born expats and the wider community to acquaint themselves into regions not typically explored in the mainstream dining scene. It also allows some of our favorite local chefs to challenge conventional cooking techniques with a vision to share the same passion of a nation’s food story.