The Republic of the Philippines geographically belongs to the countries of Southeast Asia. But the Filipino cuisine is different from that of the neighbors. There is no usual Asian pungency and riot of tastes here.
The main features of the national Philippine cuisine
The local cuisine was formed at the junction of several cultures and traditions, each of which, together with its geographical location, left its mark.
Important features of the region’s cuisine:
- All types of meat are used, incl. pork.
- Fish and seafood are abundant.
- Rice and vegetables are mostly side dishes, not complete meals.
- Spices are used in moderation, there is no burning pungency.
- Marinating, stewing and cooking over an open fire are basic culinary techniques.
- “Waste-free” – the use of all products without residue, often unusual for traditional cooking.
The national cuisine has developed under the pressure of colorful Asian traditions and Western influences of the former colonialists. Here they received a new reading and adapted to local conditions dishes of European cuisine: French, Spanish, Portuguese.
Neighboring countries have also left their mark. Today, in Filipino dishes, traces of Chinese, Indian, Arabian cuisines can be traced.
Food is an important part of Filipino life. When they meet, they are not interested in business and health, but whether their friend has eaten. In addition to the 3 main meals, there is also an afternoon snack. Breakfast and lunch are necessarily hearty. All family members are involved in cooking.
Serving and etiquette
Kamayan is a local tradition to eat by hand from common festive dishes. She is still found in villages, at city festivals and picnics. The rest of the time, European-style devices are used. Chinese sticks never caught on here.
Rice and vegetables are served with hot meals.
The simple taste of rice harmoniously complements any product. The final touch is always the sauce.
Typical products and traditional dishes
Like European, Filipino dishes can be divided into salads and appetizers, firsts, mains and desserts.
Soups are in demand when the wet rainy season hits the islands. The first courses in Filipino cuisine either have a thick consistency that brings them closer to a stew, or are broth with large chunks of meat.
The main ingredient in many recipes is noodles. The everyday cooking option is boiled rice noodles with finely chopped meat or fish in a spicy broth.
But the whole kitchen is not limited to one dish:
- batsoy – soup with giblets, pork rinds and raw yolk;
- bulalo – jelly-like soup made from beef shank, marrow bones;
- sinigang – meat broth, tamarind gives a sour taste;
- asparagus – chicken soup with Chinese sotangon noodles;
- tinola – meat or fish stew in ginger broth with green papaya.
Soups are often eaten with a spoon and fork at the same time. The latter is pricked into large pieces and washed down with broth.
Filipinos are not Muslims, therefore they use any meat for food: chicken, beef, lamb, duck, incl. pork. It is grilled, stewed, boiled and marinated.
A spectacular dish cooked on a spit – a whole lechon piglet. The secret of juicy meat under a golden brown crust is in the right temperature, heat and fire. The dish is prepared during big holidays and is served along with side dishes and snacks.
Adobo is a daily dish. The hostesses first marinate the meat, and then fry and stew it. Long storage is possible thanks to vinegar and soy sauce. A unique taste in each recipe is achieved in its own way: add coconut milk, spices, pork liver puree or offal.
Rice plays the role of not only a side dish, but also an independent dish, for example, synangag. The peculiarity of the dish is that yesterday’s rice is necessarily used for cooking. It is fried with garlic, as well as meat or sausage. It is considered bad form to cook fresh rice for synangag.
The geographical location of the islands predetermined the abundance of fish and seafood. They are steamed, charcoal, boiled, put in soup, ground for sauces and dressings.
Frequent guests at the table:
- milk fish;
- sea bass, paw-paw;
The seas washing the islands are rich in squid, crabs, mussels, lobsters, shrimps. The local specialty is red lobster. In addition to its bright color, it has a rich taste.
The most famous milk fish dish is bangus. A herring-sized fish is well gutted and stuffed with tomatoes, onions and other vegetables. When baked, sprinkle with raisins, and when serving, sprinkle with lemon.
