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Global Pinoy

Chef Bruce Lim shows us how Lola’s sumptuous home cooked meals can be worthy ambassadors for health and Filipino culture.

By Adrienne Dy, M.D.


“In my opinion, all Filipinos believe that their grandmother’s cooking is the best, and I am one of them!” declares Chef Bruce Lim. Take it from him—the celebrated host of Asian Food Channel’s Tablescapes  and The Boss has cooked in kitchens all over the world, from Paris to London to California, but it’s still his lola’s cooking that he considers the benchmark of good taste. “There are dishes I wish I learned from my grandma before she passed. Now it’s a constant battle to find the flavor profile that she used to bring to the table,” he says ruefully. 

Nostalgia is probably where we can draw the heart of Filipino food—a largely underrated cuisine that the world is just slowly discovering. After globetrotting for the healthiest dishes the world has to offer, we at HealthToday decided to come home this anniversary issue and showcase our very own offerings. And what a wealth of flavorful possibilities we uncovered! 

Pinoy cuisine is history on a plate. Food is flavored by culture, and so our colorful past layers our spread with Spanish, Chinese, and even American influences. We’ve taken the best of their dishes, mixed in our local ingredients, and infused them with our taste preference. The result is a unique flavor profile that, interestingly, matches the world-famous Pinoy temperament: sweeter, milder, with unexpected tangy and spicy kicks in all the right places.     

From broths soured with tamarind or savored with marrow; tomato-rich or sweet, peanutty curries; pork roasted, braised or crackled to perfection; and the thousand and one versions of pancit and adobo—no one does it better than we do. And we never keep our food to ourselves. “Traveling around the Philippines, I have entered many homes and they share that same love to feed you. They always have something they can whip up on the fly! From embutido to sandwich filling or whatever—we use food as an icebreaker of sorts and we always have the best dishes. Pride in our food reflects our country and people,” observes Chef Lim. 

This is what he tries to capture in his creations. “I like to reinvent things a bit, [without] taking it too far away, just keeping it real. That way, people can make [the food], and they won’t have a hard time sourcing [ingredients],” he explains. For these exclusive HealthToday recipes, Chef Lim says he drew inspiration from his favorites at a roadside canteen close to where he does tapings. “I really wanted to showcase that everyday food can be made healthy,” he explains. “I feel it is [my and other Filipino chefs’] duty to push Filipino food, so that more people appreciate it.” So get out your aprons and get ready to whip up some world-class Pinoy dishes!

Tokwa't Baboy

This lowly roadside dish is “known to be pulutan, or an appetizer with arroz caldo or lugaw, but it can be so much more than that,” gushes Chef Lim. His healthy, more sophisticated take on tokwa’t baboy requires zero oil and frying.


400 g silken tofu block, excess moisture removed

300 g pork ears, washed and cleaned; alternatively, use wood ear mushrooms
50 g soy sauce
500 g water
20 g honey
10 g garlic, smashed

75 g pinakurat (spiced vinegar)
25 g soy sauce
10 g sugar
20 g red onions, sliced
10 g green chili, sliced

red onions, sliced
chili labuyo


1) Place all ingredients for braising in pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat and simmer for an hour. The sauce should be thicker. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.

2) Make the sauce by bringing all ingredients into a boil and whisking until the sugar dissolves.

3) To plate, cut silken tofu into 100 g squares; try to keep them whole, with minimal handling. Spoon two tablespoons of the sauce onto the bottom of the serving bowl; reserve the rest for additional seasoning as needed. Lay tofu over the sauce, then top with the pig ears. Garnish and serve. 

Serves 4

[About the chef] Born and raised in the U.S., Filipino-Chinese chef Bruce Lim is the host of Asian Food Channel’s Tablescapes and The Boss, and Studio 23’s Chef’s Table. Try out his updated recipes of sarsiadong isda and buko pandan in the August issue of HealthToday!

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