“In my early years as a food writer, it always plagued me that Australians knew so little about Filipino food, while Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese were so loved and deep-set,” says Sydney-based Australian-Filipino author Yasmin Newman. “It became a mission to help change that, first through food and travel pieces in magazines, then through a podcast with a leading broadcaster, and finally in what would be my first book on Filipino food—and the first of its kind in Australia—7000 Islands: A Food Portrait of the Philippines.”
Newman’s debut book was published almost ten years ago, while its follow up, Under Coconut Skies, is due out on 29 September. Like its predecessor, her new cookbook is rooted in the history, culinary traditions, folklore and personal stories pertinent to Filipino cuisine. “Where 7000 Islands focused on classic recipes, this one shares more regional dishes, like piyanggang manok [blackened coconut chicken], as well as vegetarian dishes, which are both often under-represented when it comes to conversations about Filipino food. It’s also a snapshot of how I cook at home, with both Australian and Filipino influences, lots of colour and rustic abundance.”
Read more: Where To Get Filipino Food In Melbourne
Thanks to ambassadors like Newman and a host of new restaurant openings, the awareness and knowledge of Filipino cuisine is on the rise in Australia. However, there remains nothing like the taste of Filipino food from where it hails. Newman was lucky to have spent two months in the Philippines just before the global pandemic hit undertaking research related to Under Coconut Skies––and under ordinary circumstances visits the country regularly. Here, she reminisces about some of her favourite places to go and eat when she’s back.