Salads and snacks
There are practically no salads in the European sense in the Philippines. Vegetables are prepared as a side dish for hot meals. The beginning of the meal is reduced to appetizers. Here it is customary to serve them immediately and in large quantities. In the menu of a cafe or restaurant, this section will be called “pulutan”.
So, there are:
- chacharron – crispy fried cracklings from various types of meat and fish (pork or chicken skin, pork intestines, ears, fat, fish skin and scales);
- fried crab meat in oil;
- kebabs of chicken and pork offal;
- salted and fried pork or chicken blood;
- grilled chicken or frog legs;
- crispy fish biscuits;
- In-shell salted, spicy, or garlic peanuts.
Frog legs for a snack.
Fruits and vegetables
The Philippines boasts a variety of exotic vegetables and fruits. But their assortment depends on the season.
Most of them ripen here from May to October.
It is better to buy vegetables from the market:
- chayote, or Mexican cucumber, belongs to the pumpkin family, and resembles potatoes in taste and method of preparation;
- Baguio beans – green legumes (pods) used for stewing
- lagenaria – spicy fruits of the pumpkin family;
- ubud – the heart of the coconut tree, characterized by a nutty and bread flavor;
- kangkong – water spinach with a pungent spicy flavor;
- okra, or okra, is a green fruit with a zucchini flavor.
Also, the counters are full of cucumbers and tomatoes, lots of greens, varieties of green salads and cabbage, beans, beans and other gifts of nature.
In the usual kitchen, it is practically absent. Therefore, local farmers produce a small amount of milk. Yoghurts, cheese, milk powder are imported here from Australia and New Zealand. This leaves an imprint on their value.
Fermented milk products, such as sour cream or cottage cheese, cannot be found here. The exception to the rule is soft kesong path cheese. It is prepared from buffalo, less often goat or cow milk. Salt, vinegar or juice are used as the enzyme, so the cheese tastes slightly salty.
The main ingredient in all sauces and marinades is vinegar. There are about 10 types of it: for example, apple or wine. Other common dressings include soy sauce, coconut oil or milk, lime juice, and curry sauce.
Almost no dish is complete without ginger, garlic, onions, chili peppers, peanut butter, and herbs.
Complicated names for Philippine spices:
- patis – concentrated fish sauce;
- bagung – shrimp paste;
- kalamansi – lime musk juice;
- bagoon is a seasoning made from grated, fermented fish.
Spices in the Philippines are added to all dishes.
Numerous pastry shops and bakeries show how much Filipinos love baked goods. Mostly white bread is eaten because only rice flour and cassava (cassava flour) are at hand. The meal is accompanied by toast with cheese and peanut butter.
Bread is often baked not in large loaves, but in the form of small buns:
- pan de sal – salty breakfast rolls;
- pan de monya – double bun made of salted dough with milk;
- ensaimada – Christmas buns with grated cheese and powdered sugar;
- hopiya – puff pastry stuffed with beans;
- puto – steamed rice cake;
- kababayan – juicy sweet round-shaped cupcakes.
All desserts of the islands can be divided into several groups:
- Ice cream and cocktails based on it.
- Lots of fruits in very different forms. They are eaten raw here, added to ice cream and pies, and made into jams, jellies, sauces and cake creams.
Besides fruits, Filipinos love starchy foods. For the dough, flour from cassava (cassava) and rice is used. Local housewives add condensed milk, coconut milk, cane sugar and fruits to it.
The most favorite desserts in the Philippine Islands:
- halo halo – ice cream with fruit, ice and coconut milk;
- ube jam – chilled purple yam root jam;
- sweets from fruit pulp and condensed milk;
- rice desserts (bibingka, suman);
- cakes (napoleon, yema, buko).
In hot climates, soft drinks like fresh juices and coconut milk are popular. Soft drinks and iced teas are made from fruits, local herbs and ice.
