Whether you’re living abroad or basking in the Philippine sunshine, Filipino food brings you closer to home. Filipino traditional cuisines are widely influenced by Spanish, American, and Malay making it diverse and exceedingly satisfying. Whilst entering a Filipino household, there are three things one can notably notice: the laughter, the bickering and the food. Sharing hearty mouthwatering dishes is a must in family gatherings and it’s a tradition we don’t take lightly. There is no skimping on ingredients, no diets spared and everyone ends up with a smile on their face. We eat till we’re full, and even then we can’t stop eating.
Prepare your taste buds because I’m about to give you a run down of a few Filipino food we simply can’t live without!
A staple dish on a typical Filipino household has to be adobo. One of those The mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic marinate cooked in hot oil is typically spooned with steaming rice to counteract its salty sour savory goodness. Whether it be made from spinach, squid, chicken or pork, adobo always makes its way on the dinner table.
Lechon is one of the most iconic dishes in Filipino gatherings. Often served as the centerpiece in fiestas or potlucks, the slow roasted whole pork with skin browned to a crisp oozes with juicy flavor on its first chop. Don’t be ashamed to use your fingers when eating this succulent roast, there is no shame in devouring this special treat. The tender meat can be easy pulled apart but definitely not the inches on your waist.
Whether you’re in the mood for fresh lumpiang ubod or fried lumpia, these delectable treats make it easy for people to lose track of how many they’ve eaten. The crunchy exterior of fried savory egg rolls with juicy meat filling that steams when bitten can make someone guilty of overindulging. The filling may vary from pork, beef, chicken, shrimp or even fish with bits of vegetables and spices dipped in vinegar or sweet and spicy sauce.
Rich tomato based stew cooked slowly with meat so tender it slid off the bone is always a crowd favorite! Afritada’s tomato based sauce gives a tangy, savory and often sweet spin to your regular stew. Chicken, pork or beef, soaks up the luscious thick sauce so each bite bursts with flavor.
Sour savory hot soup is my definition of comfort food. It can be prepared with pork, beef or seafood but one thing’s for sure, the sour kick can knock you back to childhood. Tamarind paste or lime juice gives sinigang that signature sour flavor that we all crave for. Some variations add spicy components like siling labuyo or siling mahaba (green chili) to bring their sinigang to the next level.
There’s nothing like slurping steaming beef broth at home on a rainy day. Bulalo is one of those dishes that truly warms your body and soul. To achieve that authentic bulalo flavor, you have to boil bone, fat, meat, and tendons for hours creating a rich tasty consistency. Often mixed with corn, potatoes, bok choy, and a little bit of fish sauce, this easy to make dish, is a standard in Filipino households.
If you’re a foreigner, you might think that sweet spaghetti sounds absurd, but for Filipinos it’s an ingenious and glorious way of enjoying pasta. The classic red sauce is sweetened by condensed milk or banana ketchup and topped with grated cheese on a bed of pasta. To make it more filling and flavorful, ground beef, hot dogs (the red ones of course) and vienna sausages are added. It’s surely a hit with kids and adults alike!
Cold beer and hot sisig anyone? Sizzling on a skillet is where I want my chopped pig’s meat, liver, face and ears. Filipinos are say no to wasting food -Although can be prepared healthier with chicken, squid, tuna or mussels, the pork sisig still remains the crowd favorite. Onions, chilis and egg is added to enhance the flavor of pork as it sizzles on the plate. Traditionally, sisig uses pig’s brain as a binding agent but nowadays most restaurants use mayonnaise and it’s dangerously addicting!
Kare Kare is a likely candidate for “love at first bite”. Crushed roasted peanuts in thick savory broth simmered with soft ox tail, tripe, and pork leg in a casserole of vegetables is heaven on earth. Bagoong on the side? Yes, please. A glop of shrimp paste is mixed to every bowl enhancing the sweet and salty sensation.
Are you drooling yet? Of course, we can’t forget about dessert!
Warm or chilled, Leche Flan is one of the most popular Filipino desserts that are staples in family gatherings or for an extra sweet treat on the dinner table. The smooth pillowy texture of sweet custard always tastes like heaven and feels like happiness. Although made in various ways and added extra ingredients, the base of leche flan always begins with the browned syrup in the bottom of the pan layered with creamy custard made from sugar, egg yolks, condensed milk, evaporated milk and vanilla for that signature fragrance.
Deep fried caramelized thinly sliced banana and jackfruit spring rolls are the perfect combination of crunchy and chewy deliciousness. Topped with a generous scoop (or two) of creamy vanilla, mango or ube ice cream melted on warm turon instantly makes your mouth water.
Because the Philippines has an abundance of tropical fruit, it’s customary to have fruit salad for the health nuts out there! Fresh or canned fruit is mixed with cream, condensed milk and lovely surprise of cheese cubes to counteract the sweetness. A mixture of mangos, pineapples, lychees, coconut, apples and more, for a cold refreshing dessert.
The popular go-to dessert in this sweltering summer heat is halo halo! Beat the heat with milky creamy shaved ice topped with fresh fruit, nata de coco, beans, shredded coconut, nuts, rice krispies, corn flakes and basically anything sweet. Halo halo has a combination of different flavors and textures that merge in perfect harmony. Ube ice cream and leche flan on top is a must!