Tag Archives: pinoy

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 makes 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.

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”.


  • 1/2 pound Rainbow Chard, chopped or shredded
  • 1/2 cup Gimme Lean vegan ground beef (available at most stores)
  • 1/2 cup mushroom, chopped
  • cooking oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 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.

Wrapped tightly in banana leaves and carefully steamed for almost an hour, the aroma of a Suman rice cake exudes every time you peel its layers. The aroma is undeniably sweet and enticing.

Taking a bite proves to be even more rewarding as the taste of the sweet rice comforts and subsides your hunger.

Suman won’t leak nor spill as it is conveniently wrapped, so anyone can just bring it anywhere and eat it whenever hunger strikes. Filipinos refer to the convenience as “Pang-tawid Gutom” or quick snack for hunger. For me, Suman can never go wrong…well, when eating it. Cooking it is a whole different experience.

Suman (pronounced “Soo-mahn”)  is usually glutinous rice cooked in coconut milk and tightly wrapped and steamed in banana leaves. I say “usually” because Suman has many varieties. Aside from sweet rice, you can use cassava, or purple yam. Aside from banana leaves, you can wrap with young palm leaves or “Ibus”. You may also mix in a little bit of lye, and call it “Suman sa Lihia” or “Suman in Lye”. I chose to go with the version I am most familiar with, “Suman sa Gata” or “Suman in Coconut Milk”.

The cooking process involves delicate procedures but once you grasp what works and what doesn’t, everything becomes easy. Don’t worry, the recipe below will help you make the perfect wrap.


  • 3 cups of glutinous rice
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 6-8 tbsp of white sugar (or brown if you prefer)
  • 1 pack of Banana Leaves (sold at most Asian grocery stores)
  • vegan butter (so the leaves won’t stick)
  • string, or in my case I used strands of the banana leaves to tie the wraps


  1. Soak the glutinous rice for about 20-30 minutes
  2. In a pot over medium heat, simmer the coconut milk and salt
  3. Add the rice and simmer for about 3-5 minutes, mixing occasionally
  4. Lower the heat, add the sugar and keep mixing.
  5. Do NOT cook the rice.  Just make sure all the coconut milk is absorbed and the mixture turns thick and creamy. Turn off the heat, you are now ready to wrap the Suman.
  6. Trim the banana leaves to about 4 x 7 inch rectangles. Wipe any residue with a clean damp cloth.
  7. Spread some butter on the leaves so the mixture won’t stick.
  8. Add about 2 tbsp of rice in the middle of the leaf lining it vertically and parallel to the 7 inch length.
  9. Starting with the sides, roll the leaves and wrap the rice as tightly as possible. Fold the top and bottom part of the leaves and securely tie both sides with a string. Repeat the process for the rest of the rice mixture.
  10. In a steamer with generous amount of water, place the Suman wraps and steam over medium heat for about 45 minutes. Make sure to cover tightly and only minimal steam escapes the pot.
  11. Let it cool and Enjoy!

I had to improvise and use this strainer on top of a boiling pot of water. A real steamer or even better, a bamboo steamer will be ideal.

The first time I tried, I mistakenly thought the rice should be completely cooked before wrapping. I kept adding water so the rice will soften. After steaming, the Suman ended up too soggy and mushy. The second try however, carried the right texture. Now I know to keep the rice grain texture intact.

Once I got the right formula, I steamed a whole bunch and brought them down to the Filipino Community Center in San Francisco for an event called “Thanksgiving for Caregiving” last Wednesday, November 23rd.

All ready and packaged, along with a side of sugar for dipping

Filipino American groups, SF CHRP, BABAE, LFS and ALAY threw a free Thanksgiving dinner to pay tribute to Filipino caregivers and other migrant workers.

Guests seem to be in good spirits

The Suman was a hit!

Angelica Cabande, one of the event organizers


Chris and I were honored to attend and serve my humble Suman creation. After all, Suman is best enjoyed when shared.

Thanksgiving cannot be complete without a feast. It’s a day when family and friends gather over a table of delicious food and eat until they can no longer chew. For me, I planned to cook a hearty vegan dish my carnivorous family would find insatiable. But to do this, I planned to match the same flavors Thanksgiving meals are famous for: sweet, heavy, and savory-yet familarly Filipino but innovatively vegan.

My boyfriend, Chris had an idea: because we wouldn’t be able to celebrate Thanksgiving together,  we should make a dish for each other’s family. So for my family, Chris made what he calls,  “Fried Whole Asian ‘Fish’ “, and for his family,  I cooked “Seitan Tocino”.

