Filipino cuisine is so diverse. As the Philippines consists of seven thousand islands and more, and depending on the region you grew up with, each have their own version of Filipino dishes. I grew up in the main island of Luzon, at the southern part of it. My mom, who usually cooks our food grew up in the Bicol region where most of their dishes are coconut cream based and spicy. My dad, who also cooks from time to time, grew up eating fish. You now have an idea of what I ate growing up.
Filipino dishes have been receiving some recognition in the world now. A lot of it comes from the Filipino immigrants who shared the Filipino cuisine to their community, and a lot of it have been fully embraced and appreciated. Some Filipino dishes have been in the top 10 dishes to try in the whole world. As someone who is interested to get to know Filipino cuisine, Here are some Filipino dishes that are very tasty and easy to recreate at home if you are interested to take a peak into our cuisine.
This is a dish we inherited from the Spanish occupation. They imparted the Adobar technique and we Filipinos, turned it around and have been one of the pillars of Filipino cuisine.
There are a lot of ways to cook Adobo, again depending on what you prefer and depending on the region. It is simple to make. You need your meat of choice marinated in soy sauce, vinegar, black peppercorns, garlic and bay leaves. Marinate the meat at a minimum of 30 minutes before cooking (overnight is still the best for the flavours to get to know each other). To cook it, you let everything simmer until your meat is tender or the marinade completely evaporated and the fats/oils have rendered out, all depending to your liking.
This Hot Sour Stew/Soup dish is one of my all-time favorite dish. I have introduced this to my son, and he loved it as well. Sinigang is a Sour soup traditionally made with tamarind that gives the sour taste. When I make Sinigang, I keep it simple and I use a packet flavoring to save some time.
Sinigang is easy to make. The basic process in any Filipino cuisine is to stir fry the aromatics first, typically garlic and onion. You put in a protein source of your choice, the most common ones are pork, shrimp and salmon belly. Then you add water to make it a soup and let it simmer until the meat is cooked. You also add vegetables that you like while it simmers. Traditionally, these vegetables are spinach, string beans and radish, but you can experiment with others like okra, or root crop like yam/cassava, etc.. Don’t forget to add the tamarind and tomatoes for the tart and sour component. To taste, you can ad salt or fish sauce.
Who will forget everyone’s favorite (even the Western palate) Filipino dish, the ever famous Lumpia. It is another dish that have been highly influenced by the countries that colonized us (directly or indirectly).
It is somewhat similar to the Egg Spring Rolls, which every other Asian country has their own take. Filipino Lumpia have been a staple at parties, any type of parties at that matter. It is simply fried spring rolls which contains ground meat, carrots, onions, salt, pepper and egg wrapped in my a lumpia wrapper. There are also different variations of lumpia, but the basic one is the fried spring rolls. What makes lumpia stand out is the dipping sauce. Some prefer the sweet chili sauce while most like the spiced vinegar dip.
Same as Lumpia, this noodle dish is quite similar to Chow Mien/Lo Mien. You can make it using different types of noodles: egg noodles, glass noodles or a mix of both. Personally I liked the egg noodle type. There are also different ways how to cook pancit as well, based on your region of course.
Pancit consists of noodles, meat and an array of vegetables. The variation of pancit in the Philippines are endless but all of them are delicious. Some comes with soup (sotanghon), some in a banana leaf (Habhab) and some with a wierd yellow sauce that reeks a fishy smell (Palabok, pictured above).
5. Silog Meals
I do think that the Silog Meals are comfort food for Filipinos. There may be a lot of breakfast options in the Philippines, but the Silog Meals are the most common dish Filipinos eat for breakfast.
Silog basically means “SInangag” or simply garlic fried rice and “itLOG” which is just fried egg. The combination of silog meals are endless. Any protein of your choice can be made into a silog meal. Typical ones would be Tocino (TOCILOG), Longanissa (LONGSIOG), Bangus (BANGSILOG), Corned beef, spam, leftovers, etc.. A silog meal will not be complete without a dipping sauce, and Filipinos love a spiced vinegar dip with a garnish of garlic and shallots. Just writing about it literally makes my mouth drool.
I understand that most Western people does not appreciate the true Filipino cuisine (aka the Greasier and spicy ones), but a lot of immigrants with Filipino blood have tried recreating these comfort dishes in a way that their international community can appreciate. I keep cooking and serving Filipino dishes, even though I’m not a confident cook myself. I would like my son to be exposed to these things I enjoyed back home that reminded me of my childhood. I want him to have a glimpse of our Filipino heritage, even a watered down version. Culture awareness is a first step towards keeping our heritage alive, so I may fail at imparting the Filipino language to my son, at least I can expose him to the food culture I grew up on.
Have you tried recreating any of these dishes?
Let me know which one is your favorite in the comments below!