Cuisine of the Philippines

Cuisine of the Philippines

Philippine cuisine has evolved over several centuries from its Malay roots to a cuisine of predominantly Spanish base, due to the many Mexican and Spanish dishes brought to the islands during the colonial period. It has also received influence from Arab, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and American cooking.

Due to non-Hispanization, the cuisine of the indigenous Moro and Lumad peoples of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago differ greatly from the majority of cuisine in the Philippines, having more in common with the Malay cuisines of Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. Common ingredients include coconut milk, sambal, cumin, chilli, curry and lemon grass, with a well-known dish from the region being "Satti".

Filipinos traditionally eat three main meals a day - "agahan" (breakfast), "tanghalían" (lunch), and "hapúnan" (dinner) plus an afternoon snack called "meriénda" (another variant is "minandál" or "minindál").

Dishes range from a simple meal of fried fish and rice to rich "paellas" and "cocidos". Popular dishes include "lechón" (whole roasted pig), "longganisa" (Philippine sausage), "tapa" (beef jerky), "torta" (omelette), "adobo" (chicken and/or pork braised in garlic, soy sauce, and vinegar or cooked until dry), "kaldereta" (goat in tomato stew), "mechado" (beef or pork cooked in tomato sauce), "pochero" (beef in bananas and tomato sauce), "afritada" (pork or beef simmered in a tomato sauce with vegetables), "kare-kare" (oxtail and vegetables cooked in peanut sauce), "crispy pata" (deep-fried pig's leg), "hamonado" (pork sweetened in pineapple sauce), "sinigang" (pork, fish, or shrimp in tamarind stew), "pancit" (stir-fried noodles), and "lumpia" (fresh or fried spring rolls).

History and influences

Malays during the pre-Hispanic era in the Philippines prepared food by boiling, steaming, or roasting. This ranged from the usual livestock such as kalabaw (water buffaloes), "baka" (cows), chickens and pigs to seafood from different kinds of fish, shrimps, prawns, crustaceans and shellfish. There are a few places in the country where the broad range in their diet extended to monitor lizards, snakes and locusts. Malays have been cultivating rice, an Asian staple since 3200 B.C. [cite web |url= |title=Rice in the Philippines |accessdate=2006-11-30 |author=Kyle Knuuttila |last=Knuuttila |first=Kyle] . Pre-Hispanic trade with China, Japan, India, the Middle-East and the rest of Southeast Asia introduced a number of staples into Filipino cuisine most notably "toyo" (soy sauce) and "patis" (fish sauce), as well as the method of stir-frying and making savory soup bases.

The arrival of Spanish settlers brought with them chili peppers, tomato sauces, corn and method of sauteeing with garlic and onions, which found their way into Philippine cuisine. They also utilized vinegar and spices into foods to preserve them due to lack of refrigeration. Local adaptations of Spanish dishes then became common such as "paella" into its Filipino version of "arroz valenciana", "chorizo" into its local version of "longanisa" (from Spanish "longaniza"), "escabeche" and "adobo" (this is connected to the Spanish dish adobado, and even by way of Latin America and Mexico which also have adobo dishes), remain popular to this day.

During the nineteenth century, Chinese food became a staple of the "panciterias" or noodle shops around the country, although they were marketed with Spanish names. "Comida China" (Chinese food) includes "arroz caldo" (rice and chicken gruel) and "morisqueta tostada" (an obsolete term for "sinangag" or fried rice) and "chopsuey".

Today, Philippine cuisine continues to evolve as new techniques and styles of cooking finds their way into one of the most active melting pots of Asia. The Philippines does not only possess its traditional cuisine. Popular worldwide cuisine and restaurant and fastfood chains are also available around the archipelago. Furthermore, the Chinese populace (especially in Manila) is famous for establishing Chinese districts, where predominantly Chinese and Chinese fusion food can be found. These are especially prevalent in urban areas where large influxes of Chinese expatriates are located.


As with most Asian countries, the staple food in the Philippines is rice. It is most often steamed and served during meals. Leftover rice is often fried with garlic and onions to make "sinangag" (fried rice), which is usually served at breakfast together with fried eggs and "tapa" (Beef), "tocino" (sweetened cured meat), "longganisa" (local sausages), or fried hotdogs. Rice is often enjoyed by the diner with sauces or soup 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. Other staples derived from crops include corn and bread.

