Homemade Podcast Episode 19: Jo Koy on Filipino Cuisine, Family, and Trusting Your Inner Voice
Stand-up comic Jo Koy self-produced his first special, "Live from Seattle," even before securing a deal with Netflix. He paid for the production team and venue himself. He went broke in the process, he tells us, but he made things happen. Now, he attests that taking charge of his fate led not just to deals with Netflix but also to new ventures (including a project with Steven Spielberg) that he never anticipated.
In as much as Koy invested in his future, he has invested in his past, his heritage, too. His Filipino roots inspire his comedic material, like his "Filipino Tupperware" sketch. But he's also used his platform to share his passion for Filipino food.
Koy joins us on this episode of Homemade to talk Filipino cooking and its global influences. He spills the secrets to homemade lumpia, sinigang, and his signature adobo chicken wings. He also tells host Martie Duncan about tasting stingray in Singapore, bonding with his son over late-night doughnuts, and more. Download it for free at Apple Podcasts, Spotify and anywhere else you listen to podcasts beginning October 14.
About Jo Koy
Jo Koy's shows consistently sell out. The comedian and TV star began his stand-up career from a Las Vegas coffee house. He went on to make appearances on TV shows like BET's "ComicView," E!'s "Chelsea Lately," and "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno." Two Comedy Central specials, "Don't Make Him Angry" and "Lights Out," followed. In 2016, the Tacoma, Washington native filmed "Live from Seattle." Netflix picked up the special upon viewing it. Koy teamed up with Netflix to release two more specials, "Jo Koy: Comin' In Hot" in 2019 and "Jo Koy: In His Elements" in 2020. He also hosts a weekly podcast, The Koy Pond with Jo Koy. Listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
MARTIE DUNCAN Welcome to Homemade. I’m Martie Duncan, and today on the show we’re gonna get to know the ambassador of Filipino food, standup comic Jo Koy.
Whether you know him from his Netflix or Comedy Central shows, his podcast The Koy Pond, or maybe you've attended one of his sold-out shows somewhere around the world. Or maybe like me, you remember him from Chelsea lately, you probably know Jo Koy as an all-out Filipino fan, promoter, lover of all things Filipino food and culture. That's why I wanted to have him on the show today. Jo Koy, thank you for coming on the Homemade podcast.
JO KOY Of course. I love it.
MARTIE I've also seen you like on every single late-night television show, every single one of them. I feel so honored that you've taken the time to come here and talk to us about one thing that's really close to your heart, and that's your food and your culture.
JO One-hundred. I mean, when it comes to, like, finding out someone's culture or even their identity, food is the best way to explain it. You can find out a lot about people just through what they eat and what they like and what they love. And then it also tells the story of, like, where my mom came from. Instead of me saying the words, just try this dish because it'll explain it. When people start eating Filipino food, they're like, "Wow, this is kind of like Spanish food." I'm like, well, that opens up that whole thing about Filipinos are half-Spanish. You know, they got Spanish influences.
MARTIE You know what, now things make more sense to me because every time I watch one of your videos or shows and I hear you talking in your mom's accent.
MARTIE To me your mom sounds like she's Hispanic. Like she's Argentine or Mexican or something.
MARTIE I'm like...
JO Yeah, yeah.
MARTIE So now that makes sense to me.
JO Yeah, exactly. There's a lot of influences that go into the Filipino culture. And it's best explained through food, I think. I think that's the best way to get to know somebody is through their food.
MARTIE Before we really dive into the food in a big way, I want to talk to you about your Netflix show and how you did that big giant thing that all of us want to do but sometimes are maybe not brave enough to do — jump out on the limb and just do it yourself.
MARTIE So, had you been pitching shows to them, they didn't bite, and so you just decided to do it? Tell me how this first one came to be.
JO "Live from Seattle" was 2016. So, if you could imagine, I started in 1989 and now it's 2016. Here I am trying to sell myself, even though I felt like I put in the time. I put in the work. My body of work shows, and my fan base shows. I was selling out across the country. And I kept asking Netflix if they could just look at the hour because I felt that in my heart this could be on Netflix. It should be on Netflix. And it kept turning it down. And not coming out to see me. And it came to the point where they were just like, "You know what? We'll come and see you next year, and hopefully we'll get you in on 2018."
