The Philippines may have some amazing beaches and some amazing natural wonders, but the real reason anybody comes to the country surely is to sample its delectable food?!
I have only recently visited the Philippines for the first time and one of the biggest impressions that was left on me (apart from the friendly people) was the amazing food over here! At first, I thought Filipino cuisine has a lot of similarities to Malaysian and Indonesian cuisines, but I soon realised that really the Philippines has a culinary culture quite unlike anything else in Asia, which includes its love of pork dishes! Check out a list of the top dishes in the Philippines from Melissa Harrison.
The controversial slaughter of pigs is something that Filipino cuisine is well noted for. Every part of the pig is put to good use, from the ears, to the trotters, and even the intestines! As a predominantly Christian nation (apart from the strictly Muslim south), the Philippines incorporates pork in its cuisine more than any other meat, even chicken. However, the slaughtering of the pigs is very inhumane and is clearly distressing for the pig before it is killed. In a similar fashion to Babi Guling in Bali, the pig is often roasted whole on a spit and the dish here in the Philippines is called Lechon. This meal can keep a whole Filipino family going for days, with any remains used in stews and other dishes, many of which you can see in the categories below.
Snack Foods and Weird Stuff:
My first experience of Kwek-Kwek was in the Intramuros in Manila. It is hard-boiled quail egg that has been deep-fried in batter. I was not too happy to try it at first, but after some recommendations from friends, I really enjoyed it! Read more about Kwek-Kwek.
Isaw is grilled pig’s intestines, which is a very common street food across the country, and in particular around Luzon.
Tocino is basically bacon that is prepared by adding salt to the meat strips and leaving to refrigerate to cure. When all is said and done the strips are boiled in water to harden the texture. The result is one of the tastiest snacks in Filipino cuisine!
Wherever you are in the world, you can find a steamed bun or steamed dumpling, and here in the Philippines the variant is called Siopao. Contents of the bun can include any kind of meat, a variety of fish, or even salted duck eggs. In my view, it compares very well to the likes of the mandu from Korean cuisine and the baozi from Chinese cuisine.
Sometimes jokingly referred to as “chocolate meat”, Dinuguan is a type of Pork Blood Stew, which can be alarming to many foreign visitors of the Philippines. Dinuguan is a savoury stew of meat and offal (typically lungs, kidneys, intestines, ears, heart, and snout) that is simmered in a dark gravy of pig blood. Check out my post on Dinuguan.
Pinoy Spaghetti is the Filipino version of Italy’s famous spaghetti dish. Here, the Pinoy spaghetti is paired with thick meats and sauces that are made from sausage and other remains of party dishes.
Sisig is a Filipino dish made from parts of a pig’s head and its liver, and then usually seasoned with calamansi and chili peppers. Very much a sharing dish.
Kaldereta is a popular dish in the Philippines, especially on Luzon Island. The common ingredients are goat shoulders with tomato paste and liver spread. This dish was introduced to the country by the Spanish over 300 years ago and is a firm favourite during party season and new year festivities.
A dish of thinly sliced steak is Bistek Tagalog. The steak strips are garnished with soy sauce and lemon juice, before being usually topped with onion rings, although other vegetables can be added to give variation.
Any kind of fish that is split open, gutted, then air-dried is known in the Philippines as Daing. This is very popular in markets, although because of its cheapness, it is considered comfort food by most Filipino families and is usually fried before being served with condiments and a can of San Miguel!
Although pork is the preferred meat of choice in the Philippines, Chicken Adabo (marinated chicken) still remains one of the most popular dishes in the country. In fact, it is sometimes known as the country’s unofficial dish. The chicken is marinated in a concoction of bay leaves, soy sauce and garlic, and often served with white rice.
Halo-Halo means “mixed together” and is a family favourite dessert with very colourful toppings. Mixtures of shaved ice and evaporated milk are added various boiled sweet beans, jello and fruits. Halo-Halo is served in a tall glass or bowl and is probably the most well-known Filipino dessert across the rest of the world.
Ginanggang is Pinoy Fried Banana, which is very similar to the pisang goreng found in Indonesia and parts of Malaysia. It is a very sweet delicacy and contains a lot of sugar which is added during the frying process!
Buko Pie is a traditional Filipino baked custard/coconut pie. It is considered a specialty in the country, and is made primarily from young coconuts. I am told Buko Pie has a very high calorie-count!
Made of glutinous rice and usually wrapped in a palm leaves is Suman. Cooked in coconut milk, and sprinkled with sugar, the suman reminds me of the bite-sized Thai dessert khao tom mat.
I HOPE YOU HAVE NOW GOT A ‘TASTE’ OF FILIPINO CUISINE!