Andrew Zimmern: Filipino food is the ‘next big thing’

June 12, 2012 at 10:52 AM ET

Vegetarian mechado from Filipino restaurant Milkfish. Food personality Andrew Zimmern thinks Filipino fare will be trendy in the next two years.

Courtesy of Milkfish
Vegetarian mechado from Filipino restaurant Milkfish. Food personality Andrew Zimmern thinks Filipino fare will be trendy in the next two years.

Few types of cuisine are hard to find anymore. Mexican and Tex-Mex are readily available, Indian buffets are standard fare, sushi just seems to keep growing in popularity, and Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese are easily accessible. And food experts claim that Peruvian and Korean cuisine are the fare du jour.

So what’s the next fad food? Andrew Zimmern, host of “Bizarre Foods” on the Travel Channel, has a theory: “I predict, two years from now, Filipino food will be what we will have been talking about for six months … I think that’s going to be the next big thing,” he told

“I want to go on record — this is not something that’s hot now somewhere and will get hot everywhere else,” he said. “It’s just starting. I think it’s going to take another year and a half to get up to critical mass, but everybody loves Chinese food, Thai food, Japanese food, and it’s all been exploited. The Filipinos combined the best of all of that with Spanish technique. The Spanish were a colonial power there for 500 years, and they left behind adobo and cooking in vinegar — techniques that, applied to those tropical Asian ingredients, are miraculous.”

Andrew Zimmern, host of "Bizarre Foods."

Veronica Meewes
Andrew Zimmern, host of “Bizarre Foods.”

Filipino cuisine has a variety of foreign influences. The impact of China is evidenced in their use of noodles (pancit), fried rice (sinangang) and spring rolls (lumpia), as well as the soy sauce and fish sauce found in many other dishes. Indonesian and Malaysian influence can be seen in the use of coconut milk and rice, particularly in desserts, as well as the use of chilis (though most Filipino food isn’t very spice-heavy).

The Spanish were responsible for bringing bay leaves, tomatoes and garlic, as well as the technique of sautéing with olive oil. Longanisa is a sweet pork sausage (similar to the Spanish longaniza) which can be found in Filipino dishes. Other Spanish dishes often found on Filipino menus are flan, paella, and adobo, a method of braising meat in garlic, vinegar, peppercorns, and soy sauce.

Filipino food isn’t on the radar of mainstream America, but Zimmern thinks that’s going to change. “San Diego is now a big enough ethnic population of Filipinos that chefs are going there and seeing stuff. I think it’ll creep up into Los Angeles and from there go around the rest of the country,” he foresees.

Cristina Quackenbush is the head chef and proprietor of Milkfish, a popular Filipino pop-up restaurant found inside Marie’s Bar, a Marigny neighborhood favorite in New Orleans. “I have grown up cooking Filipino food from my mother and learning homemade-from-scratch fare from my grandmother. She had 20 acres of land in which she had planted every fruit and vegetable you can think of!” she told

Before relocating to New Orleans 12 years ago, Quackenbush lived briefly in San Diego, where she encountered most of the Filipino restaurants she’s seen in the States. “I also found a little one in Tennessee once,” she recalls. “I have not encountered any other than those! This is why I want to bring it to the forefront. It is such a wonderful cuisine that must be shared.”

Quackenbush’s menu at Milkfish is split into three categories: appetizers, small dishes and dinners. She also offers vegetarian twists on classic Filipino dishes, such as vegetarian mechado, which traditionally appears as a marinated beef dish. She describes her cuisine as the soul food of Southeast Asia. “I definitely think (Filipino food) is gaining popularity,” she affirms. “I have never encountered anyone that I have fed that did not like it!”

Spam started being used in Filipino cooking during World War II and remains a popular ingredient. The following recipe is a typical breakfast dish, served with an over-easy egg. Try it and you might just be pleasantly surprised (I was!).

Veronica Meewes /
Spam fried rice from Milkfish in New Orleans.

Spam fried rice


  • 1 can of Spam, diced
  • 4 cup of cooked, then cooled, rice
  • 1 diced onion
  • 5 minced garlic cloves
  • Diced green onions
  • Diced tomatoes
  • ¼ cup soy sauce (La Choy or Silver Swan is preferred)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Canola oil
  • 2 eggs


Dice Spam into 1/4-inch cubes and sauté in canola oil until crisp on outside; add onions and garlic and cook until onions are translucent. Add cooled rice and 1/8 cup of oil. Mix rice thoroughly with Spam, onions and garlic. Add 1/8 cup of soy sauce and be sure sure to distribute evenly over mixture. Flatten out rice and let brown slightly. Stir again and flatten out and fry slightly. Make a hole in middle of rice and break egg into it. Let egg cook as you gradually incorporate it into the rice. Add rest of soy sauce and oil and stir fry until egg is cooked completely. Season with salt and pepper. Add diced tomatoes over top and fry an over-easy egg for the top to finish!

