The Philippines is a cultural melting pot of both the East and the West. Influenced by the Chinese, Spanish, American, and Malay cultures, the country boasts a diverse background, especially when it comes to food. Nothing brings us closer together than sharing a plate of our favorite Filipino dishes. You may have heard about adobo, balut or lechon but have you heard about Sisig, dinuguan or leche flan? If you haven’t, then you should check out the rest of the list below.
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A staple in every drinking session in the Philippines, sisig is a dish made from pork face and liver, sauted with chili pepper, spices, and calamansi, topped with fresh egg then mixed together to form the savory goodness of sisig. Eaten with rice or as pulutan during drinking sessions, this dish is a must-try if you love exotic food.
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One of the things that sets Filipino dishes apart from others is that we go to extremes when it comes to taste, and sinigang is a testament to that. Sweet and salty food are pretty common in the country but what about sour? Not just your average candy sour but ear-shattering, face-crumpling sourness which you can only get from sinigang. This soup dish consists of pork, but bangus (milkfish) or shrimp can also be substituted, along with potatoes, gabi (taro), your favorite leafy greens, spices, and sampalok (tamarind), bayabas (guava) or santol (cotton fruit) to give the dish its super-sour flavor. Although, calamansi is also used, many home-makers stick to sinigang mix sold in sari-sari stores if there’s no tamarind or lemon available. There are also variations of the dish that uses tomato sauce to intensify the sourness.
Palabok / Log-log
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Aside from being N3 and N4 meals in Jollibee, Palabok or otherwise known as Log-log is another must-try Filipino food. You can think of this as our version of Italian spaghetti (though we also have Filipino spaghetti which is entirely different from traditional Italian, but that’s another topic), bright orange palabok sauce made from sardines or sauteed ground pork and shrimp, spices, and atsuete which attributes to its color, topped with ground chicharon, chopped scallion, and sliced egg over cooked vermicelli noodles. Nothing speaks savory other than a hot plate of palabok from your favorite carenderia.
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If there’s a National Street Food Category along with the National Fruit, and National Animal, Isaw would instantly bag the prize. A staple street food for the average Filipino, taken with rice or as a snack, Isaw is not your average dish. For one thing, it’s made from chicken intestines either fried or barbecued, and dipped into a mixture of vinegar, onions, and chili or barbecue sauce. Though repulsive at first, the jdish offers a unique combination of flavors, including a hint of bitterness, and a texture that you won’t find in any other Filipino street food.
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If you thought Isaw was exotic, then better get ready for a plateful of dinuguan. If you see lechon at a party, then there’s a great chance you would find dinuguan somewhere on the Smörgåsbord. Because we Filipinos are not keen on throwing things away, pig’s blood and its offals (intestines, lungs, kidneys, heart, and snout) is also on the menu in the form of dinuguan. Don’t be fooled by its off-putting ingredients, you wouldn’t be able to taste this dish anywhere but the Philippines. With the number of spices and with puto, you wouldn’t even notice what’s in your plate.
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Now that we’re done with the main course, it’s time for some desserts! In a Filipino party, no matter how full you may be from the all-you-can-eat buffet, there should always be room for dessert, especially for Mango Float! Though the “float” part is a little bit of a mystery, the mango part is pretty obvious. Basically, mango float is similar to tiramisu except there’s no chocolate. Instead, grounded sweet crackers are alternated between cream and a layer of mangoes, resulting in a sweet dream of goodness.
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If you think scrambled eggs couldn’t get any better, then you have never tasted the sweetness of leche flan. And once we say sweet, we really mean sweet! Leche flan is made from egg yolks with condensed and fresh milk. To top it off, leche flan is smothered with caramel and all its goodness into a sweet dessert with a soft and melts-in-your-mouth texture. If you want a different Filipino dish experience, end your food trip with a plate of leche flan.
The Philippines is a great country with even better food! So, if you are in for an extraordinary culinary feast, don’t forget to try these dishes on your favorite Filipino restaurants, carenderia, and eateries near you!
What’s your favorite Filipino dish?
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