Filipino food is never complicated. If I will describe it in three adjectives, I shall use the words hearty, filling, flavourful.
Growing up eating these dishes, it is always a delight to know that people get curious about the food I have loved all these years. If you have one Filipino food to cook and prepare for a party or just for yourself I’m definite that it will be on this list.
Best 10 Filipino food to try in the Philippines.
All Filipino cookbooks and cooking blogs will have adobo on their menus that it might as well pass as the national food of the Philippines. In fact, if you are invited to a Filipino dinner there is a high chance that the Filipino food on spotlight is adobo.
This dish is often cooked by marinating your choice meat into a concoction involving vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, onion, pepper and dried laurel leaves. Adobo is well-loved in the Philippines that we have several versions for it. Here are some of them:
- Adobong baboy – the traditional adobo dish using pork meat
- Adobong manok – the traditional adobo dish using chicken meat
- Adobong puti – using salt or fish sauce instead of soy sauce to achieve a “white” sauce color, which is puti in the Filipino language
- Adobo sa gata – the incorporation of coconut milk into the traditional adobo dish
- Adobo flakes – cooking the traditional dish, pulling the meat into flakes and then frying them until crisp
Longganisa is a good indication of how beautifully diverse Philippine cuisine is. It is our version of a meat sausage or chorizo, made personal and delectable by every province’s well-loved recipe. Longganisa is a typical Filipino breakfast often paired with steaming garlic rice and a perfect sunny side up egg.
Longganisa plays a big role in the Filipino cuisine so much so that there is even a Longganisa Festival held in Vigan, Ilocos Sur to showcase their unique take on the regular Filipino sausage.
Some of the most celebrated longganisa varieties are:
- Basic longganisa – ground meat seasoned and wrapped in pig intestine
- Longganisang Lucban – full of garlic and seasoned with oregano
- Batutay – beef longganisa originating from Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija
- Longganisa hamonado – sweet-style longganisa
- Vigan longganisa – made special and distinct by the use of sukang Iloco (local vinegar) and local garlic
Come to a Filipino grocery and chances are you’ll find a pack of ready-cut vegetable medley particularly labelled “for Sinigang.” This Sinigang pack basically contains tamarind flavouring, string beans, okra, green chilli, tomatoes, radish and water spinach. All you have to do is to pick a meat or seafood of your choice and you are ready to go.
Sinigang is one of the best Filipino food you can recreate at your own home. For starters, there are several stocks that come in powder form in order to get the right amount of sourness in your soup base. It’s the Filipino food to cook when you are in a hurry to have something hearty and filling.
No one is stopping you from creating the dish from scratch, though, and the sources of the sour flavor seem endless. Here are the usual Sinigang variations which you will find in the Philippines, one of which is very inventive:
- Sinigang sa Sampaloc – soup base is made sour by using tamarind leaves
- Sinigang sa Gabi – soup base is made sour and thick by using taro
- Sinigang sa Miso – soup base is made sour by using miso paste
- Sinigang sa Kamias – soup base is made sour by using bilimbi fruit
- Sinigang sa Watermelon – soup base is made sweet and sour by incorporating ripe watermelon to the sour soup
When you get all the choice parts from a pig or a chicken, where do the other “unusable” parts go? In the Philippines, they are gathered together, cooked and chopped in order to form the best Filipino food to eat with beer. That dish is called Sisig.
Sisig is best served on a sizzling plate, with raw egg broken on top and manually mixed to the dish as the heat gently blends it through.
- Regular Sisig – either pork or chicken, garlic, onion, mayonnaise, green and red pepper, soy sauce, salt, pepper, calamansi and topped with crushed crispy pork skin called chicharon
- Dinakdakan – an Ilocano version of sisig composed of mixed grilled pork face, ears, tongue and liver
- Tuna Sisig – sisig made with fresh or canned tuna
- Tofu Sisig – meat-less sisig using deep fried tofu cut in cubes
- Warik-warik – another Ilocano version of sisig which uses grilled pig ears, neck and mashed pig brain
5. Dinuguan at Puto
Dinuguan is an exotic food in the Philippines that is truly not for everyone. If you are uneasy with the fact that the main ingredient of this Filipino food is pork blood, then wait till you learn that it is served with a Filipino cake called puto. A viand eaten with a cake – sounds interesting and puzzling at the same time!
