Tag Archive: Filipino Cuisine

Other Asian countries have their sour broth equivalents, but our very own “sinigang” stands on its own in all its “Filipino-ness”. Those who’ve left the country to work abroad invariably served their own versions of sinigang using ingredients from their new place of residence and that old reliable sachet of sinigang sour broth powder. Yes, we all travel with our sinigang, don’t we? But nothing beats home-cooked sinigang using fresh ingredients from home. And true, making sour broth (tamarind or kamias or miso or guava) from scratch never fails to win applause. So….. Have your guests savor a home-cooked sinigang! It should rank up there along with “adobo” in must-try dishes.





Prawns cooked in sour broth.





Adobo Republic. Need I say more? Every Filipino meat lover digs his adobo — in any “version”. But wait, adobo need not be limited to pork or chicken. There’s my favorite adobong pusit! Have your guest try that. A legacy from Spain? Maybe. But we have “Filipinized” it and took “en su tinta” real seriously. Squid cooked in its ink in all that vinegary goodness!




Chipirones En Su Tinta ? The local version is called Adobong Pusit.




Of course, we want to introduce our “bagoong” (shrimp paste) to our guests. What better way than to pair it with the coveted “Kare Kare”? The ground rice and peanuts making up the sauce renders a very Oriental flavor. Our Malay ancestry reveals itself in this dish, made more special by the aromatic bagoong. Green mangoes too, please. And while others may claim Filipinos rarely serve salads, try our “Lato” (seagrapes) and our “pako” (fiddlehead fern) salads. Drop some slices of salted duck eggs, onions and tomatoes, if you like. Pops in your mouth. Yum!




Seagrapes. Called “lato” is good with slices of tomatoes, radish and onions.


Pako Salad. Fiddlehead Fern Salad.



You can’t go wrong with seafoods too — prawn, lobster, crab, oyster, mussel, scallop and fish. Steamed, grilled or fried. Keep it simple. And fresh!

Balikbayans (literally “balik” means return; “bayan” means country) and foreign guests should share the same list. After all, who better to promote the Philippines abroad other than our very own “kababayans” (fellow countrymen). The balikbayans or returning/holidaying countrymen have conjured up images of local foods they must try/taste long before their arrival. You see, food images can either excite you or leave you in despair.




Rice Cakes with Dessicated Coconut, locally called “bibingka”.


Puto Bumbong.



I have several circles of friends — from childhood, school, office as well as those I’ve met and kept in my travels. Invariably, balikbayans hanker for the same food list. Deprive them and they’d have a bad holiday. As for the foreign guests, why force them to eat “balut” (duck embryo) when many Filipinos feel grossed out with such? There are many Pinoy dishes without the necessary Fear Factor-ish controversy. So, indulge them with:


#1: Bibingka and Puto Bumbong


I always bring my guests to Via Mare for their bibingka and puto bumbong fix. We are rice eaters like many others in Asia. So it comes as no surprise to find the equivalent of suman, puto and kutsinta in other parts of Asia. But i found none similar to our bibingka and puto bumbong. If there are, I have not seen nor tried them. So, how about introducing these rice-based eats to our guests?



Puto, Kutsinta and Suman


Mangoes — green and ripe, Chico, Durian, and other local fruits.



#2 Local Fruits: Manila Mangoes, Durian, Marang, Chico, Dalandan, Balimbing, Coconuts


Remember how we drool just thinking of cherries, persimmons, dragon fruits, naranjas, grapes, etc? Carnivores and vegans alike would most certainly be interested in our local fruits. No “eww factor” and it won’t cost you big time! And how about sweetened and candied fruits? I can think of our dried mangoes, condol and pineapples.




Halo Halo from Razon’s.



#3 Halo Halo


Halo Halo is not exclusive to the Philippines. Fruits with ice shavings can likewise be found in Japan, Vietnam, and elsewhere. But ours is unique because of its toppings.


Halo-Halo combines many of our sweetened fruits along with the very local yam (Ube) and Leche flan. Now, wouldn’t these choices be lots better than the “balut”? (By the way, they also have “balut” in Cambodia but locals there would not have it at the top of the list of must-try dishes.) Halo Halo sells for as low as 20 pesos (San Andres Market), maybe lower in the provinces. A humongous serving can be had in Manila Peninsula, but it will cost you. Me? I’m quite happy with Digman’s halo halo or the finer ice shavings and simpler (aka fewer but yummy ingredients) halo halo from Razon’s. Many local eateries also offer this as “merienda” (snacks) or as dessert.