Fruits are often used in cooking as well. Coconuts, coconut milk, coconut meat, tomato, tomato sauce, and bananas are usually added into meals. Abundant harvest of root crops occurs all year round. Potatoes, carrots, taro ("gabi"), cassava ("kamoteng kahoy"), purple yam ("ube"), and sweet potato/yam ("kamote") are examples. "Kamote" and a certain type of plantain called "saba" can be chopped, dusted with brown sugar, fried and skewered, yielding "kamote-cue" and "banana-cue" which are popular caramelized snacks.

Staples derived from meat include chicken, pork, beef, and fish. Seafood is popular as a result of the bodies of water surrounding the archipelago. Popular catches include tilapia, milkfish ("bangus"), grouper ("lapu-lapu"), shrimp ("hipon"), prawns ("sugpo"), mackerel ("galunggong"), swordfish, oysters ("talaba"), mussels ("tahong"), clams ("tulya"), large and small crabs ("alimango" and "alimasag" respectively), game fish, gindara or sablefish, tuna, cod, blue marlin, and squid/cuttlefish (both called "pusit"). Equally popular catches include seaweeds, abalone and eel.

The most common way of serving fish is having it salted, pan fried or deep fried, and eaten as a simple meal with rice and vegetables. It may also be cooked in a sour broth of tomatoes or tamarind, prepared with vegetables to make "sinigang" or simmered in vinegar and peppers to make "paksiw" or roasted over hot charcoal or wood. Other preparations include "escabeche" (sweet and sour) or "relleno" (deboned and stuffed). Fish may also be preserved by processing it into "tinapa" (smoked) and "daing" (sun-dried).

Food is sometimes served with various dipping sauces. Fried food is often dipped in vinegar, soy sauce, juice squeezed from "kalamansi" (Philippine lime), or a combination of all. Fish sauce may be mixed with "kalamansi" as dipping sauce for most seafood. Fish sauce, fish paste ("bagoong"), shrimp paste ("alamang") and crushed ginger root ("luya") are condiments that are also often added to dishes during the cooking process or when served.

Cooking methods

The Tagalog words for popular cooking methods are listed below:

*"Guisado" or "Gisado" − sautéed with garlic, onions and tomatoes
*"Pinirito" − fried or deep fried. From the Spanish "frito".
*"Inihaw" − grilled over charcoals
*"Kinilaw" or "Kilawin" − marinated in vinegar or kalamansi juice along with garlic, onions, ginger, tomato, peppers
*"Nilaga" − boiled, sometimes with onions and black peppercorns
*"Sinigang" − boiled, usually with a tamarind base. Variant bases are: guava, raw mangoes, calamansi or calamondin, and almost any other sour fruit abundant in the locality.
*"Pinangat" − boiled in salted water with tomatoes
*"Pinaksiw" − cooked in vinegar, tomatoes and ginger
*"Inadobo" − cooked in soy sauce, vinegar and garlic
*"Ginataan" − cooked with coconut milk
*"Pasingaw" - steamed, usually with a banana leaf.

A typical meal

Filipino cuisine is distinguished by its bold combination of sweet, sour, salty and spicy flavors, though most dishes are not typically highly spiced. While other Asian cuisines (e.g., Cantonese) may be known for a more subtle delivery and presentation, Filipino palates prefer a sudden influx of flavor. Filipino cuisine is often delivered in a single presentation, giving the participant a simultaneous visual feast, an aromatic bouquet, and a gustatory delight.

Snacking is normal, a Filipino may eat five 'meals' in a day. Dinner, while still the main meal, is smaller than other countries. Usually, either breakfast or lunch is the largest meal.

Main dishes include "sinigang" (pork, fish, or shrimp in tamarind soup and vegetables), "bulalo" (beef soup – commonly with marrow still in the beef bone – with vegetables), "kare-kare" (oxtail and vegetables cooked in peanut sauce), "crispy pata" (deep fried hog hoofs with hock sometimes included), "mechado" (pork cooked in tomato sauce), "pochero" (beef or pork cooked in tomato sauce with bananas and vegetables), "kaldereta" (beef or goat cooked in tomato sauce), fried or grilled chicken/porkchops/fish/squid/cuttlefish. Dinner may be accompanied by stir-fried vegetables, "atchara" (shredded and pickled papaya), "bagoong" (fish paste) or "alamang" (shrimp paste). Desserts are usually made only for special occasions. The most popular desserts include "leche flan", "buko pandan" (slivers of young coconut with cream and pandan flavor) or "gulaman" (jello).

Some dishes rely on vinegar for flavoring. "Adobo" is popular not solely for its splendid flavor, but also for its ability to remain fresh for days, and even improves its flavor with a day or two of storage. "Tinapa" is a smoke-cured fish while "tuyo", "daing", and "dangit" are corned, sun-dried fishes popular for its ability not to spoil for weeks even without refrigeration.

