Back in 1986, when I visited my hometown, Manila, two strange words popped up on a hotel breakfast menu. Tapsilog . Longsilog . What, I thought, have they added new food words to the Filipino language?
Pretty soon, I started seeing these words on menus all over town, from fancy restaurants to little mom and pop stalls. At the crack of dawn I found them at little road-side stands that catered to jeepney (minibus) drivers, who were ending their night shifts or starting a day of hustling through Manila's traffic. All around them, the garlicky smell of these home-cooked breakfasts filled the air.
Tapsilog and longsilog are just two of the hundreds of words Filipinos have coined for popular menu combinations. These two dishes are not new to me, of course. On leisurely weekend mornings, I wake up to the aromatic smells of tapasilog. The word is a combination of the following three words: tapa (thin slices of marinated beef), sinangag (garlic fried rice) and itlog (a cooked egg). In longsilog , the tapa is replaced by longaniza , a garlicky type of pork sausage that comes in two versions, sweet or spicy-hot.
Since breakfast is an important meal to Filipinos, the selection of dishes is quite large and usually includes garlic fried rice and eggs. Often, meat leftover from the previous night's dinner is reheated and served with the fried rice.
When dried fish is served, it is either broiled or fried and sometimes served with chopped tomatoes. Tuyo (sardines) and the tiny crisp-fried dilis , with their strong fishy smell, may be a challenge to the Western palate. Smoked fish, called tinapa are made from either the small herring or white milkfish called bangus . Daing Na Bangus is another specialty; the milkfish is marinated overnight, or longer, with vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper and then deep-fried the next day.
Breakfast, Philippine style, is served at Max's of Manila. During the week, it's not uncommon to find the tables filled as soon as they open at 7 a.m. You'll also find downtown employees ordering stacks of tapsilog and longsilog to go. In addition, the restaurant also serves tocino , marinated and grilled red pork, as well as daing. On weekends, Max's is a breakfast haven for Filipino churchgoers from St. Basil, which is right across the street.
Max's of Manila Restaurant, 3575 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (213) 384-3043. Filipino and American breakfast served from 7 to 11:30 a.m.
For an easy Philippine breakfast preparation, purchase the longaniza, tocino and tapa from any Filipino or some Chinese markets. Otherwise, sample one with the following recipes .
(Breakfast Beef, Rice
and Egg Plate)
1 pound top sirloin, partially frozen
4 cloves garlic, finely crushed
2 tablespoons vinegar, optional
1 teaspoon sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 cups cooked rice, preferably day-old
Slice meat across grain at least 1/8-inch thick. Mix with 2 cloves crushed garlic, vinegar, sugar and soy sauce. Season to taste with salt, pepper and MSG. Cover and let stand in refrigerator overnight.
Heat 3 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium heat. Fry remaining garlic until golden brown. Add rice and fry, stirring constantly. Season to taste with salt. Make well in center and break in 1 egg. Stir quickly to blend, then stir-fry 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in green onions. Cover and keep warm in oven set on low.
Heat oil in heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Fry several beef pieces to brown, stirring occasionally. Remove and keep hot. Fry remaining beef and keep hot.
Cook remaining 4 eggs to desired style (sunny-side up, poached, scrambled or over-easy) and serve on 4 individual plates with fried rice and beef (tapa). Serve with diced or sliced tomatoes. Makes 4 servings.
DAING NA BANGUS
(Fried Marinated Milkfish)
1 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless milkfish, butterflied
2 to 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Oil for deep-frying
Combine fish with vinegar, garlic and salt and pepper to taste in shallow glass dish. Cover tightly and marinate in refrigerator. Heat oil in deep-fryer until very hot. Fry whole fish until golden brown and crisp on outside. Makes 2 to 3 servings.
Note: This dish is traditionally served with fried rice. Milkfish is available in Filipino markets, but whole trout may be substituted. Clean fish and cut on bellyside to butterfly open. Remove bones.