Tag Archives: pinoy

The case of the mysterious Filipino cookbook

Is Vegan Filipino food a new phenomena? Or has it been around long before I was born? Meeting young vegan Fiilpinos through Twitter and on this blog make me ponder these questions. I have yet to meet a Vegan Pinoy in his/her 50s or older (if this is you, please say hi!). The only person I know is my dad’s Filipino best friend because of his religion, Seven Day Adventist. Aside from that, no luck.

Most older Filipinos who find out I’m vegan would look at me with pity, as if I generated a disease. Filipino stand up comic, Rex Nevarette even joked about Filipino parents disowning their children if they find out their kids are vegetarian (enter the scene of a vegetarian kid “coming out” to his parents).


But then again…there’s this book:

You could tell by the quality of the photo cover that it is dated. The book was copyrighted in 1970 and unassumingly called “Best Recipes for the Home”. I flipped through page to page, then realized… ALL recipes are Filipino vegetarian! I flipped through the pages faster and found a slim chapter in the end with International recipes that are, yup, also vegetarian.

A small population of Filipinos practice the religion, Seven Day Adventist so I thought maybe this book was meant for them? Maybe my dad’s best friend left it at our house? Here’s when the plot thickens…

The book belonged to a “Herminia M. de Jesus”. As common practice in the past, Filipinos would sign their book and write the date they got it. She put down 1974. My parents denied they know her or have heard of her. Yet, we’ve had this book since we were living in the Philippines, which was more than thirteen years ago, long before I was vegan. We never opened it. We never really read cookbooks, we simply hoarded them. The mysterious cookbook quietly sat in our kitchen drawer. Then one day it was picked up and carried along with other cookbooks through distant shores when my family and I moved here to the US.

I discovered the book for the first time when I went vegetarian, which was about four years ago. I was perusing through a stack of cookbooks when I stumbled upon it.

According to the publisher, Philippine Publishing House of Manila, the authors are selected Filipina cooks and scholars namely: Erlinda Romulo, M.S. in Nutrition, Alice Ramos BSFN, Elisa M. de Leon MS in Nutrition, Edelma de Leon BSFN, Corona Llaguno, Helen Brodeur, and Exequiela L. Jimenez MS in Nutrition. The photos and illustrations were set by Nita Flossman.

The first chapters talk about meal planning and budgeting your vegetarian meals. It also dispelled myths as well as tackled the topic of religion.

The book also dedicated a chapter in Nutrition. Heck, it even teaches you how to make gluten from scratch!

The middle chapters showcase a vast array of vegetarian Filipino recipes. From Relleno to Sinigang, the book offers them all. I find the instructions easy to follow but some seem too simple and lacking of certain ingredients.

The later chapters also offer International recipes: Russian, Japanese, Swedish, Italian, Mexican, etc.

By the same token, the authors also thought of those people abroad who would like to try vegetarian Filipino recipes. The book features a glossary of substitutions for those hard to find Filipino ingredients (especially back in the 70s).

The book simply gives you no excuse for not trying it.

Who knew this old cookbook would come in handy someday?! It’s as if it knew I was going to be vegan in the future.

To Herminia, whoever and wherever you are, thank you for letting me borrow this book and I hope you didn’t get disheartened to have lost it. I promise I’ll return it to you if  we ever crossed paths.

So maybe the veg Filipino trend is not new after all. Although it may not have been popular, at least I have proof that it was recognized in the 70s, and who knows maybe even earlier than that?

P.S. more recent Filipino vegetarian and vegan cookbooks to check out are: “Gulay”  by Nona Lema, and “Pinoy Vegetarian Cookbook” by Dolly T. Dy-Zulueta and Susana T. Dy. For Asian cuisines, try The Asian Vegan Kitchen by Hema Parekh.

Rainbow Chard Mushroom

Perusing through the colorful produce section of my local grocery store, I found some vegetables I haven’t cooked before. The Rainbow Chard looked so exotic and foreign to me. I have eaten it before, but only when dining at restaurants. To me, Swiss Chard seemed intimidating to cook. It has a hard texture and a bitter taste, much like Spinach but much much tougher.

And just like that, a challenge presented itself: How to make a Vegan Pinoy meal with Rainbow Chard.

I’m pretty sure any vegan would attest that our style of cooking doesn’t get boring because it pushes us to think outside of the box. Oh the possibilities!

Filipino Cuisine never calls for Swiss (Rainbow) Chard because it doesn’t grow in the Philippines. To adopt it to my recipe, I’m using it instead of Pechay or Chinese Cabbage for the traditional Ginisa sa Giniling at Petsay which I turned into my version, “Rainbow Chard Saute with Mushroom & Veg Ground Beef”.

