(upbeat music) – Hi everyone, my name is Francesca, I’m on the Eater video team, usually I’m behind the camera, but today you get to hang out with me. This is something that I’ve wanted to do for a really long time, Welcome to Halo Halo. Filipinos make up the third
largest Asian population in the United States, and for years there’s
been all this talk about Filipino foods’ growing
popularity in the U.S. As a Filipino-American
I became really curious. Initially, what inspired me to learn more was Amy Besa’s book, Memories of Philippine Kitchens. Tita Amy and her husband Chef Romy have owned restaurants in New York since 1995, and I’m going to head over to their current restaurant, Purple Yam, in Brooklyn and talk to Tita Amy about this idea of authenticity. – When I traveled all over the Philippines to do my research I found three dishes that were common to most of the region, and they are eaten by
all classes of society. Adobo, sinigang and kinilaw. Those are the three dishes that I defined as food
that was always ours. That’s really Filipino and they’re all united with the sourness. – [Francesca] The unofficial national dish of the Philippines is adobo, but with 7,000 plus islands
making up the Philippines there are even more
variations of this recipe. So, in the mix of all these versions what unites this dish as Filipino? – My philosophy now is if you want to define Filipino food, it’s
all about ingredients. It’s a very, very profound
process of indigenizing food. I think the key to an adobo is the balance and harmony between the salt and the sourness. – [Francesca] So, what
are the main components? – [Amy] It’s gotta be vinegar. Protein braised in vinegar. That to me is the meaning of an adobo, and then, of course, the other elements are salt or soy sauce. Of course, garlic, lots of garlic, and bay leaves and black pepper corn. When you’re doing a dish, for me it’s more like a story. Who are the main characters, and then who are the
supporting characters? That, for me, distinguishes our food from the rest of Southeast Asia. In other cultures, vinegar or sourness is just used as a mitigating ingredient, whereas in the Philippines
it is a main character, it’s in your face. You can use different vinegars and come up with as many types of adobos. (upbeat music) – [Francesca] One of the most
interesting things for me was that you put coconut milk in your chicken adobo and I didn’t grow up with that, it was just soy sauce and vinegar. I was talking to my best
friend, who’s also Filipino, she said, “No, I grew up with
coconut milk in my adobo.” It’s different, depending on the region your family comes from. – [Amy] You do not put
anything in the dish unless it has a role,
and it has a function. So that’s why Romy started
putting in coconut milk to balance the sourness, and it’s our most popular item. – Your chicken adobo?
– It’s good. – Yeah, that’s for sure. – I really have a lot of problems with people defining what is authentic. – It’s very hard to define authenticity. – You can’t. For me, what is authentic
is what is natural. So, if you use artificial
chemicals or whatnot, to me that’s not authentic. Whenever somebody, like somebody wrote me, “You’re not authentic!” Like, (beep), I said, I wrote this guy, “And who gave you the
authority to decide?” That really makes me so mad. – Yeah, I mean, have you heard that, like people that dine at your restaurant, “Oh, this not authentic adobo.” – Yeah, exactly, starting from 1995, but you know what, I don’t
pay attention to that. For me, I don’t have room for that because if you pay attention to them you never progress. – Right. (upbeat music) – [Amy] There are more Filipinos opening up restaurants, expressing their love and
passion for their roots and culture through food. I think that’s great. This is one thing I tell a
lot of Filipino-American chefs and restaurateurs, to
continue the work of promoting Filipino food here, is that
they need to understand what the culture is and
what the flavors are, what the ingredients were. How does it really taste using ingredients that grew from our soil? Once you get that connection, you have to now interact
with this environment. You know, for example, using rhubarb to sour sinigang. This is something that is still new. This whole concept of what does it mean to do Filipino-American food, and I think that’s where
people can run away with it and have a home run, because all these people were
like, “What is Filipino food?”, *slams table* It has to come from
you and don’t be afraid! Whatever you do you can be proud of it. – Yeah, that is a wonderful message. – [Amy] Isn’t it? It’s like empowering. – Yeah, for me as a Filipino. – You’re a Filipino-American, so whatever you make Filipino
food as, that’s yours, and nobody can tell you you’re not Filipino, and you’re not authentic. Nobody has that right. (slow techno music) – [Francesca] As some of you may know, halo-halo is also a
Filipino shaved ice dessert that literally translates to mix-mix, which can essentially
describe Filipino food. A mix, a mix of different islands and cultural influences, all coming together to create something that is uniquely ours to share. So, in this series, I wanted to explore the
food that I grew up with and learn how other Filipinos are sharing our food with their community. (upbeat music)