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Filipino cuisine (Filipino: lutuing Pilipino/pagkaing Pilipino) is composed of the cuisines of more than a hundred distinct ethno-linguistic groups found throughout the Philippine archipelago. However, a majority of mainstream Filipino dishes that compose Filipino cuisine are from the cuisines of the various ethnolinguistic groups and tribes of the archipelago, including the Ilocano, Pangasinan, Kapampangan, Tagalog, Bicolano, Visayan (Cebuano, Hiligaynon and Waray), Chavacano and Maranao ethno-linguistic groups. The style of food making and the food associated with it have evolved over many centuries from their Austronesian origins (shared with Malaysian and Indonesian cuisines) to a mixed cuisine of Japanese, Indian, Chinese, Spanish and American influences, in line with the major waves of influence that had enriched the cultures of the archipelago, as well as others adapted to indigenous ingredients and the local palate.
Dishes range from the very simple, like a meal of fried salted fish and rice, to fish curry, chicken curry, complex paellas and cozidos of Iberian origin created for fiestas. Popular dishes include: lechón (whole roasted pig), longganisa (Philippine sausage), tapa (cured beef), torta (omelette), adobo (chicken or beef braised in garlic, vinegar, oil and soy sauce, or cooked until dry), kaldereta (meat stewed in tomato sauce and liver paste), mechado (larded beef in soy and tomato sauce), pochero (beef and bananas in tomato sauce), afritada (chicken or beef and vegetables simmered in tomato sauce), kare-kare (oxtail and vegetables cooked in peanut sauce), pinakbet (kabocha squash, eggplant, beans, okra, and tomato stew flavored with shrimp paste), ', sinigang (meat or seafood in sour broth), pancit (noodles), and lumpia (fresh or fried spring rolls). Various food scholars have noted that Filipino cuisine is multi-faceted and is the most representative in the culinary world for food where "east meets west".
History and influences
During the pre-Hispanic era in the Philippines, the preferred Austronesian methods for food preparation were boiling, steaming and roasting. The ingredients for common dishes were obtained from locally raised livestock. These ranged from water buffalos/carabaos, chicken, and pigs to various kinds of fish and other seafood. In 3200 BCE, Austronesians from southern China (Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau) and Taiwan settled in the region that is now called the Philippines. They brought with them knowledge of rice cultivation and other farming practices which increased the number and variety of edible dish ingredients available for cooking.
Foreign influences on Filipino cuisine
Filipino cuisine may be confusing to some people due to it being hard to determine what is actually Filipino. Confusion occurs due to the consistent growing phases of Filipino culture. Filipino culture has been constantly changing throughout history, gaining influence from various cultures and inevitably has evolved. Filipino food today has been shaped by history and society of many unique and affluent cultures. Influences from China, India, and Arabia are seen throughout Filipino food and culture due to the agricultural trading of the times. Influences from Spain and the United States are seen through past colonization of the country. Filipino food can be studied and given a definition through the process of indigenizing its people throughout centuries.
Direct influence of India
Indian influences can also be noted in rice-based delicacies such as bibingka (analogous to the Indonesian bingka), puto, and puto bumbong, where the latter two are plausibly derived from the south Indian puttu, which also has variants throughout Maritime Southeast Asia (e.g. kue putu, putu mangkok). The kare-kare, more popular in Luzon, on the other hand could trace its origins from the Seven Years' War when the British occupied Manila from 1762 to 1764 with a force that included Indian sepoys, who had to improvise Indian dishes given the lack of spices in the Philippines to make curry. This is said to explain the name and its supposed thick, yellow-to-orange annatto and peanut-based sauce, which alludes to a type of curry.
Direct influence of Japan
Halo-halo, also spelled haluhalo, Filipino for "mixed", is a popular cold dessert in the Philippines made up of crushed ice, evaporated milk or condensed milk, and various ingredients including: ube, sweetened beans, coconut strips, sago, gulaman (agar), pinipig rice, boiled taro or soft yams in cubes, slices or portions of fruit preserves and other root crop preserves, flan, and often topped with a scoop of ube ice cream. Halo-halo is considered to be the unofficial national dessert of the Philippines. The term "halo-halo" literally means "mix-mix" in English, but is ungrammatical; despite this, it is the more common form of the dessert's name. By extension, this spelling has come to describe any object or situation that is composed of a similar, colorful mélange of ingredients.
The origin of halo-halo is traced to the pre-war Japanese Filipinos and the Japanese kakigōri class of desserts. One of the earliest versions of halo-halo was a dessert known locally as mongo-ya in Japanese which consisted of only mung beans (Tagalog: monggo or munggo, used in place of red azuki beans from Japan), boiled and cooked in syrup (minatamis na monggo), served on top of crushed ice with milk and sugar. Over time, more native ingredients were added, resulting in the creation and development of the modern halo-halo. One difference between halo-halo and its Japanese ancestor is the placement of ingredients mostly under the ice instead of on top of it. The original monggo con hielo type can still be found today along with similar variations using sweet corn (maiz con hielo) or saba bananas (saba con hielo).
Some authors specifically attribute halo-halo to the 1920s or 1930s Japanese migrants in the Quinta Market of Quiapo, Manila, due to its proximity to the Insular Ice Plant, which was Quiapo's main ice supply.
The spelling of "halo-halo" is considered to be incorrect by the Commission on the Filipino Language, which prescribes "haluhalo". The word is an adjective meaning "mixed" in Tagalog, a reduplication of the Tagalog verb halo "to mix".
Arab influence via indirect trade
The Arab influence on Filipino cuisine is relatively minor. Historically, Arabs influence arrived via India to Indonesia and the Philippines. In the earlier days, Arabs traded with Indians, who in turn traded with Southeast Asia. In the later era, with advancement of sea navigation, Arabs also started to trade directly with the Philippines.
The Chinese had been trading with the inhabitants of the Philippine archipelago since the early 9th or 10th centuries. Soon after, the Chinese began to immigrate there in the 16th century. Chinese influence is best seen in pancit noodles and lumpia spring rolls. There are also many ingredients such as soy sauce, black beans, tofu, pork, etc., that are seen in Filipino cooking.
Direct trade and cultural exchange with Hokkien China in the Philippines in the Song dynasty (960–1279 AD) with porcelain, ceramics, and silk being traded for spices and trepang in Luzon. This early cultural contact with China introduced a number of staple food into Filipino cuisine, most notably toyo (soy sauce; Chinese: 豆油; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: tāu-yu), tokwa; (tofu; Chinese: 豆干; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: tāu-koaⁿ), toge (bean sprout; Chinese: 豆芽; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: tāu-koaⁿ), and patis (fish sauce), as well as the method of stir frying and making savory soup bases. Many of these food items and dishes retained their original Hokkien names, such as pancit (Chinese: 便ê食; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: piān-ê-si̍t) (Chinese: 扁食; pinyin: biǎn shí), and lumpia (Chinese: 潤餅; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: jūn-piáⁿ, lūn-piáⁿ). The food introduced during this period were food of the workers and traders, which became a staple of the noodle shops (panciterias), and can be seen in dishes like arroz caldo (congee), sinangag (fried rice).
Colonial and modern influences
The Spanish came to the Philippines and ruled its islands by 1566 until 1899. Filipinos began using the Spanish sofrito of tomatoes, onions, and garlic cooked in oil for their dishes. Many cooking customs and techniques were adapted as well as various dishes.
Since the Spanish ruled both Mexico and the Philippines, the two were inevitably connected and they transported various goods between the two colonies. Spanish colonizers and friars in the 16th century brought with them produce from the New World such as chili peppers, chocolate, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, pineapples, bell peppers, jicama, chayote, avocado, peanuts, annatto and the method of sautéing with garlic and onions. Chili leaves are frequently used as a cooking green. The Mexicans received rice, sugarcane, tamarind, coconuts, and mangoes from the Philippine soil.
