With today’s fast-evolving society making travel more accessible than ever, it’s hard not to see another side of the world. A great part of that advantage is discovering different types of food from other countries.
Among all Asian cuisines, Chinese and Japanese naturally come up on top. There are of course other Asian cuisines such as Indian, Vietnamese, and even Korean that have grown increasingly popular over the years. But if you are looking for a cuisine originating from Asia that’s a bit different than the ones I’ve mentioned, then Filipino cuisine may just be the right fit!
As a proud Filipina, on this post, I’m sharing my personal list of highly recommended foods to try from the Philippines:
For a taste of the country’s classic favorite, your go-to dish is definitely the adobo – it is considered the unofficial national dish of the Philippines. In fact, it’s so popular that even Apl.de.Ap from the Black Eyed Peas, who is a Filipino American, mentioned it in his song, Bebot!
The adobo recipe includes marinated meat, seafood, or vegetables with soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic. You can also add potatoes (a personal favorite) or boiled eggs.
Another great thing about this tasty dish is that you can choose to add any meat you please and it will taste good no matter what. There are even adobo dishes that only contain vegetables – perfect for vegetarians and vegans. Salivating yet?
Ah, yet another crowd favorite – The lechon. For all meat lovers out there, this one’s for you. This scrumptious pork dish happens to be popular not only in the Philippines but also found in Latin American cuisines such as Cuban and Puerta Rican cuisine. Roasted to perfection, lechon can be found in plenty of Filipino households during a barrio fiesta, a neighborhood celebration, or even just a small family reunion. It’s basically the star of the party!
Personally, my favorite part of the lechon is the skin. The result of a good roast will give you savory and crispy greatness that you couldn’t possibly experience elsewhere. For the best lechon in the Philippines, I suggest for you to head to Cebu. I promise you won’t be disappointed!
Like any other Asian nation, the Philippines has its fair share of noodle dishes. A couple of the classics are pancit canton and pancit bihon. Then, there are also the more exceptional pancit molo and lomi.
Out of all the Filipino noodle recipes though, my favorite is pancit luglug. It’s not the first dish that usually pops into anyone’s mind once noodles are mentioned, but it’s a delicacy I would definitely recommend. This is because it has a unique taste.
The perfect mixture of thick, golden shrimp sauce and thick noodles, topped with shrimp, crushed pork rind, hard-boiled eggs, and freshly minced green onion, you’re in for an awesome treat. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice on top and it’s an absolute blast in your mouth!
Lumpiang Ubod / Lumpiang Sariwa
For a healthier option, a vegetable surprise awaits! Lumpiang ubod or lumpiang sariwa (sariwa translates to “fresh” in Tagalog) is similar to spring rolls commonly found in Chinese cuisine. Stuffed with lettuce, palm hearts, carrots, string beans, onions, garlic, and thinly sliced pork and shrimp (optional), the lumpia is then covered by a soft dough wrap.
Lumpiang ubod is also usually topped with crushed peanuts, a bit of fish sauce, and a dash of specially made lumpia sauce. Filipinos especially like to eat this during “merienda” time (snack time). And who wouldn’t want to? Just as its name leads, lumpiang sariwa leaves you feeling fresh even after just a couple of bites!
Aching for a yummy frozen dessert that never fails to make you smile? For all those with a sweet tooth, halo-halo comes highly recommended. Since the Philippines is a tropical country, the waves of heat can get overwhelming. At the peak of summer, you can literally do nothing and you’d sweat like you’ve worked out for an hour. So, what better way to alleviate that feeling than with a delightful frozen dessert?
Halo-halo literally translates to “mix-mix”. The sweet delicacy is composed of plantains, coconut sport, jackfruit, gulaman, tapioca, nata de coco, leche flan, sweetened kidney beans and palm fruit, purple yam, shaved ice, evaporated milk, and loads more! It’s a lot to take in, but it’ll definitely keep you cool during the sweltering hot days of summer.
If you’d like something with lesser ingredients to mix, Razon’s halo-halo is the best. With just shaved ice, leche flan, coconut sport, and banana, it’s a frozen dessert you and your taste buds will never forget.
From celebrated adobo to the underrated like pancit luglug, I’ve managed to control myself and narrow it down to just the top five Filipino foods I’d recommend for any food lover try. As a Filipino, anyone (yes, even foreigners) can attest that we take a lot of pride in our food.
Generally, our cuisine may not be the healthiest, but there are dishes like lumpiang sariwa that prove otherwise. It’s not the most groundbreaking or flashy, but it will always taste and feel like home. And isn’t that one of simple the beauties of food?
The enchanting aroma and exquisite taste is merely a part of it. The feeling you get from certain dishes is what counts the most. With that, I encourage you to go forth and prepare yourself for an enamoring symphony of tastes!
By Nina Tambal, a contributing writer at BookCulinaryVacations.com. Recently bitten by the wanderlust bug, her dream is to explore the world for what it truly is while spreading her love for food, the environment, and all animals.