The Seitan proved tricky to make from scratch. I used the recipe from Post Punk Kitchen then marinated with brown sugar, little bit of white wine, and red food coloring. In a pan over medium heat, I fried the Seitan bits until they were extra firm.

I got the Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, kneaded and simmered it to form my Tocino Seitan

Ta-da! Seitan Tocino for Chris' family

Made some for my family as well

Chris' dish: Asian Style Thanksgiving

Per my family’s request, I also made my Squash Coconut Curry  (which reminded me, it’s not too late to enter this for the Blog Hop, Squash Love). I served it with a side of vegan bagoong mady by sauteeing minced onions and tomatoes then adding black bean garlic sauce. To make it spicy, Thai Chili pepper would do the trick.

My Squash Coconut Curry served with side of vegan bagoong


  • 2 eggplants, sliced
  • 1/2 kabocha squash, chopped
  • half bunch of String Beans, quartered
  • 1/2 lb mushroom, quartered
  • 1 pack extra firm tofu, cubed
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minched or grinded
  • 1 tbsp Sea salt
  • 4-6 pcs Thai Chili pepper, chopped (take it out if you don’t want it spicy)
  • cooking oil


  1. Fry the tofu in a pan over high heat until tofu is crispy. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a pot over medium heat, add oil
  3. Sautee the garlic until light brown, add the onions. Sautee until tender.
  4. Add the coconut milk and chopped Kabocha squash, simmer and boil until squash is soft enough to be mashed
  5. Mash the squash to dissolve in the soup
  6. Add salt and Thai pepper
  7. Add the tofu and the rest of the vegetables, simmer until boiling
  8. You’re done! Serve with black bean garlic sauce or vegan “shrimp paste”

My family, the happy bunch

Gloomy weather, be gone!  There’s a new gloom-buster in town and its name is Porridge or Lugaw. And like any superhero, it came with a sidekick, “Tokwa’t Kabute”, not to be mistaken with the first sidekick, but not very AstigVegan, “Tokwa’t Baboy”.

“Tokwa’t who?” Okay, my story may sound a bit cryptic but “Tokwa’t Baboy” or “Tofu and Pork” is a popular side dish to a bowl of Filipino porridge soup called “Lugaw”. The two go so well together, they make a perfect tandem like Batman and Robin.

Interestingly, Lugaw and Tokwa’t Baboy are Filipino favorites not only during the cold season but on hot days as well. Even in a sweltering, hot humid country like the Philippines, a bowl of Lugaw with Tokwa’t Baboy never miss to hit the spot.

To Astig Veganize it, I substituted pork with Shiitake mushroom, a unique kind of mushroom that’s now in season, not to mention, it brings something new to the palate than the usual white button.

INGREDIENTS: (Makes 4-6 servings)

  • 1 pack extra firm tofu, cubed (Make sure to squeeze extra moisture. I wrapped it with paper towel)
  • 1/2 pound Shiitake Mushroom, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • cooking oil


  1. In a non-stick pan, over high heat, pour 3 tbsp cooking oil and fry the tofu until crispy
  2. add shiitake mushroom, mix and simmer for 3-5 minutes
  3. In a sauce pot, over low heat, combine soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, onion, salt, and brown sugar for 5 minutes
  4. Combine the tofu and mushroom to the mixture for 1-2 minutes then quickly transfer mushroom and tofu to a serving bowl.
  5. You’re done!
This vegan recipe takes only 15 minutes to cook where as the pork version takes about 30-40 minutes.

NOTE: Don’t let the tofu and mushroom sit too much in the sauce. It can get extremely salty, especially if you’re eating it by itself and not with porridge or any other entree. After combining the ingredients, instantly remove the tofu and mushroom from sauce and serve in a separate bowl.

I let the sauce sit for awhile during the shoot, but it's actually important to remove them quickly as it can turn very salty.

I made my Lugaw, Goto style (pronounced Goh-toh) with lots of innards, mushroom innards that is, hehe.  Basically, I used Maitake mushroom to substitute for pork intestines. Maitake is usually expensive but like Shiitake, it’s the season for it so the prices have gone down. Both mushrooms are available at most grocery stores. Feel free to try these exotic ingredients and let me know what you think!

It has a funny name, or should I say, a scary one. Seitan, pronounced Say-tahn, is a kind of wheat gluten. I heard the real spelling was also Satan but I guess people changed it overtime for what may be obvious reasons?

Seitan does have a quirky name and vegans like to poke fun at it all the time. At vegan festivals and fairs, you wouldn’t miss at least one vendor selling a sticker, t-shirt, magnet, or pin that says “Praise Seitan”, “Seitan Rules”, etc.

