From durian rice cakes to fish stewed in turmeric to slow-cooked beef in burnt coconut broth, an interesting and delicious range of dishes with Moro and lumad heritage are on the menu in Café Marco at the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu.
The dishes are made available as part of Flavors of Mindanao, this year’s Independencia Culinary Journey from June 7 to 12.
PIYALAM is a Tausug dish of stewed fish with turmeric.
Independencia is a celebration of the food of the Philippines, said Marco Polo Plaza Cebu General Manager Brian Connelly.
“We’ve featured cuisine in the past seven years from heroes of the country, actually also from the president himself who signed the proclamation. Last year, we did food of northern Philippines. This year we wanted to go south. And we wanted to do this in conjunction with our sister hotel in Davao, the Marco Polo Davao,” Connelly said during the opening last Friday.
“It’s part of our experience here in Marco Polo to share cuisine of different parts of the world, of different parts of the region, as well as different parts of our country. We’ve got this wide range of food and this year, it’s southern Philippines – Mindanao,” he said.
Chef Alex Destriza
The executive chef of Marco Polo Davao has been studying the dishes for 2-3 years.
Marco Polo Davao Executive Chef Alex Destriza and Chef King James Tinio worked with the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu team of Executive Chef Juanito Abangan to create the menu.
Destriza said native Mindanao cuisine is divided into that of the Moros and lumads. The region is rich in rice and coconuts and they figure prominently in their cuisine. An example of this is the Tausug dish Tiyulah Itum, where beef is slow cooked in a broth made of burnt coconut meat. The use of burnt coconut meat in the preparation of the food is widespread and includes dishes with chicken, beef, and fish, he said.
TIYULAH ITUM is a Tausug dish of slow-cooked beef in burnt coconut broth.
Many of the dishes, including Tiyulah Itum, are cooked in bamboo, a process that intensifies the flavors, Destriza said. The Marco Polo chefs just improvised to adapt the preparation in a modern kitchen and experimented with the cooking methods.
Coconut and rice also figure prominently in the desserts of the different communities with such treats as durian rice cake and a ball made of camote with bukayo or sweetened coconut meat strips filling.
OPENING. Marco Polo Plaza Cebu General Manager Brian Connelly welcomes guests to the opening of Independencia.
Destriza said he has been researching these dishes for two to three years. These are served mostly during special occasions like weddings and are rarely available outside their communities or region. He said, however, that slowly, the food is being introduced in other places of the country. Marco Polo Davao, for example, has a halal station with these dishes.
The dishes are available on top of the regular international lunch and dinner buffet spread at Café Marco until June 12. Lunch buffet rate is P1,300, while dinner is P1,600. For reservations, you can contact (+6332) 253 1111, email [email protected].com or link them up on Facebook or Twitter.
More photos of Flavors of Mindanao
KULMA BAKA is Tausug dish of beef stewed in coconut milk.
PIASSAK is cow liver cooked with burnt coconut.
PIYANGGANG MANOK is a Tausug dish of grilled chicken in burnt coconut.
RIYANDANG KAMBING is a Lanao dish of mutton with coconut and spices.
PIYAREN UDANG is a Lanao dish of prawn with sauteed coconut.
PALAPA is made of ginger and other spices that is then roasted.
Kagikit na manok
Kagikit na isda
Kamias ug dayap
Kiyuning golden rice
PAN-PAN KAMOTE has bokayo or sweetened coconut meat strips as filling.
WADJET MAKADURIAN is durian rice cake.
DARAL or sweet coconut grating pancake.
KINILAW na tuna or tuna ceviche.
Talong sa gata
Pomelo green papaya with prawns salad
MARCO POLO CHEFS. Marco Polo Davao Executive Chef Alex Destriza (center) talks about the dishes they prepared as part of Flavors of Mindanao. With him are Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Executive Chef Juanito Abangan (left) and Marco Polo Davao Chef King James Tinio.
Max Limpag is a journalist, blogger, and developer based in Cebu. He started as a reporter covering City Hall in 1996. He has written on technology for various print and digital publications since 1999 and twice won the Philippine Blog Awards for technology and sports. He co-founded the new media start-up InnoPub Media.