Breakfast for the Homesick Pinay
By Jessi Singson
For me, one of the hardest things about living abroad is the lack of Filipino food. It may not seem like a big deal to many, but it is definitely an issue in my ever-hungry mind! Like in many other countries, food is a very important cultural element for us Filipinos. And while I do cook Filipino food every now and then, it will never compare to the isaw stands, fishball carts, and tapsilog wrapped in banana leaves from back home.
Our parties are full of red hotdog and marshmallow skewers, sweet spaghetti, and chicken lollipops. Our mornings, of champorado and tuyo (sweet chocolate rice with salted, dried fish, to those that are unfamiliar!). Boat rides with an entire lechon on board (roasted pig), late night drinks with sizzling sisig (seasoned pig’s head and liver). I shouldn’t even get started on my ultimate comfort food of kare-kare (oxtail and tripe peanut stew)!
I could go on and on about all the weird and wonderful treats from back home, but one of the things I miss the most is the Pinoy breakfast. I believe that food unites, and in a foreign country, nothing could bring a few ragtag Pinoy friends together better than a hearty plate to start the weekend right.
At Dahon Gourmet Tea Lounge in Melbourne, I found myself giddy with excitement at the prospect of even being near anything Filipino-related.
When our steaming plates came out of the kitchen, I could’ve sworn I had an out-of-body experience. It was almost spiritual, this delight.
We ordered bistek Tagalog – thin slices of beef, marinated and cooked in mainly soy sauce and calamansi juice – and longanisa – homemade sweet pork sausage. It would’ve been impossible to eat this without the mandatory serving of garlic rice and a fried egg, runny yolk included! The bistek was rich in flavour and tender to bite. The longanisa, a sticky and sweet solace for the homesick (a.k.a. me!).
I was in undeniable heaven. I think I speak for many when I say that home food is the best food. And in this case, that home food is a great way to reconnect with the people and places that we miss most.
To those who have yet to experience a Filipino breakfast or meal, I do suggest a quick Google search of the nearest Filipino restaurant to you. I also suggest that you make your way down there with a spring in your step, because you are in for something exciting! It may be an acquired taste for some, but if you are open to trying something new, it will likely lead to a happy and very delicious experience (as well as a very full tummy!).
I even managed to sneak home some of my favourite cheat snacks from back home! Shhh, don’t tell!
Note from the Fat Kid: Jessi lives in Australia, so sneaking in snacks is a big thing. She’s ganster like that.
Make your own Longanisa version at home. The Skinless ones are the easiest.
Ingredients 750 grams ground pork, 3 tbsps brown sugar, 1 tsp sea salt, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 3 tbsps light soy sauce, 3 tablespoon minced garlic, 1 tsp black pepper, 2 tbsp or rice wine, 1 egg yolk, 1 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp red chilli paste.
Blend all the ingredients. Roll them out at the size you want in a sausage form (should be shorter). Wrap them in wax paper and freeze until solid (at least 4 hours). When ready fry in oil until crisp and hot.