If you’re a foodie or an adventurous eater, no doubt you’ve tried something from the Philippines. Filipino dishes are rich, flavorful, and not necessarily your typical western fare. In fact, most Philippine cuisines are characterized by their diversity. They are different from other cuisines because they have survived colonization and a varied palate of immigrant groups who brought with them their own specialties.
Imagine all of these factors combined in one big pot called the Philippine archipelago — now that’s what defines our diverse tastes! But if you want to get straight to the point, slurp a bowl of mami (noodles in soup) send off some lechon (roasted pig) on sticks at a fiesta (a festive gathering), or sample the unrivaled saltiness of bangus (milkfish), we won’t blame you for going straight for the food that makes Filipino cuisine so famous — whether it’s balut (duck embryo) or pork barbecue.
Here are ten popular dishes from the Philippines that no traveler should miss out on eating.
Adobo is a must-have dish for anyone who wants to have an authentic plate of Filipino food. It is a Filipino stew of chicken or meat simmered in vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic. The national comfort food of the Philippines is a must for every diner’s list and for non-Filipinos, it might just be the gateway to the rest of Filipino cuisine.
There’s no denying that Filipino cuisine has perfected the use of sour flavors in soup bases. Pork is the most common meat used to make sinigang, but other types of protein such as beef and shrimp or fish can also be used. There are numerous kinds of soups in our country, and Sinigang is one of them. It’s a sour soup made of Tamarind or Sampaloc. Aside from the meat, sinigang has different vegetables which includes okra, eggplant, radish, and kangkong. For more flavor, tomato and fish sauce (patis) can also be added.
Sisig is a delicacy that originated in Pampanga. It is made out of chopped pork parts which include ears, face, cheeks, lips, and even the snout. They are then mixed with salt and vinegar and served in sizzling plates for its crunchy texture. To add as a topper, most sisig dishes are served with mayonnaise on top to temper the other seasonings, heightening the impact on the dish’s overall taste, you can also serve the mixture by cracking an egg onto it while the dish is still hot enough to produce steam, and squeeze some slice of calamansi for extra acidity if desired.
Photo source: yummy.ph
Bulalo is a mouth-watering dish which is practically a staple of Filipino cuisine. It is made of beef shanks, beef bone marrow, along with other vegetables such as cabbage, pechay (chinese cabbage), corn and onions that are slowly cooked. This results in the broth to be full of flavor but without being greasy or salty. It is quite easy to cook, but it does take time, keeping you in the kitchen for about two hours or more depending on the method you use.
Photo Source: Flying Ketchup
Pinakbet is a delicious dish from the northern regions of the Philippines that is made from mixed vegetables sautéed in fish or shrimp paste. This dish is composed of a variety of vegetables and also has a protein component. You can use or add lechon kawali or crispy deep-fried pork belly for this recipe.
Dinuguan (also known as the Blood Stew) is a Philippine specialty dish made from pork offal that includes various parts, such as the liver, intestines, ears, and heart. There are different types of Dinuguan depending on what parts of the pig they use but they all have a unique taste because of the vinegar and ginger used in their recipe. Most Pinoys prefer to eat this Filipino dish with white rice or puto (steamed rice cake).
Photo Source: Guide To The Philippines
Lechon is a delectable dish that so many people are familiar with and very likely to crave for every once in a while. It’s not just a popular dish among Filipinos, but also in other countries, including Spain and Latin America. The dish consists of an actual suckling pig that has been roasted over coals and given loads of spices. Even though Lechon is served at grand occasions and events, you can still get your hands on this delicious food item by ordering it at local restaurants or by doing some preparation of your own if you’re itching to prepare it.
8. Crispy Pata
Photo Source: Lutong Bahay Recipe
One of the uniquely known Filipino dishes during celebrations or family gatherings is Crispy Pata. It’s pork knuckle deep-fried, but it has a preparation process that makes it very special. Crispy Pata is one of those delicacies that you should definitely try either during small gatherings or on your own just to satisfy your foodie cravings.
Photo Source: Yummy PH
Laing is a traditional Filipino dish that is made of taro leaves stewed in coconut milk and spices. It can be eaten as a side dish or served hot with steamed rice. Like most dishes in the Philippines, Laing has its variations. Adding ingredients such as pork, chicken, shrimp, or beef creates new flavors for this dish because their taste blends well with the other ingredients.
10. Bicol Express
Photo Source: Bicol Express
Bicol Express is a dish that was introduced to the world as a delicious and exquisite belly filler. This is also known as ‘Bicolandia’ or simply Boholano cuisine, with its main ingredient being cube-cut pork cooked in coconut milk and chili peppers. It is rich, creamy, spicy, and delicious.
The Philippines is home to a wide array of dishes, food items, and staples that reflect how people have evolved over the past generations. These are our own little pieces of history, from which we continue to draw inspiration today. With such a large and incredibly diverse country, there are so many remarkable dishes that we can’t imagine why anyone would leave without trying them—not to mention, of course, the delicious drinks readily available on every street corner, from pineapple juices and fresh coconuts
At the end of the day, there’s no one specific dish that is considered “the national dish” of the Philippines. That’s because the country is so diverse. A visitor can find a different flavor at every turn in Metro Manila, but that doesn’t mean they should settle for those 10 dishes we mentioned above! Try out more Filipino cuisines, and you‟ll surely come across dishes that are just as delicious, perhaps even better.