Dubbed as the “Pearl of the Orient”, the Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands offers you and its locals a wide variety of menus that will surely satisfy your cravings. From its world-famous chicken and pork adobo to a simple “bibingka” (rice cake), this wonderful country offers you nothing but the best.
As colorful as the nation’s history, Filipino Cuisine caters a rich blend of oriental and western influences. Early cooking methods like boiling, steaming and roasting evolved to stir frying and making savory soup bases when Chinese traders came to the country as early as 960 BC. The traders also introduced new ingredients like toyo (soy sauce) and patis (fish sauce). Trade with other neighboring Asian countries like Malaya and Java also accounts for their contributions to the “molding” of Filipino Cuisine. One of their important contributions is the adding of coconut milk to some food dishes which gives it a savory and delightful aftertaste that makes you crave for more.
A typical example is Ginataang Manok (chicken stewed in coconut milk). Years of colonization by Spain also shaped Filipino Cuisine. The Spanish colonists introduced spices like onion, garlic and chili peppers. They also introduced a new method of sautéing garlic and onions which has become one of the first steps of preparing most Filipino dishes today.
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Virginia Woolf (author of A Room of One’s Own) said, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” I believe that is true. Having tackled a brief summary of Filipino Cuisine’s history let’s now go to the part that both you and I love – food. Surrounded by a vast array of natural resources, traditional and common Filipino dishes involve a variety of meat, fish and vegetable products.
Traditional Filipino dishes includes the famous Crispy Pata (from the Spanish word “Pata” which means pork feet), made from fried pork legs and is widely known for its crispiness and delicious taste. The dish is perfect with vinegar and soy sauce dip. A celebration won’t be complete without a Lechon on the table. This traditional dish is truly a worldwide symbol of Filipino celebration. Adapted from Spanish colonizers, Lechon is made by roasting a whole suckling pig but nowadays medium-sized pigs are also used.
If you ask a Filipino what is the country’s national dish, he would typically say adobo. This famous and traditional dish is made from pork, chicken or a combination of both marinated in vinegar, soy sauce and garlic, browned in oil and simmered in the marinade. A very delightful dish that everyone yearns for. For those who are looking for savory fish dishes, Escabeche is perfect for you. This traditional dish is made from fried meaty fish, simmered in vinegar and soy sauce, sweetened by sugar and enhanced by a variety of spices like ginger, onion and garlic and vegetables like carrots.
A meal in a typical Filipino home will usually include fried (fish, pork or chicken), grilled and soup based dishes. Tinolang Manok (chicken ginger stew) is a common soup based dish made from boiling chicken while sauteed in ginger and adding vegetables and spices. It is usually served during lunch and dinner. Another common dish is Sinigang na Bangus (milkfish in sour broth), a soup made from fish (typically bangus but other fishes will do) and vegetables. This dish is characterized by its sour taste. Its pork counterpart is Sinigang na Baboy. For those who prefer hot and spicy dishes, Bicol Express is highly recommended. It is a stew made from, coconut milk, chilies, onion, pork, shrimp paste or stockfish, and garlic.
Noodle based dishes also adorn most of the Filipino dinner tables. Common dishes include Pancit Lomi (characterized by a thick, quarter-inch diameter egg noodle), Pancit Canton (the noodles are made from flour) and Palabok (noodles are made from rice served with spring rolls, chicharon and calamansi). Noodle dishes are also best for merienda (snacks). Grilled dishes (pork, fish or chicken) are another typical menu for every Filipino and are best eaten using your hands.
I always remember my mom telling me that love is the number one ingredient of every dish she makes. That is true for every Filipino. What lies in the core of Filipino Cuisine is the love that comes from the hands who prepared it. It is love that makes it unique. Love for the food and love for the people. So what are you waiting for? Come and try out our collections of Filipino Recipes.