So that one decision in 2016, if I would have just listened to them, none of this stuff that's happened since that would have happened. Because they would've waited till 2018 to see me, 2019 to shoot my first special. So, like, one moment would have cost me three years. I knew I had to move. I had to move fast. I was 26, 27 years in. And I had to make that move. I was just like, no, this is good. This is amazing. And I'm like, all right, let's shoot it. And that's what happened. That's how I got "Live from Seattle."
I literally hired the director of the producer, the lighting guy, the sound guy, the stagehands. The venue, I rented out the venue. I paid for everything. I was broke on stage. If you ever watch "Live from Seattle" on Netflix, I'm having a good time on stage, but in my head, my son is upstairs sleeping in the green room. And I'm broke. I was like, is my son going to be able to go to private school next semester? 'Cause this is — I'm tapped!
JO And thank God, I shot it. It took me a couple of months to cut it up myself. I sat in the editing room with the editors and I cut it up. And after we were done cutting it, we were like, we got one here. This is amazing. And literally, we dropped it on the desk at Netflix. And I'll have to say maybe three hours it was on their desk. They gave us a call, like, "Don't ship that anywhere else. We're gonna go ahead and buy that from you."
MARTIE And I'm so glad.
JO That's what happened, man. And that decision opened up the door for every single special after that. I ended up getting three more after that. I just signed another deal with Netflix for another special!
MARTIE That's an amazing story. And I think it just goes to show you that sometimes you and God know better than the experts.
MARTIE There are so many times people will tell you you can't do something. And I don't think you have to say, "Oh, yeah, watch me."
JO Watch this.
MARTIE Watch me. I will.
JO Yeah, sometimes we listen to outside voices and that manipulates your decision too much. Sometimes that inner voice is your closest friend. Because it's you.
MARTIE That's true.
JO And your inner voice is like, "Man, you've got this." Listen to it. It's telling you the truth. There's no one else out there that's going to tell you what your inner voice wants to say.
MARTIE And you know, I think that's especially true when it comes to cooking. I don't know if you've realized that, as well. But for me, that little voice, that confidence that comes from your instincts when it comes to cooking, I think that's a really important thing, too. You kind of have to listen to your instinct sometimes.
MARTIE You are so passionate about sharing Filipino cuisine and culture with the world. So I want your quick, you know, down and dirty version of an intro into Filipino food. Tell me what it's all about.
JO The cool thing about Filipino food is it is literally a hybrid of — OK, you know, right now there's this big trend going on where they like fusion. Everything's a fusion. It's like Korean barbeque hamburgers. And it's a big thing, you know, and it's — which is fun. I love doing it. And there's a lot of, you know, there's a lot of those hybrids.
Filipino food has always been a hybrid. Every culture that came into the Philippines influenced it! That's why so many Chinese last names there. That's why we have people that look different there. We got Chinese influence in our food. Our noodle dishes are inspired by Chinese culture. Then, you know, we got Indian food that inspired us. We also have Spanish, the Spanish colonized the Philippines for so many years. So there's so many Spanish dishes. There's Spanish words and names. So that's what the Philippines is, it’s literally just a big palate of spices.
MARTIE A melting pot.
JO Yeah. It's everything.
MARTIE Kind of like America.
JO Exactly! From Alabama to Los Angeles. It's delicious. All the way through.
MARTIE So that makes a little bit of sense about the adobo and the picadillo.
JO Oh, picadillo! I'm so happy you said that, Martie, because picadillo is literally the same dish, with just a couple tweaks. But it's the same dish. You go to Cuba. You can go to the Philippines. You're eating picadillo.
JO You go to Spain, it's the same. And that's what Filipino food is. And people don't know that about our food, that it's it's delicious. It's hearty. It's comforting. It's spices you never thought of that would be fused, like soy sauce and vinegar with garlic, and that's it. Those are the main ingredients for our adobo. and I'm telling you, if I put a plate of adobo in front of you Martie, you will fall in love with me.
