Filipino food may not be popular as that of Malay, Vietnamese and Thai but surely it has its own distinct flavor which we, Filipinos are very proud of. Definitely, there’s more to Filipino food than just balut! Below is a list of must-try food when you visit the Philippines. Most of them are widely available everywhere in the country so enjoy!
Adobo is one of the most popular dishes in the Philippines. It is usually made up of pork, chicken, a mixture of both or seafood like fish and squid. Added to the meat are soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, black pepper, and cooking oil. Taste and added ingredients usually vary from one place to another. Some cook it with potato and other vegetables. The concept of adobo was actually introduced by the Spanish but the cooking method is pretty much indigenous to the Philippines. It is widely available in most restaurants in the country, big or small. Almost all of the Filipinos know how to cook adobo, so if you happen to visit a friend’s house in the Philippines, chances are your host will be serving you adobo. Don’t worry I’m sure you’ll like it.
Balut is probably one of the weirdest and most bizarre food in the world. It is a boiled, fertilized duck egg and is mostly available in parts of Southeast Asia. It is popularly believed to be an aphrodisiac and considered rich in protein. Balut is commonly sold as street food in the Philippines and is widely available in most parts of the country. They are usually sold by street vendors at night, out of buckets with a cloth to keep the eggs warm.
If you can’t really eat the embryo for some reasons, you can try sipping the juice, throw the embryo and eat the yolk and the hard white part of the egg. At least you can say, you’ve tried it. For beginners, an alternative to balut is called penoy. It’s an infertile incubated duck egg with just a little bit of dead embryo also boiled for about 20-30 minutes. These two are usually sold together.
Sisig is actually a popular appetizer in the Philippines but over the years it was turned into a main dish. It originated from Pampanga, the culinary capital of the country. This dish was invented by Lucia Cunanan, popularly known as Aling Lucing. Originally, sisig is composed of chopped pigs face and ears with some amount of chicken liver and a generous amount of spices like onions and chili. Today, there are already hundreds of variations available country-wide. Some cooked it with the original pig’s face and ears while others cooked it with seafood like squid, tuna, milkfish and mussels. Sisig is best served with beer, which is by the way very cheap in the Philippines.
Crispy Pata is a famous Filipino pork dish that uses a whole pig’s leg as a main ingredient. The leg (or pata) is made tender by simmering in water along with other spices like garlic and black pepper. It is then rubbed with seasonings and deep-fried until the texture becomes very crunchy outside while the inside is cooked and tender. This dish can be eaten as a main dish or pulutan (appetizer) along with pickled green papaya and a dipping sauce made from soy sauce, vinegar, a little bit of brown sugar, and chopped onions and chili. This is also best served with beer.
Kare-Kare is a traditional Filipino stew recipe complimented with a thick savory peanut sauce. It is usually made up of ox tail, tripe and pork leg but on some occasions chicken meat or lean beef meat may also be used. Aside from the peanut sauce, the taste of this dish also depends on the shrimp paste which is served on the side. You will fully enjoy eating kare-kare by putting a generous amount of shrimp paste on it. Traditionally, clay cooking pot is used to cook this dish and it is also used as the serving pot but in this modern day, only a few use this method.
Sinigang is a Filipino soup traditionally soured by a tamarind pulp. It can be made up of pork, seafood or beef with added vegetables such as eggplant, okra, radish, kangkong, gabi and beans. It is served almost everywhere in the country. Ingredients may vary from one place to another. Some folks use guava, calamansi and other fruits instead of tamarind.
Grilled Isaw (Chicken or Pig’s intestines)
Grilled Isaw is chicken or pig’s intestine boiled with salt and spices until it becomes tender then grilled. This is probably the most sought and most popular street food in the Philippines. This food goes well with beer or liquor and has earned the reputation of being the best affordable appetizer in the country. You will pretty much see this street food from anywhere in the Philippines usually after the sun has set.
Lechon is usually prepared by many household during fiesta, birthday, wedding or any big events. They are also widely available in the market and some restaurants. One of the best lechon they say is found in Cebu. Cebu’s version of the famous lechon is considered by most as the tastiest and crispiest, with such flavorful meat that condiments or sauce are typically not necessary anymore.
Longganisa (or longaniza) are Filipino chorizos. These cured sausages are famous in almost every region in the Philippines. Three of the most famous varieties of longganisa are Vigan, Lucban, and Guagua which were named according to the town that they came from. Pork is the widely meat used in making this sausage; Chicken, beef, and even tuna are sometimes used as an alternative. Longganisa’s from different regions may tastes slightly or totally different, so better try the longganisa for breakfast wherever you are in the Philippines.
Pinakbet or pakbet is a popular vegetable dish that originated from Ilocos, one of the northern provinces of the Philippines. The vegetables used on this dish are usually grown in the backyard of every townsfolk and are available almost all year round. Squash or sweet potato, ampalaya (bitter melon), eggplant, okra, and string beans are just some of the vegetables that make-up this delightful dish. Pakbet is cooked in a clay pot called “Palayok” and Anchovy sauce or shrimp paste is used to add flavor. Major restaurants serving Filipino dishes usually have this food on their menu.
Taho is another popular Filipino comfort food usually sold early in the morning. It is a soft gelatin-like snack made from tofu (soybeans) and then topped with generous amount of sago (tapioca pearls) and arnibal (caramelized sugar) as sweetener. It is widely available in the country and you will usually hear the vendor shouting tahooooo in the streets. You can enjoy eating it using a spoon, sipping it with a straw or by just slupring it directly from the cup.
Considered by many as the king of all fruits, durian is known for its distinctive strong odor. Some even say that it smells like hell but it tastes like heaven. It comes in different varieties such as native, puyat, arancillo, chanee and many others. In the Philippines, it is widely available in Davao region. They are sold in streets and in supermarkets. Not everyone would like to eat it but I really do suggest for you to try it. If you can’t take eating the fresh durian pulp, you may want to try Davao’s delicacies made from durian such as tortes, cakes, tarts, ice cream and candies. For coffee lovers, try the famed durian coffee in town.
So there you have it, let your palate be satisfied with these tasty Filipino specialties…
Enjoy your meal | Bon appetit| Selamat makan | Buon appetito | Douzo meshiagare | Guten Appetit! Mahlzeit! | Jal meokkesseumnida.