Veronica Meewes is an Austin-based freelance writer who will travel for food but always comes back for breakfast tacos. Follow her on Twitter @wellfedlife and visit her blog.



24 Delicious Filipino Foods You Need In Your Life

1. Lumpia

What it is: Filipino–style spring rolls.

Why it’s awesome: The filling varies, but one thing remains the same: You can (and will) inhale them by the dozen. Recipes here and here.

2. Sinigang


What it is: Hot and sour soup.

Why it’s awesome: Tamarind paste and calamansi (or Philippine lime) juice infuse the broth with its signature sour flavor. This version calls for salty chunks of pork and a splash of creamy coconut milk to round out things out. Recipe here.

3. Chicken Afritada

Chicken Afritada

What it is: Chicken stew.

Why it’s awesome: Spanish influences can be found throughout Filipino cuisine, and this tomato-based stew with chicken, peppers, and onions is one of the heartiest examples. Recipe here.

4. Cassava Cake

Cassava Cake

What it is: A creamy, not-too-sweet dessert made from cassava root and coconut milk.

Why it’s awesome: It’s sweet, but not cloyingly so. For texture, the top is broiled until it’s almost crunchy. It can also be made gluten-free. Recipe here.

5. Pancit Palabok

Pancit Palabok

What it is: Noodles!

Why it’s awesome: It’s a super versatile, catch-all dish that centers around a simple, savory combination of meat, veggies, and noodles. Recipe here.

6. Ube Ice Cream

Raymund Macaalay /

What it is: Exactly what it sounds like: ice cream made from the root crop ube, also known as purple yam.

Why it’s awesome: Purple ice cream. ‘Nuff said. Recipe here.

7. Pork Adobo

Pork Adobo

What it is: Tender pork belly braised in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, oil, and bay leaves.

Why it’s awesome: All of the flavors? Check. Recipe here.

8. Chicken Bistek

Chicken Bistek

What it is: Meat cooked in a sauce of soy and citrus.

Why it’s awesome: Soy sauce is cut with lemon juice or calamansi to make an addictive, tangy marinade. Recipe here.

9. Chicharon


What it is: Fried pork rinds.

Why it’s awesome: Fried. Pork. Rinds. Recipe here.

10. Calamansi Whiskey Sour

Calamansi Whiskey Sour

What it is: A cocktail highlighting one of the most frequently used fruits in Filipino cooking.

Why it’s awesome: The only thing better than calamansi? Calamansi spiked with whiskey. Recipe here.

11. Bibingka

What it is: Sweet coconut cake.

Why it’s awesome: Rice flour + coconut cream = a Filipino Christmastime treat that’s delicious enough to eat year-round. Recipe here.

12. Sizzling Pork Sisig

Sizzling Pork Sisig

What it is: Pork parts (often: head, liver, cheeks) mixed with onions, chiles, citrus, and egg.

Why it’s awesome: The pork is prepped in multiple ways — in this case: boiled then grilled — then served on a sizzling hot plate. Recipe here.

13. Kare-Kare


What it is: Oxtail stew.

Why it’s awesome: The key ingredient that brings everything together? Peanut butter. Recipe here.

14. Halo-Halo

Jun Belen /

Sharon Yamauchi /

What it is: Dessert made with a hodgepodge of ingredients, including shaved ice, sweet beans, fruit, tapioca, and ube ice cream.

Why it’s awesome: Halo-halo means “mix mix” in Tagalog, and that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do with it. Recipe here.

15. Lechon


What it is: Whole roasted pig.

Why it’s awesome: It doubles as the most intense potluck centerpiece you’ve ever seen.

16. Biko


What it is: Sweet sticky rice.

Why it’s awesome: This creamy, easy-to-make dessert only requires a few ingredients. But it still packs a ton of flavor, and it’s garnished with equally addictive latik, or cooked-down coconut milk or cream. Recipe here.

17. Kaldereta


What it is: Hearty meat stew with potatoes, peppers, and liver sauce.

Why it’s awesome: The stew is traditionally made with goat, but you can also sub in beef or chicken for those who haven’t yet seen the light. Recipe here.

18. Arroz Caldo

Arroz Caldo

What it is: A thick and creamy rice soup or porridge.

Why it’s awesome: Comfort food at its finest. Rice is simmered with spices and aromatics (and in this case, chicken), then topped with spring onions and fried garlic for extra crunch. Recipe here.

