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!