MARTIE I already did. I mean, I see your charm. Don't think I don't. I see it.
I saw you on Good Morning America make your chicken adobo.
JO Oh, the best! Yeah, that was my version of the chicken wing.
MARTIE One thing I noticed, they wouldn't quit eating it.
MARTIE Typically the hosts will take a bite, but they take a TV bite, you know/ So they don't want it in their teeth and everything. They're like, "Gimme those wings!" I thought to myself, that guy can cook, because otherwise they would have been polite and just said, "Oh nice." And set it aside like you typically see.
JO They were killing it. It was so cool. That was one of those moments, Martie, where I was just so, like — out of everything that I've done in my career, and I know this just sounds like a BS-ing right now. But that was one of those big, giant moments. Here I am on "Good Morning America," and I'm talking about my people's food.
MARTIE You're the ambassador.
JO Yes! And it's like, I've told the world about chicken adobo, and then Michael Strahan's just killing it. I mean, literally, he was trying to act like he wasn't, and he was like...
MARTIE No, no. They ate all of them. And they asked for more. So, you gotta tell me about a few things that I don't know about. Lumpia. Did I say it right?
JO Hands down the best. Lumpia. All right, so I have a friend. He's in a lot of movies, in a lot of TV shows. "Crazy Rich Asians," "Silicon Valley." Jimmy O Yang. Great Chinese-American actor. He swears that his dad makes the best egg rolls in the world. Chinese egg rolls. And I told him, there is no egg roll like the Filipino egg roll.
Whatever Chinese people did when they came to the Philippines to sort of make it eggrolls, the Filipinos were like, "We can change this a little bit. It's... There's too much of this in there. Let's take that out. Let's, let's make it a little bit crispy. Let's use a different kind of pepper."
I'm telling you, Martie, I'm going to give you some Chinese egg rolls and I'm going to give you lumpia, and I'm not going to tell you which one is which. I guarantee you will pick Filipino lumpia over any egg roll that's ever been made. And I challenge any of your viewers or listeners: Filipino egg roll is the best egg roll.
MARTIE OK, down, we're down with that. I'll take that challenge. So tell me how we make it really quickly.
JO Martie! Martie! Let me interrupt you!
JO I'm going to do a video, with Jimmy O. Yang and myself. We're going to have the egg rolls. Maybe we could ship it to you.
MARTIE No, I'll come, and I'll be the taste tester.
JO You fry it up and we won't tell you whose is whose. And I guarantee ya, watch what you choose. I'm willing to tell Jimmy right now, I'm going to bet the house on it. I go, “Martie's gonna pick mine.”
MARTIE I'm gonna fly myself out there and come and taste test these things. And we're going to show the world.
MARTIE I want to know how it's made, really quick. Is it the same technique? So you have a filling, you put it in the paper, whatever that is, and...
JO Yes. You stir-fry the vegetables first. That's most important. That's the key, is the vegetables is all the flavor. That's where all the flavor comes from. Season that up. Carrots. You know, the less is more, to me. But my mom sometimes will load it up. She'll put carrots, potatoes, all kinds of stuff. Chop it up, nicely season it. And then your ground beef. Or whatever it is that you like. Some people like ground shrimp. Sometimes the combination of shrimp and beef. You season that up, then you get your paper, roll it up, nice and tight. My mom makes them nice and thin. Most traditional eggrolls are big, giant. My mom's is very thin and crispy. The more wrapper to, uh....
MARTIE Filling ratio.
JO Yeah, yeah, yeah. The ratio...
JO Is a lot, but my mom's ratio is perfection. The wrapper is very crispy. And then that beautiful center. Ah, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. You don't even to dip it in a sauce.
MARTIE Does it have cabbage in it, too? Like a regular egg roll?
JO Yes! Yes.
MARTIE And then what kind of seasoning does she use?
JO Like you said, it's all about that instinct. Right? It's what my mom throws in there. I just see my mom with her hands just throwing stuff in there.
MARTIE OK. So we have lumpia, Which is like an eggroll, but better.
MARTIE And then we have.
JO It's the Mercedes. It's the Mercedes of egg roll!
MARTIE All right, and then sinigang.