Among the Filipino spirits, all varieties of the local Tanduay rum line, Emperador brandy with Spanish roots and San Miguel beer deserve the attention of tourists. Also widespread are wines made from palm juice and coconut milk, which to most Europeans resemble cider.
Must-haves to try in the Philippines
The general culture and traditions of the Asian region are reflected in the culinary arts. Similar dishes can be found in the cuisine of neighboring countries. But there are some that can only be tasted in the Philippines.
A dish of Chinese origin with a Spanish name literally translates as “warm rice”. This is a thick soup with a consistency close to that of porridge.
Rice porridge is cooked in chicken broth with the addition of pieces of poultry.
Fried onions, garlic and ginger make Arroz Caldo flavorful and fish sauce nutritious. The dish is seasoned with lime juice and served with a boiled egg. Arroz-kaldo is appropriate to cook in rainy weather: it warms and fills with strength.
Sizig is a simple and cheap dish that appeared in poor neighborhoods. Filipino roast was originally prepared from pork offal: cheeks, ears, liver. The addition of lemon juice, chili, and soy sauce balanced the greasy dish.
It is customary to serve it in a hot skillet with boiled rice. To make the sizig more noble and suitable for a restaurant, they began to prepare it from pork tenderloin and milk fish.
Sizzling Sisig is a roast pork offal.
Pansit Canyon is a Filipino (wheat) variation of Chinese noodles. There are at least 15 modifications of the dish with different content and composition.
Wheat, starch and rice noodles of varying thickness are used. Meat, fish, seafood, vegetables and even seaweed are added to the dish. Mandatory dressing is soy sauce and lime seasoning.
Sinigang na baboy
The traditional local shinigang soup has dozens of recipes. All of them are combined with a sour tamarind broth. The final name of the dish is influenced by the additive: meat, fish or vegetables. Sinigang-na-baboy – pork soup. A rich broth is prepared on meat bones, and various parts of the meat carcass are added to the soup.
Pansit palabok is a type of Filipino noodles. The basis of the dish is bigon – starch noodles. It is mixed with minced pork, small prawns and fish sauce, generously flavored with egg, green onions, orange zest and calamansi lime seasoning. This gives the dish a bright acid orange color and attracts the audience to it.
Pancit Palabok is a vibrant Filipino dish.
Kare kare is a thick meat stew with a spicy peanut sauce. In Pampanga, the dish is traditionally prepared from oxtails and other offal: kidneys, liver, cartilage and legs. Sometimes chicken or goat meat is added. In the provinces close to the sea, carre-carre is prepared from fish, shrimp, squid and mussels.
The spices give the dish the Asian character and flavor.
The stew is seasoned with bagoon shrimp paste, chili sauce and peanut butter. Taken together, all the spices and spices give a bright terracotta shade similar to turmeric. For this property, the dish, by analogy with Indian curry, got its name.
Ube Jam is a delicious dessert with a unique purple color. The main ingredient is a tuberous root vegetable ube with a sweetish taste, “purple yam”. Its color remains the same after boiling or other heat treatment.
To prepare the dessert, boiled yams are ground to a puree state, mixed with condensed milk and coconut milk. The resulting ube jam is added to other desserts or served as an independent dish. It is customary to prepare dessert for the Christmas table: purple brings good luck and prosperity.
To quench their thirst, Filipinos prepare a halo halo cocktail for themselves and tourists. In Tagalog, hahalo means to mix. It is a mixture of 10 or more ingredients. For a complex ice-cream cocktail, combine condensed milk, purple ube jam and fruit chunks.
Halo Halo is a cocktail of many ingredients.
Cassava pie is made from cassava. Flour from this unique root vegetable practically does not differ from wheat, but does not contain gluten, and in combination with sweet products it becomes an excellent base for a cake or pie.
To make dessert, cassava flour must be mixed with condensed milk, coconut milk, eggs and baked in the oven. The pie is often served with a sweet sauce made from coconut cream, condensed milk, and grated cheese.