Due to western influence, food is often eaten using utensil, e.g., forks, knives, spoons. Filipinos use their spoons to cut through meat instead of knives used in other western cultures. 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 into a ball with his fingers. This practice, known as "kamayan", 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. [cite web |url= |title=Philippines — Eating Habits & Hospitality |accessdate=2006-11-21 |publisher=The Global Gourmet]


A traditional Filipino breakfast might include "pan de sal" (bread), "kesong puti" (white cheese), "champorado" (chocolate rice porridge), "sinangag" (fried garlic rice), meat, such as "tapa", "longganisa", "tocino", "karne norte", or fish such as "daing na bangus" meaning salted and dried milkfish; or eggs of "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.

Combinations dishes may include "kankamtuy", a combination of kamatis (tomatoes), kanin (rice) and tuyo (dried fish), or "silog"s --meat most often served with "sinangág" (fried rice) and "itlog" (egg) to be consumed. 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 a meat portion). Other silogs exist including "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 canned corned beef), "litsilog" (with lechon/litson), "pakaplog" (with pan de sal and kape).


"Merienda" is an afternoon snack, similar to the concept of afternoon tea. If the meal is taken close to dinner, it is called "merienda cena", and may serve instead of dinner.

Filipinos have a number of options to take with their traditional "kape" (coffee): breads ("pan de sal", "ensaymada", (buttery sweet rolls with cheese), and "empanada" (savory pastries stuffed with meat)), rice cakes ("kakanin") like "kutsinta", "sapin-sapin", "palitaw", "biko", "suman", "bibingka", and "pitsi-pitsi" are served or sweets such as "hopia" (pastries similar to mooncakes filled with sweet bean paste) and "bibingka" (rich rice cakes desserts). Savory dishes might 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 sauce), "puto" (steamed rice flour cakes), and "dinuguan" (a spicy stew made with pork blood).

Also, dim sum and dumplings brought over by the Fujianese people have been given a Filipino touch are often eaten for merienda. Also famous are the different street foods sold mostly skewered on bamboo sticks: squid balls, fish balls and others.


"Pulutan" (literally "something that is picked") is a term roughly analogous to the English term "finger food". It originally was a snack accompanied with liquor or beer but has found its way into Philippine cuisine as appetizers or, in some cases, main dishes, as in the case of sisig.

Deep fried dishes include "chicharon" that are pork rinds that have been salted, dried, then fried; "chicharong bituka or chibab" pig intestines that have been deep fried to a crisp; "chicharong bulaklak or chilak" similar to "chicharong bituka" has a "bulaklak" or "flower" appearance of the dish made from mesenteries of pig intestines; "chicken skin or chink" that has been deep fried until crispy.

Some grilled foods include "Barbecue Isaw", chicken or pig intestines marinated and skewered; "barbecue tenga" pig ears are marinated and skewered; "pork barbecue" which is a satay marinated in a special blend; "Betamax" that is salted solidified pork blood which is skewered; "Adidas" which is grilled or sautéed chicken feet. And there is "Sisig" a popular pulutan made from the pork's cheek skin, ears and liver that is initially boiled, then grilled over charcoal, then minced and cooked with chopped onions, chillies, and spices.

Smaller snacks such as "mani" (or peanuts) often sold in the Philippines by street vendors boiled in the shell available salted or spiced or flavored with garlic. Another snack is "Kropeck" which is just fish crackers.

The fried "Tokwa't Baboy" is tofu fried with boiled pork then dipped in a garlic-flavored soy sauce or vinegar dip that is also served as a side dish to "pancit luglog or pancit palabok".


For festive occasions, Filipino women band together and prepare more sophisticated dishes. Tables are often laden with expensive and labor-intensive treats requiring hours of preparation. "Lechón", a whole roasted suckling pig, takes center stage. Other dishes include "hamonado" (honey-cured beef, pork or chicken), "relleno" (stuffed chicken or milkfish), "mechado", "afritada", "kaldereta", "pochero", "paella", "arroz valenciana", "morcon", and "pancit canton". The table may also be have various sweets and pastries such as "leche flan", "ube", "sapin-sapin", "sorbetes" (ice cream), and "gulaman" (jello).

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 Fact|date=July 2008.

Regional specialties

The Philippine islands are home to various ethnic groups resulting in varied regional cuisine.