Hispanic dishes were eventually incorporated into Filipino cuisine with the more complex dishes usually being prepared for special occasions. Some dishes such as arroz a la valenciana remain largely the same in the Filipino context. Some have been adapted or have come to take on a slightly or significantly different meaning. Arroz a la cubana served in the Philippines usually includes ground beef picadillo. Philippine longganisa despite its name is more akin to chorizo than Spanish longaniza (in Visayan regions, it is still known as chorizo). Morcon likely refers to a beef roulade dish, not the bulbous specialty Spanish sausage.
American colonial and American influence
After the Spanish–American War in 1899, the United States controlled the Philippines due to the Treaty of Paris. US soldiers introduced Filipinos to hot dogs, hamburgers, fried chicken, and ice cream. They also introduced convenient foods such as spam, corned beef, instant coffee, and evaporated milk.
Today, Filipino cuisine continues to evolve as new techniques and styles of cooking, and ingredients find their way into the country. Traditional dishes both simple and elaborate, indigenous and foreign-influenced, are seen as are more current popular international dishes and fast food fare. However, the Filipino diet is higher in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol than other Asian diets.
Contrasting combination of base tastes
Filipino cuisine centres around the combination of sweet (tamis), sour (asim), and salty (alat), although in Bicol, the Cordilleras and among Muslim Filipinos, spicy (anghang) is a base of cooking flavor.
Counterpoint is a feature in Filipino cuisine which normally comes in a pairing of something sweet with something salty. Examples include: champorado (a sweet cocoa rice porridge), being paired with tuyo (salted, sun-dried fish); dinuguan (a savory stew made of pig's blood and innards), paired with puto (sweet, steamed rice cakes); unripe fruits such as green mangoes (which are only slightly sweet but very sour), are eaten dipped in salt or bagoong; the use of cheese (which is salty-sweet) in sweetcakes (such as bibingka and puto), as well as an ice cream flavoring.
Cooking and serving
Cooking and eating in the Philippines has traditionally been an informal and communal affair centered around the family kitchen. Food tends to be served all at once and not in courses.
Unlike many of their Japanese counterparts Filipinos do not eat with chopsticks. The traditional way of eating is with the hands, especially dry dishes such as inihaw or prito. The diner will take a bite of the main dish, then eat rice pressed together with his fingers. This practice, known as kamayan (using the washed left hand for picking the centralized food and the right hand for bringing food to the mouth), is rarely seen in urbanized areas. However, Filipinos tend to feel the spirit of kamayan when eating amidst nature during out-of-town trips, beach vacations, and town fiestas.
Kamayan is also used in the "boodle fight" concept, a style of dining popularized by the Philippine Army which utilizes banana leaves spread out on the table as the main serving platter, upon which is laid out portions of rice and a variety of Filipino dishes for friendly, filial or communal feasting. The use of spoons and forks, however, is still the norm.
Changes in eating method
During the Spanish occupation, which yielded Western influences, Filipinos ate with the paired utensils of spoon and fork. The knife was not used as in other countries, because Spain prohibited them to have knives. Filipinos use the side of the spoon, to "cut" the food.
Due to Western influence, food is often eaten using flatware—forks, knives, spoons—but the primary pairing of utensils used at a Filipino dining table is that of spoon and fork, not knife and fork.
Filipino cuisine has a variety of native ingredients used. The biota that developed yielded a particular landscape and in turn gave the place local ingredients that enhanced flavors to the dishes. Kalamansi is the more known of those ingredients, it is a fruit that belongs to the genus citrus. It is mostly used due to the sourness it gives to a dish. Another is the tabon-tabon, a tropical fruit which were used by pre-colonial Filipinos as anti-bacterial ingredient especially in Kinilaw dishes.
The country also cultivates different type of nuts and one of them is the pili nut, of which the Philippines is the only known exporter of edible varieties. It is usually made as a merienda or is incorporated in other desserts to enhance the flavor due to the milky texture it gives off as it melts in the mouth.
Vinegar is a common ingredient. Adobo is popular not solely for its simplicity and ease of preparation, but also for its ability to be stored for days without spoiling, and even improve in flavor with a day or two of storage. Tinapa is a smoke-cured fish while tuyo, daing, and dangit are corned, sun-dried fish popular because they can last for weeks without spoiling, even without refrigeration.
Food for the specific occasions
Meals of the day
Filipinos traditionally eat three main meals a day: almusal or agahan (breakfast), tanghalían (lunch), and hapunan (dinner) plus an afternoon snack called meryenda (also called minandál or minindál).
A traditional Filipino breakfast might include pandesal (small bread rolls), kesong puti (fresh, unripened, white Filipino cheese, traditionally made from carabao's milk) champorado (chocolate rice porridge), silog which is sinangag (garlic fried rice) or sinaing, with fried egg and meat—such as tapa, longganisa, tocino, karne norte (corned beef), or fish such as daing na bangus (salted and dried milkfish)—or itlog na pula (salted duck eggs). Coffee is also commonly served particularly kapeng barako, a variety of coffee produced in the mountains of Batangas noted for having a strong flavor.
Certain portmanteaus in Filipino have come into use to describe popular combinations of items in a Filipino breakfast. An example of such a combination order is kankamtuy: an order of kanin (rice), kamatis (tomatoes) and tuyo (dried fish). Another is tapsi: an order of tapa and sinangág or sinaing. Other examples include variations using a silog suffix, usually some kind of meat served with sinangág or sinaing, and itlog (egg). The three most commonly seen silogs are tapsilog (having tapa as the meat portion), tocilog (having tocino as the meat portion), and longsilog (having longganisa as the meat portion). Other silogs include hotsilog (with a hot dog), bangsilog (with bangus (milkfish)), dangsilog (with danggit (rabbitfish)), spamsilog (with spam), adosilog (with adobo), chosilog (with chorizo), chiksilog (with chicken), cornsilog (with corned beef), and litsilog (with lechon/litson). Pankaplog is slang for a breakfast consisting of pandesal, kape (coffee), and itlog (egg), it is also a double entendre meaning to fondle breasts. An establishment that specializes in such meals is called a tapsihan or tapsilugan.
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Usually, either breakfast or lunch is the largest meal. At exactly 12:00 noon, Filipinos dash outside their work office or to their kitchen to eat. A typical Filipino lunch is composed of a food variant (or two for some) and rice, sometimes with soup. Whether grilled, stewed, or fried, rice is eaten with everything. Due to the tropical climate of the Philippines, the preference is to serve ice cold water, juices, or soft drinks with meals.
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Dinner, while still the main meal, is smaller than in other countries.
Merienda light afternoon meal
Merienda is taken from the Spanish, and is a light meal or snack especially in the afternoon, similar to the concept of afternoon tea. If the meal is taken close to dinner, it is called merienda cena, and may be served instead of dinner.
Filipinos have a number of options to take with kapé, which is the Filipino pronunciation of café (coffee): breads and pastries like pandesal, ensaymada (buttery brioche covered in grated cheese and sugar), hopia (pastries similar to mooncakes filled with mung bean paste) and empanada (savoury, meat-filled pasties). Also popular are kakanín, or traditional pastries made from sticky rice like kutsinta, sapin-sapin (multicoloured, layered pastry), palitaw, biko, suman, Bibingka, and pitsi-pitsî (served with desiccated coconut).
Savoury dishes often eaten during merienda include pancit canton (stir-fried noodles), palabok (rice noodles with a shrimp-based sauce), tokwa't baboy (fried tofu with boiled pork ears in a garlic-flavored soy sauce and vinegar dressing), and dinuguan (a spicy stew made of pork blood), which is often served with puto (steamed rice flour cakes).
Dim sum and dumplings, brought to the islands by Fujianese migrants, have been given a Filipino touch and are also popular merienda fare. Street food, such as squid balls and fish balls, are often skewered on bamboo sticks and consumed with soy sauce and the sour juice of the calamondin as condiments.
Pulutan accompaniments snack for drinks
Pulutan (from the Filipino word pulot which literally means "to pick up") is a term roughly analogous to the English term "finger food" or Spanish Tapas. Originally, it was a snack accompanied with liquor or beer but has found its way into Filipino cuisine as appetizers or, in some cases, main dishes, as in the case of sisig.
