Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Fake Filipino food of the day

Once in the third grade, I got to bring siopao to school for lunch. One of my classmates took one look at it, and said "What is that?" to which I replied, "Siopao! Duh!" I don't think it occurred to me that my Wonder Bread-eating compatriots would not have known the tastiness that is a pork bun.

Siopao (by the way, that's SHOO-pow), originating in China, is a favorite Filipino food, especially for a merienda. Meaty (usually chicken or pork), saucy middles are encased by a white fluffy bread, and the whole thing is steamed. There's also a dot on top that I've never really understood the purpose of. But in any case, it's delicious. It really, really is.

So when I found a bag of frozen siopao at the Asian market, I was pretty excited. I steamed it accordingly and ate it. It ... wasn't ... that ... good. I wanted to like it, because I love siopao, and it really wasn't that bad but ... it's ... not ... very ... good.

Turns out that it's not so much filled with pork as with TVP, or Texturized Vegetable Protein. I have nothing against TVP, or any other meat substitute, or vegetarians for that matter (vegans, on the other hand, I just don't get). I even once had a very tasty lasagna using TVP that I couldn't tell the difference with. In the siopao, however, there's not enough meatiness to the middle; it seems like a whole lot of spices and sauce instead of texture and weight. Bleah.


  1. I love siopao (and I'm Filipino!).

    My mother recently brought me some when she came to visit for Easter. There's some kickass Asian bakery where she lives... I need her to get me more.

    I recently mentioned the ones my mother brought me on a journal community I belong to (where I couldn't remember how they were spelled so I was spelling them 'shoo-pow', and a friend of mine looked it up and sent me a link to your page and said, "Is this it?" Sure enough the ones in the picture looked exactly like the ones my mother brought me.

    I had to laugh at the 'fake Filipino food' subject header. :)

    She also brought some meatpie things... yum! The ones she brought me were pretty good. I bought some siopao at an Asian market once. The directions suggest, if you don't have a steamer (which I don't) to either cover with a wet paper towel or saran rap when heating them for about a minute or two in the microwave... adding 20 seconds per bun. :) (The ones I bought were pork/spinach/mushroom.)

    Okay, enough babbling. Just felt like leaving a comment and saying hey! :)

  2. Anonymous11:33 AM

    The colored dots on top indicate what kind of meat or flavored TVP is inside. I don't know the color codes, but there are several different kinds, if you go to the right bakery that knows their siopoa! I just received some when my son, visiting San Diego which is a big Navy/Filipino town, returned last night. Yummy. In a pinch, you can wrap the them in a linen napkin or even a paper towel and heat in the microwave. I am addicted to them, so I will do anything to find an online vendor who will ship to my house. Any suggestions or URL's you'd like to share?