JO Oooh.Where are you finding out about this stuff?!
MARTIE I did my homework, dude.
JO That is my favorite soup. It's our signature soup. And once again, there's Spanish influence in that because they use the tamarind, but they use the whole thing.
MARTIE Pod. The whole pod.
JO Yeah. The whole pod. I don't know how to talk cook talk Martie, so I'm sorry.
MARTIE I'll help you with that.
JO Yeah. They throw that in there. Lots of lemon. The sour the better.
MARTIE Is it something like a lemon drop soup?
JO No, it's lemon drop squared. It's on steroids. Yeah, yeah.
MARTIE And is it creamy or more like a clear broth?
JO Brothy. Very brothy. But the key, the key is short ribs. I mean, that's how we like to make it.
MARTIE Oooh. Anything with a short rib, I'm down.
JO So the key is to take the short rib, and you boil that for hours. If you could boil it for about six hours and just get that broth nice and hearty, get the bone marrow in there, whatever it is. And then you start adding your ingredients. And then that beef is really tender. I'm telling you, that's our favorite soup. The day it hits the table to three days later from the fridge and you heat it up. It's still good.
MARTIE Still good.
JO By the way, every Filipino, ask them about sinigang pots. There's always a pot this big, you know, like big, giant pot in the refrigerator filled with sinigang that everyone eats for like a week because there's so much.
MARTIE I love that. And the smell of tamarind, I love.
JO Can I ask you this, Martie? Like, 'cause you cook all the time, but. What dish that you make, the second and third day it becomes better?
MARTIE Well, I make this thing called pickled shrimp, and I made it on "Food Network Star." And it's not really pickled at all. Basically, you roast the shrimp in the oven. Not everybody does it this way. There's a million ways to do it, just like in your culture and your food, there's probably a million different ways. But this is the way I've always done it. And the way that I was taught to do 40 years ago or 30 years ago, whatever.
But I roast the shrimp in the oven. Gulf shrimp, has to be Gulf shrimp, out of the Gulf of Mexico, because we're this close to it. I roast them with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, and I get them just turning pink. You know, they're done, but they're not overdone. They're nice and firm. Then I make my pickling liquid, and I use all kinds of seeds for that. Mustard seed and fennel seed and put all that and make a pickling liquid. And when the shrimp come out of the oven, I pour this pickling liquid over the top, and it's got a lot of lemon and bay leaf and clove and just all kind of yummy things that make this marinade. Well, it's good the first day after it chills and it cools down. You eat it cold. But if you put it in the fridge, two days later, it's even better because it's marinated in all those pickling liquids, so.
JO Yes. So it really gets into the shrimp like on the second and third day. Those are the foods that I like to eat, when it's like, it just gets better.
MARTIE How did that get better? It was already delicious.
JO And that’s what sinigang is. Sinigang does that.
MARTIE All right, so you grew up in a family that cooks. And I have a feeling that the kitchen was the heart of the home for you.
JO Always. It's where I'm always at. Like, I'm literally doing my pod next to the kitchen because I love it there. That's my favorite room. It's my son's favorite room. We talk the most in there. It's just, I love it.
MARTIE But, my curiosity is that, I read in an L.A. Times article that you really didn't start cooking until your son was six.
MARTIE Was it being a father that prompted you to finally jump into the kitchen, even with your cooking background...
MARTIE And really start cooking?
JO Yeah. It was also me being on the road a lot. Eating out. It was my routine. It was easy. I don't have time. I always used that as an excuse. And it was just easy for my son. And plus my son. You know, one through three, one through four, it's garbage. Feed the kids garbage. It wasn't until, like, right around four, five, six, my son started having an appreciation for Filipino food, like really enjoying it. And that kind of stuff, you have to kind of cook at home. You know what I mean? When he gets Grandma's sinigang, you can't really go to a restaurant and find sinigang that can compare. So it's kind of like you had to learn how to make it at the house. So, it was always my version of my mom's stuff or, you know, his mom's mom's stuff. So that's basically when I started cooking a lot more.
MARTIE Now, what is the dish that you cook now that he loves? Or maybe even something that two of you might cook together?