Deep fried pulutan include chicharon (less commonly spelled tsitsaron), pork rinds that have been boiled and then twice fried, the second frying gives the crunchiness and golden color; chicharong bituka, pig intestines that have been deep fried to a crisp; chicharong bulaklak, similar to chicharong bituka it is made from mesenteries of pig intestines and has an appearance roughly resembling a flower, hence the bulaklak name; and chicharong manok, chicken skin that has been deep fried until crisp. Other examples of deep fried pulutan are crispy crablets, crispy frog legs, chicharong isda or fish skin cracklings, and tugnas or deep fried pork fat (also known as pinaigi).
Examples of grilled foods include: isaw, or chicken or pig intestines skewered and then grilled; Inihaw na tenga, pig ears that have been skewered and then grilled; pork barbecue, skewered pork marinated in a sweet soy-garlic blend and then grilled; betamax, salted solidified pork or chicken blood which is then skewered and lightly grilled; adidas which is grilled or sautéed chicken feet. There is also sisig, a popular pulutan made from the pig's cheek skin, ears, and liver that is initially boiled, then charcoal grilled and afterwards minced and cooked with chopped onions, chillies, and spices.
Smaller snacks such as mani (peanuts) are often sold steamed in the shell, salted, spiced, or flavored with garlic by street vendors in the Philippines. Another snack is kropeck, which is fish crackers.
You can also find tuhog-tuhog accompanied by sweet or spicy sauce. This includes Fish balls, Kikiam, Squid balls, etc., these are commonly served during a small gathering or in local bars.
For festive occasions, people band together and prepare more sophisticated dishes. Tables are often laden with expensive and labor-intensive treats requiring hours of preparation. In Filipino celebrations, lechon (less commonly spelled litson) serves as the centerpiece of the dinner table. It is usually a whole roasted pig, but suckling pigs (lechonillo, or lechon de leche) or cattle calves (lechong baka) can also be prepared in place of the popular adult pig. It is typically served with lechon sauce, which is traditionally made from the roasted pig's liver. Other dishes include hamonado (honey-cured beef, pork or chicken), relleno (stuffed chicken or milkfish), mechado, afritada, caldereta, puchero, paella, menudo, morcon, embutido (referring to a meatloaf dish, not a sausage as understood elsewhere), suman (a savory rice and coconut milk concoction steamed in leaves such as banana), and pancit canton. The table may also be have various sweets and pastries such as leche flan, ube, sapin-sapin, sorbetes (ice creams), totong or sinukmani (a rice, coconut milk and mongo bean pudding), ginataan (a coconut milk pudding with various root vegetables and tapioca pearls), and gulaman (an agar jello-like ingredient or dessert).
Christmas Eve, known as Noche Buena, is the most important feast. During this evening, the star of the table is the Christmas ham and Edam cheese (queso de bola). Supermarkets are laden with these treats during the Christmas season and are popular giveaways by Filipino companies in addition to red wine, brandy, groceries, or pastries. Available mostly during the Christmas season and sold in front of churches along with bibingka, puto bumbong is purple colored ground sticky rice steamed vertically in small bamboo tubes.
More common at celebrations than in everyday home meals, lumpiang sariwa, or fresh lumpia, is a fresh spring roll that consists of a soft crepe wrapped around a filling that can include strips of kamote (sweet potato), singkamas (jicama), bean sprouts, green beans, cabbage, carrots and meat (often pork). It can be served warm or cold and typically with a sweet peanut and garlic sauce. Ukoy is shredded papaya combined with small shrimp (and occasionally bean sprouts) and fried to make shrimp patties. It is often eaten with vinegar seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper. Both lumpiang sariwa and ukoy are often served together in Filipino parties. Lumpiang sariwa has Chinese origins, having been derived from popiah.
Type of food
Filipino food is widely shaped by individual traditions and customs, and the same dish may and will differ between households.
As in most Asian countries, the staple food in the Philippines is rice. It is most often steamed and always served with meat, fish and vegetable dishes. Leftover rice is often fried with garlic to make sinangag, which is usually served at breakfast together with a fried egg and cured meat or sausages. Rice is often enjoyed with the sauce or broth from the main dishes. In some regions, rice is mixed with salt, condensed milk, cocoa, or coffee. Rice flour is used in making sweets, cakes and other pastries. Sticky rice with cocoa, also called champorado is also a common dish served with daing (dried herring).
Rice and coconuts as staples throughout the archipelago as in the rest of Southeast Asia meant similar or adopted dishes and methods based on these crops. Some of these are evident in the infusion of coconut milk particularly in the renowned laing and sinilihan (popularized as Bicol Express) of Bikol. Other regional variants of stews or soups commonly tagged as ginataan(g) or "with coconut milk" also abound Filipino kitchens and food establishments. A dish from the Visayas simmered in coconut water, ideally in bamboo, is the binakol usually with chicken as the main ingredient.
A variety of fruits and vegetables are often used in cooking. Plantains (also called saba in Filipino), kalamansi, guavas (bayabas), mangoes, papayas, and pineapples lend a distinctly tropical flair in many dishes, but mainstay green leafy vegetables like water spinach (kangkong), Chinese cabbage (petsay), Napa cabbage (petsay wombok), cabbage (repolyo) and other vegetables like eggplants (talong) and yard-long beans (sitaw) are just as commonly used. Coconuts are ubiquitous. Coconut meat is often used in desserts, coconut milk (kakang gata) in sauces, and coconut oil for frying. Abundant harvests of root crops like potatoes, carrots, taro (gabi), cassava (kamoteng kahoy), purple yam (ube), and sweet potato (kamote) make them readily available. The combination of tomatoes (kamatis), garlic (bawang), and onions (sibuyas) is found in many dishes.
Meat staples include chicken, pork, beef, and fish. Seafood is popular as a result of the bodies of water surrounding the archipelago. Popular catches include tilapia, catfish (hito), milkfish (bangus), grouper (lapu-lapu), shrimp (hipon), prawns (sugpo), mackerel (galunggong, hasa-hasa), swordfish (isdang-ispada), oysters (talaba), mussels (tahong), clams (halaan and tulya), large and small crabs (alimango and alimasag respectively), game fish, sablefish, tuna, cod (bakalaw), blue marlin, and squid/cuttlefish (both called pusit). Also popular are seaweeds (damong dagat), abalone, and eel (igat).
The most common way of having fish is to have it salted, pan-fried or deep-fried, and then eaten as a simple meal with rice and vegetables. It may also be cooked in a sour broth of tomatoes or tamarind as in pangat, prepared with vegetables and a souring agent to make sinigang, simmered in vinegar and peppers to make paksiw, or roasted over hot charcoal
or wood (inihaw). Other preparations include escabeche (sweet and sour), relleno (deboned and stuffed), or "kinilaw" (similar to ceviche; marinated in vinegar or kalamansi). Fish can be preserved by being smoked (tinapa) or sun-dried (tuyo or daing).
Food is often served with various dipping sauces. Fried food is often dipped either in vinegar with onions, soy sauce with juice squeezed from Kalamansi (Philippine lime or calamansi). Patis (fish sauce) may be mixed with kalamansi as dipping sauce for most seafood or mixed with a stew called nilaga. Fish sauce, fish paste (bagoong), shrimp paste (bagoong alamang) and crushed ginger root (luya) are condiments that are often added to dishes during the cooking process or when served.
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Adobo is one of the most popular Filipino dishes and is considered unofficially by many as the national dish. It usually consists of pork or chicken, sometimes both, stewed or braised in a sauce usually made from vinegar, cooking oil, garlic, bay leaf, peppercorns, and soy sauce. It can also be prepared "dry" by cooking out the liquid and concentrating the flavor. Bistek, also known as "Filipino beef steak," consists of thinly sliced beef marinated in soy sauce and calamansi and then fried in a skillet that is typically served with onions.