It is the centerpiece of the Philippine Islands cuisine. Originally, the term “adobo” meant a method of cooking meat in a spicy vinegar marinade. Now the resulting dish is called the same. An additional prefix to the name explains what kind of meat or other product it is made from.
There are several main options:
For the classic marinade, mix vinegar, garlic, soy sauce, oil and black pepper. The marinated meat is fried until golden brown, then stewed until it becomes soft and tender on the inside.
Almost all Asian countries have their own variation of minced meat wrapped in dough: manti, kurze, dim sum, wontons. Sio Mai is a Filipino street food.
Small rice flour dumplings are steamed. For the filling, seafood is used, often minced shrimp. Sacks of unleavened dough are generously filled with filling and boiled right in front of customers.
Lumpia – an appetizer in the form of rolls with fillings. Tourists call the dish the “Filipino Spring Roll.” Here it is distributed in the same way as shawarma in the Russian markets. The most common fillings are meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, rice and beans.
There are 3 main types of lumpia:
- sariva – steamed rice roll with any filling;
- khubad – filling in the form of a roll without dough outside;
- preto – rolls, fried until crispy, golden brown.
Sinigang is a sour Filipino soup. The basis for this extraordinary dish is a spicy broth, which is given a pronounced sourness by tamarind. Vegetables are added to the broth for richness: onions, tomatoes, okra, green beans and kangkong cabbage. Traditionally, the soup is prepared with dry shrimp. But there is also serving with meat.
Tinola is a savory chicken soup that is an appetizer rather than a complete first course. The base is a spicy ginger broth with chili leaves and green papaya wedges. Chicken pieces are fried with garlic and shallots, added to the broth and seasoned with fish sauce. Chicken can be replaced with fish, and the soup will sparkle with new colors.
Pinakbet is a tender stew that harmoniously combines meat and fish. Sufficiently fatty meat, such as brisket, is used for the dish. It is pre-prepared: boiled in water with spices, then fried in hot oil until crispy. Such fried meat is called “bagnet”.
After that, a spicy shrimp sauce is prepared: it is fried with garlic, tomatoes, ginger, and onions. Then add vegetables: pumpkin, green beans, okra, eggplant. Pieces of meat, stewed with vegetables in a fragrant shrimp sauce, are laid on top of boiled rice when serving.
After a vacation in an exotic country, tourists bring new recipes with them and want to cook their favorite dishes at home. The main difficulty is finding the right products. The next Filipino dish is easy to prepare.
Chicken adobo with rice
Adobo is a way to preserve the product for a long time without refrigeration and freezing. This way you can cook meat, fish and seafood.
To prepare 4 servings, you will need:
- chicken thighs, legs or chicken legs – 700 g;
- water – 250 g;
- soy sauce – 170 g;
- white wine vinegar – 80 g;
- garlic – 5 cloves;
- bay leaf – 8 pcs.
Prepare a large, deep skillet and start cooking:
- Marinate the chicken in soy sauce and leave for 1-2 hours.
- Make a marinade by mixing water with crushed garlic and bay leaves.
- Fry the chicken pieces in a hot skillet until golden brown.
- Pour the prepared marinade into it and simmer the meat with it for 30-40 minutes.
- Then pour the vinegar over the chicken and cook for another 10 minutes.
Ready-made meat can be served with crumbly boiled rice and your favorite sauce.
Even if you are an experienced traveler and have visited many countries, the culinary traditions of the Philippines will surprise you.
Some interesting facts:
- It is customary to use purple in dishes and utensils – a symbol of prosperity and well-being.
- There is a tradition of using banana leaves instead of crockery.
- In the Philippines, they eat the meat of oxen and dogs.
- The most controversial dish is balut. It is an egg with a half-formed embryo.
This information will help you better understand the country and avoid embarrassing situations.