The world is fascinating, full of intriguing people and wonderful traditions and cultures. And the best way to understand a culture is through its cuisine. Food serves a purpose beyond simply keeping one’s stomach full. It tells tales, brings people together, and creates unforgettable experiences.
Let’s discover Filipino culture through its distinct and delicious cuisine. The Philippines is a country with a wide variety of tastes. It offers everything from the spicy to the sweet. With so many diverse food options to pick from, it can be challenging to know where to begin. As a result, we’ve compiled a list of the 20 most classic Filipino foods. With these meals, the Philippines will leave a lasting impression on you.
1. The Filipino Cuisine
One can see a person’s way of life, resources, faith, and beliefs through cuisine. The Filipino culture, like many others, is reflected in its food.
There are many different ethnic groups living in the Philippines, and the cuisine there includes hundreds of dishes that reflect the customs of each one. The range of foods served around the country adds richness to the cuisine. With a wide variety of options for meat, seafood, veggies, and rice, a Filipino dinner has something for everyone.
2. Many Nations’ Influence
Filipino cuisine not only conveys facts about the traditions but also about the nation’s past. The local food is influenced by its neighboring nations’ cuisines, which makes it similar to other Southeast Asian cuisines but also has a significant Spanish influence. The Philippines has also acquired several Mexican food items, including maize, tomatoes, and chili.
Hispanic customs have a significant impact on both cuisine and mealtimes. Filipinos typically consume four meals every day. Filipino cuisine is diverse and a great example of the “fusion of nations.”
3. What Is Wonderful About Filipino Cuisine?
Filipino foods are well-known for their mouth-watering flavor and enticing aroma. Each mouthful’s unique tastes and aromas provide a unique and rich experience. The food in the Philippines is not as spicy as its neighbors. But they compensate for the spicy food by flavoring it with garlic, onions, and ginger.
Each meal delivers a harmony of tastes that will undoubtedly please your taste. The cornerstone of all Filipino foods is a blend of sweet, sour, spicy, and salty flavors. Even the simplest meal is bursting with flavor in the fascinating cuisine of the Philippines.
4. The Native Ingredients
Rice is a staple meal in the Philippines. A meat, fish, or vegetable meal almost always accompanies it. Numerous Filipino desserts also include rice. The variety of meals and sweets is another characteristic of famous Filipino dishes. Filipino foods contain a variety of dishes to suit varied tastes.
The Philippines is rich in herbs, spices, vegetables, and tropical fruits. Due to the availability of these materials, Filipino chefs have been able to experiment in the kitchen and offer great meals to the world. Cooking Filipino food is highly fulfilling because the result is delicious, despite the lengthy and often exhausting cooking times.
Although many of the meals are relatively well-known, traditional Filipino cuisine differs significantly by location, province, island, and ethnic group. Many locations and ethnic groups have unique recipes that may be hidden from outsiders.
5. The Top 20 Filipino Dishes
Here is a list of the top 20 Filipino foods you must taste:
One of the most well-known traditional Filipino foods is Adobo. A list of traditional Filipino foods would be incomplete without Adobo.
This traditional Filipino dish, regarded unofficially as the national dish of the Philippines, entails simmering meat (typically chicken or pork) in vinegar and soy sauce while adding peppercorns and bay leaves for that unique flavor.
This mouth-watering meal is a staple of Filipino cuisine and can be found in every home. Each Filipino household even has its unique method of preparing the dish.
There are several variations of the meal, depending on the ingredients they’re created with, even though chicken and pork adobo are the most popular. They can be served as a side dish or as a main meal.
5.2. Cassava Cake
Cassava cake is a classic dessert made from cassava. Cassava was brought to the Philippines through Spanish colonization in the 16th century.
This Filipino treat consists of a thick and delicious layer of fresh cassava root, creamy coconut cream, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk.
Cassava cake enhances every meal and enjoyment with its fantastic texture and ideal salty-sweet flavor balance.
