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Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

Understanding Chinese Cuisine

Dr. Nestor Alonso ll - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - My fascination with Chinese cuisine began nearly 50 years ago. Special celebrations in those days almost always end up in a Chinese restaurant. Other cuisines like French, German, Malaysian or even Italian were not yet available here. American food, though, was served at Eddie’s Log Cabin, Spanish food at Casino Español de Cebu, and Korean food, well… in Korea.

The Filipino Chinese in Cebu ate Fujian cuisine at home because the majority came from Fujian province and dined on Cantonese food in restaurants, because the better Chinese chefs in town came from Guangdong. I resided in Parian where in front of our house lived a Chinese family who sold ba chang (rice dumplings), bah ho (pork floss) and Chinese kusahos (ba gua or pork jerky).

Fast forward to 35 years hence, I accompanied a friend to Hong Kong to market the golden apple snail (golden kuhol). The occasion opened my eyes to the delectable world of Chinese cuisine. I then began to read books about Chinese cooking and learned that China had produced about 50,000 dishes in the last 5,000 years and it was still evolving.

There is Chinese food wherever immigrant Chinese populations are found, and they adapt easily to local tastes and ingredients, that fusion cuisine often result. And so we have American Chinese cuisine, Singaporean Chinese, Malaysian Chinese and yes, we also have Filipino Chinese cuisine with dishes like patotim, patatim, pancit Malabon and pancit habhab.

Radisson Blu Hotel Cebu has recently welcomed a new Chinese Chef - Aik Liang Tan, who comes from Johor, Bahru Malaysia. I joined media colleagues at the Chef's Table. The first dish was a Chinese Appetizer Medley, Salmon Rice Roll with Plum Sauce, Bacon Roll with Sweet Sauce and Asparagus Salad.

Rice paper is popular in Vietnam, Plum sauce in China, and Salmon in Japan and Western countries. The first dish is in the realm of fusion cuisine and it had a wonderful taste with the oily salmon flesh cushioned by the sweet and sour taste of the Plum sauce.

Soup was Braised Chicken Dumpling in Pumpkin followed by six dishes as Main Course: Wok Fried Tenderloin with XO Sauce, Stir-fry Prawn in Kung Pao Sauce, Fried Pork Rib with Salt and Pepper, Deep Fried Boneless Chicken in Spicy Sauce, Stir-fry French Bean, Szechuan Style and Yang Chow Fried Rice. From the repertoire of Chinese cooking styles, it seems that Chef Aik Liang Tan masters two cooking techniques. Dessert was a trio of sweets; Ginger Panna Cotta, Chocolate Buchi and Mango Sago.

AIK LIANG TAN

AMERICAN CHINESE

BACON ROLL

BAHRU MALAYSIA

BRAISED CHICKEN DUMPLING

CASINO ESPA

CEBU

CHEF AIK LIANG TAN

CHINESE

CHINESE APPETIZER MEDLEY

FILIPINO CHINESE

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