The Philippine Island is known by tourists for its beaches and spectacular views from the mountains but the most talked about my country is our Filipino cuisine or what we call it in our native tongue as ‘Pagkaing Pinoy’ or ‘Lutuing Pilipino’. Although in terms of our food presentations it may not be as pretty and exciting to look at like those of Japanese, Italian and or Korean food, but we can definitely compete with its flavor. Our Top 10 foods in the Philippines is so tasty and so delicious, however not always healthy as they say, that tourists are so eager and excited to try and keep on coming back.
We Filipinos love our food not only because of the food itself on how it was prepared but also on how we enjoy eating it either by ourselves or with the company of others. In the Philippines, not only does food brings our entire family together and keeps the bond within, it also brings back and retains Filipino traditions.
Just recently, a friend of mine visited me from the USA and stayed with me for almost a week. Of course as a host, I make sure that what I present to her on our food table which I’m very proud of is our Filipino dish since she is in the Philippines. Well, on that span of 1 week that I let her try all sorts of Filipino Cuisine she was so overwhelmed as how delicious our food was. The taste, how it was prepared and in how we eat it. Rice is always on our food table, as we are fond of saying “Rice is life”. As with most Asian Countries, Rice is always a part of our everyday dining experience either served together with dishes such as meat, vegetables and fish.
We have a variety of Top 10 foods in the Philippines that ranges from simple dish that can be served daily such as salted fried fish to chicken that are cooked in many ways i.e. fried or curried to a more complex foods that are served and mostly created for gatherings. Since I am a natural-born Filipino, I have listed for your reference the top 10 delicious foods you must try in the Philippines in no particular order. This includes: Adobo, Kaldereta, Pochero, Lechon, Dinuguan, Kare-Kare, Penakbet, Lumpia, Pancit Guisado, and Sisig.
TOP 10 DELICIOUS FOODS YOU MUST TRY IN THE PHILIPPINES
1. ADOBO: National Dish of Filipinos
Adobo, a famous dish that is originally made in the Philippines that can either be cooked with Chicken or Pork. As for me, I personally love Chicken Adobo since Chicken is one of my favorites but both Chicken and Pork Adobo are so delicious.
Adobo in Spanish simply means “marinade”. How to prepare and cook Adobo is pretty simple. The meat is marinated using a mixture of vinegar and soya sauce. Another way is a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, black pepper and bay leaves. The mixture of Adoba depends on how you want it to taste. But the simple mixture of vinegar and soy sauce is more than enough. To add a little spice to taste, you can also add chili pepper on the marinade mixture.
Traditionally, in the past Adobo is cooked by using clay pots however today is becomes a practice to cook it in a metal pot.
2. KALDERETA: Goat Meat Stewed in Tomato Sauce
There are also other variations aside from using goat meat to make kaldereta, you can also make beef, chicken or pork Kaldereta but the most common Kaldereta is made from goat meat. The meat are stewed in tomato sauce along with a mixture of vegetables that includes olives, bell peppers, hot peppers, carrots , tomatoes and of course its secret ingredient is to use liver paste to make it more rich and tasty.
Since goat meat usually takes a while for it to be tender, personally I would rather cook Kaldereta with other variations, especially if I’m in a hurry and guests are waiting. The recipe is so simple and easy to follow.
3. POCHERO OR PUCHERO
A Filipino Dish inspired by the Spaniards, comes from the Spanish word “Puchero” which means Stewpot. A famous dish made from a mixture of beef shanks, corn, onions, pechay (cabbage), bananas and potatoes.
There are two variations on how to make Pochero, either by making a Pork Pochero or Chicken Pochero. I usually cook pochero for my family during the rainy season as sipping warm soup that comes with it can be satisfying and can provide warmth as well. Although serving pochero any time of the day whenever it suits you best can still give the same taste.
4. LECHON BABOY: Roasted Suckling Pig
Inspired by the Spaniards when we were colonized for almost 333 long years, Lechon has become one of the national dishes of the Philippines.
In the Philippines, our fiesta which means feast or even other occasion would not be complete without Lechon. Most of the time, Filipinos served 2 or more Lechon for a certain celebration. The visitors or fiesta goers tend to eat the entire lechon but most of the time it’s the tasty and crunchy skin is what they’re after. Lechon is simply the best and a delicious food in the Philippines.
Most of the time, the whole young pig is stuffed with garlic, bay leaves and roasted over a pile of charcoal for hours. The roasting time usually depends on the size and age of the young pig. The larger and older, the longer the roasting time.
Cebu City is one of the most famous places in the Philippines known for Lechon. Although you don’t need to go to a fiesta to be able to eat lechon as nowadays there are a lot of business establishments that cooks Lechon for a particular day and sells it by kilograms. Therefore, access to Lechon is now easier. The Recipe for Lechon requires a lot of time, therefore preparations should be made ahead of time.
5. DINUGUAN: Blood Stew
Blood Stew or what we call Dinuguan is a stew made from blood’s pig. Usually, lechon and Dinuguan often goes together as when one is making Lechon the blood from the pig is made into Dinuguan. So, whenever there is Lechon there is also Dinuguan.
It may sound gross, as drinking pigs blood but I tell you this is a savory dish and delicious foods in Philippines that you must try. Aside from blood stew, other parts from the pork are also added such as intestines and ears together with garlic, chili and vinegar. When cooked properly, you can’t even smell or taste the blood but a whole new taste. The recipe in cooking pork Dinuguan is pretty simple with cookings instructions that are easy to follow.