Ilocanos from the rugged Ilocos region boast of a diet heavy in boiled or steamed vegetables and freshwater fish, but they are particularly fond of dishes flavored with "bagoong", fermented fish that is often used instead of 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.

The Igorots prefer roasted meats, particularly carabao's meat, goat's meat, and venison.

Due to its mild, sub-tropical climate, Baguio, along with the outlying mountainous regions, is renowned for its produce. Temperate-zone fruits and vegetables (strawberry being a notable example), which would otherwise wilt in lower regions, are grown here. It is also known for a snack called "sundot-kulangot" which literally means "poke the booger." It's actually a sticky kind of sweet made from milled glutinous rice flour mixed with molasses, and served inside pitugo shells, and with a stick to "poke" its sticky substance with.

The town of Calasiao in Pangasinan is know for its mouth-melting puto.

Pampanga is the culinary center of the Philippines. Among the treats produced in Pampanga are "longganisa" (original sweet and spicy sausages), "kalderetang kambing" (savory goat stew), and "tocino" (sweetened-cured pork). Kapampangan cuisine makes use of every regional produce available to the native cook, combining pork cheeks and offal to make "sisig". "Kare-kare" is also known to have been originated from Pampanga.

Bulacan is popular for chicharon (pork rinds) and steamed rice and tuber cakes like puto. It is the center of "Panghimagas," like brown rice cake or "kutsinta, sapin-sapin", suman, cassava cake, "halaya ube" and the king of sweets, in San Miguel, Bulacan, the famous carabao's milk candy "pastillas de leche", with its 'pabalat' wrapper. [ [, 100% Pinoy: Pinoy Panghimagas, 07/04/2008] ]

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.

Antipolo, straddled mid-level in the mountainous regions of the Philippine Sierra Madre, is a town known for its church and Virgin as well as its suman and cashew products.

Laguna is known for "buko pie" (coconut pie) and "panutsa" (molasses clustered peanuts).

Batangas is home to Taal Lake, a body of water that surrounds Taal Volcano. The lake is home to 75 species of freshwater fish. Among these, the "maliputo" and "tawilis" are two of the world's rarest. These fish are delicious native delicacies. Batangas is also known for its special coffee, "kapeng barako".

Iloilo is popular for La Paz batchoy, pancit molo, dinuguan, puto, and biscocho and piyaya. Fact|date=February 2007

Cebu is popular for its lechónFact|date=July 2008. Lechon prepared "Cebu style", also known as "Inasal" in Visayan, is characterized by a crispy outer skin and a moist juicy meat with unique taste from a blend of spices. [cite web |title=Dissecting a Cebu Lechon |url= |accessdate=2006-12-27] Cebu is also known for sweets like dried mangoes, mango and caramel tarts.

Further south in Mindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi dishes are filled with the scents of Southeast Asia: coconut milk, turmeric, coriander, lemon grass, ginger, and chillies — an ingredient not present in other regional cuisine (except in the Bicol Region whose use of chilies is more liberal compared to others). Since southern regions are predominantly Islamic, pork dishes are hardly present. Popular crops such as cassava root, sweet potatoes ("kamote"), and yams are grown. The two popular sauces used in this region are Sambal and Satay, known locally as "Satti". "Satti" has become de facto delicacy for people Zamboanga, regardless of background. Another popular dish from this region is "Tiyula Itum", a dark broth of beef or chicken lightly flavored with ginger, chili, turmeric and burned coconut meat, (which gives it s dark color).

Popular Filipino dishes

Desserts and Snacks

Filipinos cook a wide variety of sweet desserts and snacks. A Filipino cookbook includes several rice based desserts. One famous 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 is also glutinous rice sweets called "biko" made with sugar, butter, and coconut milk. 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" are three-layered tricolored sweets made with rice flour, purple yam, and coconut milk with its gelatinous appearance.

"Halo-halo" can be described as a cold dessert made with shaved ice, milk and sugar with typical ingredients including coconut, halaya (mashed purple yam), caramel custard, plantains, jackfruit, red beans, tapioca and pinipig. "Sorbetes" is similar to ice cream but made primarily with coconut milk instead of dairy. It is colloquially known in the Philippines as "dirty ice cream."

Requiring laborious attention, some spring rolls for example "lumpia" (of Chinese origin) are very popular. "Lumpia" can be described as fried spring rolls filled with cooked ground meat and vegetables. In one such variation, "lumpiang shanghai" are prepared like cigars but filled with a combination of minced pork and shrimp. Lumpia is often accompanied by either sweet and sour sauce or vinegar based condiment. Lumpia has been commercialized in frozen food form and though various restaurants. Similarly, "turon" could be described as a fruit version using sweetened bananas (plantains) and sometimes jackfruit fried in an eggroll or phyllo wrapper and sprinkled with sugar. All in all, both are consumed at leisurely pace.