JO I'm not going to lie. It's my sinigang. And my son still says it to this day. It makes his mommy a little jealous. But, uh, yeah, my son always says, "My dad's sinigang is still one of the best."
MARTIE I saw that you spent a lot of time with your kitchen. In fact, creating a kitchen that you loved. And I saw some pictures of it. What is your favorite part of your kitchen?
JO The stove. There's just something about the stove that just makes you want to cook. Like it just has that industrial look, you know what I mean? It just looks like — put a skillet on me and crack something. Let's go. Let's cook. And it's like, all right, I'm listening to you, sir.
MARTIE So, the kitchen is your favorite room of your whole house, and you have really been at home a lot more this year, I imagine.
JO Oh yeah, 100 percent. I love it. And I understand there's a lot of people that are dealing with this in a different way. And God bless. I've been in a position where I can take time off. But before this all happened, I was literally on the ground running, and I didn't know how much I was missing. And it made me really sad because this really opened my eyes on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays that I was missing and then only having Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays with my son.
MARTIE What does a typical weeknight meal look now that you are at home and you're able to cook?
JO Oh, now, you know, here's the funny thing. Now that I have the time, cooking is a special event now. So now it's kind of like it falls on maybe one day of the week, because now my son enjoys restaurants. He's a foodie. And he's really into finding new places for new things. And I get it. What else can we do during this time? Everyone has moved out into the street. A lot of people are not going out and staying in. So, a lot of things for my son to entertain himself, closed. So the one thing that entertains him and that he enjoys doing is finding and going and experiencing new food places. It's kind of cool. I been going with him. He's finding these cool hamburger places in gas stations. And they're amazing.
MARTIE The kids are tuned in.
JO They are. It's a foodie culture and they got it going. My son, two days ago, is like, "Dad, you want to go to Donut Man? It's still open. Twenty-four hour donuts!' First of all, Martie, I'm a huge doughnut fanatic. I love doughnuts. I can't stop. And he found this place called Donut Man that's in Pomona. It's like 30 miles from here, and he was like, "Dad." It's like one in the morning. He's like, "Wanna go get some donuts?"
MARTIE Duh. Yes!
JO Yeah! Yes! Let's go.
MARTIE You’re listening to Homemade. We’ll be right back after the break.
I’m Martie Duncan, and my guest today is comedian and TV star Jo Koy.
MARTIE All right. So, because you have traveled the world, you've been everywhere, you've done everything. Done shows everywhere. What's your favorite food city? Outside of, let's just say, your home market. Because everybody loves their home food, where they come from, their favorite restaurants, the local places. But if I said, "I got a plane, let's go somewhere, and let's just eat for like three days." Where would we go?
JO OK, Martie, I feel like you are the kind of lady that goes, "Let me try that." Right?
JO I was in Singapore. I was doing a show in Singapore, and they have like this really famous outdoor street food. So it's street food, but it's controlled. It's like a food court. First of all, Singapore is the cleanest city in the universe. You're not allowed to throw your gum on the ground. You go to jail. Like if you walk around, you feel like you're on a movie set. It's immaculate.
So when I'm talking street food, don't think of your typical street food. This is like a very organized street food area. Everyone goes to it, but they're cooking like on top of the open flame. It looks like a little kiosk. All right, you ready?
MARTIE I'm ready.
JO For what I'm about to tell you?
MARTIE Yes. Bring it.
JO I ate Stingray.
MARTIE Oh, I'm — I thought it was going to be something more worse!
JO Oh, really?
MARTIE Yeah. I had on Emmymade, from Emmy made in Japan, and she eats tarantulas. So I thought, you're gonna say something like an insect.
JO I would never do that.
MARTIE But you're talking a fish. I mean, stingray's a fish, right?
JO Yeah. But wasn't stringray always looked at as just like this big, beautiful thing that you appreciate? You know what I mean? It's like, do you really eat it?
MARTIE I don't appreciate them. They kill you.
MARTIE But I wouldn't have thought...
JO I would have never thought about eating it. By the way, the presentation is literally a stingray on top of a paper plate, covered in sauce.