19. Dessert Lumpia

Dessert Lumpia

What it is: Sweetened bananas baked in lumpia wrappers, then drizzled with caramel and chocolate.

Why it’s awesome: ANG SARAP. Recipe here.

20. Longganisa


What it is: Filipino–style sausage.

Why it’s awesome: It’s the breakfast of champions. Recipe here.

21. Ukoy


What it is: Crispy shrimp fritters with tangy vinegar dipping sauce.

Why it’s awesome: Portable perfection. Recipe here.

22. Tocino

What it is: Sweetened cured pork.

Why it’s awesome: Thin strips of pork sit for several hours (or days) in a mixture of sugar, salt, garlic, and oil, then are fried up in a hot pan until the coating caramelizes.Recipe here.

23. Leche Flan

Leche Flan

What it is: Caramel custard.

Why it’s awesome: This dense, silky dessert is richer than its Spanish counterparts because it’s made with condensed milk and more egg yolks. Nom factor: high.Recipe here.

24. Filipino Spaghetti

Filipino Spaghetti

What it is: Noodles sweetened with your choice of sugary sauce — like banana ketchup or condensed milk. Bonus points for adding chopped up hot dogs.

Why it’s awesome: Sweet spaghetti. Don’t knock it till you try it. Recipe here.

Philippine Products In Cambodia… Your Guide Where to Buy!

The following are Filmart’s TOP 26 Products and Where to Find them in Cambodia…

Rank Product 9Dragon Mart
Rattanak Plaza
EY-NY Mart
Borey Pipup Thmey
1 NESTLE CREAM 250ML Delivered Delivered Delivered Delivered
2 EMPERADOR LIGHT 1L Delivered Delivered Delivered For Approval
3 EDEN CHEESE ORIG 175G. Sep04 Delivered Delivered Not Available
4 PFOODS CHUNKEE CORNED BEEF 190G Sep04 Delivered Delivered Delivered
5 LIKAS PAPAYA SOAP 135G Not Available Not Available Delivered Not Available
6 GINA MANGO NECTAR 340ML For Approval Delivered For Approval Delivered


Delivered Delivered Delivered Delivered


Delivered Delivered Not Available Delivered
9 PUREFOODS CORNED BEEF 210G Delivered Delivered Delivered Not Available


Delivered Delivered Delivered Delivered


Delivered Delivered Not Available Delivered


Delivered But
Out of Stock
Delivered But
Out of Stock
Delivered But
Out of Stock
Not Available


Delivered But
Out of Stock
Delivered But
Out of Stock
Not Available Delivered
14 SKYFLAKES CRACKERS 100G. Delivered Delivered Delivered Not Available


Delivered Delivered Delivered Not Available
16 KNORR TAMARIND SOUP MIX 40G Delivered Delivered Delivered Delivered


Delivered Delivered Delivered Not Available


Delivered Delivered Delivered Not Available
19 MARLBORO MENTHOL BLACK 10’s Delivered Delivered For Approval Not Available


Not Available Not Available Not Available Not Available
21 MY SAN GRAHAM HONEY 100G Delivered Delivered Delivered Not Available
22 FRESHCO DRIED MANGO Delivered Delivered Not Available Delivered


Delivered Delivered Delivered Delivered
24 PUREFOODS LIVERSPREAD 85G Delivered Delivered Delivered Delivered


Delivered Delivered Delivered Delivered


Delivered Delivered Delivered Delivered

Directory of Philippine Products in Cambodia

Directory of Philippine Products in Cambodia

  1. Parkway Supermarket – Wide Selection (Over 50 Philippine Products)
  2. 9 Dragon Supermarket – Wide Selection (Over 50 Philippine Products)
  3. DFI Lucky Grocery – Medium Selection
  4. Royal Mart – Medium Selection
  5. Angkor Mart Toul Tompong (Medium Selection)
  6. 1&1 Mart – Medium Selection
  7. Cambodia Superstore – Medium Selection
  8. Olympic Supermart – Medium Selection
  9. EY-NY Mart Borey Pipup Thmey – Medium Selection
  10. Pharmacy Dela Gare – Medium Selection
  11. U-Care Pharmacy – Medium Selection
  12. Sang Vat Pich Pharmacy – Medium Selection
  13. Angkor Supermarket Siem Reap – Wide Selection  (Over 50 Philippine Products)
  14. Chao Sang Hok Supermarket Siem Reap – Wide Selection (Over 50 Philippine Products)
  15. Sihanoukville – Orange Mart, Lucky Ocean, Samudera (Medium Selection)