There are other Filipino desserts and snacks. As a dessert, "leche flan" is a type of caramel custard made with eggs and milk similar to the French creme caramel and Spanish flan; "mamon" is a dense buttery sweet sponge cake; "palitaw" are rice patties covered with sesame seeds, sugar, and coconut; "pitsi-pitsi" which are cassava patties coated with cheese or coconut; and "tibok-tibok" is based on a 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 a sticky rice.

treet food

Filipinos have their own repertoire of street food. Some of these are skewered on bamboo sticks like a shish kebab, which recipes mimic this presentation closely. One such example is "banana-cue" that consists of a whole plantain skewered on a stick, rolled in brown sugar, and fried. "Kamote-cue" is a peeled sweet potato skewered on a stick, covered in brown sugar and then fried. "Fishballs or squidballs" are skewered on bamboo sticks then dipped in a sweet or savory sauce to be commonly sold frozen in markets and peddled by street vendors.

"Turon," a kind of fried "lumpia" filled with plantain and jackfruit can also be found sold in streets.

As a warm soupish like snack, "taho" is made up of soft beancurd which is the taho itself, dark caramel syrup called "arnibal", and tapioca pearls with cold (dark syrup). The pearls used come in various sizes and proportion and stand out. It been served by many street vendors who often yell out "taho" in the neighborhood like Americans who yell out hotdogs and peanuts in sporting events. Innovations on it include additional flavouring such as chocolate or strawberry, and even cold versions.

There is also "iskrambol" (from the English "to scramble"), a cooler ice-based snack, and which is a kind of sorbet, flavoured with a combination of artificial flavourings.

Egg street foods include "kwek-kwek" that are soft boiled quail eggs dipped in batter that is usually dyed orange then deep fried. In contrast, "tokneneng" is larger but similar to kwek-kwek in that it is made with chicken eggs. Filipino egg snacks include "balut" that is essentially boiled pre-hatched poultry eggs, usually duck or chicken. These fertilized eggs are allowed to develop until the embryo reaches a pre-determined size and are then boiled. There is also another egg dish called "penoy" that is fertilized duck eggs. Like taho, balut is advertised vocally. Consuming balut by some involves sucking out the juices.

"Okoy" also spelled as "Ukoy" is another batter-based, deep-fried street food in the Philippines. Along with the batter, it normally includes bean sprouts and very small shrimps shells and all. It is commonly dipped in a combination of vinegar and chilli.

Other street food include "betamax" that is roasted dried chicken blood served cut into and served as small cubes for which it received its name in resemblance to a Betamax tape. "Isaw", is another street food, which is seasoned hog or chicken intestines. Then there is "Pinoy Fries" which are fries made from sweet potatoes with the same tenderness of french fries but take on a more rounder presentation in contrast to stringy appearance in french fries.


In a typical Filipino bakery, "pandesal" and "ensaimada" are often sold. "Pandesal" came 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. Soft, chewy pandesal is much preferred to a crusty one, a holdover from the days when cheap, low-grade flour was used to cut costs. "Ensaimada", also spelled as ensaymada from the Spanish ensaimada, has been altered much to suit the Philippine palate producing a pastry with a soft and chewy texture. It can be made with a variety of fillings such as ube (purple yam) and macapuno and often topped with butter, sugar and shredded cheese. Other food sold in Filipino bakeries include "pan de coco" a sweet bread roll filled with shredded coconut mixed with molasses. Other breads like "putok", which literally means "explode," refers to a small hard bread roll whose cratered surface is glazed with sugar.

There are also rolls like "pianono" which is a chiffon roll flavored with different fillings. In a different roll, "brazo de mercedes" is similar to a rolled cake or jelly roll and 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". Similar to both the two previous desserts mentioned, it has different texture due to the addition of sweetened bread crumbs for "silvañas". In a more delicate roll, "barquillos" takes on as sweet thinly crunchy wafers rolled into tubes that can be sold hollow or filled with polvoron (sweetened and toasted flour mixed with ground nuts).

Some Filipino pies, for example the "egg pie" is a mainstay in local bakeries, serving as a type of pie with a rich egg custard filling. It is typically baked so that the exposed custard on top is browned. The other pie, "buko pie", is made with a filling made from buko (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 are hard pastries like "biskotso" that feature as a crunchy, sweet, twice-baked bread. Another baked crunchy food is "sinipit" which is a sweet pastry covered in a crunchy sugar glaze, made to resemble a length of rope.