This delicious cassava cake has a well-deserved reputation as a delicacy and is one of the best Filipino foods.
One of the many intriguing Filipino foods is Kare Kare. It is a stew comprised of various meat and vegetables cooked with an extremely creamy and rich peanut sauce. You can also make Kare-Kare variations entirely out of veggies or with seafood like prawns and squid. This meal is delightful and nutritious with its amazing ingredients and rich peanut sauce.
It takes a long time to prepare this dish because the meat needs to simmer depending on the desired level of tenderness. Since it takes a long time to prepare, it is typically made for special occasions, although there are many quicker homemade variants. Steamed white rice and shrimp paste are served alongside Kare Kare as the main course.
5.4. Pork Sisig
One of the most well-liked dishes in the Philippines is Pork Sisig. It is a famous bar snack and shared appetizer that originated in the Pampanga area. It is frequently served on a cast iron sizzling plate.
The meal doesn’t squander anything because it uses uncommon pig parts, making it ideal for those who don’t like to waste things.
Usually seasoned with calamansi, onions, and chili peppers, this Filipino delicacy is created with pig’s ears, face, belly, and chicken liver.
Although other ingredients like tuna, squid, or oysters are used in certain variations of Sisig, a pig is still the traditional meat used in the dish. What makes it so remarkable are the crunchy pig cartilage and the creamy liver. It can be regarded as the main cuisine or a snack and is served with a hot meal.
5.5. Leche Flan
Leche Flan, the Filipino equivalent of crème caramel, is particularly well-liked in the Philippines. Including Leche Flan on the list of the finest Filipino foods is well-deserved.
The base of Filipino Leche Flan is made of egg yolks in plenty and condensed and evaporated milk, giving it a creamy and smooth texture. Richness and sweetness combined are truly amazing.
At family get-togethers and festivities, this oval-shaped, vivid orange cake is highly popular. Leche flan is one of the desserts that Filipinos always look forward to having.
5.6. Filipino Barbecue
Filipino barbecue is the first street food to spring to mind when considering traditional Filipino cuisine. One of the most well-liked Filipino foods, this popular Filipino street food is super affordable, found on every street, grilled on a barbecue, and served at every celebration.
It comprises bamboo-stick-cooked pork chunks that have been marinated in the sweet-and-sour sauce. It is a typical side dish given at festivities along with other Filipino foods and snacks and is frequently found at Filipino buffets or catered events.
This is one flavorful food; one can enjoy the sweet, savory, and spicy flavors of this skewered pork in each bite.
The renowned Lechon is one of the Filipino foods offered at any Filipino celebration.
Lechon is generally prepared by stuffing a pig with herbs and/or onions and roasting it over a charcoal fire for a long period. The result is a completely cooked pig with luscious meat and delightfully crisp skin.
There are two main kinds of Lechon in the Philippines: Luzon Lechon and Visayas Lechon.
While Visayas Lechon is roasted with herbs and spices, including lemongrass, garlic, scallions, bay leaves, black peppercorns, and salt, Luzon Lechon is just seasoned with salt and pepper. The Luzon Lechon has a very plain flavor and is frequently served with Sarsa (a sauce of mashed liver), vinegar, garlic, onions, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and breadcrumbs.
Due to the several herbs added to Visayas Lechon, the Lechon has a greater taste and doesn’t require any sauces.
The Philippines and Eastern Indonesia are credited with creating the dessert known as Bibingka.
Bibingka is a rice cake typically baked over coals in terracotta pots wrapped in banana leaves. Bibingka is generally consumed as a holiday treat, and Christmas time in the Philippines is incomplete without it.
The texture of bibingka is sweet and soft, with a faint coconut aroma. This classic Filipino dessert is frequently enjoyed with salted eggs or fresh coconut.