6. KARE-KARE: OXTAIL STEW
A thick Filipino stew with the made from using peanut sauce and Oxtail, tail of cattle. When I went to Manila, it is where I’ve most delicious Kare-Kare I’ve tasted in my entire life. That’s when I knew that it is a well-known stew that generally originated from Pampanga, northern of Manila but since the recipe is so simple, it is also served all throughout the entire Philippine Island.
At times, the recipe for making Kare-Kare is Oxtail, however there are other instances wherein both the Oxtripe (lining of the stomach of OX) and Oxtail are used.The traditional recipe of Kare-Kare will not be complete if there is no Bagoong or Shrimp paste paste as a side dish. For me, I would simply add a dab of shrimp paste for every bite of this delicious foods in the Philippines
7. PINAKBET or PAKBET
A Filipino vegetable dish that simply uses vegetables and sort of seasonings to make it taste delicious and mouth watering. Lechon Kawali or Crispy Fried Pork Belly is added to the mixture of vegetables. The vegetables that are mostly used are Talong (Eggplant), Ampalaya (Bitter Melon), Sitaw (String Bean), Kamatis (Tomato) and Squash and okra.
Our mom used to make Pinakbet whenever she has the time and when she does there’s no stopping me from heading over to the dining table to eat a large portion of Pinakbet. Although not all are in favor of Bitter melon, but not me. Even with the bitter taste of Ampalaya with the addition of its secret and important recipe for Pinakbet which is the Bagoong, you definitely savor each and every bite of Pinakbet.
8. LUMPIA: CRISPY FILIPINO ROLLS
A Spring Roll originated from China. Filipino style lumpia is made from using either ground pork or beef, chopped vegetables and or seafood mixture. The mixture is then wrapped into c Chinese style rolls using a thin crepe skin what we call “Lumpia Wrapper”.
Making Lumpia is my favorite thing to do with my mom and elder sister. We would sit together and wrapping it to make a roll. It is actually one of our bonding moments. Although wrapping the mixture with a lumpia wrapper can be quite difficult, but with more practice you’ll be able to get it in no time.
Lumpia can be served either fried or fresh (what we call “Fresh Lumpia”. The recipe on how to cook lumpia is somehow the same but with a slight difference on how it is being served i.e Fresh or Fried.
9. PANCIT BIHON GUISADO
One of the famous Filipino dishes and one of my favorite dish when it comes to birthday parties and gatherings in the Philippines. Every time me and my siblings are celebrating our birthdays, my mom would usually cook Pancit Bihon Guisado since we were accustomed to the notion that Noodles are a symbol for long life, thus eating Pancit Guisado during birthday can somehow gives you a long life.
Nowadays, almost all of the restaurants are offering Pancit Guisado. It comes with three variations such as Pancit Sotanghon, Pancit Canton and Pancit Bam-i. Pancit Bihon/Sotanghon is a stir-fry noodle made with thin vermicelli noodles, Pancit Canton on the other hand uses Thick noodles, and Pancit Bam-i is typically a combination of both pancit canton and pancit sotanghon.
Making Pancit Bihon Guisado is pretty simple and easy. The broth from vegetables and meat along with the sauteed noodles with an addition of soy sauce and fish added are mixed together. Not to mention squeezing Kalamansi (Citrus Fruit) all over the dish before eating it. Thus, Pancit Bihon Guisado is on the Top 10 foods in the Philippines.
10. SIZZLING PORK SISIG: Famous Pulutan (Appetizer)
This is perhaps one of the most famous dishes when it comes to partying in the bar with friends. When I am on a drinking spree with my friends, we always make sure to order Pork Sisig since this dish is known to be called “Pulutan”. Pulutan is referred to as an appetizer. It is usually served sizzling hot on an iron plate with a dice of Kalamansi (Citrus Fruit) and raw egg is being added mixing it while it is still sizzling. How to make it is pretty simple and easy to follow cooking instructions.
Pork Sisig is made from a combination of pig’s ears, face and often with chicken liver. These mixtures are chopped and added to the seasonings.
HERE ARE SOME FAQs:
1. What should I do with the leftovers?
Answer: Aside from Dinuguan, the rest can be placed in the freezer for less than a week. You can always reheat it every time you want to eat it again. Since Dinuguan uses Pig’s blood, it doesn’t last long. In fact, if it isn’t consumed for the day i suggest you can discard them as they easily gets spoiled especially those that weren’t properly cooked.
2. How will I know if the water is already boiling?
Answer: you can easily tell when the water is already boiling when you see large bubbles in the water. When smaller bubbles are seen, the water is just simmering and not boiling.
3. How will I know if the cooking oil in the cooking pan is heating?
Answer: a secret way to know this is to put a little water in the cooking pot with cooking oil. It will start to sizzle, when sizzle is gone Cooking oil is already heat up and ready for cooking.
4. How can I make the food to be healthy?
Answer: since most of the mentioned Top 10 foods in the Philippines are not healthy enough, there are a lot of substitutes for some of the ingredients to make it a little bit healthier or perhaps you can change the ratio of each ingredient. If in any case there is no other way to make it healthier, as the saying goes “Too much of anything is bad”. Make sure to eat a little of foods that you think is unhealthy or not ideal for your health.
5. Will I be able to make this myself?
Answer: Yes you can. The recipe for each of the Top 10 foods in the Philippines are so easy and simple. Just make sure to follow the instructions and you’re good to go.