Some well-known stews are kare-kare and dinuguan. In kare-kare, also known as "peanut stew", oxtail or ox tripe is the main ingredient and is cooked with vegetables in a peanut-based preparation. It is typically served with bagoong (fermented shrimp paste). In dinuguan, pig's blood, entrails, and meat are cooked with vinegar and seasoned with chili peppers, usually siling mahaba.
Paksiw refers to different vinegar-based stews that differ greatly from one another based on the type of meat used. Paksiw na isda uses fish and usually includes the addition of ginger, fish sauce, and maybe siling mahaba and vegetables. Paksiw na baboy is a paksiw using pork, usually pork hocks, and often sees the addition of sugar, banana blossoms, and water so that the meat is stewed in a sweet sauce. A similar Visayan dish called humba adds fermented black beans. Both dishes are probably related to pata tim which is of Chinese origin. Paksiw na lechon is made from lechon meat and features the addition of ground liver or liver spread. This adds flavor and thickens the sauce so that it starts to caramelize around the meat by the time dish is finished cooking. Although some versions of paksiw dishes are made using the same basic ingredients as adobo, they are prepared differently, with other ingredients added and the proportions of ingredients and water being different.
In crispy pata, pork knuckles (known as pata) are marinated in garlic-flavored vinegar then deep fried until crisp and golden brown, with other parts of the pork leg prepared in the same way. Lechon manok is the Filipino take on rotisserie chicken. Available in many hole-in-the-wall stands or restaurant chains (e.g. Andok's, Baliwag, Toto's, Sr. Pedro's, G.S. Pagtakhan's), it is typically a specially seasoned chicken roasted over a charcoal flame served with "sarsa" or lechon sauce made from mashed pork liver, starch, sugar, and spices.
Mechado, kaldereta, and afritada are Spanish influenced tomato sauce-based dishes that are somewhat similar to one another. In these dishes meat is cooked in tomato sauce, minced garlic, and onions. Mechado gets its name from the pork fat that is inserted in a slab of beef making it look like a wick (mitsa) coming out of a beef "candle". The larded meat is then cooked in a seasoned tomato sauce and later sliced and served with the sauce it was cooked in. Kaldereta can be beef but is also associated with goat. Chunks of meat are cooked in tomato sauce, minced garlic, chopped onions, peas, carrots, bell peppers and potatoes to make a stew with some recipes calling for the addition of soy sauce, fish sauce, vinegar, chilies, ground liver or some combination thereof. Afritada tends to be the name given to the dish when chicken and pork is used. Another similar dish said to originate from the Rizal area is waknatoy. Pork or beef sirloin is combined with potatoes and cut sausages and cooked in a tomato-based sauce sweetened with pickles. Puchero is derived from the Spanish cocido; it is a sweeter stew that has beef and banana or plantain slices simmered in tomato sauce.
Filipinos also eat tocino and longganisa. Tocino is a sweetened cured meat made with either chicken or pork and is marinated and cured for a number of days before being fried. Longganisa is a sweet or spicy sausage, typically made from pork though other meats can also be used, and are often colored red traditionally through the use of the annatto seed but also artificial food coloring.
Filipino soups tend to be very hearty and stew-like containing large chunks of meat and vegetables or noodles. They are usually intended to be filling and not meant to be a light preparatory introduction for the main course. They tend to be served with the rest of the meal and eaten with rice when they are not meals unto themselves. They are often referred to on local menus under the heading sabaw (broth). Sinigang is a popular dish in this category distinguished by its sourness that often vies with adobo for consideration as the national dish. It is typically made with either pork, beef, chicken or seafood and made sour with tamarind or other suitable souring ingredients. Some seafood variants for example can be made sour by the use of guava fruit or miso. Another dish is tinola. It has large chicken pieces and green papaya/sayote slices cooked with chili, spinach, and moringa leaves in a ginger-flavored broth. Nilagang baka is a beef stew made with cabbages and other vegetables. Binacol is a warm chicken soup cooked with coconut water and served with strips of coconut meat. La Paz batchoy is a noodle soup garnished with pork innards, crushed pork cracklings, chopped vegetables, and topped with a raw egg. Another dish with the same name uses misua, beef heart, kidneys and intestines, but does not contain eggs or vegetables. Mami is a noodle soup made from chicken, beef, pork, wonton dumplings, or intestines (called laman-loob). Ma Mon Luk was known for it. Another chicken noodle soup is sotanghon, consisting of cellophane noodles (also called sotanghon and from whence the name of the dish is derived), chicken, and sometimes mushrooms.
Noodle dishes are generally called pancit. Pancit recipes primarily consist of noodles, vegetables, and slices of meat or shrimp with variations often distinguished by the type of noodles used. Some pancit, such as mami and La Paz-styled batchoy, are noodle soups while the "dry" varieties are comparable to chow mein in preparation. Then there is spaghetti or ispageti in the local parlance that is a modified version of spaghetti bolognese. It is sometimes made with banana ketchup instead of tomato sauce, sweetened with sugar and topped with hot dog slices.
There are several rice porridges that are popular in the Philippines. One is arroz caldo, which is a rice porridge cooked with chicken, ginger and sometimes saffron, garnished with spring onions (chives), toasted garlic, and coconut milk to make a type of gruel. Another variant is goto which is an arroz caldo made with ox tripe. There is also another much different rice porridge called champorado which is sweet and flavored with chocolate and often served at breakfast paired with tuyo or daing.
Another rice-based dish is arroz a la valenciana, a Spanish paella named after the Spanish region Valencia that has been incorporated into the local cuisine. Bringhe is a local rice dish with some similarities to paella but using glutinous rice, coconut milk, and turmeric. Kiampong a type of fried rice topped with pork pieces, chives and peanuts. It can be found in Chinese restaurants in Binondo and Manila. Camaron rebosado con jamon has been described as a classic dish in the Binondo district of Manila, the city's Chinatown.
For vegetarians, there is dinengdeng, a dish consisting of moringa leaves (malunggay) and slices of bittermelon. There is also pinakbet, stewed vegetables heavily flavored with bagoong. A type of seafood salad known as kinilaw is made up of raw seafood such as fish or shrimp cooked only by steeping in local vinegar, sometimes with coconut milk, onions, spices and other local ingredients. It is comparable to the Peruvian ceviche.
Cooking methods of most common dishes
- Adobo (inadobo) − cooked in vinegar, oil, garlic and soy sauce.
- Afritada – braised in tomato sauce.
- Babad (binabad, ibinabad) − to marinate.
- Banli (binanlian, pabanli) − to blanch.
- Bagoong (binagoongan, sa bagoong) − fermented or cooked with fermented fish/shrimp paste (bagoong)
- Bibingka – baked cakes, traditionally glutinous rice.
- Binalot – literally "wrapped." This generally refers to dishes wrapped in banana leaves, pandan leaves, or even aluminum foil. The wrapper is generally inedible (in contrast to lumpia—see below).
- Buro (binuro) − fermented, pickled, or preserved in salt or vinegar. Synonymous with tapay in other Philippine languages when referring to fermented rice.
- Daing (dinaing, padaing) − salted and dried, usually fish or seafood. Synonymous with tuyô, bulad or buwad in other Philippine languages
- Giniling – ground meat. Sometimes used as a synonym for picadillo, especially in arroz a la cubana.
- Guinataan (sa gata) − cooked with coconut milk.
- Guisa (guisado, ginuisa) − sautéed with garlic, onions or tomatoes. Also spelled gisa, gisado, ginisa.
- Hamonado (endulsado) – marinated or cooked in a sweet pineapple sauce. Sometimes synonymous with pininyahan or minatamis
- Halabos (hinalabos) – mostly for shellfish. Steamed in their own juices and sometimes carbonated soda.
- Halo-Halo - made up of crushed ice, evaporated milk or condensed milk, and various ingredients including, ube, sweetened beans, coconut strips, sago, gulaman (agar), pinipig rice, boiled taro or soft yams in cubes, fruit slices, flan, and topped with a scoop of ube ice cream.