Taho is a popular dish in Filipino foods and is adored by many. Taho is full of nutrients in addition to being delicious. It is made of soft tofu, Arnibal (sweet sauce), and tapioca pearls.
Soft tofu, the primary component, resembles delicate custard in feel. Brown sugar and water are combined to obtain Arnibal (Filipino caramel). Once the sago (small tapioca pearls) is boiled, all ingredients are combined to create Taho.
Today, you may get variants of Taho topped with boba and prepared with flavored syrups like strawberry, in addition to the classic versions created with tapioca.
This dish is very popular among the Filipino people. Many people see Taho as a comfort dish.
5.10. Crispy Pata
A delicious substitute for Lechon is a Crispy Pata. This exquisite Filipino meal is made from hog leg, often from the knee to the trotters. The whole pig leg is deep-fried to precision, which gives the meal its wonderful flavor.
Served with a soy-vinegar dipping sauce on the side, along with sliced garlic and onions, ground pepper, and chili, you have your mouth-watering treat.
Crispy Pata has soft, juicy meat with a crispy exterior. It is typically served as a main dish with white rice or as a snack while drinking.
5.11. Tortang Talong
The famous Filipino dish Tortang Talong, popularly referred to as eggplant omelet, is a well-liked breakfast and lunch item in the Philippines.
It is produced by pan-frying grilled eggplants covered in beaten eggs. This wonderful, traditional meal is quick, simple, and has the ideal balance of flavor and nutritional benefits. The meal is available in various forms, including ones packed with minced beef, crab, or shrimp.
This makes a great side dish and is frequently served with some rice and ketchup on the side.
5.12. Ube Halaya
Ube Halaya is a straightforward kind of Ube jam that is supple and sweet. It can be consumed on its own or as a part of other sweets such as cookies, ice cream, cakes, and pies that use Ube Halaya as a base.
This Filipino delicacy is frequently made of mashed, cooked purple yam and contains raw Ube, condensed milk, evaporated milk, and many other ingredients. The flavor and texture of the Ube jam are vanilla and nutty.
5.13. Sans Rival
The world has seen a lot of global travel over the years. Undoubtedly, among them is Sans Rival. This delicious dish arrived in the nation with the return of the Filipinos from France.
Almonds were used in the original recipe, but cashew nuts were substituted because they were widely available. Three layers of cashew nut meringue are used to make the cake, which is layered with rich buttercream. Before serving, it is stored in the freezer to give it a strikingly crunchy texture.
This layered Filipino dessert is a must-try for cashew fans everywhere.
The Chinese-influenced egg rolls, Lumpia, are one of the most well-known Filipino appetizers and are simply a deep-fried spring roll. This classic Filipino appetizer or side delicacy is packed with a mixture of minced pork and veggies and offered with a sour and sweet dipping sauce.
It’s well-known among traditional Filipino foods and is frequently offered as an appetizer at events, get-togethers, and formal family meals. This usually desired meal is nearly always included in a Filipino feast when food for a large Filipino family must be prepared in huge quantities.
In the Philippines, lumpia is well-liked and available in various varieties. It is prepared with a thin crepe filled with different fillings. Almost anything may be used to make Lumpia.
Filipinos have a genuine fondness for rice, and the country’s deserts frequently reflect this devotion. Suman is one of the must-try rice sweets in the Philippines. In the Philippines, Suman is among the most well-known and available foods.
Coconut milk is used to boil the rice, which is then wrapped in banana leaves. The rice is then steamed further, making it glutinous and delicious.
Suman can be found all around the nation in varying forms. The most popular kinds are often in cigar form and are drizzled with Latik, a sort of dark coconut caramel sauce prepared with coconut milk and brown sugar, or served with a sprinkle of sugar on top. One of the delicious and famous Filipino steamed rice cakes, Suman is often eaten for breakfast or as a treat at noon.
In the Philippines, Chicharon is a well-known delicacy. The crispy Filipino snack is inspired by its Spanish twin, the Chicharrón.