On the softer side, "mamon" is a very soft chiffon-type cake sprinkled with sugar named from a slang Spanish term for breast. A soft cake like "crema de fruta" which is a more elaborate sponge cake, topped in succeeding layers of cream, custard, candied fruit, and gelatine. Related to sponge cakes 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.

Stuffed based foods include "siomai" similar to the Chinese shaomai and "siopao" similar to the Chinese baozi but larger and steamed bunned. The filling is often mixed with a sweet sauce made from soy sauce and sugar. Another dumpling "empanada" are pastries filled with savory-sweet meat filling. Typically made with ground meat and raisins, it can be deep fried or baked.

Main courses

At home usually, several of these dishes are cooked daily by many Filipino households. One widely cooked dish is "adobo" which pork or chicken (occasionally beef) is stewed or braised in a sauce made from soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and peppercorns. It can also be prepared "dry" by cooking out the liquid and concentrating the flavor.

There are several styles of stew dishes cooked by Filipinos. Some well-known stews are "kare-kare" and "dinuguan". With "kare-kare", also known as "peanut stew," the oxtail or ox tripe is the main ingredient that is stewed with vegetables in a peanut-based preparation. It is typically served with bagoong (fermented shrimp paste). With "dinuguan", it is created from pork blood, entrails, and meat and sometimes seasoned with red peppers, usually thai peppers. "Mechado" can be included in this list using pork cooked in tomato sauce, minced garlic, and onions, but goat meat can be used instead which would be then be turned into "kaldereta". Varieties using other meats such as dog meat also exist. In "afritada", the use pork or beef is simmered into a tomato sauce, typically with peas and carrots and of course potatoes in similar cut size to the pork. Allegedly originating from the Rizal area, "Waknatoy" is a dish similar to afritada, caldereta, and mechado. It has either pork or beef sirloin with potatoes, cut sausages, and has a tomato-based sauce sweetened with pickles. Different vinegar-based stews using milkfish, pork hocks, or even leftover lechon are called "paksiw". Although paksiw is made using the same ingredients as adobo, it is prepared differently in that it is not stirred as it simmers, resulting in a different flavor as the vinegar is cooked first. On the sweetness scale, "pochero" makes use of beef and banana or plantain slices simmered in tomato sauce as its name is derived from the Spanish "cocido".

Foods with strong green leafy appearance are "dinengdeng" a dish consisting of malunggay leaves and slices of bittermelon, and "pinakbet" which is stewed in vegetables heavily flavored with bagoong. In balance to color, the traditional "tinola" has a strong chicken presence accompanied by a ginger soup cooked with whole chicken pieces, green papaya slices with chili, spinach, or malunggay leaves. The large chunks of the chicken in this dish contrast to the small pieces found in can of chicken noodle soup. On the other hand, "simuwam" involves similar ingredients and cooking methods as tinola, but is specifically used to refer to variants made with fish or other seafood.

Filipinos have their own styles of soups. In one recipe, "binacol" is a warm chicken soup cooked with coconut water and served with strips of coconut meat. In a well-known soup, "La Paz Batchoy" is garnished with pork innards, crushed pork cracklings, chopped vegetables, and topped with a raw egg. There is another dish with the same name that uses misua, beef heart, kidneys and intestines, but does not contain eggs or vegetables. In "mami", the noodle soup is made from chicken, beef, pork, wonton dumplings, or intestines (called "laman-loob"). It was first prepared by Ma Mon Luk. Filipinos have a modified version of chicken noodle soup called "sotanghon", consisting of cellophane noodles, chicken, and sometimes mushrooms. In another soup, "sinigang" is typically made with either pork, beef, or seafood and made outstandingly sour with tamarind or other suitable ingredients. Some seafood variants can be made sour by the use of guava fruit or miso. Sinigang made from chicken is commonly referred to as "sinampalukan."

Two dishes with strong noodle appearance are "pancit" and "ispageti". "Pancit" can be described as a dish primarily consisting of noodles, vegetables, and slices of meat or shrimp with variations primarily distinguished by the type of noodles used. Some pancit, such as mami, molo, 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 colloquy that is a modified version of Spaghetti Bolognese, a drastically simplified version of the Italian dish. It is made with banana ketchup instead of tomato sauce, sweetened with sugar and topped with hot dog slices.

