If you’ve ever been invited to a fiesta in the Philippines or any home celebration be it in the country or abroad with a Filipino family, you probably noticed the banquet or dinner table filled with several main course dishes. This goes to show how much Filipinos enjoy food and put importance on gastronomic delights as a sign of hospitality when entertaining guests.
While Filipino cuisine may not be as well-known as other Asian countries’, the country is blessed with a cornucopia dishes that are reflective of the country’s roots and colonial influences.
Here, we take a look at 10 delicious Filipino dishes that locals want you to try:
Adobo is a common dish prepared in Filipino households. It is usually prepared using pork or chicken (sometimes, both) in soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, pepper, and other spices. The name itself is derived from the Spanish word “adobar” which means to cook in vinegar. Other meats and vegetables can also be used to make adobo including beef, squid, and spinach.
No special Filipino celebration or gathering is complete without the famous lechon or roasted pig. The national food of the Philippines, it’s also been dubbed as the “best pig in the world” by the late great epicure Anthony Bourdain.
To make lechon, an entire pig is spit-roasted over coals until its skin is crispy and has that beautiful golden brown glow. The pig’s stomach is stuffed with various herbs and spices like lemongrass, star anise, spring onions, laurel leaves to enhance the Lechon’s flavor. Once served, it is best enjoyed with liver sauce or spicy vinegar.
Another Filipino favorite that is present in every major gathering, kare-kare is the Philippines’ take on curry, which is made with either beef, oxtail, or pork, in creamy peanut sauce and ground toasted rice mixed with banana blossoms, pechay, string beans, and eggplant. This makes it a complete meal by itself which is best eaten with bagoong (shrimp paste).
Another stew on this list is Sinigang. If Kare-Kare has peanut sauce, Sinigang has a sour soup base made with tamarind or guava. It uses pork, fish, beef, or any seafood mixed with vegetables like kangkong (river spinach), string beans, and gabi (taro).
No part of a pig ever goes to waste in Filipino dishes. Hailing all the way from the province of Pampanga, sisig has also become a staple dish in every Filipino gathering. It is made with a pig’s head and organs, which will then be roasted then chopped and served on a sizzling plate with some chilis. Most of the time, Sisig is eaten as a side dish whenever there’s a beer-drinking session going on.
Laing is a prized dish from the Bicol region. It is a combination of dried taro leaves (a native plant of the province), chilis (tons of those), and pork blended with gata (coconut milk). If you have a thing for spicy food, Laing is a must-try.
Another Bicol region special, Bicol Express is a fitting tribute to the land where gata (coconut milk) is the main ingredient for many dishes. It punches in that spicy flavor with all its chilis, creamy coconut milk, and shrimp paste—a perfect partner to steamed rice.
Ginataang Kuhol (Snails in Coconut Milk)
Slurping the snail is the only way to eat this rare Filipino delicacy. Yes, this dish is made of farm snails cooked with some vegetables and gata (coconut milk). If you have trouble slurping for the snail’s meat, you can ask for a toothpick to pick it out from its shell.
Oh, that crispy sound of the pig’s skin upon the first bite will make you want to eat more of this dish that traces its roots all the way from the province of Ilocos Sur in the Philippines. Bagnet is a deep-fried pork belly which is similar to the Filipinos’ lechon kawali (pan-fried lechon). However, the preparation is slightly different. This is because Bagnet is boiled then air-dried before deep-frying it. Dip it in vinegar for that extra kick.
Capping off our list is Lumpiang Ubod. Lumpiang Ubod is a light dish that goes well with almost any of the dishes on this list. Imagine a crepe-like wrap that’s filled with ubod (strips of palm heart), lettuce leaves, shrimp, and pork that’s doused with peanut sauce and garlic. Another Filipino dish that’s worth a try.
Is your mouth watering already? Then take your taste buds to a trip to the Philippines and engage in a gastronomical delight like no other. We promise you that you’ll leave the country with a happy heart and tummy.
It is said that one of the best ways to get to know the culture of a land is through its dishes. Take on gastronomic experiences like a food trip through Manila Chinatown or joining a boodle feast that KKday offers and eat your way to happiness.
Enjoy yummy and healthy snacks from the Philippines with this special snack box from Raw Bites that features products made with ingredients native to the country!
*Featured image by Brent Hofacker via Shutterstock