Chef Jayps on a surf check. The waves were perfect on his last Cali day, but he chose to do this interview and share a recipe with us instead. Thanks, Jayps!
Growing up as a Filipino-American in California, I would get my fix of traditional Filipino dishes when eating at grandma’s house, but we didn’t have raw fish on the table….ever. Both of my grandfathers are fishermen, and I did see raw fish all the time, but that was only when it was being cleaned over by the sink… then it was prepared and eventually fried or baked… but never served raw. Keep in mind that in the 80’s sushi wasn’t as popular and poke was only available in Hawaii. But still, even to this day, raw seafood dishes are not so much a part of the Filipino menu.
My friend from Manila, Chef JP Anglo (Jayps) of Sarsa Kitchen, came to stay with me in Encinitas, CA. His main goal was to come out here, surf and hang with guys like Chef John Park and the crew of Fish 101. We all have the same passion for consuming food and waves, so hanging out together isn’t hard to do (we don’t discuss politics). Chef JP is well known in the Philippines as a judge for two seasons of Master Chef, the chef/partner of 6 restaurants, and currently has his own show for CNN Philippines where he surfs different breaks and cooks for the local people. (Super rough life, I know. Also makes me want to book a surf trip to the motherland immediately as I’ve never been.) I myself am someone who is surrounded by the buzz of poke and I have always wondered… is there a dish from the Philippines that is similar? I asked Chef Jayps and this is what he said:
“Yes, we have a raw fish dish called “kinilaw” that is closer to being a ceviche than it is poke because we use vinegar as a seasoning. (Vinegar and salt are typical ingredients in Filipino dishes because they were used to preserve food when refrigeration was not available). Where I’m from, this guy Enting Lobaton was crowned the “Kinilaw Master” by the respected Filipino food writer Doreen Fernandez. Some people like their kinilaw over cured because we are used to eating cooked fish. But Enting adds the vinegar just before you eat it… like right before you put it in your mouth.
“One of the main reasons we want our fish over cured (or over seasoned) is because we are not sure if the fish is fresh or not. If we slowly introduce the proper way… get really good seafood and cure it in front of the consumer… it’s amazing… it’s beautiful. Most things in the Philippines are bought in a packet because the availability of fresh ingredients is not there, so we just need more education and exposure for raw foods and dishes like kinilaw.”
I learned so much from Jayps in so little time. I bugged him a little more and asked him to cook this dish and write a recipe for me to share with you all. He not only delivered with a smile, but he himself was inspired by the people and vibe of his trip and had a great time putting a California inspired kinilaw together. The recipe is semi-loose so take the bones of it and experiment with flavors yourself. (It’s hard to write recipe while on vacation and traveling from LA, SD, NY and back to the P-I.)
1/2 lb (226g) sword fish, cubed – approx 200g (approx. half pound)
1/2 lb (226g) tuna, cubed – approx 200g (approx. half pound)
1/2 c coconut vinegar
1 small knob of ginger, some slivered, some grated
2-3 pcs of calamansi
2-3 tablespoons of nata de coco, chopped
Half a red onion, brunoise
Spring onions, sliced
Sea salt & black pepper to taste
Chef Jayps and I having some quality time in the kitchen.
1. In a medium size bowl, season fish with salt and rub with grated ginger. Set aside and keep cold.
2. In a small bowl, mix coconut vinegar, squeeze of calamansi to preference, nata de coco, onions, and slivered ginger. This is your dipping sauce.
3. Plate fish, season with salt and pepper, and dip in sauce for 3-6 seconds before eating.
The pic above is of the end result. Chef Jayps was so inspired on this trip that he went off and made three dishes. The more traditional style kinilaw (raw fish, left side) that you would dip in the sauce (bottom right) just before you put it in your mouth. He also is a chef who doesn’t waste anything, so he used the scraps and other ingredients not used to create a tartar type dish (middle) and a seared fish dish. He also fried the ginger skin to use as garnish. So ono! (Masarap!)
This is the nata de coco, or coconut jellies. They come in different flavors and you can get them at most Asian markets. This is not a traditional kinilaw ingredient. I just had them in my pantry and Chef Jayps decided to use them for sweetness and texture. Cut them up and put them in… if you like. These were “mango” flavored.
Chef Jayps grating ginger.
The sauce up close. Inspiration for us home chefs on how to make something look presentable, using the same darn ingredients.