The Philippines is an archipelagic country situated in Southeast Asia. It consists of 7,641 islands, divided into 3 major islands, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, making it a perfect country to experience diversity.
People from other parts of the world travel to the Philippines with specific reasons in mind. Some want to challenge themselves by opting to visit a place here that will awaken their adrenaline, some visit the country to relax and unwind (oh beach, come on!), some come here because it’s “Instagrammable” (hello beautiful mountains), but if there’s one common reason why foreign people visit the Philippines, it’s undoubtedly for the sake of experiencing different cuisines. Yes, different cuisines!
Because the country is an island chain, every part of it has a unique dish to offer. Lucky you because in this article, we’ve listed some of the best dishes to try during your stay in the Philippines. Read on!
It was first introduced in 1920 in Cebu, a famous city in the Philippines. Lechon is a pork dish that’s served during special occasions, like birthday, wedding or even Christmas. The term is a Spanish word that refers to a roasted suckling pig.
The pig is stuffed with different spices and vegetables and it’s roasted over charcoal. The tendency is that the pig’s skin becomes crispy, and the meat inside becomes juicy and flavorful. Even the late Anthony Bourdain, an American celebrity chef, regarded Cebu Lechon as “the Best Pig, ever!”
Although it started in Cebu, you need not fret because it’s served anywhere in the Philippines. It’s found in fine dining restaurants and even in small eateries.
If we talk about Adobo, we talk about Philippine history. Why? Because it was introduced in the 16th century, and it was that era that gave birth to the rich culture of the Philippines.
Adobo is actually a cooking process, which means to marinate. It started during the Spanish colonization in the Philippines. During that time, they were just doing this method to preserve food using vinegar and salt, so it would last for a long period of time, but with Filipino’s innovative mind, it became the now known Adobo, the arguably Philippine national dish.
Commonly, Adobo is either Pork or Chicken. The meat will be marinated in vinegar and soy sauce with the help of other ingredients such as crushed black pepper, onion, garlic and sugar. Thus, it has the perfect balance of the 4 different tastes: salty, sour, sweet and umami. Yummy, isn’t it?
There are a lot of Chicken and Pork Adobo variations you can check online for reference. You can choose from there which ones best suit your taste.
Guilty pleasure? Well, the next dish I’m going to discuss will surely make feel the guilt while having the pleasure of eating it.
Sisig, back in the old days was considered a salad as per Augustinian friar, Diego Bergaño’s recorded meaning of the term in 1732. Years passed by and the term has now it’s totally different meaning: a dish made from chopped pig’s parts, especially face and liver seasoned with lemon or calamansi, onions, peppers and topped with green long chilies for the spicy flavor. Then, there’s mayonnaise to add sweetness and sourness to it.
This dish can be served with hot rice, but mostly, it is served as a side dish or Pulutan in any friends’ beer-drinking sessions!
Tip: If you want to experience the best Sisig, go to Pampanga and visit Aling Lucing’s eatery.
It’s a neck and neck battle between Adobo and Pork Sinigang when we talk about Philippine National Dish. Some insist that it should be Sinigang as this is completely Pinoy without significant foreign influences.
Sinigang is a soup dish basically known for its sour taste brought by the souring agent, Tamarind commonly, but some people use other agents to give sourness to it, while the meaty flavor comes from none other than the Pork.
Aside from the tastes, the dish also has different healthy veggies such as radish, spinach, string beans, etc. Thus, if you are worried about eating too much of it, stop it. It’s not unhealthy at all.
One good tip and I think Filipinos would agree with me: when eating this, get a small saucer, and put a little fish sauce in it with chopped red chilies, and you’ll have the perfect dip for your Pork Sinigang.
After tiring your mouth, chewing all those hot and delicious dishes, it’s now time for a cold and fruity dessert.
Halo-Halo, when literally translated in English, is Mix-mix. It’s just the perfect name for it as this Filipino favorite sweet dessert is a mixture of many ingredients and elements such as crushed ice with evaporated milk, ube halaya, sweetened beans, sago pearl (similar to tapioca) seaweed gelatin, pinipig rice, nata de coco or coconut gel, a scoop of ice cream, etc. You can add anything you want depending on your taste as long as it will go along with other ingredients.
Having this cold and sweet dessert is just the best way to end your meal.
Leche Flan or milk or creme caramel custard is a Filipino Dessert with Spanish influence. If you have a sweet tooth, surely, this will satisfy you.
It’s a mixture of sugar, egg yolks, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and a pinch of salt, placed usually in llanera or an oval-shaped metal leche flan molder, then steamed to form a custard with overflowing sweet caramel syrup (melted sugar). Have a toothache already?
They are just six of the well-loved Filipino foods, and there are many more to discover, but those are already good starters. In a few weeks or days, you might be coming to the Philippines and it’s for you to really see how diverse Pinoy cuisine is. From sweet desserts to oily dishes to healthy ones, and from breakfast to midnight snacks, the country’s cuisine has surely got you covered. Therefore, ready your palate and wallet!
I hope that the mention kinds of Filipino food and delicacies above have given you at least a glimpse of what really is the Philippine cuisine, and somehow will make you want to go back to this beautiful country again and again.