The Secret Ingredient

Photos from GuoGuiyan Collection 

Filipinos are particularly known to lean towards a more salty, savory, sweet and tangy flavor profile—none of which are achievable without making use of a number of seasonings, condiments, or spices.

Foreigners have long considered the Filipino palate as dull, simple and conservative. This is because Pinoy foodies used to be so wary of trying out new dishes and experimenting with other flavor profiles.

But, bland food can be saved. With the perfect seasoning, side dish, or drink, one can surely cancel out the blandness and bring out the hidden flavors of any dish and satisfy local and foreign palates.

With the Philippine food scene buzzing like never before, new flavors, experimental cuisine and culinary trends are now thriving with traditional hearty Pinoy dishes and dynamic food establishments. 

Cuisine of the future

"Filipino cuisine is the cuisine of the future.  Other countries are marking our cuisine as one of most unique cuisines in the world maybe because of its Spanish and Asian taste that makes it different.  Filipino cuisine is the wave of the future when it comes to gastronomic satisfaction," says Chef Christine Dela Paz, an up and coming chef who worked at the Brisbane Hilton before moving back to the Philippines. She is currently the business consultant of Korean fastfood chain Mr. Kimbob, and manages the Sugar Lovers Sweet Shop, a homebased cake shop for customized cakes.

"Filipino Cuisine for me is different compared to other cuisine because of its specific taste and presentation using our own homegrown ingredients and spices.  It has its unique taste that makes it truly Pinoy," she avers.

New tastes, new cuisine 

Every dish has its own special ingredient and its perfect pair, but the staples are salt, pepper, vinegar, soy sauce, fermented fish sauce(patis), banana ketchup, and of course, bagoong.  Moreover, with modern dining soaring to greater heights with the introduction of fast food choices and the expansive flavors, more foodies are encouraged to be more open and try out new cuisines.

But have you ever wondered what makes these gastronomical adventures stand out? Yup, the secret ingredient!

The secret ingredient, however, is not limited to a pinch of spice, a dash of soy sauce, or a honey-mayo dip. It is, in fact, far more than that.

"For a dish to have an umami (delicious)  taste it should have mixture of sweetness,  saltiness and a bit of a tangy taste without using artificial food enhancer. Salt and pepper are two of the basic food enhances that can elevate any food," says Chef Dela Paz. "My most used seasonings and spices are just the humble salt and pepper. If I want to be more adventurous, I use rosemary, thyme and basil."

The secret ingredient 

The secret ingredient may just be pineapples on pizza (or not!), olives on burgers, ketchup in your grandma’s home-cooked tinola or maybe even a vinegar dip for your classic NY Style pizza, in a serious attempt to balance out flavors.

There are no wrong food combinations. Everyone is now being tapped by chefs to experiment with their food choices while not being all too dependent on our outside influences, most especially since most of our dishes carry imprints of our colonial past.

And although most of our meals today are dominated by instant and processed food, it is important to know that no food combinations are weird enough to stop us from trying to search for that one special ingredient that will surely enhance every gastronomic journey.

And indeed, with just a pinch, a sip or a dash, wonders are made. -- with additional reports from Giana Anella Atienza and Noelle Adrienne Castellano

Topics: The Secret Ingredient , seasonings , condiments , spices , Filipino Cuisine

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