- Hilaw (sariwa) – unripe (for fruits and vegetables), raw (for meats). Also used for uncooked food in general (as in lumpiang sariwa).
- Hinurno – baked in an oven (pugon) or roasted.
- Ihaw (inihaw) − grilled over coal. In Visayas, it is also known as sinugba; inasal refers to grilling meat on sticks.
- Kinilaw or Kilawin − fish or seafood marinated in vinegar or calamansi juice along with garlic, onions, ginger, tomato, peppers. Also means to eat raw or fresh, cognate of Hilaw.
- Lechon (nilechon) − roasted on a spit. Also spelled litson.
- Lumpia – savory food wrapped with an edible wrapper.
- Minatamis (minatamisan) − sweetened. Similar to hamonado.
- Nilaga (laga, palaga) − boiled/braised.
- Nilasing − cooked with an alcoholic beverage like wine or beer.
- Paksiw (pinaksiw) − cooked in vinegar.
- Pancit (pansit, fideo) – noodle dishes, usually of Chinese Filipino origin.
- Pangat (pinangat) − boiled in salted water/brine with fruit such as tomatoes or ripe mangoes.
- Palaman (pinalaman, pinalamanan) − "filled" as in siopao, though "palaman" also refers to the filling in a sandwich.
- Pinakbet (pakbet) − to cook with vegetables usually with sitaw (yardlong beans), calabaza, talong (eggplant), and ampalaya (bitter melon) among others and bagoong.
- Pinakuluan – boiled.
- Pininyahan – marinated or cooked with pineapples. Sometimes synonymous with hamonado.
- Prito (pinirito) − fried or deep fried. From the Spanish frito.
- Puto – steamed cakes, traditionally glutinous rice.
- Relleno (relyeno) – stuffed.
- Sarza (sarciado) – cooked with a thick sauce.
- Sinangag – garlic fried rice.
- Sisig - is a traditional food of filipino specially partnered with beer. It made by different parts of pig.
- Sigang (sinigang) − boiled in a sour broth usually with a tamarind base. Other common souring agents include guava, raw mangoes, calamansi also known as calamondin.
- Tapa or Tinapa – dried and smoked. Tapa refers to meat treated in this manner, mostly marinated and then dried and fried afterwards. Tinapa meanwhile is almost exclusively associated with smoked fish.
- Tapay – fermented with yeast, usually rice, traditionally in tapayan jars. Synonymous with buro in early phases. Can also refer to various products of fermented rice, including rice wines. A very briefly fermented glutinous rice version is known as galapong, which is an essential ingredient in Filipino kakanin (rice cakes). Cognate of tinapay (leavened bread).
- Tosta (tinosta, tostado) – toasted.
- Torta (tinorta, patorta) – in the northern Philippines, to cook with eggs in the manner of an omelette. In the southern Philippines, a general term for a small cake.
- Turon (turrones) – wrapped with an edible wrapper; dessert counterpart of lumpia.
Bread and pastries
In a typical Filipino bakery, pandesal, monay and ensaymada are often sold. Pandesal comes from the Spanish pan de sal (literally, bread of salt), and is a ubiquitous breakfast fare, normally eaten with (and sometimes even dipped in) coffee. It typically takes the form of a bread roll, and is usually baked covered in bread crumbs. Contrary to what its name implies, pandesal is not particularly salty as very little salt is used in baking it. Monay is a firmer slightly denser heavier bread. Ensaymada, from the Spanish ensaimada, is a pastry made using butter and often topped with sugar and shredded cheese that is especially popular during Christmas. It is sometimes made with fillings such as ube (purple yam) and macapuno (a variety of coconut the meat of which is often cut into strings, sweetened, preserved, and served in desserts). Also commonly sold in Filipino bakeries is pan de coco, a sweet roll filled with shredded coconut mixed with molasses. Putok (also known in some localities as "star bread" or "pinagong"), which literally means "explode", refers to a small, hard bread roll whose cratered surface is glazed with sugar. Kababayan (Filipino muffins) is a small, sweet gong-shaped muffin that has a moist consistency. Spanish bread (nothing to do with the Spanish bread of Spain – Pan de Horno) refers to a rolled pastry which looks like a croissant prior to being given a crescent shape, and has a filling consisting of sugar and butter.
There are also rolls like pianono, which is a chiffon roll flavored with different fillings. Brazo de mercedes, a rolled cake or jelly roll, is made from a sheet of meringue rolled around a custard filling. Similar to the previous dessert, it takes on a layered presentation instead of being rolled and typically features caramelized sugar and nuts for sans rival. Silvañas are large, oval-shaped, cookie-sized desserts, with a thin meringue on either side of a buttercream filling and dusted with crumbed cookies. Not overly sweet, they are rich, crisp, chewy, and buttery all at the same time. Barquillos use sweet thin crunchy wafers rolled into tubes that can be sold hollow or filled with polvoron (sweetened and toasted flour mixed with ground nuts). Meringues are also present in the Philippines, due to the Spanish influence, but they are called merengue – with all the vowels pronounced. Leche flan is a type of caramel custard made with eggs and milk similar to the French creme caramel. Leche flan (the local term for the original Spanish flan de leche, literally "milk flan") is a heavier version of the Spanish flan made with condensed milk and more egg yolks. Leche flan is usually steamed over an open flame or stove top, although on rare occasions it can also be seen baked. Leche flan is a staple in celebratory feasts.
A heavier version of leche flan, tocino del cielo, is similar, but has significantly more egg yolks and sugar.
The egg pie with a very rich egg custard filling is a mainstay in local bakeries. It is typically baked so that the exposed custard on top is browned. Buko pie is made with a filling made from young coconut meat and dairy. Mini pastries like turrones de casuy are made up of cashew marzipan wrapped with a wafer made to resemble a candy wrapper but take on a miniature look of a pie in a size of about a quarter. There is also napoleones – again with all the vowels pronounced – a mille-feuille pastry stuffed with a sweet milk-based filling.
There are hard pastries like biskotso a crunchy, sweet, twice-baked bread. Another baked goody is sinipit which is a sweet pastry covered in a crunchy sugar glaze, made to resemble a length of rope. Similar to sinipit is a snack eaten on roadsides colloquially called shingaling. It is hollow but crunchy with a salty flavor.
For a softer treat there is mamon a chiffon-type cake sprinkled with sugar, its name derived from a slang Spanish term for breast. There's also crema de fruta, which is an elaborate sponge cake topped in succeeding layers of cream, custard, candied fruit, and gelatin. Similar to a sponge cake is mamoncillo which generally refers to slices taken from a large mamon cake, but it is unrelated to the fruit of the same name. Sandwich pastries like inipit are made with two thin layers of chiffon sandwiching a filling of custard that is topped with butter and sugar. Another mamon variant is mamon tostada, basically mamoncillo toasted to a crunchy texture.
Stuffed pastries that reflect both Western and Eastern influence are common. One can find empanadas, a turnover-type pastry filled with a savory-sweet meat filling. Typically filled with ground meat and raisins, it can be deep fried or baked. Siopao is the local version of Chinese baozi. Buchi is another snack that is likely of Chinese origin. Bite-sized, buchi is made of deep-fried dough balls (often from rice flour) filled with a sweet mung bean paste, and coated on the outside with sesame seeds; some variants also have ube as the filling. There are also many varieties of the mooncake-like hopia, which come in different shapes (from a flat, circular stuffed form, to cubes), and have different textures (predominantly using flaky pastry, but sometimes like the ones in mooncakes) and fillings.
Itlog na pula (red eggs) are duck eggs that have been cured in brine or a mixture of clay-and-salt for a few weeks, making them salty. They are later hard boiled and dyed with red food coloring (hence the name) to distinguish them from chicken eggs before they are sold over the shelves. They are often served mixed in with diced tomatoes. Atchara is a side dish of pickled papaya strips similar to sauerkraut. It's a frequent accompaniment to fried dishes like tapa or daing.
