Lutong Pinoy Recipes

The Filipinos have identified themselves as a race with rich culture. This culture may have been influenced by many countries that have walked on their lands, but nonetheless, it is a culture that has evolved.

Filipinos can relate to the slogan of the Marines that goes “Improvise, Adapt and Overcome”. Their capability to adapt and overcome has been proven through history and even in modern times, with the continuous influx of influences from different countries, the essence of Filipino culture remains, even in a Pinoy recipe.

Cuisine is an integral part of a country’s culture and especially with Filipinos; it is a source of pride. Filipinos love food and their love for food is not limited to local delicacies. Their openness and curiosity for other country’s dishes and cultures is apparent in how welcoming they are to tourists.

A lot of international foods have been brought to the Philippines through colonization or trade and a lot of these dishes have not gone by unnoticed by Filipinos. They have made “Filipino-styles” to international dishes to adapt its taste to the local palate. This acceptance, in its own way, is educational to Filipinos who has a thirst for discovering different types of delicacies. There is also a saying by an English writer, Charles Colton that states, “Imitation is the highest form of flattery”. In this sense, making international dishes “Filipino-style” is a huge compliment for the dish’s origin countries for making such a delectable dish.

European Cuisine

A lot of Filipinos may mistake this as an American influence, but Spaghetti is one dish that has been hugely “Filipinized”. Spaghetti is originally from Italy. The recipe for this contains a tomato based sauce mixed with herbs, spices and, mostly fresh ingredients. It is just a little bit sweet, savory and has a bit of a sour taste to it. Come the “Filipino-style” spaghetti, it is made very sweet with sliced hot dogs and cheese toppings. It has become a popular dish among Filipino children and is always available during birthday parties. To whoever has had a taste of both dishes, they might even think that the Filipino version is a different dish altogether.

Leche Flan, a favorite Filipino dessert, is also actually an international dish that has been “Filipinized”. It has a lot of variety worldwide but the most famous comparison to it is “Crème brulee from France or Catalonia. It has the same simple way of cooking and basic ingredients such as cream, vanilla, salt, eggs and sugar. The difference with this is that Filipino “Leche Flan” substitutes the cream with evaporated milk. Vanilla extract is used, and sugar is caramelized to make a syrup consistency at the bottom of the pan where the mixture of evaporated milk, eggs and vanilla extrct are poured together. It is then steamed to make a custard-like consistency.

American Cuisine

Apart from adapting the fast food culture of the American, Filipinos have also tweaked American dishes to suit the local taste. Fried Chicken is the most beloved adaptation. Filipino fast food restaurants boast their own versions of tasty and well-made fried chickens. In America, fried chicken is usually battered with buttermilk or coated heavily to get the crisps taste. The “Filipino-style” fried chicken doesn’t really differ a huge deal from the American version, but in includes more spices and is almost always served with dipping sauce like ketchup or gravy. At times, gravy is the identifying difference that makes the dish more “Filipino-style”.

Pies are another dish that Filipinos grew to love. It was actually brought in by Filipinos that have been abroad and had a taste of the famous American apple pie. They wanted to share this dish to the local Filipinos; however, could not make it as apples were scant in the Philippines. Using the resources more available to the country, Buko pie, was born. It is a Filipino-style coconut pie stuffed with tender and fresh young coconut meat combined with a creamy filling and enclosed in a flaky pie crust. It grew popularity in the area of Laguna in the Philippines. It has become a famous “pasalubong” or gift to bring back to the family.

Beef steak is another dish that Filipinos grew a liking to. It is called “Bistek” in the Philippines, which was also adopted by the Spanish. Compared to the American beef steak which includes a flat cut of beef, the Filipino “Bistek” has thin slices of beef sautéed with bigger slices of onions. It is stewed in soy sauce and lemon mixture. Rather than a juicy slice of dry meat, the Filipino “Bistek’ is made with sauce and is usually paired with rice.

Asian Cuisine

Lumpia is the “Filipino-style” spring rolls. It originated from China and other Asian countries and has made an appearance in Filipino culture through the early traders. The difference of Filipino-style spring rolls is that all ingredients are minced together even the vegetables. It is filled with a meatloaf like consistency. In other Asian countries, minced meat and vegetables are usually stuffed in dumplings rather than fried rolls. “Lumpia” is also commonly paired with a sweet chili sauce or ketchup.

Pancit is also something that is now considered very Filipino, but its origin, is obviously not from the Philippines. Noodles in other Asian countries tend to have a lighter taste compared to that in the Philippines which is usually saltier. Although ingredients are similar, the Filipino-style pancit incorporates more meat and salty seasonings. The soy sauce used in other Asian countries has a taste that is distinctively different than the one that is used in the Philippines.

Filipino Curry brings out a very different version of the dish compared to its original recipe from India. It utilizes local ingredients like “gata” or coconut milk for its base. It does not use certain spices that can be found in a real Indian curry, like turmeric powder or masala. Because of this, Filipino curry tends to be creamier rather than savory and it is also a less spicy version of the dish.