Featured Product: Filipino-style Corned Beef Recipes
Corned beef is not a big deal in the US, except every March 17 when Irish-Americans celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The annual merrymaking event traditionally involves breaking out barrels of alcohol and—you guessed it—mounds of corned beef to keep the frenzied crowd satiated. Before corned beef became popular in North American and reached the Philippines, its origin story goes back to the 16th century when the English conquered Ireland and discovered thousands of cattle that seemed untouched for their meat.
The Irish considered beef a delicacy fit for royalties and which they cannot afford. The regular folks raised cattle to sustain their profound fondness for dairy, and they preferred pork instead because it was inexpensive to raise pigs. When England stopped exporting cattle from Ireland around the 1600s, beef became affordable, and the Irish tradition of salting beef has become a viable business because of the lower salt tax. To be sure, salting beef was a thousand-year tradition that involves preserving beef with crystallized “kernels of salt”—hence the term “corned beef.” Due to the combination of these factors, Ireland became the biggest exporter of corned beef until the early 18th century to feed the demand for the commodity in both sides of the Atlantic. As a result, prices soared, and the Irish could not afford corned beef once again. It is only until Irish immigrants arrived in the 1820s and mingled with their Jewish neighbors in New York that corned beef made from brisket cuts became affordable and accessible.
Today in Ireland, however, locals are not so much interested in corned beef as the tourists who come for the authentic recipe. In fact, there’s no particular food specific to the national celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland. But in the US, corned beef is specifically synonymous to the cultural identity of Irish-Americans who could finally afford to enjoy corned beef and cabbage (back then, bacon joint and cabbage dish was all they could have during the unfortunate times). This American Dream story remains palpable in meat shops where corned beef made from brisket are available or at delis that serve hefty sizes of corned beef sandwich with Swiss cheese. Canned corned beef hash is also available in groceries. Hash is a cooking style that combines meat with potatoes and fried onions, which makes it an easy and quick breakfast to be served with eggs and bread.
Corned beef in tin cans became popular in the US during and after World War II as part of ration packs. Soldiers called it “bully beef” and consumed it straight from the can or spread on a biscuit made mainly from flour to sustain them throughout the war amidst the overwhelming food shortages. After the war in the Pacific, Filipinos took a liking to corned beef and made it a breakfast staple ever since. Filipino brands made their version of canned corned beef similar to those available in the US groceries but without the precooked cuts of potato and onions. Instead, local variations come in minced or chunked corned beef with a little gelatin to preserve the taste and moisture. The meat is exported from Brazil or Argentina as cattle native to the Philippines tend to be tough.
Corned beef is a versatile canned meal that Filipinos use as an alternative to fresh meat when making Filipino dishes on a budget. So, we rounded up Filipino-style corned beef recipes that anybody can experiment on when you don’t have anything else at home.
CORNED BEEF OMELETTE WITH POTATOES
Corned beef with fried eggs sounds good, but why not combine these two ingredients to make it more visually attractive? Adding potato bits to this recipe from PanlasangPinoy.com will load you up with complete carbs to go with your protein and increase the volume to keep you full for hours. Just saute your corned beef with garlic and onions until brown before tossing diced potatoes into the pan. Pour the scrambled egg, wait, and flip to cook both sides of the omelette. (Photo from EatSmarter.com)