This lushly written and photographed book is a captivating guide to Filipino regional cooking. Koh, raised in Singapore, where he now owns a bakery, writes with an outsider's fascination for the details of a rich, complex cuisine.
Originally published in 2012 as Milk Pigs and Violet Gold, this now twice revised and extensively expanded edition incorporates the details, corrections, and insights Koh gained from a passionate and enthusiastic response to the award-winning original book in the Philippines.
The material is arranged in sixteen chapters on different regions, ranging from cosmopolitan Manila to predominantly Muslim Zamboanga. Koh's stories of the people from whom he learned mesh neatly with his treatment of culinary and cultural history.
Koh's recipe selections are meant to reveal the day-to-day fare of an immensely practical, adaptive cuisine that has absorbed influences from Malaysia, China, Portugal, Spain, Mexico, and the United States, among others, yet remained remarkably distinct. Suam Mais, a soup of white corn and clams associated with the town of Magalang also contains ginger and chiles. Pakbet, a dish of the Batak tribespeople, has so many variants in both method and ingredients (pork, frogs, fish, octopus?) that a visitor might not recognize their kinship.
Here too are salt-pickled tomatoes, sauces made from sea cucumber secretions, rice-based and peanut-based tamales, myriad pork dishes, and crabs cooked in Sprite.
At more than 452 pages, this is the most complete (and absorbing) resource we have seen on Filipino food. Production values are high and because of small print runs, the book's cost is higher than one might expect.
Color photographs throughout. Hardcover.