JO Like, it's, you're looking at this stingray. Like, they don't chop it up.
MARTIE It's like a whole stingray?
JO It's a stingray. And you're literally just scooping it out and eating it.
MARTIE Does it like a gelatinous texture to it?
JO No. Oh, my God. It literally has a crab meat texture.
MARTIE Oh, wow.
JO And it's phenomenal. Flaky, it's stringy, and little dense texture to it like crab meat. And to visualize, you know how crab is very clumpy unless you peel it apart. Whereas this is already pulled apart. It's like you scoop it and it's ready to go. The most amazing thing I've ever had was that stingray in Singapore.
MARTIE Wow. That's amazing. I'm so fascinated.
JO That was fascinating to me. I thought it was illegal. I'm like, are we gonna go to jail for this? Are we supposed to eat stingray? The least favorite thing that I ever did, Martie, was going to Australia. And I was doing a tour in Australia. And the promoter took us to the koala kangaroo petting zoo. Huge place. I mean, it's beautiful. Kangaroos just galore, just jumping all over it. It's a preserve, right?
MARTIE Right. Right.
JO Like they're livin' their best life, you know. And I'm petting them. You got seeds and you're feeding them. And as I'm petting all my 15th kangaroo, doing videos with it, my promoter goes, "Hey, you know what's even better than petting them? Eating 'em." I'm like, "What?" I go, "What are you talking about?" "Yeah. Yeah. If ya, you know, you gotta eat kangaroo, yeah? You gotta try it, mate." And I'm like, "Dude, I'm not going to sit here and pet this beautiful thing, and then eat it." "Nah, mate, you got to."
MARTIE No, you did not!
JO We went to this beautiful steakhouse, like five-star steakhouse. Our table is on the, facing the water. I'm just trying to give, visualize just how beautiful this steakhouse is. And on the menu is kangaroo.
JO And I swear, Martie, tears, rolling from my face. Because I'm looking at the promoter like, I don't want to do this, man. They're the sweetest, loving things. Why are we doing this? And he brought kangaroo out, and I just I took one bite. And it's just, the mental was just horrific. I was like, I could eat a cow. But this is a beautiful kangaroo that — I was just petting this thing. And now I'm eating his what? His tail? Why are we doing this?
MARTIE Oh my gosh, that is awful.
JO Tears! Tears, Martie. Look at me. Tears in a beautiful restaurant. And I'm like, what are we? Are we savages?
MARTIE Yes, we are.
JO You're dressed up in your tuxedos and suits and you're eating kangaroos! What did they do to us?!
MARTIE And you're eating Skippy. or whatever his name is. Hoppy.
JO Skippy and Hoppy and Pouch.
MARTIE My mother tricked me one time into eating rabbit. My mother and my brother, my little brother. And he had these rabbits in the backyard that he was growing that I thought were pets. We always took 'em out. We played with them. We fed them. And one day I came home from softball practice or something. My mother would always keep a plate for me, like on the stove, right?
And so, I saw my brother and my little brother sitting there, kind of acting like, eh. And I said, "Oh, is that my plate?" Mom said, "Yeah, that's your plate." So I went and I got it. And I sat down. And my mother made the best fried chicken. I mean, the best, best, best fried chicken. And so I took a bite of this thing. I'm like, oh, fried chicken. How awesome. Took a bite, and I'm like, "It tastes different. You made it different." And my mother and my brother kind of looked at each other. You know, didn't say anything.
I'm like, "This is different. What did you do different? This isn't the same." And they both just burst out laughing. They're like, "It's the rabbit!" And I'm like, "I'm eating the pet rabbit?" I just bawled! I just cried! I mean, it's a pet! And my brothers was like, "I was raising them to eat them. They weren't a pet." I'm like, "They were a pet to me." So anyway, after that, I was very suspect of both my mother and my brother.
MARTIE Anytime they wanted to present me with any food I'm like, hmm, not so fast.
JO How humiliating when your mother brother made the rabbit and the sides were carrots. Like, what are you guys? You're evil people! We're eating everything the rabbit did! It enjoyed carrots!
MARTIE Yeah. He loved his carrots. And now we're eating him. Oh, my God, I'm cracking up.
