At the launch of Chef Claude Tayag’s new book on adobo, Mama Sita’s puts the spotlight on vinegar, the cooking method’s hero ingredient.
Filipino chef and all-around culture advocate Claude Tayag launched his latest tome titled ‘The Ultimate Filipino Adobo: Stories through the Ages.’ Called ‘Sa Pula, Sa Puti, Sa Dilaw’, the event was held last February 24, 2023, at the BALIKADA Street Fair hosted by U.P. Diliman’s Sigma Delta Phi.
More than a collection of recipes, the book presents a plethora of personal stories from various Filipinos and their own experiences of cooking adobo, including special techniques that make each iteration their own. Some well-known individuals who shared their adobo tales include artist Ben Cabrera, broadcast journalist Ces Drilon, food writer Angelo Comsti, and chefs Tom Cunanan (Bad Saints), Robby Goco (Cyma), and Jessie Sincioco (Chef Jessie Rockwell Club).
The event’s title captures exactly how multidimensional cooking adobo is. ‘Sa puti’ refers to using aromatics and vinegar with no soy sauce, ‘sa dilaw’ refers to the use of luyang dilaw (ginger), while ‘sa pula’ refers to the use of achuete such as in the adobo dish of Batangas.
Highlighting the complexity and richness of adobo has always been Claude Tayag’s advocacy, who had contested the idea of a standardized adobo method in 2021 when it was proposed by the Department of Trade and Industry. This even led to a series of adobo articles in his column under The Philippine Star which inspired the making of the book.
Although he has consistently shown the manifold ways one can create this iconic Filipino dish, adobo can essentially be described as a method wherein vinegar is used as the primary cooking liquid. A technique that can even be traced back to pre-Hispanic times.
“You can say this was the most popular ingredient because it was found all over the Philippines, and every region would have its specific kind of vinegar: coconut vinegar, sasa vinegar from the nipa palm, Aslam atbu, sukang tubó from the sugar cane…” He also points out that as each region had its own vinegar, so was there a unique term for its use in cooking.
To highlight this culinary tradition of cooking with vinegar, Mama Sita’s showcased its assortment of natural vinegars such as Premium Coconut Nectar Vinegar, Sinamak (Spiced Vinegar), and Sukang Tuba (Coconut Floral Sap Vinegar). Harvested by local farmers and naturally fermented, each bottle is lovingly crafted with no artificial ingredients added.
When asked how different using natural vinegar is, Tayag mentions its distinct flavor: “Naturally fermented vinegar is not that sour because there’s still some natural sweetness left from it being a fruit juice; versus the commercially made vinegar with acetic acid which turns into vinegar in five days–that’s why it is extremely sour.”
“When you cook adobo it has to be the naturally fermented vinegar because adobo basically is using vinegar without acidity. That’s why the best way to eat adobo is after reheating to let the acidity mellow,” he elaborates.
Aside from its natural flavor, Mama Sita’s vinegar products celebrate the tedious, time-honored processes of creating it: from harvesting the floral sap which entails climbing the oldest, tallest coconut trees, to fermenting the sap itself for months before it can be bottled.
“I must thank Mama Sita’s for advocating the use of artisanal vinegars, especially tuba because at the end of the day, if no one supports these products, the farmers will stop production and the tradition will die… I’ve been advocating local produce, local panlasa, and this is a way of helping small farmers.”
The Ultimate Filipino Adobo book by Claude Tayag, and Mama Sita’s Premium Vinegars are available on Lazada and Shoppee:
Claude Tayag: Arts+Books+Prints; Mama Sita’s PH
Visit www.mamasitas.com to learn more, or follow our social media pages for updates
Follow the Out of Town Travel Blog on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest if you want more travel and food-related updates.
- Adobong Manok: Easy Chicken Adobo Recipe
- Adobong Baboy Recipe: How to Cook Pork Adobo
- What’s your food story? Mama Sita wants to hear them