“I love our cuisine’s bright intensity—big, bold flavours in riotous combinations, and its individuality from other cuisines,” says cookbook author Yasmin Newman. “I love our gregarious use of garlic, the intriguing produce from the land and our desserts, from kakanin to cakes blending European techniques with native flavours.”
It’s an evocative description of Filipino cuisine, and of the flavours and character of the food that Newman seeks to capture in her latest cookbook, Under Coconut Skies: Stories and Feasts from the Philippines.
Born and raised in Australia, Newman, who is Australian-Filipino, returns frequently to the Philippines in normal times, and was lucky enough to have spent two months there just before the global pandemic hit, researching and writing her book from the remote tropical paradise that is Siargao Island.
Through her work—Newman’s first book 7000 Islands: A Food Portrait of the Philippines also sought to highlight the diversity and distinctiveness of the cuisine—she hopes to raise the profile of Filipino food, and bring its delights to a wider audience, particularly in Australia where she is based.
“It’s my long held wish to see Filipino food as a common part of the Australian food vernacular. It’s not so much a case of a certain perception around it as little opinion at all! Many Australians have never tried Filipino food. Thankfully, that’s changing with more ambassadors like myself championing our cuisine, and with wonderful new restaurants and food events for people to try it for themselves. In the last two years, I’ve noticed an exciting shift and uplift with more and more articles in leading food publications off the back of new restaurant openings and an enthusiasm to try this tantalising cuisine.”
Here, Newman shares three recipes from Under Coconut Skies so you can start to taste your own way through the Philippines and its dishes.