“We’re not really a restaurant,” says Melissa Miranda, chef-owner of Seattle’s Musang. “We are a community space.”
When Miranda and her team opened Musang in January 2020, they already had a loyal Seattle fan base built through countless pop-ups and collaborations. Via Kickstarter, they raised money to fund the construction of their location in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of Beacon Hill, where Miranda spent her youth. The closure of Filipino restaurants, once the pillars of society, pushed Miranda toward her vision of ensuring that the city would always have a place to experience “personal and intimate Filipino cuisine inspired by our childhood memories.”
Central to Filipino culture is the concept bayanihan– to live together and offer generosity to both family and strangers. Musang is a contemporary embodiment of this value: During the restaurant’s first two months, where the average wait time was three and a half hours, Miranda and her crew drove a breathless high. Then the pandemic hit. While still grieving over losses and making sure her employees were paid, she opened a communal kitchen that offered free meals two days a week to people in need, without asking questions.
Here, Miranda presents a range of Filipino recipes that are meant to be prepared at home using pantry staples like coconut milk and spice salt to build up layers of flavor. The dishes draw inspiration from Musang, where the menu is proudly nostalgic, but reflects a progressive approach to classic dishes (like Miranda’s choice to embrace Filipinx, a term that includes people of all gender identities). In a traditional chicken adobo, the meat is braised in soy sauce and vinegar until it collapses into smooth submission. Musang’s version is oven-roasted, leading to tender meat in the bottom of the pan as well as crispy skin on top – “the best of both worlds,” says Miranda.
By highlighting the pantry staples around which these six recipes are built, Miranda hopes to show people that “you can enjoy our food and experience our culture with a pretty quick turnaround. I want to make it accessible.” She imagines a home cook looking for inspiration in their kitchen: “I have chicken, I have soy and vinegar – why not make adobo?” Burnt adobo, that is.
Try Chef Melissa Miranda’s recipes and favorite pantry products:
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