Nata de coco is a chewy, translucent, jelly-like food product produced by the fermentation of coconut water can be served with pandesal. Kesong puti is a soft white cheese made from carabao milk (although cow milk is also used in most commercial variants). Grated mature coconut (niyog), is normally served with sweet rice-based desserts.
Chilled drinks and shakes
Chilled drinks are popular due to the tropical climate. Stands selling cold fruit drinks and fruit shakes are common in many of the city areas, where some are based on green mandarin orange (dalandan or dalanghita), pomelo (suha), pineapple (pinya), banana (saging), and soursop (guyabano). The shakes usually contain crushed ice, evaporated or condensed milk, and fruits like mango, avocado, cantaloupe, durian, papaya, strawberry and watermelon, to name a few.
Other chilled drinks include sago't gulaman, a flavored ice drink of pre-Hispanic Malay origin (Malay: gula melaka) with sago and agar gelatin with banana extract sometimes added to the accompanying syrup; fresh buko or coconut juice, the water or juice straight out of a young coconut via an inserted straw, a less fresh variation of which is from bottled coconut juice, scraped coconut flesh, sugar, and water; and kalamansi juice, the juice of kalamansi or Philippine limes usually sweetened with honey, syrup or sugar.
The Philippines is a predominantly coffee-drinking nation. One of the most popular variants of coffee coming from the mountains of Batangas is known as kapeng barako. Another well-known variant of coffee is the civet coffee. It is called kape motit in the Cordilleras, kape alamid in Tagalog region, and kape musang in Mindanao. The Kalinga coffee known for its organic production is also rapidly gaining popularity. Highlands coffee, or Benguet coffee, is a blend of Robusta and Excelsa beans.
Even before the establishment of coffeehouses in the Philippines, coffee has been part of the Filipino meal. Carinderias would often serve them along with meals. The opening of Starbucks in 1997 paved the way for other coffee shops.
Tea consumption in the Philippines is driven primarily by growing health consciousness amongst middle- to high-income consumers. Tea is commonly prepared using Philippine wild tea or tea tree. There are several known variations of tea using different additives. Pandan iced tea is one of these, made with pandan leaves and lemongrass (locally known as tanglad). Salabat, sometimes called ginger tea, is brewed from ginger root and usually served during the cold months, and when illnesses such as flu or sore throat strikes.
The late 2010s saw the opening of teahouses in major cities, and with a glass of milk tea being more affordable than the usual cold designer coffee, it paved the way into making tea a well-known food trend. Notable teahouse chains in the Philippines are Chatime and Serenitea.
Tsokolate is the Filipino style of hot chocolate. It is traditionally made with tablea, which are pure cacao beans that are dried, roasted, ground and then formed into tablets. It is also popular during Christmas season, particularly among children.
There are a wide variety of alcoholic drinks in the Philippines manufactured by local breweries and distilleries.
Tuba (toddy) is a type of hard liquor made from fresh drippings extracted from a cut young stem of palm. The cutting of the palm stem usually done early in the morning by a mananguete, a person who climbs palm trees and extracts the tuba to supply to customers later in the day. The morning's accumulated palm juice or drippings are then harvested by noon, and brought to buyers then prepared for consumption. Sometimes this is done twice a day so that there are two harvests of tuba occurring first at noon-time and then in the late-afternoon. Normally, tuba has to be consumed right after the mananguete brings it over, or it becomes too sour to be consumed as a drink. Any remaining unconsumed tuba is then often stored in jars to ferment for several days and become palm vinegar. Tuba can be distilled to produce lambanog (arrack), a neutral liquor often noted for its relatively high alcohol content.
Lambanog is an alcoholic beverage commonly described as coconut wine or coconut vodka. The drink is distilled from the sap of the unopened coconut flower, and is known for its potency and high alcohol content (80 and 90 proof). Most of the Lambanog distilleries are in the Quezon province of Luzon, Philippines. Constant efforts at standardizing lambanog production has led to its better quality. Presently, lambanog is being exported to other countries and continues to win foreign customers over due to its natural ingredients as well as its potency.
Tapuy is a traditional Philippine alcoholic drink made from fermented glutinous rice. It is a clear wine of luxurious alcoholic taste, moderate sweetness and lingering finish. Its average alcohol content is 14% or 28 proof, and it does not contain any preservatives or sugar. To increase the awareness of tapuy, the Philippine Rice Research Institute has created a cookbook containing recipes and cocktails from famous Filipino chefs and bartenders, featuring tapuy as one of the ingredients.
Beer or serbesa (from the Spanish "cerveza") is the most widely available alcoholic drink in the Philippines. San Miguel Pale Pilsen is the most popular and widely sold brand. Together with associated San Miguel beer brands such as San Mig Light and Gold Eagle Beer the company holds an aggregate market share of 92.7%. Beer na Beer produced by local conglomerate Asia Brewery is another widely sold pale Pilsner style beer. Asia Brewery also produces under license and distributes a number of other mass market beers such as Colt 45, Asahi Super Dry, Heineken and Tiger Beer. Other beer labels include Red Horse Beer, Lone Star, Lone Star Light, Lone Star Ultra, Carlsberg, Coors Light, San Miguel Superdry, San Mig Strong Ice, and just recently, Manila Beer. Echoing trends in international markets, bars in urban areas have also begun to serve locally produced and imported craft beers in a variety of styles.
Several gins, both local varieties like Ginebra San Miguel (as well as GSM Blue and GSM Premium Gin) and imported brands like Gilbey's, are commonly found. Some people refer to gin by the shape of the bottle: bilog for a circular bottle and kwatro kantos (literally meaning four corners) for a square or rectangular bottle. Gin is sometimes combined with other ingredients to come up with variations.
As the Philippines is a tropical country, many desserts made from rice and coconuts. One often seen dessert is bibingka, a hot rice cake optionally topped with a pat of butter, slices of kesong puti (white cheese), itlog na maalat (salted duck eggs), and sometimes grated coconut. There are also glutinous rice sweets called biko made with sugar, butter, and coconut milk. In addition, there is a dessert known as bitsu-bitsu, also known as a Pinoy donut, made with fried rice flour which is then coated with Muscovado sugar syrup. There is also Karioka, made from glutinous rice flour, coconut, and coconut milk, fried and skewered and slathered with a brown sugar glaze. Another brown rice cake is kutsinta.
Puto is another well-known example of sweet steamed rice cakes prepared in many different sizes and colors. Sapin-sapin (sapin means layer) are three-layered, tri-colored sweets made with rice flour, purple yam, and coconut milk characterized by its gelatinous appearance. Palitaw are rice patties that are covered with sesame seeds, sugar, and coconut; pitsi-pitsi which are cassava patties coated with cheese or coconut; and tibok-tibok is based on carabao milk as a de leche (similar to maja blanca). As a snack, Binatog is created with corn kernels with shredded coconut. Packaged snacks wrapped in banana or palm leaves then steamed, suman are made from sticky rice. For cold desserts there is halo-halo which can be described as a dessert made with shaved ice, milk, and sugar with additional ingredients like coconut, ube halaya (mashed purple yam) or ube ice cream, "leche flan" or caramel custard, plantains, jackfruit, red beans, tapioca and pinipig being typical. Some of the Philippines' largest restaurant chains, such as Kuya J, have dedicated dessert menus filled with many traditional Filipino desserts.
Other similar treats made with shaved ice include saba con yelo which is shaved ice served with milk and minatamis na saging (ripe plantains chopped and caramelized with brown sugar); mais con yelo which is shaved ice served with steamed corn kernels, sugar, and milk; and buko pandan sweetened grated strips of coconut with gulaman, milk, and the juice or extract from pandan leaves. Sorbetes (ice cream) is popular, as well, with some local versions utilizing coconut milk instead of cow milk. Ice candy, are popular frozen snacks usually made from fruit juice, chocolate or local ingredients such as mung beans and ube. It can be any kind of flavor depending on the maker; chocolate and buko (coconut) flavored ice candy are two of the most popular. Another dessert, often served during Christmas and New Year's Eve, is mango float, a dessert composed of Graham cracker, mangoes, cream and milk, and created by layering them together in a dish and then refrigerating or blast chilling.
