Southern Style Cuisine From A Filipinx Pantry
Meet our newest Chef Curator! In this Q&A, learn how Chef B.B. Huff's diverse family background and a strong belief that cooking tells a unique story influences her cooking style and the latest Daily Feast Pantry Box.
You’ve often talked about how food tells a story. What story is being told in this pantry box?
This pantry box is the story of my childhood and the first flavors to touch my palate that have become the building blocks of my favorite food memories growing up. My moma is from the Philippines and my father is from down south in Macon, GA. This pantry box honors the combination of a Filipinx pantry that is housed in a southern kitchen.
The pantry items and recipes in this box touch on the five flavor profiles that are indicative of Filipino and Southern cooking traditions: salt, sweet, sour, bitter and umami.
It also reflects how my palate matured over time with travel, life experiences and culinary training. Early on, I learned how to cook at my moma's hip. So her Filipina palate dominated our kitchen. But my father's southern roots and love of BBQ has also influenced my perspective. As I grew into my own as a professional chef, I have been able to bring these two influences together in my cooking.
What are two to three things you want our users to take away from this box?
A pantry is the quickest way to cook authentically and transport someone to a cultural place. That said, this is just a starting point. Yes, this pantry will build out all the menus I’ve created, but you can also use them in your current recipe bank.
For example, try using coconut vinegar in your salad dressing instead of white wine vinegar. Instead of Worcestershire sauce in your caesar dressing, try Maggis liquid seasoning.
If our users wanted a guided culinary tour through your pantry box, where would you have them start first and why?
I'd start with the Lapsang Souchong Tea (LST) and the LST Seasoning Salt recipe. LST is a black tea toasted over pine needles that offers a deep and rich smoky flavor. I grew up on Lawry's seasoning salt and my daddy put it on everything from steak to popcorn. This is my riff, highlighting the herbaceousness and smoke from the LST. All the menu items are built on this flavor base. When making the LST salt, I personally prefer the more rustic results from a mortar & pestle.
Next up is coconut vinegar which is sweeter than white distilled vinegar so it offers acid and sweetness to dishes like Adobo collard greens and the Siniagang stew.
While it may not be widely known here in the U.S., Maggis liquid seasoning is pretty iconic in Southeast Asian cooking and is the secret umami bomb to finish a dish. My mom actually stopped using it when I was in my early teens because of MSG, now they offer a version that is MSG free.
And finally, the ube spread. I have vivid memories of purple confections during holiday gatherings. This spread can be used in sweet options (i.e. ube pie which brings the U.S. South and Southeast Asia together in one pie plate) or used in BBQ sauce in place of brown sugar.