The famous Filipino Chicharon is a deep-fried meat often prepared from crispy pig belly or pork rinds. It comes with a side of vinegar dipping sauce. They typically come in two forms: ones with fat and ones without. Alternatively, it can be prepared with beef, mutton, or chicken. Chicharon Bituka, made of deep-fried, minced pork intestines, is among the most popular Chicharon in the Philippines. Deep-fried chicken skin is referred to as Chicharon Manok.
It’s a fantastic snack or starter since it’s so flavorful and crunchy. There are now more delicious and nutritious versions of this food.
Calamares is the Filipino adaptation of Calamari, a Mediterranean delicacy. Having gained popularity in the early 2000s, Calamares—perfectly battered and deep-fried squid rings—are now regarded as one of the Filipino foods in the Philippines.
The Calamares are frequently offered as an entrée or a side dish and have become a regular sight on the streets of the Philippines. Calamares are sold in the streets of the Philippines, just like barbeque, fishballs, tokneneng, and kwek-kwek. They are often served with aioli, vinegar, or a spicy sauce.
It is a typical beer snack as well. It pairs best with a chilled beer.
Bulalo is one of the many exquisite traditional Filipino foods. This meal is a simple soup made with beef shanks and green vegetables.
Most Filipinos consider Bulalo a staple food, and it is the ideal companion on a chilly day in the Philippines. Fish sauce, peppercorns, and onions are frequently used in the cooking process, followed by adding vegetables. The broth’s meaty and strongly flavorful aromas are created by simmering beef shanks and bone marrow in the water for hours. You get a soup with very tender, almost liquid-like marrow and astonishingly luscious meat.
Garlic rice and calamansi on the side go well with Bulalo. This dish overflows with taste and will leave you feeling satisfied and renewed.
5.19. Kwek Kwek
Kwek-Kwek are quail eggs deep-fried with an orange batter coating. Flour, baking powder, salt, and food coloring make up the batter. All Filipinos are familiar with this fried egg snack, which is quick but amazingly tasty. In the country, kids and teens particularly like eating it.
This fried egg street food is served with minced garlic, onion, chilies, and cucumber in a vinegar sauce and is typically served on sticks or in disposable cups.
There is a bigger version of Kwek-Kwek. It’s known as “Tokneneng.” The only difference between Tokneneng and Kwek-Kwek is that Tokneneng utilizes larger eggs, such as chicken or duck, instead of the smaller quail eggs.
What better way to get through the hot, muggy summers in the Philippines than a scoop of ice cream on top of a wafer cone? Nothing is more gratifying than a mouth-watering Sorbete cone. Sorbetes is a famous Filipino ice cream that many Filipinos like.
Some people also eat it between bread buns as a sandwich. Mango, chocolate, cheese, coconut, and purple yam are some of the flavors used in them. As a result of the Philippines’ abundance of coconut palms, it is assumed that Filipinos first substituted coconut milk for animal milk. These days, it is made from cow or carabao milk and served in little scoops on cones.
They are frequently offered for sale from portable street carts. Sorbete is commonly referred to as “dirty ice cream” because of the way it is often served on the street.
The greatest way to understand another culture is through its cuisine. The Philippines is the home of many flavors. Filipino foods use a wide variety of tastes and ingredients. There are several selections, and each meal has a special history. Filipino cuisine has long fascinated people because of its distinctive flavor and variety. People from other nations who experience the foods immediately fall in love with them.
The most important element of all life is food. It is a basic human need. In the Filipino tradition, meals are served with all the courses brought to the table so that everyone may appreciate the various flavors and foods. Filipino food is both welcoming and filling and makes you feel at home.
If you’re visiting the Philippines or dining at Filipino restaurants worldwide, you may use this list of classic Filipino foods to decide which popular Filipino foods are worth trying.
Also read: Best Cakes in Toronto