Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Taste of the Pacific: Filipino Food in the Mid South

I have had the privilege of trying a number of different ethnic cuisines from around the globe but I had never had the opportunity to try Filipino cuisine...that is until now. My palate had been primed from a friend who had invited us to a Filipino Christmas gathering where many of the more popular Filipino dishes were being served. It was to be here where I would finally get a chance to taste the sacred dish known as 'Lechon'.

Lechon is a Filipino roasted suckling pig. The pig is roasted for hours over a fire until the skin is golden crispy. I have wanted to try this dish for years and unfortunately missed the Christmas party where said 'pig' was being served.

But this past weekend we found ourselves in Memphis, home of VGM Foods and Deli. VGM is a Filipino owned supermarket and restaurant and home to some of the best homemade Asian cooking I have ever tasted.

As you enter VGM the smell of food hits your senses. The walls are covered in ads and shelves stocked full of Filipino food items and groceries.

There are a number of authentic dishes to choose from. We ordered a few samples of different dishes so that we could try a little bit of all of them. We ordered a plate of Lechon, their version of the pig but this time the pig was roasted then deep fried. The meat tasted like a piece of buttery roasted bacon. Pork heaven!

The next dish was 'Lumpia', a Filipino version of the eggroll. These crispy pastries are filled with chicken, pork, fresh garlic, crushed peanuts and vegetables. Warm and flaky, these golden treats are best dipped in sweet chili sauce.

We then sampled the barbecue pork kabobs. These are traditionally sold on street carts in the Philippines.  The pork is marinated in seasoning and sauces and is grilled over a charcoal grill. The result is a sweet and smoky lollipop of pork goodness.

Amber tried a plate of the Pork Adobo. Adobo is a Filipino dish consisting of pork or chicken marinated in vinegar and garlic and then browned in a stew of pineapples, black pepper, onions and soy sauce.

These dishes included steamed white rice or stir fried pan noodles cooked with vegetables. Some of the other dishes that VGM offer includes Filipino sausage known as 'Longganisa', 'Kare Kare' which is oxtails marinated in a peanut sauce, 'Pata' which is deep fried pig's leg and 'Pancit' a dish of stir fried vegetables and noodles.

VGM also serves wonderful desserts. We tried some gluttonous rice pudding (which tasted like bread pudding) and avocado ice cream. (Sounds strange but is really good!)

VGM is located right off the interstate in Memphis. If you've never tried Filipino cuisine, you owe it to yourself to try it. It is simply amazing...

6159-1 Macon Road
Memphis TN 38314

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