There are several rice porridges that Filipino cooks create. One popular dish is "arroz caldo" which is a rice porridge cooked with chicken, ginger and sometimes saffron, garnished with spring onions (chives) and coconut milk to make a type of gruel. Arroz caldo is the chicken version of "lugaw" that is a variant of the Chinese congee usually cooked with either tripe, pork, or beef, with seafood rarely being used. Another variant is "goto" which is an "arroz caldo" made with ox tripe. There is this other rice porridge called "champorado" which is sweet and flavored with chocolate, and would be paired with "tuyo" or "daing".

Two other rice based dishes include "arroz valenciana" which is a Filipino variation of the Spanish "paella" and thought to be named after the Spanish city Valencia. There is also "kiampong" a type of fried topped with pork pieces, chives and peanuts. It can be found in Chinese restaurants in Binondo and Manila.

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.

Dominating in meatiness and toughness and chewiness, Filipinos dine on "tocino", "longanisa", and "bistek". "Tocino" is a sweetened cured meat either chicken or pork and is marinated and cured for a number of days before being fried. "Longanisa" 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 anatto seed although artificial food coloring is also used to cut costs. "Bistek", also known as "Filipino Beef Steak," consists of thinly sliced beef marinated in soya sauce and kalamansi and then fried on a skillet or griddle that is typically served with onions. In another pork diet, "crispy pata" pork knuckles (the pata) are marinated in garlic flavored vinegar then deep fried until crispy and golden brown, with other parts of the pork leg prepared in the same way.

"Lechon manok" is a variant of the rotisserie chicken. Available in most major Filipino supermarkets, hole-in-the-wall stands, or restaurant chains (Andok's, Baliwag, Toto's), it is typically served with "sarsa" (sauce) made from mashed pork liver, starch sugar and spices.

Celebratory Food

In Filipino celebrations, often "lechón" serves as the centerpiece of the dinner table. It is usually a whole roasted suckling pig, but piglets (lechonillo, or lechon de leche) or cattle calves (lechong baka) can also be prepared in place to the popular adult pig. It is typically served with a "sarsa" (sauce) made from mashed pork liver, starch, sugar and spices or a variation that does not include pork liver.

More common in celebrations than in everyday home, "lumpiang sariwa", sometimes referred to as 'fresh lumpia', are fresh spring rolls that consists of a soft crepe wrapped around a filling that can include strips of kamote (sweet potato), 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 accompanied together in Filipino parties.

Available mostly during the Christmas season and sold in front of churches along with bibingka, "puto bumbong" is a style of purple-yam flavored puto.

ide dishes and complements

Not eaten as the main course but rather a side dish, the process of creating "itlog na pula" involves duck eggs that have been cured in brine or a mixture of clay-and-salt for a few weeks, providing for its saltiness, and then later hard boiled with their shells to be later dyed with red food coloring, hence its name, to distinguish them from chicken eggs before they are sold over the shelves. There is also another food called "atchara" which is pickled papaya strips.

Other foods are used as food complements. One could use "nata de coco" which is a chewy, translucent, jelly-like food product produced by the bacterial fermentation of coconut water to serve with pandesal. One could also use "kesong puti" a soft white cheese made from carabao's milk but cow's milk is also used in most commercial variants for serving in a sandwich. Yet another would be grated mature coconut (niyog), which normally is served with sweet rice-based desserts.

Exotic dishes

Some exotic dishes in the Filipino diet are "camaro" which are field crickets cooked in soy sauce, salt, and vinegar as it is popular in Pampanga; "papaitan" which is goat or beef innards stew flavored with bile that gives it a bitter ("pait") taste; "Soup No. 5" (Also spelled as "Soup #5") which is a soup made out of testicles which can be found in restaurants in Ongpin St., Binondo, Manila; "asocena" or dog meat popular in the Cordillera Administrative Region; and "pinikpikan chicken" where the chicken has been 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 pork. [cite web | title = Ringside view of pinikpikan process | url= | accessdate =2006-06-07] [cite web | title =Killing me softly | url= | accessdate = 2006-05-28] The act of beating the chicken in preparation of the dish apparently violates the Philippine Animal Welfare Act 1998. [cite web
title = The Animal Welfare Act 1998
accessdate = 2006-12-04
quote = In all the above mentioned cases, including those of cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, poultry, rabbits, carabaos, horses, deer and crocodiles the killing of the animals shall be done through humane procedures at all times.

Filipino drinks and cocktails

The climate of the Philippines is characterized by having relatively high temperature, high humidity and abundant rainfall that make it a reason why chilled drinks are popular.