Rainbow Chard Saute with Mushroom & Vegan Ground “Beef”

rainbow chard mushroom


  • 1/2 pound Rainbow Chard, chopped or shredded, simmered or blanched in hot water
  • cooking oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mushroom, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Gimme Lean vegan ground beef (available at most stores)
  • 6 tbsp soy sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat pot of water and simmer the chard until it’s soft and tender
  2. Meanwhile, heat pan over medium heat
  3. Pour cooking oil and saute garlic until light brown
  4. Add the onion and tomatoes, saute until tender
  5. Add the mushroom, ground vegan beef and soy sauce, saute until tender
  6. Remove chard from pot of water and transfer to the pan
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add more soy sauce to taste.
  8. You’re done! I suggest serving it with rice.

Swiss Chard is loaded with Vitamins A, K, and  C. It’s a superfood that’s rich in protein, fiber and minerals. Plus it’s anti-inflammatory! Perfect food for those suffering from gout- especially if the dish uses vegan ground beef instead of cow’s.

Veg (Pinoy) From Around the World: Mark Bantigue — Philippines

A guest post by Mark Bantigue
founder and chief administrator of P3, a citizen journalism website based in the Philippines. He’s a former San Franciscan who now lives in Manila and is lacto-vegetarian.

Before I continue, disclosure would be proper. I am not vegan. I’m not as cool. I’m lacto-vegetarian. Yes, butter, cream, milk, honey, cheese – fats and sweets to keep it real. Some leather shoes and belts too. I’ll get there, patience. There is a pull to go more cruelty-free. Thank you yoga.

I’ve realize that the short durations that I manage to keep vegan are associated with pleasurable experiences of stress-free harmony and good times; I guess my body craves wholesome when experiencing wholesome. And so I wanted to write a piece, no, an ode, to pleasurable memories and veganism — craving the presence of one of the easiest and tastiest additions to a vegan diet. It’s a memoir I call, “Add almost butter to that!”. And it’s in reverse chronological order. It’s about near-perfect moments.

Last weekend, I rewarded myself with a much needed break from my demanding but fulfilling work and took a day-trip with three of my buddies to the east coast of the Philippines, Real, Quezon Province. The night before, I prepared a huge container of chopped tropical fruits — watermelon, banana, papaya, lychee, and pineapple. We got there at first light; the air was fresh and electrified. Some thanksgiving and meditation to greet the morning before the 7am surf session. At 11am, we followed a river (at emptied out into the sea) inland for about 10 minutes and boom, a beautiful waterfall about 50 feet high. We jeered each other to jumping the falls. It was adrenaline-filled to say the least. We realized that it was 1pm and we hadn’t had a bite to eat. We chomped down on the fruits as if we were starved occupy wall streeters. I busted out a fresh loaf of rye bread but sadly we had nothing to spread on it. Would have been a perfect day if we…
–add almond butter to that!

I first went vegetarian in 2007 when I discovered yoga. Since then, I got my wife into it and when the baby came in November of 2008, as soon as she can firmly walk around, got into yoga as well. Due to work, we hardly have a session all together. In the beginning of this year, we woke up early and commenced our practice on an empty stomach — proper! A sense of pride came over me when I looked between my legs during a downward facing dog to see my wife and little girl doing the same. It was followed with a pranayama practice and silencing of the mind. We were starved and ready for some wholesome nourishment. My wife brought out the most perfectly ripe bananas…
–add almond butter to that!

In 2006, my brother flew into San Francisco from New York for work on a Friday and stayed the weekend to chill and catch up. I was single then and we partied hard. We wanted to hit up an event with a star DJ and MUNI the city with a backpack of vegan goodies. When it was time for an afternoon snack, we settled down in the Embarcadero with vegan herb brownies and raw cacao chocolates sweetened with raw agave nectar. The fat that milk, butter and cream provided was replaced with raw virgin coconut oil. To say the least the bonbons were rich and creamy. Suddenly, this guys who sat near us busted out a pack of Reese’s cups. I got pissed! How dare he try to one-up me on my glory moment?! He got me thinking; my raw chocolates would top his Reese’s if I…
–add almond butter to that!

Spring break of 2001, Jamaica! It was my last spring break before the “real world”. The afternoon was planned –Picnic with a hot date, calm beach, reggae in the background, a bottle of Jamaican Appleton Run. My date brought skewered tofu kebabs; she was a new age girl (does she ride a bike?) But I was craving for a thai sate sauce to go with it. That drove me nuts! Why can’t I have a perfect vegan situation? Then I thought — ever tried replacing the peanut sauce in a sate with almond + ginger + chili sauce? BOOM!
–add almond butter to that (sauce)

42 minutes earlier, on our way to the beach front, my date and I saw an empty parking lot hidden from public view. We parked the car there for, well, 42 minutes. It was sexy, it was risky, it was hot.
–add almond butter to that!