JO With his carrots!
MARTIE You need a Southern accent, though. Wait a minute...
JO Why are we eatin' the rabbit?
MARTIE Yeah. There you go. Probably something that a Southerner never said, by the way.
JO When you ate the rabbit was it on the bone?
MARTIE I know. Exactly. Hands up. No. Get back! All right. Let's skip back to something else that I really want to know about. Basically, your big celebratory thing is called a kay-mayan?
MARTIE What is that?
JO So, imagine a long, eight-foot table, a wooden table, OK? They line the whole top with banana leaves. It's covered in banana leaves, right? Now they put everything on the banana leaves. They put the garlic rice. They put big, giant shrimps. They put longganisa, which is Chinese sausage. Uh, what else? Oh, our barbrque. By the way, Filipino barbeque? The best barbeque. You know, the kabobs. We put it on. I'm being serious!
MARTIE No, I'm only laughing because everybody says that about their barbeque.
JO Yeah, always, right?
MARTIE "It's the best! It's the best!"
JO Ours is the best! So you got your barbeque skewers. You got the fried chicken. You got everything. You got lechon. That's what we call our big roasted pig.
MARTIE The pork skin.
JO Yeah, the skin. They eat the skin.
JO Chicharrones, yeah! That's right. So, all of that is on the table. But no one has a fork and a spoon or a knife. You wash your hands, you eat what's in front of you, that little portion right there. There should be enough of everything for every person that's in front of that part. And you just eat with your hands and you guys just talk, you eat, and that's called kamayan.
MARTIE I think it's a lovely and really special thing to get to see other people's cultures. their traditions, the things that are important to them. All right, so tell me a little bit about your time on "Beat Bobby Flay." How'd you happen to do that?
JO I watched, I think, every single episode. When you're on the road, you got a lot of time in the room. And I love the fact that they put Bobby Flay on repeat. You could catch six episodes from 11 to 2 in the morning. And I was like literally buried in Bobby Flay. And literally, I asked my publicist, I was like, I need to be on this show. I don't understand why I'm not. I've watched every episode. I know exactly what Bobby likes. I know exactly what might beat him up. You know what I mean?
MARTIE You know his kryptonite.
JO Yeah! But man, this guy comes through all the time. What drives me crazy about Bobby is, he'll even say, I don't even know what this is that I'm doing. He goes, "I know what they like in this culture, so I'm just going to put my little twist on it." And then he wins! I'm like, "Wait a minute, that's not fair! How did it happen?" But then you try it, Martie. Then you taste it. I tried it. And I was like, "Oh, my God. What am I eating right now?" Yeah. He's amazing.
MARTIE I want to circle back to your cooking for a minute. When we were talking earlier about how adobo is your thing, and you were saying your barbeque is like the world's greatest barbeque. And I said we all say our barbeque is best in the world. So your chicken adobo is like that. Everybody says theirs is the best. And there's lots and lots of lots of versions of it. But I want to know about your version of chicken adobo. Walk me through that recipe.
JO OK, why is my chicken adobo so good? Let me tell you why. Traditionally, it's made in a lot of sauce. Right?
JO It's all the parts of the chicken, the wing, the drumstick, the thigh. Put it all in there. The breast. I'm a big chicken wing fan. When someone says, "Hey, you want some chicken wings?" It's like three flavors: it's barbeque, it's spicy, or it's just regular with salt. I was like, you know what really tastes good, is adobo sauce. Why haven't they made a chicken wing adobo sauce? Because every time when we make adobo, I'm the first one to grab the wings out of the pot. Boom, boom. I grab 'em, eat 'em, done. And it's delicious. I'm like, I'm going to make my version of this. And it needs a little bit of a crisp.
So adobo's usually boiled in the sauce and marinade, and that's how you eat it. So it's not a crispy take on it. It's just boiled meat, right? Boiled, marinated meat. So I was like, how about if I make the adobo with just the chicken wings in the pot, then I take it out of the pot and stick it in the oven and then crisp it. And then I take the sauce from the pot and when it's done being crispy, pour a thin layer of that on top of the crispiness.
