Last weekend, I got together with two friends, Helen and Madeline – both Seattleites, food bloggers (Helen is vegan, and Madeline is a vegan sympathizer), and alumni of the graduate school program that I’ll be starting next month – the Master of Communication in Digital Media program at the University of Washington.
One day, Madeline and Helen were chatting up the possibility of having a dinner party where they made vegan-friendly Filipino food so that Helen could experience it (and Madeline could veganize some of her traditional dishes) on Twitter. Madeline messaged and thought I might be interested in joining. Of course I was interested!
Growing up, one of my best friends in my hometown was Filipino. Her mom would make big batches of food for parties and just weeknight dinners and would always invite me over. She loved me, because I ate everything on my plate and always exclaimed how wonderful it was. It was definitely not vegan, but the impact of those very distinct flavor combinations and textures never left my memory. Thus, I was excited to take up the challenge of making some of these (veganized) dishes myself for the first time with great company.
We all gathered at Madeline’s lovely home with fresh ingredients, cutting boards, knives and Helen’s addition of authentic San Miguel beer in tow. Madeline was amazing and prepped separate “stations” (so very Rachael Ray of her!) so that we could each prep different dishes at the same time.
I was in charge of making the adobo – veganized by the usage of Portabello mushrooms. It called for whole peppercorns, which excited this diehard spice lover.
Here was the entire menu, written in order that it was prepared:
Madeline was in charge of the afritada, Helen the filling for the lumpia, and Helen and I worked together to prep veggies for an Asian cucumber salad. While we each choppped and prepped, we all chatted about the nerdy things that we’re all passionate about: food/eating, Seattle and social media. The more that we hung out, the more I realized how much we all have in common.
After most of our dishes were done or prepped, Madeline gave us a lumpia-rolling lesson. Having no prior lumpia prep experience, I was intrigued and also a little nervous that I was gonna mess it up. Thankfully, Madeline was an ace teacher, and after a couple lumpia, Helen and I were rollin’ em up like pros. See here:
And she showed us the proper placement of the filling on the lumpia wrapper. This resonated with me, as it seemed similar to where you place filling on a tortilla when making burritos. Then came the rolling part, which seemed like it could be dicey, but we got the hang of it quickly.
Madeline shared that the secret to perfecting fried food: adding kosher salt immediately after it comes out of the frier. Brilliant, and from what I could tell, it worked like a charm.
Madeline had prepared a vegan coconut sorbet as our dessert, but it didn’t firm up as expected. With a slight of hand and amazing improv skills, Madeline and her husband whipped up this amazing dessert for us:
Holy moly. I don’t really have many words for this dish, just delicious “mmms,” “ahhs,” and an assortment of other guttural noises of delicious contentment. It was truly that good.
A few days after we left, Madeline realized that a certain traditional flavor was missing from her afritada: fish sauce. Did she see this as an obstacle? No way! Instead she took it as an opportunity to make Helen and I bottles of vegan fish sauce, and brought some to me at work!
I have yet to use it, but I’ve been plotting all the ways I can integrate it into my cooking in my head since I received it. It was such a thoughtful gift and I’m so excited to use it and see the difference it makes in certain dishes.
I bet you’d like links to the recipes we used for prepping this vegan Filipino meal, huh? Head over to Helen’s post where she has all the tasty links.
It was an awesomely fun and delicious evening with some amazingly inspiring ladies. I can’t wait for our next veganized dinner party/cooking evening, where I’ll be showing the ladies how to cook a specialty from my Mexican heritage that I haven’t prepped in some time: veganized tamales. I’m already pumped.