Lastly, I recall coming home from after school activities in my senior year of high school. My parents weren’t home and I was hungry. I grabbed a spoon with an single minded intention of raiding the fridge. Before I got the chance to open it, I saw an unopened letter stuck on the refrigerator door via a keepsake magnet. It was from a college. My heart jumped. I grabbed and ran outside with it for some fresh air. I forgot my hunger. The only thing that existed was the content of that letter. Happily, it was an acceptance with a good chunk of the tuition gratis. I was floating in temporary heaven with a spoon in my hand and my hunger slowly creeping back in…
–add almond butter to that!

Those are the happy and happy-vegan moments I can remember that merited some of that great alkalizing nut butter! I wish everyone good times, good vibes, and good clean eats. Remember when it doubt…

To see other guest posts, click here



Sarciado Recipe

My sister’s neighbor recently harvested tons of tomatoes in their backyard. Big, juicy, organic Campari tomatoes. She received two bags and didn’t quite know what to do with them so she gave me the other half. And like a typical Filipino household that has too many tomatoes in the kitchen (yes this happens), there’s only one solution- it’s Sarciado time!

No it’s not a dance, though it does sound like it hehe. Sarciado (pronounced Sar-sha-doh) is a Filipino dish that features one of our main staples: tomatoes.

Most Filipino kitchens are not to be caught without Roma tomatoes because Filipino cooking often requires sautéing or “gisa” (gee-sah) of garlic, onion and tomatoes. But for Sarciado, tomato doesn’t just play a supporting role, it’s the star.

Original recipe also calls for fish but I went for the kinder (still tasty) version, fried tofu. Sarciado is famous for its sweet-salty taste-produced by liberal use of sugar and salt.


  • 3-5 tablespoons Canola oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced]
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 7-8 tomatoes, finely minced
  • 1 pack extra firm tofu, quartered (or any shape you want really)
  • 5-6 tablespoon evaporated cane sugar (white sugar is not vegan)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    In a medium non-stick pan over high heat, fry the tofu until brown and crunchy (Make sure oil is very hot before adding the tofu).
  2. Once fried, remove the tofu and lower the heat.
  3. Add garlic, sautee until light brown
  4. Add onion, mix and sautee until tender
  5. Add tomatoes
  6. Add sugar and salt. Simmer for 3 minutes or until flavors are well mixed. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  7.  Add the fried tofu, simmer until stew is boiling.
  8. You’re done! Serve with white rice.

fried tofu

sarciado sauce

sarciado in progress

The important part is to make sure the tomatoes are finely minced, and the salt-sugar seasoning is apparent.

vegan sarciado finished

Vegan Sarciado is not only easy to make, it’s also easy on the wallet. The ingredients for Sarciado don’t cost a fortune-especially if they’re plucked from a neighbor’s garden :)

In Retrospect, Pinoy Potluck in the Park, AstigVegan Challenge

When the competitors of the AstigVegan Challenge were given a tough proposition: Make a vegan Filipino dish, I was facing a challenge of my own. In two weeks, I need to throw a potluck AND a competition inviting co-organizers and attendees I have never met in person.

The idea originated after a Twitter friend, who was in town for a short while, invited me to meet up.  From there, the idea grew to rounding up all of our Twitter friends for a potluck at the park.

Of course this was not exclusive, family and friends were also welcomed and invited. But for the most part, the people interested in going were online friends-some of them I knew only by their Twitter names  (@mmmoomoocowow @wordsandnosh @sisigblogger)
Fortunately, getting the buzz online spread easily, thanks to my co-organizer @joanneisafoodie @kapamealya, who constantly tweeted about the event as well as created an eventbrite link for people to RSVP. On top of that, another Twitter friend, @Filipeanut designed a clever, inviting flyer.
Despite the help, the event still hinted unpredictability, which motivated me. I was holding the very first AstigVegan contest and had no previous experience to compare it from.

Also, my usual “partner in vegan crime”, TJ Basa, is vacationing in the Philippines, and couldn’t partake in the planning (although she was well aware and wished me well).

Luckily, my boyfriend eagerly supported and helped me. My younger sister too, sacrificed hours of sleep to set up early in the morning at the park. Both of them also donated prizes for the winners (gift certificates from Zane Artistry, Fineline Barbershop, FTCC Gym, and the champion’s trophy).

The Trophy!

The day came, and one by one I met my online friends, who happened to be even more endearing in person.

Thea (“wordsandnosh”) brought Pinakbet with vegan bagoong, Joanne (Joanneisafoodie) along with her husband Keaton (@phatpanda650) baked vegan cupcakes, Albert (“Filipeanut“) brought vegan ube cornbread, Clare (@mmmoomoocowow) and her boyfriend, Dan brought a Maja Blanca dessert. Our non-Twitter friends also showed up with their drinks, kutcinta, espasol, etc. I made and brought my tried and tested, Pancit Palabok.