Re-discovering Filipino Cuisine through Chef Myke “Tatung” Sarthou

Celebrity chef Tatung Sarthou to release two new books
Celebrity chef Tatung Sarthou to release two new books

Irene Tria | FoodFindsAsia

Chef Myke “Tatung” Sarthou is a renowned Chef-Journalist who bagged the 2017 National Winner in Gourmand World Cookbook Awards for his celebrated book entitled “Philippine Cookery: From Heart to Platter”.

He also authored a documentary special “The Food that We Are” with a number of Philippine food historians providing the Filipinos and the world a clear and comprehensive look of Filipino Food Heritage.

Last December, Chef Myke Tatung Sarthou was invited in Madrid, Spain to be a presenter and to cook as well for the Madrid Fusion Spain Congress. He was too overwhelmed that he needed to read his invitation twice or thrice to affirm himself that yes he’s invited.

Among other Michelin-starred presenters in Madrid, he had two sold-out dinners with the help of his co-Agos chef, Patrick Constantino. They also brought their own salt and other ingredients and sauces to showcase what real Filipino cuisine/dishes are. He also presented a talk entitled “What was lost is found: re-discovering Pre-Hispanic Filipino Cuisine” and talked a lot about salt.

Chef Tatung did a lot of research on Philippine salt but unfortunately 80% of it are imported from other countries like Vietnam and China. He quipped that salt is the cornerstone of taste and flavor that is why during the Congress, he presented dishes that are not too exotic or too gimmicky because Filipino food is already good on its own especially when done properly.

FoodFindsAsia was privileged to get a taste of the dishes Chef Tatung served in Madrid during his press conference at Agos, MOA.

Lumpiang Sariwa – Fresh ubod or heart of palm with fresh shrimp are wrapped in pandan crepe and placed atop a pool of peanut sauce. What elevates this dish is the peppery notes of annatto oil, and the inconspicuous dots of chili jelly that give heat and body to the usual bite.

Kilawin – tuna, cucumber, ginger, and pomelo in a bowl, pangkilaw sauce sits at the bottom of the dish, concoction of vinegar, onion, salt, chili, sugar and spice, mixing all the ingredients together gives you a kilawin that leans towards sour that doesn’t kill, but instead heightens the taste of the tuna.

Suckling Pig Salad – uses bitterness from raddichio and romaine, interesting textures from fried shallots, and the fruity sourness of calamansi to highlight the richness of the crispy pork.

Chicken Kaliya – one of this signature dishes is the pianggang. In Madrid, Sarthou served Chicken Kaliya — a saucier version of the pianggan — tender morsels of chicken in a complex savory-sweet blackened coconut sauce.

His final words, we have to change the way we think about our food. We should understand our ingredient, cuisine and culture.

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