I used to be so amazed that the United States has four seasons. I grew up in the Philippines and over there we have only two -summer and winter. Out of the two, I preferred summer. I was known to be that girl who rather not have “aircon” (slang for air conditioner). Summer in the Philippines could easily go up to scorching 100s and no aircon could feel like a sauna, so you could just imagine the bafflement of my family and friends toward my preference of hot weather.
I don’t think I could say the same thing about myself now that I am acclimated to the weather of the San Francisco Bay Area. Yet, I still prefer warmer weather -or should I say the warmest out of the four seasons here. And why not? Summer is the time for outdoor gatherings, long days, and warm nights.
And speaking of gatherings, food is always involved during this type of event. Because meat barbecues are usually popular during the summer, some people assume I’ll have nothing vegan to eat, let alone vegan Filipino. But the truth is, I have not just one, but 10 vegan Filipino dishes for the summer. I hope you give one or all of them a try:
10 vegan Filipino dishes to try this Summer:
Nothing says summer than a tall glass of Halo-halo.
Halo-halo literally means “mix-mix”, it’s a mix of sweetened fruits and beans, toasted rice, shaved ice, drizzled with milk, topped with a slice of flan and sweet purple yam called “ube“. It’s a drink that originated from my neighborhood, Digman Bacoor Cavite. Out of towners and tourists alike would flock to Digman to taste its delicacy.
Veganizing Halo-halo is just a simple step of swapping cow’s milk to coconut milk (or your favorite nut milk) and omitting the flan (or you could substitute with vegan flan). You could grab the ingredients at the Filipino section of your neighborhood Asian grocery stores and at major supermarkets.
And by the way, it’s not pronounced like an angel’s halo but more like “hal-loh -hal-loh”.
Click here for the Vegan Halo-halo recipe.
Making ice cream from scratch could seem intimidating but it’s a lot simpler than one might think. Just mix the ingredients, sweeteners, and milk, then freeze. It’s best if you have an ice cream maker, which doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive.
Filipino ice cream flavors feature fruits and ingredients that grow abundantly in the Philippines, flavors such as mangoes, purple yam, coconut macapuno, jackfruit, and many more. My favorite is the mango flavor. Not only mangoes taste sweet, succulent, and refreshing, they’re also easy to use in an ice cream recipe. Luckily, yellow manila mangoes are available at Asian grocery stores and major supermarkets so you don’t have to travel to Manila to get them!
Click here for the Vegan Mango Ice Cream recipe.
If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you could easily make popsicle. Red Bean popsicle could be a big hit especially among kids.
Red (mung) beans give a sweet, nutty flavor while the coconut milk base gives a creamy mouthfeel. I remember buying several red bean popsicle when I was a kid and I would be so happy! They were usually sold at corner convenience stores called “sari-sari stores” during the summer.
You could get sweetened red mung beans at Asian grocery stores, most likely at the Filipino section with the rest of the Halo-halo products.
Click here for the Red Bean Popsicle recipe.
No time to make ice cream or popsicle? No problem. Just try a cold refreshing drink like a Buko Pandan.
Buko is Tagalog (Filipino dialect) for coconuts. Pandan is a flavorful leaf that lends its essence in sweets and desserts. Coconuts and pandan are undoubtedly one of the most popular flavor combos in the Philippines. You would find Buko Pandan-flavored cakes, candies, and cold drinks.
If you live outside the Philippines, you could buy young coconut and pandan leaves or pandan extracts at Asian grocery stores. Be wary of pandan extracts loaded with fake additives and sugar.
Click here for the Buko Pandan recipe.
Summer is for grilling outdoors but whether indoor or outdoor, you could easily whip up a Mushroom Isaw (“ee-sau”). My version is not like the traditional kind -different from its shape and taste. I just like to call it “Isaw” because it seemed like a Filipino street food (which Isaw is). Perhaps I should change it to something else but I’m still stuck.
When I make my vegan Isaw at family barbecues, it wouldn’t even make it to the picnic table. My uncles especially, would hover around the grill, picking up a stick of mushroom Isaw as soon as it’s done. I’d take that as a good sign!
Click here for the Vegan Isaw recipe.
Calamari is a squid delicacy that could be easily veganized by using trumpet mushrooms. The trick is to use a peeler or an apple corer when cutting the mushroom. Dip the mushroom in seasoned batter, and fry away.
I like to serve mine on lettuce cups for a fresh and festive look. To make it even more colorful, add colorful vegetables like red onions, red cabbage, tomatoes, cilantro, and many more. Feel free to experiment and play with all kinds of fixings.
Click here for the Vegan Calamari recipe.
You’ve probably read about Lumpiang Sariwa from my previous post. But basically, Lumpiang Sariwa is made of colorful vegetables, wrapped in a thin crepe, served with a creamy brown sauce, and garnished with crushed peanuts on top.
Although the many components of Fresh Lumpia seem daunting to prepare, the process is fairly simple -just throw and cook the vegetables in a pan, prepare and mix ingredients for the sauce until creamy, fry a thin batter to make a crepe. Roll everything and you’re done.
It’s savory, sweet, and definitely satisfying that’s perfect for summer gatherings.
Click here for the Vegan Fresh Lumpia recipe.
If you’re craving for a burger to rival or match its meat counterpart, you could form vegan Longganisa (Filipino chorizo) into burger patties. Of course you could simply resort to regular veggie patties but why not try something different with a vegan Filipino flair? The recipe originally calls for shaping the Longganisa into sausage links but really, you could shape it into whatever shape you wish, like a burger patty for example.
Feel free to dab a bit of oil on top once it’s done for a nice gloss. You could assemble your vegan Longganisa with fresh lettuce, sliced tomatoes, sliced onions, ketchup, pickles, burger buns, and other fixings.
Click here for the Vegan Longganisa recipe.
Stews are usually popular during fall and winter but Sarciado (“sar-sha-doh”) is great for the summer because it calls for an ingredient that’s highly in season: tomatoes. Sarciado is a simple yet satisfying dish that could be enjoyed with your favorite starch (ideally rice).
The traditional version is with fried fish, but you could swap with whatever vegan alternative you prefer (I chose fried tofu) and still have the same essence of Sarciado. After all, tomatoes are the main highlight of this dish.
Making Sarciado is incredibly simple and quick. My recipe also has a step-by-step photo guide to make your cooking process even more seamless.
Click here for the Vegan Sarciado recipe.
Pastel is another stew just like the Sarciado, except this one is more colorful -a lot colorful. Pastel was my favorite dish growing up because it was colorful, creamy, and savory.
Pastel is usually seen only during special occasions, at least in my family. Probably because it has various kinds of ingredients that could be time-consuming to prepare. The result however is rewarding and worth the effort. The vegan version uses non-dairy milk and all kinds of vegetables.
Pronouncing Pastel is not like the color pastel; the emphasis is on the second syllable, “tel”.
Click here for the Vegan Pastel recipe.
These are just ten of the many vegan Filipino dishes that will keep you cool this summer. They reminded me of the fun summer days when I was a kid and the school was out, the aircon was off (gasp!) and the food was good. It’s great to relive those moments, but it’s also great to create new ones in my new home here in the Bay Area -especially during the warmest season of the year. Happy summer everyone.