There are a wide variety of alcoholic drinks in the diet. This includes "brandy" as "Emperador Brandy" is the local favorite. And also variations of them like "Brandy-Iced Tea Powder" a popular cocktail and a part of several cocktails of liqueurs and juice powders; and "Brandy-Grape Juice Powder". Other different alcoholic beverages include "rum" as Tanduay is the local favorite. Another choice could be "serbesa" which is a translation for beer. The most popular choices in restaurants and bars are San Miguel Beer, Red Horse Beer and San Mig Light.

Several gins both local varieties like Ginebra San Miguel (as well as GSM Blue and GSM Premium Gin) and the "London Dry" imported types like Gilbey's are consumed. Other variations include "Gin-Bulag" (which literally translates to "gin-blind," it is said that consuming amounts of it will make one blind), "Gin-Pineapple Juice Powder" (any kind of gin mixed with pineapple juice), "Gin-Pomelo Juice Powder" (just like the latter but mixed with pomelo juice instead of pineapple), and "Gin-Guy Juice Powder" (any kind of gin mixed with guyabano (also known as soursop) juice). "Lambanog" is a type of hard liquor made from distilled coconut extract.

"Tuba" (or 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 whose profession involves climbing palm trees and extracting the "tuba" to supply to customers later in the day. The morning accumulated palm juice or drippings from a cut stem is then harvested by noon then brought to buyers then prepared for consumption. Sometimes this is being done twice a day so that there are two harvests of tuba in a day occurring first at noon-time and later 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 so that any remaining unconsumed tuba in the day is being stored in jars for several days to become vinegar.


Some shakes that are included in a Filipino diet are "fresh mango shake" consisting of ripe mangoes blended with milk, ice, and sugar; "fruit shakes" similar to milkshakes but only contain fruit or flavoring (usually containing Evaporated or Condensed Milk)crushed ice, Evaporated or Condensed Milk, and fruits like Strawberry (which is native in Baguio for it's cold climate), Melon, Papaya, Avocado, Watermelon, and the popular Mango to name a few but has rare fruits like Durian

Chilled drinks and cocktails

Other chilled drinks include "gulaman at sago" a flavored iced-drink with agar gelatin and sago pearls with banana extract is added to the accompanying syrup; "fresh buko juice" drink from a young coconut where the coconut is penetrated to allow straw into the membrane allowing a person to drink its juice later opened afterwards to scrape and eat its tender flesh, which a variation of this is made out of coconut juice, scraped coconut flesh, sugar, and water; "kalamansi juice" juiced Philippine limes sweetened with honey, syrup or sugar; and other tropical fruit drinks that includes dalandan (green mandarin), suha (pomelo), piña (pineapple), banana, and guyabano (soursop). Oranges, apples, grapes, and mangoes are also preferred.

A different class off diet involving the use of shaved ice includes "halo-halo" which is a dessert featuring a wide variety of sweet ingredients with shredded ice, topped with sugar and milk; "saba con yelo" which is shaved ice served with milk and "minatamis na saging" ripe plantains chopped, and caramelized with brown sugar; and "mais con yelo" which is shaved ice served with steamed corn kernels, sugar, and milk.


Teas include "pandan iced tea" made with pandan leaves and lemon grass, and "salabat", sometimes called ginger tea, brewed from ginger root. A particular coffee sold as a premium brewed coffee from the cool mountains of Batangas is known as "Kape Barako". Another drink consumed is a warm chocolate drink called "tsokolate" that is traditionally made from dry powdery chocolate tablets called Tablea.

ee also

* Culture of the Philippines
* Filipino condiments
* Max's of Manila


External links

* [ WOW Philippines: Culture : Food]
* [ Pinoy Food Recipes Online]
* [ Pinoy recipes from A Scientist in the Kitchen]
* [ Ang Sarap! Southeast Asian Cuisine - Pagkaing Pilipino (Filipino Food)]
* [ Filipino Food and Recipes]
* [ Traditional Filipino Recipes]
* [ Variety of Filipino recipes] -
* [ Igorot Food Exotica]
* [ Igorot Cuisine]
* [ Filipino Everyday Recipes]
* [ Filipino Vegetarian Recipes] - Easy filipino vegetarian recipes as well as educational vegetarian diets information.
* [ Filipino Fish Recipes] - Salt water and fresh water fish, crustacean, shellfish filipino recipes.
* [ All Meat Filipino Food Recipes] - Filipino recipes that specializes in all kinds of red meat like pork, beef, chicken, duck, veal or turkey.

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