Vancouver home cook delves into sweet, salty, and sour flavours with Quintessential Filipino Cooking

Liza Agbanlog's new cookbook evolved from her blog and covers everything from noodles to snacks

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      After Liza Agbanlog moved to Vancouver from the Philippines with her husband and three kids in 1992, she found it challenging to cook authentic Filipino food because so many ingredients were hard or impossible to find. The passionate home cook went on to experiment with local foods to adapt recipes of the traditional dishes she grew up with.

      Agbanlog went on to start the blog Salu Salo Recipes, which gets its name from a Tagalog word for gathering and eating together. Now, she has her own cookbook, the newly released Quintessential Filipino Cooking ($21.99).

      “Growing up, my mom would mostly cook dishes from her hometown of Gapan, Nueva Ecija, while my dad would make us dishes influenced by his Chinese heritage,” she writes. “The combination of both my parents’ cooking styles has been the biggest influence in the way that I cook.

      “I wanted to make this book so I could share my recipes with people in a new way, and maybe help others make the Filipino dishes they too grew up eating once upon a time.”

      Quintessential Filipino Cooking is divided into nine chapters, including Pork and Beef Dishes, Seafood Dishes, Soups, Snacks, and Dipping Sauces and Accompaniments.

      Look for recipes for everything from lumpiang shanghai (pork spring rolls) and chicken pochero (chicken and vegetable stew) to guisadong toge at Hipon (sautéed bean sprouts and shrimp) and ginataang gulay (vegetables in coconut milk).

      Dessert recipes include ginataang bilo bilo (sticky rice balls in coconut milk), leche flan (caramel custard), and mango turon (fried banana mango roll).

      Below is a recipe from her new book.

      Sinigang Na Isda Sa Miso (Fish in Tamarind Miso Soup)

      Sinigang is a soup dish characterized by its sourness. The most common souring ingredient used is green or unripe tamarind but other fruits like green mango, calamansi, santol (cottonfruit) and kamias (bilimbi) are also used. This particular sinigang combines the sour taste of tamarind and the salty and rich flavor of miso. The addition of mustard leaves completes this tasty and flavorful soup.

      Yield: 6 to 8 servings


      2 salmon heads, about 2lb (900g) each, cut in half, or 4 salmon steaks
      Salt, to taste
      5 unripe tamarind pods or 1 (1.76-oz [50g]) packet tamarind seasoning
      8 cups (1.9L) water, divided
      1 (1-inch [2.5cm]) piece fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
      1 large onion, sliced
      1½lb (680g) daikon, peeled and sliced diagonally into ½-inch (13mm) pieces
      2 tbsp (30ml) fish sauce, plus more for serving
      3 tbsp (51g) miso paste
      2 cups (112g) chopped mustard leaves (gai choy), or baby spinach
      2 large tomatoes, cut into the wedges
      2 whole serrano peppers
      Steamed rice, for serving


      Season the fish with salt. Set aside.

      If using tamarind pods, in a saucepan, combine the tamarind and 2 cups (475ml) of water. Boil over medium heat for 10 minutes or until the tamarind is soft. Using the back of a spoon, mash the softened tamarind. Strain the juice into a bowl and set aside, discarding the seeds and shells.

      Bring 6 cups (1.4L) of water, if using tamarind pods, or 8 cups (1.9L) of water, if using seasoning mix, to a simmer in a stockpot. Add the ginger, onion, daikon, and fish sauce, and cook until the daikon is tender, about 5 minutes.

      Add the fish and cook for 4 minutes. Add the tamarind juice or seasoning mix, and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the miso paste, mustard leaves, tomatoes and serrano peppers, and return to a boil. Season to taste with salt.

      Serve hot with steamed rice and fish sauce.

      Reprinted with permission from Quintessential Filipino Cooking by Liza Agbanlog, Page Street Publishing Co. 2018.