Dinuguan is a savoury stew involving pork cubes cooked in pork blood, garlic, onion and chili peppers. Sometimes, Filipino cooks add some tamarind leaves to give a sour taste that would go well with the saltiness of the dish. They also like to mix up the pork parts and add in some intestines and ears.
Puto, on the other hand, is a steamed Filipino cake made with rice flour and coconut milk. When eaten together, dinuguan and puto bring something unique and delicious to the dining table.
If you are invited to a grand Filipino party, there is one staple dish which will surely be beautifully presented among the various dishes being served at the celebration. As if it needed more decorations to stand out, you have the world-famous lechon. It is one whole pig roasted to perfection, with its crispy skin shining from afar and its whole head kept intact both for impact and for gastronomy.
Lechon has been a traditional Filipino food since the olden days. When there is a fiesta of sorts, lechon is present. When birthdays come by, lechon is served. Even when loved ones who passed on are laid to rest, lechon is fed to visitors. No matter what the root of the gathering may be, there is always ample space for lechon in every Filipino table.
Don’t get me started about the sauce. Like longganisa, every part of the Philippines’ main islands seems to have its own version of a sauce that goes well with lechon. Most have pork liver in them as base, and their differences are in the spices and sauces that are blended in.
7. Pan de sal
A typical Filipino breakfast consists of bread (sometimes as a Filipino appetizer) without much need for accompanying jams, butter or cheese. The most famous Filipino bread to consume in the morning is the pan de sal.
Why did I say that a pan de sal sometimes acts as an appetizer? It is because, even in the morning, Filipinos love to eat heavy meals which include rice and breakfast staples. However, before the main dish, we love a hot and freshly baked pan de sal peddled by the friendly vendor on a bike every morning.
Adults – and at times, kids – would be seen enjoying pan de sal dunked in a cup of coffee.
One Filipino street food that leaves many foreigners aghast is balut. A quick browse in Youtube and other forms of social media will show you many friends of Filipinos worldwide trying this well-celebrated exotic food in the Philippines. Some find it delicious while others could not hide their shock.
What is a balut, exactly? Balut is a duck embryo in its early stage of development. It is boiled and sold in the streets of the Philippines as a late-night snack. Once you crack open the shell of the egg, your Filipino friend will instruct you to “drink the juice.”
It is up to you if you would like to examine the inside or not. What you are about to see and/or devour after consuming the liquid are the duck embryo, the yolk and the albumen. Sometimes, the embryo can be very visual, showing you exactly the forming beak, eyes and feathers of the duckling.
Taho is a Philippine snack that consists of cooked soft silken tofu, liquid brown sugar and small tapioca pearls. It is peddled on the streets mostly in the morning, with the vendor iconically calling out “Taho!” to signify his nearness to your gates. People will come rushing in with their own mugs once his voice sounds nearby. Here’s a tip: the bigger the mug, the more “extra” quantity your friendly vendor can scoop in!
Another famous food in the Philippines is halo-halo. A basic halo-halo consists of shaved ice layered with sweetened beans, assorted fruits, tapioca pearls and colourful gelatin cubes. This Filipino dessert is finished with a generous dose of evaporated milk, purple yam and Leche flan. A special halo-halo order will have a scoop of ice cream and some toasted rice crispies on top.
What’s in the name? Halo-halo roughly means a mixture of everything, a great characterization of how this dessert is presented and eaten.
Making this best Filipino food blog makes me hungry and I’m sure you are too! If you haven’t tried Filipino food yet, you should definitely give it a try and you will be surprised with that it also has a unique mix of Malay and Spanish influences.
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