Pancit Luglog



#4 Pancit Luglog or Pancit Palabok


Noodles. Italian pasta, Chinese Pancit, Korean Chap Chae, Japanese soba. All noodles.


What have we got that’s different from the rest? Palabok or Luglug, or even Pancit Malabon. The sauce base is different. Color is different. Toppings are different, especially if you load up with crushed chicharon. And don’t you just love how the sliced, boiled eggs sitting side by side with the squids, oysters and squid rings take center stage?

[The list continues….. Watch this page]



Lechon or Roasted Pig


The celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain once visited the Philippines and tried our lechon. He then declared it is the best he has ever tried in all his travels.


This roasted pig adorns almost every buffet table as families and friends celebrate occasions from birthdays to anniversaries to graduations to weddings to baptisms to fiestas.   It is the equivalent of a royalty dish.   It is our Filipino equivalent to the American turkey,  or to the roast beef.    When lechon adorns a buffet table,  every Filipino starts thinking of having a feast.   And almost always,  the roasted and crunchy skin is the first to go.   Some stuff the roasted pig with various herbs and serve lechon without any dips, like the lechon from the Visayas, a group of islands south of Manila.  Others serve lechon with a dip of liver sauce (some sweet, some a little spicy),  or with a vinegar and soy sauce dip. We have heard of many tales of fatal heart attacks in many parties where the victims indulged of this cholesterol load.  You may say you can savor lechon and enjoy it at your own risk.   The health hazards are however set aside in favor of this savory meal.


Lechon Kawali or Wok-Fried Pork Chunks


Many restaurants serving Filipino dishes include lechon in its menu, but if you want to see the whole pig chopped up into half kilo or one kilo servings,  you may want to try going to Baclaran Church in Pasay-Paranaque along Roxas Boulevard (lining Manila Bay), or just try your luck in supermarkets with food stalls (like in SM Supermarket, Cash and Carry Supermarket) where lechon is available for take out .


Lumpiang Sariwa (Fresh Vegetable Roll)

Vegetable Dishes


To “ease” the guilt of that cholesterol load, you may order any of these vegetable dishes :




Pinakbet or Pakbet this came from Northern Philippines but has somehow become a mainstay vegetable dish in many Filipino homes.   Vegetables include ampalaya (bitter gourd), squash, stringbeans, eggplant, and okra.   Some cook it a tad dry, others soupy, flavored with the very Filipino bagoong or shrimp paste. If you are a vegetarian, be sure to tell the waiter to have it cooked WITHOUT pork or any meat slices.


Bicol Express


Laing and Bicol Express :  From Bicol Region some 8 hours drive south of Manila,  this spicy dish is cooked in coconut milk.   Taro leaves are used for the laing and again, some cook it a bit dry or saucy.  Either way,  it is spiced up enough to make it a dish hailing from Bicol, which is famous for its peppery dishes.


Buko Chopsuey


Chopsuey :  If you are familiar with Chinese cuisine,  this is the same chopsuey which has become another Filipino favorite. In Bicol, there is a variation of the dish:  Buko Chopsuey.

Kakanin:  Bibingka, Puto Bumbong at Iba Pa



I live near the area of Greenbelt Makati where many trendy and gourmet restaurants can be found.   Italian, Greek,  Spanish,  American,   Chinese, Thai, Indian……….take your pick.   Among the Filipino restaurants ,  you can try the very established, not that expensive “Via Mare” .  Here, one finds the very Filipino rice cake called bibingka served either with our local buffalo cheese or salted egg,  fried noodles served with eggs, shrimps, squid, pork rinds called pancit luglug and again, the guinomis or halo halo.  Our local bread called pandesal is also available here, served with kesong puti which is the equivalent of the Italian mozzarrela, but way cheaper!   There are other rice cakes and desserts like puto bumbong (colored purple!) and palitaw which are all priced so reasonably I have to insist you try them all!  Most rice cakes are served with shredded coconut meat.


Puto Bumbong



Happy eating, everyone!


Have more cravings? More photos can be found in my TravelBlog site