In a way, the slogans ring true. We vegans do love our Seitan because it brings a different kind of texture that soy doesn’t deliver sometimes. For example, when I went to Seattle for my birthday last year, my friend treated me out at a trendy vegan restaurant called Plum Bistro. And much to my surprise, I spotted steak on their menu. I was skeptical but thought, “hey why not?”. And after a wonderful meal for a vegan birthday girl, I considered their Seitan Steak one of the best vegan dish I have ever had-and I’ve eaten TONS of scrumptious vegan food in my more than three years of the lifestyle!

The steak was  juicy, tender, fatty and flavorful. The chef might have squeezed a little bit of lemon in the sauce because I tasted some acidity that perfectly complimented the savory salty of the dish. But to clarify, it didn’t taste like a T-Bone cow steak; I didn’t think it was trying to. The Seitan Steak was king in its own right. Plus, it was cruelty-free, so yes, I shall praise Seitan indeed! :P The dish was unforgettable I had to order it again when I came back to Seattle this year. The photo below was taken from my second visit.

Cruelty Free, Healthy, and Delicious: Seitan Steak!

Most people I know would dismiss vegan food as only tofu and plants. Hopefully, they’ll soon realize that there are so much more to it. Aside from tofu, our meat substitutes vastly include mushrooms, tempeh, yams, and of course, seitan.

I do have a confession though; the irony to this is in my more than three years of cruelty-free cooking, I still hadn’t made a Seitan dish!

That is, until my boyfriend and I challenged ourselves to an Iron Chef-like competition with Seitan as the main component.

The timer started ticking and the game was on! Chris and I rummaged through our groceries as we attempted to maximize the hour allotted to prepare and cook; the pressure was mounting. The competition would have been funner if we had other people as judges but the Iron Chef idea was a last minute thing so we instead relied on ourselves to (honestly) judge each other’s dish.

With the meaty characteristics of Seitan, I immediately thought, stew! Apritada stew to be exact.

Unlike cooking beef or chicken Apritada, the vegan version should only take about 30-40min depending on the serving size.

INGREDIENTS (Makes 4 servings)

  • 1 pack of Seitan (available at most health, grocery stores)
  • 2 pcs potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 pcs tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 pound or 1 small pack button mushroom, halved
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 2-3 tbsp sweet relish
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 4-6 pcs bay leaves
  • 1/4 pound fresh green beans, halved
  • 1 stick of carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • kalamata olives (not really Filipino but I love putting them in my Apritada)


  1. Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat.
  2. Sautee the garlic, onion and tomatoes.
  3. Add the potatoes. Simmer until potatoes are tender.
  4. Add the red bell pepper, bay leaves, and carrots. Simmer for about 3 min.
  5. Add the green beans, mushrooms, olives, tomato sauce, and sweet relish. Add salt and pepper to taste. Adjust sweet relish to taste.
  6. Add Seitan and simmer until boiling. You’re done!

Chris went for the classic steak marinate to create his own version of Seitan Steak. I can”t remember exactly what he did but it involved tons of butter, special spices, and some steak rub. I still have to ask him for the recipe.

Chris' rendition of Seitan Steak

Time was up and we served each other our respective dish. Aside from the main entrees, we also whipped up some Arugula salad and vegan Caprese salad in the hour we allotted for ourselves.

Deliberation time and Chris said he found the use of Seitan most appropriate in the stew and the starch ingredients went well with the sauce. He said he also like the the component of sweet relish to the dish, adding a sweetness and a lil bit of tart to the sauce. On the other hand, he commented that the sauce could be made thicker. I realized maybe I could have added a tablespoon of tomato paste.

Okay, my turn: his steak carried the perfect spice and marinate. The butter brought out the fatty flavor in every bite. My only concern was it was little dry. Maybe if he added some sauce on top or something on the side that would have played with the texture of the steak.

All in all, it was a good challenge. I couldn’t wait to try more Seitan in my cooking. Oh the possibilities! Seitan in Bistek, Tocino, Mechado, Morcon, Kaldereta, etc. Stay tuned for more recipes blog posts here on Astig Vegan!

And speaking of Kaldereta, my other AstigV, TJ,  knows how to whip up some mean pot of Kaldereta!

TJ's Seitan Kaldereta

TJ deserves some kind of award or something for her creation. I recall when TJ & I sold our food at a mini-fair, her pot of Kaldereta was gone within 15 minutes!

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



TJ & RG at AstigVegan would love to hear your own unique veg adventures to share with our readers.

Whether it be with an essay, photo, video, recipe,
we’re excited to feature you!

Just email us at astigvegan@gmail.com