Filipino food flair


POSTED: Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Saturday night will be a coming-out party for Filipino food gone upscale.

Thanks to the prompting of Filipino Community Center board member Cecilia Villafuerte, this year's benefit, “;Filipino Flavors,”; will present specially prepared Ilocano and Tagalog dishes done in a sophisticated style, newly dubbed Filipino Fusion Cuisine.

“;Filipino food is basic home cooking, like Italian,”; said Michael Rabe, professional catering executive of the nearly quarter-century-old Creations in Catering. “;For this event we're elevating its basic flavors, putting out tradition-based dishes in a nontraditional way.”;

For example, Sergio's Italian Table chef Rodhel Ibay will be preparing and cooking on-site what he calls a “;deconstructed pinakbet,”; which he named grilled chicken caponata. “;The difference is that there's no fermented fish paste, and I'm using instead tomato, garlic, herbs and spices,”; he said.

Ibay's other dish, a pork adobo risotto, was still being fine-tuned when we spoke to him on Friday.

“;With Filipino Fusion we're taking European techniques to approach Filipino food in a new way,”; Rabe said.





        » Where: Casamina/Flores Ballroom, Filipino Community Center, 94-428 Mokuola St.

» When: 6 p.m. Saturday


» Admission: $100


» Call: 680-0451 or visit www.filcom.org




ADDING TO THESE upscale touches will be the pairing of wine, selected by master sommelier Robert Viernes. Viernes is director of education for Southern Wine & Spirits of Hawaii. (He also regularly contributes a column, “;Vino Sense,”; to the Star-Bulletin's sister publication MidWeek.)

Viernes has worked in retail, restaurant and distributor settings for such businesses as the R. Field Wine Co., Neiman Marcus Epicure Department, Mariposa Restaurant and Padovani's Bistro and Wine Bar.

Ibay (pronounced ee-buy) has drawn on his extensive 16-year career to create his contributions to “;Filipino Flavors.”; The chef was born in Manila and schooled and trained in Hawaii, mainly in classic French cuisine, then worked in Las Vegas, where he served as executive chef at Station Casinos, the Palms and the Rio.

“;The idea of the adobo risotto brought back memories of my grandmother cooking rice and adobo for breakfast for us in the mornings,”; he said. “;I actually added adobo to my menus in Vegas, and I was amazed that the (Caucasian) customers liked it, as well as the Mexicans, who have their own kind of red adobo marinade. It's there I realized that it was a great way to teach people about my native culture using this Filipino dish.”;

Rabe, with 29 years in the local food and catering industry, has been waiting patiently for this day.

“;I travel a lot, going to catering conventions, and while I find in any given city a lot of Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai restaurants, I never find Filipino restaurants. So when I'm asked what the next big deal will be in the catering and restaurant world, I always talk up Filipino food. I figure that with the help of this event, our food will be exposed more as a fusion cuisine and then enter into the mainstream.

“;This will make for an exciting showcase for Filipino food,”; he said. “;For the first time, we'll show we can be just as innovative and sophisticated in style of service as any other ethnic cuisine.”;





        Participating chefs and their dishes, with wine pairings provided by master sommelier Roberto Viernes:

» Romeo Balawitan (Creations in Catering): Fish Sarciado with Sayote Salad, Tagalog Beef Steak, Pancit with Eggplant Salad, and Southern Philippines Vinha D'Alhos with Achiote Rice


» Aurelio Garcia (Sam Choy's Breakfast, Lunch, Crab & Big Aloha Brewery): Macadamia Nut Crusted Tilapia with Kalamansi Butter Sauce on Lemongrass Sticky Rice


» Rodhel Ibay (Sergio's): Grilled Chicken Caponata and Pork Adobo Risotto


» Also: Halo-Halo and dessert stations, and additional food from Filipino Express Restaurant and Mang Gorio's Lechon Foods & Catering


» Other events: Honoring U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye (honorary chair of the Board of Governors at the FilCom Center), featured entertainment from the Bay Area's Tradicion Rondalla, and an auction for a special travel package to see the Manny Pacquiao-Miguel Cotto boxing match on Nov. 14 in Las Vegas






        Courtesy Rodhel Ibay, Sergio's Italian Table

1 pound pork butt, diced
        6 cloves garlic
        2 bay leaves
        2 pinches whole black peppercorn
        1 cup white balsamic vinegar
        1/2 cup soy sauce
        Salt and pepper, to taste
        » Risotto:
        1/4 cup butter
        2 cloves garlic, minced
        1/2 cup sweet onion, small dice
        1 3/4 cup risotto arborio rice
        1/2 cup white wine
        1/2 cup water
        Salt and pepper, to taste


Mix all adobo ingredients in stew pot and let simmer on medium heat. Add water if necessary and cook until pork is tender.


To make risotto: Melt butter in saute pan, then add garlic, diced onion and rice. Mix until rice turns white, then deglaze with white wine.


Add water. Simmer until rice absorbs all the liquid. Add salt and pepper.


Place risotto on a platter and top with adobo. Serves 8.


Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving (not including salt to taste): 450 calories, 19 g total fat, 8 g saturated fat, 55 mg cholesterol, greater than 1100 mg sodium, 52 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 17 g protein






        Courtesy Romeo Balawitan, Creations in Catering

2 pounds fish fillets
        Salt, to taste
        1 tablespoon lemon juice
        1/2 cup cooking oil
        2 tablespoons garlic, minced
        1/4 cup minced onion, minced
        1 cup tomatoes, minced
        Pepper, to taste
        1/4 cup water
        1 teaspoon patis (fish sauce) or salt
        6 eggs
        1/4 cup green onions


Season fish with salt and lemon juice. Marinate for 30 minutes.


In large skillet, using half the oil, fry fillets until light brown on both sides. Drain on paper towel.


In another large skillet, saute garlic in remaining oil until light brown, then add onion and tomatoes and saute until onions transparent and tomatoes soft.


Add pepper, water and patis or salt. Simmer until achieving saucy consistency.


Add fish to sauce. Beat eggs and add for thickening. Cover skillet and cook 2 minutes, turning fillets once.


Serve hot, garnished with green onions. Serves 6 to 8.


Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving (based on 6 servings and not including salt to taste): 350 calories, 20 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 300 mg cholesterol, 300 mg sodium, 4 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 38 g protein