The Philippine islands are home to various ethnic groups resulting in varied regional cuisines.
Ilocanos from the mountainous Ilocos Region commonly have diets heavy in boiled or steamed vegetables and freshwater fish, and they are particularly fond of dishes flavored with bagoong, fermented fish that is often used as a substitute for salt. Ilocanos often season boiled vegetables with bagoong monamon (fermented anchovy paste) to produce pinakbet. Local specialties include the soft white larvae of ants and "jumping salad" of tiny live shrimp.
Due to its mild, sub-tropical climate, Baguio, along with the outlying mountainous regions, is renowned for its produce. Temperate-zone fruits and vegetables (strawberries being a notable example) which would otherwise wilt in lower regions are grown there. It is also known for a snack called sundot-kulangot which literally means "poke the booger." It is a sticky kind of sweet made from milled glutinous rice flour mixed with molasses, and served inside pitogo shells, and with a stick to "poke" its sticky substance with.
Isabela is known for Pancit Cabagan of Cabagan, Inatata & Binallay of Ilagan City are rice cakes prepared year-round in the city and both famous delicacies specially during the lenten season. Cagayan for its famous Carabao Milk Candy in the town Alcala and Tuguegarao City for Pancit Batil Patung and Buko Roll.
The town of Calasiao in Pangasinan is known for its puto, a type of steamed rice cake.
Kapampangan cuisine makes use of all the produce in the region available to the native cook. Among the treats produced in Pampanga are longganisa (original sweet and spicy sausages), calderetang kambing (savory goat stew), and tocino (sweetened cured pork). Combining pork cheeks and offal, Kapampangans make sisig.
The cuisine of the Tagalog people varies by province. Bulacan is popular for Chicharrón (pork rinds) and steamed rice and tuber cakes like puto. It is a center for panghimagas or desserts, like brown rice cake or kutsinta, sapin-sapin, suman, cassava cake, ube halaya and the king of sweets, in San Miguel, Bulacan, the famous carabao milk candy pastillas de leche, with its pabalat wrapper. Cainta, in Rizal province east of Manila, is known for its Filipino rice cakes and puddings. These are usually topped with latik, a mixture of coconut milk and brown sugar, reduced to a dry crumbly texture. A more modern, and time saving alternative to latik are coconut flakes toasted in a frying pan. Antipolo, straddled mid-level in the mountainous regions of the Philippine Sierra Madre, is a town known for its suman and cashew products. Laguna is known for buko pie (coconut pie) and panutsa (peanut brittle). Batangas is home to Taal Lake, a body of water that surrounds Taal Volcano. The lake is home to 75 species of freshwater fish, including landlocked marine species that have since adapted to the Taal lake environment. Eight of these species are of high commercial value. These include a population of giant trevally locally known as maliputo which is distinguished from their marine counterparts which are known as talakitok. Another commercially important species is the tawilis, the only known freshwater sardine and endemic to the lake. Batangas is also known for its special coffee, kapeng barako. Quezon, especially the town of Lucban, is also known for its culinary dishes, with Lucban longganisa, pancit habhab, and hardinera being the most notable. The influence of coconut milk dishes, such as laing (called tinuto in some places in Quezon) and sinantol, is also felt in the province because of its proximity to Bicol. Suman is also a notable food in the province, especially in the town of Infanta and the city of Tayabas, though having the same ingredients as the one in Antipolo, the things that makes Infanta and Tayabas suman unique is its packaging and size; Infanta's suman is smaller in size and is usually grouped into 20 per pack, while Tayabas' suman is also unique in packaging, with a long tail that makes it look like a lit candle, in connection to its tradition of throwing suman during the feast of the city's patron, Isidore the Laborer.
Bicol is noted for its gastronomic appetite for the fiery or chili-hot dishes. Perhaps the most well-known Bicolano dish is the very spicy Bicol Express. The region is also the well-known home of natong also known as laing or pinangat (pork or fish stew in taro leaves).
In Visayas, another souring agent in dishes in the form of batuan (Garcinia binucao) is used. It is a fruit that is greenish, yellowish, somewhat rounded, and four centimeters or more in diameter. They have a firm outer covering and contain a very acid pulp and several seeds.
Tultul, a type of rock salt, is another ingredient made only in Guimaras, where it is sprinkled on cooked rice to serve as a side dish. The salt is an assortment of reeds, twigs and small pieces of bamboo carried to the shore by the sea tide where they have been soaked in seawater for some time and is then burned in large quantities while continually being doused with salt water on a daily basis. The ashes then is strained continuously by kaings and are then cooked in pans.
Bacolod is the capital of Negros Occidental. There are a plethora of restaurants in Bacolod that serve delicious local dishes which are popular with visitors. It is known for inasal which literally translates to “cooked over fire”. The "chicken inasal" is a local version of chicken barbecue. It is cooked with red achuete or annatto seeds giving it a reddish color, and brushed with oil and cooked over the fire. The city is also famous for various delicacies such as piaya, napoleones and pinasugbo (deep-fried and caramelled banana sprinkled with sesame seeds).
Leyte is home to Binagol, Carabao Milk Pastillas, Suman Latik and Moron (food). Taclobanon cuisine is made unique by the wide use of kinagod (grated coconut) and hatok (coconut milk). It is common to find hinatokan (dishes integrated in coconut milk) dishes in the city. Humba is said to have originated from the province since the taste in the region's cuisine distinctly has a slightly sweeter taste than the rest of the country. Because Leyte borders the sea, it is common to find multiple seafood dishes in the province. Masag (crab), tilang (scallops) and pasayan (shrimp) are common sea food in the region. Waray taste varies, allowing each family/angkan (clan) to create unique recipes. Other native delicacies from the province are Roskas (hard cookies made from lard, anise, flour, sugar, butter and eggs) and Bukayo (coconut strip candies).
Aklan is synonymous with inubarang manok, chicken cooked with ubad (banana pith), as well as binakol na manok, chicken cooked in coconut water with lemongrass. Of particular interest is tamilok (shipworm), which is either eaten raw or dipped in an acidic sauce such as vinegar or calamansi. There is a special prevalence of chicken and coconut milk (gata) in Akeanon cooking.
Iloilo is home of the batchoy, derived from “ba-chui” meaning pieces of meat in Hokkien Chinese. The authentic batchoy contains fresh egg noodles called miki, buto-buto broth slow-cooked for hours, and beef, pork and bulalo mixed with the local guinamos (shrimp paste). Toppings include generous amounts of fried garlic, crushed chicharon, scallions, slices of pork intestines and liver. Another type of pancit which is found in the said province is pancit Molo, an adaptation of wonton soup and is a specialty of the town of Molo, a well-known district in Iloilo. Unlike other pancit, pancit Molo is not dry but soupy and it does not make use of long, thin noodles but instead wonton wrappers made from rice flour. Iloilo is also famous for its two kadios or pigeon pea-based soups. The first is KBL or kadios baboy langka. As the name implies, the three main ingredients of this dish are kadyos, baboy (pork), and langka (unripe jackfruit is used here). Another one is KMU or kadios manok ubad. This dish is composed mainly of kadyos, manok (preferably free range chicken called Bisaya nga manok in Iloilo), and ubad (thinly cut white core of the banana stalk/trunk). Both of these dishes utilize another Ilonggo ingredient as a souring agent. This ingredient is batwan, or Garcinia binucao, a fruit closely related to mangosteen, which is very popular in Western Visayas and neighbouring Negros Island, but is generally unknown to other parts of the Philippines.
Roxas City is another food destination in Western Visayas aside from Iloilo City and Kalibo. This coastal city, about two to three hours by bus from Iloilo City, prides itself as the "Seafood Capital of the Philippines" due to its bountiful rivers, estuaries and seas. Numerous seafood dishes are served in the city's Baybay area such as mussels, oysters, scallops, prawns, seaweeds, clams, fishes and many more.
