Every person has their favorite kind of food and if you are one of the lucky ones that have explored plenty of cuisines around the world, it becomes harder to pinpoint particular dishes that you love the most. I can say with certainty, however, that a particular Asian group is always biased when they choose a dish they love. This particular group is Filipinos. There are a lot of Filipinos around the world. In Asia, they are known for their eccentric dishes. Eccentric is the word used because, to those who are familiar with their dishes, we know that they have a variety of food that comes off as a bit strange to other Asians.
Filipino dishes are a mixture of local and foreign influences. Their dishes are essentially from the indigenous way of cooking but, due to colonization, have been integrated with the ingredients and styles from other countries like Spain, Japan, and America. Some may call it a fusion dish, and mostly, that is true, however, like any other country that has had their cuisines “influenced”, it does not mean it’s not “authentically Filipino”. The Philippines is lucky to be situated in a location that has been good for trade in the early times, even Arab and Malays have had some sort of influence in Filipino dishes. This chain of impact has built a strong foundation on how Filipino dishes are made. It has formed the inspiration needed to make the most classic Filipino dishes that Filipinos everywhere loves now.
Probably the most famous Filipino dish, “Adobo” is a meat dish marinated and simmered in soy sauce and vinegar. It is usually served with pork or chicken but has a few variations like “Adobong sitaw” or marinated green beans, and “adobong pusit” or marinated squid. Most, if not all, Filipinos adore this dish because of its delicious sauce and tender meat. A classic Filipino dish, it’s a staple to know the recipe for this dish if you live in a Filipino household.
Another favorite of Filipinos is a soup dish called “Sinigang”. It is savory and sour and its taste mainly comes from tamarind and fish sauce. This dish is great to pair with other dry Filipino dishes like grilled fishes. On rainy seasons in the Philippines, it is the perfect dish to warm you up. A soothing taste with a kick that feels like home. Another guilty-pleasure dish loved by Filipinos is “lechon”. A suckling pig roasted in a spit over an open-flamed charcoal. Truly mouth-watering, Filipinos love this dish because of its crispy skin and juicy meat. Not to mention it reminds them of a celebration.
This next dish, albeit a bit controversial because of its ingredients, remains one of the most classic and loved Filipino dishes. “Kare-Kare” is a stew dish with a thick, wait for it, peanut sauce! Although this may not be for everyone’s taste but for the Filipino taste bud, it is definitely reminiscent of the good old “karinderya” (or small food stall with seats) vibes. It is cooked with pork or beef. At times it can be served with offal and tripe as well. A perfect condiment to compliment this dish is called “bagoong”. It is fermented fish or krill with salt. The dull taste of peanut sauce is enhanced with the salty flavor of the “bagoong”.
“Lumpia” or fried egg rolls is another dish usually prepared during parties or when there are gatherings. It is derived from Chinese cuisines. The stuffing is usually made of ground pork but there is a lot of variation. It is an appetizer that is easy to eat and can be complemented with sauces depending on what kind of stuffing is in the lumpia. There’s another type of lumpia called “lumpiang sariwa”. This lumpia is not fried and usually composed of vegetable stuffings. It is a fresh lumpia with the unfried wrapper and is usually topped with a sweet sauce and crushed peanut.
Another appetizer that Filipinos love is called “Chicharon”. It is deep fried pork belly or pork rinds and can also be called “pork cracklings”. It has an extra crunchy texture which is fun and easy to eat. Although this dish is usually seen as unhealthy, there are worse ingredients that could risk the health more such as sugar. A proportion of fat contents in chicharon is actually mono-unsaturated fat, which is good fat that is also found in ingredients like avocado and olive oil. Moderation is key, and some people consume chicharon with vinegar as well, which is also a healthy condiment.
As far as viands and appetizers go for Filipino dishes, it is evident that Filipinos like food that is savory to the taste. On a different note, Filipinos also like sweet foods a lot. A famous Filipino dessert loved by many Filipinos is called “Halo-halo”. It is made of crushed ice mixed with evaporated milk and topped with several ingredients like ice cream, fruit slices, pinipig rice, ube, coconut jello, sago pearls, gulaman and many more. Eating this dish is really popular for a tropical country such as the Philippines.
Last but not least, a personal favorite and another staple dessert of Filipinos are called “Leche Flan”. “Leche” in Spanish directly translates to “milk”. This dish is a sweet custard made of eggs, milk, and topped with caramel sauce. This dessert can be added to “Halo-halo”. This is another dish that originated from Spanish influence. It is actually also known in France as Crème caramel.
There are plenty more other unique Filipino dishes that are noteworthy for their taste. A few of them are specialty dishes in specific regions in the Philippines. The ones mentioned are the classic Filipino dishes that are almost always available in every Filipino household and are common viands found in typical Filipino restaurants. They are the dishes very much loved and are very familiar to Filipinos. These are the dishes that are always present at birthday parties and family gatherings. These are those Filipino dishes that are craved and longed for by OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) away from their home.