MARTIE And you toss it in that.
JO Just slightly. Yes! And then serve it. And then Super Bowl Sunday, watch which wing they're eating the most.
MARTIE I already know because I saw it when Michael Strahan and them went crazy eating those things on "Good Morning America." OK. So tell me a little bit about what you've got coming up. I know you're gonna get back on the road soon. You have a new Netflix special.
JO Right now I'm writing a movie based on my life with Steven Spielberg's people. So Amblin gave me a deal.
MARTIE Tell me a little bit more about that.
JO I think the coolest thing that's ever happened in my career would have to be getting a phone call from Amblin Entertainment to come do a general meeting at the lot. And I went in, and the first thing they say to me is, "Steven loves your stuff." And I looked at them going...
MARTIE Steven who?
JO Do you mean Steven from accounting? Uh, which Steven are we talking about? And they were like, "Spielberg loves you. And he saw your special and he can't wait to meet." Like, just the nicest compliments. "He can’t wait to meet you."
MARTIE You were, like, pinching yourself. I mean, like, you don't already pinch yourself every day anyway, because, I mean, it's all happening. It's all happening.
JO Aw, thank you. That's a perfect example. If I didn't shoot that "Live from Seattle" myself, that meeting with Steven wouldn't have happened. And that's the benefit of taking charge of your own destiny. Making things happen. And because of "Live from Seattle," I got "Coming in Hot." And when "Coming in Hot" came out on Netflix, Steven watched that. That's the special he watched. And we had the meeting, and basically they go, "What movie ideas do you have?" And I pitched him this movie idea that I had with Dan Lin, who's an amazing producer. He did "Aladdin," "It" 1 and 2, Lego movies. And I pitched the movie. I pitched him. And they were like, "We'd love to take on this project with Dan Lin." And that's where we're at right now. We're writing it.
MARTIE I am so excited. I can't wait to find out more and hear more about this.
JO Oh, I got a book!
JO Yeah. So the book drops March.
MARTIE What's it called?
JO It's Mixed Plate.
MARTIE It's like an autobiography type of a thing?
JO Yeah. It's about me.
MARTIE Have you got recipes in there too?
JO Yes we did! We put recipes in there as well. Martie, you are going to love this book. It's got the adobo. It's got egg roll. It's got sinigang in there. And then what's even cool about it is mixed plate, you know, that's a Hawaiian dish. But mixed plate has everything. It has Korean barbeque. It has spam. It has macaroni salad. It has rice. It has it has everything. Every culture is on that plate. And that's basically my life. And that's basically me.
MARTIE I can't even tell you how much I have enjoyed having you on Homemade today. You have made the day so much more fun and brighter for me. I can't wait to try Filipino cuisine. You have inspired me to go out and seek some out, and I am very, very thrilled to have met you and gotten a chance to talk to you today.
JO Awww, I love you, Martie.
MARTIE I love you back.
JO You're the best, Martie.
MARTIE I think you are! All right. Bye.
MARTIE You can find Jo Koy’s specials on Netflix. He also has a new book coming out in March and so much more. You can keep up with him on JoKoy.com. That’s JoKoy.com. And you can follow him on Instagram @jokoy. On Facebook he posts the funniest videos with his mom! You are gonna love them.
Coming up next week We’re talking to Dan Pashman. He’s the creator and host of the James Beard award-winning podcast The Sporkful, which is he says is not for foodies. It’s for eaters!
DAN: So, in any kind of layered food, you want to think about what is the order of the layers as they hit your tongue. Because whatever is on the bottom layer, that’s what’s going to land on your tongue. That flavor will be accentuated. That's why, for instance, I would say you usually the cheeseburger with the cheese side down. When you're eating a salad, you want to you want a fork around the salad and build a bite on the fork, ending with the thing you'd like the best so that that's the tip of the fork. It lands on your tongue, and that flavor is accentuated.
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Homemade is produced by Allrecipes with Executive Editor Jason Burnett. Thanks to our Pod People production team: Rachael King, Eliza Lambert, Tanya Ott, and Maya Kroth.
Thanks for listening! I’m Martie Duncan, and this is Homemade.