Cebu is known for its lechón variant. Lechon prepared "Cebu style" is characterized by a crisp outer skin and a moist juicy meat with a unique taste given by a blend of spices. Cebu is also known for sweets like dried mangoes and caramel tarts.
In Bohol, kalamay is popular. In Palawan, crocodile meat is boiled, cured, and turned into tocinos. In Romblon, a specialty dish is pounded and flavored shrimp meat and rice cooked inside banana leaves.
In Mindanao, the southern part of Palawan island, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, dishes are richly flavored with the spices common to Southeast Asia: turmeric, coriander, lemon grass, cumin, and chillies—ingredients not commonly used in the rest of Philippine cooking. The cuisine of the indigenous ethnolinguistic nations who are either Christian, Muslim or Lumad peoples of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago has much in common with the rich and spice-paste centric Malay cuisines of Malaysia and Brunei, as well as Indonesian and Thai cuisine, and other Southeast Asian cuisines. Mindanaoan cuisine represents the cultural achievements of prehispanic Philippine cuisine in other most parts of the country immediately prior to Spanish colonization between in the late 16th to early 17th centuries. Hints of similar dishes and flavors can also found in the Bicol region and the Cordilleras, which still prefer a coconut and spice-paste rich palate similar to Mindanao.
Well-known Mindanao and Sulu dishes include Satti (satay) and ginataang manok (chicken cooked in spiced coconut milk). Certain parts of Mindanao are predominantly Muslim, where pork is rarely consumed, and lamb, mutton, goat and beef are the main red meats of choice.
Rendang, is an often spicy beef curry whose origins derive from the Minangkabau people of Sumatra; biryani, kulma, and kiyoning (pilaf) are dishes originally from the Indian subcontinent , that were given a Mindanaoan touch and served on special occasions.
Piyanggang manok is a Tausug dish made from barbecued chicken marinated in spices, and served with coconut milk infused with toasted coconut meat.
Chupá Culo & Curacha con Gatâ are examples of a Zamboangueño dishes made from shells cooked with coconut milk and crab with sauce blended in coconut milk with spices, respectively. There are other known Zamboangueño dishes and delicacy like Estofado, Sicalañg, Alfajor, Endulzao, Tamal, Paella, Arroz a la Valenciana, Rebosao, Toron, and more.
Palapa, is a popular condiment unique to, and widely used in, Maranao and Maguindanaon cuisines, and consists of a base of shredded old coconut, sakurab (a variant of green onion), ginger, chillies, salt, pepper, and turmeric.
Another popular dish from this region is tiyula itum, a dark broth of beef or chicken lightly flavored with ginger, chili, turmeric, and toasted coconut flesh (which gives it its dark color).
Lamaw (Buko salad), is a mixture of young coconut, its juice, milk or orange juice, with ice.
Street food and other snacks
Aside from pastries and desserts, there are heartier snacks for merienda that can also serve as either an appetizer or side dish for a meal. Siomai is the local version of Chinese shaomai. Lumpia are spring rolls that can be either fresh or fried. Fresh lumpia (lumpiang sariwa) is usually made for fiestas or special occasions as it can be labor-intensive to prepare, while one version of fried lumpia (lumpiang prito), lumpiang shanghai is usually filled with ground pork and a combination of vegetables, and served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce. Other variations are filled with minced pork and shrimp and accompanied by a vinegar-based dipping sauce. Lumpia has been commercialized in frozen food form. Also, one of the common street food would be the Beef Pares in Manila. While Middle-Eastern food such as the Shawarma became popular in the Philippines in the late 1980s.
There's a distinct range of street foods available in the Philippines. Some of these are skewered on sticks in the manner of a kebab. One such example is banana-cue which is a whole banana or plantain skewered on a short thin bamboo stick, rolled in brown sugar, and pan-fried. Kamote-cue is a peeled sweet potato skewered on a stick, covered in brown sugar and then pan-fried. Fish balls or squid balls including Calamares are also pan-fried, then skewered on bamboo sticks and given to the customer, who then has a choice of dipping in a sweet or savory sauce. These are commonly sold frozen in markets and peddled by street vendors. One of the more common habit of street vendors in Metro Manila carry out or yell the phrase, "Hopina, Mani, Popcorn at Vicks..".
Taho is a warm treat made of soft beancurd which is the taho itself, dark caramel syrup called arnibal, and tapioca pearls. It is often sold in neighborhoods by street vendors who yell out "taho" in a manner like that of vendors in the stands at sporting events yelling out "hotdogs" or "peanuts". Sometimes, taho is served chilled, and flavors have recently been added, such as chocolate or strawberry. Taho is derived from the original Chinese snack food known as douhua.
There is also iskrambol (from the English "to scramble"), a kind of iced-based treat similar to a sorbet. The shaved ice is combined with various flavorings and usually topped with chocolate syrup. It is eaten by "scrambling" the contents or mixing them, then drinking with a large straw. It was later modified into ice scramble, or simply scramble, but with added skim milk, chocolate or strawberry syrup, and a choice of toppings such as marshmallows, chocolate or candy sprinkles, rice crispies, or tapioca pearls.
Street food featuring eggs include kwek-kwek which are hard-boiled quail eggs dipped in orange-dyed batter and then deep fried similar to tempura. Tokneneng is a larger version of kwek-kwek using chicken or duck eggs. Another Filipino egg snack is balut, essentially a boiled pre-hatched poultry egg, usually duck or chicken. These fertilized eggs are allowed to develop until the embryo reaches a pre-determined size and are then boiled. They are consumed, usually along with vinegar and salt. There is also another egg item called penoy, which is basically hard-boiled unfertilized duck eggs that does not contain embryo. Like taho, balut is advertised by street hawkers calling out their product.
Okoy, also spelled as ukoy, is another batter-covered, deep-fried street food in the Philippines. Along with the batter, it normally includes bean sprouts, shredded pumpkin and very small shrimps, shells and all. It is commonly dipped in a combination of vinegar and chilli.
Among other street food are already mentioned pulutan like isaw, seasoned hog or chicken intestines skewered onto a stick and grilled; betamax, roasted dried chicken blood cut into and served as small cubes, from which it received its name due to its crude resemblance to a Betamax tape; Adidas, grilled chicken feet named after the popular shoe brand; and proven, the proventriculus of a chicken coated in cornstarch and deep-fried. Fries made from sweet potatoes have also been dubbed "Pinoy fries". Most street foods are usually found near certain schools and universities, one example would be at Metro Manila's University Belt.
In addition to the Availability of the 24/7 burgers stands such as Burger Machine (nicknamed "the burger that never sleeps"), Angel's Burger, Franks N' Burgers and Minute Burger across the country.
Pagpag is leftover food from restaurants (usually from fast-food restaurants) scavenged from garbage sites and dumps, Pagpag food can also be expired frozen meat, fish, or vegetables discarded by supermarkets and scavenged in garbage trucks where this expired food is collected. eaten by the people suffering from the extreme poverty in the Philippines. Selling pagpag was a profitable business in areas where poor people live. Pagpag is basically more often than not food collected by homeless individuals in day's end from various fastfood local restaurants in the Philippines.
Some exotic dishes in the Filipino diet are camaro, which are field crickets cooked in soy sauce, salt, and vinegar, and is popular in Pampanga; papaitan, which is a stew made of goat or beef innards flavored with bile that gives it its characteristic bitter (pait) taste; Soup No. 5 (Also spelled as "Soup #5") which is a soup made out of bull's testes, and can be found in restaurants in Ongpin St., Binondo, Manila; and pinikpikan na manok that involves having a chicken beaten to death to tenderize the meat and to infuse it with blood. It is then burned in fire to remove its feathers then boiled with salt and itag (salt/smoke cured pork). The act of beating the chicken in preparation of the dish violates the Philippine Animal Welfare Act of 1998.
- List of Philippine desserts
- List of Philippine dishes
- List of Philippine restaurant chains
- Philippine condiments
- Filipino-American cuisine
- Indonesian cuisine
- Thai cuisine
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